Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quiet scene


I 'll just finish off the the year with a few pictures of the creche my daughter has been making since she was 7.  She is 13 now.  I realized that polymer has been around in our household for longer than I thought...

The angel..

Such earnest wise men...

The small shepherd and his tiny flock..

We are all proud of our children...

The cat watches from on high...

The dog is so happy, you can just tell...
I hope you are all happy too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Working hollow

I said on my last post that I'd be back to talk about bracelets...

It seems like a timely post if you are a follower of Polymer Clay Daily, as Cynthia Tinapple is showing the new work of Ford and Forlano.  Based on using hollow tubes with multiple layers of colours (shown by slicing) which are then sliced into beads and assembled, this new work is exciting to me personally because working hollow is my preferred way to use polymer!  There are so many ways to use it, although, like every technique in polymer, it is not without its difficulties.  I just can't seem to do solid stuff and this must be a result of working with inflated forms in glass for 18 years..(I couldn't work sculpting solid glass either but if you're interested look here at the work of Pino Signoretto!)

I also want to thank Maggie Maggio for most generously sharing her 'split ring' tutorial with the polymer community.  It planted a seed in my mind about how to make hollow bracelets smaller, by enabling them to stretch over even my ham hands (18 years of  working glass has some fallout - oh the scars!) without breaking!  Being smaller, they look better on and don't clunk annoyingly round on your wrist.  Being hollow, they have a lot more flex than solid polymer, although there is a limit and you have to choose your polymer carefully.  I wonder what clay Ford and Forlano use?

My interest with these bracelets is to make this natural, tendrilly form present a canvas for decoration - colour and more particularly - texture.  It is easy enough to make a stretched smooth hollow form, because as you stretch and elongate polymer, the textures blur, so I've found the initial lump that forms the bracelet is quite (hideously) different to the final piece. It is not like reducing a cane, where, if you are good at it, you confidently expect everything to be the same but in miniature!  The thought process is more, 'How will this 4 inch piece of polymer look when it is elongated to 1 and a half feet?'  You have to be prepared to go with the flow on this....Of course, you can then fire the piece and add things to it, but those marks and additions can be really out of sync with the form unless you are careful.  I'm getting better at adding things that don't jar the final feeling.

I think of this one as driftwood for your arm, I like the minimal colour (a little odd for me).

Altogether now!


I'm still testing the durability of these - I'll be wearing some white blanks that I've made over the holidays and taking them on and off a lot so, we'll see.  Meanwhile, think hollow!  I've got a lot of new ideas for thinning out the wall thickness as well.

I suspect I won't be back to blog until the new year, so I'm sending out a very big thank you to all of the people who've taken the time to read my blog and follow it.  I have over 100 followers now (105 to be pedantically precise..) and I enjoy reading your comments and suggestions so much!  Ah, idea!  I'm going to have a giveaway in January for one these bracelets and one of you lovelies can road test it for me. ( Let's hope it doesn't end up as roadkill...)  And on that note - happy holidays and a huge rest to all of you - particularly jibby and juna, whose fingers are sore!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Voila is good to me!

Yesterday I found out that I was a 'polymerista' for the month of December on the European Clay site Voila!  It's always exciting when these things sneak up on you, when you suddenly recognize your work staring you in the face on another site.  All the more exciting as it was for a set of beads that I'm particularly fond of - another in my series of beads using metallic paints and finishes, and tiles.  This set resulted from consciously limiting the clay and colours I could use - blue and gold metallic and white clay.  Well, some black acrylic paint did creep in there, but that's where I'm at these days - enjoying the look of applied time, I guess!  (Time in a bottle..)

These beads vanished from my Etsy shop the day I posted them, so I'm thinking further experimentation is required.  Let's hope I don't start to complicate these, I'm famous for adding layers of unneccessary fussiness that kills the visual effect.  Think simple, simple....
I'll be back in a couple of days to tackle the bracelet brigade.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ingredients of a challenge

It's not hard to challenge me, I do find lots of stuff difficult.  Lately, though, putting jewelry together has been the hardest thing of all, as I seem to have momentarily lost my eye for what works.  Sadly.  But when Erin from Treasures found put out a color chip challenge, it seemed like a good springboard to gently launch myself in the right direction!  All well and good if you don't leave things to the LAST day, but I digress...

