Altoid Tin Tutorial – Little Fishes

Mixed Media, Polymer Clay

Life has been pretty hectic recently as I got sick, then started driving lessons and a French class! So my art projects have been a bit neglected over the past month, but I did make this little fish pond tin a while ago and wanted to do another tutorial so I thought this would be a nice update on an Altoid tin tutorial I did last year. I hope you like!

Materials:

  • Altoid Tin
  • Polymer Clay
  • Clear Resin
  • Metal Primer Spray
  • Spray Paint
  • Shimmer Powers
  • Beads, fantasy film, other mixed media things

Preparation:

  • A general idea of what you want to make
  • A clean workspace, materials and tools, drink and snacks on hand

The first thing you want to do is prepare your tin. Spray with a metal primer to stop the paint scratching off. It will need a few light coats. While your tin dries, you want to start making something to put in your tin. I made two fish in different colours, but you make whatever you like. I also made a bit of seabed with plants to give it more interest.

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Once you’re happy with your coverage of the tin with primer, spray with the spray paint. I experimented a bit with my colours and did a vibrant purple on the outside and a gold chrome inside. It doesn’t need to look perfect and I actually like the effect of the gold shining through on the hinges. Before I baked my fish, I added some Perfect Pearls to them as I just love shimmer! With your creation add whatever you like – beads, powders, metals.

Mixed Media Polymer Clay Fantasy Pond

Mixed Media, Polymer Clay

I wanted to do a different kind of nature themed project incorporating more mixed media in with my sculpture. While my love affair with the sea and all its creatures continues, I wanted to try something else for my new big piece. After finding a kidney shaped glass dish in Oxfam, I was inspired to make a pond.

I had all my materials and ideas but as usual I was procrastinating about starting my new project. I have a tendency to strive for perfection which stops me doing anything at all. I had been looking at Christi Friessen’s book Flourish which I bought a few weeks ago and I just love her approach to creating. Perfection be damned!

I decided to start of small and made some fish using a combination of orange colours and translucent. I was pleased with the way they came out, especially as they were my first try. I made my pond over about a week, starting on a weekend. I mixed browns, sand, translucent and grey together to get a marbled affect and started placing it in the dish, building up rocks around the side. I made more marbled colours with some lighter and some darker to add contrast between the rocks. I then began making reeds from green polymer clay, using a similar mixing technique to get a deep colour of green.

As I went along, I realised I was making more of a fantasy pond. The elements where exaggerated and stylised which is my favourite way of working and allows a kind of freedom to take something and change it. I added different beads to round-headed pins, twisted the ends with pliers and added them into the clay.

Mini Things in Tins

Polymer Clay

I’ve been playing around with altering tins for a while and wanted to try something new using them. While out shopping with my sister, I found a smaller tin, about half the size of an Altoid tin and thought it would be a cool challenge to make something fit inside it.

When I feel a bit out of practice with clay I like to go back to something simple such as my octopus. I made two mini ones, one in translucent yellow and the other translucent orange. They turned out so cute! One of these guys could live in my new tin, so I made a tiny bit of coral, seaweed and a starfish to make it more homely.

Mini Resin Creations & Altered Tins

Polymer Clay, resin

A short post on some things I’ve made in the last few weeks. I wanted to try and make more projects with resin, and how I can incorporate it into future mixed media projects. I experimented with different mould, making a jellyfish tank using polymer clay and drilling a hole to add wire once it was set.

I made some different sized beads using resin and added metal charms, beads, gems and glitter. I’m still thinking about a project to use them in.

I’ve also been playing around with different tins and thinking of new things I can make with them. I’ve like spray painting them and using different materials to alter them. No matter how much I try to work in a linear and organised way, my brain just doesn’t want to! So I end up doing several things at once, putting things to one side to set or dry while I make something else.

