What do you think of the one-page tutorial format? No words, just pictures?
Just trying out a thing. If you like it, I’ll do a few more (with less blurry photos ;)
I’ve been spending a LOT of time sort of… avoiding the studio. It’s messy in here, my fibro has been acting up so that all I do is SLEEP, and honestly the winter was DEPRESSINGly long and gray.
But that didn’t stop me from buying ALL of the colourful supplies I could find! Especially when I received a royalty payment that was enough to push me up into the official best-seller list! Over 10,000 copies. I’m not a millionaire yet – royalties are surprisingly UNlucrative – but I still managed to get some gorgeous new colors:
However, it’s only recently that I really DID anything. But once I got started – it was color-city!
The beautiful mess of painting raw brass metal flowers with an experimental mixture of ranger patinas, lumiere paints, pearl-ex powders, and who knows what else!
I managed to get a couple of dozen flowers put together; I wanted to have finished jewelry of them to show you by today but that didn’t happen. I spent 8 hours doing inventory instead. Yay?
Anyway, here’s some pretty colored flowers to herald the (eventual) coming of spring! Hopefully I can show you some steamflowersiserpunker pendants soon :)
It’s Freeform! Only In Video Form!
I haven’t been saying much about my Craftsy class – mostly because the launch date has been a secret. But – and this comes on the heels of the news that my book has sold over 10,000 copies so far – that class launched TODAY. And as if that weren’t enough – tomorrow’s my birthday!
What a week!
Check out the intro (and I am NOT going to talk about how I hate looking at myself):
Looks pretty good, hey?
Lesson 1. Frames for Free-Form Pendants [16:49]
Lesson 2. Soldered Frames [14:01]
Lesson 3. Bead & Beach Glass Captures [17:38]
Lesson 4. Stone & Cabochon Captures [19:38]
Lesson 5. Connections & Decorations [17:32]
Lesson 6. Complex Decorations [23:59]
Lesson 7. Final Assessment, Finishing & Clasp [23:38]
That’s, like, ninety minutes of content right there! And it only took two days to film it! And only six months to prepare it! And it looks so good!!
It’s strange, not to have been in the studio – nor to have any new jewellery to share with you – for such a long time as this. If my reckoning is correct, it’s been two months! That’s quite a long time, it seems. And yet, I’m not ready for it even still. It’s too much right now. This happens usually after the fall; January is a time of rest when you’re a seasonally-based crafter; but it was even worse this time around.
Part of it was all the hullabaloo and travel around the Craftsy class; but a bigger part of it was sheer exhaustion. I’ve never been one to sleep well; and to be perfectly honest, since my trip to Tennessee all the way back in September, and its attendant 3am get-ups for flights, I really hadn’t ever recovered. The trip to Denver was easier – I learned my lesson and booked mid-morning flights, and made sure to have at least a whole day between the flight home and returning to work – but I have still been so very, very tired.
So, for the past few weeks, I’ve mostly … puttered. Time around the house to make it better. The bedroom no-closet situation was weighing on me at my home and so I rearranged and fixed it (it’s now super useful, if not overly pretty). The “back forty”, as we call an odd outcropping of our living room containing a bar fridge and snack cupboard, got an overhaul as well. (pics not included)
OF COURSE THEY DID
Over the holidays, and since my travels, I’ve started doodling in earnest! Discovering grey brush markers for shading was a delight, and putting colored pencils over top for a smooth colour even more so.
While poking around for long-abandoned art supplies, I discovered both an old compass and my flexible French Curve, which along with a new marker-safe sketchbook started a rise in these mechanical-looking abstracts.They’re such fun to draw and shade that I’m thinking of making a colouring book out of them!
The local university’s production of Hamlet, adapted, directed, and stage managed by our closest friends, took up a bit of my time. In addition to helping with the program, I joyfully volunteered to come help paint and decorate the stage – and ended up seeing the production twice! Delightfully morose and full of angst and beautiful little details, it was definitely a highlight.
Much of my time, though, has been spent resting. Sleeping. Snuggling the cats. Reading. Recharging. Watching sunrises from the window. Being snuggled by the cats (and my love!) some more.
All in all, I’m glad I took this time off. But I’m even gladder to get to the planning and the books to decide what’s next. Cats included.
And soon, I’ll be back in the studio with a fresh brain, rested body, and joyful heart to experiment anew!
Good gravy, I’ve filmed a class for Craftsy.com!
The experience was absolutely divine. They sent someone to pick me up at the airport, I got to eat at a different downtown Denver restaurant at every meal, and best of all, every single person I interacted with at Craftsy was completely super.
The launch date is coming up soon so I thought maybe I’d let you know just WHY I’m so excited about this, and also give you a chance to win the class when it comes out!
The Blue Bottle Tree is an utterly irreplaceable source of knowledge about polymer clay. With wire, anything I see I can pretty much figure out how to do – but polymer clay is a mystery to me that I’m still unraveling, so I read as much as I can, and I buy tutorials every now and then as well.
I’ve actually shown you a few things from Ms. Ginger Davis Allman’s Blue Bottle Tree tutorials before – and she’s used my book to wire wrap her own faux beach glass and write a review of the experience – so you can sort of expect me to rave a bit about this tutorial.
When I saw her Faux Glass Tutorial, I sucked air:
This is a tutorial for SEVERAL type of faux glass – including carnival glass and beach glass – but what caught my eye was the amazing roman glass on the cover. For those of you who don’t know, recently some enterprising folks have begun digging up glass from the roman period and chipping it into beads. It is stunning in its aged glory.
Check out the real thing at this eBay auction:
So very stunning. And often, extremely expensive. So this tutorial made me REALLY excited. I jumped at it and, like the other tutorials Ginger has put out, it was worth every penny. I again learned new things I should have known or might have figured out if left with the clay long enough, but she made it just so simple and obvious.
First of all – the faux glass is a LENGTHY process, with a lot of steps. You… may not have noticed this, but I’m not a fan of things that take a long time or are too fiddly. I may never make another batch (unless they show themselves to be more popular than I expect!). But I am SO GLAD I made this batch! The multiple steps are absolutely essential to create the ancient, layered effect of the millenia-old glass beads.
Ginger’s steps are perfect to follow. I am a cook, not a baker, because I CANNOT follow steps – I have to read and re-read and re-read AGAIN… but this tutorial made it simple even for this poor global brain.
The Pardo clay, as promised, WAS a bit difficult to work with, but she gave me all the information I needed to keep from getting frustrated. And I am REALLY, extremely, so very happy with the end result.
I’m not a BIG fan of the way I did the grey gunk – it’s too much. When/if I try it again I’ll do far less. But I love the distressed look, and the iridescence, and it really does look like glass!
When I was done I was stymied. NOW WHAT?! I had no idea what I wanted to DO with these. I sorted them into sets and then still couldn’t quite figure it out (been doing that a lot, lately). I had a vague idea that they would work well in a steampunk dangle set but I couldn’t really pull the trigger on that one. I ended up putting them away (which is why it’s taken so long to get this review up!).
Recently, they caught my eye again and I just barreled ahead. I picked through my bead stash and found some beads that really picked up the iridescence of the clay, and went to town.
I think I like these little sets! And I KNOW that I LOVE this faux glass tutorial. I think you will, too!
As part of the very slow shift in my business practices, I’ve happily begun bundling my wire tutorials with wire and beads or components from my own personal stash – giving you everything you need (but the tools) to create some of my most popular tutorials right away.
Even better, you’ll be getting the benefit of my colour-matching madness with limited-run colourways and bundles.
There are just a couple to start with – they take a while to produce – but as more are added, you’ll see them at this link: Wire Jewelry Tutorial Kits
One slow, small, step at a time. I know where I want to be. I’ll get there. One step at a time.
Computer design has been a big part of what’s happening around here lately. Logo design, pattern design, font and brand exploration – it’s all giving me the tingly-fingers.
I thought I’d show you some of what I’ve been up to instead of finishing ANY JEWELLERY EVER. Eep. Ahem. It’s still productive if it’s tangentially related, right?!
First of all.
Did you know that Illustrator can AUTOMATICALLY create UPDATING patterns for you?! WHAT. THE. HELL. I think my whole weekend might be shot while I move one element and watch it update across the whole pattern. Look at this. Only the top left corner has any artwork in it at all but it shows the whole pattern! eeeeee!
