Monday, December 29, 2008

Welcome to our Studio!

It is nice to finally be set up and up and running in our new home.  Here is the studio we put together that I thought I would share what it is like.  Finally Dave and I have our own tables to work at (although I kind of hog them all!) in the same room - lol!  

This is where most of the mixing and conditioning of the claying is done.  Everything is right within reach -- just how I like it!

This is the baking and finishing area.

More of the finishing area and where all the beadwork is done.

These windows were specially designed for this room for a particular reason.  They provide the defused lighting needed for our photographs of our finished projects.  The corner quickly sets up as our own mini photograph studio.

Here is where we store and display our finished pieces.

This is my favorite furniture piece we bought from Ikea just for this room. It has a space under
the glass for storage and display.  I like to keep some of my clay tools, and pieces I'm working on so they are quick to see and easy to reach.  Because it is glass, I cannot operate the pasta machine on this so I use the first area shown (just a quick turn of my chair) but this gives me a lot of working space on large projects as I love to spread out!  Also, because it is glass, I can use my blades for cutting and it cleans up really well again afterwards.

We also use half of the area under the glass top to demonstrate the various stages in our cane making and other bead making techniques.  We have found that people appreciate the finished product much more when they actually see the process involved in the making of their jewelry piece.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Is that Prancer & Vixen??

Ahhh, no, just the mountain sheep that we discovered in our back yard when we woke up Christmas morning.  There was more than a dozen of them.  I would've liked to have gotten a little closer but didn't want to spook them -- they sure are graceful and amazing to see close up!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you all A Merry Christmas & All the Best in the New Year!

Well, I spoke too soon about having a mild winter so far.  Looks like this will be the coldest and snowiest Christmas for all of Canada in 30 years. 

It took us a little longer than expected with this move and getting settled in our new home but so far we are really  enjoying living here in our new little town. 

We are still working on setting up our Etsy Shop -- I didn't realize how much work would be involved, such as taking proper photos and filling out all the necessary information. We are also working on some new designs and should have them posted within the next few days.

In the meantime, we just want to take a moment here and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!  God Bless.

Monday, December 8, 2008

We're back!

We are finally moved and settled into our new home.  Things got delayed and our house wasn't ready to move into yet so we ended up with a little more of an extended vacation.  I've been chomping at the bit to get at my clay again but fortunately I had plenty of other things to work on to keep my hands busy -- such as finishing off some pieces as well as doing some tweaking and revamping -- 

We now have an Etsy account -- just a matter of posting some items which may take a few more days with retaking some of the photos and all but should be up and running by next week -- right now catching up on some of our Christmas orders takes priority as they need to go out asap.

We are really enjoying our new home and so far the winter here has been fairly mild with not too much snow.  It is so nice to be in a more peaceful environment away from the city stress. Our new studio is almost set up --  Unfortunately it was the last room to get organized and had the most boxes to unpack!!  I will post photos of that sometime later for those of you who are curious to see.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We're moving

We're moving ... to our dream retirement home on the Shushwap Lake. Since Dave's transplant, his health has improved so much that we have the opportunity to live in a more tranquil place away from all the stress of the big city.

This blog and our e-mail will stay the same, however, since our house isn't finished yet and won't be ready to move into for another 2 weeks, we will be taking a vacation and won't have access to our computer or the internet during that time.

We should be up and running again by mid-November with more time to clay, some new Christmas designs and an Etsy shop to make your purchases a little easier. See you then.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jewelry for your Home

Have you ever had candle wax drip down onto your furniture or ruin a beautiful table cloth? These candle collars are our own design which will not only catch any melting wax but also add a chandelier effect to any candle holder. Like our decorative tiles and outlet covers, these can also be custom made in your colors.

You can see more designs on our flickr site.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How DO they get that caramel into the Caramilk bar?

We believe the clasp for a necklace is a very important part to the finished product. You want it to be functional and easy to use, yet also blend in with the design. Some of the commercial clasps that are sold might look nice but are not very functional. I like a toggle or simple hook and loop closure myself but sometimes it isn’t the most feasible or comfortable.

