Friday, December 25, 2009

The Blizzard Of '09

We had a white Christmas this year. The snow was lovely, if a bit deep. This is what we found when opening the front door about 4 :00 Christmas Eve. The snow was still falling and had blown up onto the front door and drifted in the entry way.

We hope that you have enjoyed your holidays with the ones that you love and the ones that love you.

Tonight I'm playing in clay, developing some new techniques for classes and wondering "What if????".

Inspired by hand made jewelry on the web and the beauty of ribbon embroidery, the next project will either be called "Sliver flowers" or "Faux Ribbon Embroidery". Note the first name is SLIVER, as in a sliver of pie; not SILVER, as in silver and gold.

The flowers and leaves are tiny slivers of clay that are gently rolled to shape. When finished, it reminded me of silk ribbon embroidery where many of the shapes are tiny slivers of ribbon, shaped by the stitchery. We'll see. You will hear it here.

The first pendant was done in pastels and posted on my flickr site. It was posted on Etsy, but was lost in the huge pool of lovely products.

The pendant reminded me of the slightly puffy look of ribbon embroidery.

The next attempt was to make another pendant with a different feeling.

I learned more about beading at a guild field trip to a beading store. This pendant has a jade necklace with tiny gold tone seed beads, AB glass beads, two lavender beads whose names I have forgotten and gold tone spacers.

The background is faux ivory, but looks more like faux wood. Maybe not a good choice. Also used are iron on crystals and some wire work.

I'm still learning something about jewelry every day it seems. This necklace is a favorite so far. It took four attempts to get a pattern in the beadwork that I liked. First it was too dull, then the lavender beads were too far from the pendant, then it needed spacers, still to dull out came the sparkly AB glass beads. Finally! a necklace I was proud of.

The earrings are in progress.

Just for fun, I experimented on different bits of clay, like ribbons to make this little wisteria pendant.

The clays used are both translucent and opaque. The tiny eye pins along the bottom are from Rio Grande. They have tiny ridges that allow them to be inserted before baking, and when gently pressed from the front or back, will not come out after baking.

The pendant is only about 3/4" tall without the eye pins and pale pink drops.

Have fun and I hope you have lots of time to create and play.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Gift for you ~ the 2009 Christmas Angel artwork

* Christmas is a time for, well, lots of things, but one of the biggest for me is a new angel drawing for the annual Christmas card / newsletter.
* This year's Christmas angel is designed to reflect a prayerful attitude and a sweet spirit.
* Peacock feathers intermingle with her feathers and circle the border of her robe. The title of this illustration is: "A Christmas Prayer"

* There are two images, the jpg, has a romantic, Victorian background. See right. The .png image below is the angel alone on a transparent background. Feel free to download either or both.

* We hope that your holidays are especially good for you this year, that you and your loved ones are well and pursuing happiness.
We have had a very busy year. Last November we began the remodeling of the house that I inherited.
* Note: Old people who plan a total and complete remodel of a house should think twice or even three times. It’s a LOT of hard work but the results were well worth the effort. We were blessed to have many, many hands helping us with the work. I thank God for our helpful family and friends.

* Vince Jonas was our most excellent and creative carpenter. He’s been blessed with a marvelous talent. New baseboards, casings, cabinets and built-in's make this house both uber-functional and beautiful.
* By the time the house was finished, Joe and I were more fit than we had been in years and both of us lost weight. We moved in on my birthday in August.
* In September I started teaching again, once a week, at Southern Oaks Rec center. We will be posting both a freebie tutorial and a tutorial for sale each month from the classes that are taught each fall.
* Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year! May you be blessed by the eternal gift of the Babe of Bethlehem, Emanuel, God with Us and may God richly bless you, the ones that you love, and the ones that love you.

