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PCC Chats With
Karen Rhodes
The Clay Alley

Click Here to Download a Zipfile of this Chat

April 24, 2002:
SUNNISAN: We shall begin now - please refrain from salutations and please keep side conversations in Private Message mode. Karen, I am curious - how long have you been claying?
CLAYALLEY: I have been working with clay six years. Started carving and soon wanted my own models for carving. Then I started playing with clay and never looked back.
SUNNISAN: Do you still carve in clay?
CLAYALLEY: It's on again and off again. Mostly I have all these ideas and need time to play.
SUNNISAN: Ah, ok. How did you come up with the idea of a clay oriented store?
CLAYALLEY: In one word: Frustration.
SUNNISAN: Oh? Do tell!
CLAYALLEY: I ordered some things and it took 90 days to get it. I knew sources and I was a buyer, so I just started thinking I could do it myself..
KELISA3: -- And fast, I might add...
CLAYALLEY: Mostly I bought for me and then I thought I would just keep on buying.
SUNNISAN: Was it difficult putting it all together?
CLAYALLEY: Not really.
SUNNISAN: So you already purchased wholesale?
CLAYALLEY: I bought for my old boss. Her business is giftware stuff with lots of sources to interesting things. I just expanded on it and directed it towards clay.
SUNNISAN: So you actually had a business license to work off of already.
CLAYALLEY: No, I was a buyer for giftware.
SUNNISAN: When you established The Clay Alley, did you get your own business license?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I have my own license now.
SUNNISAN: Are you able to get good wholesale prices now?
CLAYALLEY: I try my best. Sometimes the vendors make it difficult because I am not a retail store.
SUNNISAN: Is your business internet only at this time?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, it is - although I have had people say they are coming here to see what I have.
SUNNISAN: The suppliers balk cuz you don't have a brick and mortar business?
CLAYALLEY: Yes. Polyform will not sell to me cos I do not have a store. Polyform sends out reps to bonafide stores and only sells that way.
BOOBEARNS: Just think what polyform is missing out on because they won't sell to you.
CLAYALLEY: I think polyform has gotten huge and doesn't want to mess with people who they consider small potatoes.
SUNNISAN Is there a loophole for that or does it matter with you stocking Kato Klay?
CLAYALLEY: No... and the manufacturer of Kato Clay is different and has different requirements.
SUNNISAN: When do you think you'll be carrying Kato Klay?
CLAYALLEY: I do plan to carry the Kato Clay and I just ordered the syndee holt traveling studio from Jacquard. The studio set is on backorder till they get a machine to wrap it.
SUNNISAN: Are you working full time now with The Clay Alley?
CLAYALLEY: I am working part time for my old boss - one day a week now.
DUKKYG: You said you were making tools. What kind of tools & will they be for sale?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I am making tools - plunger tools in 3/16" and in 1/2" like the Kemper Tools only in different designs: hex, square, oval, triangle in 3/16" and the 1/2" is a set of 12.
SUNNISAN: Do you have a date for sales yet?
CLAYALLEY: I just put them up on my site about an hour ago.
SUNNISAN: ok everyone - POP UP!! so don't panic if you get a page jumping out at you. http://www.clayalley.com/cutters .htm Who manufactures them for you?
CLAYALLEY: I do. I hand make each one.
JOLIE9: When are you going to make the new shapes for the clay gun??
CLAYALLEY: I'm working on that, too. I have so much in mind that it's hard to keep track of it all.
SUNNISAN: You are? Metal shapes?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, they are all metal.
XAZAVIA: The plungers sound really nice. I can't wait!
DUKKYG: I had the opportunity to try the 3/16" and they work very well...so tiny.
BOOBEARNS: Now that was just too cool!!!
SUNNISAN: Those are neat, Karen. You must be good at metalworking!
CLAYALLEY: I can also put on springs if you prefer them that way.
THEAUNTJUDY: I love the little cutters.
JOLIE9: Me, too!
CLAYALLEY: They are so cool. I want to do them in more sizes, too.
