Hi folks...I have been working with Polymer Clay for over 30 years (doesn't time fly when you're having fun!!) Now, if you have a minute I'll tell you how it began... it all started while I was working at a residential special school for children with visual impairment. One of the children👫 brought some Fimo into school after the Christmas holidays🎄, so we used to make all sorts of little animals🐑🐷🐭 and fridge magnets in the evenings after lessons. I was hooked from then on!
Initially I made things for myself...brooches, ear rings and fridge magnets etc, but then friends and colleagues started asking me to make bespoke items which was great.
Latest commission...Student Fairy!
At that time it was just a hobby, something that I could do in my spare time. I found it very relaxing and theraputic...I even took my clay on holiday ⛱with me! (I'm sure I'm not the only one who's done that!) I spent the next few years making all sorts of bits and pieces...in those days (makes me feel old!) there weren't many clay resources...no books(only one Fimo book), no specific tools and obviously no Internet as a source of inspiration (how did we manage without Pinterest??)
In the mid 90's whilst on holiday in Cornwall I came across a book📖 called Creating with Polymer Clay: Designs, Techniques and Projects by Steven Ford (and others).
To say I was blown away was an understatement!! It showed amazing art could be made with Fimo and introduced me to so many tools,such as the blades and of course the mighty pasta machine! I spent the rest of the holiday reading and planning the amazing things I was going to make when I got home! (Not sure if the rest of the family loved the book!!)
So for the next few years I enjoyed my hobby...teaching myself all sorts of new techniques. I joined the British Polymer Clay Guild and went on a couple of amazing weekends where I learned so much and met some wonderful clay people ( ha! ha! ) When my son Ben was in Y3 (age 8) his teacher asked me to come into class and get the children to make Fimo penguins🐧 for their Winter Animals topic...this was to be the first of many, many workshops that I have done over the last 18 years.I will run a workshop for just one class or a whole school, on a 3D project or display for the school entrance hall...inside art or outside art...the school chooses! I now get asked to run them all over the UK, I love my job so much. Just getting the children to discover the clay and what they can do with it, gives me so much joy.
Toys at St Marys RC School in Rochdale
During those years I also did craft fairs and fetes🎪 which had various financial outcomes...some were dire!! Not even making the money I paid out for the stall and petrol costs🚗!! But then you'd have a good one and life is good! When Ben and Amy were getting bigger they would sometimes join me and would enjoy wandering around the fair, playing with the Fimo I had brought with me and enjoying the day out. Although I would often send more than I earned...rides🎠🎡🎢 and hotdogs 🌭come at a price 😀
I also ran birthday parties 🎂🎉for children too which are still popular to this day. These events just don't seem like work to me...I go to someone's home and teach them how to make Fimo animals 🐕🐒🐷🐰🐼 or a whole host of other bits and pieces and I get paid!
Having fun on your birthday...
I moved to Sheffield about 4 years ago to live with my partner Bob. Ben and Amy had decided to stay with their dad in Bolton as they were now at Uni and college. This was a difficult transition for me both personally😓 and from a business perspective. It was basically starting from scratch again in a new area. But Sheffield is a very creative and exciting city to live in with lots of opportunities to expand my business and to get where I want to be and with the loving ❤ support from Bob I have found that I am busier than ever😊
I now work for the homeless charity Crisis, providing them with Polymer Clay workshops for the homeless and vulnerably housed🏠. I run 5 workshops a week in hostels, supported housing schemes and refuges. This provides the people I work with a safe, creative space where they can explore the medium in a relaxed atmosphere. Nearly everyone I work with finds it extremely theraputic and have felt better after their session. Their self confidence and self esteem🙆 have improved and just the fact of creating something that they are proud of is of huge benefit to them. I LOVE❤ MY JOB!!🖒
Workshop at a hostel in Rotherham
My aim at present is to sell my work in shops and galleries, and also via Etsy and Folksy. This is proving harder than I thought. There is a lot of work to do on marketing, design,packaging...but with a bit of hard work I will get there!
There is a lot of advice and information about improving your creative business, so with time set aside once a week, I try to teach myself new techniques to improve my knowledge about such things (I do try!!)😆