Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Mad Hatter Tea Party Time Again

I heard a whisper through the grapevine that it's Party Time again, thanks to that wonderfully whacky hostess, Vanessa Valencia of A Fanciful Twist.

If you've fallen down the rabbit hole and found yourself here, you're in for a treat. I'm giving away a piece of my polymer clay hand-made jewelry. It's a piece that will complement any blue Alice frock.

The flower pendant is made from individual slices of petal and leaf polymer clay canes. The brass chain is embellished with pretty Alice-blue Swarovski crystals. The chain is 18" long.

All you need to do to qualify for this giveaway is to leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will end on July 15th, when I'll draw a name out of the Mad Hatter's Hat to pick the winner.

So I hope you've got your comfy shoes on for your trip around Blogland. Visit A Fanciful Twist for the list of party goers and have a sparklie good time!

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tales of A Polymer Clay Addict...

... or how I worked through the pain.

Last week I was working hard to finish up some pieces, and felt this ominous pain in my left wrist. I woke up during that first night to an odd feeling of needles and pins in the back of my hand. Uh-oh. Being a self-diagnosing fool, I researched online and felt it was the beginnings of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Crap! I high-tailed it to the drugstore for a splint, thinking I could head this problem off at the pass and skip the doctor's office.

The brace worked like a charm: after three days, the pain was gone and I felt well enough to work again. But, for now, I'm taking things easy, doing stuff that doesn't require a lot of pinching or sanding. This seemed like a good time to do some R & D.

One of my issues with the polymer clay is that the colors available are kind of brassy and bright. I know from my fabric dyeing experiences that I really only need six colors: red, yellow, blue, white, black, brown. From those colors I can mix anything I want.

This Research & Development project took about an afternoon, and I barely needed my left hand at all. It was a good project to do. I set up a database on my computer for keeping track of formuli. I carefully divided blocks of clay into eighths, and started blending, keeping track of proportions. I baked color chips and labeled them on the back with the color name.

Easy peasy! I no longer need to feel frustrated that I can't reproduce a color from a previous project. Thanks to a little bit of work and some organization, I can get pretty darned close to what I want. Of course, this is going to be an ongoing event - I started very simply by doing a color wheel, and haven't experimented with brown or black much at all.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Continuing the Studio Magic

Pumped up from last week's success, I continued with bead embroidery to finish a project planned long ago: one of my polymer clay cabachons from the "faux rock" series made this pretty pin.

I've been itching to add some fringe to a piece since learning bead embroidery, but up until this moment, the pieces have been complete without added fringe. This new pin was fine without it, but adding the fringe gave it a flirty quality that I like a lot. You can find more information about the pin in my Etsy shop listing.

I haven't really done much in the way of polymer clay work since returning home from vacation. To get my feet wet, I made a project just for me:

Making holes in clay can be a tricky business. If you do it while the clay is uncured, you risk distorting the shape as the needle tool pushes through the project. But, if you drill holes after you bake the piece, you risk breakage. Online research suggested I use hand drills. So, off I toddled to Lowe's to buy a set of drill bits. I made some handles from scrap clay decorated with cane slices. Now I can make holes easily in a controlled manner.
In the studio, Al Stewart's on the stereo - the stuff he's been playing while on tour with Dave Nachmanoff is wonderful. (Nachmnoff's guitar playing is some of the best I've ever heard.)

It's time to start making more of what sold during our trip. The leaf pod necklaces were very popular. These four are currently listed in my shop:

I have a pretty new pile of smaller leaf pods to use this week. I do enjoy making these beads! Many Thanks to Zuda Gay Pease for her short tutorial.

My newest clay pendants were also a huge hit. I've got three made and should have them listed early next week.

As you know, there's always something going on in my studio. Earrings are up next. Stay tuned...

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I Amaze Myself Sometimes

I mentioned in a previous post that I've grown accustomed to a feeling of dread halfway through a project... that gut reaction that makes me second-guess what I've done up to that point. I step back and wonder if I've just wrecked hours of work.

I've learned to accept this feeling is "part of my process". This need to re-evaluate.

I think there have been maybe two projects that I've really regretted, and those two pieces were ones where I told that Angel on my Shoulder to shut the Hell up. Turned out I should have listened.

This past week, I spent about 30 hours working up a new piece of bead embroidery. These pieces never end up how I envision them at the start. This one is no different.

Several months ago, I bought the central bead, and the 5 little round matching ones. They were so unusual - composite wood and resin. Lightweight. Beautiful.

At that time, I'd planned to do something with a tribal feel to it. I purchased seed beads in many graduated colors of golden yellow, tan, black, brown, and cream. This was going to be a color fiesta. On our recent trip, I picked up some fabulous vintage French brass and copper stampings, and a couple of those went into the initial supply tray as well.

I got started. It turned out that this piece didn't want to be a color fiesta after all. It wanted to be an understated neck collar... a contrast between simplicity of color and complexity of design. At the end of each step, I'd pull out some of those specially-bought-for-this-project seed beads. I'd stitch some down, only to hear that Angel tell me to rip it out. This piece only wanted black and tan, with just a HINT of gold.

Once again, I'm so glad I listened. She was right. This turned out to be my best neck collar so far.

I'll have it listed in my shop later today. For now, I just want to stare at it for a while and wonder, "did I really do that?"
June 2, 2010
This collar is now listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl