May 23, 2024

Rachel Bolinger, sophomore International Marketing Major, hand makes clay earrings and sews masks that she sells as part of her small business @mariejocale on IG. Her business name is a combination of her middle name "Marie" and Jocale wich is derived from old French and Greek where "Jo" means "jewelry" and "cale" means "dangly."

Polymer clay earrings have been around for years, but it was not until recently that the pieces began to trend across social media. As people around the world sought out quarantine hobbies, clay earrings just so happened to be a top contender.

Rachel Bolinger, sophomore international marketing major, was inspired to start creating homemade jewelry when she visited her grandparents this summer. As she watched them both find joy in creating homemade items she wanted to find that same sense of enjoyment in a creative outlet. As she began researching trends she quickly happened upon polymer clay earrings.

“I found lots of people starting to use clay as a creative outlet to process everything going on,” Bolinger said. “There were lots of videos about how to start, the process, and different styles that we’re trending. Some of my favorite styles were 3D designs and the stained-glass effects.”

After watching a substantial number of YouTube videos Bolinger took the plunge and hasn’t looked back. Now months later, her creative outlet has turned into “Marie Jocale,” her own small business she runs from her bedroom in Japan.

“While the trend hasn’t quite caught on in Japan yet, I can see that is slowly shifting,” Bolinger said. “I hope to still be here when polymer clay makes its way into the markets and hopefully be on top of it.”

Ally Creed, California Baptist University alumna, has a similar story behind her small shop “Clayed by Al.” About a month into quarantine Creed began making clay earrings with the intention of keeping them for herself and giving some to friends.

“Before I knew it, my friends and family were complimenting them and telling me I should sell them,” Creed said. “I had so much fun making them that I thought why not? I’m going to be making them anyway so if there is anyone who would want to buy them, great. I didn’t expect anyone to actually buy them, though, but before I knew it, it became something, and that was a ton of fun.”

As the polymer clay jewelry industry continues to grow so does Creed’s small business. When asked if she felt compelled to keep up with the particular trends within the clay  making community, Creed said she finds one of the best parts of being one of many people who make clay earrings is the individuality behind it.

“Every shop has different styles that stay true to the maker,” Creed said. “I never strive to make earrings that are ‘trendy’ because, for the most part, every style can pass as trendy. Each different piece can add so much personality and help bring something fun to the mundane quarantine life. A huge mood booster.”

While many people have taken this quarantine hobby and converted it into a small business, other individuals have strictly found a passion for creating on their own time.

Faith Hyden, senior psychology major, said she found that creating clay jewelry was not only a fun skill to learn but is something that is able to challenge her in a healthy way.

“There are always new styles and designs to try and experiement with, which keeps the hobby interesting and makes sure that there is something for everyone’s unique taste,” Hyden said. “People are drawn to the look of clay jewlry and how simple and minimalistic it is. They are really good statement pieces without being too distracting.”

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