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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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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.

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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.

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The next day, it looked like this:

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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.

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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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Hood Ornaments – no, wait, I meant Statement Necklaces!

A while back I got myself some vintage leather belts, with some vague ideas of how I could use them as the base for some honkin’ big assemblage steampunk pieces. I didn’t really get a chance to start playing until a couple of weeks go. I cut up a couple of belts and started digging through my pile of vintage and new metals and bits and bobs, and began figuring out some placement. Here’s my original set of playing pieces:

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I glued up the larger pieces, leaving plenty of holes where I could back up the glue by wiring things down (I never quite trust glue). Then they sat on my bench for weeks while I had to get other stuff done. But today, I got to pull them together, add wire, extra embellishments, chains and clasps. And boy howdy do these make me happy!

The first one I ended up turning sideways – I just liked it better that way – and it needed more balance on the left so I added a few more feather charms. I used flat aluminum wire to create a light, airy balance on the bottom right.

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

I got to play with old keys I got at the local flea market, clip-on earrings & leather belts from thrift shops, bracelets and metal charms, vintage watch faces, aluminum wire, copper wire, glass beads, pearls, vintage buttons a friend gave me, and a couple of cabochons dug out of a bag of broken things sent to me by a friend who used to work at a jewellery warehouse.

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

A closeup of the flash of the labradorite on this one:

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

I love how things evolve. This last one was my least favourite when I started but now it might be my most:

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

I’m getting ready for the Holiday Spirit market at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. I feel like these might steal my table’s show, which I’m totally happy with. So now I’m working on ways to display these giant sumbitches. I’m thinking… minimalist cardboard busts, covered in aged paper?