Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Little Holiday Votives

I like candles. Of course, it's always best when the flame can be encased in something to keep it safe and away from flammable objects. That's one of the reasons glass votives were developed.
Although watching the flame can be mesmerizing,  it's also fun to watch the glow filtered through designs or colors.  So I decided to make some small glass votives covered with translucent polymer designs.  Once you have decided on your colors ( for the votive shown here, I used translucent and white) , you need to make a small cane.  Square canes work well for matching up edges of cane slices.  However, round or irregular shapes also work, as can be seen in the example shown in this post.  Very thin slices are placed edge to edge and pressed together to create a solid covering of the glass.  I wanted a matte finish on the outside so I used some organza fabric as I smoothed the cane slices. This kept the surface slightly textured and ensured there were no fingerprints showing.  After being baked at the polymer recommended temperature, the votive is ready to use.  If a shiny surface is desired, the polymer will need to be sanded and buffed before using.

These last two photos show the votives with small electric tealights inside.  This is another option for creating light inside a votive holder, and is, of course, fireproof.  The lighter photo was taken with a light on in the room.

The final, darkest photo shows the glow from within the votive in a darkened room.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Polymer-Covered Gift Pens

Around the holidays, it's nice to have a few things at the galleries that incorporate polymer into something that would make a good gift.  This year, I decided to make some polymer covered metal twist pens.  These pens take actual ball point ink cartridges, so they can be refilled once the ink has run out and used again. I used twist pen "kits" from Boston Craftworks and from Penn State Industries.  I was pleased with the quality of the materials from both companies, and they both shipped the ordered items fairly quickly.
To cover the metal sections of the pens, I experimented with a couple of different polymer designs. There is a seam where the sheet of polymer wraps around the metal, and hiding that seam is the trickiest aspect.  I found that three options worked particularly well.  A sheet from a mokume gane stack was perfect, since you can take ultra-thin slices from the stack and place them along the seam. The seam is hidden and it just appears that the random design from the mokume gane goes all the way around. Another option is to make a striped stack. Variagated stripes, such as an Ikat stack or stripes that are random (not a specific color pattern that could show where the seam is) worked really well, and looked elegant.  Finally, a square cane that you have made will work very well - just reduce the cane to be sure it fits around the pen without needing major alteration, and it looks like the design just keeps going - around and around.  The photo shows pens covered in mokume gane (#2, 5, 7) pens covered in Ikat and stripes (#3 & 4). and one pen covered in a square cane (#6).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New!! Pictures in Polymer

I've been thinking about trying to make pictures out of polymer, and then this idea came to me.   Of course!  I had to make pictures with flowers.  What fun!

I set my flower designs on polymer sheet backings, which I treated with textures and different color schemes.  Then the pictures were placed inside small frames.  The backs of the frames I used have stands.   In that way, these little pictures, which are about 4"x 6", will sit nicely on a counter, table or window sill.

Before I assembled my first pieces, I experimented with different methods of baking. Some of the frames were solid wood, and could handle the temps in the oven, while others had coatings or coverings on plastic bases, and these did not do well in the oven. So, in some cases I was able to bake the whole "picture" as one piece, and in other cases, I had to bake the components separately, then assemble the picture using an epoxy glue.

Scattered about on this page are my first set of "Pictures in Polymer":

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Peeking Right Through!

Here is something rather unusual.  I've made lentil beads with an opening on one side before. Making one large opening allowed me to place a charm or other item slightly inside the bead, creating a focus point within the larger bead.  This time, I decided to poke holes of varying sizes on both the front and back pieces of the lentil.  Of course, that wasn't enough, and I had to try embellishing through the holes.  The result is the pendant you see here, hung simply from a stand of purple Swarovski pearls.  It's a unique piece and should bring comments when worn.  I plan to give this concept another visit and see what I can come up with.  The smaller image below right shows the back of the pendant.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Extruded Canes Revisited

Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop on extruded canes.  It's been a while since I've worked with extrusions, and working with these canes again reminded me why I like extrusions so much.  There are lots of different extruders available, but my favorite is one by Makin's that they call the Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder.  It is very easy to use, and comes with a variety of shape discs.

These first samples were made with one of the smallest round discs, and several of the long round "snakes" made with this disc piled next to each other.  I really like the way the extruder passes colors at different speeds, creating new color combinations and designs.

