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The Crafter’s Box Subscription Review – August 2017

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The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

The Crafter’s Box is a monthly DIY subscription “for people who love to make, build, shape, design, and create.” Each box includes supplies for one craft as well as access to online instruction by the featured maker of the month. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

The Subscription Box: The Crafter’s Box

The Cost: $65 a month + free shipping, or $60 a month with a 3-month subscription. An optional add-on kit is also available; its price varies each month.

The Products: A curated box of craft materials and specialty tools assembled in collaboration with an artist/maker.

Ships to: US (for free), $10 to Canada and $20 everywhere else.

Check out all of our The Crafter’s Box reviews and the DIY + Crafting Subscription Box Directory!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

August’s featured artist is potter Melissa Tolar of A Question of Eagles, who has designed a selection of projects for this month’s kit. They all use a low relief clay carving technique that involves carving away a thin top layer of clay to reveal another color underneath. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Instruction with Melissa Tolar – Value $25 (This is the ‘video only’ price during their twice-a-year pop-up sales.)

Melissa Tolar’s video lasted about 19 minutes and explained how the layered carving technique could be used to make three projects: a small dish, a flat piece that could be used as a tray or pierced to make a wall hanging, and a napkin ring that could also be used to hold an air plant. She is a good instructor who demonstrated the technique perfectly. However, this is one of those techniques that’s simple to understand but harder to do well. My pieces certainly did not turn out as well as the ones in the video. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Original Sculpey Oven Bake Clay in White, 1lb – Value $4.94 (originally $8.25)

Original Sculpey Oven Bake Clay in Terra Cotta, 1lb – Value $4.94 (originally $8.25)

There was more than enough clay to create all three projects. It was easy to work with once it softened up, though kneading the clay to soften it was good exercise. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Kemper Wire Loop Sgraffito Tool – Value $3.39 (originally $4.09)

Kemper Straight Needle – Value $1.79 (originally $2.39)

I love that these tools are made in the USA. They worked well with the clay and I’ve already used the straight needle for another project. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Acrylic Clay Rolling Pin – Value $6.92? 

This is a clear length of acrylic that’s perfect for working with clay because the clay doesn’t stick to it. (And after a weekend of using clay, I can tell you that it sticks to just about everything else.) It is unbranded so I based the value from a similar rolling pin.

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Acrylic Straight Edge Ruler – Value $0.57? (value based on a similar item)

The ruler was useful for carving straight lines into the clay. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Small Glass Bowl (oven-safe) – Value $2.98? (similar item is $17.85 for six bowls)

This little bowl is oven safe. It’s used for shaping small dishes. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Round Cutter – Value $1.77? (similar item is $7.07 for four)

Washi Tape – Value $2.99? (value based on a similar item)

The round cutter is for cutting a perfect circle of clay, and the washi tape is for taping down paper to protect your work surface. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Parchment Paper, Length of Hemp Cording and a Straight Pin

The paper is included to protect your work table. The hemp is for the wall hanging project and pin is for piercing tiny air bubbles in the clay. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

The first piece I made was a small ring dish. After rolling out a thin layer of white clay on top of a 1/4″ layer of brown, I used the carving tool to create lines. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

There’s no special pattern for the lines; every piece will turn out differently. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I used the cutter to make a circle.

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I then put the circle on the bowl and pressed it in gently. The next step is to bake the piece in an oven for 15 minutes. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Actually, the middle dish was my first attempt. For the dish on the left, I wished that I had carved the lines again after curving the dish because they closed up a lot. The third dish is marbled because I wanted to use up scrap clay –  and there was plenty of that, as you will see…

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I only got up for a second and hadn’t even realized my cat was in the room, but this is what I came back to. I had been working on the largest piece for my wall hanging, so this used up a good amount of clay. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

But the cat wasn’t to blame for this piece’s failure –  I had badly misjudged the clay thickness and made the brown layer far too thin, and the white layer far too thick. When I tried to pick up the finished panel, it fell to pieces. 

Obviously, I wasn’t happy about that. However, improving a skill is partly about practice, but also about responding constructively to mistakes, which are an inevitable part of the process. I wasn’t about to give up!

