Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Ringy-Dingy...

I've been working solidly this past week with polymer clay after I sold several pieces while we were on vacation. Katie's Traveling Trunk Show strikes again - I just love how my work seems to sell itself.

To get back into the groove, I started pawing through the various canes I've made over the past two years. Some of them are pretty old so I thought I'd try making some little ring bowls to use them up. I've wanted to make these sweet little bowls for a long, long time so, armed with this tutorial, I got to work.

I made four the first day, and I have to ask, "Why is it, that each new thing I try is more fun than the LAST new thing I tried?"

I enjoyed the process of putting those four together, and today I added another seven to my stock.

Each one is unique.

In the process I've used up a few canes that have been hanging around since my early days of clay experimenting.

I'll be offering these little beauties for sale soon once I've built up some inventory. In the meantime, you can find me up to my eyeballs in patterns and color...

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Repurposing and Reusing

When I was Shibori Girl (for real, that is), I had piles and piles of beautiful, streaky-patterned hand-dyed fabrics to transform into wearable art. Some were cotton, most were silk. The cottons were great fun because they could take some abuse in the dye process. I would dye them, color, over color, over color, until I went just a tad too far and they came out muddy. Then I'd pop them into the discharge dye bath to remove some of that color I worked so hard to put in. Here's a good example of that process:

my very favorite jacket modeled by my trainer, Maria

Absolute magic would occur. I had a basic idea, but didn't know exactly what the final result would be. I was always excited when I pulled a piece out of the pot.

I used a batch of my favorites, gold-and-purple-over-maroon cotton, to make some kimono-styled vests in a variety of sizes. I made three vests and, though they received positive reviews from customers in my booth, none sold. So they hang in the closet.

Fast-forward to today and my conundrum... My favorite handbag has no pockets. Silly, really, for someone who likes to be organized. Everything needs to be in its place. I dislike being one of those people who digs around in the bottom of their bag for a wallet, phone, or whatever, while impatient people wait in line behind them.

Today I took one of those pretty gold-purple-maroon vests and whacked it up to make myself a purse organizer. Kinda like the night before my wedding when I took scissors to the neckline of my dress because I didn't like it - but that's another story... My sewing skills are rusty, having lain dormant for years. After some false starts, I got a rhythm going, and now I have an organizer loaded with pockets.

I won't be keeping anyone waiting, foot a-tapping, while I reach for a wallet which is where it's supposed to be. The added bonus: I'll have the pleasure of seeing that wonderful shibori fabric every day.

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Passionate For Purple

I promised pictures of the polymer clay pieces made from my first attempt at mokume gane. As I gathered them all together for their glamour shots in the light tent, I realized... that's a whole lot of purple going on there.

Each necklace is reversible, which I think is a great selling point - two necklaces for the nice (low) price of one.

I need to make two halves of each bead anyway, and it doesn't take that much more effort to make the second side slightly different than the first.

As with the brocade pattern I referenced in my last post, I didn't want to waste any of the trimmings from my round beads. I put together this great pin using those curvy leftovers. And, of course, MORE purple! I think it came out very well.

Of course, I finished out the session with swirlies made from the scraps!

While those pieces were baking, I took time to finish some more brocade design stuff. Earrings:

And another pin, this one is considerably smaller than the previous ones:

I'll be spending the next few days listing these in my shop so be sure to stop by often to check them out.

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Polymer Clay Play Time

Since returning from Canada, I've been in the studio learning new surface design techniques with polymer clay. I've had this book for some time but needed a good stretch of designated quiet time to crack it open. My favorite technique so far: a brocade look using gold leaf and acrylic paint. I also tried my hand at mica shift, which is very cool...

There's a lot of work in the brocade technique, so I didn't want to waste any of it. I used the curvy trimmings from the bead to make this pretty fan pin.

I purchased a couple of really wonderful tutorials from Naftali Studios for making hollow lentil beads and crackle finishing. These are very well-designed tutorials with clear instructions and good photos. I followed the crackle finish tutorial and decided to use the instructions verbatim. My finished result looks just like her design. Once again, I made it reversible - two necklaces in one... I love that!

Because the bead is hollow, it's very lightweight and comfy to wear. Now to use the technique to make beads in my own design.

This weekend I did my first attempt at mokume gane. I just love it when I can take out my aggressions on an inanimate block of clay. My first successful sheet of mokume gane:

I've got a bunch of beads half done, so I'll be posting those images soon. I'll have some of these new pieces listed for sale in my Etsy shop this week. Until then, you can find me in my playroom.

