1980’s Vintage Crafts | Jewelry Fimo Clay Has Come A Long Way Baby

Cindy Lietz Circa 1980

30 Years Later and Polymer Clay Is Even More Popular Than Ever:

It’s funny how things change over the years. Jewelry styles shift and morph (kind of like hair styles). Popular colors come and go. Even the way crafting materials are used, such as polymer clay, change with time.

Over the last few days, I’ve been doing some reminiscing about how much polymer clay techniques have changed since the 1980’s, as well as, how we learn about them.

If you read my recent post abut the colorful J Earrings, you’ll see that the 80’s are making a bit of a resurgence as far as fashion trends go. Rainbow colored accessories seem to be coming back into style.

The vintage picture of me above (circa 1980), has me wearing a pair of huge polymer clay earrings. No I didn’t make them myself, I bought them, but it did get me to thinking about how polymer clay was back then.

Everyone called it Fimo. It was the only brand available at the time and it wasn’t really considered all that ‘classy ‘ of an art material. I did play with Fimo clay back in the 80’s for a bit. But it always looked a little bit ‘hokey’.. OK a lot hokey!

People made large sculptural jewelry pieces with thick globby lacquered coatings. I dabbled around and made a few beads and earrings which usually ended up breaking due to improper baking. Now we’re talking about the same clay that today polymer clay artists are making museum quality pieces with, so it wasn’t the material… it was the knowledge of it.

Today, with the help of TV, the Internet and the creativity of the pioneers such as Donna Kato, the knowledge that can be shared about how to work with polymer clay has improved vastly and quickly.

About ten years ago I came across a few packages of Fimo leftover from my dismal attempts in the 80’s. After kneading it for about an hour, it finally got pliable enough to make into a few beads. Better than the 80’s ones, but not by too much.

When I was nursing my youngest child, I watched a lot of HGTV and saw Donna Kato make a Skinner Blend on the Carol Duvall Show. It looked so easy. Cool! I was interested again!

This was the late 90’s and things had changed a lot as far as I could see. But there was still little available as far as information. So I just continued to play with the clay off and on, trying to figure it out.

It wasn’t until probably the last 5 years that I got anywhere with the clay. More books were coming out and I was slowly finding info on the Internet. It wasn’t easy though. Not like today. You had to plow through a lot of junk to find any gems so the learning was slow. And there weren’t any workshops or craft classes to learn from around here either.

That struggle is the main reason my DH Doug and I started this blog, the Polymer Clay Tutor Library and the Beginners Bead Making Course. I know it can be very exciting when you see what is being made with polymer clay and very disappointing when it doesn’t turn out right. And I wanted to use my experience as a craft teacher, to help you avoid the pitfalls of having to learn all on your own.

So we created a place for you to come, where you can learn all the secrets of working with polymer clay, without ever having to feel foolish or frustrated. Where you can learn by my mistakes, so you don’t have to make them yourself. And where you can have success right away… not 30 years after you pick up your first block of clay!

I am happy that things do change over time. I am happy to be teaching you how to make polymer clay beads and that we can all learn together in such a positive community. Thank you so much for being part of this community and making that possible!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Maria, 18 April, 2009

    Thank you Cindy yet again for all you do! I myself got started with polymer clay after getting my daughter one of those children’s craft “Klutz” books which features Sculpey clay. As camp nurse/crafts person at our scout camp, I had the kids making stuff with it. Most of it was never properly conditioned (didn’t even know you needed to do that) and thus broke after baking. Gradually I got more and more interested in the art and have been making various beads with my clay of choice, Premo. I’ve even sold a few pieces. Thanks to you and other resources on the web and books, even my husband can see I’ve come a long way!

  2. Bonnie Jones, 19 April, 2009

    Cindy, I loved reading your mini biography regarding you and polymer clay..very interesting. It made me stop and think about my journey with clay.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 20 April, 2009

    @Maria: I love hearing your story! I think a lot of people get started in polymer clay that way. It is really too bad they put that inferior clay in the kits for kids though. It can be so disappointing when their artworks break! Congrats on selling some of your pieces! Maybe this will become an extra source of income for you!

    @Bonnie: I would love to hear about your journey with clay! I am sure a lot of the readers here would love to here how such a fantastic artist got her start. Do tell!

  4. Mary Ellen, 21 April, 2009

    Cindy, I love your story and I just have to comment how pretty you are and were! May I make a suggestion. Maybe down the road everyone can post a pic of themselves so when u see a comment you can relate in a more personal way. We all know what you look like, so everytime I see your comment I mentally see you. Just a thought.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 21 April, 2009

    Hi Mary Ellen,

    Thanks for the kind words. In regards to posting a picture of yourself… this blog is already set up to be able to do that. What you do is upload your photo at this free service: http://en.gravatar.com/

    Then your picture will automatically show up beside each and every post here at my site. I would absolutely LOVE IT if everyone would do this. Thanks for bringing it up!

  6. Cheryl H, 15 January, 2016

    Hi Cindy

    I have noticed that my gravatar image does not appear any more. I tried using the link above but I do not have a word press account. I use Google. I had set it up before without the word press account but cant seem to figure it out.

