Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New! Wine Glass ID Rings

A couple of months ago, I decorated some wine classes with polymer. I really liked the effect, and thought it rather elegant and fun.  It seemed this might also be a way, depending on the design used, to help designate the difference between wine glasses in a group. Making them takes time, and washing them should be done by hand.  I wanted something faster and simpler.  I came across the idea of wine glass rings, and decided to give them a try.

These are fun to make and the design possibilities are endless.  Because polymer is so lightweight, it doesn't interfere with the balance of the glass.  Keeping the charms on the ring large enough to be easily spotted, but not too large, makes drinking from the glass easy.  Then the glass can rest safely on a table, waiting for it's owner to return.  Since I'd been playing with the Tandy leather stamp tools and the fun-shaped cutters I'd been using to make the Moroccan beads, I decided to make the wine glass charms using these tools.  I baked them on a slightly curved surface, which gives the charms a bit of a 3-D look.

The rings holding the charms open quickly and slip around the stem of a wine glass.  I bent the end slightly to help keep the rings closed when in use.  If you decide to whip up a few ID rings and charms before your next gathering, let me know!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Colorful Moroccan Beads

I took one more workshop at CFCF 2017.  This class was also taught by Lisa Haney, and ranked up there as one of my favorites.  As you can tell from the photos, we made rounded lentil beads with a Moroccan theme.  The shapes of the cutters and the impressed designs really made these beads interesting and unique.  The application of oil paint after baking gave an antiqued look to the beads, and made the designs we had stamped into the clay really stand out. Some of the beads were made with white or beige clay, some with colored clays, and some were even made with Skinner blends.  Once again, Lisa came up with some clever tools for us to use.  She provided each participant with marbles of different sizes to use as forms for baking the clay.  She also gave us small wooden stands that were perfect for holding the marbles while they were baking.

Another idea Lisa shared with us was to use the shapes and impressed designs to make curved earrings.  Here are three sets I made, just waiting for finishing and findings.

As in the fish workshop, we were fortunate to have donations of many of our supplies. Polyform again donated all the Sculpey Premo! clay we needed. Tandy Leather gave each participant two Craftool Pro stamps, and Makins provided same shape cutters. We all really appreciated the donations and I'm already using some of these items for more creations.  That of course means you can expect to see more pieces based on this Moroccan design coming soon!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fun Fish!

This class at CFCF 2017 was a lot of fun.  Lisa Haney was the instructor. I always enjoy Lisa's classes.  She comes up with unusual and creative ideas. Last year she showed us how to make a small heart shaped box with a hinged lid.  The hinge was hidden and quite clever.
This year, she taught us how to make fun, colorful, free-standing polymer fish.  She shared a great method of developing the fish body and building the rest of the fish around that base.  My little fish is in the photo above.  First, Lisa had us make an Ikat cane using extruded square rods.  The cane was used for the tail and fins on our fish.  I used parts of the extruded pieces to decorate the tail with colored dots.  The body was made from one of the colors in the cane.  A really clever aspect of this project was the use of a tapered light bulb for the head and body.  The bulb was a perfect shape, and provided a stable form for building the rest of the fish.  Since the bulb was light, baking it and keeping it inside the fish didn't add any real weight to the piece.  The bottom fins are set up in such a way as to support the fish so it can rest on any surface.  I choose to bake mine in "shifts."  First the body, then the tail, mouth and eyes, and a last baking for the remaining fins.  I'm really pleased with how my fish turned out, and I plan on making a few more.
We were quite fortunate to have some of the items needed for this project donated by their producers. Our clay was provided by Polyform. In fact, Polyform provided Premo! clay for most of the workshops, and this was really appreciated.  We had some great colors to choose from, and they certainly helped make our fish bright and fun!  Tandy Leather donated some of their excellent Craftool Pro Stamps.  We used these to create the look of scales on the fish body.  I'm delighted to have these tools for use in the future, too.  Makins gave us each a set of cutters which we used to help shape the tail and fins. These companies and their donations really made a difference to the participants!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lynn's Coloring Book Canes

