Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Guide to Polymer Clay Fun!

Summer has just begun, and with hours and days of free time, why not try something new? After all, summer is about having fun while accomplishing what you can’t during the school year. An exciting art form you can learn this summer is sculpting with polymer clay.

Three years ago, I began using this type of clay to make many charms, from cupcakes to pigs to ice cream. Now you can do so, too!

The first thing to do before you start is to invest in a solid brand of clay. I use Sculpey 3 because of its convenience. It has the perfect texture, doesn’t dry out, and bakes relatively quickly. I have also tried Sculpey Premo, but this brand isn’t as easy to mold, and it crumbles quickly. However, for experienced users who want the greater variety of colors, this may be perfect. There are many other brands available, so you can experiment and have fun with them!

For tools, I’d suggest not to get anything too fancy. A simple plastic knife and clay roller are likely good enough. These may actually come with the clay that you purchase (I know they do with some of the Sculpey 3 sets), which makes life a lot easier! If not, just purchase a few of your favorites.

As you decide what to make, watch tutorials to learn different techniques of molding clay, cutting it, mixing colors, etc. It’s great to learn a few tips and tricks to make your designs look professional. Another person’s perspective can really change your perception of a design, too! For example, I’d seen many photos of complicated clay dragons and was wary of making my own. However, after watching tutorials, I realized I needed to take things step by step and had the courage to create one.

I also like to take inspiration off of photos from the internet and change them up a little. In fact, it’s very fun to do so-as long as you don’t get carried away at looking at the pretty pictures for hours (what, no, I didn’t do that before... ;) ).

You can start off with something simple, like these skates.

One tip I’d like to share is to pay attention to detail. If you’re sculpting with polymer clay, you’re likely working on a small scale. Try to work through each portion of your design carefully, and take your time. Polymer clay requires much patience, but is very rewarding! Also, a lot of the time my creations change as I sculpt, so don't worry about sticking to one perfect idea you have in mind. It's cool to see what you come up with as you go!

Finally, don’t feel bad if your designs don’t turn out perfect. Mine never turn out exactly how I want, and that’s just part of the process! Pay attention to what you can improve on, practice new techniques to get better. Over time, you will (I promise).

Have fun trying out polymer clay, and tell me how it goes in the comments below! For more of my creations, you can look in the arts and crafts section.

Congratulations, you’re all ready to get working with polymer clay! What will you create this summer?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Book Review: Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads

Book Review: Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Goodreads Synopsis: Summer's over and it's time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she's doing, she always tells him she's fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time. Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who's been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he's changed. Luckily Sunny's got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she's going to remain Sunny-side up!

My Review: I read Sunny Side Up, the first book in the duology, years ago and have been re-reading it from time to time. It was pretty powerful and heartbreaking, especially for a middle grade novel. I wish I could say the same about the sequel.
Swing It, Sunny lacks a story line. Throughout the whole book, Sunny just worries about Dale. Her middle school life is not emphasized at all, and she doesn't go through any major character development. Even Dale himself does not seem to change until the very end. Many issues are also left unresolved, such as why Dale doesn't come home for Easter Break (I believe this wasn't mentioned, at least. My bad if it is). Basically, Sunny learns that Dale needs help (which she learned by the end of the first book), and she pines for him and deals with sad memories in this story. That's it.
I did love the cute illustrations and simple phrases, but overall, this book fell short of my expectations. I give it three stars. It just wasn't exceptional. I hope there will be another book to join this one, though, and will definitely try to check it out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: To Read or Not to Read?

From That Artsy Reader Girl
Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme in which I talk about 10-ish books related to a central topic. This week's topic is supposed to be about books I read but didn't finish, but that doesn't really happen frequently. So instead, I'll be discussing books that I judged too early ;). All covers courtesy of Goodreads.

1. One Crazy Summer
I didn't recognize how powerful this book was! I came back to it a year later, and thank goodness for that! This sweet, summery book will definitely leave you wishing for more...


2. Walk Two Moons
I also underestimated this one! I came back to it and loved it very much (it also made me cry).


3. Old Yeller
I took one look at this book and shoved it in my closet. It looked by a boring classic, but boy, was I wrong! After I watched the movie at a camp, I just had to read it, and it was awesome (and, like the one above, was very sad)!


4. Full Cicada Moon
This was a cover I was intrigued by, but didn't really try out until I had to. This is a super sweet and cool book as well, and I highly recommend it!


5. Ungifted
I actually planned to read this book, but never got the chance.
Okay, that's a lie. This may even have been one of the books that I brought home from the library and "ran out of time" to read. The next time I checked it out, I read it :).


6. Finally
I'd seen this in the library many times but never bothered checking it out. I think it's good that I finally read it, but it also wasn't one of my favorites.


7. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You
I'd seen all seven of the Gallagher Girls books before but never really felt like reading them. Fast forward years later and I can't imagine not having read them :). They're cute, funny, and sweet. How can I resist spy adventures?


So these are seven books that I could have read earlier and enjoyed instead of judging them early on. You'll notice that these are mostly middle grade to lower YA, because after discovering so many great books, I tried to be more open and finish the books I started. Now, when I read YA, I usually stick to a book until it's done (unless it's totally horrible or boring).
So what are some books that you judged too quickly? Tell me below!

Sunday, June 3, 2018


I used to think that I was a really good photographer. I could take pictures of anybody and make them look great.
Then I realized that it was all in my head, and my photos all turned out worse than I imagined. I had no sense of lighting, no good pose ideas, etc. This was heartbreaking, because I really enjoyed photography! So I've decided to try to get better and use books to practice. I'm using what I know to give y'all some tips.

May the camera be with you. (I recently watched Star Wars.)

  • Tip one: Think creatively, and take inspiration off what you like! Try out new ways to place your books and arrange them. Look online and on Instagram for ideas from other great photographers. I saw how people use many of their books as backgrounds each shot while focusing on one. This inspired me to take the photo below:
  • Tip two: Experiment with brightness, shadows, highlights, the works! Even the picture above was played with. Adding cool effects can make an average-looking photo awesome! I simply use basic effects from my phone. If you'd like to be more advanced, Photoshop is supposed to be great, but even I don't need it right now.
I used a transfer effect to modify the photo from above. Though both images are nice, this one looks a bit "vintage" in a way.

I love the polaroid look I got to capture with one effect! This is definitely one of my proudest photos...

Again, changing up the pose changes the scene a bit for variety.

  • Tip three: use props from everywhere you can get! Dissecting the photos below, I simply used a copy of American Panda, my pea pod stuffies, a few polymer clay items, some ribbon, and for the background, a napkin (seriously!). Work with what you've got, and you can create great pictures!

I know I've sure learned a bit in the past few months about photography, and I hope you learned a bit from today's post! Work on finding your own style. I like to use a photo in the center and display some items around it (even though most of the items do not really relate to the story and are simply aesthetically pleasing). What do you like to do? Any photography tips? Tell me in the comments below!
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