Saturday, January 30, 2010

Polymer Clay "Stone" Necklace

I've been wondering what to do with these. They've sat on my work table for the past three weeks while I wait for inspiration to strike. This weekend, with an impending winter storm headed our way, I found myself in a contemplative bead-weaving mood. I wanted to hunker down with a good movie, a hot cup of tea, and little dishes filled with beads.

Thirteen hours of work later, I finished this OOAK piece and it's now listed in my Etsy shop.

I love that each new piece of clay I make presents a challenge for finishing. This piece was a nice surprise!

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Polymer Clay Canes Put To Work

I've broken my promise to myself: make canes only once a week. I was warned by Alice of Polymer Clay Etc that I wouldn't be able to do it, and she was so right. I spent last week and the entire weekend exploring kaleidoscope cane construction and experimenting with shape. I've seen a lot of square and round canes, but not much else.

I really enjoyed making these. I'm not sure what I'll use them for yet, but I'm confident the final results will be lovely.

I also spent some time last week using this and found myself uncharacteristically speechless at the sight of the final piece:

This pendant is 4 inches long by 3 inches wide. The design is so full of detail that finding the perfect thing to string it on has turned into a real problem. I tried to be too clever at first and started a seed bead spiral rope using the same green, red, black, and white in the clay piece. I got about halfway done with that and held it against the pendant.

The combination was so visually noisy that I couldn't tell where the pendant ended and the rope began. It really needs a single color. I tried white: nice but a bit wimpy. Black was nice, but I don't have the right assortment of seed beads to do it right. I'm afraid green or red will make it seem too "Christmassy" and will make it hard to sell. I'll keep working on that, but it'll be a while before I settle on something.

Any suggestions?

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, January 25, 2010

One World One Heart

This year, One World, One Heart really snuck up on me. I've been playing in my studio and haven't looked up from my work table in over a month! I loved participating in this event last year, and hope to make many new friends this time too.

My offering this year is a pretty pair of polymer clay earrings - JUST finished. I made the kaleidoscope cane myself. The earrings have been baked, sanded, buffed, and polished with an acrylic coating to protect them from skin contact. They have green glass beads to decorate them and sterling silver ear wires.

The card they are presented on features one of my drawings.

The only requirement I have for eligibility is that you have an active blog. Leave a comment on this post, and at the end of the event (February 15th, 2010), I'll pick a name out of a hat. These pretty baubles will climb on their magic carpet and wing their way to you ASAP. Be sure to leave contact info in your comment!

It's going to take me a while to make the rounds, so be patient... I'll get to you as soon as I can.

To see the list of participating blogs, click here and you'll find it in the sidebar of the page you'll go to. Thanks for visiting!

Note: I've had SO MANY people leave comments, that I'm expanding my giveaway to at least FIVE (5) pairs of earrings - maybe even more! They won't all be the same as the ones pictured above, but they will all be gorgeous. I promise. As I finish each pair, I'll post pictures so you'll have an inkling of what's what.
Feb 1, 2010:

OK, my giveaway offering is now SIX (6) pairs of earrings. In addition to the pair featured above, there are three round pairs, one teardrop pair, and one very funky loop pair:

The five new pairs shown on their presentation cards

Kaleidoscope cane polymer clay with Czech fire-polished crystals, pewter rondelles, and sterling silver ear wires. (3 pairs available)

Polymer clay kaleidoscope cane with a freshwater pearl dangle, brass findings and ear wires. (1 pair available)

Polymer clay kaleidoscope cane slices looped up to meet at the top with skinner blend accents, Swarovski crystals and gold-filled ear wires. (1 pair available)

Click on any of the images to see a zoomed up version. Enjoy and good luck to all!

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The "Cane Mutiny"

There I was, ready to honor my pledge to only make polymer clay canes once a week. Then, Marble Man decided he was going to watch the UNC basketball game last night. "Great!", I thought. "I'll go to my studio and get some work done."

Well, I sat down, and the pasta machine was right there, ready to go. I made a skinner blend with black and terra cotta. I wanted to do something "different" - most of the blends I've seen have been white and some other color. The sheet was quite nice, and I set about to make a leaf cane.

