Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Buttons

I love buttons! I'm not really sure why though. I don't sew and really have no use for buttons...well, other than the ones that come sewn onto my shirts, pants, jackets, etc. Maybe it stems from my childhood. My Mom always had buttons....and zippers, fabric and threads. She was, and still is, a top notch seamstress and quilter. So I guess that's why I love these things today.

I've made quite a few buttons in the last couple years. Unique buttons that you just can't find in any fabric and notions store. But my attention turned towards other things in my creative journey and buttons were put on the back burner. That is until yesterday! I'm thrilled with how these latest ones turned out. Take a look at how they came to be......

I first made a Klimt cane (the small square thing on the tile with my blade) with these colors then decided to make one long thin string with the remainder of the clay.

First step, choosing and blending colors. Then rolling the colors into sheets, cutting out circles, stacking the colors in random order and pushing them through the clay extruder (not an easy task!).

After I had a long thin strand of clay I began making coils and placing them on a sheet of clay. Doesn't look very exciting at this point, does it?

What happened to all my colors?  The orange ? The yellow?

Next came the tricky part. Shaving away the top of the coils, careful not to cut too deep. This requires both a sharp blade and lots of patience!

There they are! Hidden inside the coils.

I was so happy with the way it turned out. So happy, in fact, that I almost hated to cut it! But finally I just did it having faith that it would work out.  I strategically cut out different sizes. I didn't want to waste any more of this design than I had to. I placed my buttons in the oven to cure, giddy with excitement about the way they were looking....

Then came the next step......sanding! Ugh, I hate sanding!!! I despise sanding!!! I loathe the thought of sanding!!! Okay, you get the picture..... but, it had to be done.
Blah! Did I mention I HATE sanding!

A rare glimpse of me. Sitting at the bathroom sink, SANDING!


Here's the result!!! Oh, and what the pictures can't show is how they feel. So super smooth, I could just hold them in my hand and rub them!!! I know, that sounds a little weird, huh? But all of that sanding makes such a difference!





The 4 large ones are 1". There are 5, 3/4" ones, one 5/8" and the smallest one is 1/2".

These, along with some other newly made, equally fab buttons, will be listed for sale soon in my Etsy shop. I have plans for some other, totally different, BIG buttons too. So be on the look out for those soon. If you're a button lover like me, you won't want to miss them!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Inclusions in Clay

I have been playing around with polymer clay for nearly 20 years now. Wow! After all that time you would think I've seen and done it all. Hardly! There have been weeks.....even months.... that I haven't even touched my clay. And with it's versatility, new ideas are always being discovered.

What I've been playing around with the past 2 days is certainly nothing new. I'm not the originator of these ideas. Others have been adding "things" to translucent clay for years. But I wanted to try for myself and share the results.

First up, dryer lint..... Yes, that's right.....  Dryer lint.  Now most of the time I'm fighting the battle of keeping my clay clean. Anyone who has ever worked with polymer clay can tell you....it's like a lint magnet! No matter how clean my work surface and hands I'm always picking little pieces of lint or cat hair off of my clay. So why in the world would I intentionally mix it in? Because, just look at the results.
At the top is the lint. The bottom right in uncured translucent clay with the lint mixed in. The little owl figure is the cured piece. 

The top is some green dryer lint. The bottom left shows what the uncured clay looks like. The pebble on the right is after curing and sanding.

Isn't that little owl cute? Looks like carved stone, right? And what about my green pebble? It reminds me of a polished river rock.

Well, while I was experimenting I decided to try out a couple other ideas.
This little bird was made by adding blue crayon shavings to some translucent clay. I love the speckles!
I mixed in some bright orange play sand and got a gold fish!

These simple little animal totems are so much fun to make! I'm not sure what I will do with them yet. Perhaps I'll drill holes through them and turn them into beads. Or maybe another idea will come to mind. But I do believe I will try out some other colors of both the crayons and the sand. I do love colors! So.....off to the work table! Until next time........



Monday, September 1, 2014

Wallflowers

Here's the post I promised last week. An introduction to a new product I made that I'm calling Wallflowers.

These came about due to the fact that I had made too many patterned clay sheets (I must confess, they are sooooo much fun for me!) but I had no plans for them. I would make them and store them away for another day. Well, it was getting to the point where I had to do something with them all.

