Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There a Squishy

Have been a little quite in the last week.  The stomach flu that hubby had a while ago finally caught up with me.  And, of course, it hit at an inopportune time.  I had taken the night off from work as it was my husband's birthday.  Did not get to do anything we planned. Luckily I am married to a man who really doesn't put much stock in special celebrations - he just wanted me to feel better.  He is so sweet.

Yesterday was my first real chance to get back into the studio.  I am busy writing up the "how to" for my guild round robin presentation next week.  It is really hard to explain how to properly squish clay LOL.....

The latest trials are working more with contrast, once again changing only the first color in the extruder. And I am working on ways to size and shape consistently. 

Green was first color in Extruder

This time it was white as the first color

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here a Squishy

The turquoise, ecru and yellow combo did not turn out exactly as I had envisioned (here I go again with expectations, etc...).

 I am learning though.  I think there needs to be more contrast in the colors to make them pop.  More experiments in my future I see (hee...hee...I HAVE to play with the clay... good excuse huh?  Yeah, that will work when the sink is full of dishes and vacuuming needs done and the bathtub needs scrubbing........ )

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Squishing

I loved my little squishy beads so much that I couldn't wait to see what other color combinations would look like. I did festive, so I thought this time I'll try more subtle color.   As the pictures show, it really makes a difference as to which color goes first in the extruder.  The clay was also more firm this time around, so some of them are done following the original instructions, some rolled and some flat.

My next try will be yellow, ecru and tourquise.  Can't wait to see what they will look like.

Gold was first color in extruder.

Black as the first color in the extruder.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Accidental Surprise

After my unlucky morning with the extruder experiments, while I was resting my wrist, I decided to look for inspiration in my PC library. I found another extruder technique in Carol Blackburn's wonderful book "Making Polymer Clay Beads". What the heck, this bead looks easy enough and would make a good demo.

After extruding and twisting, I started the next step, which was slicing off small sections to expose the clay underneath. I ran into a problem right away.  My clay was too soft and it started mushing up. Thinking that this was another dead end, I started absent-mindedly squishing it up. Since the TV was on at the time (the first Tarzan movie from 1934 - love those classics), I wasn't paying too much attention to what my hands were doing. When I looked down at them, I really liked what I saw.  Paying close attention next time to the squishing, I discovered how to reproduce the look.  After that I was up till 3am making more beads.... 

Some of my favorite pieces have been created when I wasn't really trying. Could it be that when I expect something to look a certain way and it doesn't I get disappointed (ie my giraffes which several of you really like) but when I have no expectations.....that is when the magic happens?

Just love the bright cheerful colors

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Extruder woes

I am trying to learn something new all the time.  When asked to be part of the PC guilds round robbin next month, I said sure. And when asked what I will do, I picked something I really don't know that much about figuring it will be a good learning experience

 So today I have been experimenting with my clay extruder in preparation for the guild presentation.  I have not been too successful.  First I tired to figure out how to use the core tool...all I could get was strings of clay coming out of the four corners of the die.  Not a good way to start.

Then I to make a flower cane, using the teardrop shaped die. Not horrible but more time consuming that using my hands alone.  After lunch, I was trying to repeat a trick that Christi Friesen had showed me last week using the die with the small holes in it.  I could not figure out why the strings were coming out in varying lengths, long and hadn't done that when Christi demoed.

So I got fearless and took it apart. Lo and behold the cylinder BEHIND the pushing part was filled with clay!.  The washer had broken.  After cleaning out I put on a new washers (I always wondered why the extruder came with a spare washer...) and tried again,

This time it worked well, but I really torqued the heck out of my wrist. Back to wearing  the carpel brace.  So, I learned that I really think I will do a different presentation for the guild - something less hard on my wrist.
I also learned how to create a personal signature.
 Pretty cool huh? I followed a link from a blog to another blog to yet another blog that lead to My Live Signature.... (oh, no ... relapse of Blogistis!!!)

Mice are Nice

Got an idea while laying in bed last night, just before falling asleep. I may have been fueled by seeing an old Tom and Jerry cartoon the day before .... but who knows.  I drew in the design and colored with PanPastel Chalks (love those chalks!)

As you can see, it was more Jerry than Tom this time around.  It is my first try at making a mouse so it ended up a bit bigger than I was aiming for. It is just a hair over two inches wide.  I would like it to be about half that size since the pin backs in my stash aren't big enough to provide a good support. The pin would flop around and not lay well if I used one of them.  So either I need to get bigger pin backs or make a smaller mouse. 

I Love Mices to Pieces

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CF Inspired Pendant

Had a wonderful time figuring out what to do with the leafs I made in the Christi workshop. While some went to make the wrap vessel, there were others that just did not fit in with the overall look of the vessel or the wall piece I was making (you will see these later after I patina them).

  What is so wonderful about PC is that there is never any wastage.  Even if the mixing and fussing around trying to get a design to work results in "mud", it can just be squished up and used for bead guts.

Single Leafy Pendant looking for earrings - object: Complete Leafy Look

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not every one is a keeper

We all have them... the project that we could envision in our minds, but when executed by our hands ... well, lets say they did not turn out the way we pictured it.

The Polymer Penguin is no exception.  I found an adorable stamp of a giraffe that I just knew would make a wonderful pendant.  I stamped on translucent clay, colored it a bit with PanPastel Chalks, layered over a mottled gold and blue foil (to give it kinda jungle looking background).  Well, after baking the result was less than imagined. 

