Buy the Book! »

Category Archives: Jewellery

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!

spoon1

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.

spoon2a

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

spoon2b

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.

spoon3

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!

spoon3b spoon4

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!!

spoon5 spoon6

 

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?!

spoon7

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.

spoon8

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

spoon9

Oh man. So good.

spoon10

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

spoon11

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

Craftsy Class Giveaway!

Good gravy, I’ve filmed a class for Craftsy.com!

10175_Set_Stills_008_retouched

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!

10175_Set_Stills_083_retouched

Why Craftsy Is Awesome

  1. Craftsy is the fastest growing crafty community on the web with over 5 million members in over 200 countries worldwide.
  2. Craftsy only works with top instructors across many creative fields—quilting, knitting, sewing, crochet, jewelry making, fine art, cooking, photography and more.
  3. Online courses are great to take with your friends or children. It’s fun and encouraging to tackle a course together.
  4. With a Craftsy online class you can take it as many times as you want, whenever you want and access never expires.
  5. Craftsy’s platform enables you to take virtual notes while watching a class.
  6. HD quality video and audio make it easy to see exactly how the instructor is creating the craft, with close-ups of the different steps.
  7. Instructors and other students will answer your questions and give feedback.
  8. You can show off your projects to the Craftsy community and be inspired by other students’ work.
  9. Craftsy offers the best selection and lowest prices on craft supplies and class kits.
  10. Craftsy supports independent designers by providing them with a pattern shop to list their patterns, without charging fees or commissions.

Go. Win My Class!

Clicky clicky:

http://www.craftsy.com/ext/GayleBird_Giveaway

Faux Roman Glass (Review)

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.

Some of my rustic beads from a Blue Bottle Tree tutorial
Some of my rustic/organic beads from a Blue Bottle Tree tutorial

When I saw her Faux Glass Tutorial, I sucked air:

Faux-Glass-Cover-900x1200

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:

REAL Roman Glass

 

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.

fauxglass-4

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!

fauxglass-5

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.

fauxglass-1

fauxglass-2

I think I like these little sets! And I KNOW that I LOVE this faux glass tutorial. I think you will, too!

fauxglass-3

 

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:

00-beforebaking-botanical

01-beforebaking

02-beforebaking-2

03-beforebaking-3

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!!

05-hexagon_faded
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:

06-crackle
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.

08-botanicalCrackle4

09-botanicalCrackle3

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.

10-botanicalfaded2
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:

11-Botanical-faded
Heartbreakingly pale.

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

12-botanical-saved
SAVED!

Can you guess if there was squealing?!

Check out some more:

13-botanicalfaded-saved2

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

15-hexagon_faded

16-afterinking_hexagon
OMG

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

18-saved
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.

20-botanicalFinal3

19-botanicalFinal2

 

BotanicalFeature

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.

making molds from flowers in polymer clay
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.

fauxceramic-14
Alcohol ink. I let it dry as per instructions, then mixed it in with my Kato liquic polyclay
fauxceramic-16
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.

blank assemblage
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.

cabochons
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.

suuuun
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!

aaaaaaaaaaahhh
aaaaaaaaaaahhh

(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.

assemblage-11
assemblage-20
assemblage-18
assemblage-21
assemblage-16
assemblage-13
assemblage-7

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.

photoshake_1437251768659

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)

cover

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.

nailpolishflowers-4

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 :)

nailpolishflowers-9  nailpolishflowers-8 nailpolishflowers-5 nailpolishflowers-3 nailpolishflowers-2

Exclusive Jewelry-Making How-To: Make a Baroque Wire Pendant

I recently worked with Jewelry Making Daily to product an exclusive how-to project and thought you might be interested!

0020.baroque-wire-bead-pendant3.jpg-550x0

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!

Exclusive Jewelry-Making How-To: Make a Baroque Wire Pendant »

Rustic Gear Pendant Sets

PSX_20150525_213800

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.

Enjoy!

Copper Daggers & Gems

Quick look at my newest design, consisting of hand-forged copper dagger shapes, some fire-balled copper ends, various gemstones (labradorite, Russian chaorite, fossilized coral, malachite, and what I think is lapis lazuli) and lots and lots of finicky fiddling. No pre-conceived wire weaving here – it’s all freeform wire art.

My favourite part is the way the tumbler makes the copper GLOW. Way better than just sanding off the antiquing patina! I’m so happy with these.

 

17204912312_1b1c90d781_o

The labradorite I’ve claimed, probably forever, and the large fossilized coral is adorning the neck of a co-worker and it looks FANTASTIC on her. I can’t wait for the weekend to make more!