This is just a few of my sheets. Some were leftover from other projects. Others I made while experimenting with scraps.
I took out my small tear drop shaped clay cutter and started punching out petals.

These were the first in the making.

 I added two more petal shapes to the mix and made these.


Here they are on my wall. Aren't they fun?

I made coordinating flowers in groups of 3 or 4 for each pattern/color. They are all available on-line.

But of course they can be used for other things, not just as wall decor.  Here are a few other ways they can be used: decorate scrapbook pages, attach them to a headband, turn them into refrigerator magnets, decorate a picture frame or mirror. Maybe you can think of another use! If so, let me know in the comments.

That's about it for now. Until next time.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From Leftovers to a Leaf

The end of August and the temperature outside this morning was 62!!!! Mother Nature's way of saying, "hang in there, Fall is coming". This time of year, after a long, hot and humid summer, I'm always wishing for Fall weather.

But enough about the weather, onward with what this post is all about.

Anyone who has ever worked much with polymer clay knows about "leftover scraps". Whether you're making canes or veneer sheets, you are always left with bits and pieces.  There are plenty of ways to use up those scraps, just do a search and see what pops up.

But here's a quick showing of what I did with mine.


This is a what I had leftover from making my Wallflowers.....oh wait.... I forgot to tell you about those! Next post, I promise..... (You can now find it here)

I took my leftover pieces and smooshed them all together, rolled them into a log (forgot to take pictures) and then rolled the log flat through the pasta machine on the thickest setting.  I ended up with a sheet that was about 5" x 7". I cut this sheet into thin strips, turned them on their sides and reassembled them. You can find the complete tutorial (with pictures!) on The Polyclay Forum here.

This is the sheet after I cut it up and reassembled it. Aren't those patterns the coolest!



Next, I cut the sheet on a diagonal, flipped one side over and lined up the two halves. Then I cut out a leaf shape. I inserted a "vein" of a contrasting color, draped it along a glass bottle (so it wouldn't be flat) and baked it.



This was a very thin and fairly fragile piece that needed extra strength so I added another layer.
Well, I just so happened to have more scrap clay which I had already mixed together that turned out to be a pretty good color match.  I cut out a slightly larger leaf shape from it and placed it on the bottom of my patterned leaf. Then back in the oven to cure.

I ended up adding one more layer. This one bigger still and made from metallic bronze Premo! clay.

After another curing, lots of sanding, the adding of feet, and "aging" the bronze with acrylic paint I was finally done!






There you have it. My Fall inspired leaf dish. Thanks for taking the time to read about it. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Next up, Wallflowers!!!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Bead Tutorial

Last week I wrote about making beads from some of my old, hard clay.  I mentioned the same technique could probably be done using old canes.  I hadn't tried it but figured it could be done the same way. So.......I decided to give it a try. It just so happens that I have been holding onto some ugly, brittle canes. Just when you think something is unusable....think again!

I started off the same as before, chopping up my cane with my clay blade until I had a pile of small pieces.

Since this clay was really, really dry I drizzled some liquid clay over it and mixed it all up. This is the point where things took a turn.

I was planning on painting my pieces, like previous, but I just wasn't sure it would work with this now sticky pile of clay. So.....I picked up a small amount and smooshed it together. I rolled it into a fat log and started twisting. This made the colors spiral. I flattened it out and ran it through the pasta machine. This gave me a nicely lined sheet of clay. Next, I folded the sheet in half and ran it through the pasta machine again. This started blending the lines into each other. I kept repeating this procedure until I liked the look of it.
Then....what do I do next? Hmmmm..... I remembered I had made some beads once before by wrapping a veneer around a core of scrap clay so I decided to do that! I rolled a ball of clay to use as the center of the bead, cut a strip of the lined sheet just slightly wider and wrapped it around, cutting it where the ends met up. 

Now, here's what you end up with.


Just gently pinch the ends together and slowly work the clay closed.


Then roll the bead in your hands to finish joining it all together.


The next thing I did was to add some texturing to the beads. Why? Because I absolutely hate sanding. I love the look and feel of a perfectly sanded and polished piece of polymer clay but I dread the work it takes! I especially hate sanding and polishing small round beads! Do you know how many times they get dropped???? So, I took the lazy way and added some texture to these beads by rolling them in salt and this is what I got. The only thing left to do was to pierce a hole through it. One down, several more to go.


