Polymer Clay Possibilities, Teaching and Thinking of Carol Duvall

Polymer Clay Flower “I am learning that the sky really is the limit as far as what we can do with polymer clay.” ~Cindy-E

This post is about the endless possibilities that are available to all of us with polymer clay. Today, I would like to start by expanding on an insightful comment that Carolyn-F added just recently… about being human.

It is good for the morale to see your experiments and to read that you are still trying to develop a system. Sometimes it seems like you know everything there is to know and then you hit us with this flower petal experiment. This gives us, at least me, the courage to try different things. If our tutor doesn’t have all the answers, maybe there is hope for the rest of us! Thanks, Cindy, for being so human as well as extremely knowledgeable. ~Carolyn-F

Oh Carolyn, it is such a delight to have you here in the community. Sometimes I wish I knew everything. But I don’t. Not even close! And as Martha Stewart would say, that’s A Good Thing!

The day I know everything there is to know about working with polymer clay, is probably the same day I would quit. Because where’s the challenge if there’s nothing left to learn? Things would get stale and boring pretty quick if there was no more room for creative discovery.

But don’t worry! I won’t be running out of polymer clay things to learn about anytime soon. Like I’ve said before, there’s a list of ideas for tutorials that should keep us all busy for at least the next ten years. And that’s without any of the new ideas that also get added to the list every day.

Sure I know a fair bit about polymer clay. But I have only just barely scratched the surface. That is one of the reasons the medium is so exciting. The sheer unlimited possibilities is just astounding!

Hi Cindy, The above bead is so lovely. It is so hard to believe that with some practice and patience, we (humans) can make such beautiful pieces with our own two hands and the proper tools. We can mimic nature, and we can bring forth what was once only in our imaginations using these cane methods that you are teaching us. I am learning that the sky really is the limit as far as what we can do with polymer clay. Thank you for sharing all that you do. You are appreciated :) ~Cindy-E

I used to worry that I didn’t know enough about polymer clay to teach it. There are better caners than I. Better bead makers, sculptors and better artists out there. I remember saying to myself, “Maybe I should wait to get better before I start to share what I know?”

But then I would think back about my favorite craft teacher on HGTV, Carol Duvall. She never claimed to be perfect. We all loved her for it and learned from her every time the show came on.

Carol Duvall was real. She shared what she knew and admitted what she didn’t. She asked lots of questions of her guests and tried absolutely everything no matter how it turned out.

I can’t tell you how much I learned from, and was influenced by Carol Duvall over the years. It was sad when she left TV. But… I hear she may be making a come back (thanks Bette-L for the tip :) — Let’s hope this is true, cause I’d be happy to watch her for many more years to come!

Turns out there are at least a few other Carol Duvall fans here at my site as well… go figure!

Started in polymer clay in early 80’s for making dollhouse miniatures. Discovered many other uses for the clay from the Carol Duvall show – I blame it all on my ‘miniatures’ friend, Alison, who first showed me an episode of Carol Duvall. ~Priscilla-L

Cindy – thanks for your answer to covering wood. One or two days after I asked you about this, I watched a Carol Duvall episode where she had a polymer artist on who was covering wood to make clocks. She said that you brush on any all purpose glue, like you said, so the clay would adhere to it. It’s funny how coincidence came into play again. Anyway I want to let you know that your tutorials are so helpful. ~MaryEllen-S

Cindy when I first got interested in polymer clay I saw a Carol Duvall show on TV with Donna Kato. I was so in love with that show. I bought a bunch of clay on Ebay and a few tools and a pasta machine. I knew I had to have the machine because of my hand and wrists. I got everything ready and I was like a deer in headlights. Left it out for a week then put it up and did not get it out again for over a year. Now that is just plain silly. At the time I had been working with wood and found my comfort zone so that is what I returned to. Then I came across Polymer Cafe magazine and started watching Carol Duvall again and just jumped in. Was it great no. But my grandkids loved it so I stuck with it and fell more and more in love each day. I can truly say I didn’t get comfortable with it till I joined your sight and bought the beginners course and all the back Videos. I go through what most everyone else does every time I make something. There is no worse critic for your own work then yourself. But I have learned perfect or not, I am having way too much fun and that is what the most important thing is for me. I learn more everyday with your videos and blog. I read and reread, I watch and rewatch and learn something new every time. I am totally mesmerized with your talent and you. Once again Thank you for being YOU!!!!!!!! ~Peggy-B

So anyways… to anyone who thought I might know all there is to know about polymer clay… you should be happy to find out that I don’t. But when I do learn new things, I promise to share my ideas with all of you.