Gemstone Focus Pendants

I’m really going to miss Little Mysteries in Halifax. They were one of my favourite stores, and I was really lucky to have them place wholesale orders for my Focus pendants in the last couple of years. Here’s a flashback to the couple of orders:

Pulling and laying out beads for a wholesale order of my special Focus line. Love, strength, and balance seem to be the most popular sentiments.
Pulling and laying out beads for a wholesale order of my special Focus line. Love, strength, and balance seem to be the most popular sentiments.

Two of my favourites from this batch:

Progress being made!
Strength & Protection
The more I do the better I get, I think.
The more I do the better I get, I think.
Little Mysteries Focus Pendants
Focus Pendants – Creativity

 

Little Mysteries Focus Pendants
Focus Pendants – Love

 

Little Mysteries Focus Pendants
Focus Pendants – Peaceful Sleep

 

Copper & Beach Glass

It’s just occurring to me that I’ve been lazy all year and putting my work on Facebook instead of my blog. So I’m backtracking a little in the next few days to get my site up to date.

Beautiful cat's eye marble suspended on a slightly larger frame than the others.
Beautiful cat’s eye marble suspended on a slightly larger frame than the others.

 

With that in mind, here are some of my favourite things from last year: beach glass suspended in soldered, hammered, copper circles!

After I made the circles (WITH FIRE!) I suspended each piece of beach glass in the centre, then dunked them into liver of sulfur (stinky) to instantly darken the surface of the copper.

Photo
Blackened copper

 

 

My friend Amy and I then painstakingly ground the patina back off the top of the wire, leaving it only in the crevices. I’m so glad she was here to help, this is hard on the hands!

Photo
Extremely helpful friend.

 

Photo
Dirty and is that a broken thumbnail!?

 

Photo
Left: finished & oiled; Right: blackened only

 

Photo
After the liver of sulfur and sanding down, the beach glass needs oiling again.

A bit of creative staging and voila! I love these:

 

Cobalt bottle rim
Cobalt bottle rim

 

Soft aqua beach glass... beautiful colour.
Soft aqua beach glass… beautiful colour.

 

Kelly Green glass; this almost looks like a bouquet!
Kelly Green glass; this almost looks like a bouquet!

 

Dark lime green. Really gorgeous colour in person.
Dark lime green. Really gorgeous colour in person.

 

Soft green
Soft green

 

Amber brown
Amber brown

 

Metal & Patinas

Did you know that salt and vinegar can be used as a jewelry soldering “pickle” to clean off residue? Did you also know that salt and vinegar creates a killer metal patina mixture? And did you know that you shouldn’t mix the two because one ruins the other? Ha! I don’t even care, I just mixed up a new batch of pickle when I was done because check it OUT.

16803398245_ca88b5cf62_o

OK, so some of the orange and all of the purple in that top photo were faked with paints and inks. But the blues and the rust – that’s real, and adding this layer of chemical reaction over artificial color gave me such a rush of satisfaction. Here’s how I did it a couple of weeks ago!

First, I dredged a big pile of shiny brass metal bits & bobs in my poor sad pickle pot (which needed serious cleaning after this!). I dragged it all out (wishing I had used a strainer or something… those tiny pieces were a nuisance) – and laid it out on a paper towel. Some of the pieces I spritzed with alcohol, having heard it can increase reactions. I then just…. walked away.

16616033100_9bc0e15a9b_b

The next day, it looked like this:

16617281949_f4775c0ff2_o

Mostly blues with a few greens! All that nasty garish shine is gone, and that was REALLY what I was looking for.

16802310052_37d337b72b_o

But I’ll sure take those gorgeous teals while we’re at it. The colours deepened the longer they sat, of course. Not sure if you can really see what’s going on but these are the buckets of pieces I ended up with for my steampunk jewellery.

PSX_20150411_210957

I had done a bit of metal colouring before this using patina paints and alcohol inks, and it was rather unsatisfactory – figuring what the hell, I can’t make them any worse, I dumped them all in too, and it made for a fantastic array of colours and textures. I’ll definitely be doing this again!

16777544356_eb2c8aa3fc_o

16596122987_e36d20da10_o

I was using a patina product on my clay and some other metal pieces; I actually think I might like the cheap-o version better!

20150312_091328

On the larger, rougher pieces of course I’ll need a sealant; but for the tiny bits I’ll let them be. They’re pretty safe.

I do love it when something unexpectedly becomes beautiful!

Production Update

No time for writing today! Just some photos from the weekend. Back to silver – gotta make lots of things FROM the book to go along with SELLING the book. Yippee!

Beach glass bib necklaces:

PSX_20150328_111933 PSX_20150328_112033 PSX_20150328_112112 PSX_20150328_112207

 

Polymer clay bib necklace:

PSX_20150328_114815

 

Steampunk assemblage pendants:

PSX_20150328_115321 PSX_20150328_115755 PSX_20150328_115929 PSX_20150328_120024 PSX_20150328_120134 PSX_20150328_120224

 

Lampwork simple bead pendants:

PSX_20150328_111234

That’s it for now! Told you there’d be a wire explosion soon :D

Steampunk Inspiration

I’ve always felt a little squeamish putting the label “steampunk” on my work. Like putting watch bits in there doesn’t REALLY make it steampunk, you know? But someone else started calling it that when I made these:

Locks & Gears

 

And I looked it up and I thought… OK… cool! In fact I think at one point one of my retailers was calling these Steampunkersiseries or some such silliness. And since I’m the worst at naming things, “steampunk” is sort of what they remained. Which is fine maybe for something like this: 

Gears of Time

Steampunk

When I started doing these enormous pieces on belts, it felt better:
Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

But it still never felt quite right. I will wrap just about anything old and vintage-y, including driftwood, calipers, watch bits, and metal flowers; and I CALL it steampunk; but it’s still never felt… authentic.

That’s the word I’m missing. Authentic.

What makes it authentic?

Last week I started digging around looking for what the real steampunkers do – someone who does steampunk cosplay wears WHAT kind of jewellery now? – and it turns out the answer is, not very much.

Quick Google Images search for "Steampunk Cosplay"
Quick Google Images search for “Steampunk Cosplay”

But I really want to do something that these AMAZING PEOPLE would like to buy – even just to wear with their regular clothes! I wanted to dig deeper. And that’s when it hit me: What does Victorian jewellery look like, anyway?

Pinterest to the rescue! I started digging up Pinterest images on victorian and even art nouveau jewellery and I was amazed, delighted, and surprised by what I found.

What surprised me the most was how CREEPY it was! It’s all snakes and bees and spiders! Nobody I have ever met at a craft show would go anywhere NEAR a spider necklace (no matter how cool they are).
Various photos, original posters available at my pinterest board (link above)
Various photos, original posters available at my pinterest board (link above)

So what does this mean? I’m not sure, but it’s powerfully intriguing. I am drawn to the insects and reptiles in a way I wouldn’t have expected. The intricate filigree delights me, as well.

I feel something new brewing, just under the surface. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like but I am sure it’s going to be fun trying to get there! And I won’t stop until it feels right. Until it feels authentic.

Steampunk Polymer Clay Gears

Last weekend was my birthday weekend (yay me! and my mom, too, we shared the weekend) so I didn’t get into the studio. But I DID manage to play some more with moldmaking the weekend before. I had SUCH fun and I can’t wait to make more of these steampunk polymer clay gears. You know by now that colour is one of my driving forces, and just LOOK at these! The antique gold finish just makes it, for me.

10985883_1085438838149063_5407097967123958664_n

I rolled up and slightly flattened balls of clay and made impressions in the balls using actual gears my husband had torn out of a clock for me. I baked them and bam! Molds. So for these delicious pendants (which are waiting for wire), I rolled up more clay and used the new mold to flatten them out. Brushed-on clay gave the pieces their colour. I poked holes in the top of each and inset a grommet (really just a little rivet for scrapbooking) and baked. When they came out, they got a light fingertip brushing with gilder’s paste – I used “african bronze” for these – and after it set, I burnished the paste. Finally, two coats of varnish to seal and protect the finish.

Tomorrow is my last day of work before I get a 9-day vacation. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be wiring up these suckers – and the tentacles, and the flowers I don’t even know if I showed you…. and and and!

Oooh, bonus pic: Some more rustic/organic beads made from my texture molds – this time coloured with paint!

10432541_1081552991870981_3851450712521152743_n

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:

2015-02-15 11.03.45

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!

Untitled-1

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!

tentacles

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!

tentacles-5

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!
tentacles-6 tentacles-7

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:
tentacles-17 tentacles-18 tentacles-19 tentacles-20 tentacles-21

 

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

tentacles-28

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

tentaclesFinished-13 tentaclesFinished-18

Making Rustic / Organic Polymer Clay Beads

I promise, there’s a wire explosion on the way. I’ve been spending the winter making components for some new wire-based jewellery, though, so today you get more clay!

The other day I bought these two amazing polymer clay tutorials (Rustic Beads and Organic Beads). They seemed a little expensive but the final photos looked great so I went for it. I read them Friday night and could barely wait until Saturday morning to go out and get a few new supplies! I tell you, after what I did yesterday and today, I would have paid TWICE as much for these tutorials. I learned not only big techniques but little tricks (like having rubbing alcohol nearby to get the clay off your hands).

Because this project was from a tutorial I can’t give you the details of how I got to the end – you should truly, truly, buy these for yourself. They’re mini books more than anything and have SO much information. It’s 8pm on a Sunday and honestly, I just wanna get back to the studio and do some more!

But here are a couple shots of what I made using the tutorial. I LOVE these beads.

2015-02-14 17.13.37 2015-02-14 18.32.22 2015-02-15 10.38.46 2015-02-15 11.12.04