November Christmas online Market!

img_6909This November we will be having what will hopefully be the first of many online markets. The first question that people are asking us is “how does it work?”, and the second is “how is that different to any other kind of online selling?”

Hopefully these answer all your questions:

  • We plan on working in cycles to take the pressure off ourselves to constantly product new things, so we will let you know market dates ahead of time, as we are able to run them (e.g. November Christmas Market is from November 14th-16th 2016 will be the first one.
  • All items for sale will be on the Jenn & Julie Facebook Page.
  • In the weeks leading up to each market we will be posting pics of everything that is for sale, with prices and details.
  • As you have probably seen on some of the pics, people can buy at any time, but depending on details we may not get to mail them out until Market Week (but often can before then).
  • The advantage to waiting until market week is that you will then see everything that is up for grabs, …the disadvantage is that they might be gone by then.
  • If you are interested in anything just email either Jenn or Julie, depending on which email is on the pic, (and it doesn’t hugely matter if you would rather email one of us that you know)
  • Please feel free to ask for details on dimensions or weight too…
  • We take cash or paypal, and we post all over the world.
  • All our market items are lightweight and not very fragile other than the pottery which is not too heavy and we can talk about postage options when you enquire about them.
  • Having a market online as apposed to “real life” means that all our friends and customers around the world can access us.
  • Having it on a set group of dates gives us a deadline to get things ready, and a timeframe in which to send the orders out. (There is also a bit of a community feel about the lead up and conversations, and something to look forward to). We both have serious health issues and these markets allow us to tackle a single market at a time without having to commit to anything permanent. Our aim is to have a market every couple of months, but sometimes we might need a little extra time when things are tough.

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Chess Set

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Last Year I made a breakfast bar with a chess set painted on the top and a set of chess pieces out of Polymer Clay. For all kinds of complicated reasons, mostly my failing health, I didn’t quite finish and just need to make the two Queens entirely and the white King still needs his crown. So this has been waiting in the side lines but as part of the catch up I thought that I would put up photos anyway and hopefully that will be a reminder to finish those last two pieces. I am trying to finish as many projects as possible that I was not able to touch last year, for my own piece of mind as much as anything…

Updating Updating!!

Today we tried to put up some more info on our classes and what we sell,

Here are the two links to our ….

CLASSES:

What when where who etc is here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/posts-from-jenn/

Details of the individual classes are here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/scheduled-classes/

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What we SELL:

Is here:

https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/for-sale/

So for all those of you who have been asking what the pictures are of and what we do with them, what we teach and so on, hopefully these pages will help to explain it all!!

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Why Filani

Every now and then we will give a detailed post about the products that we use and why … so this one is about Filani which is the brand of clay that we use:

Why Filani
When ever people see us making things with clay, the first thing they ask is โ€œit is that Fimo stuff?โ€

The short answer is yes it is Polymer Clay, but no the brand we use is not Fimo. We have nothing against Fimo and in fact their clay can be created into some pretty sharp lines that we find impressive, but we choose to use Filani. That sounds a little like a paid advertisement, but the truth is that we use it completely of our own choice, and for many reasons! So in case you are wondering, here they are:

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1. There are sooo many good things about them!

We love Filani because we genuinely think that overall, they are the best. We love Sculpey III and Premo as well, and have been using them for nearly twenty years now, and had we not stumbled across Filani we would still be using them. But we decided to try Filani when we found it because of all the reasons below and many of those reasons are enough to make the change all on their own, never mind that there are so many!!

2. The Researchโ€ฆ

Once we started trying a little Filani and liked it, we decided to see what the โ€œbig wigsโ€ around the world think of them.. and were pleasantly surprised to see how they have been tested and here is what we found:

http://claypolymer.blogspot.com/2013/10/testing-polymer-clay-flexibility-at-60.html

Here they tested all the major brands on flexibility (in the context of it not breaking!!! which is important!!) and Filani beat them all!! If you enjoy this site then look around at as they did other tests on cooking times, colours, all sorts of things โ€ฆ we learnt a lot here alone!

http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer?post=1687704755&group=0&frame_type=b&blog=9551767&frame=1&click=0&user=0

Again Filani was up there in the winnings.

Not everyone has heard of Filani yet, they are only about 5 years old at the time of printing this (early 2014), and so considering that and that they are a non US company, they have done extremely well to be up there being known and tested by some of the big guys. From our research we found that for those big wigs who have tested it, they came first or second on most things tested which is pretty impressive! So from a third party research point of view, we were pretty impressed!