I might die of excitement. ANYTHING CAN BE A PATTERN DID YOU KNOW
For instance, I took a cellphone photo of this meeting doodle that I keep on my monitor at work.
When I got home, I turned it into a vector pattern with very little work. And my mind was blown.
I’ve also been exposed to Design Cuts, which…. I may need to be cut off from. Yipes, there are some beautiful elements in here, and friggin’ cheap, too. You may have noticed watercolour elements being slowly snuck in to my website – they’re mostly from design cuts, although I did follow a couple of designers on to Creative Market and buy individual pieces from there, too. Playing with those led to making things like this for my fans and friends and customers:
So many amazing pieces to play with. Let me show you some!!
Watercolour textures and illustrations:
Brushes and banners and illustrations:
(all of which can be adjusted using the watercolor textures)
And fonts. Oh, the delicious fonts. This Allegretto with the many swashes and alternates might be my favourite:
Only SOME of the amazing work from Nicky Laatz:
and some more of my random favourites:
I might drown in the amazingness on my hard drive. Don’t send help. I like it here.
The other big thing I’ve been working on, of course, is my new brand. You may have noticed? It’s not finished yet, not by a long shot, but the logo is and that’s a start.
It makes me sort of deliriously happy. I went through MANY ideas and iterations before arriving here. Including the most adorable little squid (I’m still kind of sad he was completely irrelevant)!
I did eventually decide on the feather as the most representative of my new artist’s statement, which came about from a LOT of soul-searching and brainstorming. The main ideas are Colour, Change, Community, and I feel that the feather (aside from the obvious pun) supplies enough metaphor for all of those. The community part has to do with writing tutorials and sharing ideas, for which the feather is a quill; change is when feathers molt to allow new ones to grow; and colour is, well, pretty obvious :)
Even after deciding that, there were like a floppity jillion major and minor adjustments and nudges and delicious font choices before I was pleased. I KNOW THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME TO YOU but it had to be EXACTLY RIGHT. Shush.
In addition to the logo, as mentioned, I started a bit of watercolor-ing my brand, including a couple of sub-brands for my various lines. I’m not sure they’re done yet but take a look so far!
for these kinds of items, which are made from real grasses and flowers in my neighbourhood:
and this header, made from another doodle of mine:
for these kinds of items, which are made from zentangle-inspired stamps, many of which I’ve carved myself:
OK. I don’t know about you, but I’m sort of exhausted by now! I’m gonna go actually do some more of these things instead of showing you about it. Hope you enjoy your weekend! :)
The past few months have been a time of reflection and action for me. The huge success of my book (a best seller, onto its second printing!), an appearance on national US television, and even more exciting things in the works (secrets, secrets!) has made me pause and reflect on what it is I’m doing, where it is I want to go, and how I plan to get there.
I did a ton of soul-searching, lots of exercises from business plan books and jewelry business websites, and came up with a new vision for what I want this business to be. It’s not really a change in direction so much as an acknowledgement of the direction I’ve already been going in, unconsciously, for years. A re-definition.
And what I realized is that I don’t just design and make jewellery. I teach. I chase colour. I innovate.
And so, you should see a lot of changes in the coming year. I’ve re-written my artist statement, begun a re-brand (since I am a graphic designer as well as a jewellery and web designer!!), and while it’s slow going, I’m very excited for the direction that’s going in.
But I also made the decision – helped immensely by my ever logical and reasonable husband – to sell some of the clay components that I have been making. I have WAY too much fun making them and I’ll NEVER make jewellery out of all of them in a million years, so why let them go to waste in a box on a shelf? Maybe I can get a bit of supplemental income, and hopefully I’ll get to see how other people work with my colour and shape ideas, as well. Because – like I am finally admitting, and despite my teenage self’s disagreement – I AM a teacher. I want to spread around the joys of new techniques, bounce ideas off like-minded folk, and share the work I’ve been doing as widely as possible. I have many related plans and ideas, but for now, the easiest thing to start is selling the things I make, online.
With that in mind, here is the first set of listings in the new Polymer clay Components section of my Etsy shop.
It’s not much – only a handful of listings – but I’ll get there. And the best part is – people are buying! I’ve shipped a bunch of orders in the last couple of weeks and it feels great. I hope to start seeing my humble little clay pieces popping up in assemblage, pendants, earrings, and other jewelry everywhere!
Hey look it’s another Craftsy post! I sure am writing a lot of those lately. This one shows two different ways to antique your copper and silver wire-wrapping jewelry. Read the full post for all the details! »
PS these two pieces are part of a super-secret project for December which I hope to reveal really soon :) Keep your eyes peeled!
Creating a wire-wrapped pendant is a fun, creative way to add a personal touch to your wardrobe. Learn how to take a simple crystal point and turn it into wearable art in only 6 steps in this post I wrote over at Craftsy »
I have been 1000% obsessed with the organic molds I made last week. But after that first batch, something went horribly, horribly wrong! Let me show you. First, here’s the exciting thing I was doing with chalk on the raw polymer clay impressions:
Faaaaaabulous, right? I was PUMPED. But it was too hot to turn the oven on, so I covered the raw clay and waited nearly a week for an evening cool enough to bake. Imagine my chagrin when I found that all of that gorgeous colour had FADED!!
I was heartbroken. I tried a few things but couldn’t fix it. My new crackle medium had arrived, and since I was getting such good results with it:
….I thought it might be able to save my faded junk. turns out… only sorta. It’s not bad, but it’s not what I wanted.
Better but… not quite right, not yet. I had some thoughts about making the crackle different – always learning, you know – but meantime, I thought MAYBE it had faded only because it had sat there for so long and the clay had leached the chalk colour, causing the fading. So, I made up a new batch, baking them immediately, using similar colours as before, to see what would happen.
And it did it AGAIN.
Frig. These ones I didn’t want to crackle – I didn’t think I’d learned enough yet to be trusted not to ruin these. But suddenly, I thought – what about alcohol ink?
And… well, let me just show you.
Here’s a set of sad, faded, baked medallions:
And here are the same pieces with a bit of alcohol ink added and some distressing done to knock it back:
Can you guess if there was squealing?!
Check out some more:
Remember that faded hexagon from before? Well, I hadn’t crackled it, so I tried fixing it with ink:
Here’s that whole second set, SAVED by alcohol ink!
My heart is still palpitating with the gorgeosity (it’s a word!) of these. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites, taken in natural light. Needless to say, I’ll be doing these again soooooooon.
Earlier this week, I found this post on pinterest, linking to Poly Clay Corner’s post on what to do with liquid polymer clay. This led me down the rabbithole to this post about faux ceramic. Such a beautiful result!
At the same time, I was eyeing my molding material out of the corner of my eye – I’d been waiting for summer to get some real live organics out of my silicon molding putty. So being me, I decided to combine the two ideas!
First, a little trip into the back yard for some leaves and tiny flowers and things. It was surprising how many I could find! I thought about it and figured a solid mold would work better for what I was aiming towards, so I pulled out my giant box of white sculpey and went to work.
Some organic material was left in the clay, but who could be mad when this plant came complete with its own curlicues?!
I did up a few different molds, then shoved them in the oven to bake. (Note: I finally got ceramic tiles! The only size was 3×6 but as it turns out – pretty well perfect for this!).
I figured I could scrub the organic crap out after they baked. Turns out – only sorta, but eventually the stuff pulled out onto fresh clay anyway. After the molds baked and cooled, I pulled out my Kato liquid clay and started to mix colour into it using a few of the only alcohol inks I had on hand (oh, my poor bank account is going to suffer shortly, I can tell). I used one of my new tiles as a mixing surface, which worked great – for a while. After a bit it started running together, so I used it to just mix new colours.
But… it was time to start making shapes to paint. So I rolled out some clay, pressed in my stamps, and with delighted squeals I started cutting out ovals, squares, circles, and rectangles, placing them on my mini tiles and putting them aside (so convenient) until I had enough to start painting.
And then. The painting. Oh, the painting.
It was INSTANTLY addictive. I realized I was going to want to do this until my eyes bled (I pretty much did – immediately upon quitting at 9pm last night, I got a silent migraine aura and couldn’t see). And in that case, I was going to need a LOT more tinted clay. I looked around the studio and found these little food cups from the dollar store, and mixed up a chunk for each of my ink colours. Not a perfect colour wheel, but sure dang close!
So far as I know, this stuff doesn’t go bad, or even dry out, since it needs to be baked to set. I was able to spend a LOT of time futzing with my colours and even leaving the brushes out most of the day, they never got hard or gross. A wash in alcohol (since alcohol dissolves polymer clay) cleaned them up.
But what am I saying! BACK TO THE PRETTY THINGS.
These are two of my favorites – I love how the colour has melded together:
By this point I was hopelessly lost. i went back out and got MORE organics and made MORE molds so I could make more different pieces (see, this is why I couldn’t have a tattoo, I’d be a circus freak by the end of the week, covered head to toe in different ones).
This second batch was even more exciting than the first. I’d learned a few things along the way of course and while these aren’t perfect, they improved. And look at the super up close detail I was getting out of them!
These all got baked and they have a really beautiful texture – not quite matte, not quite glossy. Soft and lovely under the fingers. On a few of them, I heat set the first layer of colour to avoid bleeding; on others, I WANTED the bleeding.
I’m not sure how many trips to the oven I made yesterday but this morning, I wanted MORE. This time I hit the front yard, and I feel like this was the jackpot set of molds.
Such detail out of these ones.
Last night I found my brushes were all rolling into each other and they kept contaminating the colours. So I quickly rolled up a log and used a brush to make impressions along it, baking it with my last batch of the evening. This morning when I got set up, it was PERFECT.
I tried some orange today – it’s not bad, but I can do better.
My final pile is exciting and summery. I wish I had another week’s vacation to get these ready to sell! I think I’ll do a 4-strand braid in silver on these. Might make some brooches, definitely some earrings.
But without further ado: the final pieces! See how soft and not-quite-matte they are?
Have you ever wanted to do something really badly, and then when you get a chance to you stare at it blankly, not sure how to get started?
I’ve been doing that with these assemblage steampunk pieces for several weeks. Arranging, rearranging, gluing, adding, then just staring. And staring.
Well today I figured, enough is enough! For weeks I’ve been telling my design students to use “timeboxing” to get shit done; and today I put my money where my mouth is. My phone timer set to 25 minutes, I first attacked the mess in the studio, telling myself it didn’t matter if I got specific areas clean – just keep putting things away until the timer went off. I got a SHOCKING amount of things put away in that time, including using these adorable little boxes from the dollar store to sort my more special-er cabochons.
The timer went off a second time so I switched over some laundry and realized I was lightheaded. So – to the deck! I set my timer for 25 minutes again and grabbed some iced tea, my book, an umbrella, and some sun.
Aaaaaand timer went off, so back to the studio! Where I managed, after a few timeboxes, to get this far:
But wait… What’s that? TIME FOR THE POOL?! Well sure, if I MUST!
My theme these days is self-care, so the pool is very important. I’m super lucky that my parents-in-law have this little oasis just five minutes down the road.
And when I came back… I had a nap! And THEN I finished these (not so very)little dudes. They’re belt leather, cardboard I metal-ized and patina-ed,beads, filigree, buttons, cabochons, watch bits, reclaimed jewellery , and aluminum and parawire.
Hey, notice anything different? That’s because last week – instead of working – I made these fab little photo boards. My workbench is just getting too filthy for any usable photos.
They’re canvas boards coverd in paper, paint, fabric and paper flowers, ribbon, lace, some rusty chain, and whatever else I could find. There are also a few other props hanging out in a new area in the studio as well. I think they worked out pretty well, despite my monitors being entirely non-calibrated and completely different from each other. What do you think?
Recently I picked the topic “wire nail polish flowers” for a blog post a Craftsy, essentially choosing it out of a hat. I was highly skeptical… but as it turns out, it’s a BEAUTIFUL, simple, and way fun method of adding colour to wire. Go read my experiments over there, then come back and see what I did next…(I’ll wait)
After that shocking introduction to the world of Nitrocellulose and wire, I couldn’t WAIT to do something to put around my neck! OBVIOUSLY. Here’s what I came up with.
How happy does this make me?! I mean, it’s a LOT of waiting around – I had to figure out a production line where I’d make a bunch of wire bits, paint them, come back and make more, do first coats on those and second coats on the first one, wait and come back for more coats and topcoats – but still totally worth it, and I did get into the swing of things eventually.