If I ever don’t have an answer to your question, I will try to find it. If I can’t, it is likely there will be someone else in this supportive community that does.

So in many ways I am learning right along side of you. And I personally think that’s better than being one of those know-it-all’s who often come across like they know too much for their own good.

** Win Some Polymer Clay Beads: Handmade by Cindy Lietz.
Time to send in your photo entires: Polymer Clay Giveaway Contest

For anyone who wants to follow along from beginning, the following link will take you to a summary of all the articles in this fun and educational Polymer Clay Bead Giveaway series.


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  1. Jocelyn, 03 February, 2010

    Caroll Duval literally saved my life by keeping my Mom occupied during the first days of disability. Not only was she fun to watch (we got her back to back with cable, lol), she was able to inspire my Mom to try new things.

    We saved foam coffee cups to re-use from the local coffee shop. Carol found a way to put these cups in the microwave and shrink them into perfect cowboy hats which pretty much fit the American Girl doll series.

    Literally, hundreds of hats later…..

    I am still laughing thinking about it.

    Carol, I owe you big.

  2. Debbie S., 03 February, 2010

    OMG! Carol Duvall! I grew up with her crafting on my local TV station, here in Detroit! I was always so happy to see her when she was on HGTV. One of her projects I remember from back in 1966, was making flower jewelry from the pop can tabs (the ones they did away with that used to detach completely from the can), where she would paint the parts of the tabs that looked like flower petals, and glued them to a glass cabochon to look like a flower pin. They were really in style at the time. And, of course, an ingenious idea from Carol Duvall!! I really do hope she comes back to TV!!

  3. Bonnie, 03 February, 2010

    I agree with you all about Carol Duvall. I taped all her shows so I could watch them when I got home from work. I thought some of the people on there did some weird things but Carol always made me laugh. I could never figure out why someone would want Sock Monkeys. I taught glass engraving for 6 years and after watching some of the polymer people on there I thought I could incorporate the glass engraving and the polymer. The first few things I made turned out to look like cow pies because my toaster oven’s heater was on the top so I burned everything. Now my glass engraving stuff is in the back of the closet and my polymer clay stuff has taken over my entire studio. Wish Carol would come back on tv, not much else worth watching out there anymore.
    Thanks Carol, we still love you, and you too Cindy. It’s like having a young Carol Duval every Friday morning.

  4. Linda B., 03 February, 2010

    Carol is coming back!!!! She will be on icraftnetwork.com. She was part of the reason I got interested in polymer clay.

    Linda B.
    Kanas City, MO

  5. Peggy Barnes, 03 February, 2010

    Yes she is quite the lady who has inspired and touch so many of our hearts. I received an email from Linda Peterson’s Art buzz just today saying she would be on icraftnetwork.com as Linda B. mentioned above. I also have to thank Carol Duvall for starting my love for PC and Cindy for continuing to help that love grow each day. Thank you Carol and Thank you Cindy.

  6. Lisa Whitham, 03 February, 2010

    Ah yes, Carol Duvall… She turned me into a crafter. I sure miss her show! On Carol’s show Donna Kato made pc look so easy I went right out and bought a pasta machine and pc. Well, I didn’t have a clue so I put it all away for a few years. I got it all out last year and haven’t looked back. If I hadn’t found Cindy’s site I probably would have put it all back away…
    So thanks to Carol, and thanks to Cindy..!!!

    ~Lisa :)

  7. Phaedrakat, 03 February, 2010

    My story is pretty much the same! I saw Donna Kato, Lisa Pavelka, etc. on Carol Duvall’s show and went right out and got some PC. I was a beginning jewelry maker at the time, so I was also watching DIY Jewelry making on TV. I can’t remember which one showed me polymer first, but I started recording everything on my Tivo using “polymer clay” as a keyword. I grew to love Carol Duvall – such a great lady. It’s amazing she’s been at it so long; I’m glad to hear she’s continuing her teachings online. And how cool is it to discover that she has inspired MY inspirer! (Wait, does that make sense?)