The barrel clasp is good but usually quite awkward and difficult to handle as they are so small. So why not make a barrel clasp disguised as a bead? I went to work right away with my idea, hoping it would work. The first one was okay but there was room for improvement. After several tries we finally came up with a system that worked. Wow, it was really exciting when we unscrewed our first bead clasp and it worked perfectly! It was not only easier to handle but is also very comfortable to wear around the back of the neck.

Heh, so maybe we discovered how they got the caramel in the Caramilk bar after all!!??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summer all year long

Earlier in the year I made a flip flop type bead for our "Fun in the Sun" themed necklace (see posting in February). We thought they would make cute earrings so I then made a pair (the pink ones shown on the left) to test them out. Well they turned out to be a hit and even though summer has come to an end, I have been getting orders for more of these.

I also decided to experiment a little further and make some matching pendants. I mentioned earlier how I like doing custom orders for people like the ones shown in the photos below. It can seem a little intimidating at first -- worrying whether the color combination will come out all right and meet the expectations of the customer -- but it can also be fun and exciting.

Anyhow, this summer seemed to be shorter and colder than usual and now it is over for another year but when I'm making these flip flops it puts me in a summery mood and I can imagine sitting at the beach hearing the ocean waves and soaking up the sun.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seeing in Black and White

My finger seems to be healing quite nicely and since I am claying a little less right now, I have a little more time for blogging. A lot of my clay artist friends have been experimenting lately with various kaleidescope canes. These are made by combining various canes to form another cane and then arranging them as a kaleidescope type pattern. Since I love experimenting and trying new things I followed a tutorial from Judy Belcher who is one of my favorite polymer clay artists.

I decided that black and white was the best colors to start with this type of cane although they would not be my own personal color choices but I have since discovered why they are so popular. They make great accents to wear with other colors making them more practical and functional.

I consider myself a very practical type person (so Dave keeps reminding me) and I'm drawn to art that is more functional with some flare and is maybe a little exotic but not too extreme or wild. Anyhow, here are a few things I created from this technique. The photo above shows a brooch with a jet black crystal rhinestone embedded. Below are some bracelets and a pendant which we're still undecided on finishing but most likely hang from a suede leather cord.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another year to be thankful for...

It was Dave's birthday last week and now with his new kidney we had a lot to celebrate. He has been doing very well since his transplant -- as a matter of fact better than average so the future seems much brighter these days.

I wanted to make a special gift for him so I made a bracelet for his watch. I wanted it to look more masculine without any beads and so experimented for the first time with curved tiles. I have to say it was a little trickier to make but I was really pleased with the results. I think I will have to experiment more with these for a different look.

I had an incident today where I sliced the back of my index finger --- I know I'll heal but unfortunately will make working with my clay a little challenging in the next while -- Fortunately I managed to finish most of my orders I've been trying to fill which is a relief! I don't know how I will suffer more in the next while -- pain from the cut finger or withdrawl from claying!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When life gives you lemons ... make lemonade!

It is funny how circumstances in life sometimes forces you to try something new. We had a change in dress code policy where I work that if your hair is longer than shoulder length, you have to tie it back. Since my hair happens to be fairly long, I had the option of cutting it or wearing a ponytail to work so I thought, why not make some nice holders or barrettes? I’ve always liked the “skewer” style barrette and so made several prototypes until I finally got the size down just right. I now have several styles and have found that I like wearing them all the time and having them match my other accessories.

I am now making some to sell and will post those on the flickr site but here are some photos of a few that I made for myself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our New Home Decor Art

We just returned (and now recovering) from a wonderful trip to southern Alberta. It was really great to finally visit some old and dear friends and spend time with family. We got to hold our first great granddaughter -- and we celebrated my dad's 80th birthday.

We also took the opportunity to launch a new side to our now full time venture -- Decorative Art for the Home. It mainly consists of decorative tiles which can be used in backsplashes, etc. along with glass and ceramic tiles as well as coordinating outlet covers. I have a new link added to the right of our flickr site showing the designs so far and we will keep adding to them as we go.

