Marci Angelo Gutierrez turned his attention to polymer clay making as a therapeutic activity during a difficult time in his life. Two years later, what was once his stress relief is now a flourishing business and an enjoyable outlet for his creativity. With an eye for design and attention to detail, Marci’s creations are unique, eye-catching and appealing to everyone, as evidenced by his growing list of satisfied customers. Marci fills us in on his art, his process and his story.
What's the story behind your art and how did it grow to what it is today?
I started to play with polymer clay around January 2017, It was just a simple hobby and my way of healing myself from a very sad experience last November 2016. I was kind of restless at that time and the only one I could rely on was my wife. She was a big help for me to move on and to stay strong but every time I broke down, She was also being affected as well. I decided to fix myself because I didn’t want to be a burden to my wife. We talked about how I could divert all the negative feelings into something good or positive. She knew I loved to sketch/doodle but I was too fidgety to hold a pen or pencil at that time. Then I stumbled upon polymer clay on youtube and researched all about it online. I was unemployed so I had all the time to study everything about the medium. I’m really into anime so my first figure was a Dragonball character named Kid Buu. Since his character is something that is made of gum or rubber, I thought that it would be easy to mold something that has no definite shape. Conditioning/Kneading the clay which is also needed to get started before sculpting or
molding really helped me avoid the restless feeling. From then on, while I was recovering from our sad experience, I was starting to think of how I could improve my craft. Posting some of the figures I made on Instagram and giving free samples to family and friends was like a survey for us if we could make it as a full-time business. After 10 months of claying, we converted my personal Instagram into a business type account since there was nothing much to share with my personal life except for my wife. We named our clay business GZ Clayground. We thought that since my wife and I are in this together, instead of merging our first names, we thought that GZ could represent the first and last letter of our surname (Gutierrez). My wife and I also love to play online games and we use the term “GZ” which is also synonymous to congratulations. We say GZ if someone successfully enhanced their gears or leveled-up their character, so we thought that we can also use the word GZ as our name as we can congratulate people with my clay (For ex. - wedding, anniversary, birthday cake toppers, etc.).
We just added Clayground to identify the business as something that’s fun and a clay-related pun, haha. I gained some new followers and followed amazing artists as well. I also posted some of my craft on Facebook and some people were interested with what I do. Referrals and word of mouth helped too. Some requested for key chains of their favorite characters, while some ordered figures of their pets. Some are personalized chibi gifts for their friends and loved ones. Every project I made I shared on my Instagram account so people would be able to see my humble beginnings up to my current projects. I also want to conduct workshops this year so I can share my 2 years of experience and introduce this amazing medium as a business or therapy. We just registered our business this January 2019.
Explain the process of making your creations?
I start with kneading the clay so I can mold or sculpt easily. Every brand and type of polymer clay has its own features depending on what you want to make. Some are soft and light and can be used as key chains and jewelry, some are hard and heavy which is very ideal for detailed sculpture. I usually make figures of pop icons or anime characters and they require some sort of spine and support inside the clay which we call armature. This can be made of copper or aluminum wire which is softer and flexible compared to the regular wire found in hardware stores. I usually start with the face as it has the most significant features and has more impact on the viewers. I want people to recognize the character at first glance. I am very lucky to be in this present time as I can watch tutorials from veteran artists with the help of the internet. This helped me vary my approach as whether I would be doing the legs, arms or torso first. Polymer clay needs to be baked when you’re done sculpting, It’s not necessary to sculpt everything in one go and bake it when you’re done. There are so many approaches depending on what you want to make. For example, if you have a commission for an 8-inch figure,it will not fit in the oven standing up or lying down. You need to bake the body parts piece by piece and assemble them when they’re already in their hard state. I normally use colored clay and assemble them piece by piece. Some artists use only one colored clay and painting them afterwards. Since painting is not my strength, I chose to work with colored clay and assemble them in my mind before executing the actual craft. The only problem with this approach is that it is very difficult to mass produce as I need to start from scratch but one of the advantages I see with colored clay is that it is ideal as wearables which I also make (keychains, pendants, rings, etc.). For Figures, colored clays will stay vibrant for a very long time and can be cleaned using wet wipes or other cleaning chemicals without worrying about smearing the paint. When I’m done baking the clay, the wires I’ve put inside protruding at the bottom of the feet serves as a connector to my wooden base for support so they can stand upright. My wife helps me with the packaging and manages all courier related works as I focus with my craft. Since the clay community is growing here in our country, we also plan on making more youtube videos (I have like 3 vids there on how I make my figures) for beginners and will also engage with streaming/video uploads so we can further reach people all around the globe. You can also check my Crafty Amino profile to see international feedback from foreigners.
Where and how can we order?
Since every project is priced differently depending on the character they requested, We charge the customer the costs of raw materials, electricity and labor of craft. People tend to be shocked with the prices compared to normal figures as they don’t realize the value of handmade and how much goes into making an original requested piece that you can only get from an artist with a unique style. You can order on my FB page with the book button so you can upload the pics for my reference. You can also message me via Messenger, Instagram and Twitter. My custom made jewelry ranges from P150 to P350, 3 inches pet figures with base and name plates costs P650 and my figures from 4-5 inches starts at P850 to P4000 depending on the details and purpose. They can also reach me through my mobile and email found in all my social media bio sections. Our Etsy shop for international purchase is still on progress. Check also #gzclayground.
What are your favorite pieces from your creations?
I pour my soul into every work of art that I do but I recently made a Valkyrie figure of my wife’s online avatar for the Fan Art contest. Took me 3 days to make and I did my best to be as detailed as possible so we could win. I can say that it is one of my favorite pieces, she even has the same posture found in the game. I took my time making the shield and lance, and I loved making the wings as it can also be good training for angel-related projects in the future. I can say that this piece is special because it is a fusion of what I do and what my wife enjoys as well. I also love the Bumblebee figure because as a clay artist and sculptor, it is a challenge to make something that is mechanical or has robot-like features. I just want to show people that in this medium, the only limit is your imagination.
Photos property of Marci Angelo Gutierrez