On the third day at CFCF 2017, I was delighted to spend the day in a new workshop by Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg.  In her usual creative fashion, Lynne Ann has developed a way to bring the adult coloring book concept into polymer caning.  We had an excellent time making a "coloring book cane" that looked quite complex when we were finished.  After baking pieces made from the canes, Lynne Ann showed us how to color them, giving the pieces a whole different look.  This is one of her latest ideas and I hope she brings this workshop to other locations.  If you get a chance to take a class with her, be sure to sign up!
The photo to the right shows three pieces made from the canes I developed based on Lynne Ann's instructions.  The butterfly and flower petal pieces I left just as the black and white canes looked after baking.  The piece at the top of the photo shows a mirror image of the cane that I colorized after baking.  Great concept and great fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

CFCF 2017 - Day 2 with Lisa Pavelka

I had the pleasure of taking a full day workshop with Lisa Pavelka.  Lisa has been working with polymer for about twenty years, and has developed her own product line for polymer and metal clay artists.  Her ideas and tutorials are creative and varied, and she always has some great tips and tricks to share, which I have found helpful.
This particular workshop focused on learning to make a moveable hinge to join two pieces of polymer.  In typical Lisa fashion, the polymer pieces also had a twist - they were "puffed" and hollow!  In addition, she demonstrated a cane and a surface design, and most of us incorporated one or both in our sample pieces.
I was really interested in her concept for hinging the hollow pieces together.  She also had stationary joint ideas.  My pieces were too small for the hinges she provided, so I used twisted metal hoops to join two of my pieces.  I plan on making a hinged pendant or two in the near future, since I really like the concept of motion in jewelry.  I'll be sure to share my piece once I get it made.  In the meantime, here is a photo of some of the hollow pieces I made during the workshop.  The two pieces on the right were made using the cane and the surface design that Lisa taught us.  The pieces on the left were made with the "plaid" surface design that I have been making recently.  You can see the twisted metal hoops I used to join the pieces on the right.  I still need to add a small jump ring or other finding to the top hoop so I can add a necklace chain or ribbon. As you can see, the shapes Lisa had us make were also interesting and different.  A great project and one that I expect to explore further.

Friday, February 24, 2017

CFCF 2017

I'm just back from Laurel, Maryland, and Cabin Fever Clay Festival 2017.  Once again, I had an excellent time.  The participants and instructors were wonderful, I learned lots, got to see some great creations and wonderfully creative ideas.  Over the new few posts, I'll share a bit from the classes I took and hopefully wet your appetite for learning more.  Many of the presenters take their workshops and classes on the road, so be on the lookout for names and projects that pique your interest.

For this first posting, I'll share a bit from an all-day workshop with Ann and Karen Mitchell of ANKARA Designs.  This workshop was on various uses of liquid polymer.  The sisters have all sorts of ideas, including tips and tricks, which they willingly shared with the participants.  In the morning, we worked on mosaic pendants which were later encased in liquid clay.  One tip was to be careful about putting the liquid clay over the metal leaf sections on our pendants. The leaf was easy to rub off unless the liquid polymer was added carefully.  All the pieces on the mosaic, with the exception of the seed beads I used, were made from various processes using polymer.

In the afternoon, we worked on a project that I found fascinating.  The Mitchell sisters have developed a process for transferring images onto regular fabric. After baking, the fabric may be cut and the pieces used.  The photo here shows an edge of fabric with the transfer on top of the majority of the fabric piece.  The leaf shape was cut from the treated fabric piece and shows the back of the fabric. The holes are designed to allow sewing of beads or other items through the polymer/fabric to create shapes for items such as jewelry.  All-in-all, it was a very interesting process, and one I plan to revisit soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New! Adjustable Bracelets

I make a lot of bracelets, but they're on brass channel cuffs or bangles, so the size is pretty much set. I've been wanting to learn to make bracelets with adjustable bands of some sort, and decided to try my hand at some basic sliding knots.  For the solid bracelet sections,  I used some polymer sheets I made with a pattern that reminds me a little of plaids.