SUNNISAN: Larger or smaller?
CLAYALLEY: Both. I have some 1/8" metal to play with and up from there. Up to whatever size you all would like - I'm flexible.
THEAUNTJUDY: Tiny! That would be perfect for a flag pin I want to do.
JOLIE9: My nieces made charm bracelets using the tiny cookie cutters that I got from you!
SUNNISAN: You collect an odd assortment of tools for the clayer - things I don't see on other sites. Do they sell well for you?
CLAYALLEY: Most of the time, yes. I like to get things that intrigue me and then pass it on if I think others would like it.
SUNNISAN: I love the wavy blade with the handle. Great for arthritis.
THEAUNTJUDY: Are you going to get in more/different finding?
CLAYALLEY: Yes. More findings, more tins, pearlex, more tools...
THEAUNTJUDY: Great!
SUNNISAN: Tools! ar ar ar
CLAYALLEY: more power... I am always looking for ideas.
MYSHANTI: ooooooh goody!!! More findings and Pearlex!!!!
CLAYALLEY: Yes, Donna, gold bails.
SUNNISAN: Have you considered trying to carry the scumbuster? With disks ready made?
CLAYALLEY: I hadn't thought of it, but I will check into it. The discs are still on the drawing board right now.
SUNNISAN: Karen, do you keep your stock onsite or do you use a drop shipper?
CLAYALLEY: I order the merchandise and keep it here. This room is almost too full for me! The cats love it though...places to hide.
TERI_G: I KNEW you had cats!
CLAYALLEY: three and one dog
TERI_G: Mine love the packages from you
CLAYALLEY: Why does your like my packages?
TERI_G: Because they come from a cat house.
SUNNISAN: "Other cat" smells!!
TERI_G: Uh... You know what I mean.
JOLIE9: She is magical -- that's why her boxes get to us so quickly!
CLAYALLEY: You are bad! I love sending those triangle ones - makes the postal clerks' day.
SUNNISAN: Karen - I notice you sponsor some of the PCC contests. Do you plan to continue your participation in the future?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I do...
SUNNISAN: Yahoo! Your gift is most generous and much appreciated.
CLAYALLEY: I don't have a counter on my page, so I don't know how the sponsorship works for me with hits, but I figure, heck, I gotta give back to the people who make it possible for me to get nice stuff.
SUNNISAN: Don't you have a statistic application available from your webhost?
CLAYALLEY: I don't bother with that stuff....too busy playing with clay, tools and other stuff.
SUNNISAN: You give back by faboo customer service and fast delivery.
CLAYALLEY: Thank you. I really try.
SUNNISAN: Come summertime, it gets hot throughout the states. How do you keep your clay from cooking enroute?
CLAYALLEY: That's why I ship Priority Mail - 2-3 days tops. The Post Office doesn't let the mail sit in a van all night like UPS.
SUNNISAN: Ah. That's good to know.
TERI_G That's good to know - I wasn't aware.
CLAYALLEY: It's always delivered to the interior of the Post Office in air conditioning. Plus they deliver on Sats - while UPS doesn't.
SUNNISAN: Has your business burgeoned quickly or steadily?
CLAYALLEY: Steadily. Word of mouth is great.
TERI_G: Tell me about weldbond. Do you carry it?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I have Weldbond.
TERI_G: Is it as great as they say?
SUNNISAN: Have you used it personally?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, it really is. I love the stuff. I cover all my wood, papier mache, glass....
SUNNISAN: Huh? It works like Sobo Glue, too?
CLAYALLEY: Better.
TERI_G: How fast does it set up?
CLAYALLEY: 15 minutes to set up and it's clear and doesn't crack.
SUNNISAN: How's it hold up to heat?
CLAYALLEY: Wonderful.
TERI_G: How about clean-up?
CLAYALLEY: No problems with it - soap and water. You can dilute it, too.
SUNNISAN: You can? Why would you? And with what?
CLAYALLEY: Works on blackboard, bricks, cardboard, cement
JOLIE9: Are you reading the back of the label??
