Category: Tips&Tricks

Reclaim Your Clay

Labeled Scrap Clay Bins

Having now done some pottery I understand the difference between the bucket for reclaiming your earth clays and the polymer clay version. Last year or the year before I broke down and set up plastic shoeboxes for my scraps. I do a lot of claying and it still took me years of one bucket or, more recently, one bucket and a few gallon zipper bags, before I got to this stage. I dutifully labeled my boxes with the colour groups I work with and started sorting my big bucket into them. All new scraps and cane ends got dumped in.

This summer I have a little help in the studio and my help volunteered to process the scraps. We saved the better cane bits because the students love those but all of the rest of the colours got divided into 5 or 10 groups per colour and mixed until they became colours. We ended up with dozens of sheets of clay, in dozens of colours, and weighing in around 15 pounds of new-to-me clay.

Scrap Polymer Clay

From the new clay we did a kids event, the canes for some fairy houses, and the houses themselves. The inside of the houses are pre-baked blobs of very muddy scrap clay.

How did we store the end products? In blocks back in the boxes, separated by bits of wax paper.

Week 6: A Valentine’s Day Photo Holder

Here’s a simple project that uses scrap clay, a little wire or a paperclip, and either a little red, white, and pink clay or some acrylic craft paint.

1) Partially unbend and kink the end of a paperclip or, twist a double loop in a 6″ piece of wire. Trim it until the tales are only 1.5 to 2″. Kink the ends a bit.

2) Slightly condition your lump of scrap clay – I used a round chunk about 1.5″ across – and then cover it in a thin sheet of your base colour. For me, that’s a nice red sheet at #5 on my pasta machine.

3) Trim your sheet to neatly wrap and smooth out any join lines and air bubbles.

4) Add your wire to the lump and heal the hole up around the wire stem. Add a little liquid clay to the join if you have it.

5) Roll out a few scraps of clay in fun Valentine’s Day colours at a nice thin setting. I like Sculpey 3 Ballerina Pink, Premo White Glitter and Blush Pink.

6) Use small heart and circle cookie cutters to cut out a few shapes from your sheets. Decorate your base with them.

7) Bake according to package directions. Because this is a thick chunk of clay that’s going to be a while in the oven. Time it to go in with other pieces or bake it with two other projects (yes, you can bake it more after you take it out).

Spirals With Scrap Clay

After a season of classes, craft shows and making beads and canes for sale in my Etsy shop… I have a lot of scrap clay. I’ve gotten better about how it gets used and keeping it separated in rough colour groups so it’s even fairly useful scrap clay.

It’s still a lot of it.

This means there’s a little bit of just random playing around as I remind myself that you have to do some doodling in order to get new ideas and learn new techniques. The other day was spiral patterns in scraps a couple of different ways.

Mind you, I’m not a fan of my filigree attempts and this was a really ugly Stroppel cane variation but it did accomplish the mission: doodling with scrap clay.

If you want to make ornaments like this, hit the thrift store and get some plain glass ones and then dig into your scrap pile. There are relevant tutorials by kind people out there: