Friday, August 28, 2009

New Challenge for the Art Fire Artisan Jeweler Guild

The Art Fire Artisan Jeweler Guild is having another challenge -- the theme for this one is "Dog Days of Summer" -- There are only four entries this time -- but they are all wonderful pieces.  If you have a moment, drop by the guild blog and vote for your favorite one -- 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making a Lentil Swirl


Lentil swirls were a challenge to learn but once I mastered the technique it became a lot of fun and almost addictive.  Someone in our local clay guild showed us once how to make one.  I was fascinated by the technique as well as the end result.  I went home and searched the internet for more help and discovered a great tutorial by Desiree McCrorey.   I then followed her instructions and practiced, practiced and practiced.

One of the neat things about working with polymer clay is that there is little wastage.  If you create something that isn't just right or you are not happy with, you can just smoosh the clay up and start all over again!  We usually end up with "scrap piles" and one of the things I use it for is as a filler for larger beads or swirls.  Here I have a smooth compacted ball I've made from scrap clay.  This will be a base for the lentil swirl I will show you.


Earlier I showed you how I created a striped blend flower.  I had some ends and left over cane from the demo so I decided to slice them up and use them here for my lentil swirl.


I arrange my cane slices all over my clay ball forming a pattern and covering every part.  I then rolled my cane slices smooth in my hand making sure the ball is completely covered and the gaps are all filled in.


I place my ball on a smooth glass surface and with using a piece of plexi-glass and with even pressure, I rotate it with my hands.  Eventually the clay piece will start to swirl and I will stop when I am happy with the result.

While creating the swirl, the ball first becomes a bicone shape.  I work the clay a little more and by using more pressure, I shape it into a flattened lentil.  I carefully pierce my bead to create a hole for stringing and bake it at a precise even temperature in my special oven.
Afterwards they are sanded by hand and then buffed to create a beautiful sheen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Featured Artisan of the Day

Our artfire studio (and one of my favorite retro-style pendants and earrings) was featured on Yours Truli today.  Just click on the icon above to see the article.  Her site is very interesting as she creates a wide variety of vintage jewelry which I love.

Interesting how last week I just discovered a book that I've had so much fun going through titled "Costume Jewelry" by Judith Miller.  It goes through the history of costume jewelry and the designers who created them and is packed full of eye candy photos and inspiration.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Autumn Leaves

Here are a few beads created from the autumn red and yellow leaf cane I demonstrated last week now in our Etsy Bead Shop.  Next post I will share with you how I make the lentil swirls similar to the one shown above.  They are one of my favorite types of beads I love to make.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Bead Shop is Now Open

We're excited to announce that our Bead Shop is now open.  We've had many requests from people to buy our buttons, beads and other jewelry components so decided to branch out and fill our Etsy shop with these.

At the moment we have a wide range of animal print supplies for sale including zebra, tiger, leopard and giraffe but we will be adding more styles and designs all the time.

       Tiger Print Donut                                 Tiger Print Beads

     Zebra Print Buttons                             Floral Print Buttons

     Leopard Print Beads                Chocolate Brown Autumn Leaves

Monday, August 17, 2009

Building a Cane


When people view my work they automatically think it is painted.  When I explain how the flowers and designs are formed from a "cane", it is difficult to visualize.  So as part of the "How We Do It" series, I will show you how I build a cane like the ones shown above.

When I start a cane I need to choose my colors.  For this one, I decided on an autumn mix  of a mocha brown, chili pepper red and sunflower yellow.  These are some of the special  colors I mix myself.  I make my own color recipes (just like a cookbook) as explained in the Mixing Colors post I did earlier.


After choosing my colors I blend them together in a sheet and then stretch my blend and roll it into a log (below left).  This part is shown in the color blending post I did last month. 


I then cut into my log and insert the veins and stem for a leaf pattern and put it back together again like a puzzle.


The next stage is to reduce the cane and this is done by gently squeezing and stretching it.  You 
can see how it has been stretched in the photo (above right) and it is also thinner.


I can keep stretching and reducing this cane to as small as I want.  When I slice of a piece off you can see how the same pattern goes all the way through.  I shape them into leaves that I can use for various projects.

I like how these leaves turned out and have some ideas already on what to make with them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fun and Functional Clay Projects

One of the things I enjoy the most about polymer clay is how you can take an item that is functional and turn it into a piece of art.  Some of my favorite items I love to cover in clay are the handy pill boxes.  I've given many of these away as gifts and sold a bunch at the Festival of the Arts this summer.


I will share more items I've covered in clay over the past few years with you later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Flies! ... when you're having fun!

I'm not one to wear bracelets much but prefer wearing a watch that has some style to it instead.  I like to wear a nice bangle and so my brain has been trying to figure out how I could combine one with a watch using my clay.  That is how these bangle-watches evolved.  They are the first ones I've created so far and I've been wearing them for over a month now.  I have to say they are very comfortable and fun to wear.

I'm also working on a totally new interchangeable watch band idea and these as well as kits to make your own should be for sale in our Art Fire Studio in the fall.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We're on Facebook

The weather here has cooled a bit.  We still didn't get any rain which is desperately needed to help put out the huge forest fires that are burning.  We are getting air conditioning installed today so should also help with the heat and I can go back to claying some more again.

We now have a page on facebook where we have updates on new items, advanced notice of future sales or offers and other fun type stuff.  Just click on the link in the sidebar to sign on as a fan.

We have a lot of new and different items we are working on and it is really exciting.  Whenever I create a new piece I generally make one or several "prototypes" and wear it for awhile to test out.  I don't feel good about selling anything unless everything is just so.  I usually end up with a lot of pieces I get to keep for myself this way which I don't mind!  A girl has to have something to wear! 

I had a cute dark blue peasant blouse that I made some new buttons for in a fun flower design.  I wanted a pendant to match and for something different, I strung it on a cord I created from organza ribbon that slips over the head with a bead at the back that cinches up to adjust the length.  I discovered I really like this style as it is so simple and easy to wear.  It is more comfortable as well, especially in the scorching heat.  I can't wait to make (and wear) more of these!

I've also been experimenting with some carving and back-filling like in the gecko brooch which I first covered with a skinner blend.  I wanted some gecko earrings to match my Cinco de Mayo Necklace.  These are done in a matching variegated green, backfilled with some chili pepper red and finished off with sponge coral beads.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One of those days...

Ever have one of those days where whatever you did was a real challenge?  I've had a few of those this past week.  The other day I was finishing off a piece and after struggling with my ribbon crimp to get it just so ... I looked down and realized I used a gold finding and I intended to use silver!   A piece I was working on cracked when it came out of the oven!  Doesn't happen too often but of course this would be the day!  Back to the drawing board to make a new one,  but not today.  It is far too hot to clay any more and so instead we packed up a picnic lunch, threw on our swimsuits and grabbed our towels and a blanket and took off for the beach for the afternoon.  The swim was so cool and refreshing and was a really good way to cool off and recharge our batteries by relaxing under a shady tree after.

We finally received word that our air conditioning will be installed on Thursday -- all the companies have been booked up solid with the heat wave we've had.  We moved here from the coast in search of some sun and it definitely looks like we found it!  lol !  I'm not complaining but is difficult to function in 40C (104 F) weather with no air conditioning, let alone try to work with my clay.  So for now I clay in the mornings for a few hours and then we take off to the lake to cool off.  This weekend there is a music festival going on as well so was nice to relax and unwind to some great live music at the same time.  There is more entertainment today and we are now off to the beach again!  Have a great day!