Sunday, December 6, 2015

Polymer Clay - Seeing the Possibilities in Store Bought Shapes

My eye is always roving the streets and stores for shapes to use in my Polymer Clay Creations.  Last week, at the Ben Franklin store, I found a shape I thought might be useful to create a blank for a necklace.  Initially, I thought I would use it as is.  However, once I got it home and cut out the shape on my poly clay, I was not happy with all the sharp edges, so I started cutting into it and reshaping them.  I figured the worst that could happen was I would have to re sheet the clay.  Instead the best thing happened.  I got some interesting ideas for shaping and linking the shapes.  I took the clay shape I had cut out and cut three shapes from it and then modified these shapes to make the beads I wanted.  Then I connected the three new shapes and added the bird and flower beads over the connection points.

Here is the result.  The shape with the stars is what I started with.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Scrap Cane Mosaic or What to do with lots of little pieces of canes leftover from previous projects

Cane slices are just too pretty to waste.  Even ones cut unevenly or otherwise badly cut. One of my favorite activities is saving all these little pieces of discarded cane slices for use for another project.

To start what I like to call my scrap cane mosaic, I like to choose a neutral color clay, such as black, white, or gray as my backing.  I sheet this usually at the thickest or next to thickest setting on my pasta machine and create a nice square or rectangle.

Then the fun begins!!  Choosing this piece and that piece of cane, I begin lining them up on the backing sheet according to what makes me happy.   I try to cover as much of the backing sheet as possible so that it is almost entirely made of the cane slices.  If the scrap slices I am working with are really uneven, I might put several of them together first and roll them to get a more even surface before applying them to the backing sheet of clay.  Sometimes I just pinch/spread them with my fingers to get them all about the same evenness.  

But, I don't worry about them being perfect!!!  This is fun, remember??!!!!!   It just might mean there is more dimension in some spots on my beads than others and that can be cool.  Sometimes if I am also using scraps from a previous mosaic cane that has already been cut in beads, I will take the cut out scraps and trim them with a blade or X-acto knife to have neater edges or fit the spot I want to put them in.  I realize pictures would be helpful here and will add them if I remember to take ones next time.  I get so intense once I get started - oooo, it's hard to stop and take a picture.

Once everything is in place, I cut away any excess backing so as to save it for future use and then use my acrylic roller to lightly hand roll everything into place.  Then, I take a Yo Clay texture sheet and put one on each side of the clay and roll it through the thickest setting on my pasta machine.  This adds texture to both sides.  

Sometimes, at this point, if I want a thicker bead,  I sheet more backing clay, texture it the same way and add it to the backing clay that has been covered with the cane scraps before cutting bead shapes.  Sometimes I just wait until I cut and cure the beads to make them thicker.  The reason is that sometimes I want to layer beads on top of one another and I would rather use thinner beads to do that.

The final step before curing is to cut your shapes.  I have lots of different templates I use to create shield beads, circles, squares, and other shapes.  I like cutters that are open in the middle so you can see the pattern the bead will have.  

For example, Cool Tools has lots of these such templates.  Or you can get individual cutters which I actually like best.  

And here are some of the canes from which I have used the scraps.  

Note that cane just right above my name is a scrap cane I made by combining left over scraps of colored clay.

Here are some results of mixing these various cane slices together.

Try it,  You'll like it!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Losing Amber

We lost our beautiful princess Amber on Sept. 29 after several weeks of declining health.  I woke up that morning knowing it would probably be the last morning I woke up that she was still in my life.

 In the 2 days since, I wake up each morning and within a few minutes I feel the familiar emptiness in my stomach as I realize I have to face another day with Amber gone.  This morning at Yoga I realized that the deep sadness I felt is part of the same pool of sadness that I have inside me from the other saddest events in my life.  The death of my mother, of my brother, my father, my first dog, and the loss of my marriage.  The sadness feels the same.  The empty belly, the memories that fill me that maybe should make me smile but instead remind I will never see that happen again.  This morning it was the memory of the particular way she snuggled up to her daddy as he lay on the floor and put her paw on his leg.  It was a routine they had.  She would look at me as if to say, "I have claimed him, he's mine, I had him first."  And, it was true since she had been with him 12 years and I had only been with both of them 3.  And I loved her for it.  And she grew to love me too.   Part beagle, part border collie, part retriever, all heart -- she was a soulful being who left an indelible mark on my heart.

Amber and Raven ready to pounce on Ani for having too much fun

Strolling on Smathers Beach

Peaking over daddy's legs

Loved to swim

Amber ready to start fishing

Raven slobbering on Amber

Amber inspecting the Sand for possible treats

Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge _ September

I imagine a writing table near this window and someone periodically glancing at the view as they indulge in the retro act of corresponding to a loved one via a written letter.  The words are flowery and sepia toned and spill onto the page as if they were tumbling directly from the heart.  Which of course they are.  A trinket is attached - a leaf - inspired by the greenery of the view.  The path in the right hand upper 1/3 of the picture is the path they take to post the letter.  It is cobbly but then passes into a patch of soft silky green enclosed by a fence.   Here is the necklace I made that I think represents this image to me.  It  features my handmade poly clay script focal and beads, gemstones, hand dyed silk cord and chain.

I was also taken by the lovely blending of the weathered palette and subdued tones in the picture.   A polymer clay bead I  made earlier this year reminded me of this view.  This was my bead entry.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Beading Make Over - When Too Much is, Well, Too Much

I am sure most of us have had the experience in which we get into some passionate frenzy with something and fall in love with our art whether it be words, beads, jewelry, painting --- whatever ---and we find we can't edit.  We just can't bring ourselves to chop one itsy bitsy comma away.

 Now, normally, I am one who tends to have trouble adding more.  I get this tight feeling in my tummy and wince when I think of more, more, more and have to look away to let my hand do what it pleases.