* If you would like to use either or both of these images for your personal, non- commercial use, or for making one of a kind's for selling at craft shows, you may download either or both sizes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Venture ~ Tutorials

Each year I create eight to ten new polymer clay tutorials for the classes that I teach in the fall. It's a lot of work for just one class. Recently hubby Joe suggested we post the more involved classes for sale and have a "Freebie of the Month" tutorial along with the tutorial for sale. After a bit of planning, we have chosen the first two class tutorials to post and created an index page with clickable links.

HERE is the link to the index of the currently available Pdf files.

The first is titled, 'OrnamentCover.pdf'. When you click this link a single page will open up with information about the tutorial, a materials list and photos of the finished ornament. The full tutorial will be sent to you by email after payment.

The second link, the "Freebie of the Month", is titled, 'SnowmanSwitchplateTutorial.pdf'. Just in time for winter fun or to bring a fun, snowy, wintry feeling to a warm southern home.

This is a tutorial that I have posted a couple of times over the years. It's one of my early guild classes; a switch plate cover with a snowy winter scene. The project shown uses Fimo glitter blue and glitter white, but any blue and white clay should work. The clay is baked on the switch plate.

A switch plate cover note: to avoid the embellishments from breaking off, be sure that the parts are firmly pressed into the background and are thin, sort of like the artwork on a coin. The snowman's nose appears to be sticking out, but it is actually flat across his face.

The second page of this switchplate tutorial contains a second, mini tutorial, "Faux Knit", a technique for making 'knit' clay fabric as shown in the scarves. I've made tiny stocking caps and socks using this technique and would love to see what you might make using this 'knit' clay fabric.

If you can't download the files or would like printed copies, please write to me.

Have fun!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's been FAR too long but we are home at last!!

After working for nearly a year and the last five weeks at a fever pitch, it was time to MOVE! We had completed a total remodel, taking the house back to the studs in some areas, adding a skylight, replacing all of the baseboards and casings, removing all of the old paneling, expanding the master bathroom, adding built-ins, bumping the back half of the huge refrigerator out into a closet in the garage freeing up a lot of floor space in the kitchen, walls were finished with a new sheet rock texture in a stucco finish with bullnose corners, all woodwork was painted high gloss white, new flooring laid throughout, walls were opened with arch ways to improve the flow and repeat the arched windows, new appliances installed, granite kitchen counter tops, new bathroom counter tops, sinks with faucets, furnace, air conditioner, garage door with opener, roof, turbins, gutters, sidewalk, etc, etc......

Except for a few handles and some touch up paint, everything was finally finished enough to move. We even had a renter for the old house. When we began the move on my birthday, August 23rd, we were moving out as they were moving in.

After we got into the house, and my studio was still full of boxes, I realized my first Polymer Clay Technique class was less than two weeks away. With no computer until three days before class and all my tools and clay in boxes, there was a serious temptation to panic. For each class, I create a project, write a tutorial, taking step by step pictures and, if needed, prepare a kit. The only thing to do was jump right in and do the best that could be done. Armed with a box cutter, I attacked the 18 boxes in the studio, determined to find everything I needed for the first class. The efforts were blessed with success and we started on time with clay, instructions, everything except the sample. I could only find a photo of the project, but the students were able to start and finish with what we had.

The classes run in three - 4 week series each fall on Thursday nights at Southern Oaks Recreational Center in Oklahoma City. The last class of the third series ends the Thursday before Thanksgiving. I post a list of each four week series, including pics of the projects and a materials list. It was a monumental task to have the project list out in three days, pictures to follow.

The first lesson of the first four weeks we started with translucent canes, a bullseye, leaf and flower canes that would be used to cover a votive. I chose this lesson as the effect of candlelight behind the translucent designs is so cool. The lesson included information on using a very thin white layer between the translucent and colored clay to prevent any possible staining from the darker colors used around the translucent clay.

For the second lesson we continued with caning creating a feather cane using a chevron pattern and a variety of colors. The lesson included ways to change the effects by using a variety of colors. Student Annette used the end pieces of her cane to create a beautiful pendant that, because of her color choices, resembles a peacock feather! On one feather cane, I used gold tone foil in the mix, bringing a sparkle to the feather.