Space Things & Galaxy Octodudes

Creativity, Polymer Clay

I think after making my large scale shark coral reef, I felt a little bit of a lull with my ideas. Although I had some vague thoughts on new clay projects, I couldn’t seem to get started. I looked at Pinterest (go to place for inspiration!) and started thinking of a space theme for an Altoid tin. I drew round a tin I had in my drawer at work and did a mini sketch of a 1950’s style rocket. I liked where this was going!

Working with Altoid tins in the past, I found that putting clay over the entire thing doesn’t always work and wanted to try spray painting them. I learned pretty quickly that you should invest in some metal primer if you don’t want the paint to scratch off.

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I decided to used my rocket drawing as the basis for my tin lid. I mixed together Fimo clay in black, purple, translucent, green and stardust to get a blend similar to a galaxy. I rolled it through the pasta machine to stretch the colours out rather than completely mix them and placed this on the lid. Next I cut out some basic shapes in silver clay for my rocket, using a deep blue and aqua to define parts of the rocket ship. I used a pointed tool to make some indents and added some small gold pieces for detail. I used a fluorescent clay to make the stars which I thought would be add dimension.

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Ready to bake

After baking and leaving the tin to cool, I sprayed it with metal primer and left it for a few hours. I then did several coats of black spray paint before deciding what to do with my tin.

Polymer Clay Reef Sharks

Polymer Clay

I like to give myself creative challenges, and sometimes I think why am I doing this to myself!? But having seen some beautiful polymer clay sea scenes that include different sea creatures, I thought it was time to stretch myself and make a bigger version of my sea Altoids tins.

The first thing I needed to do was find a suitable container for my mini reef. I didn’t want it to be too heavy or deep so it was easy to see all the details inside. After looking round a few charity shops, I found a large bowl in the supermarket for £2 – bargain!

For references and inspiration I looked through Citizens of the Sea, a beautiful book recommended to me by a friend with has the same obsession with sea creatures! I also love Pinterest for ideas and YouTube for videos on techniques with polymer clay.

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Now I had all my materials, I gathered all the different coloured Fimo together I wanted to use in the coral reef. I also used white sand for the sea bed, some really shells and resin. I bought some rubbing alcohol and found it is one of the best (and cheapest) things to clean your clay of lint and dust while you’re working, and can be used to smooth the clay.

I started the coral reef in the bowl by adding clay around the edges, which was a mixture of brown, yellow and mother of pearl. Looking at a few pictures on my phone for reference as I made the different coral shapes, I worked intuitively as I went along and found this to be my favourite approach to this project. I didn’t draw out any plan of how I wanted it to look and I think this helped with making something organic and natural.

As the different shapes and pieces were so small, this became quite a time consuming project. I had to take frequent breaks over the weeks that I made it to save my hands from getting to rough. At first I was going to have one shark and maybe an octopus in the reef, and to get the scale at least semi accurate, I put the bowl to one side after doing a little bit to make the shark. I was very happy with the way he turned out for my first attempt.DSCN2486

Life, Creative Ruts and Days Out

Polymer Clay

I’ve had some creative blocks recently, and with other things going on in my life, it’s been over a month since my last blog post. And who knows how it is June already?! It’s only just started to get warm here in Manchester, May seemed to be a lot of rain.

I recently added a page about creativity and creative blocks, a topic I have been thinking about for a while. I also decided to take my own advice and went for a walk a few weeks ago to the Southern cemetery near where I live. Getting away from my desk was a good way to stop worrying about any creative blocks. It was quiet and peaceful with so many bluebells. I sat down on a bench and woke up some sleepy ducks – they gave me a heart attack being surrounded by old gravestones in the quiet!

It was serene and a lovely place to think, walk around and having a break from technology. I also went to Blackpool last week, somewhere I have never been. The weather was beautiful and the breeze from the sea was a nice relief from the sun – I still managed to get sunburnt, whoops! It was full of arcade places, fish and chip shops, tacky gift shops and I thought it was so much fun. My friend and I went to the Sealife centre there so I could continue my sea creature obsession. I loved the rays, seahorses and I got to see a nautilus. They are cool and weird!