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I used a detachable nail polish lid to cut rectangles out of the stronger parts of the damaged piece. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Then I threaded them into a bracelet, which can best be described as rustic. With clay, it’s a thin line between the beauty of organic handmade variation, and a first-grader’s art project. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I did eventually finish the wall hanging; I like its simplicity. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

The third project was a napkin ring or air plant holder. It uses the same technique as the bowl and wall hanging, but you cut it into a strip and press the ends together to make a ring. I knew I wanted mine to hold air plants, so I made it a little bit larger than a napkin ring. Look how thick the brown clay is – I wasn’t taking chances after my first failed experiment! There was enough clay to make a set of napkin holders, but I only needed one for my plants. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I had enough clay left for one more item using the technique, so I made this monstera-ish leaf dish. The June box taught how to draw a monstera leaf, so monstera leaves have become my default motif whenever I can’t think of anything to draw. When I become famous someday, art historians will refer to this as my monstera period. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

I then squashed all my remaining clay together to make this eclipse-inspired wall hanging. At this point, I was pretty tired of clay and just wanted to clean up the mess I’d made. 

The Crafter's Box - Low Relief Layered Clay Carving - August 2017 DIY Craft Subscription Box

Here’s everything I made: two wall hangings, three ring dishes, a leaf dish, a bracelet and an air plant holder. I made all this at a leisurely pace in one weekend. 

Verdict: I estimate a retail value that’s just below the cost of the box, if you include the value of the video. I made six different projects, which works out to around $11 each, though I’m not sure they’re all worth that. Most are practice pieces I won’t keep, but I did like the larger wall hanging and the air plant holder. I made a lot of improvement as I progressed from piece to piece, and I enjoyed being able to thoroughly explore the technique and a medium that was new to me. I probably won’t continue with clay, but this is the sort of project I’d hope to see from a craft subscription

What do you think of August’s The Crafter’s Box? Do you enjoy working with clay?

Written by Désirée Eien

Désirée Eien

Désirée has survived the subscription box rollercoaster since 2013. Her other hobbies include meticulously over-researching minor purchases, crafting things she hopes to pass off as gifts, and dressing her cat up in silly costumes.

All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.

11 Comments

  1. I love reading the reviews for this box and you are so talented! I can tell that it would not be a good fit for me (I’m not crafty but more importantly, I’m not patient!) but I really appreciate that it’s done well. Some other craft boxes feel too simple and random, like bargain bin stuff from Michael’s, but this feels very well thought out.

  2. This project was HARD. I’ve done to sessions so far, and haven’t made anything I love. I have enough clay to try one more time. Maybe I need more wine?

    • Which piece are you trying to make? I found the ring dish to be the most difficult one, because it’s hard to get it to sit flat and the lines close up if you curve the piece. I thought the napkin ring/air plant holder was the easiest – it’s narrow, so you don’t waste much clay if you mess up. The wall hanging isn’t hard exactly, but air bubbles can be a problem on a larger piece. For all of them, err on the side of having the brown too thick rather than too thin. (Learnt the hard way!)

      Someone on instagram made marbled napkin rings out of the scrap clay and they turned out well.

      Good luck!

  3. Wow each piece clearly improves upon the last (as you get the hang of the technique) – the air plant holder is GREAT and I love your “monstera leaf period” dish 🙂 What a neat project to have delivered in whole! Thanks! Feeling inspired here, myself now!

    • Thank you! I was definitely more comfortable with the technique by the end. I always say ‘never again’, but sometimes they release extra materials kits in their pop-up shops, and I was thinking that I might get a clay one if they do.

  4. At my house, there is always a cat (or several) in the room. I will not be working with polymer clay (well, I want to do precious metal clay) until I have an empty bedroom where I can set up all my craft supplies and shut the door.

    Nice save, though!

    • Thanks! Actually the reason I wanted a holder for the air plants was that the cat is always batting them around. So far, she hasn’t attacked them after they’ve been in their holder, so that’s definitely a plus. I really want to try that precious metal clay!

      • I have a separate room where I keep some small birds (zebra finches, parakeets, cockatiels) and a small tortoise. My air plants stay in there, as do any bags of cat food. The cats are not allowed in. But because that room is occupied, I do not have a separate craft room. (I’m interested in too many things with hazardous fumes to do them around birds…)

        • Birds, air plants, cat food… it’s like a secret paradise your cat will never know! When I was a child, our cockatiel died seemingly for no reason, but in retrospect I think it might have been due to fumes. It’s good that you’re careful about that sort of thing!

  5. WOW!!! i think that you did an amazing job hun, My favs are the eclipse plaques, the leaf bowl, plant holder and marbled ring dish. Although they all came out beautifully. I would put them on display in my home. GREAT JOB Maybe the items dont equal the cost of the box but, you also paying for the entertainment part too I imagine. I think that with all you made and the amount of time it kept your attention with a fun project, that it was well worth the price.

    • Thanks so much! You’re definitely right about entertainment value. It’s a peaceful weekend just to work on the box project while listening to audiobooks. I really enjoy it.

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