Monday, October 31, 2011

Candy Cane Tube Bead Tutorial

I made some candy cane beads a few years ago and finally got around to making some more.  These are fun to do and go great with the rondelle spacers.

Here is how you can make your own:

1. Make a "log" of white clay about the size of a large marshmallow and pierce it through the center with a steel mandrel or thin knitting needle.

2. Roll out some white, red and green clay (see color recipes below) on the 2nd or 3rd thickest setting of your pasta machine.  Cut a length of each color slightly wider than the clay plug.

3. Cut strips from each of the colors and arrange them around your clay plug.  I like to start with the red.  I cut 4 strips at about 1/4" wide and arranged them equidistantly around the plug.

4. Fill in the gaps with narrower strips of green.

5. Fill in the final gaps with white.  Roll a bit to smooth it out so there are no spaces between the colors.

6. Now roll out your clay plug by rolling it on the table and then lightly stretching it.  Keep repeating this process until you have a nice long tube.

When it becomes too long for the mandrel, cut it in half and set one half aside.  

At this point I like to trim each end off where you can see it is distorted but this is optional.

Keep the other half on the mandrel and continue rolling and stretching until it is the thickness you are happy with.  At this point I like to twist it to give that nice candy cane swirl look.

Now cut your tube into pieces.  I like to smooth the edges and roll each piece a little more so they are shaped nicely before baking so they will require less sanding after.  

Your beads are ready to bake, sand and finish.  Make sure you "tent" your beads with some aluminum foil when baking to keep the clay as white as possible.  You can also bake them in a pan filled with baking soda (be sure to cover the pan with foil during baking).

Tip:  With some clays like Premo, the red tends to bleed into the white.  I have found the white comes out much cleaner when working with Kato clay which is another plus.  If it does "bleed" a bit, the white will generally come clean again after sanding.

Color Recipes:  (Here are the ones I used but you can mix up your own)

Plug:  Kato white

White:  White Mix, Recipe # 1-2

Red:  Tomato Puree, Recipe # 4-6 (increase the red to 5 parts)

Green:  Christmas Green, Recipe # 7-5

** Above recipes found in my Clay Color System

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chase Mountain Sheep

We went out for lunch today and when we arrived home there was a herd of mountain sheep near our house.  We thought our car would scare them off but they stuck around while I had time to run in the house and grab the camera.

I snuck around our neighbor's house so I wouldn't spook them so I could take some pictures when this little guy spotted me and was a little curious.

These mountain sheep live up in the mountain across the street but are known to come down and hang around our little village at times.  We generally see them more often in the winter as they are looking for some grass to feed on.   We hadn't seen this herd since last year and they have all grown quite a bit since then.

This last photo I took from the front doorstep of our house to show how close they were.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Helping Hand

Our first Christmas show is coming up in less than two weeks and we are busy preparing a new look for our  displays this season.  We purchased these cool hands to add some character and they came in a set of 5 different colors.

I love how they can show off several rings or a matching bracelet and ring together. They also make a great prop for photographing our jewelry pieces.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wild About Animal Print Beads

Like our animal print buttons, our beads are one of our best sellers as well.  We have them available in our ArtFire Studio as well as our Etsy shop.  They are listed as "made to order" and there are nine different shapes and four styles to choose from.

We generally have a supply of them in our studio ready to ship, however, we are also prepared to make more up if our supply is a little depleted.

We can do this by saving our information such as color recipes used to create the various canes and measuring the amount of clay required so each bead is consistent in size no matter which style or shape is needed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wild Animal Print Buttons

Our animal print beads and buttons are our best sellers and even though we try to have a large supply on hand  it seems we are always running out.  We finally got around to making some new buttons in various shapes and sizes and listed them in our Etsy shop as well as in our ArtFire studio.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Starburst Buttons

We finished off some new large buttons in our usual jewel tone colors.  They have a metal shank and a large crystal embedded for added bling.  You will find these and a few more listed in our ArtFire studio and Etsy shop as well as a more complete selection of our buttons on our website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kamloops Craft-a-Fair 2011

We are gearing up and getting ready for our Christmas shows again.  The first one to kick off the season is the Craft-a-Fair at the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops which is a fundraiser for the Royal Inland Hospital.  We will be in the same spot as last year which is upstairs on the concourse -- (turn left when you go in the main entrance and you will find us). 

We especially look forward to this event because of all the good that comes from money raised for our local hospital.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clash City or Matchy Matchy?

I finally got around to making some new buttons for a navy colored sweater I purchased some time ago.   I used my "Mini Mokume" technique that I share in my Clay Color System tutorial.  Each cane slice fits perfectly to create each individual button.

The color combination I used here was Navy (recipe # 9-7), Olive (recipe # 7-8, GoldenYellow (recipe # 6-2) and the avocado recipe I shared with you in a previous blog post (click here).

We are off to see a wholesale customer so I thought I would whip up some new jewelry pieces to wear in the same color combination.

And here are my matching pieces:  Bracelet, Earrings, Pendant Necklace and Buttons.

Which brings me to a question.  Do you prefer matching sets of jewelry pieces or do you prefer pieces that don't match but sort of go together?  I've always preferred having my clothes and jewelry matching or coordinating as much as possible.  What do you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Goodies to Play With!

Our clay supply was getting low and had to order more.  It is so nice to have an excellent supplier of Kato clay available right here in Canada.  Shades of Clay not only has fair prices but great service as well.  Whenever we order clay I like to order a few extra "goodies" to play with and use to create new pieces.

I had to order several of Helen Breil's latest texture plates as they all have such unique patterns.  I saw "button" designs in them immediately and here are some new ones we created:

And have you seen some of Wendy Orlowski's latest textures and CaBezels?  I've been having fun playing with these and have a few fun tips to share with you later on in the week.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Scrap Art

Alice Stroppel of Polymer Clay Etc., shared a fun way to use up scrap clay pieces by arranging it into what she calls the Stroppel cane.  As soon as I saw it I couldn't wait to give it a try and I  just happened to have a pile of cane scraps (lol!) on my table ready to use.  It was tempting to use them all but I wanted to see what would happen if I used pieces only from a selected color pile and was happy with the results.

And here is a shawl pin I made from the cane.  I really love this new technique and this shows that when working with polymer clay, there really is no such thing as "scrap clay".

Monday, October 3, 2011

Buttons in Turquoise and Copper

Here is a sampling of a few different button styles all in the same turquoise and copper combination.

The hole placement for sewing is determined as to the style of the button and how it will be used such as providing balance and stability.  Some button designs are best suited with two large holes where others are better with four.  At times I find the button holes would detract from the overall look so I prefer to add a shank to the back instead.  My  experience with sewing helps me in designing my buttons for various types of projects.

My pdf e-tutorial "Making Beautiful Buttons", contains 20 pages of clear photos and instructions on how to create buttons that are more professionally finished.  I have provide instructions on how to make your own wire shanks and attach them to the back without the need for any glue.    Also included are templates you can copy and use as hole placement guides so your holes are properly spaced and centered every time.

Click on the above photo to read more about our tutorial that is for sale in our ArtFire studio.