I really appreciate the space that I occupy on the Sculpey Marketing Team as a contract designer. Weekly I am challenged with writing and designing new projects for all skill levels and with lots of different clays and materials. I make one of a kind pieces several times a month, write up instructions to go with them, take and edit lots of photos, and then... cross my fingers that the project or projects will touch a creative nerve in someone else.
The outcome of this is that I get to have lots of projects published. I receive an inside glimpse of potentially new products. I get to brainstorm, and try, and stretch myself, and try some more. And in the end, there is a satisfaction when I receive a comment that I have inspired or directed or problem solved for another artist or designer. And..... there’s lots of scraps. Balls of Sculpey® clays; little dishes of mixed up Liquid Sculpey®; glitter and mica and leaf all over my work station. The amount of scrap I filter through on a weekly basis can be overwhelming. I have to find positive ways to recycle the scraps and the leftovers into beauty.
The number one best way to do this is to donate the oven bake clays to charities that use it for good will. Kathy Weaver and Laquita Carter make thousands of beads each year for Bracelets of Hope and Badges of Hope to benefit children in hospitals all over the country. Ron Lehocky makes Hearts for the Kid’s Center for Pediatric Therapies. The ladies at the Ohio Reformatory for Women make polymer clay gifts on the inside that will help them to support women on the outside. These are great places to donate clay and materials.
But still... there are those bits of clay that are too mixed up and too jumbled up to feel donatable. Some of these bits and pieces seem like they are more of a hassle than a gift. What to do with these? I had to figure this out and I’m hoping that some of the ideas I’ve come up with can help you stay organized and go the extra mile with your scraps as well.
First let’s talk organization - and yes, I mean organizing your left-overs. It helps if right from the start you find a way to organize scraps into appealing color combinations. I keep those slick inexpensive deli sheets (some people call them snap wrap) on hand for this purpose. They don’t leach plasticizer out of the clay and they are just the right size for accumulating a pile of like colors. Layers of colors can be piled up with the wrap between them into shallow pans until a day when they can be worked over. Here’s a sample of some clays that I have deemed as coordinating colors: White, Gray Granite, Black, Silver, Gold, Ecru, and some random clay with gold leaf on it. There’s marbled clay, mokume gane, cane ends, slab pieces, and failed experiments - anything goes. At this point I don’t differentiate between PremoTM or Sculpey III® or SouffleTM - I only sort by color. There’s a lot of neutral in there plus the Black and White. This is a very appealing mix of scraps because you could even add in an accent color to portions of the neutrals to make a different color scheme.
Once it’s sorted, now what? My favorite way to use up the scraps is in trinket dishes. I like to create things that are functional and easy to give as gifts. The trinket dish, stash dish, ring dish, is a charming size, easy to make, functional, and fun to give. My favorite quick way to make a little dish is a variation on the Lentil Bead Technique. I roll balls of scrap clay 2”-3” in diameter, then use a large glass plate to turn them into basically a huge Lentil Bead. Then I compress and flatten the Lentil Bead onto a bowl form, flatten the bottom, and voila! A little dish! There are some unexpected benefits that come from using up scrap clays in designs like these. More often than not you will get some unplanned striping and patterning that you probably couldn’t have anticipated or achieved by starting with solid block colors.
Another great surprise is that if you’ve picked up any mica, glitter, or leaf - those elements will follow the swirl of the design on their own. I don’t know how they know how to do that but it’s always a happy surprise.
There are some great ways to turn scraps of partially blended or dirty colors into terrazzo. For this explanation let’s look at this big pile of mostly primary colors that I gathered together.
Then I chopped, chopped, chopped, chopped, them up with a blade until they were very fine. Those little bits of clay can be pressed onto a backing of clay that makes a nice background color shown in the round bowl.
Or the bits can be packed together tightly as shown in the square shaped dish.
Another style of terrazzo is what I call Liquid Terrazzo. I place chopped bits of solid clays and soak them in Liquid Sculpey®. Then fill molds with them to make jewelry items.
You can also get the most beautiful and random striped and patterned sheets of clay from your scraps. The organic background in this bowl was completely made from scraps. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I knew the colors would be great together, so I went for it. I love the way the speckles in the Gray Granite infected other colors too. I like it so much that I added in even more speckles in the form of large mica to exaggerate that effect.
Finally, you can even use baked Liquid Sculpey® as scrap elements in other designs. When I use Liquid Sculpey®, I mix it into silicone baking cups if I’m blending colors. Then when I’m done with that custom color, I bake the silicone cup and peel the residue out. Then I have little sheets of baked Liquid Sculpey® colors. I stash these away too until I need them to fill in a background of a dish with patterns, or speckles, or random designs. I just snip the baked pieces of Liquid Sculpey® with sharp scissors and let the play begin. Then I seal them in place with a layer of Clear Liquid Sculpey®. Believe it or not, the little stems, and lots of the background speckles in this dish were made from baked Liquid Sculpey® scraps.
As always, I hope only to inspire creativity in you and in your endeavors to create with Sculpey® oven bake clays. I would love to see what you have created and maybe you’ve got some tips on using up scraps that you would like to share. Please remember to tag us and use #HowDoYouSculpey when you post to social media.