    I don’t believe it – what do you mean, Cindy’s not perfect? No way! : ) The great thing is, Cindy takes what she doesn’t know, and makes the mistakes, “so we don’t have to.” Her “tagline” says it all. She turns imperfections into great lessons we can all learn from. And yes, she is REAL. She feels like a real friend – a knowledgeable and helpful one at that.

  8. Elizabeth S., 03 February, 2010

    First of all, I can’t believe how many of us, including you, Cindy, came to love polymer clay all or in part because of Carol Duvall. I adore her, and like many of you I was inspired by segments featuring Lisa Pavelka, Donna Kato and others. To hear that she is returning to a teaching format made my heart do a happy dance, that’s for sure.

    Cindy, I have been thinking for hours about how I wanted to respond to your posting today. Each is meaningful and I read every word but today’s prompted a need to reply with a real and honest sense of what you have given me, just as you are always real and honest with us, so here goes: A favorite teacher of mine once stated that “creatively”, she wanted “to break us open”. She did, she was wonderful, and I will never forget her. My sense is that “creatively breaking yourself open” is something you have mastered. There seems to be nothing that you are unwilling to try to create beauty from this medium, and in doing so you take us, your students with you on this journey. I can speak only for myself, but for me this is the greates gift of all. Thank you!

  9. Bonnie, 03 February, 2010

    Will you all please let me know when and where Carol is when she comes back? I don’t watch much TV because I listen to books on tape or cd when I’m claying and my husband only watches NCIS or Cops so I hope someone lets me know.

  10. Silverleaf, 04 February, 2010

    We don’t get anything like that over her in the UK! I’ve never seen any TV shows about crafting at all, and if they did exist here I’m sure they’d just be about scrapbooking, card making, cross stitching and very occasionally beading. That’s what all the magazines are about anyway. :/

  11. Cindy Lietz, 04 February, 2010

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. Elizabeth really nailed it on the head when she said that “creatively breaking yourself open” is what I was trying to do. My teaching style isn’t really a paint by number approach. Where you do step 1, then step 2 and end up with a certain identical project to everyone else’s. I teach methods, techniques, concepts and ideas. You take them and make them your own. So much more freedom to be yourself that way. I am so glad that you all understand that and enjoy the process! You make this teacher proud!

  12. Freda, 04 February, 2010

    I, too, watched Carol Duvall, but for so long I hated when she had a segment on polymer clay. Luckily I taped most of the shows and when I got into polymer clay and loved it, I could go back and watch the old shows and see Donna & Lisa and the others work the polymer clay and make beautiful things from it, that I could try to do too. I’ll be glad to see her back and hope it’s on TV on a station we get.

  13. Linda K., 04 February, 2010

    I learned SO much about crafts from Carol Duval’s show. I fell in love with decorative painting while watching a segment with Sandy Aubuchon and I’m still painting 15 years later. I became fascinated with polymer clay after seeing Donna Kato, Maureen Carlson, Lisa Pavelka, Linda Petersen, Ann and Karen Mitchell , and Michelle Ross on Carol’s show.

    I used to travel for my job, so I taped all her shows to watch when I returned. I couldn’t bear to tape over them, so I have hundreds of Carol Duval shows on videotapes in my attic!

  14. Phaedrakat, 05 February, 2010

    @Linda K.: How cool–I would love to see all those old videos that got me interested in polymer. So, uh, where do you live…? Just kidding. But it really would be fun to see.

    @Elizabeth S.: You’re right. It is pretty bizarre that so many of us saw those same TV shows!

  15. lynn watts, 05 February, 2010

    I watched Carol on TV when she was on( I think it was the Home Show.) With his name was Rob and their was another man I can’t seem to think of his name. Then she got her own show. I also loved her show. I taped alot of her shows, and I learned alot of things watching her and her guest. I would like to know when she is coming back, I miss her and her crafts and the new people she showed on her show. I also watched another craft queen and her name was Aleene. She brought alot of things to the craft world along with her daughters. I miss seeing the craft shows for there is not a single one on the TV that I get so I can watch them. I live in Tennessee,where HGTV is at and it was sad to see all the craft shows go to the wayside. More male listings like racing,football,baseball,hockey,hunting,building cars,etc. I have my tapes and my books so I am not left out.

