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Category Archives: Follow The Process

Teaspoon Jewellery

Everyone knows what you do with old teaspoons if you are a jeweller: you turn them into rings or bracelets by wrapping them around mandrels.

Well. You know me. I can’t do anything the same as other people without developing an eye twitch. And I had this significantly-sized box of teaspoons asking me to experiment. Here’s how it went!

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First, I bent the spoons to create pendant bails. I had done this one other time and just wired the top half of the spoon to the front of it, but this time I wanted it to be lighter, so I used my dremel and a cut-off wheel to remove the part of the spoon that had the weird plastic souvenir thingy attached.

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Tightening up the remaining spoon handle created a pretty great bail.

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OK. So now what? I need some colour in this project, obvs. First thing I tried was gluing some acrylic cabochons into the spoon bowls. Not bad… a little plain.

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So – I dragged out my Pebeo paints and started using it to fill in the space between the cabochon and the edge of the spoon. I really liked these results!

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When they dried, I used a few different kinds of sealant (matte vs gloss – gloss wins) to ensure everything stayed where it was supposed to be, and wired them up. Success!!

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My eyes then fell on the ENDS of the teaspoons. The part with the gross plastic thing. What on earth could I do with them?!

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And suddenly, I saw them upside down, and realized they were a perfect pendant shape; and also that the plastic crap was just glued on and could be popped right off – leaving a bezel-type shape that could ALSO be filled in with Pebeo paints.

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I did a bit of filing and got to play with so much colour – love love love!

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Oh man. So good.

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A bit of wire to create a bail and some decoration and BAM.

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Just goes to show that there’s always a way to use leftovers if you think hard enough :)

Tyrannical Botanical Molds

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:

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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!!

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left: before baking. right: after baking. OH NO.

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:

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Crackling everything I could lay my hands on…

….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.

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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.

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DAMMIT

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:

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Heartbreakingly pale.

And here are the same pieces with a bit of alcohol ink added and some distressing done to knock it back:

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SAVED!

Can you guess if there was squealing?!

Check out some more:

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Remember that faded hexagon from before? Well, I hadn’t crackled it, so I tried fixing it with ink:

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OMG

Here’s that whole second set, SAVED by alcohol ink!

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squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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.

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Organic Faux Ceramic (Polymer Clay)

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.

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My first attempt at making a mold out of a flower!

Some organic material was left in the clay, but who could be mad when this plant came complete with its own curlicues?!

Check out those curlies!
Check out those curlies!

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!).

Ceramic Tiles full of molds to be baked
Ceramic Tiles full of molds to be baked

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.

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Alcohol ink. I let it dry as per instructions, then mixed it in with my Kato liquic polyclay
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You should have seen the mess after I started making purple and brown and different greens….

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.

My first attempts at faux ceramic with tinted liquid polymer clay
My first attempts at faux ceramic with tinted liquid polymer clay

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!

Mixing up larger batches of liquid polymer clay
Mixing up larger batches of liquid polymer clay

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.

A rainbow of brushes
A rainbow of brushes

But what am I saying! BACK TO THE PRETTY THINGS.

More of my first tries
More of my first tries

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).

Second batch of molds
Second batch of molds

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!

Beautiful impressions
Beautiful impressions out of my next set of molds
Mold on left, impression on right
Mold on left, impression on right
Starting to get the hang of this coloring thing!
Starting to get the hang of this coloring thing!

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.

Organics for molds - batch three!
Organics for molds – batch three!
I mean really. Look at this!
I mean really. Look at this!

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.

Brush holder
Brush holder

I tried some orange today – it’s not bad, but I can do better.

Orange?
Orange?

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?

Faux Ceramic Final
Faux Ceramic Final
So many!
So many!
So colourful!
So colourful!
SO HAPPY.
SO HAPPY.

Assemblage!

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.

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They’ve been looking like this for two weeks.

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.

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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.

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suuuun

Aaaaaand timer went off, so back to the studio! Where I managed, after a few timeboxes, to get this far:

Getting there!
Getting there!

But wait… What’s that? TIME FOR THE POOL?! Well sure, if I MUST!

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(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.

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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.

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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?

Wire Nail Polish Flowers & Pendants

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)

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Create Beautiful Wire Nail Polish Flowers in 4 Simple Steps @ Craftsy »

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.

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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!

More :)

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How to Make Polymer Clay Tentacles

I’ve found a super great use for these Sculpey ball tools and the Etch N Pearl tools: tentacles! Everyone keeps asking me WHY tentacles but basically it’s a steampunk thing – like Jules Verne and such. Also… COOL. And they’re SO much fun to make I thought I’d put together a little DIY instructions for you.

At first, I rolled balls and poked them onto a snake with a tiny ball tool:

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But it didn’t seem right. After some actual research, wherein I discovered that octopuses have TWO rows of tentacles, and some trial and error, I found a better way!

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So check out this wee tutorial:

Roll out a snake of any size and any type of polymer clay, thicker at one end. Don’t make the thin end TOO thin!

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Use the smallest inverted ball end of the Etch n Pearl stick to make a row of circles down one side of the snake:tentacles-2 tentacles-3 tentacles-4

The deeper you indent, the better it will look at the end!

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Do a second row of circles down the other side of the snake, which will be getting flattened and kind of pointy in the middle!
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OK here’s the magic part. Take the medium ball end of the sculpey tool:tentacles-8

And push it into the middle of the hole. tentacles-9

It will splay out the center like a sucker! OK this one isn’t so great and I messed up the second one… but you’ll see.tentacles-10

Continue down the row of suckers with the ball tool. Be sure to push it as straight down into the hole as you can – don’t angle it or you won’t like the results as much.tentacles-11

Look at how sucker-y the ones near the tip are!!tentacles-12

And of course – do the other side!tentacles-13 tentacles-14

Let the clay rest for a bit.tentacles-16

Curve the tentacles any which way you like – either flat on the baking surface, or wrapped around something like these soldered circles:
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Now there are options for colouring – paint or mica powders – but my fave is chalk! I like doing it darkest at the back of tentacle and lighter to the sides; brush it lightly down the suckers but keep it mostly white. tentacles-24  tentacles-27 tentacles-26 tentacles-25tentacles-22

Bake according to the package directions (use paper underneath to avoid shiny spots):tentacles-23

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And then finish with 2 coats of satin finish diamond-hard varathane. You’ll love it!

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Using Silicone Mold Putty for Polymer Clay

Earlier I showed you the beads I made from The Blue Bottle Tree’s tutorials (Rustic Beads and Organic Beads). Today I want to show you how these tutorials sparked me to go around putting purple goo all over my house!

Again, I can’t show you the exact details from someone else’s tutorial, but making your own silicone molds isn’t a big secret so check it out! I got the two-part putty from Michael’s in the clay section and have been going NUTS with it ever since!

My first few – concrete wall, bit of driftwood, and some manmade textures on the bench:

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Turns out that with the right mold, you can make pretty convincing driftwood! Oh and a sand dollar… hang on..

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The sand dollar is the neatest!Original on the left, mold in the center, my baked version on the right. It’s a little dirtier than I intended and I should have poked the hole all the way through, but still… that’s some seriously fine detail. 2015-02-15 10.40.44

The tiny driftwood piece worked so well I did a bigger one; but I am not sure I care for the final results. I haven’t done much with it yet. Below you can see how the silicone molding putty works. You literally just smush the two parts together, shove it into some texture, and walk away for a bit. Come back, peel it off, and BAM! Original texture. Oh man. So good.2015-02-15 10.48.12 2015-02-15 10.48.42

All those little bits of wood totally came right out – the silicone is completely non-stick. This was a very fragile piece of wood so I just tossed it after I got the texture.

I started digging through my beachcombed box and found an oyster shell and moonsnail shell too:2015-02-15 10.49.04 2015-02-15 10.50.40

Look at the HUGE pile of texture sheets I got out of maybe 1/3 of the package, just by poking around the studio and the basement! I CAN’T WAIT until spring so I can do leaves and organic bits. I’m happy to my face :)

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Rubber Stamp Carving for Polymer Clay

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I feel like I’m getting sucked in DEEP to something new and delightful :)

I first played with carving designs into some erasers, and of course immediately shoved them onto some scrap clay:

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At the first slice, I was intrigued; at the first impression, I was HOOKED. I think I carved a dozen eraser sides. And then I pulled out the real stamp-carving material, which is some sort of rubber thingy.

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Ohhhh it was fun. So fun. Partway through I stopped even bothering to draw and just did it freehand, until the entire 4×6″ sheet was covered.

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Isn’t it amazing? And I’m not kidding, I was sucked IN – I forgot to eat lunch and I cancelled plans and I spent thirteen hours in the studio last Saturday.

I immediately rolled out some thin, strong, Kato polymer clay and textured it with my new stamp, and cut out some circles (because, simple).

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The feeling of accomplishment at having MY DESIGNS on this clay was visceral. Amazing, amazing feeling.

But oh no, I wasn’t done. I’d come across this “Swellegant” metal/clay patina series and it showed up at my house just in time. I baked the discs plain (new for me!), covered them in the metal-base clay, and began playing with the patinas – which are actual reactions, not paint – and dyes, and even alcohol inks.

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I wasn’t sure when to stop, but I think I got the hang of it eventually. I definitely have a lot of layers on here but I think they came out just fine:

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Good lord but that’s exciting.

I couldn’t help myself. I carved the other one, too. This time I went with a floral/victorian feel, freehand drawn based on a book of designs.

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I already have a third vision in mind, of very thin, fine lines covering the whole sheet. But I’m out of rubber! Back to Michael’s :)

Meanwhile, back to the discs.

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Could you die? The patterns.. the patinas! Here are some of the beautiful patterns I got next to the place on the stamp they came from:

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Finally today, I combined the completed, varnished discs – which are now essentially metal! – with my hand-soldered copper circles, some other hand-patinaed metal, and a lot of wire, and made some actual pendants:

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An amazing weekend. I can now essentially make metal in any shape or size or color I could possibly want. It’s wonderful!

Clay & Beach Glass – Whoops?

Ever do anything super boneheaded? I’ve been sick this week but determined to make jewellery anyway. I didn’t have the brainpower for steampunk assemblage, so I figured I’d re-try my beach glass in polymer clay experiment. The earlier design won an award but didn’t sell much; I think because I used rare beach glass and the price was a bit high. So, I decided to make a bunch of common-colors – punching up the look with mica powders – and sell them at a lower price to offset the rare pieces.

First I used silver clay; I rolled it out and textured it, cutting out shapes to fit each piece of beach glass and adding clay bezels with individualized texture to each. I only had to take apart a couple to put the aluminum foil in!2014-11-15 09.11.37

Oops, then I realized they were supposed to be bendy – baked on spoons – or else the sheer flat backs stick to your skin and the silly things never sit right on your neck. So then I had to painstakingly move each piece onto the back of a spoon, fixing the breakage that inevitably happened when I moved them; and then I colored each piece with various mica powders, blending the colours right on the clay.2014-11-15 11.36.26

OK, baking time!2014-11-15 11.43.59

Wait. WAIT. I forgot to put the rivets in the holes! Aw, man. They’re less finished but I’ll figure something out. 2014-11-15 12.25.56

I even managed to shove rivets into some of the holes.

Second batch:2014-11-16 12.03.29

Pretty! I love the colours I managed to make… and I realized that the silver clay wasn’t the best choice – this batch is on black clay and the colours show up far better.2014-11-16 13.17.21

The middle columns are the silver clay – they’re just lacking in contrast and the texture is lost.2014-11-16 13.08.29

So, another unnecessary step due to being a bonehead: I put the first layer of varnish on, let it dry, brushed on some black acrylic paint, and wiped it off leaving it in the crevices. Left it to dry, then did the second layer of varnish to seal it in. Much improved, despite the blurry photo (also shown are some flat squares from earlier in the month that I varnished at the same time, destined for wire wrapping later).20141116_135329

OK, OK, they’re looking great. Time for another batch on black clay!20141122_111208

Fabulous! I baked them and I think they’re gorgeous…

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But… wait a second…

… awww man!! I forgot to put any holes in them AT ALL!! *facepalm*

What a knucklehead!

I’m not allowed to bake ANYTHING while sick ever again, especially not before noon.

I’m debating drilling them or possibly coming up with a wire-wrap solution.. the 4-strand braid might work… it wasn’t what I’d planned for them but hey, ya gotta roll with the punches, right?

Even when you’re a bonehead.

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Colouring Clay

A friend took a trip into Artisans in the Attic this week and she pleasantly took some pics for me, which showed me that my clay pendants were getting low. Which means it’s time to make some more. She mentioned she’d like to see more colourful ones so I obliged! Normally I am random with the colours but this time I worked more systematically AND took note of my colour combinations so I’d have recipes for the next time. And then I realized that you probably haven’t seen how this works! Lots of people don’t realize that I colour my polymer clay with mica-based powders.

First, here is the raw clay. I condition the clay, roll it out, cut it with shape cutters, then texture each piece by hand using various texture tools I’ve collected and made.

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Now it’s time to start adding colour! I like the PearlEx powders personally. I have two sets which I’ve re-sorted into Metallics and Brights. 2014-03-23 12.44.11

 

Using the world’s tiniest brush, I start adding miniscule amounts of colour to the clay, one at a time. It’s easy to add too much and saturate the clay, so I have to take my time and pay attention to how much I’m adding and where I let the powder go. It can have a mind of its own!2014-03-23 12.34.07

 

I’ve found that blending colours on the clay adds much more depth and interest than just solid colour. Here I’ve built up several colours, overlaying them and creating new colours in the process.

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Next I came up with a peacock-inspired colour set.

(This is on the same blue background as above, the colour is all washed out… you’ll see the true colour when I take the final photos later on :)

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And a metallic set:

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Which one is your favourite?

 

Wrapping Beach Glass in Clay!

I live on an island. For the past six years, a significant chunk of my income has come from wire-wrapping beach glass and selling it to tourists, or folks from here who have family away and want to send them a piece of home. It’s been great, and my parents have been my largest supplier of beach glass, picking it up on their weekly beach walks.

But recently, at least three other wrappers have popped up and I felt the market was inundated, so I stopped – but my work was still being requested. I ruminated for a while, and decided that polymer clay was the answer.

First, I did a bit of sketching. That’s my new thing, with the Think and Design series behind me and a gorgeous new Galaxy Note 8 Tablet (with the pressure sensitive s-pen!!!).

Beach glass July 22 2013_01(1) Beach glass July 22 2013_04 Beach glass July 22 2013_05

I may have gotten a little carried away drawing shellfish.

Anyway, yesterday was the first day I was actually able to work on this idea. I grabbed a couple of light, slightly uncommon soft greens and got to work. At first, I wanted to just make sure I could actually capture the stone without using a back, so I didn’t get into any fancy sculpture, just some waves and dots.

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I sort of liked them – the blue one has great lines – but neither one of them was really pushing my buttons. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went straight to my wonderful fan base on Facebook and asked their opinions! And oh boy did they have opinions :) Most people agreed with me that they weren’t quite right but it wasn’t until I started pushing for answers that it came up to the surface: they looked like icing, like cartoons, like kid’s jewellery. Which totally resonated with me, and now looking at them I can identify that the solid colours and thick lines are not sophisticated enough. I needed texture, depth, interest.

So OK, back to the drawing board. Except this time I didn’t do any drawing. Whoops?

Anyway, I thought of trying a somewhat traditional bezel setting. I rolled out some clay, textured it with this gorgeous zentangle stamp, cut out a geometric shape using my clay blade, used an x-acto knife to cut out a hole behind the stone to allow the light through, and then used a piece of textured clay to create a bezel to trap the stone.

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I went back to facebook with the new prototypes and received much more enthusiastic reviews. I was really excited, so I made more!

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I had a lot of fun picking out and blending the Pearl Ex Powder colours on the surface of the clay to set off the colour of each piece of glass.

This technique lets me play with pearlex powders and textures while still keeping the natural beach glass which I actually do still love a lot, and I think it’s just groovy.

I can see a few places to improve and grow on this technique but so far, I’m loving it and I just had to share!

EDIT: Ok wow, my friend suggested that aluminum foil behind the glass would help with the luminosity, and BOY HOWDY does it ever! The difference was so staggeringly awesome that I re-baked all of these with foil trapped in a new layer of clay. Check it out, before and after, similar lighting conditions:

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It’s like there’s a flashlight behind them when it’s now solid clay! Yum :)

And new ones!

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Adventures in Ring Design

Back when I first started making jewellery, there were no tutorials online – no pinterest, no craftsy, no jewelrylessons.com. So when I wanted to make a ring, I had to sort of figure it out myself. And what I came up with was pretty neat – a base with beads “sewn” on top:

I’ve sold hundreds, even thousands of these little suckers. But that tiny wire used to sew those beads on? Yeah, grabbing that is actually kind of painful on my hands. And they’re not very fast. And Arts North opens in about a week so I need to have rings made. So last week I thought, there must be some other way, and I looked up a few different tutorials online and gave ’em a go.

First, I tried the Basic Bead Ring pattern by Patricia Capotosto. This is the ring that everyone makes and I thought well, if I’m going to be quick, this looks like the best place to start. But maybe I can give it spin by using my lampwork orphan beads from Amy Hall:

Can you spot the non-artisan bead?

Well aren’t they delicious like candy?! But quite tall off the hand…

Photo

Which is fine – I know some folks like that! – but only a limited number of people are the audience for this particular design. I’m starting to feel comfortable with the heavier gauge wire and the simpler ring base, but I need something else.

OK. So what next? The clock is ticking! My eyes light upon my button box, and away I go!

Button rings: Yes or no? (I know they're not original but that's OK, right?)

Oh yes, these are fun! Some vintage buttons and some new buttons combined to make a great little cocktail ring. I flew the idea across my Facebook page however, and the comments were basically that they didn’t look like Gayle Bird Designs. Fair enough! I tried adding some swirlies across the top though, and it didn’t quite work out.

With time running out on this long weekend, I thought well, I’m just going to have to do something boring. I found beads similar to the lampworked ones but much smaller, and when you use the smaller donut beads, the result is kind of a solitaire style, which I actually like quite a bit!

Solitaire Style

Well, what happens if I put more than one bead on there? As it turns out, it begins to look channel-set… and it starts to look a little more like something I would do.

Channel set style

Finally, before I got out of bed yesterday morning I thought, there’s GOT to be a way to make Gayle-swirls on these rings without taking forever! I came up with an idea and after some experimentation, I think I’ve finally hit on a good compromise of time, style, and originality: the Rosette Ring:

Rosette style

 

I am VERY pleased with this new design! It’s using my favourite two-toned firepolished Czech glass beads, there’s an element of swirl in there (they’re hand-swirled, no tools involved) and after a few tries I was able to make a LOT.

Now I just need to figure out how to steampunk some rings and I’ll be all set. … Hm… if anyone needs me, I’ll be in the studio….

Concepts & Clay

I purchased a small fistful of these tiny watch parts one time because I couldn’t help but think they’d make perfect bird heads. Today the muse hit to give it a go!

I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted it to go, but first, I traced the watch part – doesn’t it look just like a head with a beak and an eye?! – and tried a couple of sizes and angles of body before I found one I was satisfied with. Next, I textured some clay and started cutting it out!

birds and eyes

After placing the heads and wings, adding a few more genuine watch parts, and doing a bit more texturing, I came up with two separate colourways and did half the birds in each using pearlex powders and a teeny weeny brush. One set is sorta peacock-ish and one is rather rustic and cosy:

birds and eyes

Loving it so far! I wasn’t sure what to do next, though – I had only thought through as far as the bird shape itself! Now what? Well, I knew I wanted some matching beads in there so I found a few that worked and, using some heavy gauge wire I built these bail-type things:

birds and eyes

But there’s an inherent flaw here! Can you see it? Well, basically, the big hole at the top is facing out but a chain would have to go side to side. D’oh! what to do, what to do…. I could turn the big loop but I liked the hammered look – plus, a single loop isn’t very stable for a bail. I dug around the studio to see what I could find and came up with a couple of ideas:

birds and eyes

Nope. Not working. That black cord with the lark’s head knot is almost right but the cord itself is too slippery and won’t stay. Doing the same thing with a chain just looks messy. Finally I realized I can CUT the chain and use jump rings to attach – then we get a Y-shape with a fun drop pendant, and everything lies nice and flat! After that I was able to quickly finish up my workday and get back to Deep Space Nine :D

birds and eyes

Another weekend, another project. And aren’t those colours to die for?!

Antiquing Copper!

Today I’ve been having fun with copper and oxidation. First, I created some earrings out of non-non-tarnish wire (bare copper!).

Next, I prepared a solution of Liver of Sulfur and dumped all my shiny pretty earrings into it. They instantly turned black! But that’s OK, that’s the point:

Next, I gathered some supplies – my dremel with the flex shaft (invaluable), some earplugs, a  face mask to avoid getting little bits of black dust up my nose, some safety glasses, and a few abrasive pads for the dremel:

Then… I just started buffing! It’s almost magical to watch the black come off and leave behind this gorgeous, soft finish to the metal, with dark crevices to show off the wire work.

The process is so amazing, I had to show you a video!!

How cool is that?! And here are some finished pairs of earrings:

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Still making birds!

I’m still working in the studio to get ready for the Home to Roost exhibition… at first I wasn’t digging the fact that I only had time to work on birds, and only birds… but this week I started to get really into it! Check out these wire tributes to the peacock feather: Peacock Pendants Meanwhile, polymer clay has been a side interest for many, many years. For instance, check out my little dragon-guy from a million years ago: I haven’t always incorporated into jewellery though, and it’s been sort of on the back burner for a long, long time. But one day I realized that the best way to use all the miniscule watch parts leftover from my steampunk work – the bits that are too small to wire wrap – was to shove them into some clay. And so, my clay steampunk shells, discs, and hearts were born (the hearts, with a little help from a tutorial by Christi Friessen): Steampunk Valentines I used to make canes all the time, and I still have a batman logo cane and some fiery leaf-feather things; but I haven’t gotten into anything so complicated for years. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I woke up wondering what kind of bird-y thing I could make today… and while I snuggled in for an extra 15 minutes of our awesome bed, the idea for a peacock feather polymer clay cane started slowly forming. And slow it was! I don’t have a clay machine for making sheets of clay, so I was using a hand-roller (ow) – and some of my clay is old and crumbly, and I didn’t have the colours I wanted, so I was mixing over and over (through half a season of Buffy!). But then, I had what I wanted – a reasonable facsimile of a peacock feather! Sort of! Polymer Clay Peacock I squished and reduced the thing – too quickly, as it turns out – but managed to get quite a few perfect little feather slices out of it. And here’s what I made with them! A series of various-sized slices for earrings and pendants. I used my new pearl-ex powders for this and I am AMAZED at the beautiful shimmer they give: Polymer Clay Peacock And what I think might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done, a whole peacock in a pendant: Polymer Clay Peacock Polymer Clay Peacock I’m always happy with my work but this was the hardest (did I mention ow?) and most satisfying thing I’ve done in a very, very long time. Oh and hey, while I have you here, take a look at my first attempts at 3D wire sculpture, also bird-like: DSCF3223 I think I’m going to dig up my old box of canes and see what leafy things I have that might turn successfully into feathers. Something not peacock-y. I’ve also got to get those single peacock slices into earring and pendant form. Away I go!