I also have the 2" diameter extruder gun from Polymer Clay Express.  This is a great tool and opens a world of extrusion possibilities. The larger size allows the creation of some interesting disc shapes.  Here are a few pair of earrings made using the 2" extruder and a larger shape disc.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sweet Little Flower Basket

I had to share this sweet pendant I just finished. The curved front of the basket creates the perfect space for the flower stems and leaf tops.  I hadn't realized how much the sparkle in the gold clay would resemble a type of special pottery. Although it's a bit hard to see in the photo, each flower has a pearl below the small gold center ball.  The balls in the gold-filled chain match well.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Translucent Stripes

I really love to work with translucent clay.  There is a warmth about it that changes the tone of what you are making, and it often seems to glow from inside. Recently, I taught a workshop in which we used translucent to make Skinner blended stacks with white stripes. Taking thin slices from the stack and criss-crossing them over one another is a lovely way to make a base for a bead.  A raspberry, coral and light gold stack made this sweet teardrop shape.  I encircled it with glass pearls and included brass heishi in the chain.
The pendant on the left is an example of using a striped translucent stack as a base for 3-D flowers.  The flowers were made of slices from a translucent cane.  The whole piece has a subtle glow that pairs well with pearls.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Earrings, Earrings, Earrings.....

Perhaps you can tell from the title of this post that I have been enjoying an earring-making binge.  It really got started at a workshop with Marie Segal from California.  Thank you Marie! If you ever have a chance to take a class from Marie, or to get her book, do so!  She is filled with information and ideas that don't quit.

This particular workshop, sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, focused on the use of translucent polymer.  Marie has used a wide variety of translucents, and introduced us to her favorite:  Cernit.  Cernit translucent proved to be an incredibly versatile product, and we couldn't find enough time to play with all the different options.  I particularly liked using the colored translucents mixed with the clear, and incorporating composite goldleaf into the clear translucent.  Pictured in this post are several pairs of earrings demonstrating different applications.

The round disk-shaped earrings demonstrate the translucent qualities the best.  Light shines through these earrings from the back, giving them an overall glow.  The blue and purple earrings have colored translucent swirled on top of clear.  Marie showed us how to make narrow tubes of swirled lines and I couldn't resist making the leaf shapes with them. The aqua earrings have a smaller disc of pressed gold-leaf composite, and these discs really sparkle.

The pairs in red and gold highlighted both the true red color of the Cernit clay, as well as some other techniques that Marie helped us develop.  

In addition to disk earrings, I made some of my favorite triangle shapes.  I added pearls and crystals.  Because of the shape, the clay took on a different look and did not seem quite as transparent.

These last earring shown here are not made with Cernit translucent.  Instead, these are made from canes I made using Premo! polymer clays.  I used special ear wires that I could include in the design.  These are really pretty and fun to wear. The long wire in back is especially nice since it not only adds to the design but helps ensure a secure fit.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mokume Gane & Beads

Every once in a while, I like to blend beading and polymer.  They are two of my favorite art forms, and I think they go well together in jewelry.  Recently,  I made a mokume gane stack and then worked some beading into a few pendants.  I forgot to take photos before I put the pendants for sale in the Westerly gallery.  The result is I only have one piece left - which must mean the combination of polymer and beads appealed to others.  To the right is the remaining piece.  I used seedbeads to weave a bail for the top and strung strands of seedbeads and pearls to hang below the pendant.  I also made a few pairs of earrings, and enhanced the polymer pieces with crystals, glass beads and metal components.
The third photo shows a grouping of earrings and a pendant from the same mokume gane stack. One of the things I love about the mokume gane process is the way in which colors blend and sometimes hide. I haven't decided yet what to do with this particular pendant.  A beadweaving idea is in the back of my mind.....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sweet and Simple

I taught a workshop recently on making striped Skinner blend translucent stacks.  As part of the demonstration, I made a stack and then fashioned a simple bead from thin slices of the stack laid over pearl polymer.  When I got home, I played with the bead a bit, reforming it, and wondered what I might be able to do with it. Looking at my worktable, I spied a baggie of pearls, and knew what I would do. This sweet and simple little necklace is the result.  The pearls are semi-imbedded into the polymer before baking. Then, I varnished the bead as well as the pearls around it, to ensure they are firmly sealed.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

More Stripes

I've been working with striped stacks lately and thought I'd share a couple of pieces here.  I started using the stripes in earrings. The photo shows 3 different designs.  The long bead earrings and the rolled and curved earrings on the right are from the same striped stack. Rolling pieces from the striped cane changes the relationship of the stripes.  The pair in the lower left corner are from a different striped stack.

The pendants to the left are also made from the same striped stack.  I think it's interesting that simply cutting and rearranging the striped pieces changes the way light bounces off the stripes so they almost do not look like the same base.

I'll be experimenting a bit more, and will be back to share other ideas.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bead Blog Recognition

Hi!  Just a brief note to explain the new image in the right-hand column of my blog's main page.   I was surprised and pleased to receive email saying I had been selected as one of the Top 100 Bead Blogs on the web.  The URL for the Top Bead Blog site is http://blog.feedspot.com/bead_blogs/. There are some great blogs and links there, and I encourage you to "drop by" and scan through the sites.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Late Summer....

