Friday, December 16, 2011

Everything's coming up roses

Here is my latest shawl pin,  It's an image transfer of roses on a sheet of music (image from Sabine's ImageArts on Etsy) and I made the stick into a rosebud on a stem.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Much better version of Palette pin

I think this version is much better and I will go with it to make some more pins.  The palette is Kato Pearl which I baked, sanded and buffed then added the color blobs later.  After a second baking, I coated the "blobs" with some Future to give them some shine.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New shawl pin prototype

Here is a rough first draft of a new shawl pin I'm working on.  It's an artist's palette.  I'm still thinking about what color to make the palette and the brush handle.  Probably I'll have to make the palette first, sand and buff it and then add the color blobs later.  What do you think of it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shawl Pins with Stroppel Cane

I thought I would get on the bandwagon and make something with a Stroppel cane, so here are two new shawl pins.  The cane ends came from the large cane I made in Carol Simmons class.  I cut the slices fairly thick and then ran them through the pasta machine to spread them out.  The heads of the pins show the original size of the Stroppel cane.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Shawl Pins

Here are a couple more shawl pins.  These were made with a texture sheet and then coated with mica powders.  Quite elegant, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shawl Pins

I've been making a bunch of shawl and/or scarf pins lately.  Here are some examples:


Denim complete with "stitching"


Monday, November 14, 2011

Spray Box

I've been using Preserve Your Memories II (PYMII) to seal objects covered in mica powder but the fumes are intolerable.  It's usually too windy to spray outside where I live and today it is pouring rain, so I had to devise a way to spray inside without suffocating myself.  My solution is a spray box, shown below.  I took a large cardboard box and cut two holes in the side.  Then, using good old duct tape, I attached two long rubber gloves through the holes.  It is sort of like the containers scientists use to handle dangerous substances.  Then I put a piece of clear plexiglass on top of the box so I can see what I'm doing.  I lift the top, put the objects to be sprayed in the box, lower the top, insert my hands into the gloves and spray.  It's not completely air tight, but it reduces the fumes to a tolerable level.  I think I will put some cling wrap on the underside of the plexiglass, so if it gets coated in spray eventually, I can just change the cling wrap.

Inside of the box

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My first etching project

Some folks from my clay guild got together for a class on etching copper taught by Elaine Kennedy, who did a great job of introducing us to the technique.  During class I just experimented with various resists, but after I got home, I tried to do something for real. This is a copper shawl pin etched with figures modeled after petroglyphs. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Workshop Results

We survived and all of us ended up with great canes.  We made really big ones as you can see in the photos below.  That gives us lots of options for combining them in interesting ways.  Of course, reducing them requires lots of slamming on tabletops, so the room got kind of noisy.

Putting the final components into a cane

Slicing a cane open to see how it looks

Voila!  Beautiful!

Bright cane after reducing

On the slicer

My cane after reducing

Paper thin slices
After making our slices, we made pendants, or at least we tried.  It's not easy getting those slices aligned properly, so some practice is in order.


This was a terrific week with a wonderful teacher and a great group of people.  I feel very lucky to have been a part of it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Exciting day in the workshop

The day got off to a rousing start due to some naughtiness by a couple of unnamed class participants.  Carol Simmons has developed a phenomenal cane slicer with a very sharp blade, and some creative folks decided to "illustrate" the potential risks of using it.  We all waited expectantly for Carol to see our work, but she kept walking by the slicer without seeing what was there.  Finally we heard a shriek and knew that our trick was a success.

Bloody severed finger
For the last two days we have been frantically creating component canes to go into our kaleidoscope cane, and today, everything started to come together. 

A bunch of component canes

Laying out cane slices to figure out the design
Fabulous job of interpreting inspirational fabric
Partly assembled cane
Laying out my cane
My cane before reducing

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The operative word is "intensive"

The workshop I'm taking with Carol Simmons is called "6-Day Kaleidoscope Pendant Intensive", and the operative word is "intensive."  We meet from 9am to 9pm, plus more time earlier or later depending on whether we are morning or night people, with just a short break for lunch and dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the studio.  Carol is with us the whole time teaching and working with each of us on our individual canes.  I don't think I've seen another teacher put in so much effort for his or her students.  I had intended to blog daily but quite frankly, I've been too pooped at the end of the day to do anything but put my feet up and sip a glass of wine before hitting the sack.  

The group of students are all great fun and we are having a good time as well as working hard and learning a lot.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exploring southern Wisconsin

I've been in southern Wisconsin for the past couple of days and was lucky to be here during the Fall Art Tour taking place in the area including Mineral Point, Spring Green and Baraboo.  Forty-four artists opened their studios to the public for three days.  The area covered was large - over 45 miles from one end of the tour to the other - but it was a lovely fall weekend and I enjoyed driving through the farmland even though the fall colors had already departed.  There were many excellent artists, but I restricted my purchases to one nice pair of earrings. 
An old mill I found while driving around.

