Fimo… Isn’t that the Clay that Gets Fired In A Toaster Oven?

Polymer Clay Flower Bead

…said the Potter Mischievously While Waiting for the Kiln to Heat Up:

A member of the community here (Aims), just recently forwarded an email she received from her brother (David Todd). He is a traditional pottery artisan that works with ceramic clay. I got permission to post the following quote because it really helps to show that polymer clay is finally starting to get the respect it so richly deserves.

Okay, now I’m willing to believe polymer clay has a purpose. I thought it was just for crafters. But…. [reference to the amazing Fimo Creations of Jon Anderson]. I’m still not going to work with clay that can be fired in a toaster oven, but this artist is incredibly talented.

The above quote is from a conversation that happened recently in a popular online potters forum. Thanks David Todd (Otter Pottery) and Aims (Big Blue Barn West) for bringing this to my attention. I got a chuckle when I read the remark (friendly jab) about firing clay in a toaster oven. Too funny!

By the way, many of you may have already bumped into Aims here at the blog. She is an avid knitter and sewer who has recently added polymer clay to her list of passions. Welcome Aims! It’s great to have you here.

Now although it appears there is still somewhat of a stigma attached to polymer clay by some artisans in more established mediums like ceramic clay, it is also becoming apparent that things are changing. We have people like Jon Anderson to thank for this. His Fimo Creations truly are amazing.

If you have other stories about how polymer clay is finally getting the respect it deserves, please do share them below in the comments section.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Jocelyn, 29 May, 2009

    @ Aime

    I love your blog, and your stories about the progress made after Katrina. Brother lived in Ocean Springs, the water came very close to their housing development. Even today, the devastation that remains is sobering.

    Love your brother’s work. He found a great summer/winter balance with the rafting in the summer and the clay in the winter.

    @Cindy – Thanks for the link to Anderson’s work. It probably doesn’t make geographic sense but that group of penguins is stunning and the colors make me think that it’s a reflection of the aurora borealis on their chests.

  2. Joyce, 29 May, 2009

    Good Morning Cindy,
    I don’t have a story to tell but I couldn’t let this go by without a comment on Jon Anderson. TRULY AWESOME! I would never have thought that his animals were made from polymer clay. That just shows what a newbie I am. It makes me feel like I’d like to be twenty years younger with time on my hands. This will really be something to share with Becca and Linda when they arrive in two weeks. Thanks for the post.

  3. Linda Dube, 29 May, 2009

    Wow! Jon Anderson’s work is amazing. Thanks, Cindy, for opening another corner of the polymer clay world to us.

  4. Debbie Garrity, 29 May, 2009

    I’ve always hated the snobbery that some artists have had in regard to polymer clay ( you know that it’s play dough). I did a blog on it once and mentioned that there are artists out there who make beautiful artwork with crayons. The cave men didn’t have much to work with but we all know about their cave paintings.

  5. aims, 29 May, 2009

    Wow Cindy! Thanks! My brother will be pleased to hear that he got a shout-out over here! He’s anxious to see what I’m going to make. (still working on those curtains and cushion covers for him and haven’t had a chance to get my hands into my beadwork yet! Grrrrrr!)

    Thanks for coming by for a visit. We had a great month in New Orleans and have fallen in love with it. Probably obvious from my posts on it right?

    My brother loves working with clay. I think part of my interest in working with polymer clay is his fault. I haven’t been able to conquer the wheel so being able to make something with this kind of clay is going to make us both ‘clay workers’. I doubt I’ll ever be a Jon Anderson but one can always dream!

  6. Deborah, 29 May, 2009

    I had the pleasure to meet a wonderful ‘traditional’ clay artist at the last show I did. She was gracious enough to loan me one of her thrown bowls to display my polymer clay inspiration rocks in. We talked during the slow times of the show and shared techniques and sources. We both enjoyed learning about the others claying. Thankfully I met a wonderfully friendly clayer, and to make things even better…she bought from me and I bought from her. I guess the biggest difference we discussed over the day is the ability to use our clays with food. Sadly that is the one thing we can’t do with polymer clay…yet. ;-)

  7. Anna Sabina, 29 May, 2009

    It is not like we are talking about an “Easy Bake Oven” but that might work too.
    “WOW-STUNNING !!! His work is beautiful and it is exciting to see how caning can be used in sculpture; a penguin does not have to be or globs black and white clay.
    I took a glass bead making class as a bonding experince with my oldest daughter. When I and told the instructor my passion was PC, she said,” Oh, Fimo. Why would you do polymer clay when you can do glass.” ….CUZ I LOVE IT..(explitive deleted.) The torch and glass rods are in storage now.
    I have done ceramic hand building and clay work and decorative PC can be so much more expressive and is more difficult. Plus, it is cleaner and does not dry out your hands like ceramic. Some traditional clayers may into the trill of having something explode in the kiln or putting something in all gray and gross and having a surprise when the kiln is later opened.
    I get the same thrill when my project goes from, “What was I thinking. Who am I and where am I going with this.” to.buffing, sanding and “Did I really make this amazing piece?” I love it when people ask what my jewelry is made out of…”That’s polymer clay?”
    I imagine there are snobs in every craft. People who discount PC really do not know how to use it. So, I guess our job is to educate, educate, educate.

  8. Clarissa, 29 May, 2009

    Poeple need to get over the fact that Polymer clay can be cured in a toaster oven and move on to the fact that it is, plain and simple, an art medium. The humble pencil and crayon can be used to make extraordinary art as well. The pencil has not been given nearly so much grief as PC.

  9. Catalina, 29 May, 2009

    What an outstanding art form! He has more patience than I could ever wish for. I could not handle a cane as big as a loaf of bread. I actually make my canes very small to begin with so I don’t have to reduce them as much. I may not get as many projects out of them but At least I can handle them. Everyone out there, how big do you make your canes to start with? I make them no bigger than 2″ in diameter. Am I crazy?

  10. Jamie, 30 May, 2009

    I dont think youre crazy Catalina. I also make mostly smaller canes. I agree you get less distortion that way. And I like that there is only a little of them and when they are gone thats it. That way my pieces are always different, and I dont get bored working with tons of one cane.(which happens easily) Or worse, have it get hard and go to waste waiting for me to use it up. I think the largest cane I have made was at most 4″. And I reduced that and recombined it for a kelaidescope cane that I needed to cover a largish box. XOXO Jamie

  11. Mary Vanderwood, 30 May, 2009

    Jon Anderson is a fabulous cane maker and sculputerer, for sure, as are a lot of polymer clay artists! Polymer clay creations now grace The Smithsonian, and The White House (Judy Belcher and her eggs!)

    The one and only thing that can’t be done with polymer clay (yet – it will come) is eat off it… we can do, and mimic, everything else (ceramic clay artists cannot lay claim to that).

    David Todd can’t bring himself to work with a clay that can be fired in a toaster oven? Well, David, I can’t bring myself to work with a clay that comes from dirt, is messy, and where I would have to wait hours between steps, then fire for hours! Hmmm – wonder what his electricity bill is like? lol

  12. Denise, 30 May, 2009

    ::hangs head:: I work in both. I adore the messyness of earthware moving to my rythems and ideas, the process of the waiting, and the night skies and a chilled glass of wine with my fellow amature ceramic addicts as we put flame of kiln and ryku to our various creations. (and chunking wet, sticky clay at the walls when vexed is thereputic. but i love the polymer as well. It is a cure to my need of instant gratification, lack of complicated mixtures for color grogs, and that i can wait 30 mins for my wares to become whole while i prepare dinner with my family. My kids dig both styles. My youngest reminds me that the simple fun of polymer as we “clay” together is as magical and fullfilling as the creative molding of singular visions.
    Sorry had to stand up for both sides and wax philosphicaly. Just tell me to hush if i offend.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 31 May, 2009

    @Jocelyn: Thank you for the lovely comment, I’m sure Aimee appreciates it!

    @Joyce: His work really is wonderful, isn’t it! Would love to see his cane collection and how he goes about making his sculptures. Bet it is an interesting process!

    @Linda: You’re welcome! There is so much more to show you, that you will be amazed!

    @Debbie: I’ve always thought art is what the artist makes with a material. Not the material itself. I have seen some pretty lame looking diamond rings and some pretty gorgeous sculptures made with junk!

    @aims: Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Your brother does beautiful pottery and I love your knitting! Can’t wait to see what you end up creating with polymer clay!

    @Deborah: That sounds like you had a nice experience with that potter. I have always loved traditional pottery and always will. You’re right about the use with food thing. One way polymer clay artists have got around that problem is to put the polymer clay on the outside of clear glass bowls and plates. You can see the canework etc from both sides but since food only touches the glass part of the bowl/plate it is safe to use.

    @Anna: I love the way glass looks but haven’t got into glass bead making because of the expense and the learning curve. I am very happy with polymer clay because you can start with practically nothing (just a hunk of clay and an oven), and take it as far as you want. I think art materials don’t need to be expensive to be respected. People who are snobby about their supplies and work probably have confidence issues. Otherwise why would they need to be so exclusive about it?

    @Clarissa: You bring up an excellent point. Hopefully polymer clay will be seen as an artists tool like the pencil is and not some inferior craft supply. That will be up to us working with it though. To keep pushing the material and what we create with it. I’m sure the validity of the pencil took some time as well.

    @Catalina: I make my canes quite small to start with. I am more about learning lots of different techniques than about having miles of the same cane. If I sold my canes, that would be different. You’re not crazy for making small canes. That is what works for you. Keep doing what you’re doing. The day you regret not having more of a certain cane, is the day you make them bigger.

    @Jamie: Fantastic advice as usual Jamie! :-)

    @Mary: I didn’t know Judy’s eggs were in the White House! That is cool! You should know that it wasn’t David that made that comment. It was just something he read in a forum and passed to his sister. I only shared it because I know that many polymer clay artists have had such feedback and I hoping that things will get past that. Every medium deserves respect traditional clay and polymer clay.

    @Denise: Don’t hang your head. You have not offended anyone and I agree with you fully! I love it that you love both materials. There is no reason why any art material should be shunned. It really should be about the creation of art… period. How or with what, should have nothing to do with the value of the process or the end result. Thank you so much for sharing your story and waxing eloquent! It is very much appreciated! :-)

  14. Sherry McKinney, 02 June, 2009

    I just recently visited Sedona, Arizona and was so pleased to find Jon Anderson’s incredible work in the Art Mart there. His animals are just so astounding that I actually stood there with tears in my eyes. Anyone that says polymer clay is not “art” after viewing Jon’s incredible work does not know what they are talking about. And anyway, who cares what “they” say. If you like it, it is art! ;)

  15. Cindy Lietz, 03 June, 2009

    Oh you lucky thing Sherry to see Jon’s work in person! He sure takes polymer clay art to a whole new level, doesn’t he!

  16. Mary Vanderwood, 04 June, 2009

    I feel that way too, Sherry, when I see certain artists’ work… One of our guild members put a couple of Jon’s pieces up on our Bring n’ Brag table for all of us to enjoy – which we did, immensely. I also feel that way when I see K. Dustin’s purses. In fact, I feel that way when I see any piece of art that grabs my heart and touches my soul, no matter the medium. I love polymer clay because it’s the first art medium I haven’t grown bored with because there are just too, too many things you can do with it. Don’t hang your head, Denise… I think it’s nice that you work in both!

  17. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2009

    Wow you got to see Jon’s work too, Mary? Lucky girls! It’s one thing to see work like this on the net, but in person must be a real treat!

    I agree about polymer clay not being boring. I find new and exciting things about it everyday I work with it!

  18. Phaedrakat, 11 February, 2010

    I think I might own a piece of Jon’s work. I purchased a
    polymer “snake” at an airport shop (had to have been at least 13 years ago, maybe more…) It’s packed away now, I wish I could get to it so I could see if it’s signed by him. I remember that it looks very much like one of the snakes on the FimoCreations site. I knew nothing of polymer clay at the time. I was on a layover, and was intrigued with the gorgeous piece and how it was made (they showed a mini-cane demo at the shop.) I bought the snake, but I had to pack it away (I was living overseas at the time, so my art & keepsakes were kept in a storage unit.) I had forgotten about my gorgeous snake, but I’ll bet it’s a Jon Anderson — what are the chances someone else was making snakes like his so long ago?