Turns out, I make questionable choices late at night, when I'm getting tired. This was a seriously ugly leaf. But, I'd gone ahead and made it, so I'll use it.

Anyone who knows me, understands I'm a perverse creature. Tell me to do something one way, and I'll do it however I want. Up until now, I've had great success creating beauty from the clay. Each time I set up the first triangle set of elements for a kaleidoscope cane, I do that internal shudder at the sheer ugliness of the composition. Then, there's that magical moment when I see the final thing and I think, "Huh! That's really quite nice".

When I woke up this morning, I saw that ugly leaf from last night's session, and wondered if it's even possible to make a truly ugly cane. I pulled together the weirdest collection of elements and colors to see if I could do it.

Yup - that's an ugly start! I started pinching and dividing, and... Wow!

I love how that hideous leaf is now a quiet striped area. Now I know that it really is impossible to screw this technique up. Maybe I should end each day by doing one of these to finish on a beautiful note.

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Polymer Clay Pieces Coming Together

The focus this past week was to finish some new polymer clay jewelry. I thoroughly enjoy making the canes, and if I had my way, that's all I'd do, day in and day out. My new plan is to only make canes one day a week, leaving the rest of the week to do the finishing work.

I made another green pendant and listed it in my Etsy shop again.

My favorite cane of the week was a pink, green, purple, and tan floral number. It reminds me of a vintage stained glass window.

It made a lovely pendant.

In my box of shibori ribbons, I found this purple and fuchsia piece that really packs a punch. Perfect!

While I was putting together the pink and green pendant, I started playing with more pieces from that cane with thoughts of making a larger pendant from them.

The finished piece is huge, about 4 inches across, and has many flaws, so I don't feel comfortable trying to sell it. I'm going to hang it on my wall for inspiration, as well as a reminder to be super careful when putting something like this together. It's loaded with fingerprints, little nicks from my nails, and also has some air bubbles that showed up during baking.

Even so, it's a pretty thing, and I'll enjoy looking at it.

I've got some new beads sanded, buffed, and acrylic-coated to be turned into bracelets and earrings this week. I love my job!

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's Bead Show Time Again

I was planning to give the Intergalactic Bead Show a miss this month, since it's time to do year-end inventory and I know I have a lot of stock. But then Marble Man saw the notice in the mail and asked if I wanted to go. "Whhhaattt?" Is this MY Marble Man? The one who trails behind me in shops asking "Do you REALLY need that?"

Not one to let an opportunity pass me by, I decided to go. Marble Man went with me, and he did let out a few shocked gasps as I tallied up with a some of the vendors. But we had a lovely time, and I treated him to a nice lunch to thank him for his chauffeur/sherpa duties.

I went with a plan today, and it helped having Marble Man there as my not-so-silent conscience. I picked up some high-quality gems with lovely names: kyanite, aquamarine, candy jade, keishi pearls, etc.

And some of the cabachons have some pretty fabulous names: Prudent Man Agate, Rosetta Jasper, Agatized Fossil Coral, Canadian Labradorite.... They sound so exotic, don't they?

There was a vendor, Black Wolf Art Gallery, who specializes in charlottes. These are seed beads that are fairly new to me: very tiny, and flat on one side so they catch the light and make it dance. The ones I have in stock are size 13 (pretty darned small). This guy had them in sizes ranging from 8 to 15 - the smaller the number the larger the bead.

I've only been able to find them on ebay in very limited color choices and usually priced by the half-hank or, even worse, by the single strand. This vendor has them in a huge array of colors, and nicely priced by the full hank. I went a little crazy in that booth.

This year, I left the bead show feeling like I'd bought stuff I know I'll use, not just stuff I liked. If the show comes to your area, and you are inclined to buy beads, give it a go.

I think you'll like the quality of the offerings and the show's not so big that it's overwhelming.

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Beauty Of Polymer Clay

I've had tons of fun exploring the possibilities of polymer clay for the past couple of weeks. My ultimate goal has been to learn to make elements which will enhance the kind of jewelry work I've been doing already. What I didn't want to do was veer off in another direction altogether, which was a very tempting possibility.

