Monday, May 25, 2009

Help, I've been bitten by the pen bug

When our guild president, Angela, taught how to cover a pen, I was out of town and did not get to go to the lesson. However, she gave me the print out and, needing another use for my feather cane, pulled out the lesson and gave it a whirl.

WHAT FUN! and.... you can write with it! or even draw with it!

It started with a practice pen (the one on the left). Sister in law Judy put us up on our trip to Florida, not an easy thing when you're driving a 36 foot diesel motor home. But, she had a lovely long, new double wide concrete driveway. What a great parking spot and dinner to boot with Judy and her family. Thank you again Judy!!

Oh, back to the pen. Judy loves roses and her home is redolent with them. Especially pink roses. So, since I had a peachy pink rose cane and a round bic pen, it just seemed like the thing to make.

Here are some things I have discovered about making pens. Those of you who are pen-sters probably know all of this.

1. Don't make the base layer too thick. The resulting pen will be chubby, especially after adding cane slices, and a bit awkward in your hand.

2. Don't make the base layer too thin. When rolling the slices onto the base layer, bubbles can form from stretching the base layer.

3. A tip from Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg at Fandango, roll the slices into the base layer until they are level with the base and you can't feel the edges. Her work is even more impressive in person than in photographs. It's like magic caught in clay.

Pen two, on the right. OK, the roses look great, how about a pearl skinner blend for the base clay with roses and translucent and white tiny flowers??? It also turned out very nicely and the base layer was just right.

Pen three, using the feather cane. The base layer was one setting thicker and since I added a lot of canes, it is just a bit thick, but OK. (Note to myself, add a step 4. If using lots of slices, make the base layer one setting thinner than normal as the slices add to the thickness. )

Back to feather cane, the problem being, what can be done with feathers to decorate a long thin item?????? Hummmmmm. I reduced the cane and cut a bunch of slices, then laid them out in various patterns on the work surface. The serpentine effect of the feathers laid out in a soft "S" shape was lovely.

Another happy accident. The pen turned out elegant and the feathers became a repeating pattern. Just because I like sparkle, iron on glass AB crystals were pressed into the clay before baking. A hole was put in the end of the pen and a short eye pin inserted. Then a large AB iron on crystal was pressed over the hole, sealing the end of the pen.

Two feathers with crystals on the veins were shaped and baked with holes in the shaft ends. A short length of chain was cut, one feather was linked to the chain end with a jump ring and the second feather linked to the middle of the chain. The chain was attached to the eye pin and secured in the hole in the end of the pen using Cyanoacrylate glue.

I've just finished another one and will post when I find the camera. It's got two new canes on it. Can someone help me??? I'm caning, and pen-ing and I just can't stop!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Projects for Fall 09 Polymer Clay Technique Classes

September will be here before we know it and since both Hobby Lobby and Michael's have polymer clay on sale this week it seemed to be a good time to let my former students know that I'll be teaching classes again this fall and that polymer clay is on sale now.

The students that attended classes last fall were talented and had very different styles and interests. Classes in a specific thing were not as popular as classes that taught a technique with samples as to how that technique could be used. I expect that this year's students will be no different.

The first class will be making canes using translucent clay. The canes will be simple and, if there is time, we will cover a votive, but the same canes can be easily used as jewelry, where light shining through is effective. This photo shows slices of canes made using white and translucent, black and translucent, a leaf cane using a skinner blend of black and translucent with black veins and a bulls eye and leaf cane using deep gold and translucent clay. We will start with the more simple canes and progress from there.

Since some students like jewelry and others are fans of different designs or styles, each class will have a dual application. The cane on the left is an Ivy cane taught to me by Mary. She also gave me instructions to make the veil cane, top center right. All the canes except the dragon fly wings are made using Kato translucent. The wings are made using Premo translucent.

The second week we will be making a chevron based feather cane. This is a simple cane was made using a covered, cut and stacked Skinner blend, similar to a leaf cane, but with a lot more layers.

The photos shown, the angel light switch plate (the angel's wings are made of feather cane slices) and the feather cane and earrings are for weeks two and three.

The lesson, "how to make the feather cane" will be the lesson in week two and the students will make either project in week three. Each student will be able to use the canes to make the project that suits them the most.

I'll have molds for faces and hands available for use in class.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sometimes the things that go wrong create a path to a beautiful result

Cloisonne has always been a favorite of mine, the tiny cells filled with gleaming enamel captured by fine gold wires create some of the prettiest jewelry I've ever seen.

