MSA is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read the full disclosure.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review + Coupon – October 2015

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - box

Smart Art is a fine arts subscription service that sends a new project every month and all the supplies needed to complete it. My husband and I are both artists, so we were very happy to have the opportunity to try this box out!

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

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - inside

The Subscription Box: Smart Art

The Cost: $49.99 per month with free shipping

COUPON: Use code MSA20 to save 20% off your first box

The Products: A fine arts project, complete with instructions and supplies

Ships to: US only

Good to know: It’s a different project in a different media every month, using different techniques!

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - booklet

This month’s project was creating La Calavera Catrina! We always called them “Day of the Dead brides,” but that doesn’t sound nearly as snazzy. This is the booklet that Smart Art sends every month. It includes art history related to the project, a list of the included supplies, project pointers, and instructions.

Subscribers can upload a picture of their finished project to Smart Art’s Facebook page for a chance to win a free box! That’s really cool! On the other hand, our projects usually take forever, so we always seem to miss the boat on this contest.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - booklet-inside

This is the inside of the booklet. On the left is the art history and project pointers, and on the right there’s some info on working with polymer clay plus the supply list.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - instructions

Here’s a closer look at the instructions. They are easy enough to follow, but not so specific that they crush one’s creativity.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - clay
Super Sculpey Firm Polymer Clay (1 lb) – Value $12.49 on Amazon

If you’ve never worked with polymer clay before (and I hadn’t), it’s *really* hard to work with. You have to knead it forever to make it pliable. I looked up tips and tricks on the internet, and most of the time they just said, ‘buy softer clay.’ So I’m not sure what the advantage of sending firm clay is. Anyone?

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - pottery-tool-kit

PTK Pottery Tool Kit – Value $17.95 (on sale at Jerry’s for $8.99)

This is a really nice tool kit! I think this would work better for regular clay, though. Polymer clay is a kind of plastic, so water in a sponge doesn’t have much effect on it. I can also see these tools being really useful with a pottery wheel.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - wire-tools

Creative Mark Armature Wire – Value $4.29 on Amazon

Armature wire is what I had to use to build the structure of the figure (under the clay). This wire bent easily and held its shape well.

Richeson Boxwood Tools Kit – Value $6.04

This is another great set of modeling tools! So many to work with! I did try almost all of the tools from both sets, but in the end I found it easier to do most of it with my hands.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - template

This skeleton template was included to help you size your components. It came in very handy.

Now for the big reveal:

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - catrina

Smart Art Subscription Box Review October 2015 - catrina-back

Here she is! My very own Catrina! Both the sculpting and painting were pretty hard, and I had to supply my own acrylic paints (or leave her unfinished). I think it was worth it, though. She doesn’t look super traditional, but I was reading in Smart Art’s art history section that La Calavera Catrina was originally intended to be super fashionable, so I decided to try and keep with that tradition. I kept the rose motif but gave her a style upgrade with the draped back gown and fascinator. It shows off her collar bones!

The Verdict: My husband and I are both huge fans of Smart Art! Even though this project was hard, it’s a really cool piece to keep for Halloween. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of it. This month’s supplies were a little on the low side in terms of value at around $40. I wish they had included some small tubes of acrylics and a brush or two. But as I’ve said before, much of the value to me is in the curation and instruction. I’m sure I would have spent much more than $50 on time, effort and supplies if I had to source them all myself.

What do you think of Smart Art?

Smart Art

How do subscribers rate Smart Art?

Created with Sketch.

Never miss a post: get email alerts about Smart Art!

Enable notifications () to get the latest Smart Art spoilers, reviews, deals, and news delivered to your inbox.

Written by Anna Rodriguez

Anna Rodriguez

Anna has been a fan of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013, but didn’t become a true addict until discovering subscriptions she could share with her children. Her favorites include Kiwi Crate and Fab Kids.

