White dove cane

Here’s a new cane, a white dove.  Made it from a 50/50 mix of Premo and Fimo.  I think it came out really well. Though reducing a cane in a rounded triangular shape was a challenge!  The last photo is a Pandora-sized bead I made using the dove cane and the red rose cane I’d made a few weeks ago.

white dove













Three Sisters

I need another internet shop like I need another hole in my head.

But, as some of you lready know, it’s about exposure.  The more places your work can be seen, the more places people have opportunity to find you. Okay, I can dig that.

Yesterday I saw a post in one of my LinkedIn groups about a fairly new online site for artists to sell their work, called Three Sisters Marketplace.  Two things caught my attention about this place:

A, there is only a commission on sold items, and if an artist sells nothing, then they pay nothing.  The commission rate is pretty decent: 15%.  I could do a lot worse with a local gift shop, where not only would I pay a higher commission, but I’d also be subject to theft.

B, the shops are juried.  That means the artist must pass a certain set of standards before they can have their shop accepted.  (Their site doesn’t say what the standards are, but as I looked through the other shops, I could tell that halfway decent photography was one of the standards).  I spent about an hour or so last night getting my jury examples together, and was pleased this morning to see that I’d been accepted.

Some irony here:

Last night, as I’m setting up these listings and thinking to myself, “why are you doing this, when you’ve been paying for an empty Artfire shop for three months?”  Good way to guilt myself, but maybe it’s the kick in the butt I need to take the time and get Artfire set up.

Sutton Slice

The Sutton Slice is an interesting polymer clay technique, where soft bits of clay are pushed into the recesses of a deeply etched rubber stamp, until all the recessed areas are filled to the rim with clay.  A sheet of clay is pressed onto the stamp to adhere the sheet to the clay pressed into the recesses, and when the stamp is peeled away from the clay sheet, the recessed areas now become raised areas on the sheet of clay.

Lisa Pavelka’s video on how to do the Sutton Slice shows her method for doing the technique, and I recommend viewing the video a couple of times, just so you can see some of the nuances of doing it.  She also has a step-by-step tutorial on HGTV.com, but of the two I prefer the video, both for it’s clarity and for the way the rubber stamp is peeled off the clay – in my opinion, this method works the best.

My local polymer clay guild met this past Saturday, and we all worked on projects with the Sutton Slice.  Here are some highlights:

Ann creates and sells hand-felted mug warmers.  She attaches handmade buttons to the felt, and says her customers love that little detail.  Here are some Sutton Slice buttons she made at the guild meeting.

Pam made an assortment of jewelry pieces with the Sutton Slice technique.  I really like the one in the middle; she was using a faux abalone mokume gane cane (if you don’t know what that is, it’s a stack of layered sheets of clay that are very translucent, interspersed with sheets of metallic foil.  You can see a good tutorial on this technique in Carol Blackburn’s book, “Making Polymer Clay Beads“.)

Silly me, I didn’t want to show these pieces until I was completely done with them.  But that was just my pride talking, so posting this picture is somewhat humbling.  I’ll try to explain what these things are, because they do look confusing, don’t they!

Starting with the round ones:  those are going to be buttons on a blouse I’m planning to make.  They match the half-circles, which will be earrings.  And yes, they look just like giraffe print!

Which wasn’t on purpose, at all (don’t ya just love happy accidents?).  I was playing with a Texture Gallery rubber stamp I’d gotten at Hobby Lobby.  I filled the stamp with dark brown clay, then used a light sandy color for the “background” behind the raised “spots”.  Looks totally realistic on the randomness of a giraffe print, and I was really excited with the result.

The teardrop shapes are going to be earrings – with the rounded part at the bottom of the earring and the pointed part at the top.  I used a “bubbles” unmounted rubber stamp for these, making one pair black and white for my daughter (shhhh… don’t tell Margo!  It’s a surprise), and the purple and white pair for myself.

All of these pieces will be getting a very thin clay border around the edge, so that I can fill the recessed areas with resin.  It will create an interesting effect – clear, glossy, dimensional recessions with matte, textured raised areas.  I hope I like these when they’re done – and of course, I’ll share pictures.