3. Our own experience!

We donโ€™t believe in ONLY doing research, nor in ONLY using our own experience, we think that a combination of both is important when making big decisions like changing brands in a business!! So this is not as scientific as the tests below, and we didnโ€™t do comparison tests as such, but we use our hands and our ovens and clay almost every day and we know our products well, and so just simply using Filani in every day use is a different kind of testing! So we simply used it as we do in real life over many colours and many months and we really like it ๐Ÿ™‚

I particularly LOVE the colours!! There is something earthy about them even the bright ones, and the range is really good and growing all the time!

It is also really import to us and our integrity, for you to know that we chose Filani of our own free will. No one has paid or given us ANY incentives to try or use them, and our own trials of over 6 months were done on our own coin! We have come to our OWN conclusions, that we REALLY like their products! We still love Premo especially and will continue to use up our rather large stashes and even add to it from time to time, with both Sculpey III and Premo, but in all our classes we only use Filani and we only sell Filani brands where possible (not all products in the clay world belong to any one brand, but our clays do!)

4. They are LOCAL!!! woohoo!!

We love Filani because it is local. Buying South African products to support local manufacturers and create local jobs is ALWAYS a good thing!! We are proud to be South African and proud of our rainbow nation, and we LOVE that we produce so many incredible products here!! But we wouldnโ€™t use most of them simply for being local! They need to be good enough to stand in their own right and Filani are standing up to the big brands all over the world and are only getting bigger!! We are soooo proud of this and we cannot think of a better company to get behind!

Being local also means that we can get supplies in not only fast but that they are actually almost always available! Many of the other brands can be hard to source in certain colours, never mind that for us they are hard to get. So access is consistent, fast, and reliable!

5. Back Up!!

We chose Filani not the other way around! Not that they donโ€™t love us we are sure!! But we tested them and worked on their products for months before approaching them to work with them more closely, and it turned out to be at a time when they just happened to be looking for knew facilitators and the timing was just right! We each need each other, and we know it and have built a really professional but honest to goodness relationship which is an incredible bonus!! โ€ฆ and the support and back up since we met has been incredible!! We talk about products, we talk about results, we fiddle with colours and we share our trials and thoughts and ideas. Having a product like this to support our business is a huge bonus! To us Filani is more than a great product, it is part of our business and we are proud of that!!

6.They are one classy company!!

Product is everything! They need to produce the best possible product, and they do! But we have also had the privilege of being able to visit the Filani factory on a number of occasions, and have been super impressed. They are good people who run an INCREDIBLE company, and a factory that is cleaner and better run than most companies that I have seen! They are professional, they care deeply about their people, they actively create jobs where possible and do much by hand for this reason where they could easily have replaced people with machines! They work HARD on their products and are perfectionists which is a great thing for their business!!

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More fun

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I am loving this. So much fun. I have added some more pics to show what I have been up to. Just look at all the fabulous colours in the collection of beads โ€“ and I havenโ€™t even started mixing colours yet. Just think you can make a strand of beads to match every outfit in your wardrobe. It is really affordable โ€“ so you really could! Then there is my board of tiles. I just love the โ€œsculptabilityโ€ (is that a word) of it. Playing with textures and adding creatures keeps me absorbed, relaxed and happy for hours. Just look at my little elephant picture. I rolled out some mixed bits of clay and it just happened. What a surprise!! There it was in the middle of the sheet all I added was more definition of the tusk. I have always loved elephants so this was a true gift for me.
Seriously though, this is such a versatile medium, forgiving and affordable and requires minimal additional equipment.

Julie

Softening VERY Crumbly Clay

The other day I needed a lot of white clay for an upcoming class on polymer clay mosaic, but the clay was VERY crumbly…. Over the years I have heard many many theories on clay consistency: “white is always dryer” “black is always harder to work with” etc … and while I have had my fair share of dry whites and hard to condition blacks, but I have also had many WONDERFULLY consistent clays straight out of the wrapping, in both these colours. So in my experience it is less about which colour and more about which batch. After seeing all that they do in the factories with air conditioners and so on, they work VERY hard to get the clay consistent across the board, and this applies to all brands, but some just come out softer than others. AND, don’t forget that some that come out of the packaging “perfect” can be clays that become too sticky to work with the more that they are worked… so there is a VERY fine line that the manufacturers need to work with!

