Monday, February 27, 2017

New Canadian Maple Leaf Necklaces

Canada is celebrating it's 150th birthday this year so we have been making special Canadian themed pieces for this big event.  Here we made some of our maple leaves in red and black on a snap and have arranged them on the softglass cord snap necklace that I showed how to make the other day.  I love how the leaves can be arranged in different ways and you are not permanently locked into only one necklace design.






I really love the look and feel of the softglass cord but if you have any sort of arthritis or difficulty with clasps, the plug type clasp can be a bit tricky.

For an easier alternative, the braided leather cord with the front magnetic closure is quick and easy to put on and take off.  Here is one in black with the same large maple leaf snap. 





These necklace cords are available in our online store in several colors.


If you would like to make your own, we have the clasps available in our DIY Snap Supply Section.  I showed in a previous post here on how to create your own necklace.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Closed our Artfire Studio

We have closed down our Artfire studio today.  After selling our tutorials and polymer clay supplies from there for several years, we finally outgrew it.  All our finished work, polymer clay supplies and tutorials are available in our new and updated online store.  We still sell some of our more popular items in our Etsy shop.

If you notice a price difference between the two venues, it is because our Etsy shop is in US dollars and our online store is in Canadian.

The other good news is that we are now able to sell our tutorials from our online store the same way we use to from our Artfire Studio.  Shipping will not be charged and any tutorials purchased will be sent out by e-mail, so European customers will not be subject to paying the VAT tax.


If you haven't see our new online store yet, feel free to browse through it and we are open to any comments or feedback.


Shipping is a flat fee no matter how much you purchase.  It is free on orders more than $75 within Canada and on orders more than $100 to the US..

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Sweater Coat from KLA Originals

Kirsten of KLA Originals makes the most gorgeous upcycled sweater coats and jackets and I had thought it would be so cool to own one some day.  I don't often splurge on myself, but in the case of this sweater coat, I couldn't help myself!



This coat was created from at least a half dozen sweaters and I love how Kirsten has such a flare for creating a unique design with all the ruffled layers.  The two triangles on each side of the skirt are nice deep pockets and under the navy placket is a zipper.  We make buttons for KLA's sweater coats and Kirsten finished this off for me so it is ready to add after.  I still have to make them but in the meantime I couldn't wait to wear it and show it off.



This is the back of the coat and the special piece in the back of the hood is really lovely.  The other feature is the little thumb holes at the end of the sleeve.


This coat seems quite heavy but doesn't feel that way at all when it is on and I feel so dressed up in it.  I wore it to Salmon Arm today and was stopped by several ladies asking where I got my coat as they loved it and several expressed how much fun it must be to wear.

You can see more of Kirsten's work, at KLA's Originals website and she is also on facebook here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Creating an Interchangeable Snap Base Necklace

A little while ago, my friend Joanne and I got together to clay.  We made some textured rollers like the ones we learned to make from Bettina Welker at her workshop last summer.  I made two new ones (left and center) and the one on the right was the one I made earlier in the class.


The textured sheets (below) were made with the three rollers and I think I still like the first roller I made the best but now I have some ideas to make some more and will try again when I have a bit of free time.


In the meantime, I was experimenting with some different shapes to make into larger size snaps to use in a necklace.  These are some of the snaps I made from the clay sheets shown above.


I then figured out a way to make a multi-snap base necklace to arrange the decorative snaps on by simply combining some softglass cord, rubber o-rings and several snap pendants with tube bails.


To do this, cut the cord to the length you want your necklace to be.  I like to make mine a little longer and then trim it after if it is too long rather than accidentally making it too short.  Thread on an o-ring.  Because the cord is hollow and slippery, it is a little tricky to get them on so I insert a piece of heavy wire and hold it tight with the cord while pushing on the o-ring.  Next slide on a tube bail snap base pendant and then another o-ring.

Repeat this two more times.  Arrange the center pendant with the o-rings nice and snug against it to hold it in place.  Position the other snap bases on the cord the same way so they are evenly spaced. 


You can use Buna cord instead but I love the feel and look of the softglass cord.  I also like the interchangeable plug like clasps or joiner charms which are available at Shades of Clay.  Because the softglass cord is hollow, the clasps have a plug at each end that fit inside and hold tight by friction,



Here are the decorative snaps on the necklace arranged two different ways.  I am really excited about this and opens up more ways to wear our snaps!




The decorative snaps can be worn individually as well by adding only one tube bail snap pendant to a cord with an o-ring on each side to hold it in place.