Polymer Clay Jewellery Box

Mixed Media, Polymer Clay

My main project has been an altered wooden box. I removed the lid and covered it with polymer clay (Fimo), creating a hummingbird on a branch as the central image. Using my pasta machine to roll the clay into sheets, I cut out the shapes and built the image up with leaves and flowers around the edges of the box. I used some tools to texture the bird, branches and leaves and added my favourite Perfect Pearls for shimmer and depth. I added some Tim Holtz hinges to the back and a clasp at the front I had.

 

For the bottom part of the box I primed it with Gesso then painted a few coats of Cosmic Shimmer paint in green and blue. When baking the lid I made some separate leave pieces with added gold leaf and once they were hard I glued them to the box for interest. I then varnished it and am quite pleased with how it turned out, especially the background.

Steampunk Polymer Clay Tin – Tutorial

Polymer Clay, Tutorial

I’m planning to put more tutorials up on the blog this year and thought this would be a fun one to start with. I’m going to show how I cover a small tin in polymer clay, and here I used a Altoids tin (I found some in the supermarket and now I can’t find them anywhere!) but you can use any small tin you have. Some other things you will need:

  • Polymer Clay (I used Fimo)
  • Small Tin
  • Blade
  • dotting and clay tools
  • stamps
  • Rolling pin
  • Shape cutters
  • Some embellishments – I like metal
  • Black Spray paint
  • Perfect Pearls
  • Liquid Sculpey (optional)
  • Varnish

DSCN2186Step One 

Polymer Clay Tropical Bird Box

Polymer Clay

 

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When I decided to start doing something with this old key-box I found in a charity shop, I had no idea how well it would turn out.

The original design was pretty horrible but I knew this little box had potential and waited to think what I could do with it.I wanted to do something clay related, but it isn’t very deep so wasn’t sure what function it could have.

 

As I love this bird card my sister got me last year I decided that would be my inspiration for the front panel. I took the nasty old hinges and clasp off the box and set to work on the front, mixing gradients of green for a lush background. I stamped the background  once it covered the front, although a lot of this got covered up.  I loved blended colours in polymer clay at the moment so this was a great project of the bird with vibrant feathers in a mixture of blues, greens, yellows and pinks.

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Getting a basic shape

Cutting the shapes was a little tricky, as was layering them over each other. I think I  could have done it a bit better in hindsight. Once I had the bird shape and tail in a place I liked, I started thinking about different plants and flowers around it. I wanted the bird to look as if it were in a tropical paradise. I mixed together different greens, added snakes of clay for dimension and used canes to add variety to the foliage.

Polymer Clay Fantasy Sea Painting

Polymer Clay

It’s no secret that I love sea imagery. It’s beautiful, alluring and mysterious, full of myths and legends, history and a literary cave of treasures. It has overtones of Art Nouveau, Expressionism and the surreal. It is something that I keep returning to as a theme in my work and which I doubt I will get bored of. The creatures, plants and landscape are alien and fascinate me. It opens up a world for fantasy and one of my favourite things is to blend together different elements, ideas, materials, in a whimsical way.

I’ve been playing around with making mini octopus in their own little sea pond (made from Altoids Mints tins) as well as a bunch of cute smaller octo-dudes. I recently made this one holding onto a jar of beads which is just so cute. I am thinking of making that into a necklace. I used some effects polymer clay, two were quartz although the yellow was really difficult to condition.

The other octopus creature was an experiment with armature and super sculpey, which turned out much bigger than intended! I quite like him though, he is sort of weird. I painted him with black gesso then tried out my new Cosmic Shimmer paints which are luscious.

My main sea-themed piece was a shadow frame I got Ikea months ago and kept putting off making something with it. Partly because I am bit of a perfectionist and didn’t want to mess anything up, but this weekend I decided that was silly and started working on it.

I measured the size of the frame onto some baking paper, then got out all of my Fimo clays, deciding on colour combinations. I started with different blues, silver and translucent, conditioned them and ran them through my past machine before squishing them together onto the paper. I had lightly sketched and outline for some rocks but this project was a great opportunity to use up scrap bits of clay.

After setting down a background the rest was pretty much free hand, with the exception of the fish which I used a tiny mold. I loved having the freedom to create things within my own interpretation; highly expressionist which mixing colours, cutting out the shapes and forming some more three dimensional while keeping others flat. I even got an octopus in there!

As I love adding things to my pieces, I pushed some beads into the clay and used some Perfect Pearls powder to give more depth and shimmer to the water and plants. After the piece was baked I added Pearl Markers, Crystal Accents and Liquid Pears – I might be obsessed with things that shimmer!

This is how the finished piece turned out and I love it. Now I need to rest my hands for a few days, I ended up with a blister!

Polymer Clay Sea Themed Frame Piece

Autumn Magic

Polymer Clay

It’s officially cold, dark and rainy here in Manchester and not my favourite time of year at all! I love the colours of Autumn but they are disappearing too quickly for my liking. As usual I’ve had many different art projects in my mind but not enough time to do any. As the sculpting is my favourite thing to do at the moment I’ve been spending more time on that and improving my skills. Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing with colours and gradient and this lead to my new Fizzling creatures with seasonal themes. I love how the detail came out on my Autumn themed one, even though he is kind of wonky! And sculpting feet has been making me crazy. This is why I sort of gave up on my second winter inspired Fizzling in favour of the decor across his sides. This one is so shimmery I just love the colours.

This has to be my first Winter themed art piece and I really enjoyed finding new things to incorporate into the creature.

An Assortment of Polymer Clay Creations

Polymer Clay

It may be getting darker and colder now, but I love October and I love Halloween! I am a sucker for all Halloween things in the shops at the moment – toffee apples, plastic spiders to scare people, green and ghoulish sweets!

I decided to make some cute Halloween themed charms which I made into earrings. These are now up in my Etsy shop. I also made this cute pumpkin ornament which I love. I found a tutorial online and adapted it a little to make mine. I plan to make a whole pumpkin patch!

I’m still making little creature tins and tried to made a gradient octopus, from a translucent green into copper. He was being a bit awkward though, I think his head is a strange shape! i added the resin last night and woke up to find the tin had stuck to my drawers! Whooops! I spent 10 minutes trying to carefully pries it free with one of my clay tools.

Finished! Alien Plant Project!

Polymer Clay

This is my recent project of love and hate! it took me two weeks to make this thing and look how massive it is!

After watching Little Shop of Horrors recently the idea of having my own Audrey 2 lodged in my brain. I’d been messing around with polymer clays for a few weeks I thought ‘yeah, this will be a great project, making my own plant!’ – Not realising the amount of time, materials and effort it would actually take to make it!

However, when I obsess over a new project I tend to jump in and I started my research by looking for some pictures of Audrey 2 and making a list of materials I would need to make him.

Beginning

As I mulled over how I was going to make this plant, I did some pretty basic sketches of the parts to make, but because I seem to like making things hard for myself, I decided my plant would have its mouth open! Mainly because I liked the teeth and thought they would be cool to make.

I watched some videos on YouTube about modelling using Super Sculpey and armatures and bought a new book on polymer clay called Polymer Clay Master Class, while also going out and gathering my materials.

Whimsical Things with Fimo Polymer Clay

Kawaii, Polymer Clay

Just a few things I’ve been making recently. The Little stumpy fellows have helped me get out of a creative rut as I made them without much thought, just playing around with clay and some found items. I adore Kawaii things too so just had to try making some cupcakes, a raindrop, some apples and lemons. And the little creature who is last was made from some gold and translucent clay I had left.