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Blogosphere is a small place

Last week Marble Man and I proved the Blogosphere can be a very small place when we met fellow blogger, Gabriela Delworth, in Toronto. Here we are hanging out with Alexander in her part of Toronto, Greektown.

We were in Toronto for a family wedding. When I heard where we would be going, I immediately thought of Gabriela and contacted her to see if she'd be interested in meeting IRL. We emailed back and forth for months as plans solidified. We finally settled on a plan: she would pick us up to take us to Greektown for lunch and a walking tour.

It was a hot day (by Toronto's standards anyway), so a visit to Dolce for some gelato seemed in order. It was worth every single calorie. "Mmm, Mmmm... GOOD!"

Gabriela is as lively and colorful as her blog. We talked, and laughed, then talked some more. Before we knew it, it was late afternoon and time to go home. I hope someday we will return to Toronto; I'd love to swing by the Harbourfront Center to take one of the classes she teaches there.

I hope you'll stop by Gabriela's blog for a visit. It's full of craft ideas, color, and marketing wisdom. Thanks Gabriela!

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Where The Wild Things Are"

Marble Man and I took a vacation last week, and ended it with a very pleasant safari into The Wilds, a nature preserve in Southeastern Ohio.

We minded the signs, and kept ourselves out of reach of the natives.

I'd hoped we'd saddle up and ride some of these, but these guys don't work for their chow.

Bactrian Camels

This refuge is ah-MAZ-ing with 10,000 acres (the largest preserve in the country) and some very rare beasties. The Wilds is not run like a zoo; they aren't in it for money. They are all about research and conservancy.

Sable Antelope / White Rhinoceros

Not too long ago, rhinoceros in zoos were developing foot troubles, to the point of being unable to walk. After transferring some to The Wilds, where they got to walk on soft ground, the foot troubles disappeared.

Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros

Now, thanks to the hard work of the staff at The Wilds, rhinos in zoos have soft, padded surfaces on which to tread.

There are breeding programs for endangered species, some of which are mid-sized carnivores. Those these pretty kitties were lounging and being photogenic for our visit. Nothing fierce here...


This little fella (called a Dhole) is very shy - we were told we were lucky they came out to show off for us at all.


Mostly, they have endangered species, including the Pere David's Deer, which has been brought back from the brink and is being reintroduced in its native China.

Pere David's Deer

A small herd of wild horses clogged up the track, causing us to halt our trek. We were surrounded for quite a while - they were close enough to pat, but don't do it! They bite.

Prezwalski's Wild Horses

I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this preserve, a little bit of Africa's Serengeti Plain right here in our heartland.


The only thing I wasn't prepared for, was the rough ride in our open-air safari truck. We went over some ruts and bumps that made me feel like my upper and lower halves separated only to be reunited with some violence. If you visit, and I really hope you will, take some Ibuprofen or muscle relaxers BEFORE you climb on the bus!!

It was worth the discomfort - I can hardly wait to go back.

If you plan to visit, you might want to book your tours in advance, as it's a popular place. They have a new zip line tour (2 1/2 hours over 10 zip lines through the park), which just opened and is sold out for the first month already! We really wanted to do that...

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Lentil Soup"

I went back to working on "swirlies", those big, gorgeous polymer clay lentil beads that I fell in love with last year.

Since my last post, I've been struggling with a couple of issues. The biggest is a nagging pain in my wrist. My first thought was to do what Marble Man calls "rub some dirt on it and walk it off". I went and bought a carpal tunnel splint at the local drug store, which helped, but the pain was still hanging around a couple weeks later. My doctor told me it's not carpal tunnel syndrome (Whew - my worst fear!) but tendinitis. He said it's OK to use it, just not to the point of discomfort.

The small, twiddly work I like so much will have to wait. Enter: Swirlies. They are so much fun, that I may need an intervention!

Just like when making lentil soup to eat, you throw a little of this and a little of that into the pot. With these beads, a little bit of monarch butterfly wing, flower petal and leaf cane slices, etc, you wind up with an interesting and spicy result.

The other issue which is bothering me is that when I look through my Etsy shop, it seems a bit like a split personality is running it. There's intricate bead work,

modern-looking clay pieces,

vintage inspired work, etc.

It looks like I can't decide what I want to do, when in reality, I just have lots of styles for lots of moods.

When I look at other shops, there's a sense of cohesion, a mature style with variations. Do I need to set up different shops for each style of work I do? What would you suggest?

copyright 2011 Shibori Girl