I consider myself a writer, but there are days when words in my head resemble a pack of pigeons fighting over a piece of bread, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t focus and the stories are not flowing. I might try to work through the chaos of thoughts, drink tea, and put on my favorite writing music, but if it’s not helping, I turn to other ways to be productive or to channel my creativity.
With this post I’m starting a series on other creative things I do. So, if you’re curious what does a writer do when she’s not writing, today you can get a peek at my polymer clay creations.
Polymer clay was definitely not the first hobby I’ve picked up, but ever since I was a child, it lingered in one for or another. Back in the communistic Poland it wasn’t easy to get it, and we had only the black colored one, but I still remember me and my brother trying to make He-Man action figures out of it (and I tell you, the Skeletor was much easier to make than He-Man himself!).
Then, in my early school years I had fun with plasticine (soft and non-bakeable version of polymer clay), and then I’ve had my adventure with a salty dough which could be baked, but also offered less precision. I still made it a yearly habit to make a set of salty-dough angel decorations for Christmas that after they were painted would go as gifts to my family and friends. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the photographs, and as I became an adult, I didn’t have as much time to make them anymore with pre-Christmas time being more and more busy with every passing year. Maybe I should go back to that tradition one day?
I re-discovered polymer clay when I was already living in Ireland: I stumbled upon a random tutorial and got hooked again. Irish shops didn’t offer much in terms of color choice, but thankfully I got to visit USA around Christmas time which meant an obligatory trip to Michael’s where I’d get all the supplies I needed.
Me and Inq had a lot of fun playing around with it, though my first creations weren’t the best ones for sure, and only the octopus (that had become a gift for my friend) is worth mentioning.
Inq, on the other hand, seemed to have nailed down a complex creature-making art with an envy-instilling ease. While I struggled to try and make something worthwhile, he worked on only one sculpture, but an amazing one. His figurine of an alien-like being from the world he’s been working on for years, still amazes me.
That year, when I went back home, I played with the polymer clay some more, and created small creatures for the fun of discovering both possibilities and limits of that medium.
It was then that I discovered I enjoy the challenge of making replicas of already existing creatures, and my first creation was a small figurine of a mechanoid companion from a MMORPG I used to play. It took some screen shots and a lot of working with small parts, and I had to bake some of them separately, but it was worth the time. As I decided to use body-color clay, I also had fun of painting the little guy after he was baked and glued together.
Then the time came to make something epic. Skruntch is a familiar in the novel I wrote at the time, The Wayward Witch (which, before you ask, being my second novel in English, would require a lot of re-writing to see the light of day). Being summoned by an accident, Skruntch takes on his familiar’s duties with the whole seriousness, and the lack of wits and strength he compensates with ferocity.
Inq, being an artist, had sketched Skruntch for me, and since I considered the design very cool, I wanted to try to make him into a figurine. It took hours of fighting with the black clay, trying to balance the sculpture so it would stand on its own, then baking and gluing, and finally painting all the marks and details… but it was worth it. Skruntch, along with the little mechanoid, had decorated my desk at my workplace for over 3 years, and whenever I looked at him, he made me smile.
Later my polymer clay hobby got pushed to the side by other creative activities, but I played with creature design a bit more, and I’ve made two alien-like ones (one wouldn’t stand on its own, but I still liked it) and steampunky robot.
Then, shortly before leaving Ireland, I took out polymer clay again and played some more with it, this time trying out jewelry designs. Large agate pieces begged for interesting frames, and I’ve also tried out quartz and crystals. I’m not sure whether the clay was old and crumbly or the stones’ weight affected the creation, but the big pendants turned out a bit too breakable for my liking.
As I moved over to another continent, I didn’t take the clay with me, but worry not! I already got a meager stash back and begin to play with it again, trying out new ideas and designs. Because when I can’t focus on writing or take a break to watch a movie or series, my creativity still demands to be channeled, and polymer clay offers a lot of possibilities.
How about you? Do you have any “other” hobbies, creative or not?
This post is the first one of the Writer’s Other Hobbies series in which I share my creative activities.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.