Where has the summer gone? In between projects and travel I'm afraid I've been negligent at making new posts.  So here are some pieces I've made up for the August show in Westerly.  You will no doubt recognize the forms such as the ruffled lei and the lariat.  Here they are in some new color-ways.

In addition, for something simple and light, I made a couple of hollow domed circles embellished with inked designs.

I've also put together some light and simple earrings to add to the end-of-summer fun.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Folded Fans Necklace

This is the last of five necklaces I made as entries into the juried Regional Art Show in Westerly, Rhode Island.  The necklaces in the previous 3 posts on this blog were the others I submitted.  I was very pleased that all five of my pieces were accepted into the show.  The show ran for the month of May and three of the necklaces sold.

I call this new bead style the "folded fan".  The use of a Skinner blend to make the beads change in color, and the graduated sizes added another dimension of interest to the set.  I used small filigree silver balls n between the polymer beads, and finished the necklace with galvanized silver seed beads.  A light and fun piece for summer into fall.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Light and Swingy Lariats

I've recently started exploring lariats.  They can come in a variety of styles, sizes, weights, designs - imagination is the limit.  In my post on April 18th, I showed a lariat with multiple neck strands and a large central piece for the ends of the strands. Since then, with summer coming, I've been experimenting with lighter and more easy stylings.

This gold and black lariat uses ultra microfiber suede strips. The strips are strong yet supple, very lightweight, and are soft against the neck and skin.  The adjustment loop has a sliding goldtone metal bead.  The same bead is also used at the end of the strips to hide the joining work where the polymer bell flowers are attached to the suede strips.  I plan to make more using the microfiber strips.

 The coral lariat is a different design.  I used 2 strands of the suede strips side-by-side.  They lie flat behind the centerpiece with the flowers.  This section lies right against the neck in front.  Then the strips go around the neck, cross in back, and come to the front again. At this point, the dangling sections can be left straight or flipped loosely over each other.  Styling options!
I think that both of these styles would look great with summer T's or tops. Of course, when it's colder, they would also work with a turtleneck.
Versatility is a real plus with jewelry!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Skinner Blend Lei

As you may  have noticed, I really like the ruffled lei necklaces I've been making for the past few months.  It occurred to me that it would be fun to make a set of ruffled lei beads that incorporated the concept of a Skinner blend.  With spring colors just starting, and summer coming, I decided to try a blend that would move from the bright corals and yellows of spring into the more cool greens of summer.  The core of the ruffles is made with translucent clay, embossing powders, and a gentle tinge of color, while the edges are solid clay colors following the Skinner blend I chose. The ruffles on this necklace are separated by honey gold Swarovski pearls.  Their glow just seems to reflect the glow from the translucent clay.  I made this necklace longer than usual since I think it will be a perfect piece to wear with a variety of clothing styles.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Half-hollow Bead Necklace

I was playing around with an Ikat cane I'd made, and started making hollowed circles.  I used a sheet of the Ikat cane, laid it across the edges of a circle shape cutter, and gently smoothed the clay so it stretched down into the cutter.  Then I pressed the cutter onto a flat sheet of clay, making sure there was a firm connection between the domed section and the flat backing.  The pieces baked well, retaining the domed shape. I used a ribbon of clay and some Genesis Thick Medium to bond the various dome shapes together, and created this necklace.  I like the look and feel of the domes, and plan to be making more shapes and pieces in the near future.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tube-Style Necklaces

I love the warmth and glow that translucent clay imparts to a piece.  Recently, I made a couple of blended "cell" canes that have a lot of translucent in them.  I call them cell canes because they remind me of a group of cells clustered together, or perhaps a bit like the inside of a bee hive.  Each "cell" is a bull's eye blend fading to translucent, with a white polymer wrap around it.  Of course, once you've made a cane, the next challenge is to use it.  I decided to make hollow tube beads, keeping the irregular edges as part of the shape.  I made a set which I combined into a necklace. I had done a similar necklace with this type of cane a few months ago in a different color combination.  I really like the way the navy pearls and light blue crystals complement the tube beads.

Just for fun, I decided to try something a bit different.  I made just one larger tube, and figured out a way to hang some chains with pearls from the inside of the tube.  The results are shown here.  I really like the way these turned out.  I particularly like the look of something hanging from inside the tube, and will have to give this idea more time soon.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sweet Floral Dangles

Here are some new earrings I've been making - sweet flowers and hollow buds.  I must admit that these were an off-shoot from the Moroccan beads I was working on a while ago.  The idea to go small and add some three dimensional dangles for fun just sort of evolved.  And here they are!

I have them hanging from a wire "earring tree" that I spray-painted white.  It was a black and brass color, and just didn't shout "spring" and flowers.  I'm happy with the white.  It's surprising sometimes what just a simple change of color can do.  The tree and earrings are to the right.

Here are a couple more close-up photos of some of the earring pairs.  I made a couple pairs for myself. They're fun to wear, and they've been drawing attention.