Week three we were supposed to cover pens, but the teacher was unable to find the pens purchased for class so we ended up covering the handles of our Exacto knives and tip drills with beautiful feathers on skinner backgrounds. The lesson included step by step instructions on how to make the pen. While we were baking the handles, I showed them how to make some jewelry, actually earrings from the same cane. We made a set of earrings with two feathers and a showier set with three feathers each.

Once again Annette made a fabulous set of not only earrings, but a series of sized feathers that would become part of a necklace set to go with the pendant created from the scraps and the earrings. Very creative and beautiful work!

The last week of the series we used slices from the same feather cane to make wings for an angel switch plate. This was a lesson on both molding clay, covering a switch plate and stamping on clay. Inspiring and spiritual word stamps were created using photopolymer to be used on the garment. It was a challenging lesson both to develop, photograph, write and teach. New students have seen the project and would like for it to be repeated.

The week after the last class we were expecting 30 guests for Thanksgiving requiring more work to finish hanging the artworks and other little chores that had to wait until classes were over. It's now the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it's really good to be back blogging again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Remodeling: Not for the Faint of Heart

DH Joe and I have been remodeling a house since last November. It's about 3 miles from our current home and we drive over there every day to work on it. We plan to move into it when finished. There are about a gazillion things to do when completely remodeling a house. Cabinet hardware is just one of them.

To try to save some money and not add to the landfills, we decided to use the existing hardware in the home we are remodeling. The knobs and backplates currently are dark brass, and have very pretty with molded designs. The dark knobs do not look nice on the high gloss white cabinets. Too much contrast.

We had a plan. I would clean them, and paint them the same decorator color as the walls. When the paint dries, the enamel is scrubbed off of the high spots to reveal the beautiful pattern in the knobs, back plates and pulls. A light dry-brushing of gold and bronze would be used to bring out the lovely designs.

After a quick coat of lacquer is applied and allowed to dry in the bright sunlight the knobs, handles, and back plates would be reinstalled on the white woodwork.

Since we have added so many doors and drawers, We've had to scrounge up some additional knobs and drawer pulls. We found used ones at the Habitat Renovation Station from the same time frame as our home was built, late 70's. They are not the same pattern, but complimentary when done the same painted technique. Since the new knobs and pulls will only be in the two rooms, the whole thing works!

The hanging lamps in both bathrooms were also the dark brass with glass globes. They were dis-assembled, cleaned, painted, etc. Even the chains were painted and sponged with bronze and gold to brighten them and bring out the decorator colors we've chosen. All the finished parts were going home to be re-assembled using new wire and the part into which you screw the light bulb. We will re-hang the lights on Saturday.

After working all day in the remodel house, I loaded all of the metal lamp parts and cabinet hardware, handles, knobs, tools, scrubbers etc and can of High Gloss Enamel Paint into a shallow box. (we had been painting and prepping them at the remodel house when we needed to sit down a bit.) I put tools and hardware in another box, and there were two shallow boxes of finished hardware with lids. So there was a stack of two shallow boxes with lids, an open box with tools and hardware; and the open shallow box with the quart of paint and hardware on the top of the stack. This went into the back seat of the Saturn (my 12 year old SL2) to bring home to work on over the weekend. Hubby Joe took grandson Jacob home in the Saturn while I drove the other car home. We met back at our current house where we had supper and a bit of relaxing.

When I went out to the garage to bring the boxes into the house a couple of hours later, the can was still sitting upright, it appeared to be sealed, but the paint was running out of the shallow box on top. The wet paint had collapsed the side of the box and the entire quart of paint had run down into the back of the seat, into the seat, the seat belt holder, the seat belts; EVERYWHERE on the back seat behind the driver, as well as into and onto all the other boxes! It appears that the lid had not hammered tightly back onto the can of paint. Somehow the paint had leaked out of it during the ride home and while sitting in the garage.

