polymerclay

Craft Chat: The Little Mew

 It’s been more than half a year since I did my last Craft Chat post, and I am so excited to introduce you to another amazing artist!  I love connecting with creatives from all different artistic backgrounds who are passionate about what they do.  Instagram is such a wonderful place to find artists from different genres, and I am so thankful that one day I came across the work of Amba Jacobs of “The Little Mew”!  

Amba is from New Zealand, and she is one of the most talented polymer clay charm artists that I know.  Her work is truly exquisite with her eye for fine detail and penchant for gorgeous colours.   Here is some of her work, starting with these stunning dragons and unicorns! 

Here is a beautiful and whimsical spirit charm that Amba created!  Amba does such an amazing job with the eyes as they have so much depth and character to them!

Just look at this gorgeous mix of colours and beautiful sculpting- what a work of art!

Amba also does character-based figurines such as Zelda and Serena from Sailor Moon as shown below!

If you visit her Etsy store, you’ll notice that it is empty- this is because Amba’s work is in extremely high demand.  She works hard on creating a whole crew of her charms and figurines and announces when she will be restocking her store on Instagram.  As soon as Amba releases them in her store, they quickly sell out as people immediately snatch up her pieces!  Here is an example of one of her crews that she created!  Wouldn’t you love to own one?

I had my eye on one of her Link charms since I am a HUGE Legend of Zelda fan (I even crocheted a Link years ago HERE).  When I saw that she had released some of them during the summer, I quickly ordered one for myself!  I love how Link is holding his little sword, Hylian shield, and that there is a little Navi the fairy too!

Here I am wearing my adorable Link charm!

Amba is an anime fan, and she does some cute detailed figurines from animes as well.  My brother Corey loves the anime “Fairy Tail” (Ryan and I have been watching some of it too), so for his birthday I ordered him a Natsu charm!  Here he is showing off his birthday present!

Amba was so kind when she sent our orders as she included some extras!  Here is a cute little Happy that Amba made as he is Natsu’s loyal friend and sidekick!  

Don’t they make an adorable pair?  Corey loved his birthday gift, especially when I told him how they were handcrafted all the way in New Zealand!

Amba also surprised me with this gorgeous Lambert clay charm!  I was in awe when I opened the package and saw my Lambert in clay form!!!  Isn’t he so sweet?  She depicted the fluffiness so well, and he has his little bell too!

Here is amigurumi Lambert posing with his clay charm counterpart!

It’s so neat seeing Lambert in different artforms: as an amigurumi by me, delicious food art by Lin of @Maysatch on Instagram, as a polymer clay charm by Amba, and as an illustration in “The Lambert Collection” drawn by Laura Uy!

I absolutely adore my Lambert and Link charms that were handcrafted with so much love by Amba!

Now that you’ve seen some of Amba’s work, let’s get to know her better with these questions that I asked her!

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(1) When did you start making polymer clay charms?  How did you learn?

In 2012 I found out about polymer clay when researching how to make my own little terrariums. I was fascinated that there was a clay that could create such realistic miniature flowers, landscapes and creatures, and that one could cure it at home in a conventional oven! As I live in rural New Zealand it was hard to get my hands on the well-known brands initially, so I just bought the local brand Du-kit in only three colours: Red, Flesh tone and what I thought was White but was Translucent. On my first few attempts I failed so miserably to create the pieces I had imagined that I ended up giving the clay I had away. A year later I had some time off work so I bought some more clay in a bigger variety of colours and began watching tutorials on YouTube. My biggest inspiration was LilacSprinkles and I also marathoned videos by RainbowXDeclairs, Kittensiu, MsMableStory, LostandFoundCharms & RainieBears. I was especially enthralled by the simple perfection of the kawaii style and the creative possibilities of making chibis. I learned by using their tutorials or pausing their charm updates for reference. By mid 2014 I had gained enough experience and developed enough of my own ideas that I was able to pursue polymer clay crafting as a full time job!

(2) What resources would you recommend for people who are interested in learning how to make polymer clay charms as well?

The biggest resource I would recommend are YouTube tutorials! I would highly recommend watching LilacSprinkles and also Polymomotea as both of them explain a lot of the basics: how to glaze, how to keep clay clean, what tools they use the most, and how to blend two pieces of clay together. Also, a basic knowledge of colour mixing (which can be found online too) can go a long way to allow you to create most of the colours you can think of with just the primary colours and white. Most YouTubers mention their sources or even leave links in the description boxes so you can get the same tools they use and recommend. These can then be purchased from EBay, Amazon and your local craft store. Another resource I recommend is wildlife or nature photography. Most of my critter type ideas come to me while looking through pictures by National Geographic or similar sources. Then there is always Anime, Cartoons and Video Games - these are incredibly inspiring as well! 

(3) How would you describe your polymer clay charms in 3 words? 

Whimsical, Detailed and Individual!

(4) Where did the name “The Little Mew” come from?

