Crafting Lately: A Polymer Clay Hedgehog for My Staff

Hi everyone. Today is my assigned staff’s last shift at my home. This afternoon, we did a little handover between her and my new assigned staff and I put the new assigned staff’s work E-mail address in my phone. You see, I used to E-mail my old assigned staff quite regularly and the staff at least are hoping that I can build up some trust in the new one if I can E-mail her too. I’m not sure what I think of this.

Like I mentioned before, my old assigned staff has a pet hedgehog. As a leave-taking present, I made her one out of polymer clay.

I had already created a polymer clay hedgehog from a tutorial before, so I knew roughly how to go about it. However, with this one, I wanted its snout to be a different color from its body. This meant blending together the body and snout without distorting either too much. My staff’s pet hedgehog is a four-toed hedgehog, which has a white or slightly creamy belly. I used Fimo Soft white for its body and Fimo Soft in the color Sahara for its snout.

I then added its ears, which were slightly pointed on my original hedgehog but I’d since figured out that at least my staff’s hedgehog has round ears. I chose Sahara for those again. For its eyes, I chose black. I think my black is Fimo Professional, which is usually too hard to condition for my liking especially when it’s older. That doesn’t really matter though, since I only use it for small details like eyes.

Adding the hedgehog’s spikes was difficult the last time, but easier now. I created very thin, cone-like spikes and then added them to the hedgehog’s body. With my last hedgehog, they kept falling off when I added more, but with this one, I was more lucky. My staff’s pet hedgehog has spikes in two colors, so I alternated between Chocolate and Sahara.

I decided to bake the hedgehog for 90 minutes, because I wanted to make sure it got thoroughly cured. After all, I hadn’t used anything such as tinfoil on the inside of the hedgehog, so it was a relatively thick sculpture. After baking, I painted the little white dots in the hedgehog’s eyes. I usually do this to make the eyes of my creatues appear more expressive.

I gave my staff the hedgehog last Sunday and she immediately recognized Willow, her pet, in it. She especially loved the way I’d done its eyes. She says she’s placed Fimo Willow on flesh-and-bones Willow’s cage. I feel very honored about that.

Crafting Lately: Polymer Clay Kawaii Sun, Cloud and Star

Hi everyone. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been quite creatively inspired. Today, I want to show you all some of my sky-themed polymer clay creations. Here goes.

Polymer Clay Kawaii Sun

The first one is a sun. I did its “body” using Fimo Soft in the color Lemon. I started by creating a ball, then flattening it into a dome shape.

For its rays, I used Fimo Soft in the color Tangerine. I created short snakes that I flattened on one end and turned pointy on the other to form the beam. This was not how the person doing the tutorial I followed, did it, but I felt this is how it worked for me. I then attached the rays to the body. I decided to turn them slightly upward, as I liked that better than a completely flat sun. Once I’d baked my sun, I found out that at least one of the rays is bent upwards a little too much.

Then I created eyes and a mouth out of black Fimo (I think it’s Fimo Professional, but not 100% sure). I still struggle to get my eyes to be equal size, as you’ll see in the picture of the cloud below. Finally, I used an orange chalk pastel to color “cheeks” on the sun. I didn’t like pink for the sun, because I wanted to give it a little sunset-style look.

Polymer Clay Kawaii Cloud

The next thing I created was a cloud. I struggled a little with its indents or curves and, to be honest, I like this one least out of the three creations. I did this one using Fimo Kids in the color Glitter White. I again added a black mouth and eyes (you can probably tell its left eye is larger than its right eye). This time, I added light pink chalk pastel for its cheeks. I had originally wanted to go for a blue overall dusting, but my staff said pink cheeks looked better.

Polymer Clay Kawaii Star

Finally, the star! This was the one that took me the most practice. I shaped the entire thing using my fingers out of a ball of clay, in my case Fimo Effect in the color Pastel Vanilla. I can’t explain how I did it, but Creative Rachy on YouTube has the tutorial. I again added a black mouth and eyes and pink cheeks (a darker shade than for the cloud).

I cured each of my creations on my oven-safe workmat, because I was scared of damaging the back if I’d bake directly on the tile. The back didn’t turn out as well as I’d like to, but you don’t see this when not holding the things in your hand anyway.

Because I’d used chalk pastels on each of these creations, I had to glaze them in order to protect the chalk pastel. I used Cernit varnish in matt for this. I did two coats on each of these things and then popped my creations in the oven again to harden the glaze.

I really love these little projects. Each of them was relatively easy. I am still looking to improve my craft, of course.

Linking up with Fabulous Friday.