I have also opened packs of clay that are 6 or 7 years old and been just fine (it’s amazing what you find when you clean out the dark corners of studio cupboards! …. and nothing should be wasted right?!!), … ย and others that are fresh and new and still need a ton of extra conditioning to get them going… so what does one do when a pack of clay is too hard or crumbly?? I am not talking about clays that need that little extra conditioning before they are right, I am talking about the stuff that just keeps crumbling and refuses to be conditioned!

One way is to use clay softener. I am not very good at this. Yes I have tried it and yes it works a treat, but problem A: is that one has to be very careful of using too much and it going mushy …. which of course you don’t realise until it is too late!! And B: is that to do it best you need to put it in a zip lock bag over night to absorb at it’s own pace, and this takes both time and patience, both of which I forgot to stand in line for when God was handing them out!!! So what is a quicker, easier way??

Translucent clay!! The first reason that this stuff is great is that it is USUALLY (but not always) more on the softer side of usual clay, and secondly, it doesn’t change the original colour. Of course if you use a TON then it can lighten it somewhat, but mostly it just makes the colour you are mixing it with go further.

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1. I started by conditioning half a block of translucent clay which took 2 seconds because it is so nice and soft ๐Ÿ™‚ then I rolled it on one of the thinner settings, cut it in half, and broke off bits to cover any holes so that I had a full sheet of translucent clay, and laid it under the machine ready to catch all the crumbles of white clay. I then cut the white clay into 3 thin slices and ran one of them through the roller on the widest setting. The crumbles fell through and landed in a pile on the bed of translucent clay ๐Ÿ™‚

2. I gently removed the whole thing being careful not to drop anything, and spread the white clay over the whole piece of translucent so that spread it out evenly (I will do this another day using a colour other than white sorry!!)

3. I then covered the whole thing with the second half of the translucent clay and squashed it down. By now all the crumbles of white are embedded in translucent clay and so won’t fall all over the place as we proceed. You will still have a few bits who get away but for the most part this keeps them all contained ๐Ÿ™‚

4. I then ran the whole thing through the machine as I normally would to condition, and eventually had a consistent clean white block of fairly soft clay.

I then repeated the process with the second third of white clay, using the conditioned translucent/white mix as the base, and then when that was worked through I put the last of the three parts of white crumbly clay through. I ended up with a whole block of white and half a block of translucent mixed, making it one and a half blocks of pure white ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course if I had some white clay that was very soft I could have used that instead of the translucent, and earlier in the week I needed some skin tones and so used a soft terracotta as the base and added the crumbled white to it and it worked just as well. So this worka for mixing colours as much as it works for simply making more of one colour!

In the end I had all the white I needed to make this dove for an upcoming class, and here it is baking with some red embellishments that I made the day before!

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Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

jenn

 

Packages Packages!!!

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Everyone loves packages right!! Whether in the post, delivered by hand, or arriving in the mail! Well we have been getting lots of packages lately … all three kinds actually … so thank you to my VERY kind package deliverers! (We will ignore the fact that we spent a small fortune in order to get said packages hehe, but packages we have!!!) We have been receiving our metal clays from the US, and our polymer clays and liquid clays and glazes and powders from Filani here in South Africa, and unpacking, sorting, filing and paying is fun at first, but when all you want to do is play with it, it gets a bit tiring after a while! Also we don’t want to be using up the stock for our students and customers, so there has been much to do and still a few packages to come but we are getting there…

I said that I would share with you some of the new things that Filani have come up with and the biggest one for me is that they are now packaging their clay in two sets of thin sheets instead of as one block like everyone else! This will sound a little “whatever” if you don’t use clay much, but whoever thought that clay should come in blocks obviously doesn’t EVER have to condition it!! Filani clay has always come in thinner blocks compared to other brands, which we LOVE, but now that they have halved that thickness again, meaning that the package comes in two “slices” you peel off a layer and get straight to the conditioning!! I LOVE IT!!!

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The roses I threw in for colour ๐Ÿ™‚ … (and because they are from my son for Mother’s day!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ )…. but today I played with this translucent clay from Filani and opening the pack and it already being in two thin layers was SUCH a pleasure! I peeled one off and was already ahead of where I would normally be!! … AND was conditioning without even using a blade yet! I LOVE it (can you tell?)

I have also being trying to make a couple of sets of sample boards for us, so am making little buttons in both a light and dark clay to show how all the finishes come up… I still have a way to go and can’t finish it until all the last colours arrive which will hopefully be this week. I also of course did some other playing around which one needs to do when one is working and a tangent calls ๐Ÿ™‚

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