Working with Polymer Clay : Interview with Artist Stacey Halabuda
We recently asked our crafters to review a new polymer clay product so we decided to interview one of the artists. Stacey works with Polymer clay and runs her craft business from home. Her works are truly pieces of heaven. We asked about crafting and working with Polymer clay and running a craft business.
How did you get interested in crafts?
I always remember being crafty but it really all started with a quilling kit I was bought for my birthday one year. Although I wasn’t particularly good at it but I loved having a go.
Have you always been crafty?
Yes, I have always loved making things. I have tried a few crafts over the years but I think I’ve finally found a craft that I am good at.
What kind of training did you have?
I haven’t had any training. At school I was useless so had no inclination to study it any further than was required at school. I do now wish I’d have given myself a chance but I always thought you needed to be able to draw to study art. Plus I always thought I’d be a geography teacher.
Clay hints and Tips
What is the most challenging thing about working with Clay?
Soft clay can sometimes be tricky to work with. I do have a simple solution though. I roll it out pretty thin then sandwich it between some white paper. This absorbs some of the oil making your clay perfect. Just don’t leave it too long. The technique is called leeching.
What is your favorite thing about working with Clay?
I love the total freedom you have with clay. You get these little blocks delivered and you can turn them into the most beautiful things.
What has been your biggest disaster?
I made a hedgehog about two years ago. Spent ages lovingly adding his spines one by one. I was so pleased with the result. Then I popped him in the oven and could not wait to see him all baked and ready to show off. During baking, he had fallen over due to the base I made not being able to take his weight. He ended up half spiky, half flat! Hours of work wasted!
I did learn about making sure my 3D pieces had better bases from that day on.
Can you share with us some good clay tips?
- Always have some good wet wipes handy.
- Don’t use cheap clay.
- I would always advise a nice smooth glass work surface. I just use a really big chopping board. It’s easy to clean and very hard to damage.
- Clean hands are essential but you will always end up with bits in the clay! Don’t panic though because the wet wipes will help. You can remove most unwanted bits with a wet wipe.
- Always condition your clay properly before you start creating and store your clay properly to prevent it from drying out and attracting dust.
I couldn’t work without a few key tools
A clear acrylic rolling pin
A feather blade
A pointy tool
How long was your biggest commission?
My longest commission was one of my most recent makes. It’s a replica of a toy rabbit on a jar. The texturing of the rabbit took hours and hours. I couldn’t do it in one go. It took about 7 days of on and off texturing. For a small piece, it was such a huge amount of work.
If you could have any kind of colour or effect clay what would you have?
Ooh, I would love a baby pink glitter clay oh and more pearl colours! They are my favourite so I would love all the colours to have a pearl option.
Modern-day Clay makers
What advice would you give to other clay makers out there?
To start, get a few essentials. Don’t go crazy buying everything you see as it can be overwhelming.
Also, manage your expectations. When I first had a go at clay I have visions of being amazing, and I really wasn’t. I put everything I bought and made in the bin and didn’t touch clay again for about 5 years. The expectations I had for myself were too high when I had no actual clay experience.
Join a clay group on Facebook.
There are ways people willing to help beginners.
YouTube! Don’t overlook it. There are so many excellent videos that will help you.
How has social media changed your creative ways?
Absolutely! YouTube is one of the best places to share and search for information and tutorials. I also adore Facebook groups. They are a great way to connect with other crafters who share your passion for your craft. You can ask for help and advice and often make some great friends.
I also have a Facebook group for my customers. It’s a wonderful group where I can share sneak peeks of new products. My followers give me feedback before I launch a product and generally I get to know my customers and what it is they want. I would recommend that you use the social resources available to you.
Social media has been so useful to me as a crafter and a small business owner.
How do you balance family life and your work?
I work from home so that is ideal for me. My young son has autism and I work around his school hours. I don’t work weekends unless it’s to do a bit of packing or paperwork.
Being self-employed is hard as my income is not guaranteed but I have freedom and that’s priceless.
My son has recently started to take interest in clay so I am hoping that continues and we can work and play at the same time.
What are your goals for the future?
I would really love to keep improving and learning some new skills.
Craft fairs are something I am hoping o try. I like the idea of getting out there and meeting my customers face to face.
If you would like to see more of Staceys’ work then head over to her Instagram account @staceysclayworld. If you want to try creating things out of clay then we have small individual blocks or sets.
We loved getting to know one of our super talented customers!
Thank you Stacey!