Temp Workers #WotW

Hi everyone. May I take the opportunity to join Raisie Bay’s Word of the Week Linky (a little late) to share about my experiences with temp workers this week? That’s my theme for the week for sure, as the week both started and ended with a temp worker doing my one-on-one shift.

Well, technically the one doing my shift this evening was self-employed, not employedd by the temping agency. However, my point is that neither had been oriented to my shift. The one doing my shift this evening, had had a few regular group shifts in my care home before, but still, she was really new.

On Monday, I lay in bed most of the morning, because this woman was just completely clueless as to what to do and also didn’t seem to show any interest in me at all. She paged through my information folder, but I was rather surprised if she got something right out of it. It didn’t help that the two staff working the regular shifts were also relatively new.

Today, I braced myself for another difficult shift. I had been told that the staff doing my one-on-one today had a lot of experience working in psychiatric hospitals, with which I don’t have the best of experiences. I mean, just because I’m a nutcase doesn’t mean I want to be treated like I’m just a nutcase. And I don’t mean this in the way you’d expect: I don’t want people to expect me to comport myself just like that because all I am is a mental patient who “knows better”. After all, in truth, sometimes I don’t know better.

This morning, I learned that said staff also has a lot of creative talent. My morning one-on-one thought she might be able to teach me macrame. This scared me a little, much as I’d really love someone who knows what they do in terms of creative work. After all, they also know bad crafting when they see it. As it turned out, indeed, the staff was able to talk me out of pursuing macrame any further. She did admire my polymer clay creations though and said I could sell them. This tells me she doesn’t know clay, but I was back in my comfort zone again where I’m the “expert”. I showed her how to blend a color (that I later realized I already have in my collection, but oh well).

I did through both temp worker shifts, notice that my assigned staff made several mistakes in my daily schedule. For example, today at 3:15PM, the afternoon staff came by my room with coffee even though I’d already had coffee at 2:15PM. As it turned out, both times are listed as coffee breaks. I don’t really mind usually, although if the staff who comes on at 4PM also forgets my water, it means I’ll have lots of coffee in me and not enough plain water. I know reports vary on the hydrating effect of coffee and most say you retain at least two-thirds of the water. I try not to make a big deal out of it, but it does get confusing.

Speaking of coffee, I did play today’s staff a little. She was making coffee at 7PM because the regular staff had forgotten. She got the can labeled “regular coffee” and started putting it into the machine. I could’ve said then that, per the home’s rules, we drink decaf at 7PM, but didn’t. We both had a little laugh when I did eventually tell her once she’d already turned the coffee maker on.

Word of the Week linky

My First Proper Pair of Polymer Clay Earrings

Hi everyone. I finally have been motivated to actually make something out of polymer clay again. I guess last Saturday I kicked myself in the behind with my post, saying I fully intended to actually be crafting again rather than just looking at crafty YouTube videos. In fact, these earrings aren’t based on a YouTube tutorial at all. That’s honestly because I still consider the YouTube tutorials a little out of my ability range, but oh well.

I say these are my first proper earrings because I previously, about eight or nine months ago, created a pair of “boiled egg” earrings. I think I showed them here too, but anyway, VoiceOver, the iPhone’s built-in screen reader, guessed that they were two halves of a boiled egg. They were rather ugly in terms of color (yellow in the middle, then white, then purple) but more importantly, I’d glued the earring studs to the polymer clay using a cheap brand of jeweller’s glue. Now for those not familiar with polymer clay: most glues don’t work well with it. Only superglue gel will do and I’ve even heard mixed results about that. Don’t bother with E6000, let alone cheaper glues like the one I used. Bottom line: the earring stud fell off within several hours.

Now on to these earrings I created yesterday. First, I decided to roll out a slab of caramel Fimo with my pasta machine. I had to do this several times over because I kept getting horizontal roller lines in my slab. Finally, once I was satisfied with the result, I cut out the flower shapes. I later learned that it is recommended to lay a piece of copy paper over your slab and lightly roll your acrylic roller over it in all directions. This is called burnishing and should even out any ridges in your slab. I then had my staff poke a small hole into my pieces with a bead piercing pin. This is to guide my drill later on.

Then I baked my pieces at 130°C for 45 minutes. (For those reading the Fimo packaging that says to bake no longer than the recommended 30 minutes, this is flat out wrong.) I baked the pieces on a sheet of parchment paper which I’d put onto my ceramic tile. The oven I use is a convection oven where the fan can’t be turned off, so I had to put an aluminum container over my sheet of parchment paper to prevent it from flying all around the oven. Unfortunately, the parchment paper might’ve flown a little underneath the container, as my pieces did turn out slightly crooked. Either that or I should’ve used copy paper rather than parchment paper, as is recommended by some.

Once the pieces had baked for 45 minutes and then cooled down completely, I drilled the holes into the earrings. I had already decided I wanted to decorate the edges with gold Fimo liquid, but this was my first time drilling actual holes into polymer clay pieces, so I was too curious to see how it’d go to wait till I’d finished the project. I did the drilling mostly independently, only needing my staff to hold down my pieces because I needed two hands to drill.

I then sanded the pieces. There was a bit of a bump on both of my earrings, one bigger than the other. I’m not sure it was an air bubble, as sanding it didn’t leave a hole. I think I did an okay job of sanding them away.

I then decorated the edges with Fimo liquid. I needed some help with this, as of course I’m blind and I cannot feel my way to where I’d need to put the liquid or I’d put it all over my fingers.

Then another round in the oven for 30 minutes (which I’m not sure is enough, but my pieces look fine). Then my staff attached the jumprings and attached those to the earring hooks.

I intend on giving these to my sister when I visit her on Sunday. She’s more of a silvery girl than a goldy one, but I didn’t have silver-colored earring hooks.

Other than the earrings having become slightly curved in the oven, I am relatively content with how they turned out. What do you think?

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Busy Monday, Love Your Creativity and the Craftastic Link Party.

Xenos, Action, Fimo-Shop, Etc.: Shopping for Craft Supplies #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter X post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today I want to talk about shopping for supplies related to my creative hobbies. I am cheating a little as, while Xenos is a store that does sell craft supplies among other things, I haven’t ordered anything there in years and the last thing I bought there wasn’t craft-related. It was a wax melt burner. So, that’s all I’ll say about Xenos for this post, but I needed something for the letter X. I guess a lot of people cheat with this letter, so it’s okay. And even if it isn’t, I don’t care.

Action, much like Xenos, is another store that sells lots of things. Also like Xenos, its prices are usually lower than those in other stores, as Action usually sells imitation premium brand products. I did in fact buy a lot of my crafting supplies there. I refuse to buy polymer clay at Action, but I did buy my acrylic paints, my glitters, my brushes that I use for applying the acrylic paints or glitters or Fimo liquid, etc., and many other supplies there.

My polymer clay, I usually buy online. There is a craft store here in town, but they only sell like five different colors of Fimo at a time. One of my favorite shops is Fimo-Shop.nl. That store usually has the entire Fimo collection in stock.

Sculpey and Cernit are brands of polymer clay that aren’t that commonplace in the Netherlands. I haven’t used their clay, but if I need something from that brand (such as one day I needed a Sculpey glaze), I order from HappyThings.eu.

I buy my color recipes on Etsy. So far, I’ve ordered from DewDropInc and PolymerClayLoves.

I order from other stores too, but these are the ones I’m happiest about. For example, I once ordered my polymer clay letter stamp set from an online art store that happens to sell polymer clay supplies too (won’t name the store because this’d be a negative review) and, not only did the description of the stamp set not match what I got (it was fine, but still), the polymer clay I’d also ordered was extremely hard and crumbly. This is one reason I usually order my clay at specialized polymer clay stores now.

Practice Makes Perfect?: How I Deal With Perfectionism As a Creative #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter P post in the #AtoZChallenge on creativity. Like I’ve said a couple of times before, I can be quite a bit of a perfectionist. Today, I want to talk about that.

Of course people say that practice makes perfect. I disagree. Even after a lot of practice making unicorns out of polymer clay, I still make mistakes. You see, here’s my most recent unicorn.

As you can see, one of its ears is slightly bent backwards and its horn is slightly crooked. You may or may not be able to see this, but the heart-shaped platform on which it stands is also slightly curved.

Sometimes, when my creation is really off and I don’t find out until after I’ve baked it, I throw it straight into the trash. That rarely happens now. In this sense, I’m not that much of a perfectionist, in that I do let less-than-perfect creations remain and even share them online.

When I still work on a project though, I try my best to perfect it. I don’t accept a mediocre result from myself when there’s still room for me to improve on it.

It does, however, feel slightly discouraging knowing that, even after months of practising, I still can’t create the perfect unicorn. I’d like to move on to something else, but if I’m still not able to craft this sculpture exactly as I want it, how can I move on?

Of course, I can, and I do craft other things besides unicorns. But doing a different design for a unicorn would feel like giving up on this particular design. And I have just a little too much experience having to give up on a technique or an entire craft.

Do I seriously not believe that practice makes perfect? Maybe I do believe it, but not in my own case. And maybe that’s a thing of low self-esteem and it needs to change. After all, maybe just practising sculpting the same unicorns using the same techniques a thousand times won’t make me perfect, but I could still ask advice from other polymer clay artists on how they’ve prevented their slabs, for example, from going curved. That way, maybe my next unicorn will be another step closer to perfect.

Origami, Card Making and Other Paper Crafts, Oh My! #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter O post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, as suggested by one of you lovely readers, I am going to talk about origami. And card making. And other paper crafts. After all, if I were to just talk about origami, I could’ve been done within a sentence or two about those two dozen (or what did I say?) frogs I crafted in second grade. I haven’t done origami in years. No, not even a paper airplane, if that even counts as origami. Not that I ever could do those, but well.

That brings me to the other paper crafts I couldn’t do, which include basically all paper crafts. The first craft I started out with, when I decided I wanted to do something creative, was a kind of art journal using scrapbooking supplies and random quotes. I originally intended on typing them out on my Braille typewriter, but ended up just having the staff print them out on the psych hospital printer. Then, I’d glue them onto a page of cardstock and decorate the page with random embellishments.

Then came card making. Like I said, it wasn’t for a lack of trying that I wasn’t successful. Or for a lack of supplies. I literally spent over €1000 on card making supplies and that probably doesn’t include my €100 Big Shot embossing machine. Granted, before I bought that one, I did visit another card maker to see if I could actually operate the machine. I could. Actually making good-looking cards with the pieces I cut and embossed with the machine, was the problem.

I also for a bit tried quilling. For those not familiar with it, quilling involves cutting stripes of paper and then rolling them, sometimes with the help of a needle, into interesting shapes, such as coils, teardrops, etc. It was kind of fun to do for the short while that I tried it before deciding I couldn’t meet my own standards with the practice I was willing to put into it. Thankfully, I only had to buy a starter kit to try it.

I still would like to someday pick up paper crafting again. If I do, I’ll make sure to watch some YouTube tutorials first before just randomly starting out designing my own creations. I will also make sure to buy my supplies at low-budget stores and to limit myself to just a few supplies before I go broke with a hobby I don’t know whether I’ll ever truly like.

Lessons I Learned While Working With Polymer Clay #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to the letter L post in my #AtoZChallenge on creative self-discovery and self-expression. Today, I want to talk about things I learned along the way during my creative process. I am going to limit myself to polymer clay this time, as there’s so much I’ve learned.

My very first polymer clay creation was done after a blog post I’d found, but the blogger wasn’t specifically focused on polymer clay or even crafting in general. Maybe because of that, her skill level was quite basic. This was good for me, as I could easily follow the steps to creating my first project. It was a flower that I’d rolled out using a wooden rolling pin, cut out using a cookie cutter and then stuck a blob of clay onto as its center. I stuck a thick crochet needle through it to make a hole. When it was baked, I colored around the edges of the center with a sharpie.

There are so many things I did wrong with that one. First, I used a wooden rolling pin. I quite quickly found out that wood absorbs some components of polymer clay and, for this reason, wooden tools shouldn’t be used. I should have used an acrylic roller. Or, better yet, a pasta machine. Honestly, even though I do still have an acrylic roller, I hardly ever use it for rolling out sheets of clay now.

Then, the blob of clay. My flower center was raised and I had no way of preventing that at the time. Now, I can roll out my clay on a thin setting on my pasta machine, then cut out the desired shape for the center and put it onto the flower and, if I want to, give it a roll with my acrylic roller. To be honest, I haven’t tested that process recently.

Then, the hole. I eventually decided to buy bead piercing pins to be able to pierce thinner holes into polymer clay pieces that needed holes. Getting the holes in without distortion was quite the learning curve and I still honestly cannot do it myself. I can instruct my staff, but they have to do the actual twisting of the bead piercing pin.

Finally, the sharpie. Sharpie ink reacts with polymer clay or so I’ve heard. My piece is fine so far (I still have it because it was my first creation), but I did eventually decide not to use sharpies on polymer clay anymore.

After this one project came many more failed projects from which I learned one or more lessons. For example, I at one point used cheap glitter glue to cover my baked polymer clay piece. Well, that wouldn’t stick. Instead, I now add glitter to the raw clay just before baking my piece. Please note that you cannot run polymer clay that you’ve added glitter or mica or anything to through your pasta machine. At best, it will create a mess and at worst, it will ruin your pasta machine.

Finally, of course, I’m currently learning about colors and color mixing. Just yesterday, I downloaded a book off Bookshare about color mixing specifically for polymer clay artists. I think I’ll love it!

Jewelry-Making #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone. Welcome to my letter J post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to share about one of my crafty hobbies once again, because I thought it’d be an interesting distraction from the more philosophical musings. Besides, I just didn’t have another topic for this letter, ha.

I made my first pieces of jewelry back in the psych hospital in like 2014 or 2015. Back then, I bought quite expensive beads, such as gemstone beads, even though I could only make basic necklaces and bracelets. That is, I did make one necklace with three different wires, but I needed a lot of help with it.

Then, after a while, I stopped making jewelry, because I just needed too much help with it and couldn’t really produce the quality I liked. I restarted about a year ago. This time, the first beads I bought, were simple acrylic beads that weren’t too expensive or precious. I did try to go for shapes I liked, such as butterflies. I also at one point bought a collection of 90 silver-colored, plastic charms for €5,95.

For my birthday last year, I got a surprise package of jewelry-making supplies from a store local to my parents. In this package were a lot of glass beads, which I loved. Thus came back my love of creating glass and actual metal jewelry.

Because most of my glass beads are irregularly shaped, I at first struggled to get each side of the necklace, with the charm or pendant in the middle, equally long. To solve this, I got myself a beading board to be able to count out the length of each side of the necklace. My best glass beaded necklace is one I created about two months ago using this board as a guide.

I also like to make my own beads and jewelry out of polymer clay. I created one pair of earrings back in the early days of my polymer clay journey, but glued the earring posts to the polymer clay using generic jewelry glue. Now some people do use E6000, but even that’s generally recommended against for polymer clay. The best way to attach polymer clay earrings to their posts is to cover the posts in an additional layer of polymer clay. If you want or need to use glue anyway, choose a brand of superglue gel, such as Gorilla or Loctite. I had my staff glue the below brooch to its pin using Gorilla superglue.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 10, 2022)

Hi everyone! I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had a soft drink and a glass of water, but if you’d like a cup of coffee or tea, I’m pretty sure my staff can make you one too. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that a fellow client passed away on Wednesday. He had had COVID back in February, like most of us, but he didn’t fully recover. This client had been hospitalized several times during December and January because of seizures, but these finally seemed to be well under control. Unfortunately, COVID was the last straw. He had been on a feeding pump ever since he’d had COVID, but because he became increasingly uncomfortable and unresponsive, the doctor and staff decided to discontinue his feedings on Monday. I last saw him alive Monday evening. He actually lifted up his body, smiled and squealed with delight upon hearing my voice. I made the conscious decision, having already been informed that he’d be dying soon, to keep this memory as my last memory of him while alive.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally managed to craft another butterfly with the silicone mold I’d gotten for Christmas last December. I badly wanted to create a butterfly to go with the fellow client’s coffin, but wasn’t sure whether I could use the mold. However, other tutorials seemed even more complicated, so I eventually decided to give it a try. I did the wings in Fimo Effect color blue ice quartz. The body is pacific blue and the antennae are black.

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I have finally given in to the polymer clay color mixing thing and bought a precision kitchen scale. That plus a collection of 60 Fimo soft color recipes. Of course, I haven’t tried Fimo professional yet, but if I have to believe my staff, the colors I’ve mixed so far turn out gorgeous despite not being done with the true primary colors.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the nationwide cerebral palsy day I went to yesterday. Of course, because the ParaTransit taxi had arrived at 8AM and we didn’t have to pick up any other passengers along the way, I was in Apeldoorn, where the day would be held, by 9AM. Thankfully, I had called my mother-in-law when I entered the taxi and she’d made sure to be there on time too.

The day started with a live-streamed lecture by Erik Scherder, a neuroscientist from Amsterdam. The message was quite similar to the one he’d conveyed in 2018 when I’d attended the cerebral palsy day too: that exerting yourself physically is needed to stimulate your overall neurological wellbeing. In 2018, the lecture had mostly been geared towards (young) adults, while yesterday it was more focused on children and their parents.

I attended two workshops during the day. One was on aging with cerebral palsy, mostly geared towards those age 40+, so I was a little outside of the scope, but I could relate (sad as it may be) to some of the increasing discomfort that older adults with CP face. The other was a yoga class.

As regular readers of my blog might know, I am not 100% sure I even have cerebral palsy, in that my parents never told me and, by the time I was an adult, things got so overshadowed with other diagnoses it’s unclear. For this reason, I felt validated knowing that I appeared not to be the most mildly affected person, strange as this may seem. In fact, during the yoga class, we had to loosen up our muscles and my mother-in-law told me to loosen up. Someone else half-joked: “That’s about the hardest thing to tell a spastic.” That made me feel good.

How have you been?