Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Clay Storage Tips

The first thing anyone says that enters our studio is "Wow, you  sure are organized".  It is not that everything automatically falls into place -- I do have to work at it -- a lot!  If I don't, it drives me (and Dave from all my moaning and complaining) nuts when I spend more time looking for something than actually working on a project.

I have been looking for some time to find the right container for storing my clay canes and blends and such.  I found these containers in the scrap booking section at a Michael's store and bought a few to test out.  I figured I could use them for other things if they were not compatible with the clay.

I was happy to discover that they are totally compatible and I love that they are shallow so you can store a lot of clay canes and pieces without having to stack them.

So on the next sale I picked up a bunch more and I love how they all fit nicely on the shelves at my clay work table.

The other item I was always looking for were those cool deli sheets that work great for wrapping and storing your clay.  They are just not a common item to buy here in Canada and I have never had success finding them.  I managed to buy some from a guild member who brought a few boxes up from the U.S. and showed them to my friend Denyse.  Well the next day she comes over with a box of these "perfect portions" bags by ziploc for me.  I could hardly believe it that it was the exact same stuff but in "bag" form.  We just cut the bottoms off and slit them open and voila --- we now have lots of sheets for our clay.  Thanks to Denyse that she found these (she bought them at Costco real cheap) and I thought I would pass this info on to anyone who has had a difficult time as well to find such a thing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Sewing Area

I really love the studio that Dave and I created in our home.  There are three large working tables plus a corner unit for baking.  No matter how much space one might have, however, there just never seems to be enough which is a good reason to keeping it tidy and organized.

The only thing missing in our studio was a sewing area.  My sewing machine and serger were basically stored away, under one of the work tables and then pulled out as needed.  I really wanted to use them more so I came up with a plan.  First I had both machines serviced as it had been a while.  Bill at Heather's Fabric Shelf did an awesome job of cleaning and tuning them up and now they just hum and purr.

Next was to create my own sewing area space and so started my search using Pinterest.  If you aren't hooked on Pinterest yet, you do not know what you are missing!  It is such a great way to get all sorts of fun ideas.  If you are looking for some cool ideas to fine tune your studio, you can check out some of my Pinterest boards and follow them if you wish.  I have a board on "Studios" and another on "Getting Organized".  Some of the ideas may not be for a polymer clay type studio but many of the ideas could still be applied.

And so this is where my new sewing area is ...  Taa daa!

That's right ...  believe it or not, it is hidden away in the closet.  And since it is the closet in the studio, it is even handier.  I never thought about it before until I came across a few on Pinterest so started searching closet studios or closet sewing areas further and found so many cool ideas.  So I thought, why not make more use of the space we already have and I love how it turned out and everything just seemed to fit!

Here is my sewing area that fits nicely on the one side.  The desk we had fit perfectly in that space.  We happened to have a piece of pegboard that Dave hung on the wall for me.  My large thread spools for the serger fit on a shelf at the top.  The other important factor with having an area like this is proper lighting.  I managed to easily hook up two Ott lights so the area is nice and bright.  The one Ott light clips onto the corner shelving so it is out of the way.  I've had this light for several years but never liked the way it clipped and always felt it was so awkward but it has finally found a suitable spot.

The other Ott light hangs right on the pegboard!  

The drawer in the desk holds all of my thread so I can easily see all the colors.

Besides all the work area,  I still have the shelves on the side and above for storage. 

So that was just half of the closet and this is what I did with the other side: 

Our photo light box fits inside on some shelving.  I love how it is out of the way and frees up more counter space.  And because I have a power bar in the closet for the lights and sewing machines already, the light box can plug in as well.  Above are fabrics for sewing hung on skirt/pant hangers -- another idea I picked up on Pinterest.  The hanging closet shoe shelf just fits down the one side for storing other items such as more fabric and odds and ends.

So now I not only feel the studio is more organized I have a lot more counter space freed up and I can sew when I want without the hassle of pulling my machines out and setting them up every time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Making New Friends

The past few weeks have been extra special for me as I have not only met some really cool people, I also made a new friend.  We received a call the other day from someone we had met at the Salmon Arm Quilt Show last June who had a friend visiting from the U.S. that wanted to meet us.  We always love it when people want to visit our (home) studio and see how and what we are working on.  This is how we met Nora who was on holidays and travelling all the way from Arizona.  Nora works with polymer clay and brought some pieces with her to show what her and her friends had made.  It is so neat to connect with other polymer clayers since we all feel we have such a common bond.

The other person we met recently is my new friend, Denyse Pyke, who is a fused glass artist.  She came across our work at Katja's Quilt Shoppe and contacted me right away.  She has had an interest in polymer clay for a while now and wanted to learn so asked if I could teach her.  We spent a fun day together where I gave her some basic instruction on working with clay such as conditioning, basic color mixing, baking, sanding, etc.  We made some skinner blends and then used them to create several jelly roll canes.

Denyse then covered a few tools and made some beads with those canes.  These are a few of the items she made and for someone who never even touched polymer clay before, I was quite impressed as to how quick she could pick it up.  I especially love the set of earring beads she made.  She is talented in other things such as quilting but also creates beautiful fused glass jewelry pieces.  She made the beads below in a color blend to add to a wind chime she was making with her fused glass.

When Denyse went home she showed her daughter, Shawna, what she had made and they played with the clay a little more.  The two of them came over a few days later and we all played with making some extruder canes which I forgot to photograph so will have to share them with you later.

I am so happy to not only make a new friend, but one that I can also enjoy claying with!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fibre Expressions Quilt Shop

It has been an extremely hot and busy summer for us so far.  Thank goodness for our central air conditioning or we wouldn't get much claying done.

We've had a great time these past few weeks with the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts show, meeting new people and making new friends.

We had the privilege to meet Christine and her lovely daughter, Stephanie, who are the owners of Fibre Expressions Quilt Shop in Sechelt, BC.  They now have a wide selection of our buttons for sale in their store, in particular some of our latest design larger buttons to go with some new bags they will be teaching in their classes this fall.  They have a spacious classroom in their store along with a wide range of books, notions and fabrics.   Check out the photo on their website of their cool quilted car that they drive in the local parades.

They are in a beautiful and somewhat remote part of our province we call the Sunshine Coast.  The area is filled with shops, artists and plenty of nature.  Make sure you drop in if you are in the area.  If you cannot make it to their shop, you might want to check out their website as they also sell online.

Here are our new Medallion Crackle buttons in a concave style that are now available at Fibre Expressions.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rectangle Kaleidoscope Dish

Yesterday was the final day of the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts show and it will most likely take a few days for Dave and I to get everything put away and recover from the busy week we've had.  It was a great week and we are already planning the next art show we will be in coming up in September but I will share that with you a little later when I have more time.

In the meantime, since I was showing off some of my new decorative ring/jewelry/soap dishes, I thought I would show you one more in a different style, again with more of my left over kaleidoscope cane pieces. This time I used Helen Breil's "Tango" texture sheet to "frame" it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hexagon Kaleidoscope Dish

I've been really into making decorative dishes lately.   Here is one in a Hexagon shape using some left over kaleidoscope cane.  I used the Pixie Art Stamp called Magic Mushroom by Mike Breil as well but left it in the jet black color which makes the colors in the center pop.

I used some of the left over scraps of the kaleidoscope cane to create the feet using the Natasha technique.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bargello Dish in Black and White

In my tutorial, "Building Bargello Motifs in Polymer Clay", I show how to create a bargello pattern in black and white (see  page 12).  I made a sample veneer sheet for the lesson but had not finished it into anything yet.  I had it sitting on a side table in our studio for some time hoping I would be inspired to finally making it into something.  I finally could envision what to do and here it is now as a ring/jewelry dish.

The texture I used to "frame" the piece is a Pixie Art Stamp called "Magic Mushroom" designed by Mike Breil.  Mike is Helen Breil's husband and just like Helen's texture sheets, Mike's are really fun to play with. 