  7. Doug Lietz, 16 January, 2016

    Hi Cheryl… your Gravatar image is showing for me. What are you seeing in place of your picture?

    Btw… the Gravatar service does not require you to have a Google account or a WordPress account. It is a standalone, no-strings-attached, free service that is used all over the Internet by many different web sites.

  8. Silverleaf, 24 April, 2009

    I just bought an 80s book for 50p from a charity shop – it’s about “home crafts” and it has a Fimo section. The Fimo projects are RUBBISH, look like a child made them, and not in a good way!

    So glad there have been so many polyclay artists who realised you can actually make beautiful things.


  9. Jamie, 24 April, 2009

    Heyyy! Thanks for the tip on getting a gravatar. Wasn’t hard at all! I wondered how to do it but never managed to get around to asking. Thanks Mary Ellen! XOXO Jamie

  10. Cindy Lietz, 24 April, 2009

    @Silverleaf: I know… hideous Eh? I have one of those books too. My kids make better stuff than that! (Of course they do have an excellent teacher! ;-)

    @Jamie: Love seeing you and Anna’s faces now! Glad you set up your gravatar*!

    *OK everyone else, let’s see your faces! Learn how to upload your photo by reading the comment just above above silverleaf’s. It’s more fun when you know who can “see” who you’re talking to!

  11. Jamie, 24 April, 2009

    Well we all get to see your sweet smilin face Cindy, so turn about is fair play. And I dont mind sharing my mug shot, as long as I dont scare away potential members LOL.
    XOXO Jamie

  12. Cindy Lietz, 01 May, 2009

    You aren’t scary at all Jamie! Just look like you’re thinking hard about which beads to make next! :-)

  13. Laurel, 17 May, 2009

    Ok, I added the gravatar. Checking to see if it shows up. :)

  14. Laurel, 17 May, 2009

    Hmm, didn’t work. Do you have any idea why?

  15. Laurel, 17 May, 2009

    Oops, now it did. Anyway, this is me and my Schipperke Taz.

  16. Cindy Lietz, 17 May, 2009

    Nice to “SEE” you Laurel :) I love it that you set up your gravatar. So much more personal now.

    By the way… never heard of a Schipperke Taz. I always wonder how specialty dog breeders end up with such exotic sounding names like this.

  17. Lisa Whitham, 07 December, 2009

    Testing Gravatar… :)

  18. Lisa Whitham, 07 December, 2009

    it didn’t work! :( goes to try again…

  19. Lisa Whitham, 07 December, 2009

    Ha, there it is… very cool… Hello everybody! *waves from Michigan*


  20. Cindy Lietz, 07 December, 2009

    Great to SEE you Lisa. Thanks for setting up your Gravatar!

  21. lynn watts, 16 December, 2009

    Well I tried it so I’ll see if it works. As I said before I am on my own here. Lynn W.

  22. alexa, 22 February, 2010

    I have my foto loded.
    I just want to see if it works :)

  23. Cindy Lietz, 22 February, 2010

    Good to “see” you Alexa! Your Gravatar is working! Yay! Hope all is well with you.

    @Lynn-W: Unfortunately your photo is not showing yet. You’ll need to go back to the Gravatar site and go through their step by step process. We are all looking forward to “seeing” you as well.

  24. Brenda, 14 April, 2010

    testing to see if my mugshot is showing up *LOL* not really a mugshot :)

  25. Phaedrakat, 15 April, 2010

    @Brenda: Nice to see you, Brenda! BTW, this should update on your older comments, too…

  26. Kathy G, 23 December, 2010

    let’s see if I did this

  27. Kathy G, 23 December, 2010

    I still must be doing something wrong……I went to the site and added an image and linked it to my email but I still don’t see my pic……….oh well.

  28. Kathy G, 23 December, 2010

    Hey!!!!! look!!!!!!!!!!! here I am…….I have a face!!!!!!

  29. Laura Z, 24 December, 2010

    I noticed yesterday when I uploaded my “Gravatar” that it said that it takes 10-15 minutes before it will actually show up. So I guess we need to be patient…hey that’s about how long it takes to make some beads! LOL!! ;D

  30. Marlene, 24 December, 2010

    Wait, wait for me. I want to be included in the “family photos”.

  31. Christl Pelikan, 24 May, 2011

    Happy claying! Just testing if the picture worked!

  32. Marion, 16 June, 2011

    Added my ‘Gravatar’ to their site, is that it? Do we have to link it to your site somehow Cindy? BTW, love your African Violets, they absolutely glow! I assume you do what Prince Charles does, and chat to them each morning. They look very happy!

  33. Marion, 16 June, 2011

    Wow it worked, fantastic! Aren’t computers wonderful!!

  34. Marion, 16 June, 2011

    Sorry, perhaps I should introduce my ‘companion’, this is Pollyanna, the most wonderful dog in the world. We’re very lucky to have her.

  35. Cindy Lietz, 16 June, 2011

    @Marion: Nice to see you… and your wonderful companion! Thanks so much for adding your Gravatar.

    Oh… and a BIG thanks to everyone else above Marion in this thread, who have also added pics. These little images really do go a long ways to bring warmth to this friendly community.

    And finally… to anyone who has not yet done the Gravatar thing… can’t wait to see you too!!!

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