I also made some smaller beads to incorporate into the knotted sections.  This next photo gives a better look at the knots, the additional beads, and the sliding section.

I experimented with different cording, using 1mm waxed cotton and 2mm plain cord. The sliding section works nicely, so the bracelet opens wide to slip on, and then closes as tightly as desired.

Here are two shots of another bracelet in the same design.  The beads on this maroon and yellow bracelet were larger than on the coral bracelet since I used 2mm cording here and 1mm on the coral piece.  I think the proportions work well.

Last, I decided to try a really simple closure using elastic thread.  I did add an extra flat bead in the area opposite the band section.  This provides a gentle area against the delicate part of the wrist, and also serves as the place where I could hide the thread ends.  Both designs are easy to use, even if you have to put the piece on yourself.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rivoli Earrings

I just finished this pair of earrings, and thought I'd share.  They are made from superduo glass beads and rivoli crystals, and the sparkle and depth are really lovely.  I will be teaching this technique in my March bead-weaving class at Nature's Art.  It's a great little design, and can easily be configured into a bracelet or necklace. Additional embellishments around the edge could turn it into a very special pendant.  Bead-weaving was my first jewelry-making outlet, and I still enjoy watching beaded objects emerge from a simple needle, thread, and my fingers.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Flower Dangles

I must be ready for spring!  I sat down to figure out a new earring design, and these little little flowers popped up!  They are quite sweet, though rather small individually, so I decided to dangle them off of decorative chain.  Each flower is "compound" in that there is a smaller flower form inside the larger one.  It shows up best on the teal/lime and gold/white earrings.  I used gold-filled and sterling silver ball ended head pins to hold the sets of two flowers together.  There is also a 3mm bicone crystal in the center of each flower.

These fantasy flowers will brighten the days until our outdoors blooms again.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Translucent Vertical Tubes

A while ago, I made a sort of rock-look cane based on the lace cane concept.  I used lightly tinted translucent clay rolled into a bull's eye cane and wrapped in white. Then I reduced the cane, cut it into pieces, and joined them together in a large matrix cane.  At that time, I used slices from the cane to cover cabochon shapes and make irregular beads that looked like unusual stones.  The photo on the left shows some of the polymer pebbles I made.  For more information, take a look at my post of Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - Honeycombed Pebbles.

The other day, I was looking at a piece of this type of cane I had left and wondering what to do with it.  Since I've been playing with tube beads, I decided to make some tube beads using the cane.  I left the outer edges uneven as they were on the cane itself, and overlapped the rolled edges rather than cutting them to meet evenly.  Leaving the translucent tubes hollow makes them look like they glow from inside.  I found some peach freshwater pearls and some iridescent glass O beads, and set to work stringing the tube beads vertically.  Here is the resulting necklace.  It has a really soft look to it, and the rounded ends of each of the tube beads helps keep them gentle on the skin.

It's fun to visit "old" canes and do do something new with them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Simple ~ with Shine

Here's a photo of a necklace I made recently with a holiday party in mind.  The glow of the pearls and the sparkle in the crystal rondelles picks up the glow and shine from the silver and translucent disks of the focal piece.  The colors of the clay and the pearls are much closer in person.  Light, and fun, it lies nicely on the neck. I find it especially fun to roll the disks out super-thin and then gently press the edges to see what shape the disks take. No two are the same, that's for sure!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Copper Lei with Swirls

I had to share this latest lei style necklace and earring set with you because I really like the way the colors worked out.  I'm showing you the close-up first, so you can see the outer copper clay color, and the translucent in-between the circle swirls of copper.  The translucent has been lightly tinted with a clear embossing powder and I added some copper glitter to the mix, too.  In person, there is a special sparkle and glow from the beads that is repeated in the glass O beads and goldstone flat spacers placed in between the ruffled beads.  It's really pretty, and perfect for that special outfit, or just for fun.  I'm also including a photo of the full necklace. The design just didn't come through as clearly as in the close-up.