They’re not perfect. I haven’t really tested them – I wore one out one day but nothing more – so aside from my stabbing tests (which I think turned out OK!), I’m not sure how they’ll hold up. But we’ll find out!
A really lovely thing happened to me recently – I was approached to do a tutorial AND be the featured artist in a relatively new magazine called Artisan Jewelry Times. I’ve been a subscriber for a few months now and it’s a lovely little mag.
I’m not convinced I’ve put my best foot forward – I wish I’d had better flower colours left when I shot that pendant – but I am REALLY happy with the featured artist column! Here’s a closeup of the first page.
So pretty! There are tons of images inside as well. And they even somehow made my little pendant look pretty good on the cover, too.
I suggest you check it out! I’m in the July issue but their back issues look super, too. Here’s that link again: Artisan Jewelry Times
I recently worked with Jewelry Making Daily to product an exclusive how-to project and thought you might be interested!
This beautiful little pendant can be glitzy and glam while being relatively quick to whip up. If you want to be meticulous and precise with your wrapping, you can spend longer on the piece–but I’m not that sort of artist! I like loose and free, which is why my measurements, tools, and materials lists are mostly of the “ish” variety, with any number of alternatives available. It’s not just because I find measuring things slows me down and dampens my creativity–and it’s not just because I forget measurements from one second to the next, either (I am a terrible baker but a great cook!). The real idea is to work with what you’ve got and be free to make something unique to you!
Rings are one of the few pieces of jewelry you can see when you wear them. And whether you’re into making jewelry normally or not, there’s quite a thrill to looking down and seeing some bling that you made on your own hand!
It’s not hard to get started, either. You only need a handful of things to make a wire-wrapped ring: some wire, a couple pairs of pliers, a focal piece and, most importantly, a ring mandrel.
There have been so many amazing opportunities coming up because of the book that I’ve been flat-out, working my day-job and completing extra projects, promoting the book, and generally going mad with joyful busy-ness, for months. So at the last minute, I took this past week off the day-job and planned to spend it in the sun.
Unfortunately, the sun didn’t show up for our date, but it was a good idea nonetheless. A bunch of deadlines somehow converged on me for this coming week and I never would have made it while also working 40 hours at the college. But I didn’t spend the whole week working! I finally got outside and made some leaf-based molds (there haven’t been leaves for six months… c’mon sun, get back here!).
I managed to get in quite a bit of kitteh-snuggling (not that I had much choice):
My fabulous father made a desk for me recently, and my just as fabulous husband hooked me up with a new computer and dual monitors so I now have a comfortable space for the ever-increasing computer usage for my jewellery business. It’s amazing to get work done and NOT be uncomfortable and in pain the whole time. Amazing.
I finished up a bunch of patina experiments for a webinar I’m hosting next week:
(Feel free to sign up for that webinar, by the way. You get access to it later even if you can’t attend live.)
I was able to get to the beach for a bit – it wasn’t sunny and we’re still experiencing a nor’east wind for some reason so it was pretty cold. But beautiful! And I walked SO FAR!
Having the house to myself was also pretty peaceful. I got to make and eat some delicious food, including this taco salad:
And these ridiculously good cookies (from scratch!!):
I played with new translucent clay and a new tutorial by Ginger Davis Allman that I’m going to do a whole review of soon, but here’s a preview:
I studied up on some D&D nerd stuff and started playing with making a different character sheet (as a newbie, the regular one is difficult sometimes):
Did I mention the kitteh snuggling?
I think they like me.
I did a bit of design work for this amazing, local youth project called iCreate Cape Breton:
I broke down the gallery from the book launch and got to see all the lovely things people wrote about my show:
I got to visit my brother in his new apartment, spend time alone to clear out my head, do a bit of housecleaning with the windows open smelling like heaven, spend some time with my favorite people, and mostly, do a lot of all the things I WANTED to do instead of only things I HAD to do.
Still have blog posts to write and deadlines to meet, but my soul feels recharged and my thoughts are at peace instead of roiling.
It was a good week. Now… back into the breach!
Super fabulous sets of necklaces and earrings! I had the most fun making these… molds made from actual clock gears used to create polymer clay medallions, hand coloured with chalk and gilded, or painted with metal paint and patinaed with chemicals, then sealed with a diamond-hard finish. I strung these on bead chain with hand-forged clasps and hand-made earwires.