Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kaleidoscope Canes and Buttons

I love the effect of kaleidoscopes and we decided to transform them into buttons.  We make them in several sizes with the large one shown on the left measuring 2 inches.



I am not one for making large canes and prefer making smaller ones.  I know there is a saying that you can never have enough of a good cane but I would rather have lots of new designs than a ton of the same pattern to use over a long time.  It keeps things fresh and new as well as making each pattern a "limited edition original".  To make our kaleidoscopes, I like to use left over cane pieces and color blends from my bargello and quilt patterns and coordinate them in a selected color scheme.

There was a lot of discussion lately on a polymer clay forum about how to slice canes that are straight and not wonky.  Like with any polymer clay technique I have developed or learned, I have discovered that to improve your skill it takes practice.  I messed up quite a bit at first trying to slice my canes and today I do most of it free hand without the use of any tool other than my tissue blade.  I just had to practice -- a lot.





Monday, March 25, 2013

CaBezel Necklaces and Mini Tutorial

I hadn't played with Wendy Orlowski's CaBezel molds in a while but had some fun last week making some new cable necklaces.  These pieces and a few more in other colors are now available at Chum 'N Luba's Unique Boutique as an addition to her new spring collection of clothing and accessories.




I love these nylon coated steel cables that come in a variety of colors.  We prefer to cover the metal screw type clasp which gives a more finishing touch to the necklace as well as making it more comfortable to wear around the neck, especially for those with metal allergies.



You can cover the clasp right on the cable as they are generally safe to bake in the oven at the typical clay temperature.  The other option is to cut the screw end off the cable (see below) so you can remove the clasp.  After covering the clasp with clay (C & D) and replacing it on the cable along with your pendant or beads, a new screw end (A) can be reattached.


(B)  Make sure you use heavy duty or memory wire shears to cut the steel cable or you will ruin your good jewelry wire cutters.
(C)  Roll a medium thin sheet of clay out and trim to the same width as the screw clasp.
(D)  Add and rub in a little liquid clay on the clasp before wrapping in the clay.  Make sure the clay fits nice and snug around the clasp so it does not slip after baking.  Bake your clasp.
(E) Replace the clay covered clasp onto the cable and then finish the cable end off with a new screw end piece by crimping tightly with pliers.


Just an update as to where to buy these cables.  They are available in Black at Shades of Clay (scroll down a bit on the page).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Batik Flowers for Spring

Here are some more batik style flowers in new color combinations in time for spring. The batik fabric-like pattern is created using a variation of mokume gane that I developed myself.  These flowers are made into buttons and finished in three different sizes as well as shawl sticks for the yarn and quilt shops.





Monday, March 18, 2013

Gigantic Buttons

These buttons are in our new spring collection for the local yarn and quilt shops.  They are concave or dish shape and quite large so go nicely on a quilted style bag or jacket.  The round ones are in a variety of colors.



The leaves with lady bug are in a traditional olive green as well as in the new Pantone Spring 2013 fashion color combo of Emerald Green and Tender Shoots.


Friday, March 15, 2013

More Medallion Crackle Pieces

I am totally in love with making these new medallion buttons.  Here are some smaller ones in new colors.


I decided to experiment with other pieces using the same technique such as this pendant and earring set as well as a new style of shawl pin.



This is a little hint as to what assists me with more control over my inks.  It is a an ink palette from Ranger.


Ranger has all sorts of gadgets and tutorials on using inks for scrapbooking so I wondered why some of those ideas wouldn't apply to clay in a similar way?  It has opened up a whole new method of combining my clay with painting but using inks instead of the typical acrylics, oils or watercolors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Medallion Buttons

I have experimented further with Barb Fajardo's crackle technique until I was satisfied with the results that I was aiming for.  Working with alcohol inks can be quite painstaking and a bit of a challenge to control but I've actually come to enjoy playing with them a lot.  These Medallion Buttons are quite large (two inches) and were made special for Heather's Fabric Shelf to coordinate with some of their new batik fabrics.  They took a bit of time creating as I doodle a design on each one individually with no two alike.