CLAYALLEY: Ceramics, china, corian, cork, fabrics, foam, wood, glass
SUNNISAN: Sounds almost too good to be true.
CLAYALLEY: leather, linoleum, marble, masonry, metals, paper, parquet, plastic, plywood, porcelain, rope, rugs, slate, stone, textiles, tiles, upholstery...
JOLIE9: Go back and tell us why you would dilute it and with what?
CLAYALLEY: It's concentrated. It can give up to twice the coverage of other glues.
TERI_G: Like Tacky Glue?
SUNNISAN: So it's thick like TLS?
CLAYALLEY: Yes.
KELISA3: How do you dilute it??
CLAYALLEY: You can get more out of it - dilute with water. 3 parts water gives up to 400 square feet per gallon.
SUNNISAN: Holy cow! That's a lot. Can you use it between 2 baked pieces successfully?
CLAYALLEY: Oh, yes! works. like a charm.
JOLIE9: Have you used this glue for pinbacks?
CLAYALLEY: Yep. Used it for pinbacks, too. I've used it to cover wood prior to claying, and glass, papier mache and light bulb vessels with fabric.
KELISA3: Karen, do you dry your wood first or just use the glue?
CLAYALLEY: Never dried wood in my life.
SUNNISAN: And no warping of clay? Does it fill in all the air pockets on papier mache?
CLAYALLEY: No warping of clay with wood. I swirl it so there are hills and valleys in the glue to better hold the clay. Yes, it fills in the air pockets.
KELISA3: I have a lop-sided wooden egg from Tacky Glue - now I'll order Wellbond... Among other things....lol
CLAYALLEY: That's my girl! I use it on light bulbs and then break off the metal top. It keeps the glass from flying.
SUNNISAN: Before you clay you break the top?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I break the top before I clay. I just make sure I have a lot on the top and it's full strength. Then I run a glass cutter around it and hit it with the wire cutter...real professional here.
SUNNISAN: You're definitely a tool person!!
TERI_G: My kinda woman!
KELISA3: Is the glass cutter just to make the cut even?
CLAYALLEY: The glass cutter is just to get that dang metal top off without busting it to pieces.
KELISA3: Ok. Ever tried smashing the bulb after baking?
CLAYALLEY: No, never smashed the bulb after baking. Always did it first. Well, I cover it with glue first, then smack the top off, then clay, then I leave the bulb in (great conversation starter) and rinse it out with soap and water. Make a top and hit it with Flecto or Future or something.
KELISA3: Now I see - almost had to draw me a picture there!
SUNNISAN: So, the glass remains with the vessel making it versatile enuf to hold a beverage....
CLAYALLEY: Yep!
SUNNISAN: I like that idea.
TERI_G: Very clever, Karen!
CLAYALLEY: Think of mini-buds in the Spring sitting in water in your light bulb vessel.
SUNNISAN: Without adverse effect to the clay!
KELISA3: --with those new Pearlex coverings......wind in your hair.....
SUNNISAN: Can you give us a sneak peek or preview of any other new items/tools you're thinking about getting in?
CLAYALLEY: I think I mentioned all of them - Pearlex, holt studio, plunger cutters, multi-blade cutting tool, claygun discs, but I am always playing with something, so you never know....
JOLIE9: And she is known for running ideas past us at MSATClayArt [Mini-Scenes And Things Clay Yahoo Group].
TERI_G: Which we love.
CLAYALLEY: I like to run ideas past you all... it helps me help you - to know what you want. To find out what you are seeking. OH! I do have another idea. Anyone want to hear it?
GROUP: Yes!
CLAYALLEY: Armatures in scale with wire and foil.
SUNNISAN: Like the ones at Artdolls?
CLAYALLEY: Better.
KELISA3: Now we're talking!
JOLIE9: Explain more....
SUNNISAN: Better!? Do tell!
CLAYALLEY: It's just something I thought of right now. Told you I have ideas popping at me constantly.
SUNNISAN: I would buy. Figures only or animals, too?