  16. Linda K., 06 February, 2010

    @ Phaedrakat: Come on up to Vermont and watch the videos with me! I’ve got a corner of my studio all set up to watch.

    @ Lynn Watts: Yes, I was sorry, too, to see the craft shows get overtaken by the other shows on HGTV & DIY. The CREATE channel (offshoot of PBS) still has some painting and craft shows.

  17. Phaedrakat, 08 February, 2010

    @Linda: That sounds like fun — videos and a clay-mate! I’ll have to take a raincheck, though (yeah, after I invited myself, lol.) I could never withstand a long flight like Calif. to Vermont, at least not with my back in its current condition. But thanks for the offer, ;-) *wink*. I would have loved to visit Vermont; I’ve never been to your beautiful state!

    I agree with you and Lynn about craft shows going bye-bye. You can find some home improvement & cooking on TV, but no craft shows. The only exception here is the occasional Beads, Baubles & Jewels. The jewelry-making shows I used to get are gone — now it’s only jewelry “shopping” shows. There used to be lots of scrapbooking & other stuff, and of course, Carol Duvall. Now when I search for crafts the only thing I can find is a Cricut infomercial. I wonder if it’s because there’s so much more content on the web nowadays?

  18. Linda K., 10 February, 2010

    @ Phaedrakat: I understand how hard it is to travel when you’re having back problems. I hope yours feels better soon.

    @ Lynn Watts: Funny you should mention Aleene. Her show was the first craft show I found on TV and I used to watch it every day. I was thinking about her the other day and Googled her name. To my delight, I found a website that was created by her daughters that they call it the “Aleene Jackson Craft Museum.” I was happy to read that Aleene is still going strong at 86! Here’s the link: inspiredathome.com/creative_studio/aleene_jackson/aleene_jackson.htm

  19. Phaedrakat, 10 February, 2010

    @Lynn W. & Linda K.: I have some several craft glues (a “tacky” one & a fabric, or is glitter/gem, one) with the brand name “Aleene’s.” Perhaps this stuff is named after the “craft queen” Aleene you’re talking about? I’ve seen a whole section of other stuff at Michael’s with this brand name…

  20. Linda K., 10 February, 2010

    @Phaedraket: Yes, that’s the same Aleene. There was a time (early 90s?) when she had lots more products. She sold the glue business to Duncan. I don’t know what happened to all the other products. Her Super Tacky Glue is excellent. I once had a berber carpet that got a pull in it (about 6 inches were loose) I used Aleene’s Super Tacky Glue to fix it. It held up to vacuuming and even carpet cleaning! It looked almost like new, too.

  21. Linda K., 10 February, 2010

    Ooh, I meant to say that although the Super Tacky Glue is great for many things, I don’t think you want to use it on polymer clay.

  22. Cheryl Hodges, 10 February, 2010

    Is it possible to write on polymer clay??

  23. Phaedrakat, 11 February, 2010

    @Cheryl: Yes! You can use various things to write, like Sharpies, Gel-pens, colored-pencils, etc. I have only limited experience, however. I’ll tell you a couple things to get you started, and then others with more experience can REALLY help you… ;)

    I know Sharpies work, I’ve used them myself on my color samples (I write the recipe’s color ratios directly on the baked clay.)

    I’ve also used Paint pens. They take a while to dry. There’s a comment about it here: Gold Paint Pen for Polymer Clay

    These pens come in thick or Very Fine Tips, Metallic or regular paint, by brands like Marvy & Krylon.

    There are comments here about Gel-pens in several places (do a search in the box above the Topic Categories index.) Here’s one of them: Using Gel Pens with Polymer Clay

    Anyone have more writing tips for Cheryl?

  24. Cheryl Hodges, 11 February, 2010

    Thanks Phaedrakat. I’m wondering if the fine tip pens used for scrapbooking would work. I have some from creative memories and they don’t smudge. Will try them out hopefully in the next few days.

  25. Phaedrakat, 11 February, 2010

    @Cheryl: I just ran across another post where they talked about various “writing” methods. Cindy mentions in one comment that she isn’t a fan of felt tips. On the same page, Anna S. says that permanent markers can run if you cover them with coatings like Future.