When I was but a young whipper-snapper living with my parents, I used to adopt a lot of stray cats and share the responsibility lovingly with my Mum. Not only is the tiny mewing of a kitten my favourite sound in the whole world, it is also the sound that I used to follow to find a new furry friend to take home. This element of ‘adoption’ combined with it being a sound I love to hear made ‘The Little Mew’ a perfect fit for my little business of adoptable critters :) 

(5) Do you craft full-time? 

Yes, I quit my day job as a receptionist on a Hotel Management career path a year ago and have been crafting full time since then. It took a long time and to gain the traction that I have today but thanks to support from family and people around me as well as fellow crafters and customers, I feel almost stable now in this roller coaster career. I work over ten hours a day seven days a week but the time and effort is so worth it to be able to do this as a job! 

(6) What is your favourite polymer clay charm that you’ve made? 

Every time I make a new charm I’m like ‘this is my favourite.’  This Lantern Dragon figure is my most detailed and current favourite piece. I still am not entirely able to pull my 2d drawings off the paper, but I was happy with how it turned out nonetheless!

(7) How does your work help you express your creativity and incorporate your various interests (e.g. anime, video games, etc)? 

I become obsessive of the things I love! Being able to focus so much attention on characters like Tomoe from Kamisama Hajimemashita, Cardamon from Bee and Puppycat, the familiars from the game Ni No Kuni or even the work of a fellow artist is a very rewarding -  almost nourishing - experience. Because interpretation is quite an ‘involved’ process, it is a way to immerse myself in what I love. Also, making fan-art has helped me connect with others who love the same characters or stories. There is a world of like-minded people that I only discovered when I started sharing my work!

(8) Who are some of your favourite polymer clay charm artists? 

Oh my gosh, I have too many favourites to list but will mention a few that inspire me very much!  Alex from Polymomotea, Kim from Oborochann, Tracy from Rainbeow, Jesmond from MintCharm, Kat from Gingerbouf, Cheryl from TintedTeal, Mabel from MsMabelStory and of course Louise from LilacSprinkles – These artists are so wonderful and creative, just looking at their work can destroy crafters’ block! Even though some of them are on hiatus they have created such a body of work that they’ve shared online, there’s plenty to get inspired by :) 

(9) How long does it take you to make a charm from start to finish (e.g. your dragon charm)?

If I worked on one piece at a time it would probably take me two full days from start to finish to make a dragon chibi charm: One day for making the base, baking it, adding the details and baking again, and a second day for painting and glazing it - and this is only if I put my full focus on it for the whole two days otherwise it would take a day for each part of the process. I work in batches because I can be far more productive that way! That means I make all the bases over a week or so (maybe 20-30 various pieces), then use the next week to give them details, and then once they have had their final bake, I’ll paint them for about another week. After this I will glaze them for several days, and fit them with necklaces if they are charm types. I thought that once I had more experience I would be able to work faster, but the truth is that the more I have learnt, the more fussy I have become so I will remake parts several times to get them just right :)

(10) What other crafts are you interested in? 

I have tried resin crafting as well, using stickers and glitter. Drawing and painting has been my creative outlet for most of my life and I thought that I might be able to dome my miniature art with resin. However I haven’t had much extra time to experiment so I have focused instead on the crucial task of buying stickers. Someone has to do it. I have recently started painting again with watercolours in my free time, and will be working on creating some print-worthy pieces for 2016!

(11) Do you have any advice for people who are interested in starting a handmade business or Etsy shop?

Yes! The biggest thing you can give yourself to succeed is time. There is an audience that loves what you make and are willing to pay you what your art is worth, you just need to have the stamina and financial means to stick it out until they find you. This can mean asking your family or partner for support while you manifest and nurture your dream. If that is not an option, and you need to maintain a day job, ensure that you give at least an hour a day to bring your dream into reality. If you can manage more give more, focus on your art during your down time instead of spending that time on FB or watching an uninspiring TV show. As long as you are working on it every day, you are making progress and will get there. When you make your first few sales try to ensure you get some good feedback; online buyers rely on this to find out about your customer service and quality. My sales didn’t take off until I received my first few 'feedbacks’ on Etsy. Pictures are the most prevalent medium of communication for an online store, so take good quality natural light photos and avoid filters. Use your free social media platforms to establish yourself and get all the people who love you to prove it by sharing your work!

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It’s been such a pleasure following Amba’s gorgeous work and seeing her amazing creations.  It boggles my mind that someone can be so creative and sculpt such intricate and detailed pieces with their hands and be able to blend colours in such a gorgeous way- each piece is such a labour of love!  It is evident that Amba is passionate about what she does and she is so supportive of fellow crafters!  She has amassed a huge following, and it is no wonder that her pieces sell out so quickly every time!  Be sure to follow her work on YouTube and Instagram (@TheLittleMew) and check out her Etsy store HERE!  Thank you for participating in this Craft Chat, Amba!

Note: Thank you to Amba for providing me with photos of your beautiful work for this blog post!