We're No Spring Chickens
My mother-in-law is rather saucy. One day she stood with hands on hips and a raised chin, firmly declaring her decades of life experience: “I’m not a chicken spring anymore, you know!!” Everyone listening burst into laughter, realizing she meant to say “spring chicken” -- a euphamism for being young and inexperienced.
Polymer clay has enough decades under its own belt to raise a voice alongside my mother-in-law and proclaim it isn't a “spring chicken” either. Artistic disciplines the world over acknowledge our medium's unique properties, incoirporating polymer clay into everything from sculpture and wall hangings to fine jewelry and miniatures.
The Incredible Edible Egg
People have long been fascinated and inspired by the humble bird’s egg, using its smooth, ovoid surface as their canvas-in-the-round. We’ve gathered samples of some amazing artwork in polymer clay that has been created by using the egg as a canvas, and we’ve asked those artists to give us a few thoughts about their pieces.
Dora Arsenault: “My favorite polymer clay technique is caning, and one of my favorite things to cover with clay is eggs! Not only are they pleasing to look at, but a well-sanded and buffed egg has a wonderfully smooth feel to it. Usually I just apply cane slices randomly and try to space them evenly over the surface of the egg, but sometimes I get lucky and I get a nice symmetrical design where the cane slices fit perfectly around it. That’s why I like the purple, black, and white egg in the center best of all.”
Leila Bidler: “I love to replicate natural materials, and get much inspiration from old Asian artifacts made of ivory or jade. I first build up a core, a black base made of a strong clay so I do not have to worry it might break. I bake that black base, add the decorative layer and sand and buff, depending on what kind of outside effect and layer I have. I ALWAYS sand and buff the inside and the black rim that shows when you open the vessel. I have at least 3 bakings on all eggs/vessels and after everything is finished and buffed I drill holes and use a cord that fits the style of the egg/vessel so it can be worn or hung on the wall.”
Steven Ford: “David and I made hundreds of polymer clay covered chicken, duck and goose eggs in the early 1990's. The attrition rate fell sharply with experience and a light touch. Once the egg was baked, it was a nearly indestructible shape. A bowlful of our eggs appeared in an Easter issue of Bon Appetit magazine in 1991.”
Lilian Huang: “I learned how to make the Polymer Clay owl from a class, but it was not using an egg as the base. I saw a lot of works about Polymer Clay covered eggs on the internet. They are so lovely and unique so I’ve tried to do the same thing. I could not believe it worked and they were so adorable. I really like the idea to use egg, bottle, or glass; that you are easily able to get them and the best thing is they are recycled and free.”
Chris Kapono: “I love playing with color and textures and most of what I do is inspired, in one way or another, by nature. I like to add tiny little details so that you may see something new each time you look. I also love the contrast between the smooth glass gems and the textured surface of the clay. My 'dragon eggs' are a great example of this! I love working with polymer clay and I am so happy when something I have made inspires someone new to give it a try!”
Chryse Laukkonen: "I love working with polymer clay. It is the most versatile medium! It is easier to say what you can't do with it than what you can do! I was playing with some colors one day and it reminded me of the colors in abalone. So I played around and discovered I could make a pretty decent faux abalone. I love using the faux abalone on eggs, jewelry and mosaics."
My own egg: In preparing for this article, I came to realize I had never actually made a clay covered egg myself. I wasn’t sure what technique to use, but a faux stained glass tin I’d made years ago gave me the inspiration I needed. Working on this egg gave me a renewed appreciation for the versatility of liquid clay.
Vickie Sixsmith: “I’ve just found out that I've won 1st place in this month’s PCC Challenge for my Steampunk egg and birdy. I’m absolutely eggstatic because this is the first time I’ve ever entered it and it’s also my first time at using clay to model or sculpt. It was a challenge that I'm very proud of. By the way, the birdy is named Flight Lieutenant Montgomery 'Hawkeye' Finch! And he's real mean!!”
Other Egg-citing Ideas
If working on a bird’s eggshell doesn’t appeal to you but you like the idea of egg-themed clay projects, we have a couple of fun examples:
Dalila Caria: “A few years ago I assembled and decorated a doll house and realized my favorite items all fell into the miniature food category so during this period I got obsessed with making polymer clay yummy-looking earrings. After making several sugary items like cupcakes and lollypops, I figured it was time for some protein and I got this image in my head of Salvador Dali's runny eggs. I didn't make them quite as runny but it seemed fun to have them vertical, just hanging from a loop. I was going for cute rather than realistic but the glossy varnish was a must in completing the look.”
Jenny Rohrs: “I was in a swap in an online group, and our theme was "Faberge Eggs." I had just gotten a new extruder and was playing with coils, so that seemed to be a nice fit. To create them, I marbled a sheet of clay and cut it onto the egg-shape and then added the coils with liquid clay. After curing, I applied German Scrap paper and rhinestones to round out the textural effect. Finally I mounted them onto cardboard for swapping.”
Try It Yourself
We’ve collected links to free online tutorials that will help you get started in making your own polymer clay egg projects:
How To Make Songbird Eggs
Blended Filigree Eggs
Polymer Clay Easter Eggs
Polymer Clay Filligree Eggs (video)
How To Make A Faux Stained Glass Egg (video)
Polymer Clay “Chocolate” Eggs
Covering Eggs With Polymer Clay 101, Part 1 and Part 2
Decorated Eggs With Cutaway Filigree
Satin Swirl Egg
Polymer Clay Keepsake Egg
Stamped And Carved Damask Egg
Charlene "Cat" Therien is the editor of the IPCA Newsletter, "Polymergence".