How Claymeleon Started

By Susan Paardekam

November 11th, 2020

It all started in 2018 when I was looking for something to fill my time on sick leave after practically finishing Netflix. Something that didn’t cost me too much energy but gave me a sense of fulfillment. I turned to polymer clay, which used to be a hobby of mine when I was a kid (e.g. I made the necklace below for my mom!).


necklace with beads made from polymer clay

A Creative Outlet

While on sick leave, I made cute little animals, gifts for friends, followed tutorials online… and absolutely loved it. It gave me something to look forward to and a creative outlet.

Pretty soon, friends and family started encouraging me to sell my creations. I didn’t want to. That is putting it mildly actually – I was adamantly against it. I said things like “No, I will never have an Instagram account!” and “If you pay me then it ruins everything!”.

I just wanted to create and not think about anything else. I wasn’t ready for the added pressure of taking pictures, social media, setting a price, and all of the other tricky things that come with turning a hobby into a business. I was still too sick.


“I just wanted to create and not think about anything else… I was still too sick.”


A Gradual Change

How did I go from fervently shutting down all suggestions to sell my creations to starting a business?

In 2019, all of my energy went into trying to go back to my old job, and polymer clay had to take a backseat. However, when it became clear that my limitations were too severe to work sustainably and I had to go back on sick leave, I picked up polymer clay again.

I started an Instagram account – just for myself – in order to catalog all of my creations in one place. Then I discovered the amazing polymer clay community and got even more inspired!

Claymeleon logo remade as stud earrings


Claymeleon as a Lifeline

Still, it wasn’t until the middle of 2020 that I seriously considered starting a business. I was working with a coach to look at what I could do despite my illness and its limitations. At a certain point, building up Claymeleon as a webshop became such a clear path that it motivated me enormously.

I could monitor my energy levels, feel motivated by longer-term goals, and slowly create work for myself in the process!

Work that I could do completely at my own pace. The best part is that creating with polymer clay is something that costs me relatively little energy and has been my creative outlet for coping with my illness all of these years.


Want to support Claymeleon?

Help spread the word on social media or find something for yourself or a loved one in my shop!


I took my time making a website (and got a lot of amazing help doing that), setting up work processes for myself, and building up inventory.


And now…

Now my website is about to go live and I cannot wait!

Thank you again for your support and interest in Claymeleon. It means more to me than I can express in words! This is not just a small business, but it has truly been a lifeline for me.

About the author

Susan Paardekam

Hi there! I’m Susan. I created Claymeleon to tell stories about my life with a chronic illness through handmade polymer clay earrings. What started as a hobby to pass the time on sick leave has turned into a small business that hopes to inspire vulnerability through creativity. When I’m not creating, I can generally be found resting on the sofa or doing puzzles with a bucket-sized cup of herbal tea.



The Claymeleon blog is pretty much on pause, as you can probably tell by the lack of recent posts ;). If there's a new blog, I will link it in a release newsletter. Sign up to the newsletter if you want to hear about it if/when it happens!