Saturday, December 31, 2011

All That Glitters May Really Be Gold

Some of you may have used various leafing products, particularly the composite gold and silver leaf that mix well in translucent polymer. They are easy to use, and add sparkle and glitter to the piece. I've used the gold, silver, and copper leaf quite a bit, and enjoy both the process and the final "look". Recently, I was at a workshop where I met the owners from Woman Creative in Atlanta. They carry gold leaf sheets which are 23.75 K gold. The sheets are very fine and shimmery. I decided to try using a couple of sheets in some polymer mokume gane stacks and do a comparison of the two types of leaf. Since I was on a roll, I decided to also pick up some Magic Gloss carried by Lisa Pavelka, to see what that might do.

On the right are the results of my first steps. The first set used black and white and translucent polymer, and was made using the gold leaf composite. The composite breaks apart when it's used in mokemu gane, and makes lots of little sparkles that look like flakes of gold. I really like the subtle glimmer. In this particular pattern, the gold just seems to outline the leaves, making a very lovely statement.

Then I set to work with the 23.75 K gold leaf. The sheets are just so lovely and delicate. I discovered that these sheets tend to stay intact, so the gold stays in layers, even in the mokemu gane process, and creates a simply lovely shimmer. I'm not sure the photo really captures the glow this gold sheet creates. You can, though, see the difference between the broken bits of gold in the composite leaf, and the full, continuous sheets in the true gold leaf.

The last experiment used the gold leaf composite with the Magic-Gloss product. I impressed black polymer with a design, then used my finger and rubber tip tools to press the leaf into the design, minimizing tearing as much as possible. Below are the results:

Looks like I'll need to try Magic-Gloss over the 23.75K sheets, too. I'm continually amazed at all the possibilities with this wonderful medium, polymer. Wishing you all a very wonderful 2012 with lots of opportunity to explore and create.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December Gardens

Gardens? Yes, I realize it's December, and winter has just officially begun. Happily, we've been having temperatures in the 50s and yesterday it reached 60. So it's feeling much like spring! Perhaps I've been affected by the weather, or just want spring to hurry up and get here. Whatever the reason, I've been making leaf and petal canes, and started to play with the slices. I'd been thinking of the porcelain and polymer beads I've made, and thought I'd do something like that in all polymer. Well, one thing led to another, and instead of outlining a bead with leaf and petal canes, I started creating complete, lush gardens. When foliage is this dense and thick, I always wonder what might be hiding underneath.... The two pieces above are pendants, with loops in the back for a chain or perhaps multiple strands of pretty ribbons.

The pieces on the left are backed with convertible pin/pendant findings. They're just a tad larger, and these findings provide more wearing options.

From these samples, you can see what my color-moods have been. Now I'm feeling the need to go back to the worktable and make some new canes in other colorways...

....Well, I did go back, right after I made this entry. Here are a couple of examples of the next things I did. First, I had to make some earrings.

And then I made a set in yellows and purple shades. These take a lot of time, both in creating the canes, and then slicing and assembling. I do love the three-dimensional look and feel. Since, they're out of polymer, they're light, too. So nice to know these flowers won't fade.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robin!

A good friend of mine is turning 60 today. As part of the birthday celebration, her husband decided to commission a set of jewelry. He took a look at some of my designs, and asked me to make something using my leaf cluster design. He also selected "jade" as his color choice - then I set to work. I've really enjoyed creating with a specific person in mind. Her husband came by the other day to pick the set up, and was very impressed.

I'm really hoping she loves the pieces, too. I made earrings in 2 sizes, a delicate necklace, and came up with a new design for a bangle bracelet. I really like this style, and am already working on one in purple.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pendants in Motion

Sometimes, an artist draws inspiration from nature, color, an event, an idea. My inspiration for these pendants came while I was asleep. I keep pad and pen next to my bed, and jot down ideas or sketches when they "come". Such was case for the idea for these pendants with a bit of motion.

I've made two, and have sketches for a couple more.

The hanging section on these necklaces moves forward and back. I had to figure out how to get the piece hanging while ensuring the holder section had clean and matching edges.

