Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday with family and clay!

I hauled all my clay supplies home with me so I could restock my etsy shop while still hanging out with the parental units and bro. I commandeered my mom's art table and put the oven on the enclosed porch. It was perfect!

I downloaded a photo editing app (Aviary) and was able to shoot, edit, and upload to etsy all on my phone. I have the Samsung Galaxy Note II. I can sketch ideas or handwrite notes with the stylus.
The screen is huge so I do all my TV watching on the phone while I work on clay or sew. I also listen to books or educational lectures or music on Pandora.
Have I mentioned how much I love my phone? I kiss it every day because I love it so much!

Here's the holiday output...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Good Question: Black Pearl Ex vs Kato Black Liquid vs acrylic paint

Laura Lang wrote to me with a question about using Black Pearl Ex vs Kato Black Liquid vs acrylic paint. My experience with the brands I use is may get similar or different results with other brands. I have specific uses for each type of product:

Black Pearl Ex 

This was my go-to material for almost everything until recently. It mutes the colors a bit for a nice antique look and it is easy to control during removal. The color is called "carbon black" for a is dark, dark, dark flat black. I mix a tiny bit of gold Pearl Ex with it to give some sparkle. A $6 jar will last a long time!

You brush it all over your piece before it goes into the oven. You don't have to put a ton of it on, just make sure it's all covered. It looks scary, but don't be frightened.

You should wear a mask to be safe. I put the powder in a butter tub so I can hold the piece down in the tub and brush it with the powder. It helps keep it contained and reduces the amount that might blow into the air. It's also a good storage bin because it has a lid!

When the piece cools you wet sand it. The 3M "sand blaster" pads are critical for this step. They are flexible which is perfect for the curved surfaces and they remove the darkness gradually.

Regular sandpaper seems to remove the darkness too starkly for my taste. The Sand blaster material removes the dark gradually so you end up with a nice ombre effect to the shadowing like you see below.

The nice thing is that once you've sanded (and perhaps buffed the piece if you want more shine), the shadowing will not rub off. It bakes into the clay for a permanent finish. 

I love using the Pearl Ex concoction on gold Kato clay. It ends up looking like aged wood.

Kato Black Liquid Clay

I had a bottle of this for a while but didn't quite know what to do with it. I recently took a workshop with Barb Fajardo where we used Kato Liquid to fill in the grooves we had made in our pieces. The pieces were impressed, scored, scratched and marked, then cured, then rubbed with Kato Liquid and the excess removed before curing again.

It is very messy but surprisingly easy to control. I put a few drops on the piece and then rub it with my fingers to get it down into the grooves. Then wipe the liquid off the surface with a paper towel (I am brand loyal to Viva paper towels! I like their mostly untextured fiinish.)

I like the end result of the liquid because it's very opaque and has a bit of shine. It makes a nice sharp line in the groove, and doesn't mute the colors too much. You also don't have to sand afterwards if you don't want. However, at a minimum, I always like to give the pieces a quick sanding with 1000 grit to clean them up a bit and polish the surface. Or if I want a higher shine, I do the sandpaper and follow with the buffer. (I don't do the multiple grit process...I don't have the patience. However, if you're trying to create a glass- or metal-like finish, you would put more effort into sanding.)

Acrylic Paint

If you want a color other than black for antiqueing or coloring, you would need to venture into the paint world. The paint goes on your piece after curing the item. I almost never use paint because I think it's difficult to put on and then remove without taking too much off which then requires you to put more on, then wipe it again...and around and around you go. I find it very frustrating. It can also wear off a bead after a while if there's no protective coat. Perhaps that wouldn't happen if you cure it after painting (though I don't know about that for sure...anyone?) or spray it with PYM II or another finish.

I know some of you use oil paint...I've never tried that and don't know anything about the process but it looks interesting. I know Doreen Kassel uses oil paint on her absolutely adorable characters and I would like to take a workshop with her some day.

If you have favorite methods for antiqueing your pieces, shout 'em out!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sewing Tools Tote

We had to buy a set of odd-shaped tools, plus an L square which is  24" long x 15" wide.
Last week in class we discussed creating designs for a tote to hold everything.

 I designed mine as a vertical bag with multiple Velcro closure pockets sized to hold the various tools. (The pockets can seal up all the way; I just have the tools poking out in the photo to show what goes where.) 

One pocket needed to hold a small plastic box so I put darts in it.

There is another pocket on the inside for a 9" x 12" sketchbook. My drawing shows the t-shirt and asymmetrical wrap vest I hope to make with my new patterns.

I bought the fabric Thursday night, started sewing last night, and finished it up on Saturday.
The inside of the bag shouldn't be examined too closely because I didn't finish it as well as I could have,
but it will be very functional regardless.

After I finished it, I realized it looks like I turned a pair of striped pants my brother had in the 70's into a bag!! (Though to be fair to Joe, they were various shades of brown stripes, not these circus tent colors.)
Oh well, my tote will be a conversation piece.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Another entry in the hollow bead sweepstakes

Lightweight, fast, and easy...making big hollow beads in angular shapes is easy with print-cut-fold-and-tape PDFs.
Six shapes on five sheets: 3- and 4-sided diamonds, cubes, pillows, pyramids, and 4-sided long cylinders are available for download from this page. (They are free because I did not invent geometry! I just put them on a page you can download and print.) The sheets have one or two shapes on them, and some have more than one size on a sheet.

Carol Simmons and I experimented with shapes and finishing styles on the beads we're modeling below. We made a bunch at a recent retreat and turned them into a temporary necklace. It was dismantled and now we each have an assortment of beads that we'll mix with others. A few of my other experiments are below. 

Go download the templates and let me know how they work for you. I do not guarantee that they are flawless -- hole punch spots may be slightly off so "fold first, punch holes later" and if you find mistakes, let me know. Basic directions are on each sheet. All suggestions and questions are welcome!

This is all four sides of a single bead made with the 4-sided diamond template.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Photos from my recent trip to NYC

I am in love with the cartoonify filter on my phone camera. I made a poster of my favorite pics from my stroll around Manhattan last Thursday morning.

 I kept my finger on the clicker and took a few hundred pictures of the windows and all the things we passed as we walked around. I call it the Andy Warhol* method... make a zillion of something and at least a few will turn out decent. It's fun to look through all your photos after the fact and see what kind of good images you serendipitously caught.

*When you go to the Andy Warhol Museum you see many silkscreened versions of the famous Marilyn poster. The iconic one we all know was  just one of many variations.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kitchen tip: fast bacon crumbles

I cook an entire pack of bacon at one time. I put it in the pan, chop it with the spatula, and stir it around until it is crispy, and drain it on a paper towel .  Takes about 10 minutes.
(Caveat: I use Oscar Meyer lower sodium turkey bacon, which is delicious by the way. This process may work differently, or not at all, with pork bacon.)

...and presto, 

crispy bacon bits!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Now this is what you call "statement jewelry"

Years ago I saw the movie "La belle et la bête" (Beauty and the Beast, 1946, directed by Jean Cocteau). Belle (Josette Day) wears the most beautiful, asymmetrical pearl brooch/necklace combo. Even in the black and white film the jewels were sparkly and gorgeous. I tried to make something similar year ago but didn't succeed. Beside the necklace itself, the garment under it is a challenge as it would need to be pretty sturdy to hold the weight.
I recently went looking for the image and thought you bead-lovin' people might like to check it out...

Sunday, July 14, 2013


1999. Grad school. A paper for advertising class.
I chose to write about creativity because I felt like a lot of people think of creativity and artistic ability as the same thing. They also think there's some magic to it rather than understanding that it's a combination of expertise, open minded exploration, and good old hard work and practice. I dug it out of the computer and posted it here if you have any interest. I have to do a speech for Toastmasters and will probably use this as the basis for it.
read the paper

Friday, July 5, 2013

Handy tip for making a gently curved pendant

File this one under: It may not be news to you but I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out.

One day last spring I searched the big neighborhood garage sale for something with a dome shape to use as a curing surface for pendants. I found an old metal gas cap from a car which was perfect, except that I could only do one at a time. Recently I had a need to cure many pendants but they were not round so a dome wasn't necessary. Just a simple curve was required but every bottle or can I found had a tighter curve than I wanted.

After staring at my messy clay table, it dawned on me that the solution was literally in front of me. I realized my bead rack could be used in a different way. I laid my pendants on 3x5 index cards and rested the cards on the "rails" of the rack, allowing the weight of the clay, the gravity and the heat coax the pendants into a gentle curve.

Some of the test subjects are clear winner yet (and some don't fit the assignment but were all part of the mix of this holiday "playcation" on my day off.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How exciting is this?

Do you see anyone you know on this web page? (Check me at right to see how the hair has changed since last summer!) Do you see any scaly, turtleneck-wearing aquatic creatures you recognize on this page? Cynthia Tinapple's new book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives -- a treasure trove of inspiration -- hits the stores at the end of July. Check out the artists and place an order here!

I gotta get my rear in gear and get some stock in the etsy store. Don't want to greet new web visitors with Mother Hubbard's cupboard on my shop page!

Here are a few little fellows I made with scraps left over from another project I'll be able to show soon.




Sunday, June 9, 2013

Prepare to be amazed!

I wish I could say that I was going to show you some amazing beads of mine, but insted I'm sharing a link to the Pinterest pages of Sherman Tung. I don't know who Sherman is, but he has an eye for exquisite drawings by artists from the middle ages to the modern age.

I am not even sure exquisite is a superlative enough word for the art he has repinned on his pages. I am in awe of the talent. Even with 1,000 years of practice, I would never be half this good. I have two hands and eyes also, but somehow, these people employ theirs in a much more skillful manner!

Be sure to check out his painting pages also. Get a'll be there half the morning.

It reminds me of when I showed a beautiful pastel portrait by JF LeSaint to my brother. Joe said, "What did he do that with?" I said, "Pastels. Just like the ones I use." And Joe replied, "Oh no. Clearly, yours and his are not the same." Ha ha, thanks bro.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fun finishes

I never paint my beads but after the recent workshop where we used a bit of paint, I still had the bottles on the worktable. The other day, after I had made a set of my usual scribed beads using silver powder instead of black, I thought they looked too bland. So I grabbed the gold metallic paint and voila, now they look pretty. To protect the paint I sprayed the beads with PYM II and then machine buffed them lightly. Me like!

The teal clay below is a dark forest green that I mixed with Ultralight. If you mix Ultralight with regular clay and blend it all up, it results in a velvety matte finish. Usually I leave it as is after curing but I lightly machine buffed these and I like the way they turned out. It looks very ceramic-ish to me.

And more of the usuals...

Friday, May 24, 2013

I guess I'm in the minority but I like the new flickr

I guess I'm in the minority but I like the new flickr.
I can still find everything. The "Recent Activity" page (which is the one I have bookmarked on the computer and my phone) is still the same as it always was.

I love that the pictures are large enough to view without having to click on each one to get a good look at it. If I do want to check it out further or add a comment, I right-click and open a new tab so I can go back to it after I've scanned all the new images.
I can run through all of contacts' latest pics at a glance. Look at those turquoise treats from Wired Orchid and Diva Designs. And the funky little lady face from Alice Stroppel!

I like that I can scan a photostream quickly without having to scroll scroll scroll through pages of photos.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mixed Media

The other day I did one of my usual "scribed" designs on a circle of clay but the color needed a little boost so I pulled out the colored pencils and touched it up. After I colored it, I discovered that the waxy colored pencils buff up to a lovely satiny shine. So then I decided to make a design on plain white clay and color the whole design (I had already scribed the design in, covered it with Pearlex, cured it, and sanded off the Pearlex using my usual method. Shee how I covered a bead with the Pearlex:

This was white clay underneath. All the color is from colored pencils.
I used Spectracolors. I don'think you can buy them anymore...
my set is a box of 100 I've had for 20 years.
Above and below is on white clay.

This one was made of colored colored clay and I added
colored pencil on top, then buffed it.

I used a coiled wire on the back as the loop for the choker wire. I baked the colored top first, then applied raw clay to the back and pressed the coil into it. I put a thin strip of clay inside the loop and pressed it into the coil to strengthen the bond. Then I trimmed the raw clay using the edge of the cured clay as my guide. I cured the whole shebang again, then colored and buffed it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Slightly Unbalanced

I never feel like I have enough time! I don't even have kids. I have no idea how parents do it.

New scribed thingies below...

I put the loop too low on the back so this tends to flop over from the top.
Now I know to put the loop almost at the top. 

On second thought, I DO know why I don't have
so much free time anymore!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Virtual Paintout Bulgaria

Every month I choose a scene for the Virtual Paintout challenge and nearly every month I run out of time. I was determined not to let it slip by me this month. So Friday night, I got into bed with my gray marker and paper and sketched this out while I watched Jimmy Fallon and Tom Cruise smash eggs on their heads.

Check out the original scene. I couldn't tell if these were homes for people or stuff. They seem suitable for neither.

Artwork: 6.5” x 4.75”,
gray marker on gray paper

If the link above doesn't work, enter this…
 “60 улица „Татарли“, Sofia, София-град, Bulgaria
…in google maps turn 180 degrees from where you land and take one hop down the street.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lovely watercolors by Al Woodford

Every month I look forward to seeing Al Woodford's latest watercolor on Bill Guffey's The Virtual Paintout blog. Looking at them gives me a feeling I can't describe, like rediscovering a hazily remembered favorite picture book from childhood. So charming and story-like...I can't help but imagine a tale to go with each one.

I can't find a website for Al, but if you want to give yourself a little treat, go to google, click on images, and enter "Al Woodford" in the search. Then click on each picture to enlarge it and enjoy!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The PCD Bump, as Colbert would call it

Cynthia Tinapple's Polymer Clay Daily blog has quite a following, as if you don't already know that.
I am always amazed how an appearance on her site boosts your hits by orders of magnitude.
Check this out...

Here's what my typical hits look like...about 100-200 a day.

Here's what happens on a PCD appearance day. 600+ visitors came from PCD and then they hung out a while and looked around!

And here's another stat that's kind of cool...if you google "Dukan Diet Results," my page in this blog is the second result on google!! Now, if only some of those people wanted to buy polymer clay beads! I have to admit though that I am not being a good poster child for my diet right now. I'm up 7 lbs and need to get it back down!


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