Polymer Clay Jewelry and the Art of Aging Gracefully with Christi Friesen

Okay, so in my head I’m still in college, but that’s not what I see in the mirror. Sigh. Because of that I am thinking a lot more about “aging” these days. Not because I want to, of course, just because of the inevitability of it. But I figure if I’m aging, well then, so can my creativity! Which brings me to the subject of my newest online workshop at Interweave, Polymer Clay Jewelry: The Art of Aging Gracefully.

I actually have always loved the look of aging in artwork. I’m a bit of an antique/vintage/artifact junkie, so I suppose that’s where it comes from. In art, anything that has patina, wear, or the natural beauty that comes from being old really appeals to me.

You too?

Polymer Clay Jewelry and Wabi Sabi

There’s a concept for this in Japanese tradition called wabi sabi. Great word, right? Just makes you want to say it again and again, wabi sabi, wabi sabi, wabi sabi, wabi sabi. Ahhhh. The wabi sabi aesthetic finds beauty in the natural cycle of life and decay—nothing is permanent, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect..

So what does that have to do with making polymer clay jewelry?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. And that’s what my online class is all about. In it, I explore several techniques to mimic aging and the natural beauty of imperfection while creating polymer clay pendants, beads, and earrings.

Christi Friesen Art of Aging Polymer Clay Jewelry

Let’s do a little overview of these techniques, just to whet your appetite.

I am a mixed media artist and I work primarily in polymer clay, embellished with a variety of other materials. So this is the place I’m coming from in the workshop. If you’ve already worked with polymer clay, you’ll know what an amazing material it is, and how perfectly it adapts to jewelry making. If you haven’t worked with polymer yet, my polymer clay jewelry workshops could be a great way to get started and see how you like it. This course (and the other polymer clay jewelry courses that I have created with Interweave) all have a section on the basics of polymer clay, so you’ll be up to speed in no time!

What about aging gracefully?

One way to add the visually enriching aspect of age to your creations is to use actual aged things, such as including an antique button, a found object, a piece of vintage lace, or old watch parts. Anything that aged naturally will obviously bring that sense of age to the piece you create. In the online course, I show you how to create a pendant base that will compliment the addition of aged pieces. And of course, how to actually attach those pieces to your clay. This is pure wabi sabi—using authentic pieces with interestingly “used” appearances.

Christi Friesen Art of Aging Polymer Clay Jewelry

But what about faking it?

You may wonder why anyone would want to fake age when it’s faking youth we’re always after, but obviously we’re talking creativity here, and ‘faking’ is always in vogue!

One of the things that happen with age is that items get broken. In the online workshop, we’ll explore two techniques that deal with broken—shattered glass impressions and kintsugi repair.

Oh they are both such fun!

The shattered technique involves actually breaking something and then making a mold of that break and using it to impress polymer clay beads so that they will look shattered, too. Pretty tricky, huh? Suffice it to say that it’s a really addicting technique and you’ll want to smash-and-mold all day!

Kintsugi: Christi Friesen Art of Aging Polymer Clay Jewelry

So what’s kintsugi? Oh wow! This is also an addicting technique (or maybe I just like smashing things). Kintsugi is very wabi sabi. As you can tell by the name, this technique also comes to us from Japan. When a treasured item like a teacup was dropped and broken, instead of throwing it away, it was repaired. The repairs were made using golden lacquer to not only repair the break but to emphasize it. The idea being that the break itself became part of the history of the piece and added to its beauty and value. Think about that for a moment, because there are a lot of lessons we could draw from that viewpoint and apply it to our own life’s journey.

Needless to say, in Polymer Clay Jewelry: The Art of Aging Gracefully, we’ll explore using polymer and other materials to break and repair (and in the process, make a swell set of earrings).

Christi Friesen Art of Aging Polymer Clay Jewelry

Finally, what about patina?

As things age, they develop a coloration that immediately identifies them as being old. You know this when you’re at a flea market or yard sale and you see a piece that you immediately suspect is quite a bit more antique than just “old junk” would be. That patina could be a darkening of the material, or an accumulation of color in the deeper cracks and indentations. On a metal piece, it would be the presence of rust or verdigris.

I’ll show you simple ways to use powders on the surface of polymer clay jewelry to mimic that look of natural aging. Super simple and super awesome!

Christi Friesen Art of Aging Polymer Clay Jewelry

But wait! There’s more patina!

Patina could be an entire course on its own, but after we create a sweet little floral pendant together, I’ll show you how to add metal coatings and patinas so that you can replicate the work of decades of aging in about an hour of studio time. Nothing says “I’m beautifully old” like patina, and you’ll learn all about it online with me!

So obviously there will be a lot of polymer clay jewelry-making information and exploration covered in this course. And Interweave does some pretty nifty things in their set up of the workshops—easy chapter breaks in the videos so you can digest just one idea at a time, and find it again for reviewing. There are also additional materials, like PDFs to download, additional video information, slide shows, even quizzes (if you’re into that sort of thing) to help crystallize your learning process.

So, I think that you would really like Polymer Clay Jewelry: The Art of Aging Gracefully, whether you’re already a polymer clay enthusiast or just wondering if getting into this material would be a good idea. (The answer is YES!)

Come on and get old with me! The best is yet to be.

–Christi


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