CLAYALLEY: How would a 6" with bendable arms and legs sound? Actually be able to rotate and move your figure into different poses?
TERI_G: Oh - animals!! Great idea... put me down for one of each: people and animals. I need a cow.
KELISA3: Yes, yes and yes!
JOLIE9: Mythical figures or animals!
SUNNISAN: Yes!!
CLAYALLEY: Maybe other sizes too.
SUNNISAN: Miniature posable armatures would be something I would definitely be interested in.
JOLIE9: Kewl, 'cause I want some of the 3" and 6" ones.
CLAYALLEY: I'll put it on the drawing board and start playing with it.
SUNNISAN: Thanx Karen!
TERI_G: I sure am glad you have such an expandable drawing board, Karen.
CLAYALLEY: Darn thing takes up a lot of room. Pretty soon I won't have room in my house!
JOLIE9: But finish the shapes for the claygun first, please!!!!
TERI_G: I'm sorry I missed the first part of chat. Did you talk about specific shapes for claygun discs?
CLAYALLEY: I want to do all sorts of shapes for the clay gun...geometrical, things that are interesting...native american, asian, flowers...
SUNNISAN: Like the cool cookie cutters only extrusions!!
CLAYALLEY: Yes.
CLAUKKONEN: One shape that I would like to see is a smaller half circle. I think that would go really nice.
SUNNISAN: Half circles and quarter moons.
CLAUKKONEN:. Yeah!
CLAYALLEY: I'm working on plunger tools and a half circle is next. I will add the quarter moon, too.
XAZAVIA: I would like a rectangle cutter.
CLAYALLEY: I made triangles, hex, square, and oval in 3/16" - what size of rectangle do you need?
XAZAVIA: Well, I make 1" boxes. I'm horrible with calculations.
CLAYALLEY: I can probably do a 1/8" rectangle. Need to play with that.
XAZAVIA: That would make my box making a breeze.
TERI_G: I think I mentioned before, but I'd love shapes with sides that can be put together to build a quilt cane.
XAZAVIA: That would be neat, Teri.
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I know about the quilting thing...I'm working on it.
TERI_G: In plungers and claygun discs. Thanks, Karen, You're a doll.
SUNNISAN: Jennypat got a set of those quilt shaped tools special-made by Sue Lee. She sez they're wonderful.
CLAYALLEY: What special tools?
SUNNISAN: She asked Sue Lee for them custom order. They're some kind of thing to help her make the components of a quilt cane.
CLAYALLEY: Ahhhhhh.
SUNNISAN: They've cut her manufacture time and upped her accuracy, but it was just a one-time order.
CLAYALLEY: Wonderful! For me, I need a multidirectional cutter.
TERI_G: Multidirectional??
CLAYALLEY: Like a.... miter box. Slide your cane into a box that has lots of precut slots.
TERI_G: OOOOoohhhhh - now I see what you mean. And yes, that would be cool! Another tool I just discovered I "NEED."
CLAYALLEY: Are you placing an order?
SUNNISAN: Oh!! OH!! Gosh!! I was thinking of one of those only the sides would be adjustable, too, to compensate for cane sizes.
CLAYALLEY: YES!
SUNNISAN: And have a slide to push the cane around.
TERI_G: Put me down for one of those, too, Karen.
CLAYALLEY: I'll make them!
SUNNISAN: Gee - that'd be great. I won't hafta see my woodworker, then!
KELISA3: Have you used the cane slicer thing from JASI?
TERI_G: I've never used the JASI slicer, but have wished for something like it. I didn't like the idea of having to buy the special blades.
KELISA3: I have one - used - and no idea of how to use it -- but had to have it...lol
SUSANTUTBO: I'm dying to get a slicer. No matter how hard I try, I can't get the cane slices to be equal.
CLAYALLEY: You need a marking tool.
TERI_G: Me either, Susan, and it drives me nuts -- the marking tool helps tons, but I'm still crooked.
SUNNISAN: Susan - I don't even worry about equal slices anymore. That's what a pasta machine is for.
CLAYALLEY: Where can I see this JASI slicer?
TERI_G: http://members.aol.com/pol yannie/jasi.html
CLAYALLEY: That would be so easy to make.
KELISA3: And http://members.aol.com/pol yannie/jasi.html -- I think you can use regular blades with this.
CLAYALLEY: I could do that quickly. Are you all interested in this thing?
XAZAVIA: nod
SUNNISAN: I looked at slicers, but none met my needs. I am interested in something similar, but more cosmic. The JASI style is useless to me, but I could definitely use a slicer.
CLAYALLEY: How do you mean similar, Sunni?
TERI_G: I like the idea of the multidirectional bit...
CLAYALLEY: I think the multi-directional tool with the ability to do these cuts would be a good combo.
SUNNISAN: The design I'm think of has a moving "floor" like the others do so you can push it ever so slightly with your thumb to move the cane forward. But the others don't have the adjustment SIDEways for different sized canes. I want something that presses against the sides of the canes to avoid distortion so it actually moves in 4 directions. It needs to be able to use ANY tissue blade.
CLAYALLEY: I can do that. I'll start playing.
TERI_G: Oh, I see Sunni - yes, that would be great.
JOLIE9: Just so you can get equal and even nondistorted slices!!! I have such problems with that!
CLAYALLEY: I think this is doable, girls.
JOLIE9: If anyone can do it -- you can, Karen!
CLAYALLEY: Thanks, sweetie.
TERI_G: Seriously, Karen - I think it's a much needed tool for lots of us.
SUNNISAN: Karen - the blade slide needs to move smoothly and quickly and have a latch that operates with a light touch of the thumb. This would lock the blade safely up while cleaning the board.
CLAYALLEY: Ah, like a paper cutter.
SUNNISAN: Yes. Only locked UP instead of down. Think arthritis.
CLAYALLEY: That's possible.
XAZAVIA: Reminds me of that medieval cutting of the head thing. LOL Gullontine?
SUNNISAN: Yes. Guillotine. Exactly.
CLAYALLEY: That would be so cool.
XAZAVIA: That is such a morbid reference! ;)
SUNNISAN: But apt!!
TERI_G: Maybe Xaz, but on target.
SUNNISAN: Imagine a face cane!! Truly a guillotine!
CLAYALLEY: Off with the head!
XAZAVIA: LOL
TERI_G: LOL
KELISA3: ---sick bunch of puppies today, aren't we? lol
CLAYALLEY: I love brainstorming like this!
SUNNISAN: Anyhow, Karen - those are the specs I've been tossing around for about a year. If you make it, I'll buy one.
CLAYALLEY: I will toss it on the ole drawing board and start playing. And I'll make it, honey!!!
SUNNISAN: Karen - aside from the drawing board, working, doing inventory and claying, don't you write for magazines or something?
CLAYALLEY: I had an article in the Wood Carving Illustrated mag, a project on Sculpey, an article in Crafts Report and a new article in PCPolyzine in May.
SUNNISAN: I love the PCPolyzine. Are you doing an article or a project, Karen?
CLAYALLEY: It's a project: Fabric and clay. Think velveteen-lined boxes.
TERI_G: Really? How intriguing!
SUNNISAN: Oh!! I was just getting into that the last couple days with book binding!!! I must see that one! Fabric and paper and clay are meant to be together...
CLAYALLEY: Think fabric embellishments for pins or ornaments. I was happy to do the article.
SUNNISAN: Think books, bracelets, even clothing, purses, window shades.
JOLIE9: Sunni -- now you sound like you are reading the back of the label -- LOL!
SUNNISAN: *giggle* Yup - the one on the inside of my skull!!!
KELISA3: --and bake the fabric right into the clay?
CLAYALLEY: Put the clay and the fabric together and run it through the pasta machine so the clay gets into the weave of the fabric, then bake it.
KELISA3: Like a netting or lightweight fabric.
CLAYALLEY: Any fabric... I prefer cotton. Velveteen frays like crazy.