Posted in Smart Art Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: smart art | 19 comments

Comments (19)

  1. This looks great, Anna! I’m going to have to find some of that wire and try to make a doll myself, I love this idea!!

    As for the clay… I work with clay to make jewelry, along with ornaments and other little crafts and I use Sculpey III, because of the wide variety of colors it comes in. Super Sculpey is normally also a soft clay, but I think they sent you the firm variety because it holds detail very well. When sculpting, you want the clay to be able to hold sharp lines and tiny details like facial features or bone details, and the softer clays tend to end up with rounded edges and they kind of fold in on any lines created.

    If you need to soften clay in the future, cutting it into tiny pieces with an Xacto knife is very helpful. The smaller the surface area, the easier to heat/mold. If it still isn’t pliable, you can put those small pieces into a ziploc bag with a bit of Vaseline. The jelly will soak into the clay and the moisture will help to soften it. Using a hair dryer and blasting the clay with the heat also helps to soften it, or you can use my favorite trick… Sitting on the clay I’m not using to keep it warm and soft! Haha 🙂

  2. This looks so awesome Anna!! I am going to have to hunt down some of that wire and try to make one myself!

    As for the Sculpey…. I work with clay making jewelry and have made small figurines and ornaments, bowls, and things like that and I always use Sculpey III clay because it comes in so many colors. Super Sculpey like you got is harder once it’s cured, which is probably why they sent it to you. I am guessing they sent you the firm kind because it allows you to carve details into it easily without blurred lines like a softer clay, so it gives more of a chiseled, sculpture like look.

    For the future, when you need to soften up your clay, I try one of the following three things. Using an Xacto knife (a very handy thing when working with clay!), cut the clay into very small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier they will be to soften as you work them onto your sculpture. Or, you can take all the small pieces and put them into a ziploc bag with a little petroleum jelly and let it sit. The jelly will soak in and moisten the clay which will help soften it. The third option is to use the hair dryer on it, aiming it at the clay until you see it soften… Or be like me and sit on the pieces you aren’t using so they get nice and toasty until you need them! Haha 🙂

    Hope that helps!

  3. This looks great. I started a subscription to this (3 months of it) and know that I will never get to those projects. So those boxes sit in storage (waiting for trade or for me to list on eBay). Such a great idea though. I really thought I would do these at some point. You did a great job!!

    • Thanks M!

    • Please put them up for trade! I would LOVE to trade for them!!!

  4. I think a lot of softer clay is either air dry, which could dry before you’re done/has a lot of interim maintenance, or it’s oil-based, which never dries. Sculpey has the advantage of being workable(ish) until you’re done with it, and then you can bake it and it’s solid. My sculptor boyfriend always complains that working with Sculpey is like sculpting with bubblegum.

  5. I know my oldest daughter would love this sub, if only they could bring the price down to around $40. She has tried most of the big ones and so far likes Art Snacks best. It’s very inexpensive at $15/mo but they don’t usually include the more substantial materials, like the clay included here (that may be a good thing depending on artist preference I imagine). I just know from looking at past reviews that this is right up her alley since they include a range of projects that are lacking in her current sub. Great review Anna and fine work, too! Happy All Saints Day today!

    • Thanks so much, EC!

    • When you subscribe they give you 10% off. That would bring it down to around $45. Click on Smart Art and wait a few seconds for the pop-up with the offer. They used to offer you 10% off for life when you subscribe, but I’m not sure if that offer is still good.

      • Thanks Donna! And my Anna says thanks too 😉

  6. Great review!

    • Thanks MJ!

  7. Wow! Amazing. Happy Dia de Muertos!

    • Thanks Wendy!

    • Thanks Yona!

  8. PS Happy Dia de Muertos y’all! Remember your loved ones who have passed on today!

  9. This came out so awesome! Love it!

    • Thanks Nikki!

Please do not enter your email address in the Name field or in the comment content!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember to post with kindness and respect. Comments with offensive language, cruelness to others, etc will not be approved. See our full comment policy here.