I plan to experiment more and to see what happens with the other ideas I've drawn. Reactions and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Early Holiday Porcelain

It's December, and I figured I needed to put together a few pieces for the holidays. I started with some new hollow porcelain pieces which I then embellished with polymer. The porcelain has a lovely sheen to it, which is complimented by the crystals, gold filled, and sterling silver pieces I've added to the simple cable chain.

Must be time for a party!

Monday, November 28, 2011

On a Mokume Gane Binge

Not sure if "binge" is the correct word - but it feels like it! I don't know about others' creativity bursts, but sometimes I get caught up in a particular color or idea or technique, and right now, it's mokume gane that's capturing my time. I wanted some sparkle and pretty colors as the holidays approach, so made some stacks with composite gold leaf amongst some of my favorite colors. Here are some pieces in teal, white, and gold.

Then, I had to get my purple "fix" in, too! The stone in the necklace is a piece of turquoise that seemed to be looking for a home. I've kept the pieces simple in form to let the beauty of the patterns shine through.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Faux Animal Fun

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been asked to make a few pieces with animal print motifs. I want to share 2 new sets with you. The zebra set has beading around the bracelet for decoration and to hide any join that would occur if I need to re-size the piece for someone. Aren't the earrings fun?!

Then I started making bracelets with the new wide brass cuff channels I picked up recently, and used my giraffe cane. The earrings just sort of "happened" - and I really like 'em.

While I'm at the computer, I'll toss in a photo of some of the wider brass cuff bracelets. You'll notice a couple of animal prints sneaking in....

By the way, some of my work is now being shown at the Sun-Up Gallery of Fine Crafts on Watch Hill Road, Route 1A, between Westerly and Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Stop by if you're in the area!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lions & Tigers & Bears - Oh, My!

Actually, the title should probably read, "zebras & tigers & leopards" - oh my! I've finally tried my hand a making some animal fur-look canes. The reason for making these came from a totally unexpected phone call.
A couple of weeks ago, a woman called to say she had purchased one of my bangle bracelets at the Westerly Cooperative Gallery, and was enjoying it very much. She then went on to say she owned a gallery and would I be interested in putting some of my pieces in her gallery? Yes! So, we made an appointment to meet. She has a really wonderful shop with some amazing pieces. We discussed what types of pieces she'd like to have from me. One of her requests was for bracelets in animal prints, as well as some using the seed-beaded join covers which I often put on my all-polymer bangle bracelets. I have some samples of the beading on my blog posting of November 26, 2010 if you're curious. I set to work experimenting with animal prints. I've had fun, learned, and made a few bracelets that I'm sharing here. Now, to get going on the beading.....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Turning Over a New Fall Leaf

Yes, it's Fall in New England - an exceptionally pretty time of year here. Our colors are somewhat subdued this year due in part to hurricane Irene. However, polymer doesn't know that, and I've been creating some great colors for fall earrings. I stepped outside my usual comfort level with some of these shades and combinations, so I'll be interested to see what others think.

This first photo shows a new trumpet flower design I'm trying - and really like.

The shot on the right is of some earrings in what I think of as a traditional calla lily shape. There's nothing particularly traditional, however, about the colors!

The last photo shows a few pairs of what I call "leaf clusters." These are fun to make, and often get a second look when I wear them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pretty Mokume Gane

I was asked to do something with earrings and bangles that would be festive for the holiday season. I love the combination of white, gold, and black, so I got out some polymer and some composite gold leaf, and made a nice mokume gane stack. Part of the request was to make some earrings that were larger than I usually make. The first shot is of 2 bangles and a smaller pair of earrings. The photo below is of the larger earrings. I love the way the gold sparkles against the contrast of white and black. Anyone for a party?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Inros & Arrowmont

I just got back from a week-long course at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The school itself is in a lovely, woodsy setting, with a dozen or so buildings. Some buildings hold workshop space, some are for housing, many have gallery sections, and all have individual architecture, which adds to the ambiance. For more info on the school and it's various artist programs visit I found out about the school by chance when doing a Google search for Japanese inro box workshops. So glad I did!