After baking the dish, I added the silver/white highlights to bring the pattern out a little more.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tumbling Leaves Wall Sculpture

While creating my decorative leaf dishes, I was inspired to make a few to hang as a wall accent.  The end result was this Tumbling Leaves wall sculpture which is another one of my entries and on exhibit at the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts.

Here is a peak at the back of the individual leaves in this sculpture.  For the hangers I attached wire to the round section of some toggle clasps and then embedded them into the clay.  I used the same type of hangers for the tree branch section as well.

I was really please how the entire piece came together for me, especially the tree branch which is heavy wire wrapped in tin foil for the armature.  The leaf "fronts" were all baked individually and then attached to the branch for the final baking.  It wouldn't fit in my convection oven so had to use a large roasting pan in my kitchen oven.  I was a little nervous about baking it this way and watched it continuously for a longer baking time than normal to be sure that it did not burn and that it was all thoroughly hardened.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bargello Fringe Necklace and a Ribbon

We had a nice time at the Artists' reception at the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts in Sorrento last night.  I thought I would share with you two of four items I had entered into the show both of which were jewelry items in the 3D category.

This is my Bargello Fringe Necklace in shades of black, grey and white.  This was a new design for me to create but it was inspired by the many "fringe" necklaces I was seeing everywhere and wanted to imitate that look and feel in the clay.  For added strength, I inserted sterling wire down the entire length of each "fringe" piece.

The other piece I had entered into the show was my "Emerald Forest" necklace which was a nice surprise to see a juror's ribbon next to it.

It was nice to receive a ribbon when there are so many other worthy artists to choose from.  There were 89 artists represented in the show with more than 250 pieces entered.  The variety of works ranged from paintings and fibre arts to sculpture and mixed media.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Leaf Jewelry Dishes

One day while I was making our gigantic leaf buttons I happened to cut a cane slice a little too thick which made my leaf a little larger than I wanted.  A thought then occurred to me that perhaps I could make it even larger to create a decorative dish. I was quite excited with the results and immediately made some more.

These will be for sale at the gift shop in the Shuswap Lake Fesitval of the Arts that opens to the public tomorrow.

Dave and I will be attending the artists' reception tonight and then return there again in the morning as Dave will be doing a volunteer shift in the gift shop while I do a live demo at the juried part of the show upstairs.  Each artist that participates must take at least one shift to help out during the 8 days.  We always look forward to working with the other fellow artists and renewing friendships again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Renewed Scarf Clips

The Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts in Sorrento starts this Saturday and runs for eight days.  We are finally relieved to have all our items bagged, tagged and arranged in the gift shop.  I entered several pieces in the juried part of the show again this year which I can't show you just yet but will after the show starts.

We have a few new items in the gift shop this year.  Since creating our scarf necklaces we have received more requests for other types of accessories to wear with their scarves.  I was never totally happy with the scarf pendants we had made last year as the finishing of the clasp was very time consuming and finnicky to make.  I was so happy when we finally found some actual scarf clip findings.  These have a very strong spring type closure so it took quite a bit of experimenting to figure out how we could attach them to the backs of our clay designs without using any glue.

Here are a few of our new designs using the spring clip.

And here is a sneak peak of our scarf slip display set-up in the gift shop that will be open to the public this Saturday.  We had found these shutters which we painted and trimmed in fabric.

There are two of them so we can display our brooch pendants on the other one.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Cell Phone Purse

I found this "Mini Clutch" bag tutorial some time ago and saved it to my Pinterest board.  I love Pinterest as it is such a neat way to organize the cool things you find on the web so you can actually find them again later!

I finally got around to sewing one up for myself to hold my cell phone and a few cards, etc. Instead of adding the key chain I decided to attach one of my stripe blend bangles in place of a strap.  I used one of our coordinating bargello buttons for the closure.

I am one of those "matchy matchy" types that has to have everything coordinate and so here is a scarf necklace I made for myself along with the earrings and bracelet.

You can learn how to create your own bargello designs as well as the stripe blends shown in the above bangle with my tutorial, "Building Bargello Motifs".  When my scarf jewelry tutorial is finished (soon I promise!) you will learn how to make several styles such as using a bargello style.