When working with larger clay designs, our flat snaps work well for these so they do not add extra bulk and they fit nice and flat onto the snap base pendant.  If your pieces are very large (1-1/2" or larger), I recommend baking them on a curve and using the bezel snap for a tighter hold.  I share how to do this along with extra tips in Part 1 of my tutorial.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Sharing the Love - A Ripple Heart and Earrings Tutorial

After playing with the ripple technique I discovered a cool way to maintain that 3-D texture (like a ripple potato chip) in our finished designs.  I wanted to share this with you and since it is almost Valentines Day, I thought I would show how to make a heart.  I mounted mine on a snap, making it interchangeable, but you can finish it off any other way you prefer.



For tools you will need two blades:  A ripple blade (B) and a very sharp tissue blade (A).  Here I have two types of ripple blades.  The one that does the tiny ripples (C) doesn't work the same as the one with the potato chip size ripple (B).



You basically need sheets of clay in assorted colors to create a stack.  I used 4 colors here.  If you have my Clay Color System, then you will have these recipes, but you can use any colors you like.  Just layer light and dark colors to create enough contrast and interest.


The colors I used was Kato Violet, Turquoise - (recipe #8-2) , Spa (recipe #8-6), Kato Violet and White Mix (recipe # 1-2).   The Kato Violet and Turquoise I rolled out thinner than the Spa and White Mix.


All the colors stacked would be too thick to put through the pasta machine so stack them in two separate piles.  The first three colors in one stack and the bottom two colors in another.  Run them through the pasta machine at a thick setting.




Stack the two clay sheets and run them through the pasta machine.  If one of the clay sheets is shorter, then just stretch or roll it so it is the same length.  Cut the clay sheet in half, stack and run it through the pasta machine again.  You can do this one or two more times, depending on how thin you want the stripes to be.


Cut your clay sheet into equal pieces and stack them into a pile.  Trim the block so the edges are even.


Stand the clay block so the lines are vertical and stick it to a ceramic tile or your work space so it won't move.  Here I have a blade on each side to square it up so it is nice and straight.


This also helps to line up the first cut so it is straight.  Once you have your ripple blade lined up (make sure you look at it right above as shown), cut your first slice.  This piece with be flat on the back and rippled on top.


Now the next slice you make will be with your straight tissue blade.  This will create a flat back and rippled front.


These first two slices are a mirror image of each other.  Set the slices aside to use later.  Slice again with your ripple blade and then your flat tissue blade again, alternating until the end of the block.






I managed to get 6 slices from this stack and I have them matched up to decide how I want to use them.


You can flip them around to see which way mirrors up best.  They can be used individually or as a pair.  To make the heart, I played around with the pieces to see which design I liked best.  I am using some plain textured Kato Violet to combine with it.


Once you decide how you want it to look, arrange the pieces onto a thin sheet of clay, making sure no air pockets are trapped between.


Cut out your heart or preferred shape, cutting through all the thicknesses.


To create a nice curve shape we like to use the bottoms cut from pop tins.  They are our favorite baking form and can be used the other way to create a concave shape as well.  I added a Swarovski crystal as an accent.  You can see my tips I posted earlier on working with Swarovski crystals here.


After baking your piece you can add a backing to finish it off.  Here I added one of our "prepped" flat snaps by covering the back with a thin sheet of textured clay and then pushed the prepped flat snap into the clay.  I then added our signature stamp and baked it again. 



Now my piece can be worn as an interchangeable bead on a necklace but can also be worn other ways such as a brooch or on a shawl stick.




To make some matching earrings, select two more pieces from your pile.  I think these ones look a little funky.  Cut or trim them to your desired shape or size and bake them on a ceramic tile so they stay nice and flat.


Roll out some clay for the backing that is a little larger than your front pieces and add a texture.  Trim the top of the clay sheets so they are even.


Flip the clay textured backings over and push in a jump ring or other finding of your choice for the top.  I like to lay the clay sheets back onto the texture so it doesn't get distorted.


Add some liquid clay to the backs of the baked earring fronts.  Here I am using Kato Poly Paste which is thicker and has a better hold. 


Lay the baked clay fronts onto the clay backing sheets and push them evenly onto the clay.


Trim the excess clay and smooth out all the edges.



Bake your pieces and don't forget to sand them after.  When our pieces are textured like these are, after sanding, we give them several thin coats of PYM11.




So I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and happy Valentine's Day!