Here's what I ended up with. Twenty rustic looking beads, all with their own unique colors. I think they look like old, distressed beads that have just been dug up at an archaeological site. (I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little.) Or maybe tiny planets, complete with craters! (I never wanted to be an astronaut.)




So there you have it. Yet another way to use up old dry clay!

















Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Polymer Clay Bead Tutorial

Just the other day I came across a blog post on Art Jewelry Elements about making beads using old, hard clay and it gave me an idea.  I have a container of old clay that I thought was unusable but had just never brought myself to throw away. So, what did I have to lose?

* Note, I didn't follow the instructions exactly as Rebekah gave in her tutorial.  Like I said, her technique gave me an idea of my own to try. This is what I did.

I picked out some colors that I thought would look good together; royal blue, purple, yellow, orange and dusty pink.  I don't have a clay dedicated food processor as suggested in the original post so I used my clay blade to chop it all up into small chunks, mixing the colors all together. (All of this clay had been previously conditioned)



Next, I added some white acrylic paint and mixed it all up, covering all the pieces.  I set them aside for a few minutes to dry.

Once the paint was dry, I picked up small amounts of clay and pressed it firmly together. I formed my beads into small cubes by pushing it against my work surface on all sides. After I was pleased with the shape, I pierced a small hole through the bead using a needle.

Then they went into the oven for an hour. I wasn't sure of the brand of clay, Premo or Fimo, it may have been a combination of both. Since both of these brands have different curing temps and times, I decided to bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. I tented the beads with a piece of foil to prevent burning.

Once the beads cooled, I wet sanded them with a very course grit sandpaper.  After I had removed all the paint I could, I switched to a finer course paper. This is the result. Some of the white paint remained in between the different pieces of clay, resulting in a mosaic look.

If you work with polymer and have a stash of old, hard clay then why not give this (or one of Rebekah's techniques)  a try for yourself? You could even use old canes that have become dry and brittle. The results just may surprise you!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Decorating Tips"

Good grief......how DOES the time go by so fast? Has it really been a month since my last update here? Maybe I should just aim for a monthly post...hmmmm, I might be able to do that. :)

Well, today I thought I would share how I make a pendant. I have had an obsession with these lately. I just love how they turn out and there is something about creating them that I find very relaxing. There are endless combinations of colors and patterns. And it's the making of all these patterns that I wanted to share with you today. So I'll get started.....

First, chose your colors. I usually pick 5 - 7 colors. Today I choose these 6. Light gray, a sort of an orange-y tan, black, dark brown, light brown and light tan. Very earthy.


I rolled out the colors with my pasta machine and cut out various sized circles. I then fit all the circles inside each other and lightly pressed them together. The smallest circle here is 3/16" and the largest is 1-3/4".


Now, these are some of the tools I use for making the patterns. A sewing needle, a small nail, the head of a straight pin, a small screwdriver (the kind used to repair eyeglasses) and a pen cap. Nothing professional there, just some things I found around the house.


Now.... these are what I just discovered. Cake decorating tips! I have a whole set that's been sitting in the back of a kitchen drawer for years. I can't believe I hadn't thought of them sooner.


I decided to test them out and see what kind of mark they would leave. These are the 7 I decided to keep on my work table. Their cake decorating days are over!



This is what the pendant looks like after decorating it.



After it has cured in the oven and cooled off I apply white acrylic paint. Wipe the paint off the surface with a damp rag so that it remains only in the textured marks. And this is what you get.



Now, I start with the back. Just because it's the back doesn't mean it should be left plain! I rolled out some of the dark brown clay and pressed it onto the back of the pendant, making sure there were no air bubbles trapped.  Then I got busy decorating it with my circle cutters and cake tips. It went back into the oven for curing. After it cooled, I painted it, just like I did on the front.


Now my pendant is reversible! All that's left to do now is drill a hole and attach it to a necklace. These a few other ones I've made. See what I mean? The possibilities are endless! Not only are they great for necklaces but earrings and ring dishes as well.

Necklace with 2-3/8" pendant

Earrings with 1-3/8" pendants

4" Ring Dish