Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Honeycombed Pebbles

Sometimes it's fun to try a tutorial or two to see how someone else does a particular effect.  Faux rock and stone looks interest me, as do mosaics. When I recently stumbled on some tutorials by Leggende Segrete, I had to give her Glass Mosaic Beads a try.  These pieces look to me like shiny pebbles with a sort of honey-combed effect, hence the name. 
 For the first set I made, I used homogeneous colors in the gold/orange/yellow family.  As you can see in the photo, the color turned out to be so subtle it was almost not visible.  The gold composite leaf underneath does shine through clearly in these.

I decided to work with gold again, and use more definitive colors.  The next batch pictured on the sand dollar have fuschia and green coloration.  More color, but still somewhat subtle.  
Next, I tried using silver composite leaf for the background, and went with blues and purples.  This combo looks more like painted rocks, and they're very pretty. 

Last, I had to see how little honey combed pebble earrings would look.  They're rather sweet, and not something you see every day.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Getting the Colors "Right"

As you may have guessed, I like to play with dichroic and opalescent looks in polymer. I have found the iridescent flakes are very useful when creating an opal look, but I have not been completely satisfied.  One thing missing has been color control.  I tried manipulating the background using metal leaf, alcohol inks, and glitters.  While I was able to get some lovely colors, I couldn't seem to control which colors I got, and where they appeared.  Obviously, it was time to experiment some more.

The pendant to the left demonstrates the use of the iridescent flakes on a colored background.  I like the effect of the smooth sparkle and color magnified by the textured black surrounds.  However, there is no real control of the color of the opals other than through the use of a colored background.  As you can see, the opals appear multi-colored.

Today, I'd like to share with you my latest iterations of faux opal.   I wanted to be able to create specific colors when and where I wanted them.  The trick, at least for me, turned out to be using alcohol inks, iridescent flakes and translucent liquid polymer to create a slurry. When baked on a metal leaf background, the slurry effect has depth, sparkle, fire and the colors I wanted.

Below on the right, are three pendants.  In the one on the left, I concentrated on a purple coloration.  I also included a small section of blue and yellow for contrast and interest.  In the middle piece, I focused on an overall blue, while in the piece on the right I used green and yellow coloration.

The last photo shows 2 pendants with my version of a "fire opal."   On these, the use of reds and oranges in the background as well as in the flakes seems to have added additional depth and inner glow.

I'm really quite pleased with the direction these experiments are taking, and plan to play some more.

 I'm also going to have to work on more natural looking settings, but that's a future project.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Yesterday....

Told you I'd have to do something with the canes from yesterday....So, here are a few cuff bracelets to show more variations of the cane patterns.  The 2 cuffs to the right were made from canes I put together based on the geometric core cane.  The other 3 cuffs below were decorated with canes from the kaleidoscope patterns pictured in yesterday's post.  It's always fun to see the clay move to something you can use.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kaleidoscope Fun

Today I taught a workshop on making canes based on a simple cane "core."  The kaleidoscope canes we created in the afternoon were especially pretty, and one of my favorite activities.
Using a palate of compatible colors, participants made several simple canes: Skinner blend bull's eye, regular bull's eye, pinwheel and wedge canes.  These canes were combined into a larger conglomerate cane, such as the one pictured to the right.

This core cane was then formed into a triangle and reduced.  Cut and recombined, the cane became different 6 sided and square canes, pictured at the left.
This is a great activity,  and allows you to work on color, form and design all at one time.
Many of you have probably approached canes in this manner. I never tire of this process.  The end results are always lovely and often unexpected.

Here is another example showing the initial "core" made of a variety of simple canes, some hexagonal canes and a square cane made after reducing the core,and finally a photo of some mobius and triangle beads made from one of the hexagonal canes.
  One more set in another color-way. Then I need to get busy, making beads and other things from these canes!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Making Silk Screens

As I mentioned in my June 30th posting, I spent a week at the Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts, studying with Seth Savarick. The focus was surface textures and techniques, and we spent a great deal of time learning about silk screening, and making our own silk screens for use with polymer.  The real trick, besides being sure we had everything set up correctly in the dark room, was finding the right moment with the right amount of sun to cure the screens.  Seth, from southern California, is used to just walking out into his yard whenever he wants to make a screen. Arrowmont is in Tennessee, and we were battling with early summer thundershowers that would descend upon us without much warning.  It got a little comical - we'd be in the midst of working or of listening to new information and someone would shout, "SUN!" We'd drop whatever we were doing, grab our screen setups, and dash out for our minute of sun.  We didn't need much time, but getting it was sometimes a real trick.

I have finally put together some pieces made from sheets of polymer I made up from silk screens.  A few were made with screen overlays.  Take a look!

This purple, gold and silver iris pendant was fun to make.  I started with a Skinner blend base in dark to light purples.  Then, I used gold and silver paint in sections on the silk screen and dragged the squeegee across the surface.  The result is a variation in both the background and in the colors in the foreground.

 The midnight blue pieces are half-lentils with curved top surfaces on a flat, silver leaf covered backing.  There are two different stencils used on the surface.  One made the periwinkle small squares and dots while I used another stencil to add the silver diamond and star-burst shapes.  The surface really looks like a night sky.

The green bamboo pieces were also made with 2 different stencils: one for the bamboo leaves, the other for bits of gold splash.

The deep purple leaf set was set up a bit differently.   I used 2 different silk screens that needed to be placed precisely to ensure that the "fill-in" color landed within the outlines.

Since I came home, I have made some of my own screens.  You'll see some of them down the road when I get out my paints and screening set up.  The color on the polymer from the paints is really lovely, and doesn't show up as well on the computer screen as it does in person.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Most of my pendants are of a medium size, and, as I experiment with some processes, they sometimes get a bit larger.  However, there are those who prefer smaller items, and with the holidays in sight, I have been making some smaller pendants.  I call these pieces "pendanitas" or little pendants.

Here are a few samples, in different styles and using different techniques.  The black pieces are pretty self-explanatory.  I like the juxtaposition of the simple geometric black shapes contrasting with the 3-D flowers and butterfly cane.

The pieces below on the left are made with gold leaf composite, alcohol inks for color, and other bits and pieces such as gold flakes.

The two rectangular pieces are part of my "faux opal" collection. This is a process that keeps evolving, and I'm having fun with it.