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Craft club members learn to do polymer clay sculpting and get creative in the process

BARBARA SHERMAN - Summerfield Craft Club members working on their polymer clay projects include Susan Burson (third from left) creating a head and Bonnie Crismon (second from right) making a rooster with help from teacher Lydia Cooper (third from right).Summerfield Craft Club members and guests got really crafty at the April 25 meeting in the Clubhouse when several of them turned blobs of polymer clay into pieces of art.

And there was one near disaster later, but everything worked out in the end.

Lydia Cooper was the teacher, assisted by Sharon Hughes, and they had previously conditioned the clay by running it through a home pasta machine and also volunteered to take the finished pieces home to bake.

They prepared for the class by setting out some samples of finished polymer clay pieces and providing books and other resources to give the budding artists ideas for what to make.

Among the possibilities were pendants, pins, earrings and refrigerator magnets.

"I don't expect you all to run out and do it, but this is an opportunity to try it one time," said Cooper, who added that because the clay is sticky, everyone should wear gloves. "So have a little fun and make something to take home. You're going to have to just jump in and swim."

Hughes explained, "You can buy a bead roller to work the clay although you can see I haven't taken mine out of the package yet!"

BARBARA SHERMAN - At the beginning of the Summerfield Craft Club meeting, those interested in making something out of polymer clay looked through books for ideas, and Susan Burson (far right) eyes some heads on a page, which is exactly what she ended up making.According to Cooper, the pieces don't need to be glazed, and she pointed out that the clay comes in all different colors. Indeed, there was a rainbow assortment of colors on the big square table along with blades for cutting the clay and sheets of parchment paper to work on, as eight women sat down to try their hand at sculpting.

Cooper passed around sandwich bags filled with colorful clay so the women could break off pieces of the colors they wanted.

As the women started cutting and molding pieces of polymer clay, Cooper and Hughes explained that the finished pieces need to bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 250 to 275 degrees, depending on the thickness, in a toaster oven. "And you need one toaster oven dedicated to this because it's toxic," Hughes said. "You don't want to use one that you also use for food."

As the women worked, the items started to take shape and included a rooster, a head, a name tag, a daisy, bookmarks and a pennant. When Cooper saw the purple pennant, she said, "We have an over-achiever here," and later she concluded, "We do have some talent in this group."

BARBARA SHERMAN - Bonnie Crismon carefully cuts out pieces of colorful polymer clay for the rooster she wanted to make, and he is now affixed to her refrigerator.While the others were working on their projects, Susan Burson created an intricate head complete with hair strands and teeth, but she modestly noted, "I'm just Susan making this up as I go."

She said later that she saw a head in one of the books she looked through and decided to make one. "I call him Wallace after Will Vinton's 'Wallace and Gromit' movie," she explained.

While Burson hadn't found a permanent place for him, she found a temporary one: "I put him on a shelf with the shot glasses," she said.

But the most harrowing experience happened to Bonnie Crismon's rooster.

"In the samples they had, I saw one that was similar to what I wanted to do," she said. "I had never done anything like that but I could copy the rooster that was already done."

BARBARA SHERMAN - Here are seven of the eight pieces created by Summerfield Craft Club members on their first attempt sculpting with polymer clay, which came out quite well.Her rooster looked great at the end of the event, and Cooper took the items home to bake that night.

"We meet every Tuesday, and Lydia said, 'I'll bring them back the next Tuesday,'" Crismon said. "She brought them all in a big bag and set it on the table. Then she set her purse down, and somehow the bag fell on the floor. The only thing that broke was the rooster's feet.

"Lydia said she felt terrible and would fix it. When I got him back, you couldn't even tell where it was broken, and because I wanted to put him on my refrigerator with magnets, she had put the magnets on him."

Crismon named the rooster Rooty, saying, "That's the story of the rooster. He's so cute."

She loves attending the weekly craft club meetings, saying, "It's become a social time. If I bring knitting and I have to count the stitches, sometimes I have to take half of them out when I get home."

BARBARA SHERMAN - Susan Burson did an outstanding job creating a tiny head with such details as individual teeth and locks of hair.The Summerfield Craft Club meets every Tuesday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Clubhouse, and its brochure states, "We are a friendly group of ladies who enjoy being creative. We supply our own materials and work on individual projects. Everyone is always ready to share their skills, knowledge and advice. And we're ready to learn new crafts."

It continues, "New members and visitors are always welcome to drop in. Coffee, tea and conversation are always served, sometimes with sweet treats."

Membership dues are only $1 a year, and the club's motto is: "Crafting forever, housework whenever."

The club's biggest event is its annual Holiday Bazaar, and this year the 29th one will be held Nov. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Clubhouse. Its 2016 bazaar was very successful, allowing the club to make its largest donation yet to Tigard Meals-on-Wheels, its chosen charity.

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