    I know you’re going to experiment, but I wanted to let you know about the smudging factor (just in case your Creative Memories react the same way to Future or other varnish.) If smudging is a problem, the suggestion on that page is to do your writing AFTER varnishing. Have fun!

  26. Cheryl Hodges, 11 February, 2010

    Thanks. i found this about creativememory pens. They’re not felt tip but have these fine tips like the art pens used for drawing and sketching.

    All Creative Memories pens are fade- and bleed-resistant and meet ISO 18902 standards. These tests ensure that journaling will not change significantly when exposed to direct sunlight for one year or when submerged in water for one day. Pens have a shelf-life of at least one year and will continue to perform even if accidentally left outside. The color remains consistent over time.

    Will try and let you know. Hopefully they will write well and stay on and not smudge.

  27. Cheryl Hodges, 12 February, 2010

    Just read somewhere this morning that you can write on polymer clay with oil pencils? Anyone tried that out? Where are oil pencils available?

  28. Phaedrakat, 12 February, 2010

    @Cheryl: Sounds like your C.M. pens will be fine on PC. If they will last underwater, they should be fine with future or whatever you use on your pieces. As far as oil pencils, looks like you can order them online from numerous places, or get them at your local Michael’s. You’ve now got me curious about this technique, as well.

    I always thought you could use oil paint, or other “oil-based” things, before curing only. But these pencils are used on baked clay. I wonder if you have to cure again afterwards, to avoid the oil “eating” into the clay???

    Help! Has anyone tried the oil-pencils on clay?

  29. Cheryl Hodges, 13 February, 2010

    I love to paint too butterflies and flowers and birds. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to use the oil pencils to not only write but paint on polymer clay?

  30. Phaedrakat, 14 February, 2010

    @Cheryl Hodges: Looks like Walnut Hollow oil pencils are available at Michaels stores (with 40% coupon about $5 for 12, $9 for 24, etc.) They have them a bunch of other places, as well. I know you can use them on polymer, I saw a woman on Flickr who does these lady faces using the oil pencils. It’s just a matter of whether they have to be cured again or not. I think this woman might use liquid clay over the top of the pencils, then she cures again.

  31. Cheryl Hodges, 14 February, 2010

    Will go to Micahels next week. I also found them on ebay but it will be cheaper with the coupon at Michaels. I’ll try them out and let you know. Thanks

  32. Phaedrakat, 14 February, 2010

    Hi Cheryl, BTW, clay is on sale this week at Michaels. Premo, Fimo & Sculpey III are 4 for $5 or $1.25 ea. The news ad had lots of extra coupons for president’s day (not sure if this helps you.)

  33. Cheryl Hodges, 14 February, 2010

    Thanks. I’m going to check out the Canadian Store coupons.

  34. Cheryl Hodges, 19 February, 2010

    Printed out my coupon for 40% off and went to Michaels – I was so disappointed they had oil pastels and crayons and watercolor pencils but do not carry oil pencils. The STAYZ stamp pad was so expensive, i did not buy it. The stamps were expensive too and they did not have desgins mostly flowers and alphabets and butterflies. What I did manage to get was a couple of displays for bracelets and necklace. Will have to try and get it online.

  35. Phaedrakat, 20 February, 2010

    @Cheryl Hodges: I am so sorry you had such a disappointing shopping trip! The Michael’s website shows those oil colored pencils, but as a store item (not online) and then gives a link “to find the store nearest you.” Try going to the website and entering your location. It will tell you where the item is supposed to be available (perhaps only the US stores carry this item?) Unless they were just out of stock at the time…? I did find lots of online stores that carry them, so mail order might be the way to go. As for the Staz-on, it is rather expensive, but it lasts a long time. I’ve had mine for many years, and that is some “intense” ink! The woman who does those oil pencil faces, uses some other ink that’s supposed to be great with polymer clay. I can’t remember the name right now, but if you do a search, you could watch the video and get the name. (I’ll post it later, if I get a chance.)

    I found a post with comments about oil pencils. They talk about the same brand of pencils on the Michaels website. Not sure if you’ve already seen it, but wanted to give you the link in case you hadn’t.

    Good luck with all this, Cheryl! Cheer up! :D

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