I regularly get promotional e-mails from suppliers about new products and special offers, and yesterday I received one from Cooksons advertising the ‘Hottest New Product in Jewellery Making’ – referring to the fact that they have recently started stocking Fimo.

This amused me somewhat. I first became interested in making jewellery when I was at secondary school in the early nineties, and the first product that I used to create my own, was Fimo. Back at that time, there was a large range of colours, metallic and effect powders, specialist tools, stones, findings and embellishments specifically designed and marketed by the company that produced the clay, and I still have the ‘How To’ booklet that was published and given away free in stores at the time, with some really quite sophisticated designs and ideas. Admittedly there is a more than a touch of an eighties feel to the jewellery with an emphasis on brooches above other items and some quite big and ostentatious design ideas, yet the combinations possible with the products available were endless.

I had a look through the products now available at Cooksons. A very large range of clay colours and varnishes, and some basic modelling tools – and that seemed to be it. A search on Google didn’t reveal any suppliers for the findings and embellishments that I remember using. Now with regard to the stones and cabachons, you could probably use any synthetic crystals for this purpose, and any that are suitable for PMC would certainly survive the low oven temperature taken to harden Fimo, and the same could be said for generic jewellery findings – cabachon back pendant bases would probably work very well as a base for Fimo designs especially. However, I think it is a shame that these products are no longer available specifically, especially some of the small metal masks that could be pushed into the clay and one of my favourite items were small ceramic 3D faces with painted features. Two of the best pieces I ever made were using these as a base, and I still have them (in fact, I will try to remember to take a photograph of them and add it to this post at a later date).

So, curious about this ‘Hottest New Trend’, and aware that manufacturers normally stop producing things due to a lack of demand, I had a look on Etsy to see what, twenty years later, people were making out of Fimo. I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed. There were some stunning millifiori bead designs, beautiful, original and very well produced. A few abstract pieces, that although not to my taste, were well made. Most of the finished jewellery however seemed to consist almost entirely of variations of cupcakes made into charms and earrings. Some of them were to a very high standard and lovely, simple charms. Some of them were horribly basic and poorly made. Most of them though were pretty much in the middle and very similar. I think this is a real shame. Now I get that cupcakes are incredibly trendy and popular at the moment (I’m not dissing the cupcakes – I plan to have them at my wedding!), and I’m also aware that Etsy is made up mostly of hobbyists rather than cutting edge designers. However I had a look through the Dolls and Miniatures category, which consists of tiny items of food and flowers made mostly for Doll’s Houses, and the quality, variation and originality of these absolutely beautiful moulded miniatures was breathtaking. I’m genuinely suprised that more of the people making jewellery haven’t picked up on this area for inspiration and I can’t believe that there weren’t more flower designs in there, as Fimo lends itself well to those kind of forms.

I never stopped using Fimo, although now I use mostly plain white for moulding objects for castings and practising for PMC designs, rather than as the material for a finished piece. I now find myself wondering if it’s worth going back and re-exploring it as a medium, and whether or not I actually have the skills to pull it off to the level of sophistication that I believe a finished piece of jewellery, in whatever medium, should have. It’s certainly worth some thought. I think I’ll steer clear of the cupcakes though!

~ by Silver Nightshade Jewellery on 27/06/2010.

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