I had just gotten home from the Clay Carnival in Vegas and was rummaging through my beads looking for candidates on which to practice my new riveting technique. Once the riveting was done, I felt the beads needed something more.  But what I was not sure.

Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  A wad of ribbon had heaped itself over a large wooden basket I keep it in.  It was literally dangling over a couple shelves and I could see it out of the corner of my eye every time I used the computer.

I don't have any ears missing or anything like that but I felt mad (in an insanely giddy way) when I saw it.  I suddenly knew just what to do and my head and heart and hands were all in sync.  Away I went and came up with this piece which I initially liked...

Until a week or so later when I took a picture of myself in it and felt it looked too over the top.  Here is that picture below.  Decided it needed a trim.  Common sense does kick in with some distance. he he.

 Here is the final product. I removed ribbon on bottom and trimmed the top ribbons. Phew!  That was close!!!!  This one is now in my shop at:  Shanty Chic Beads on Etsy

Scenes from Las Vegas Clay Carnival

Living in Key West, FL certainly has its pluses.  Getting access to good poly clay and other beading classes is not one of them.  So when I saw there was going to be a poly clay class in Las Vegas with masters from around the globe, um, I salivated.  Yep, big ole puddle in my studio.

Before I was even finished drooling cause every class was spectacular, I registered.  You know I did not want my mind to kick in with all the reasons why I should not spend the money.  I went with my heart.  And boy, am I ever glad I did cause it awakened a whole new level of creativity in me.

The first class I had was with Jana Roberts Benson.  We created pins using a technique of layering clays, inking with alcohol inks, and slicing that Jana has perfected.  Here is the result.

Next up I think was Judy Belcher's class in which we explored a 50 shades of gray technique by creating canes with black and white clay.   Here is my result. These will likely be earrings.  I wish I could really get a good shot cause these look like they move!!!! and no, I have not been indulging in cocktails!!!!

It just kept getting better.  Next up was Bettina Welker's class where we learned how to rivet beads to create movement!!!  Oh, was I excited about this technique.  In this class we basically all made one of two necklace designs though we embellished as we pleased and some students went off the grid a bit.  I stuck to the design but embellished to fit my tastes.  Also, I altered the colors of the skinner blends we created to achieve a brighter color.  Here is the result.

Creating all kinds of critters using sculpting techniques is one of Leslie Blackford's special talents .  I wanted one of my beads to be a rooster cause, well, I do live in Key West where roosters freely roam the streets.  Little did I know that Leslie gets the willies just thinking about a rooster or chicken.  ha ha.  But, she was game in giving me tips.   Just did not want to look at my guy, Referee rooster.  Also created a jailhouse clown and a abstract ring from scrap clay.  These are Snap rings that you make by attaching your sculpted bead to the snap part of the ring.  Here is the result.

Dawn Schiller's speciality is creating gnome like creatures with great detailing. She showed us the basic technique and then we each were able to make our own creature.  My little man is rocking some hair.

Natalia Garcia makes some really contemporary pieces and has the coolest little glass rounds she uses to create tiny bowls that look like ceramic bowls.  I was so enamoured with how the bowls turned out, I bought 2 bags of the glass rounds.  For her class, I created this pendant.

On the last day, Donna Kato taught how to make a rocking funky flower ring that involved making a ring base, transferring words, and adding clay flowers.  I totally sucked at cutting the shapes for the words so I had Donna help.  Need to practice that for sure.

This was not my first experience using Kato clay but this time I fell in love with it.  Love the sturdiness of it.  I baked a really really thin piece and it did not break.

I can't wait to see what Donna (who manages the festival) comes up with for the Clay Carnival 2016. Donna also manages a craft site which has awesome tutorials.   Click on following link to go to her education site which includes beading and other art classes besides clay.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jasper Intrique Blog Hop - The flight of the Octupus

The mailer arrived and as always I was anxious to see what's inside.  Lisa had been sending a lot of colorful stuff my way.  I had expectations.  So as to seem more civilized, I used kitchen scissors to cut open the mailer rather than tearing into it like a ravenous bead hound.  Out came the beads in a nice clump.

 Yikes - they were brown!!!!.  Now, brown used to be a favorite color but since moving to the Rock (Key West), I have been excising that color from my wardrobe in favor of bright island colors and working primarily in brights.  They were lovely beads, but I felt uninspired.  Then I saw the Octopus bead.  We locked eyes and I immediately knew he was a kindred spirit.  I wondered how to make the best use of him.

  I thought about creating poly clay beads to go with him.  I thought about using him as a pendant in a necklace.  I thought about painting him.  I thought about creating a poly clay mold from him (which I did by the way).  Anything but just using him as was.

 I think one night he snuck into my bedroom while I was sleeping and re-programmed my brain cause the next day I was sure that what I wanted to do was to just let him be and to use the beads I was given and see what happens.  The result was a funky, swingy multi-strand bracelet.  

Here is the stash I received.

And here is the bracelet.

We would sing and dance around because we know we can't be found.  Now I have that tune in your head.  he-he.
Thanks Lisa Lodge of Pine Ridge Treasures.  To view the rest of the hoppers stuff, go to Lisa's page at or click on one of the links below.

Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Susan Anderson, La Main Tresor
Karin Grosset Grange (France), Ginkgo et Coquelicot
Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings
Sheila Prose, Cheap Charms
Terri Wlaschin, Baking Beads in the Keys
Therese Frank, Therese's Treasures
Veralynne Malone, Designed by Vera
Lisa Prewitt Knappenberger, Li Raysa Designs

A two for One Necklace - creating detachable parts

After I created this necklace, I wondered if it would be better plain or with the leaves added. My sister-in-law suggested I find a way to m...