Our main idea is to customize our designs so that each person will have an original work of art in their home. Let us know what you think and feel free to comment!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wild Things

I've been feeling a little on the wild side these last few weeks since I had a real desire for making animal prints. I don't know exactly what it is that attracts most women to this style --maybe it is the little piece of our untamed nature or just a rebellion against our expected place in society. For me, however, I think of soft furry animals to snuggle up with. In any case, I enjoy creating these designs and the feeling I get touching and looking at them.

We've also added some new styles to our collection such as the "collier" with matching earrings and bracelets.  Let me know how you feel about these new styles.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A New Look

Now that Dave is on the mend and doing quite well, our computer was a little under the weather so had to take it to the hospital for a few days. It still hasn't recovered yet but hopefully it will limp along for a little while - although after all the headaches lately, we are seriously considering a Mac!

We had some suggestions that some people preferred the photos taken on the bodice displays as they could better visualize how the necklaces hung so we decided to upgrade the beanery and repost new photos on our flickr site since some of them needed a little updating anyhow. We tried keeping as many of the numbers the same as before but you will notice a lot of new designs that have taken the place of some of the ones that were sold. A few others have been or in the process of being redone with a little tweaking here and there for a different look. For a more complete viewing, we decided to include a photo of the back which in most cases features the type of clasp used.

We still have quite a few more photos to post yet with some great new designs along with some matching accessories so keep checking back and we will have more posted over the next week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great News!

These last 2 weeks have been a real whirlwind for us. Dave was in the hospital a little longer than normal due to his body wanting to reject the new kidney so his doctors gave him the "kitchen sink cocktail" treatment to really force his body to accept the organ. Dave is now home from the hospital and as of today his doctor gave him a clean bill of health (no more signs of rejection).

We would like to thank everyone for their prayers, good wishes and good vibes. We're sure it all worked together to give us today's answer.

Besides all of this, we're still getting jewellry orders coming in at the same rate (2 or 3 a week) which helps us take our minds off of the present problems and ease the stress -- AND I have a probable contract with a ceramic tile retailer to do large orders of custom designer tiles. I just did up some samples for fun (designer tiles and electrical outlet covers for our house) and a friend (thanks John!) showed them to his tile retailer and they are very interested in custom orders so WOW! what a 2 weeks! You never know what is around the next corner -- I may get my arm twisted and end up doing a lot of custom designer tile work which I didn't even imagine doing one month ago.

On top of all this, we had the pleasure of entertaining our daughter and grandson this past weekend:

2 airline tickets -- $540

3 blocks of clay -- $ 12

Claying with your grandson -- priceless!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A new lease on life...

I have good news! Last Monday Dave received a new kidney! We received the call late Sunday night to go straight to the hospital. It totally caught us by surprise. We knew it would happen sometime soon, but I don't think we still would've been mentally prepared.

It has been a long haul these last 7 years with him on dialysis. It still isn't over as now we have new challenges to face but the future does look a little brighter. So far the surgery was a success and the kidney is working -- the next phase is to prevent his body from rejecting his new organ and build his health up again.
These last few years have been hard on us -- so many ups and downs -- but Dave probably wouldn't have started working with the clay and designing jewellry if things were different. I know that sounds strange but I will briefly share how he got involved.

It all started when he was feeling the smoothness of my finished clay pieces and asked if I could make him a "worry stone". He didn't want it perfectly round but just the right size and shape to fit in his hand. He said he didn't care what it looked like but more how it felt in his hand. I wanted it to look nice as well of course so I decided to do a mica shift pattern to add some depth and the look of texture but still have that smooth feel. The worry stone was sitting on top of my sanding pile and Dave picked it up and felt it and suggested he would try and sand it. He then proceeded to buff it and really enjoyed the whole process. He enjoyed it so much he asked for more sanding and buffing and finished my pile of beads and other accessories. We never noticed until afterwards that his worry stone turned out to be kidney shaped -- which made it even more special!