  19. Phaedrakat, 16 March, 2010

    Cindy, now that I’ve got you over here at this page, what do you think of my comment above? I can’t get to the snake for a few more weeks (when my sister’s off school, & she can help me with the boxes,) but do you think that the snake I have is most likely a Jon Anderson? Would he have been selling at airport gift shops back then? (Could’ve been AZ, TX, NM, etc. I flew so much back then…)

  20. Cindy Lietz, 16 March, 2010

    @Phaedrakat: Probably. I haven’t really seen anyone else with that style and he’s been selling for a long time now. He is based in Arizona, so the Phoenix airport would probably be the place it was from. You should see if you can dig it up. It might be worth a pretty penny!

  21. Katie, 16 March, 2010

    I do love hearing “that’s clay?” when I show off something new to somebody on campus. I’ve gotten great comments on my alcohol ink and metal leaf pendants so when my camera decides to play nice, I will have photos.

  22. Cindy Lietz, 16 March, 2010

    Hi Katie… we all would love to see your college campus jewelry pics. Please do send them to me. Polymer clay is the perfect dorm room activity. I’d love to hear more stories about this. I bet you could pay for a few books from the proceeds of being able to sell some creative jewelry pieces to your friends.

  23. Kat, 17 March, 2010

    Thanks, Cindy. Yes, it was probably Phoenix then. I can’t wait to find out! My sister will be available week after next. Heavy boxes are in the way, so I have to wait. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  24. pati bannister, 29 March, 2010

    Long before I came to polyclay, I remember similar condescending comments about acrylic paint from w/c & oil purists. I now find the same sort of comments being made about polyclay.
    In my view, shoe polish in the right hands would produce wondrous art.
    After all the dictionary definition of medium (in this context) is simply:
    “a means of effecting or conveying something”

  25. Cindy Lietz, 29 March, 2010

    @pati bannister: Welcome Patti! I checked out your work and it is beautiful. Really love the rustic, ancient style you have!

    I know what you mean about any material being an art medium in the right hands. There is a guy on You-tube that makes amazing art with everything from Kraft Dinner to BBQ sauce. Watching him work, just takes your breath away!

  26. Cassie C, 29 June, 2011

    Hi everyone. I was happy to find this old thread about Jon Anderson. He is the reason I started Polymer, although i didn’t know it. My aunt has a tiny owl that she showed me 4 years ago. I was fascinated by all of the tiny detail.I ran out and got some clay. Well needless to say, I was constantly disappointed by my work.
    I did not know that the tiny owl had been created by one of the masters of polymer clay. I had been trying to fly when I couldn’t crawl yet!
    Over the years I have learned about Jon and study as much as I can. I love doing sculptures. My work has improved but it continues to disappoint me.
    About a month ago a friend came to visit me. She brought me a present. It’s a tiny owl by Jon Anderson!
    My friend did not know anything about Jon Anderson or even that I do Polymer clay.

  27. Jocelyn, 29 June, 2011

    Welcome, Cassie! I see we agree on artiste’s, lol. Would love to see some of your work, do you have a site. If not, you can go to Cindy’s FB page and throw up a few pics. Would inspire me for sure!

  28. Cassie C, 29 June, 2011

    Thank you Jocelyn. I don’t have a site up yet. I have some pictures that I will pull together when i get a chance. I haven’t been great about recording my work.
    I’m loving this site. Working to learn some better finishing skills and some new techniques. Then I will transition into selling a few things. But It’s going to take some time.
    Do you have a site??
    Thanks for your interest.

  29. Jocelyn, 30 June, 2011

    @Cassie C: Same here, no site yet. And thanks to Cindy and all here perfecting some skills and relearning new techniques ending bad habits, lol. Need to get something up and running for supplemental retirement income, so I sure appreciate the sharing that goes on here. Best of luck to you.

  30. Fran Bittner, 28 January, 2018

    Once you used your toaster oven for clay firing, can you use it for food?

  31. Cindy Lietz, 29 January, 2018

    Yes! Just clean it out and make sure there is no plasticy smell, and you can use your oven to bake food again, no problem.

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