Retro Earrings

A couple of Saturdays ago, I attended my local polymer clay guild’s Class/Clay Day.   Pam’s class was on doing image transfers, a technique I hadn’t used in oh, probably a year or so.  The night before the class, I was wondering what I was going to make.  Margo had been asking me for some black and white earrings that she could wear at work, and I thought of using a circular retro pattern for them.  I figured I’d do a trial pair for myself, to see if they would come out good enough to make a pair for her.  These green ones are the trial pair; I absolutely loved them!  I wear them pretty often.

I made them using water-slide transfer paper and printing my images directly onto the paper with my laser printer.  It’s a very simple technique and I love the combination of the rounded retro shapes and the triangular teardrop.   The ones on the left have silver foil underneath the transfer.  I found that I liked the un-foiled ones better, as they tended to show the image more crisply.

Of course I also had to do some in orange and copper!  But just like with the silver foiled ones, the copper foiled ones were’nt as attractive as the ones done on a white clay background.  But I wear them both quite a bit, depending on the shade of orange I’m wearing in my shirt.

Faux Pearl Necklace

Well, I’d planned on talking today about my new bifocal glasses.  But I guess my new optometrist doesn’t do one hour glasses like our old one did.  Either that, or you can’t get bifocals made in an hour.  I don’t know.  But it’s going to be a week before I can show you my new spectacles.  So instead, I’ll talk about my new faux pearl necklace.

I’ve wanted a simple pearl necklace for a really long time.  I know I could buy the pearls, but I wanted to make them myself.   I just hadn’t really taken the time to do it, until a couple weeks ago.

With my recent change in wardrobe, returning to my warm autumn color scheme, I realized that my current jewelry and accessories didn’t match.  In fact, quite a bit of my jewelry needs to go.  So I caught some sales at Hobby Lobby and stocked up on findings in antiqued copper, antiqued brass, and gold.

Alright, now about those pearls:  for the base bead, I used a mixture of Fimo Soft and Premo polymer clays, in the color Pearl, of course.  I mixed a little bit of translucent into the clay to help the mica “float” a bit.  And then I rubbed Interference Gold Pearl-Ex on the beads before baking.

I used a 2-part epoxy resin to coat the beads after they were baked, and give them a permanent shine.  I’d stirred a little more Interference Gold into the resin before coating the beads, just to give some depth to the mica.  The pearls are 6 millimeters in diameter, and they are spaced with antiqued copper beads to give the necklace some weight.  I wore it yesterday with this cream colored sweater.  Subtle and classic.  I like that.

Fimo y Mexico

On Sunday we’ll be taking a dozen people from our church to help missionaries in the state of Zacatecas, which is in North-Central Mexico.  It’s located on a high mountain plateau, about 8,000 feet above sea level.  The state is known for it’s rich silver deposits and colonial architecture.

For the  two weeks we’re there, we’ll be helping to build a room onto a church, create a portable puppet stage, help deliver a donation of food and small gifts, participate with their VBS, and teach beginner polymer clay classes.

I’m excited about it– it’s going to be the first time I’ll teach through an interpreter.  I’m working on my notes for the class, and preparing about 30-45 minutes of actual instruction, for a class that will be approximately 90 minutes long.

The students will learn how to make round beads with cane slices, make barrel-shaped texture beads, and coin-shaped swirly beads.  We’ll put them all together into a stretch bracelet for them to wear as a sample of the work they did.

We’re hoping to have as many as 60 people participate in the classes, with about 20 people per class.  I’m working on the handouts for the instructions, and the interpreter will translate them for me.  Is that cool, or what?

The goal for doing the class is to help people to discover the value of polymer clay as an artists’ and jewelry-maker’s medium, and to help supplement family budgets by making and selling their polymer clay artwork.

One of Zacatecas’ main economic supports is tourism.  The capitol city of the state is also named Zacatecas (sort of like, New York, New York), which is a tourist destination and has many shops with local handicrafts.  The organizer of the classes is planning to open a bead shop in the city, and we’re both hoping that she will find polymer clay to be a versatile and valuable addition to the handmade products she’ll be offering.

I’m looking forward to seeing polymer clay through their eyes.  I imagine once the versatility of the medium catches their imaginations, they will begin exploring with it in ways I would never have thought of.  And so we learn from each other.  That’s my favorite part of teaching.

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