I started grabbing the boxes, dragging them out of the car in the garage and onto the floor. Next came the hose to hose down the stuff in the boxes as the paint was drying on everything.

I grabbed two towels to try to clean up the mess in the back seat. No luck, the paint was too thick. Next, we used the hose to try to flush some of the paint out of the back seat. Using a scrub brush and 409, Joe and I started hosing and scrubbing the seat until most of the paint was out of it. However, the paint had dried at the edges leaving an ivory ribbon of paint across the back of the seat and around the edges of the pool of paint in the seat that will NOT come out!

During the activity of scrubbing, hosing and mopping, watery paint is splashed all over the interior, door insides, and even outside where it drooled while removing the boxes.

Finally we began to wonder where is the water was going!? It was not running out of the car or back into the trunk. We found the water, it was under the CARPET! the carpet began floating like a water-bed in both front seat and back on the drivers side!

Out comes the wet/dry vac! Half an hour later most of the water is sucked out of the seat and floor, the mess is everywhere. Even the courtyard needed to be rinsed down to get rid of the paint residue after we dumped the wet/dry vac tank contents down the drain!

Then I used the 409 and a clean towel to try to get the paint splashes off of the interior and exterior of the car. There was even paint drools on the trunk and hood!

Another hour was needed to clean up the painted pieces, unpainted pieces, chains, light fixture tops, connectors, tools, and bucket in the kitchen sink.

Went outside to bring in the dirty towels to wash and noticed the boxes were still sitting on the floor, with paint still oozing out of them! Get out the hose again, raise the garage door, hose out the garage, trying not to splash painty water all over the outside of the car again. The oozing boxes were trashed. The mess is mostly gone.

I'm wet, cold and really, really tired. Gonna climb into the tub and warm up before going to bed. So much for a relaxing weekend, let's hope that things get a little better and that finishing up the house goes more smoothly.

Next weekend, we move.

Oh, BTW, The top of one of the bathroom lights is missing. Maybe I'll find it tomorrow when I go out to check out the garage in the daylight. If it's not there, it's probably still in the remodel house.

DH Joe worked hard to save the back seat, clean up the spills and encourage me. Thanks so much Joe!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pietre Dure, just for fun

It's been awhile since there was time to post here. We continue to work on the home we are remodeling and are to the painting stage. All the new woodwork is primed including the 70+ cabinet doors. Now we clean, clean & clean to prepare for the high gloss finish coat.

Recently, needing a break from the work, my fingers succumbed to the lure of Pietre Dure, an art-historical term for the technique of using small, exquisitely cut and fitted, highly-polished colored stones to create what amounts to a painting in stone. It is considered a decorative art, a type of mosaic without grout. The pieces are all cut to fit together tightly.. It literally means Rock Hard.

In polymer clay, the unbaked clay is cut and inserted into an unbaked clay background. I learned about the polymer clay technique in Encyclopedia of Polymer Clay Techniques; a book by Sue Heaser.

The technique is fairly straightforward. Make a background. Cut a shape in the background, fill the shape with a piece of clay exactly the same shape. Like anything new, I just HAD to try it. After two false starts, I settled on a sailing ship. It's an old fashioned theme for an old fashioned technique.

The billowing sails of the ship seemed to beg for a circular skinner blend. In the 70's I did a large painting of a ship in full sail for my father who has since passed. I have no knowledge where the painting is now but loved the feel of the wind and waves. Googling ship under full sail, I pulled references, put them on one page and began sketching a simplifed design.

After printing out the line art, I made the background using Skinner blends and traced the line art onto the background. The drawing showed all of the cut lines as overlapping pieces would cut away the background pieces if necessary.

A skinner blend was created to reflect the billowing sails and pinched into a rectangle. The sails were slices from the cane then cut to the shape needed.

One by one each piece was cut out of the background and replaced with a matching shape in the proper color and ordination.

The mast was first, then the sails. Everything was cut and fit from the background to the foreground.