Later on, Dave had an infection in his arm resulting in surgery and a weeks stay in the hospital. When he returned he was still trying to recover but started looking at the piles of beads I had made for a bead show that were left over. He then started to put some pieces together and when I came home from work one day, he had several necklaces strung! I couldn't believe my eyes because I thought he did some beautiful work! (okay -- maybe I am a little biased, but can you blame me?!) So things just seemed to go on from there. Now he is even dabbling a little in the clay and has had a hand in designing some men's beads and necklaces. I like his choices and of course I think he is a better judge of what men might want -- although we found some women really like them too! ---

So now we are on to a new chapter in our lives -- hopefully one that is a little less bumpy -- but praise God -- His timing was so perfect and we know He does care and is still in control of everything!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More Flowers

I can't believe a week has gone by since I last posted. Here is another kite bead necklace with flowers I had been working on. I don't think I will make more of these for the next while (unless I get a special order) since they take a lot of work and time. This one took about 9 hours to complete and the shorter one (in my last post below), without the flowers, took 7 hours, so they are very time consuming. We love the way they look though and have had a lot of positive comments and feedback.

Below is one of the new designs we've been working on -- fairly basic but very classic. These clay beads took some time to create as well since the flowers were applied to each individual bead and then hand rolled. There are professional bead rollers on the market, which I have to admit I have never tried. I had considered getting one, but decided they weren't for me as I have developed my own method of measuring and forming each bead, but most of all, I love the feel of the clay in my hands as each bead is formed. We really like how this one came out and plan to make some more in a variety of colors and designs.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Playing with colors

I'm still working a regular type job (only part time though) -- so I'm always longing for more time to play around with my clay. I finally managed to take a few days off last week to complete a few projects but some are still waiting for finishing touches and assembly yet. I was mainly working on some new ideas and I'm hoping to take some more time off during the summer so I can work on them.

One of the items I did complete is a new Kite bead necklace but in a shorter choker style.  I made this one for myself as a prototype and in the colors to coordinate with my summer wardrobe.

One of the things I love about working with polymer clay is the endless mixing of colors. I discovered how one can actually create color "recipes" and I've made my own polymer clay color recipe book. Dave and I were also discussing how it would be nice to have a variety of our own "signature" colors for custom orders and so we've been working on those as well. The fun part was coming up with all the yummy names like pink grapefruit, kiwi, caramel, and lemon chiffon. All the names we kept coming up with that fit the colors best happened to be foods! I don't know why -- maybe the influence of being a nutritionist keeps rubbing off or perhaps just our love for food! In any case, we have come up with a good variety of colors to start and can build on them as we develop more new techniques and styles.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Flower Power

As you can see I've really gotten into my flower stage lately. This is a photo of one of my new barrettes -- I will share more on these later. Many people have commented on the "painted" flowers and are surprised when I explain there is no paint involved at all.

All the colors are in the clay and then mixed and combined to create new colors like paints, only instead of using a palette knife and brush, I use my hands and a pasta machine. For those of you who know me real well, you're probably surprised that I would one day use a pasta machine for my art rather than for cooking!  Anyhow, I shared with you how I made my Puffin cane and so now I will give a short demo on how one of my flowers is created:

I first made a gradient blend of blue so that it goes from dark to really light to give the flower petal a little more depth.

I then made a "plug" and added some details.

It is now ready to "reduce" by gently squeezing and shaping. You can see the size of my clay piece in comparison to my hand.

Here is the "plug" or what will be the petals reduced to a long thin snake. They are then cut and individually shaped.

Now I need to make the centre and then reduce it to fit my petals.

The petals are arranged around the centre. Another type of clay is then tightly packed around the petals so that when the cane is reduced, they will maintain their shape and not get too distorted. I packed this cane with a transluscent clay. 


Here the flower cane is reduced and then cut in half to see the inside.

I took one half of the cane and reduced it further and then half of that and reduced it smaller still. I now have my flower cane in three different sizes, ready for use. The last part to using a cane such as this one is to slice it very thinly and then carefully applied. 

I love making canes and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you like. Here is a photo of a pansy cane which is done in a similar manner but with more detail. Now I can't wait to make more creations using my new flowers!