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Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'll-Ask-A Crafter: Clay and Upcycling

I have a couple of questions: What is the best clay that you prefer for sculpting? How do you get it to harden? Does super glue work well with this or any other clay? What paint do you prefer for the clay? Thank you for reading. - Curious About Clay 

Well, Curious, thank you for reading! For at-home sculpting projects like scale model-building or button-making I get crafty with polymer clays. There are several brands on the market, but the two I am most familiar with are Fimo and Sculpey. Working on a flat clean surface, like a piece of plexiglass, you can knead the clay to warm it up. Then you're ready to roll, shape, cut or mold the material however you'd like.

Once you like the look, pop it into your conventional oven and bake it according to the directions on the package. It usually only takes a few minutes, but it does have a bit of a plastic-y smell. The sculpture will harden as it cools and if you undercook it, it will come out slightly flexible, so it may take a bit to get the hang of the timing. After cooling, carve, drill or sand the final piece (sand underwater to avoid dust particles) and paint it as well. Acrylic paints and craft paints work best, and are generally less toxic.

For gluing hardened clays together use a Cyanoacrylate glue (a.k.a. CA or superglue). You only need a few drops of this super-stuff to bond clay, and it's quick, but make sure to insert a t-pin into the tip to prevent the bottle from clogging.

I am in the process of cleaning my storage unit, and I'm a pack rat. ... I keep a lot of things that could be useful, like ribbons, strawberry baskets, lapel pins, etc. ... I always have it in my head that I would do a craft, but I never do ... I was wondering, is there a place where I could take my stuff so that crafty people could put it to good use? Also, can you think of anyone who would accept clothing that maybe people wouldn't really wear (socks, underwear, and well, horribly unstylish clothing) and turn them into something useful...(Sewing circles, quilting groups, etc?)...Any suggestions would be appreciated! - Clean and Crafty 
 Clean and crafty, crafters of the world applaud you! I think every crafter is a bit of pack rat and periodically needs a good cleaning, to both unburden overflowing shelves, and to give a little back to other crafters in need! The first place to give your goodies a good home would be your local thrift stores. Places like the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul are perfect for dropping off and picking up that perfect bead or needle you need. Locally in Juneau try the Canvas, a community art studio and gallery, which has a continuing need for crafty hands and handouts. Go to www.canvasarts.org or call 586-1750.

For gently used clothing that isn't so a la mode, try finding local crafters who upcycle old wears into new wares. Consignment shops will often save their unsellables for upcyclers so check around for shops like Juneau's Alaskan Dames and Gents, The Closet, and Mommy 'n Me. Also try etsy.com, a handmade market online, which allows you to "seach local." By searching under Alaska or Juneau a plethora of crafters appear, and one of those is sure to be a great place to offload your less-than-perfect clothing options. Lastly, try freecycle.org, an online free exchange site. Simply sign up for your local group, post your free clothing, and wait for the crafters to come to you.

Email the Alaska Crafter at alaskacrafter@gmail.com with any questions or comments you'd like answered!

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