It turned out ok, after sanding it is amazingly smooth. At first glance, most people think it's a painting.

I plan to try it again. This time with blends for the water, canes of translucent and pearl swirls for the white water, bits of gold for bright sunlight flashes on the ship....... etc, etc. There are so many things I would do differently, but the work itself was invigorating.

What a delightful respite from the tedium of long hours sanding, cleaning, weeding, and all that is necessary to make our new home lovely.

Thanks for dropping by. If you want to use the drawing for your own attempt, feel free. I would love to see how you do. Be sure to see Sue's book for an excellent description of how to do this challenging technique since there is much more to making Pietre Dure than my simple description.

Thanks so much Sue!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A bit of This and That

We are back from the lake where we attended the annual Couch family reunion. DH Joe has three sisters and two brothers. I have one sister who has homes in Idaho and Iowa. A very long way from Oklahoma. We see each other very rarely but Joe's delightful siblings have more than filled the gap. All three sisters, Patsy, Barb and Judy, are unique and a ball to spend time with. The brothers, Jerry and Joe are equally friendly and good natured. (Yes, my husband Joe has a brother named Joe, but that's another post.)

In my last post, I was making polymer clay covered pens. I made more pens and took them to the reunion for the sisters and sisters-in-laws.
The next pen I made was a very different style. The barrel color was deeper and more subtle. It just cried for a simple five petal flower. Eager to try a new leaf cane, I created a subtle, shaded leaf. This pen quickly became a favorite.

The next two are completely different. Both started with a skinner blend, one bright and one delicate in coloring. It soon became evident that fancy roses and leaves were not going to go well on this brightly colored pen. Another cane was necessary. For a long time I've wanted to do the black and white stripes and that strong pattern would show up better on the bright colors.

Tiny hearts and twisty black and white threads and pin wheels decorated the bright blend pen.

The delicate pen called for even another cane, a blended bullseye from left over skinner blend, wrapped in black and white stripes. In addition to the bulls eyes, the simple flower fit into the design beautifully.

The results were ooohhhed and ahhhhhed over by the sisters as they got to choose their pens.

After returning home, we once again hit the remodel house hard and heavy, working daily to finish the job. Since we will be moving, I am cleaning out my studio to down size it a bit and prepare for the move.

I ran across an old photograph album from the mid 80's with photos of many of the miniatures that I made using fimo.This one is a picture of a real penny. Yes, an actual US penny. In front of the penny are two tiny bears that I made for doll houses. Note the millefiori patterns in the tiny bears. The one on the left is a quilt pattern, you can still see the tiny swirls in the block with the roses in it. The bear on the right has a printed "fabric" with tiny teddy faces with red bows. Even at that amount of reduction, the fimo details are clear.

During the late evenings at the lake, when everyone is tired out and headed to bed, there is always an opportunity to play with clay. This trip was no different. This fall I plan to teach sculpting flowers. The first choice was an orchid. I am not happy with the too dark color of purple, but other than that, they turned out OK.

My grandparents were early settlers in Miami, Florida. My grandmother loved orchids and, over the decades, built up a wonderful orchid collection. Some of them took thirty years to grow from seeds before they bloomed. Whenever there was an orchid blooming, she would bring them into the dining room and hang them from the chandelier over the table. I've eaten many a meal with a most fantastic spray of brilliantly colored orchids embellishing the table. When she was in her 80's she sold her home and donated the collection to a museum.

The project will teach the basics of flower construction. These orchids are 'growing' on an old piece of wood and will make nice pendants or pens. The bright throats are colored using oil pencils.

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.

Friday, April 10, 2009

If it's not one thing, it's another.

Wow, I can't believe that it has been so long since the last post. I would like to say I'm home and relaxing from the trip, but we have hit the remodel hard to try to get it done by June. I'm sanding cabinet doors, removing hardware, running out for the guys to buy this or that or the other, and lunch. Plus, since returning from Fandango, I have been busy every evening working on a website. Lot's of folks have asked for my website address, so I figured it's about time I got on the ball and put one together. It's a lot more work than I had imagined.

Our days go something like this, (read it like you are out of breath, short, choppy sentences.)
Today, tile and flooring.
Borrowed truck,
Had to remove 5th wheel device from truck bed,
Drive to tile place, on the far north side of OKC
Look at bathroom countertops,
Measure nearly every one of them
Buy tile, head out the door to get truck,
Set off alarm on borrowed truck
Truck won't start
Work for over half hour to get truck to start
Get it started,
Drive to door
Load 27 boxes of tile!!!!!!!!!!! (helped by men at store)
Wonder, how we going to do this when we get home?????????
Drive toward house,
Get call from brother "meet us for lunch"
Eat lunch at favorite mexican restaurant.
Again, drive toward house
Back into driveway.
Set up boards for ramps.
Have to remove some shelf holders so hand truck will roll smoothly.
Sweep floor where tile will go.
Joe loads hand truck while I hold it,
Rolls inside, unloads hand truck,
Repeat five more times
I hold hand truck while he unloads.

Now drive to Norman OK to look at flooring at Habitat for Humanity store.
Look at all the counter tops,
Look at light fixtures
Buy 175 feet of flooring for new studio.
Buy 200 feet of underfloor stuff
Take it to house
Again with the hand truck
And again.
And again
Take truck back to brothers house.
He not there,
Work for half an hour to put the 5th wheel device back into truck.
Come home,
Flop into chair!!!!
Friend sends a chat,
Then a video
After talking flop into chair again, but NOOOOOOOOO
It's supper time!

I made this single pic of the living room in progress by putting three pics together in Photoshop. We found the windows behind the bookcases on either side of the fire place when we tore out the old dark paneling and bookshelves. Joe created arched openings to match the rest of the house. The openings will have "Autumn Leaves" clear glass in them, allowing light to pass through to brighten the living room however, the heavy patterns of falling leaves will give complete privacy.

The plan for the house is a Mediterranean Style. The house had several arched windows and three arched doorways. We have repeated the arches through out the house and added a skylight in the master bedroom. The colors chosen are warm, with turquoise touches. All woodwork will be high gloss white, walls buttery buff with darker focal walls. The accent colors will be used through out the house. I'm even thinking of a tuscany village scene mural in the dining room. We used to eat in a restaurant with a village scene that was sooo charming. However one of the big tornados that frequent our state, destroyed the restaurant and the lovely scene.

On Thursday, clay buddy Jane called and asked if we could play. Since the tile guy is now putting tile on hall, kitchen, dining room and Florida room, we can't get in to work, so we took the day off and I played. We made faux granite and faux marble. Here's the earrings I made. Two matching hair combs are in the works.

However, not all was great on Thursday. Wednesday evening, when the dishwasher in the house we live in emptied, most of the water went onto the floor and fortunately, I was close by and caught the mess. I threw lots of towels down to prevent it from running onto the wood floor in our work room, right next to the kitchen.

All afternoon, while we were claying, we had to walk around the stuff from under the sink and the fan blowing into the open cabinets to dry the space.

Joe had to replace the drain pipes, one had corroded through. The
house is over 30 so I guess it's no surprise. There is still a tiny
leak under the sink. One part needs tightening but (wouldn't you know) the wrench we need is at the remodel house. You can bet there was another trip to the hardware store!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What a great two weeks~

Joe and I are headed back to Oklahoma from St. Augustine where the Orlando Polymer Clay Guild held their fourth annual "Orlando Clay Fandango Retreat". Don't you just love the title??? It's fun just to say it out loud. ""Fan-DANG-go""!!!!!! (A little snap of the fingers and a sexy tossing of the head here!!)