Inro are small rounded portable cases worn on the girdle of Japanese clothing. Originally designed for men to carry medications, they have evolved into items used by men or women as small purses or pockets in which to carry important items. I've always been fascinated by inro, which are often made of wood or ivory or other materials which have been carved, painted, or otherwise decorated. Polymer seemed to me like a perfect medium for inros, but I did not have experience in constructing hollow, 3-dimensional objects. Hence the search for a class.

I'm glad I found Arrowmont. Our instructor, Seth Savarick, has had extensive experience making inros. Check out the gallery of his work here: The class was excellent, and I did indeed learn how to construct inro - a skill I know I'll use in other ways, too.
Typically, inros have cords, beads and sometimes tassels for decoration. I got so focused on making the inro boxes that the week flew by and I didn't put a cord on any of them. Hopefully, in a little while, I'll get one or two done and show you what they look like. In the meantime, here are some of the inros I created last week.

These first inro are hollow lidded forms. The lids and bottoms have been sanded and buffed while the body of these pieces has been silk-screened. One of the special features of inro is the inside - there is usually a "surprise" in the inner core. For example, in the gold-on-black inro, the inside is silk-screened in reverse so is black-on-gold.

The next photo shows 2 samples of what is known as a flanged inro. In this form, the top and bottom fit very snugly and there is a piece of the inner core that extends from the bottom of the box into the upper section. These are rather tricky to make since, after carefully creating 4 layers in separate steps, and coating different sections of some of the layers with different substances, they must be cut in half - but only half-way through. I've opened one of the inro so you can see the flanged section sticking above the bottom. This is the portion that, when inserted into the top piece, holds the inro together. I found the cutting the most difficult part of the process and need much more practice to feel competent with the blade.

Of course, I was drawn to experiment. I decided I wanted to try a round form. However, none of the materials we had lent themselves to such a shape. So, I went to the wood studio, to see if they had any wooden dowels in an appropriate size. Well - they didn't.
So the instructor grabbed a chunk of wood from their scrap bin, mounted it on his lathe, and whipped me up a perfectly sized and formed dowel. Amazing! It's one of the advantages of working or learning at a place like Arrowmont - with artists and craftspeople from a variety of mediums, you have an excellent chance of finding someone who can help you realize a concept. Here's my round box - not an inro, but I'm quite pleased with it.

One more piece before I go. I think this is
my favorite of all the pieces I did during the week. Not an inro, really, but a little vase-shaped box with decorated lid. Yes - the leaves and flowers are all attached to the lid, so are lifted off when the box is opened. What fun!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Real Stones & Polymer

In the last posting, I showed you some faux opals I'd been playing with. Today, I'd like to share some pendants that use real stones for embellishment. The rust one has a series of jasper lentils off-set down the left side. The faux wood has a tiger eye cab. My favorite is the navy blue piece, with a Mexican opal in the center. The fire in the stone goes so well with the copper in the "window." These are all designed to hang from a simple chain or wire. It's been fun to experiment with polymer "settings" - and I know I'll be doing more soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Faux Opals

Opals. They're so full of sparkle and depth. The range of colors is just amazing. Real opals are also fragile and crack easily if not cared for properly. I thought it would be fun to see if I could re-create that sparkle and depth with polymer. I found some ideas on the Internet, including an excellent tutorial from Donna Kato, and then launched some experiments of my own.

Part of the trick with making the opal "look" is creating the illusion of depth. Hurray for liquid polymers, translucents, and iridescent flakes! I'm doing some more playing with heat, color, and settings, and will be looking for other inclusion possibilities. I plan to be showing you those in the near future.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Translucents with Kathleen Dustin

The Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild (SCPG), of which I am a member, recently sponsored a 2-day workshop on Translucent polymer with Kathleen Dustin. Kathleen is a master polymer artist, and it was an incredible opportunity to be able to work with her. She brings her background in ceramics to the world of polymer, with some amazing results. To see her latest work, check out her blog:

We spent our time with her learning about some of her techniques with translucents. I love translucent canes and the layers they create. I've made several different pieces with my own translucent canes, but never in quite the way Kathleen presented.