My main reason for coming here a couple of days before my class was to see Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's home.  It was definitely worth the extra time.  I took the four hour Estate Tour and got to walk around the estate and see several of the structures and learn about the life of the architecture students who came to live, work and study with Mr. Wright.  The setting, in the midst of farmland, is spectacular.  Wright said he became successful when he was able to "own his view".

One nice part of the Estate Tour is being able to approach the house on foot and see it from different perspectives. 

No photos are allowed of the inside of the house which is just as well since it would be difficult to do it justice.  Wright said his work was about the "space" and he felt there was no way to capture the sense of space in a photograph.  His sense of "human scale" was a bit strange - anyone over 5'10" will bump their head in several locations due to the low ceilings in parts of the house.

Now I'm off to Carol Simmons' Kaleidoscope Cane class.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the road again.....

I hit the road today and drove 400 miles from my home near Toronto towards Wisconsin where I will take Carol Simmons 6-day Kaleidoscope Cane workshop.  Another 276 miles to go.  I've been waiting a long time for this class and I'm eager to get going on Sunday.  I left a couple of days early in hopes of getting in a little bit of fall color photography and also to see Taliesin, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's homes, which isn't too far from the workshop location.  I'll try to blog about what I see and also about the workshop.  Then on the way home, I'm going to visit the Racine Art Museum which is having the grand opening of the permanent polymer clay collection.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My new Artfire Shop

Well, gulp, I did it.  I opened my Artfire shop.  So far only 8 items, but I will be adding more as the days go by.

Please take a look:

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Distressed Metal - Mixed Media

For these three pieces, I folded and manipulated the metal and then applied either heat patina or an oxidizing solution.   Aside from the sheet of copper, the rest of each piece, including the "screws," is polymer clay with acrylic paints to give it some color.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Distressed Metal - Mixed Media

I'm continuing to work with copper sheet, combining it with polymer clay.  I love the distressed look of patinas and torn edges.  In these two pieces, I used alcohol ink to make a "faux patina", bright in one case and subtle in the other.  The second piece has a Japanese feel to me, and the three bronze paddles dangle freely.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Distressed Metal Pin/Pendant

I love metal, particularly copper, and mixed media pieces, so I've been experimenting combining copper with polymer clay.  I fold-formed the copper sheet and used my torch to put a heat patina on it.  I sealed that so it won't change, I hope, and then put the copper piece onto a polymer clay back that I had colored with acrylic paint.  I don't have any rivets, so I had to figure out a way to attach the two pieces.  Thus the overlay of clay and the fake clay screws.  I'm debating whether or not I need to seal the acrylic paint.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

CaBezels and Image Transfers

I've been busy making brooches using CaBezel molds and image transfers.  Because they have a convertible pin back, they can also be worn as pendants.  Once I got the hang of using the molds, I was able to make these quite quickly.  First I made and baked the bezels, a dark green to go with the floral theme, and then I did the transfer on a light beige clay to go with the background of the images.  Making the cabochons was easy and I had no problem with distortion while fitting the cab into the bezel. 

CaBezels are available exclusively from Shades of Clay and the images are from Sabine Sydney.  I used Magic Transfer Paper for the transfers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Super Sculpey to the rescue

I have two uses for Super Sculpey.  The first, which I read about or was told about years ago, is to use it to clean my pasta machine before changing to a new color.  The Super Sculpey is quite sticky and it tends to pick up stray bits of clay.  I just run it through a couple of times and then put my new color through.  It seems to replace the first line of clay that is trapped just under the edge of the blade making it less likely to get a nasty color streak in the new color.  I don't rely on this technique nearly as much now because I have a "Monafied" pasta machine and cleaning the blades between major color changes is quick and easy.  Still, I often run the Sculpey through when I'm going between similar colors.  You can see in the photo below how much clay the Sculpey picks up.

Original color on the left.  After lots of cleaning on the right.
The second way I use Super Sculpey is to minimize black streaks on white and light colored clay.  The black streaks are not lubricant from the pasta machine - they are caused by some kind of reaction between the clay and the metal of the roller.  My new machine with the aluminum roller doesn't have the streaking problem, but my trusty old one is awful even though it has had lots of use.  I tried every cleaning method, including smelly old ammonia, but nothing worked.  Then I noticed that right after I put the Super Sculpey through, I didn't get streaks for several passes of the white clay through the machine.  Then the streaks would start.  I experimented and found that I could get at least three and usually four passes before the streaking would start, so now I just run the Super Sculpey through after three passes and then continue conditioning.  I'm not sure exactly why this works although I can think of two possibilities.  Either the Sculpey is leaving a thin coating on the rollers or it is picking up the residue caused by the chemical reaction of the other clay.  If you are having problems with streaks on white clay, see if this idea works for you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Primitive Jewelry

I've been working on some jewelry using a "primitive" theme.  This is the first tile bracelet I've ever made.  All of the carving was done by hand after the tiles were baked, and then I used some Studio by Sculpey Antiquing Medium in Chocolate Brown.  Not sure what it is called now.  The small beads, which I purchased in Hawaii, are made from coconuts.  And of course, I had to make some matching earrings.  I know the nasty fashionistas in New York decree that "matchy-matchy" is bad, but %$#$^& to them!