Thoughts of Spring

The winter cold has hit hard this year on the East Coast.  I shouldn’t complain, though.  Here in Virginia we have dodged the bulk of the snow storms burying our Northern neighbors.  Still, I find myself wishing for Spring warmth and regrowth.  It is with those thoughts that I created my latest blog post for Arnold Grummer’s design team “Wishes For Spring” .  http://arnoldgrummerpapermaking.blogspot.com/2015/02/wishes-for-spring-vase-designed-by.htmlIMG_1651

Take a peek and enjoy.  Hopefully it will pull you to the creative side of the street and we can pull Spring out of hiding together 🙂arnoldgrummer paper making

Thank God for Teaching!!

This past weekend I taught a couple of polymer clay classes in York, PA at the Intergalactic Bead Show.  3 students took a total of 4 classes and 2 of them had never even touched polymer clay!

The first class I taught was a flower petal called the Ginny Lou cane.IMG_03202 short hrs later, my newbie clayer learned to blend colors, create stripes, layer petals, and left class with multiple completed flowers (I brought an oven along to bake components as we created).IMG_0570                                                      Next up, “Butterflies Are Free”.  butterflybelt

For this class I had 2 students…1 of course with some experience under her belt (see above flower photo) and the other a newbie.  We had a wonderful time and both of them jumped with both feet into the addictive world of polymer clay!  I invited them to stay and continue creating butterflies and flowers from their wing canes even after the class ended.  Both stayed long enough to use up ALL of the canes and went home with completed, baked components.  I can hardly wait to see what they create from them (they have promised pictures).IMG_0568 IMG_0569 IMG_0571 IMG_0572

Many prospective students stopped by and observed what we were doing…one returned on Sunday for class 🙂  She ended up staying and claying with me for the bulk of the day!

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Have I mentioned that I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do.  I am looking forward to the next bead show adventure in September (Hampton, VA).  Thank God for teaching!  😀

“A Beacon In The Night”

My daughter Katie is an engineering major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  This year she is a part of the leadership team for the CCM (Campus Catholic Ministry).  Last month she and others ran a retreat and she asked if I could design a giveaway for the participants, a shield representing the theme of the retreat.  We turned them into key chains and (I was told) they were a hit.  Members of the group running the next retreat saw the shields and asked if I might design something for their retreat…a lighthouse.  A little more difficult, but I am always up for a challenge so I got to work.

First thing I had to do was find a lighthouse that would translate well to clay.  I remembered the Cape Hatteras lighthouse from a visit many years ago.  Black & white stripes…simple enough.     I sketched it out and grabbed the clay.

I layered black and white layers to create the striped design and reduced it until it was long enough for me to cut (hopefully) 85+ slices!  Wow, this was going smoothly…pretty easy peasy.  IMG_0319

Next came the bottom.  I decided to make a Skinner blend from gold and Alizarin Crimson to mimic the colors.  I then wrapped with a “putty” colored layer and squared it up.  Lengthening by reducing allowed me to cut and stack it multiple times until I had what resembles a brick or stone bottom.  Not exactly what is on the actual lighthouse, but a pretty good representation if I do say so myself.  IMG_0324Again I reduced the cane until it fit with the middle section (the black & white).  Happy with the look I moved onto the top.

I really wanted the lighthouse light to glow, so I turned to one of my favorite clays glow-in-the-dark.  I blended scraps from the other canes together and created a gorgeous aged bronze color. Perfect (I do love when things work out)!!  I stacked 1-2 slices of the blended color with 4 slices of the GITD.  Cut, stack, reduce, cut stack, reduce again and I had the top, sort of.  Something was missing….hmmmmm.  I decided an additional strip of GITD was needed to top it off with a super thin bronzed layer on top to finish it off.  Once reduced and rounded out it was absolutely perfect.  IMG_0325Again I matched it up to the other components to make sure they worked well together. I made any small tweaks to the sizing and then I was ready to roll on putting the pieces together.

I decided that I could need to cut thin slices and place them on a backing.  I mixed together multiple blues, a little peacock (bluish green), and odds & ends from my clay table and came up with a gorgeous blue to represent the sky & water.  Hopefully it will stretch far enough to make all 85+ pieces.  If not, I will mix something else up for the remaining pieces.

To make the production move along quickly, I cut squares from my sheet of blue clay 20 at a time.  Then (in turn) slices from the bottom, middle, and top canes.  IMG_0321In arranging them the first time I played a little with how they would be placed.  Once I was happy with the arrangement it was easy to duplicate 19 more times.  Something was missing….windows!  They were added using a handy dandy recycled dental tool. IMG_0323A hole was placed at the top before baking to make assembly streamlined.  Done and off to the oven they go….IMG_0328

Once all 85+ are done I plan to highlight the lettering with a bit of burnt umber paint.  then the key ring will be added and they will be sent off on their journey to the retreat.  Hoping the recipients enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed the challenge of creating them.

Thanks for visiting.  See you next time.

Welcome to the Sin City Stamps Design Team!

Watch for my first post tomorrow as a part of the Sin City Stamps Design Team.  I will be posting 2 projects a month from Feb-July.  I welcome critiques and comments along the way.  Looking forward to creating with new products & discovering new companies along the way.

For now, here is a teaser picture for you.  What do you get when you mix paper, ink, stamps, embossing powder, and a bit of Valentine Magic??  Stop by http://sincity-stamps.blogspot.com/ tomorrow to find out

 

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Design Team Submission

ImageMy medium of choice is polymer clay.  It mixes well with many, MANY other materials to create unique pieces.  Just before Christmas I was asked to create a memorial piece for a friend whose friend had lost 2 children in one year (something that as a mother broke my heart in so many ways).  I wanted to create something that would honor their memory and (hopefully) in time bring a bit of comfort.  I immediately thought of a rubber stamped saying I found at CHA just after I lost my brother and his family to a car accident.  The saying brings me comfort all these years later as others in my life have been added to the group in Heaven.

Materials to create this piece:   rubber stamp #SB56-3 (www.stampingsensations.com), Premo!Sculpey polymer clay (colors of choice), Ancient Page Ink (coal black), straight blade, needle tool/beading pin, Kemper star cutter, heat set crystals (www.creativecrystal.com), pasta machine or acrylic roller, wire, wire cutters, needle nose pliers

1) Condition chosen color of clay (I used pearl) and roll into a flat sheet (note: if using pasta machine use 3rd-4th thickness…if using acrylic roller a uniform thickness can be achieved using 2 parallel popsicle sticks with clay placed in between).  Condition and roll out a second coordinating color of clay in the same way.  Make sure the second color is larger in size (this one will be used as backing for all of the components).

2) Ink the rubber stamp.  Press firmly onto clay sheet.  Remove rubber stamp.  Use straight blade to cut stamped clay to desired size.   Center saying on the backing clay.

3) Choose or create a patterned clay (cane) for the outer edges.  Canes can be found on multiple sites around the internet OR you can contact me for custom colors.  An alternate way to create a pattern is to use a textured rubber stamp pressed into the clay (no ink).  Rub the raised image with iridescent powder (Pearl Ex powders or eye shadows dedicated to clay will work…see photo below)IMG_2913IMG_2914

Cut a straight edge and butt patterned strip along the edge of saying.  Press gently into place (note: I tend to use the straight edge blade to push each piece into place).  Once both sides have been attached (as shown above), cut rough edges away.

4)  If desired, a small heart can be formed and attached to the bottom of your ornament.  Create a heart by conditioning a small amount of red/fuchsia/pink/etc. polymer clay.  Roll clay into a pea sized ball.  Flatten slightly.  Pinch bottom to form a teardrop.  While holding the pinched bottom, dent the top (I use a turkey lacer, but a credit card works well too).  And Viola…a heart!  Press into place at the bottom.IMG_2916IMG_2917

5) Cut a small piece of wire (about 1″).  Hold the center with needle nosed pliers.  Form a loop by wrapping one side around the pliers and around the other end of the wire.  Make sure to form a tight twist.  press twist into place behind the heart (as shown).  Be sure to hide the bulk of the wire behind the heart, but keep twist loose from heart (I hope that makes sense).  This loop will hold the dangle of stars after baking.IMG_2918IMG_2919

6) Add crystals if desired.  Be sure to press them firmly into the clay.  Use a needle tool to press a hole in each upper corner (wire will be added after baking).  Place on baking surface (I use a ceramic tile)

7) Star beads can be formed from clay OR you can cheat and find premade star beads 😉  To create your own from clay condition and roll a sheet of clay (star colored of course).Cut 4-6 stars from the sheet using the kemper cutter.  Place one on your work surface, then the needle tool/beading pin on top.  Add a second star on top to form a sandwich.  IMG_2920IMG_2923IMG_2924Press together and smooth edges.  Repeat for additional star beads.  If desired add a small crystal to the center.  Place stars on baking surface.  Bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool before removing from oven.

8) Final touches: To wire stars together, cut a piece of wire about 3″ long.  Use needle nosed pliers to create a spiral on one end.  String the stars on (note: small seed beads can be placed between the star beads).  Make a loop at the end and attach to loop behind heart, twisting slightly and cutting off excess wire.  Add a wire to the top for hanging.

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Final thought:  Ornaments can be personalized by adding names or “In Memory Of” to the back.  This detail can be added with a gold leaf pen, additional rubber stamping with alphabet stamps, or permanent marker.

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Book Review: Polymer Clay Art Jewelry

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I have been working with polymer clay for almost 20yrs.  Needless to say I have accumulated multiple books in that time, weeding out as I added new ones.  A few have become favorites that will always stay in my studio bookcase at the “ready” for ideas, techniques, and just plain enjoyment.  I now have a new favorite to add to my bookcase.

Polymer Clay Art Jewelry” by Ilysa Ginsburg & Kira Slye is a wonderful book!  From the moment I opened it, I found new ways of working with this medium that I love.  One of my favorite projects is the Stone Posey Brooch.  I can see many applications for the ideas and techniques used in this particular piece and I must admit that it is the one piece that convinced me to get the book.  I fell in love with the simplicity of the design and wanted to discover how it was created.  As I continued reading through the book I found more pieces that spoke to me: mixed media with paper and clay, beads and clay, powders, crystals…I could go on and on!

Another favorite that I am itching to try is the “She Ain’t No Ball and Chain Bracelet”.  Created from clay, beads, and ball chain it is a beautiful creation that would compliment many outfits and occasions.  Although the one in the book is made in silver, I can see multiple color applications for the basic design.

The “Capture and Rapture Necklace” has a pattern choice and technique that had me going “Duh!  why didn’t I think of that before?!”  LOVE!!

Needless to say, I think this is a must have book for any clayer, newbie on up.  Thank you Ilysa & Kira for a fabulous addition to my book collection.  I know it will soon be dog-eared 😉