After my recent post, I sat down to sand, buff, and acrylic coat everything that's been baked so far. Three different grades of sandpaper yielded a silky smooth surface. The acrylic coating protects the finished clay pieces from skin contact and provides a nice glossy shine.
I've listed three new pieces in my Etsy shop which feature clay components:

The green pendant looks wonderful on Glennis Dolce's shibori silk ribbon. And as a final touch, I had a sterling silver box clasp in a drawer with the very colors found in the pendant! It's as if they were made for each other. *wink*

(Sorry folks, this one sold already.)
I had some leftover trimmings from a bead making experiment which I sent through the pasta machine a couple of times. What came out was a sheet of clay with a beautiful watercolor effect.

I made two focal elements from that and did some beadweaving around them to enhance them. This was the type of thing I was hoping would happen when I added the clay work to my studio time.
Finally, I'd made a complex bullseye clay cane last weekend and sliced some of it up into tiles to make a bracelet... add some made-to-match spacers, and you've got a fun and quirky bangle.

Lots more to come in the near future...

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best Recipe Ever

Marble Man just sent this to me in an email. I think I'm going to try it!

Christmas Rum Cake

1 or 2 quarts rum
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup butter
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups dried assorted fruit
3 cups chopped English walnuts

Before you start, sample the rum to check for quality. Good, isn't it? Now select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. Check the rum again. It must be just right. Be sure the rum is of the highest quality. Pour one cup of rum into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat. With an electric mixer, beat one cup butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 seaspoon of tugar and beat again. Meanwhile, make sure the rum teh absolutely highest quality. Sample another cup. Open second quart as necessary. Add 2 orge laggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat untill high. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters, just pry it loose with a screwdriver. Sample the rum again, checking for toncisticity. Next sift 3 cups of baking powder, a pinch of rum, a seaspoon of toda and a cup of pepper or salt (it really doesn't matter). Sample some more. Sift 912 pint of lemon juice. Fold in schopped butter and strained chups. Add bablespoon of brown gugar, or whatever color you have. Mix mell. Grease oven and turn cake pan to 350 gredees and rake until poothtick comes out crean.


copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh, Yeah... We're Cookin' Now

My oven arrived yesterday. Whoot! Today I baked some of the polymer clay focals and beads I've made so far.

I sliced up that marvelous kaleidoscope cane I made the other day and made wiggly-shaped pendants from it.

Some of the other canes sliced up well and were turned into little pillow beads.

Two days ago, I spent some happy time making up a lovely black and white cane.

I took the trimmings from that and sent them through the pasta machine, intending to make a gray clay from them.

After a couple of passes through the machine, I saw the resulting sheet resembled stone, or even woodgrain. Whoa! I stopped right there and made up some faux stone focal cabachons for future bead embroidery projects.

I ran some chocolate brown and pearl together with a ribbon of gray and came up with another lovely sheet of faux stone.

What I need to learn now is how to polish and finish the pieces so they are nice and glossy and protected from skin contact. I've read that Future Floor Wax or Nu-Finish Wax is good, but haven't been able to find it in our local stores. Any suggestions?

As well, I had several pieces come out of the oven with cracks and pinholes. I figure the pinholes are from not getting all the air out as I worked the clay, but the cracks are a mystery. I let the pieces cool in the oven after baking...

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cleaning Up The Mess

What am I, five years old? I'm like a kid with her new toys with this new polymer clay disease I've got. I set up the pasta machine, put down an old floor tile, and started working... right on top of what I'd been doing before Christmas!

As I finished a piece, I put it aside, but then, willy-nilly, put new stuff on top of those without looking first. I was possessed - keep working - don't look up, you might get distracted by all the pretty colors.

Until yesterday morning, when I walked into my studio and took a look at the mess that was my workstation.

I couldn't even get to my instruction/inspiration books.

So, I cleared out some drawers that were still a shrine to my fabric dyeing days, put my new toys in their assigned spaces,

and now I have room to work,

my newly made canes are safe in a box for now - no more mashed parts as something unwanted lands on them.

Next I need to learn to look where I lay my tools down as I'm working - fixing dents in the tops of beads is getting old...

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl