Polymer Clay Jewelry, Anyone? Meet Singapore-based clay jewellery brand rae-clay

We sat down with Guada, the artist behind the polymer clay jewelry brand rae-clay, to learn more about the art of clay jewelry.

Polymer clay jewelry and accessories are made by oven-baked clay, and serve as big and bright statement pieces that can spice up any understated outfit. Some established local polymer clay jewelry brands include the Lorem Ipsum Store, Knack.co, and Longue Vue Design. Even though clay jewelry might not the first thing you look for when looking for your next big accessory purchase, die-hard fans that swear by these beautifully handmade products that can be uniquely yours (and yours only!).

We sat down with Guada, the artist-slash-entrepreneur behind the local polymer clay jewelry brand rae-clay to take a behind-the-scenes look at the art of making clay jewelry and how she’s using her online platform to establish her new brand.

Note: Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

MFA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Guada: I’m Guada, and I’m a third year anthropology student at Yale-NUS College! I come from Argentina, but I’ve been living in Singapore for the past few years. I’ve always been very interested in art and art-making–I took art classes for 12 years before coming to college, and I’ve always been interested in finding new forms of art.

MFA: Tell us about rae-clay. How did this journey begin for you?

Guada: I started rae-clay last October. The beginning of that year, I had taken an art class in college where we were encouraged to make art in accordance to a style that we had learned. One of the styles that really struck me was abstract expressionism, but at that point I was a bit tired of using traditional art materials like paint, canvas, or oil to represent that, and I wanted to explore something new. And at the same time, I had for years been looking for my own medium of art–I’ve dabbled in photography, dancing, and painting, but I just couldn’t find something that I could really stick to.

After taking up pottery classes in my free time, I began growing fond of clay as a material because of its malleability and the fact that I was able to literally make something with my own hands. It was very therapeutic, and I could feel myself improving very quickly because I was so interested in it. To be honest, you become a little bit obsessed with clay and clay-making!

One day, I went to go buy earrings for myself–I had wanted big, colorful statement pieces that stood out. But the only ones I wanted were from really expensive, brand-name stores and I couldn’t afford them. So I just decided to make them myself using polymer clay! I didn’t go well the first time–the colors didn’t turn up great, but I kept trying and I was eventually able to make something that I liked.

I posted my pieces on my private Instagram, and within minutes all ten pairs of the earrings I had made were sold out. I’m also into marketing, so after that I just quickly set up a website, created a brand, and that was the beginning of rae-clay.

MFA: Please tell us more about your mixed clay pieces? How are they made, what is your inspiration behind them?

Guada: As I mentioned before, the aesthetic of rae-clay is very much inspired by abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism’s spontaneity and subconscious creation, which breaks away from traditional forms of art and art materials while giving the artist the opportunity to express his or her feelings into the art as it is really inspires me as I create my pieces.

The process of creating the swirls and patterns are quite simple–I play around by mixing different colored clay together and I cut the clay into small pieces. I guess this is another place where abstract expressionism comes in–you never have two pieces of the same pattern, and you really just have to sit down and wait to see what comes out of the mixing process. You have to not be afraid to take risks! After I have my mixed clay ready, I bake it, glaze it to either matte or shiny, assemble the hooks and backs, and then pack everything and ship it.

I still think I have a lot of room to improve, so I’m constantly trying to perfect my technique by honing the way I make my pieces, by improving the quality of the clay I use, and by talking to professionals polymer clay makers who give me tips and tricks on how to improve my products.

MFA: You mentioned that Instagram kick started your brand. What is the role of social media within your brand?

Guada: Instagram is a crucial part of rae-clay because that’s where my main audience is. Not only is there a big online art scene, there’s also a huge collaboration community on Instagram, so you always have people messaging you to collab–influencers, art directors, photographers, etc. Whenever I have an offer to collaborate with a professional photographer, I sit down with him/her and we try to bring our different aesthetics together.

MFA: You were based in Singapore, but now you’re now going to be based in London for 10 months. How do you think this change will impact your work?

Guada: One change that I’ve implemented is that I’m now shipping worldwide, instead of just in Singapore. The reach that I get in London is larger, but it has been a bit difficult to access the London market because London is a much bigger city than Singapore and I don’t have a lot of personal contacts here either. Nonetheless, I’m reaching out to work with London-based influencers and with different design shops that accept independent designers. I guess this is a test of whether rae-clay can become more international or not.

MFA: What’s the most fulfilling experience you’ve had as an artist?

Guada: I’m still new to the art and jewelry-making industry, but I just recently had a meeting with a professional photographer, and I was really proud of how I quickly we were able to communicate our aesthetics and what we want out of the collaboration together. Being able to speak the same language as someone who has been in the industry for so long was such an encouraging and fulfilling experience.

MFA: What is next for rae-clay?

Guada: I’m definitely looking into becoming more involved in collaborations so that I can improve the way I present my products and the way that I market them. That’s a medium-term goal for me. In the long run, I would love to have a physical boutique, but that’s definitely a goal I need to think more about before embarking on.

You can shop for rae-clay products here and directly message rae-clay on Instagram @rae.clay. Rae-clay also accepts orders for custom made designs via Instagram and their website.