Polymer clay is one of the most diverse mediums I’ve ever worked with. From cartoon miniatures to more realistic statuettes, beads, charms, jewelry, the list goes on. Here are some of my favorite clay creations, based on the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli!
Click the images to enlarge, and sorry for the low quality photos. Teenaged me didn’t realize the importance of good photography.
These figurines were as small as I could make them, all posed on paper plates if that gives you a size reference. The charm bracelet and necklaces I sold online, but the figures I decided to keep because I couldn’t let them go. My technique was far from perfect, but here are some things I learned!
- Keep your hands cold and clean, and even though it’s boring, always smooth out your fingerprints. I ignored this, and I think the quality of my work reflected my laziness.
- Use small pieces of wire to connect anything flimsy. My poor kodama’s hand falls off sometimes, but adding a piece of thin wire helps support small details in clay.
- If you’re going to make jewelry, always glue your hardware. It may seem like the clay will hold, but there’s nothing bonding it to the metal, and it will fall off when it dries. Learned that from a sad customer whose charm had fallen apart 😦
- Use paint, not marker. I sealed some of these with acrylic spray sealant, and it will cause ink to run. On that note, anything white is worth going over with white acrylic paint, if you’re like me and can’t keep your clay clean to save your life.
- Not everything has to be sculpted. Be stylistic and choosy. If I’d tried to add a green stripe of clay to Chihiro’s shirt, it would have added an inaccurate bump of thickness to the sweater. I see people doing this a lot with eyes as well. Don’t be afraid to paint the details; they’ll be cleaner and less awkwardly bulky.
- Use matte or outdoor Modpodge to seal. I mentioned that I used acrylic spray, but I never once got it to harden without being tacky. It ruined a lot of pieces when a piece of lint or something would settle on it.
- If you mix colors, mix all you anticipate you’ll need. Recreating a color you’ve run out of is very difficult. And only mix your clay after you’ve kneaded and activated all the colors you plan to add, because science.
These are just some beginner tips, but polymer clay is really easy and fun to work with. The pieces actually sell decently online, since they’re unique and cute, and the clay itself will only run you about 12 dollars for a starter pack. It is worth learning how to mix your own colors to get the most out of your clay. A perfect craft for teens, kids, and professionals of any skill level!
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