I asked her to give me colors that I'm not always unconsciously gravitating towards and she sent me these:

Working feverishly this morning I mixed these colors in clay:

At least these colors are in the ball park!  The green I mixed is actually greener than this,  it's a  rotten shot...
Then these jumped into the picture:

I started rolling out a hollow tube with the four colours in it and later, much later, I had my hollow collar... It's difficult to photograph , so I indulged myself by making a mosaic with many, many (too many) details!  Oh well, it's really the only way to show that I actually used all four colors and melded them discreetly with the judicious use of gold and black.  (Everyone looks good in black,  gold maybe not so much...)  It has an interesting amount of strength and flexibility.

Now I'm going to cheat and use words from 3 of the colors I was given to name it.  As I look at the details and the colors, a lot of great veldt herd animal horns and colorations spring to mind so, of course, Africa has to be, then, is the 'African Getaway Collar'!

Of course, if I had to do it again, I'd do something a little different.  But that, my friends, is the beauty of a challenge like this!  No pressure ( except my nemesis, time) to make production or list it or sell it.  It doesn't have to be successful or even practical!  Just a big jump into something you've never done before....with colors you usually ignore.

Thanks, Erin!  Now I'm going to treat myself and go look at the other leaps...
Please, everyone check them out!

Friday, November 5, 2010

While the iron is hot!

Yesterday was fun.  I was again excited by my work appearing on Polymer Clay Daily, which is like jet fuel to feed the ideas going through my head!  Thank you to all of you who became new followers on my blog and most importantly, thank you for your positive and thoroughly encouraging comments - to Cynthia most of all.  I have been sifting through the possibility of doing a tutorial and this seems like a great technique (for the metallic mosaics) as it opens up the possibility of many variants and so, scope for great personalization.  It will be a while, and I have to sort out the best way to present it (will seek advice here..).

And this brings up a topic I should have posted about ages ago (there is no excuse, except it  required me to organize my thoughts).  If you follow Christine  Damm's blog,  Stories They Tell, you will have read her thoughts on  plagiarism. ( Oh, that word,  you are always saying that word....thinking it anyway!)  It exists,  for sure.  We ALL are influenced,  lift elements to some degree, want to make work like that master craftsman...or do we?  Personally, I do want to learn techniques to enhance the ideas that are in my own head.  I know from my many years in glass that the forms made by a master can never be fully imitated, and imitations always have something lacking.  Isn't this why we value these people? 

But we can learn from them.  I also don't believe in re-inventing the wheel every time.

I think when we read a book or take a course, we have to make a conscious decision to say 'I've learned a technique or an approach that I couldn't have imagined before -  now, how does that change the physical expression of the ideas that are in my head?'  You have to ask yourself this, because, perhaps it cannot work with your work, even though you admire their results wholeheartedly. Then, you will have learned something that may be useful to you over time as it gets filtered through your experience.  If you take this view, then I think it would be impossible to simply make other peoples work and sell it as yours.

To illustrate this Christine asked Rebecca Watkins (blog, artybecca on Etsy ) and me to participate in a collaboration to make jewelry.  We will be using each other's components, and making elements to integrate these in the final piece ourselves as there are many aspects of our work that share a similar approach.  And yet, we do have distinct styles...For me, it will be a big challenge!  Not because I will be using someone else's beads, but for the reason that resolving a jewelry design is the hardest thing there is.  But, like everything, it gets easier with practice.  1000 hours, I hear you saying....too true.

Here is the first piece which Christine made in October.  She used some carved beads (black and white and grey) from me and a beautiful focal bead made by Rebecca.  I love this piece because I don't look at it and see disparate elements, but a whole story that only Christine could construct.  Not sure I can be so successful, but time will tell.

Rebecca is up next and I'm looking forward to her piece.  In my Flickr set there is an extra piece on its way to her. Psst - don't tell...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Giving in

Sometimes you just have to give in to the urge to work something through - even if the timing couldn't be worse!  In the last few days I've been struggling with the ongoing paint job at the house (enough said), listing on Etsy, making some custom orders and helping the kids finish their Halloween costumes (required for school tomorrow).  I swore I would not help them this year, but somehow last night I helped my son make a matador hat and today I have to finish the edges of a bird costume that my daughter has almost finished.  She is actually becoming quite handy with a sewing machine - an essential life skill in my little world...

When those serendipitous things happen in your work, it is such a gift that you should just accept it and work with it instead of struggling.  Sometime ago I bought a set of metallic paints to use with polymer, but every time I tried them the result was so disappointingly garish that I would throw all the results away and curse my inability to resist temptation in art supply stores.

These new beads came about as a result of using up scrap bits of transfers and putting them onto the surface of my hollow beads.  It occurred to me that this might be a good way to use metallic, because there is some movement in the action of applying the metallic tile to the bead which removes the static quality of painted metallic.  It's this quality that I think I've identified as being the one I dislike.

It started late one night (after cleanup) with this set of beads -

You can see the tile and the random texture I used to fill the intervening spaces - nature abhors a vacuum and so, apparently, do I!

Then a couple of days later I dragged out the metallic you ever have an idea you think is great and might work but you are almost afraid to try it because  you will be so disappointed when it doesn't work?  That mindset, that's how it was...this little fellow popped  up because stripes are on my mind.

I liked the fact that the metallic paint was visible, starting to break up, and married well with the texture.  So then these followed, all  taking little tiny steps towards other ideas.

I do like the painterly landscape quality of this particular set.  What's fun is learning to control the degree of spread of the tiles, and you do have a LOT of control - which I like.

This is the last one so far -

It has a quietness about it because the metallic is buried under translucent. Just one of the literally hundreds of possible variations for this technique.  I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in a tutorial on this technique, or if it is just my current enthusiasm that is making me a little blind here?  Do let me know!

Sorry for the long post - if I could discover how to put photos side by side on Blogger I would be a happy woman!  I think I must be missing something very obvious...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

and the winner is...

Early morning.  Must make lunches for school - must unload dishwasher to get rid of this breakfast stuff...

No, must rush to the computer to print out the names for the draw and fold them them up wee small so that the kids can pick one this morning!  Son refuses to get up.  Daughter a little grumpy when asked to stick her hand in the bowl....

But then relents, because she is a lovely child at heart....

Can you see it yet?  Son staggers into the room in the midst of the excitement...he is completely at sea with all this and is only concerned with convincing me that hot chocolate would make a nutritional breakfast!

Thanks for pandering to your mother's morning whimsies - job well done, YOU deserve that hot chocolate!

Here it is.

Lovely Veerle from ne vous installez pas!  You must check out her blog, she has an amazing way with crochet and necklaces, among other things...Thanks all of you for commenting and now I'm sorry you all didn't win.

I just couldn't resist - perhaps next time I'll use the random number generator to minimize the drama.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last day...

This is the last day to enter my celebration giveaway!  Can you tell I'm excited because it's my first? Three more beady type things have jumped into the bag as I clean off my desk for the start of the week - a star with a cutout, a kind of amulet with a mysterious tile and another transfer bead.  So, please do enter by posting a comment on this blog entry here:

 My last fall day for painting exterior woodwork as it will be rainy for the next few days - oh joy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time waits for noone, nor does a giveaway...

It's been a while - and I do apologise!  I had the best of intentions when September started.  It's certainly been a busy month and, most exciting for me, I reached 150 sales in my Etsy shop!  Time management remains a problem, especially as I have the project of painting the house to complete before winter sets in completely (notice how I cleverly don't give myself an actual deadline?  Clever, that...)  The hours with the brush in hand also let ideas roll (somewhat frustratingly) through my head.

To get to the point - to celebrate 150 sales, I am having a little giveaway here!   Just comment on this blog before the end of next Monday, October 18 and I'll enter you for the draw for these lovely orphans.  (Please, they need a home!)  They include (among others) a flat fly bead,  3 new ruffle beads, assorted other transfer beads and a leafy pod thing.  On Tuesday morning next, I'll write your names on bits of paper and get my kids to do the deed!

I'll be back tommorow to tell you about a new project I'm involved in, and to post some new work!  Really, truly!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


About this time last year I was casting around for ways to diversify my 'web presence'.  Sounds pretty grand when you put it like that, but I just really wanted another place to sell my work, one a little different to Etsy.  I joined Etsy in 2006, but unfortunately I literally floundered for a couple of years while I tried vainly to find a direction.  It wasn't until last year that I got a little bit more comfortable with what I was doing and started to try to sell a little more.  I joined Zibbet because I liked the way they looked and the fact that they responded to concerns - and - I thought they had potential!  The old 'get in on the ground floor' argument.  I bought a lifetime membership on a special - 100$ at the time - so I would never have to pay fees again and could list experimental things without worrying.  Of course, nothing ever sold because most of my work got diverted to Etsy where it might and often did sell!  So this became a bit of a vicious circle.

I actually sold my first thing on Zibbet last week ( the stud earrings pictures above) so I'm encouraged to go back and list there more often.  (They have recently revamped their home page and it looks much better..)  Of course, if I have multiples of something, it can be listed in both places...I have put a link to my Zibbet shop on the blog, so either find it or click here.  Zibbet is really trying hard - they are doing upgrades and requesting input from their sellers all the time to try to build a site that works.  Coupons and sales mode, for example, are very easy!  Of course, I still like Etsy, but sometimes it does feel as though one is being crushed by a juggernaut!  Ideally, I would like to sell on both.  We'll see what develops....It's pretty obvious that I'm not a very savvy web person as it's taken me a year to get that logo here, but really, until I promote Zibbet a little more, it's not really giving them a chance!

I'll close by posting some images of recent work - also fits under the title of 'Diversification', I notice.   When will I stop going madly off in all directions?

 These are called 'torso' beads.  I like the wideness and the flatness of them...

 Some new buttons - they have already gone, must make more!

Painted hollow beads - alcohol inks and white clay.  Very bright...

Large focal caned beads made for a special order - I will definitely be making more of these!  Have those canes to use up...


Friday, September 10, 2010

texture in life

Off on a small road trip today for the weekend to visit my family in Toronto - sans kids!  A grown-up weekend.  The talking books are packed for the car (I can't drive without them ) and I just have to get through the interminable chores before I whiz away!  Lots of time to let ideas drift through my head in the car, at least, before I hit the Toronto traffic....

I've been doing a lot of work that is NOT textured lately, but this doesn't mean I'm leaving it behind.  I try to start each day by making a new small texture plate to try out in my next bout of bead making.  Sometimes these are 'constructed ' textures, and sometimes they are from things I've picked up through the course of the day.  Needless to say, my pockets are usually full of stuff by end of the day - a laundry nightmare if I don't remember!  I can't always tell if I'm going to like the result and I usually make a positive and negative to see which works best.  Lately, the ones I've liked the best have been the ones I've thought a little dull before trying them.  As with most things in life, it is possible to try too hard with texture and find that the result is too much -  unnatural and full of unnecessary gestures. 

Of course, it all depends what your're aiming for!  Perhaps the next time I try one, I'll be aiming for a much more formal look...  Wow, now that I see these here, I see they need a bit of a scrub to remove the excess polymer and corn starch. Yum.  These are all really small, by the way - not more than 2 inches square.  This gives me a lot of flexible little pieces for beads and for spot texturing. 

Back next week with new work to show, or check it out on Flickr

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's almost time!

The last gasp of summer is upon me and today we are off to the waterpark to slide.  This jaunt is very timely as the temperature is supposed to go up to 33 C today!  School starts on Wednesday and it's going to be a hot first day too.   No autumnally crisp first school day for this year!

I'm a bit saddened by the pathetically small amount of work I've mnanged to do this summer.  Except for a tiny bit of experimentation here and there, there simply hasn't been time with the number of trips we've done this summer (small trips requiring, it seems, VAST amounts of preparation!).  I've been trying, with some sucess, to train my children to be a bit more self reliant in the cooking, cleaning and preparation for activities department, with some success.  While also realizing that any lack of competence in this on their part is completely my fault - note - start training them early!

However, lots of ideas are percolating inside my head.  It remains to be seen if they can be dug out of the sludge.  I even fell down on the sketchbook documentation of said ideas.  I have enjoyed reading the blogs I follow when I had time to get on the computer (somehow, there is always time to check one's shop), and I salute you all on your regular blogging habits, and the great posts.  That small injection of the crafty life did a lot to help me feel connected.

Must go and get wet, but I will return, hopefully regularly, starting September 1st.  I leave you with pictures of a hollow bracelet I seem to have been working on ALL summer!  (And it shows in the overworking, too) .  It's on a pearl base and I've discovered I have a love/hate relationship with pearl clay.  When it's right for a project, it's great and when it's not -  it is purely and simply - incredibly tacky looking!

 Sorry about the number of shots.  Hard to find a good one, am out of practice!