Sunday, February 28, 2016

CFCF 2016: Sweet Heart Box

While my last post was about the first workshop I took at Cabin Fever Clay Festival 2016,  this post, is about the last workshop I had.
Lisa Haney led us through the creation of Hinged Heart Boxes.  The creativity and fun didn't just cover the hinge. Lisa had us extruding clay to create the box covers, using textures and imbedding crystals to enhance the overall effect.  Her method of attaching the lid to the box base is really clever and it's a hinge concept I know I'll use in the future. These little boxes are really sweet, and are the perfect size to hold rings or a special small pendant.  Thank you, Lisa!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bamboo & Polymer ~ An Intriguing Combination

I've just recently returned from Laurel, Maryland, where I had the pleasure of attending the Cabin Fever Clay Festival for 2016.  I really like this conference.  Nothing to do all day but play with clay, learn from outstanding teachers, and enjoy the company of other like-minded folks.  I can't complain. This year, I took a couple of workshops from people I had not worked with before, doing things I've never tried.  It's always fun to learn something new, even when it is outside your comfort zone a bit.

The first two days of the conference I spent with Robert Liu from California.  Robert creates heat-bent bamboo jewelry from bamboo he grows in his own yard.  His website has his bio and examples of his work which you may find of interest:  I'd never worked with bamboo before, and was surprised when I discovered I would be using an open flame torch to bend the bamboo and shape it into the desired forms.  Through a variety of circumstances, I ended up being the only student for the first day, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Robert's instruction and guidance all to myself.  He is a patient, thorough, and encouraging teacher, and I'm delighted to have worked with him.

Once I had the opportunity to heat-bend some of the bamboo he supplied, and learned to do some wire-wrapping at appropriate junctures on the bamboo, I decided to see if I could incorporate some polymer into a piece or two.  My particular approach was an experiment for Robert, too, so we both waited to see what the outcome would be.

My first piece kept its shape when I baked the clay on it because I wired the bamboo in place for the baking time.   I had to bake the clay a second time and did not wire the bamboo.  There was no change in the shape, so I decided (wrongly as it turned out later) that I didn't need to wire the shape in place when baking the clay portion.  Ah, lessons learned....

This piece is flexible enough to just slip around my neck and it's shape keeps it in place.  The whole piece is very lightweight and easy. I wish I had put some of the decoration more in the middle of the front since that section is very visible.  I also realized after wearing it that the polymer "snakes" I used for vines around the bamboo should have been thicker.  Although they have not broken, I would want them to be more sturdy if someone else were going to wear a piece I'd made.

For my second piece, I used a thicker piece of bamboo and made the polymer "vines" more substantial.  I really liked this piece, but made the mistake of not wiring the ends of the bamboo together before putting the piece in the oven to bake the polymer.  Since it hadn't seemed necessary for the first piece, I figured this piece would be okay.  Not so.  Perhaps the oven was hotter or the thicker bamboo held the heat more.  Whatever the reason, the bamboo lost much of its bend.  I need to either re-torch it sometime, or attach a chain to the 2 ends to create a complete necklace circle.  As it is, I have a really pretty piece of black bamboo with cream flowers in a half-circle shape.  Perhaps a conversation piece?


Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Couple More New Necklaces

I've been working on a couple of necklaces.  These always take longer than pendants, yet they allow me to use different techniques and create a complete look all their own.

This first necklace is made of small curved slices of polymer.  I made 2 complimentary canes by mixing embossing powder into translucent clay, then wrapping each of them in different custom-mixed solid clay. The curved slices are different sizes, so the pieces set each other off in a variety of ways.  Interspersed throughout the necklace are teardrop-shaped champagne glass pearls.  I think this design is fun and the look could be dressy or more casual.  I'm going to have to try it in different colors.

The second necklace here uses some beads I made a while ago.  I started with thin extruded snakes wrapped around a round core, then applied a sort of mokume gane approach to slicing into portions of the snakes.  Little O beads provide separation and a bit of sparkle.