After colorizing a baked base, we covered the base with various translucent canes we made. The final steps involved extensive sanding, carving, and back filling. I was unable to attend the second day, so my piece is missing the carving. I did try it later on a second piece and learned something - I need a lot of practice carving on polymer if I'm going to use it! I am, however, pleased with the results of my first piece.

Another Feather


I finally finished this pendant, and loved the colors! Thought I'd share. This feathering technique is amazing. I find the computer screen shows the colors well - perhaps it's the size of the image?

This piece really reminds me of the Southwestern US - all those wonderful formations and cliffs, red rock, and desert varnish on the canyon walls.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Feathering in Clay

I've always loved the look of the feathering technique in lampwork beads, and was pleased to learn there are methods to accomplish a similar look in polymer. I will be teaching a workshop on this technique at the Marlborough Arts Center in October. Here are some photos from a set I made. To me, it seems to have a decidedly Southwestern flavor. I'm going to have to try some totally different colors to see what other effects transpire.


I promised color, remember? Well, here's some color along with a great 3-D concept I really like. I didn't invent this form - saw something a while back, and decided to give it a try.
These beads take time. First, I had to make canes for the fans or blades of the lantern. These are cut and baked separately. Then a core is made, and the fans are carefully placed around the core, opposites at the same time to help keep things stabilized. After a second baking, end pieces can be added, then all is baked again. The hole through the center can be created when the core is made, or drilled later.

Here is a lantern bead with beadweaving embellishment. The fringe has crystals and seed beads, while the "cord" is made of a light twist of various colored ribbons and string. Other cording could be used, I just liked the way the colors corresponded to the cane colors in the bead.

And of course, I had to make a pair of earrings. Can you guess the color?.....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Different shapes...still black and white

As the past couple of posts have shown, I've been playing with a black and white theme lately. Had to share with you a couple more sets of earrings, dealing with some new shapes. As you can see, I really like the way the clay responds and bends. I promise color soon!

~This first pair is made with a kaleidoscope cane, shaped as cone flower with pearl centers.

~For the next set, I used little 2-sided saddle shapes, embellished with pearls and black firepolish beads.

~These last pairs show a mobius shape, one set with pearls, the other with crystal drops.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shades of Gray - & some Black and White....

September is right around the corner, and the Westerly Cooperative's September show "Black, White, and Shades of Gray" will be set up this coming week. It's always fun to see the new show, and I'm particularly interested in seeing how many of the artists are able to come up with at least something that fits the month's theme.

As I showcased here a couple of posts ago, I had made some silk screened pieces in the theme's colors - and was very pleased with the results. I made one more silk screened piece - a bracelet - that's different from any others I've made before. Here's a snapshot:In thinking about other options in these color-ways, I remembered the dragon flies on polymer rocks that I made about a year ago....I decided to re-visit pebbles - the gray part of the theme just seemed to fit. What fun! For some reason, one of the pebbles begged for a silver snail, so I made one from PMC. I just love my little pebble set! They're so smooth, I can imagine rubbing them all day.

I also made a "granite" stone with silver leaf for sparkle and a genuine silver (PMC) leaf on the top!

Of course, I couldn't resist making a few of the triangle dangle earrings in these colors. Here are some of the results.

I'm not sure if you can see it, but the gray pair are made with a Skinner blend bull's eye - and the effect is subtle and lovely, I think.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Cane & More Loose Beads

Last weekend, the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, of which I'm a member, hosted our own "Clay Day" where we all bring our own projects, and clay and play together. It's always a good time - like-minded folks with no pressures, just a fun get-together to create and visit. We had a great time - how could we do otherwise?
I do owe a special thanks to Deb, who generously shared a new cane idea she had picked up elsewhere with the rest of us. We all loved it - and many had to try it out right away. I was in the midst of other things, so waited until I got home to try the new idea. Here are the canes I've made, and some samples of those canes turned into beads or jewelry components. Just love the look! I haven't begun to explore all the possible color-ways with this one. I'm sure you'll see more examples in future posts. In the meantime - what do you think?

Also, here's a snapshot of some of my beads on background cards for a loose bead show that's coming up quickly. I need a few more sets, then I'll be ready.

Definitely seems to be a color "trend" to my beads this year...