XAZAVIA: I saw that in a book somewhere.
CLAYALLEY: Where?
XAZAVIA: One of the clay books, it was in Joanne's. It was about making outfits for the dolls in clay.
JOLIE9: Fairy clothes!
CLAYALLEY: Yes, fairly clothes, too.
KELISA3: Could you glue with Wellbond?
CLAYALLEY: Yep
TERI_G: It would work well for hinges, too, yes?
CLAYALLEY: Yes.
SUNNISAN: Karen - do you do all your own photography for the eStore?
CLAYALLEY: My scanner kills my computer every time so I try to rely on the digital camera.
SUNNISAN: Speaking of doing your own photography - where did you come up with the idea for a Sculpey III fashion show? That's a hoot! It's nice to see the colors in actual items!!
TERI_G: I agree, Sunni - very original presentation.
CLAYALLEY: I might get around to doing that with Premo!, too.
SUNNISAN: Or the Kato Klay!
TERI_G: Karen - I really do appreciate all you do for us.....
CLAYALLEY: I'm a clayer at heart.
SUNNISAN: Actually ladies - we're at the end of our two hours already!!! Karen - thank you SO much for this most interesting and fun chat!!! Everyone is invited to stay on if they would like to, I'm opening up the floor for general conversation.
CLAYALLEY: Thank you for inviting me.
SUNNISAN: It is Leigh's and my pleasure.
SUSANTUTBO: Karen, you're appreciated for all you do, and especially by me for all your good advice and work for free!!
CLAYALLEY: Remember everyone, new plunger cutters are up! Guess everyone's leaving, huh?
STARGAZERCA: I just got here... :)
SUSANTUTBO: The only reason I would leave is to go and order cutters, LOL! Still want me to stay?
CLAYALLEY: Yes. Stay.
CLAYALLEY: Stay.
CLAYALLEY: Stay.
CLAYALLEY: Stay.
SUNNISAN: Sit. Stay. Good girl.
SUSANTUTBO: Arf.
CLAYALLEY: Meow. If anyone wants the syndee holt Studio, I can add to my inventory order.
KELISA3: Karen - can I order one Holt with my order tonite?
CLAYALLEY: Sure. Just make a note of it and I will add it to the order.
SUNNISAN: How much are you asking for the studios, Karen?
CLAYALLEY: $59.59. Jacquard is asking $69.99 retail.
SUNNISAN: You must've ordered a bunch to undercut the manufacturer!
STARGAZER: Karen, will you also be carrying the black Pearlex?
CLAYALLEY: Yes, I will carry that, too. The holt kit isn't shipping 'til mid-May, so I won't get them 'til the end of May.
STARGAZER: Will you have the Fiesta Inks available separately (as well as in the kit)?
CLAYALLEY: I'm looking into that as well. I will have the new fashion colors of Pearlex. As long as I know what you need, I can add it to my inventory order. So best to email me so I can put your name down. My email is: clayalley@onemain.com
STARGAZER: I'd like a bottle of black Pearlex... I gave some of mine away... :)
CLAYALLEY: What size bottle?
STARGAZER: The larger size... Don't have any with me on this trip...
CLAYALLEY: Okay, will add it but email me so I have your name and address.
STARGAZER: Will do! :)
KELISA3: Got your number, I'll call ya.
CLAYALLEY: Love talking on the phone, too! Sunni, send me a copy of the transcript so I get the specs for that tool. Supper is ready, so I must take off.
----thanks and salutations extended----

CLAYALLEY: You are most welcome Sunni... love to do it again sometime...hint, hint.
SUNNISAN: We'd love to have you again as a guest speaker!
CLAYALLEY: Lots of goodies, new plunger tools, pearlex, new tools - just let me know when, Sunni!
SUNNISAN: How about once a month?
CLAYALLEY: That might work.
SUNNISAN: We'll email and negotiate, k?
CLAYALLEY: K. Okay, I really got to go ...the chicken is burning!
SUNNISAN: Thx again and have a good dinner!

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