I will be teaching polymer clay classes again this fall and while planning projects, the idea of making faux cloisonne using polymer clay came to the top of my list. A matchbox pendant also seemed to be just the thing to make. It's pretty, functional and the students could learn the technique by making a bead first then, with an understanding of the technique, they could go on to create a tiny scene. ( I will provide a number of tiny drawings for the students.) So, with pencil in hand I did a few rough sketches and laid out a design for a matchbox pendant with a cloisonne face and matching bead. (you may have noticed that the drawing showing how the matchbox pendant opens is flawed. I'll change the workings of the design in the final drawing.)

Since a tutorial will be written for class, pictures were taken of each step. After adding the drawing to the matchbox, 'wires' of finely extruded gold polyclay were laid along the lines. The cells were then textured using a stylus. To make the drawing visible on the black, I photoshoped the design to bring out the details.

After securing the gold 'wires', I textured each cell and filled each cell with pearl ex powder in the colors called for in the design. This pic shows the pearl ex powders in the cells before adding any Liquid Kato.

After dusting each cell with Pearl Ex powders the matchbox was baked. After cooling, Kato liquid was drooled over the cells and I used my finger to spread the liquid clay over the entire design. HOWEVER, I failed to blow away the excess powders left in the cells. The liquid Kato lifted the loose colors and distributed them over adjacent cells. The result was that many of the cell colors were muddied after baking. (It was very disappointing when I pulled the hot matchbox out of the oven, hit the liquid clay with the heat gun to clear it up and saw the muddied colors.)

In an effort to fix the mess, I filled the the cells again with liquid, heated and cleared the liquid clay.

Then I put several drops of Polycrylic gloss varnish on a tile and added tiny amounts of pearl ex color to the drops of varnish and painted the muddied cells with the proper colors and allowed the varnish to dry. As you can see from the color pictures, the repaired design is brighter than the original.

I then filled the cells with liquid Kato, baked, and hit the artwork with the heat gun to clear. It worked. To deepen the finish, I repeated the fill, bake and clear with heat gun.

The bead (shown above, front and both sides) has not yet been modified to match the matchbox.

I believe the term for this is serendipity. Something unexpectedly good coming from a disappointment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Video of "Drawing on Polymer Clay with Oil Pencils" is up and running

The idea of Stamping and Coloring on Polymer Clay was inspired by a “That’s Clever” TV show featuring artist Karen Lorraine. She showed how to make a pendant with Mokume Gane on one side and, after baking, she drew a face on the other side of the pendant using oil pencils. Fascinated with the ability to draw on clay, I was challenged to try to create fine art and portraits using oil pencils on a baked polymer clay cabochon. To view the entire demonstration, click this Link:
Full Oil Pencil on Clay Demo.

In addition to the full demonstration on Polymer Clay Productions, the first half of the video is on YouTube. The reason for this is that the full demo is 21 minutes long and YouTube only allows a 10 minute video to be uploaded.

Making the video with Ilysa and Kira at Fandango was easy and a lot of fun.

What a great hobby, playing in clay and coloring!

The cameo shown here was made using the "Thoughtful" medium stamp, Walnut Hollow Oil Pencils, Pitt Artist Pen and Kato Clay.

The "Faux China Paint" cabochon was made using the "Rose Spray" small stamp, Walnut Hollow Oil Pencils, Pitt Artist Pen and Kato Clay.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Step By Step How to Video to air this Friday

At the Fandango in March, Ilysa and Kira of Polymer Clay Productions filmed a step by step demo as I created a portrait cameo, coloring on a baked clay cabochon with oil pencils. Polymer Clay Productions is an on line source for polymer clay information, tips, techniques, and expertise with resources including Polymer clay Podcast, Polymer Clay TV, Polymer Clay Classroom, The Polymer Clay Network and Craft Ed Online.

Originally, the video was over 20 minutes long at filming, but has been edited to fit a shorter format. The demo starts with a blank cabochon and goes through eight basic steps from applying the image to the finished face and hair. When coloring on clay, any drawing or stamp can be used.

In addition to the video, I have donated ten portrait stamps with instructions to be given away to viewers.

In addition to portraits, any type image would be lovely on a cabochon. The Victorians enjoyed tiny landscapes or sea scenes in addition to still life and tiny portraits.

This apple cabochon became the center piece of a pendant. By using curved strokes and following the rounded shapes the applied colors build the rounded apples and flatter leaves. When the artwork is satisfactory, dark elements are accented using the Pitt Artist Pen.

These two flowers will also find homes in a piece of jewelry or on the front of a bottle of hope, or a decorative element in a home decor item like a frame or box. All of the cabochons were colored using the same techniques as shown in the video. Working from dark to light, the colors are built up, one atop the other until the desired effect is achieved.

If you have time, come, join me in extending your creativity to including coloring on clay cabochons.