Last year17 artists submitted a syllabus of a class that they would like to teach at the Fandango. My submission for an inro class, a wearable vessel, was selected. After weeks of preparation and a five day drive, four days driving with one day in the middle to relax, I found myself at the front of the class, introducing both myself and the inro to a fabulous group of students. The retreat was a delightful success and the campground Bryn Mawr, located on the ocean, was wonderfully relaxing.

The drive down included two days driving through Texas and into Louisiana, for a quick, overnight visit with Joe's sister Judy, then camping for two nights in Magic River Mississippi. During the day there I made this oak leaf inro. I think it might be my favorite so far.

Everyone needed to have a name tag and many would be making their own, decorative, beach theme tag. There was not enough time to make a beach themed tag so I chose to use the project pin that went with the Dollie Dangles Sweetbrier Studio mold and add a banner with my name on it. However as it was laying on the table in the rig, Joe looked at it and suggested 'word balloons', like in a cartoon. He has lots of great ideas so I used his idea and added the 'introductory' balloons. Sure enough, the little balloons were clear, easy to read and were cuter 'n all git out! (That's Okie for "very cute and clever!".)

Since I was an inro teacher, it seemed as though my perky name tag gal should have one too. Finding a 16 penny bent nail in the parking lot, I washed it, wrapped it in paper and made an inro over it. The outer, decorative layer is made of a slice from a micro millefiori patterned loaf that was created back in '85 using original Fimo. I cut a thin slice and gently squeezed it to restore the flexibility and softness of it. Note that the flowers and leaves are still crisp and highly visible. It opens like all inro and has a 'gold' liner.

Next I needed a tiny cord from which to hang the inro. In the rig was a sewing kit with a number of colored threads. Hooray, raw material for a tiny cord. Choosing two threads of white, one of pink and one of red, cutting them to the same lengths, twice as long as I wanted the finished cord to be I tied one end of the four threads to the latch in my art table, and began twisting the threads until they were tight enough to form a rope. Grabbing the twisted cord in the center, and pulling up, while still holding the twisted end, I moved the it near to the tied end. The twist in the threads caused the two halves of the cord to wrap around themselves, making a tiny rope. I used this rope to string the inro then tied it around the neck of the name tag.

We stayed at Bryn Mayr, a campground on the beach in St. Augustine, about two miles south of the hotel where the retreat was held. Two other retreat goers, Nita and Sandy, along with their husbands, were also camping there. Both had signed up to take my class and I 'met' Nita via the web a few weeks before the retreat.

The event, which started on Thursday and went through Sunday, was a great four days, Three of the days I taught the inro class from 9 to 6. Happily, nearly everyone went back to their rooms with a finished inro hanging around their necks. There lots of thank you's and very generous praise from many of the students. I met so many, many wonderful people who love polymer clay as much as I do. It was an invigorating three days.

To top it all off there was a shuttle launch at 7:47 PM from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, the last day of the retreat. I taught at the hotel until 6 but Joe drove to the cape earlier in the afternoon to watch the launch up close. Just after 7:30 the students and I went out to the beach, along with a score or so of other people, right behind the hotel, and watched the shuttle launch The launch sight is 94 miles south of St. Augustine, but you can watch the flames and smoky trail of take off as it rises slowly and then shoots across the sky. It was so thrilling that I was ankle deep in ocean water before I noticed that my feet were cold and wet! My heart was soaring with that heaven bound rocket that started out as a thick smoky plume, then slimmed down to a contrail and lastly became a bright star rising ever higher. When the two booster rockets were jettisoned, there were, for a brief moment, three stars. One continuing to rise and two falling.

Nita and husband Ken drove me home from the hotel after the launch. Joe rolled in just after midnight, still excited and filled with the wonder and awe of the event. What a fabulous week.

We spent Monday at Bryn Mayr doing laundry and a bit of R&R. We are in the rig now and are headed home.

There is a house that we have been remodeling ready and waiting for our return to be finished. Joe is very eager to get the job finished as we plan to move into it as soon as possible.

Life goes on and we have a couple more days of travel and relaxing, then home again.