JOPLIN, Mo. —
Cyndi Cogbill learned about polymer clay years ago when she used to work at Prairie State Park. The material let her make replicas of Indian trade beads for presentations about history at the park.
"I discovered it in a children's book and have been working with it off and on for a long time," Cogbill said.
The longtime employee and volunteer at different area natural sites, including for the Missouri Department of Conservation at Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, has formed her own business based on her clay craft. During two sessions at the center Saturday, she will teach projects to students of all ages.
A morning session will focus on glitter globes. Students will make rabbits out of clay, mount them on a grassy mound with Easter eggs, then enclose them in a baby food jar filled with water and glitter for a unique collectible.
The session is intended for children 5 and older, but Cogbill said people of all ages are interested in the globes, and all are welcome to make them.
An afternoon session intended for more advanced students will focus on making clay canes. The technique enables an artist to mass produce a certain shape or design.
Cogbill said a clay cane features layers arranged in a design that runs the length of a cane. Similar to a sausage, an artist can cut a slice off the cane and use that slice in a variety of ways, including as veneers that can be applied to keys, switch plates or bottles.
"The advantage is that you don't have to keep making beads," Cogbill said. "Every place you cut, you see the design."
Polymer clay play
Both classes teach how to use polymer clay, which Cogbill said is different from regular clay in several different ways.
"Regular clay is made of minerals from the earth," Cogbill said. "Polymer clay is actually a plastic. You can use it in your home without much expense."
Cogbill said polymer clay can be cured easily in a regular toaster oven and comes in a variety of colors.
It's great for kids because they can spend time working with their hands, and the medium's forgiving nature means the outcome won't look like a disaster.
The clay itself is inexpensive, and tools can be found all around the house.
"It's almost like working with Play-Doh," Cogbill said. "You don't have to buy much at all."