When COVID-19 initially struck the U.S., many people began to find new hobbies to pursue with the ample amount of time they now had on their hands. For Kacy Massie, this new hobby was making polymer clay jewelry.
Before the pandemic, Massie, 31, worked as a cosmetologist, but when salons closed down, she wanted to find a new creative outlet.
“I just needed something to do while stuck inside with two babies,” she said.
After buying a pair of handmade earrings from another artist, Massie became interested in making her own. This creative outlet worked the best for her as she could do it while also caring for her children.
“It’s just easier for me to balance my life like that,” Massie said. “I can do the earrings on my own time, like when the kids are asleep. That’s definitely what I like about it.”
Massie sells her creations through her online shop, called K and L Handmade. She named her store after her two daughters, Kora and Lyla.
“It’s kind of a simple business,” Massie said. “It’s kind of cut and dry, but it’s definitely fun. It’s fun to have that creative outlet and the possibilities are endless.”
By using polymer clay, Massie ensures that her products are durable and lightweight.
“They’re so lightweight,” childhood friend Jessica Coello, 31, said. “I don’t even realize at the time that they’re on. My ears are pretty sensitive to earrings. I cannot wear anything super heavy or anything. It just irritates my ears.”
Massie starts the process by conditioning the clay and kneading it until it becomes soft and malleable. Then, she mixes colors into the clay, rather than using pre-colored clay, allowing her to create her own unique shades. She then cuts the clay by using shape cutters or by hand. With the use of her 3D printer, Massie can create particular shapes that cannot be found pre-made.
After cutting the clay, she designs the pieces with methods, such as silk screens or stamps. She then bakes them to cure and harden. After they come out of the oven, she sands and drills the pieces, and she finishes them off by fitting in the wires, clips, hooks and other materials to make her art into jewelry.
“[Massie] knows my daughter [doesn’t have] her ears pierced, so she’s made customs for me,” Coello said. “She’s made clip-on earrings for her. I just absolutely love the product.”
One hurdle Massie had to get around was the shortage of polymer clay as others like her picked up the craft.
“Definitely, an obstacle is getting your hands on the clay that you actually need,” she said. “There [are] thousands and thousands of clay-makers.”
She learned how to create her products through the trial and errors of self-teaching and by picking up tips from other clay artists on social media like Instagram.
“When I first started, I didn’t use the right clay,” Massie said. “My pieces were huge. I didn’t sand them properly.”
Massie finds inspiration from the nature around her, Pinterest or she draws on her love for vibrant colors.
“I feel like she puts a lot of her personality into them,” friend Cierra Perry, 30, said. “And, obviously, a lot of her heart and hard work.”
Perry has known Massie since they attended high school together. They now keep in touch through the “Parent Day Out” program, which their children both attend. This led to Massie asking Perry to model her products.
“It was a lot easier because I don’t like being in front of the camera, so [the photographer] was making us laugh,” Perry said. “And I just love Kacy’s products. It was just fun to help her out.”
Massie hopes to continue creating with the possibility of expanding to selling her products in local boutiques.
“We talked about a couple weeks ago, how she really wanted to get into one of the local boutiques around here and kind of just sell that way,” Perry said. “I hope that she can get to that point because I think that would be so great for her. Especially since she’s a working mom, you know. She’s working from home and she’s trying to make a living.”
Courtesy Amber Williams