Because the buttons are so large they could be quite heavy so I filled them with the Sculpey UltraLight clay before adding our handcrafted wire shanks and finishing off the backs with clay.  I show how to do this and make your own wire shanks for buttons in my Making Beautiful Buttons tutorial.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stripe Blends

The blended stripes in these beads and bangles are made from the same color blends I use for my bargello motifs.  It is my own easy method for creating color blends and shading gives them an almost 3-D effect with lots of depth.  I share how to create this effect in my tutorial, Building Bargello Motifs, as well as how to make this bangle and the tube beads with built in bead caps.








Thursday, March 7, 2013

Owl Pins

I've noticed owls popping up everywhere lately.  After playing around with making my new birdie beads I decided to create some owls as well.  I made these ones into lapel pins.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birdie Sewing Charms

We have been working on some new items in time for spring.  These are our new birdie beads in some fun bright colors.  These ones are used for some new style sewing charms which is one of our most popular items with the quilt shops.  These fasten onto scissors or rotary cutter for a fun way to personalize them when taking a class.  They can also be used as a zipper pull, hung on a cell phone, belt loop, purse or almost anything else.




Monday, March 4, 2013

Tutorial Toot - some shameless self promotion

The Chameleon Exhibit came to an end last weekend and was a great success.  It was a real honor to be a part of such an exciting event.  Going out to the Horizons retreat was another highlight to last month and is where I unveiled my new lesson, Building Bargello Motifs.



Everyone had fun learning this new technique and when I was showing them how to combine their colors and then arrange them into bargello patterns or motifs there was some real "ahhhs".


This is a fun technique where you can create your own clay veneer patterns and then use them in so many different ways.





It is a fun technique where I take you from mixing up your color blends (without have to do a skinner blend) and then creating your patterns with many different variations that can be applied.  Some of the people in the class told me they thought the technique looked too finicky for them but were so pleased when they were making their own bargello veneers in no time. 

For those who have already purchased my Clay Color System and are using Kato clay, I have included references to all the colors I used to create all the bargello patterns taught in the tutorial.


I  really enjoy teaching and sharing with others who are so eager to learn.  When I receive such wonderful feedback from someone who took my class or purchased any of my lessons it gives me a real sense of accomplishment.

One person who purchased my bargello tutorial wrote: "it is the best tutorial on bargello I have ever seen, including the needlepoint ones."

Another person told me "I really like your tutorials.  You write them in a way that I totally get it."

Other feedback I've received:

"This is my third tutorial from you.  Your tutorials never disappoint.  I always learn so many new techniques."

"Absolutely perfect. These tutorials are packed with information that is useful and easy to follow.  Thank-you so much for helping me learn."

"After searching the web for useful information on how to make buttons, I found this person on Artfire.  I ordered a couple of her other tutorials and they were so thorough and easy to learn from, that I ordered this one as well.  I am so thankful that I did!  This is a marvelous tutorial and if you want to make buttons... start here!"

 "Terrific tutorial. Very happy with this purchase. Can highly recommend.  A+++"

Regarding my Color System Tutorial:  "Excellent tutorial.  Great way to learn about color and organize your clay stash."

Many people have also shared with me how my color system, especially has not only helped them learn about color but to help inspire them as well.  Maureen (Moe) shared on her blog how "sometimes you just wanna go play with your clay but you have no oomph and nothing in mind to make but you just wanna do something."

She has found that mixing up new colors and color blends using my clay color system really helps energize her with new ideas.  This is her desk with her color blend sheets she has created.  It is a fun way of coming up with new colors and blends.  You can read all about it on her blog post here.  I find her blog quite entertaining and sometimes a real hoot to read.


Look at these gorgeous blue cabochons she made.  They just look like real stone cut gems, don't they?


So if you are looking for some new clay techniques to try but want some lessons that are a good value for you money and that are fun and easy to learn, you can check out the many other tutorials I have available in my ArtFire Studio as well as my Etsy shop.