  Hummmm....maybe the background was too dark...try again with silver foil.  Yeah, that will brighten it up.

As you can see, that was even less of a success. Back to the old drawing board, as the saying goes. I just know this stamp will make a great pendant.

Even Edison failed hundreds of times before he got it right!

Cactus Pool aka Tuscon Homage

One of the many projects we did in Christi Friesen's Polymer Clay Extravaganza was a pond.  The theory was that a goldfish lived in the pond.  But when I made my stones, they were more southwestern in color.  I decided to do a homage to my Tuscon trip instead of putting a goldfish in the pond.  With Christi's advice on how to make a cactus, I proceeded to make one complete with teenie weenie tiny ittsybittsy reds dots (boy they are tiny!). Then I made a few grass like plants to keep the cactus company.

View from above and side.  Piece is a little shy of 2 inches long

Monday, March 14, 2011

I warned her!!

Had a wonderful weekend learning from the marvelous Christi Friesen.  Wild at Heart Studios in the San Juan Islands put on a retreat that was so much fun.  Jan, the owner, out did herself being a wonderful host. Of course, I personally think that every event that features Christi is wonderful, but this time ..... even though some of the stuff she covered I already knew, I still learned so much.  I don't know where she gets all her energy.... she is so bubbly and UP all the time!

My everlovin' (eversuffern' he says) hubbie and I meet her at the airport and drove up to the ferry.  Then we had a leisurely hour ride over to the island.  On the ferry, we meet other clayers who were also heading over.
Everyone started talking like long lost friends. Isn't it amazing how a common bond will unite people from all over?... I love this medium.

Anyway, I had my camera and attempted to get a picture of my favorite PC artist/teacher.  Do you think she would hold still...not our Ms Friesen.  Almost every pix is blurred. I have a beauty with her body still and hands just a blur...quite a sight.  So, what happens when she actually holds still for a second.....well, see for yourself....

I told ya I'd post it...warned ya I did!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leaf Bead Focals

Finally got around to finishing the Leaf Bead Focals I started a few weeks ago. Now that all the beads are made, I just need to figure out how to string them. This is not my strong suit but I am determined to finish the project, not let it linger as a UFO in my drawer.
Side 1
Side 2
Now off to finish packing for my Christi Friesen workshop weekend.  Meeting her at the airport tomorrow and driving her up to the San Juans. Hoody-Hoo! Am I ever excited. So far no signs of my hubbie's stomach flu so am crossing all fingers and toes that I don't get sick.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Got Tired Of Leafs

Seems what ever my intentions, I always come back to the leaf shape on my latest beads. So in an effort to break out of the rut, I decided to remove my hands from the design all together. 

I got out my small cutters and used them to indent into the raw bead. Then colored in with the PanPastel Chalks. Just seeing what I can do with them.  I like some more than others, but still playing.

I've starting working on packing up my supplies for the Christi Friesen workshop in the San Juan's this coming weekend.  Am a bit concerned as my DH woke up with the stomach flu this morning and has been sicker than a dog all day. I hope it skips me - I really don't want to be sick this weekend.  Will be so disappointed if that happens. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Something Fishy this way Comes

Right after I got my PanPastel Chalks, I started seeing what I could do with them. One of the first things I did was stamp on to translucent clay and color in the image with the chalks. Not all stamps work for this technique, as there has to be an open area to color in.  One of my stamps that fit this criteria is the fish seen below.  When I stamped on the clay, and started working with the image, I realized it was a lot bigger than I originally thought. Amazing how a flat object suddenly grows in size when made 3 dimensional, isn't it. It was far to large to make a comfortable sized flat pendant.  So I wrapped the image around a base bead that I had applied silver foil to.  I hung it simply with a crackled bead I had in my stash. I love making the beads, not so good at putting them into functional use (yet - one of my year goals is to improve my jewelery design skills).

As you can see from the dime in the picture, this is a big bead.  Just a bit shy of  6 cm long (2 and 3/8 inches).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are Chalks Cheating?

My latest beads were made by drawing designs into white polymer clay, then painting them with PanPastel Chalks.  After baking, I fill in the lines with colored liquid clay. I enjoy the process. The feeling of serenity it brings hearkens back to the days when I painted on canvas, not beads (my poor family - their houses are filled with oils that I did back in the day - surprisingly I don't have any of them myself.)

I suppose it could be considered a form of "cheating: since the colors are not coming from the PC itself.  I still like the effects and am working on a different design. Hey, a break from the leaf motif!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I am Elinor Dashwood, or so it appears

I have been a fan of Jane Austen since high school (and, no, I won't tell you how many years ago that was).  I was just reading more blogs from the bead soup blog list (limiting myself to just a few a day in a feeble attempt to cure my Blogitist).  There was a link on one that intrigued me - which Jane Ausein heroine are you??  Of course, I immediately thought of Elizabeth Bennett (my favorite - and probably a lot of peoples' favorite also).  But then I took the quiz and discovered I was more like Elinor Dashwood.

Somewhat disappointed  - no Mr Darcy for me. However,  Edward (as played in the latest adaptation by Hugh Grant), is not a bad substitute ... 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Variation on a Common Theme

I seem to be on a cat craze this month.  Yet another creation featuring my favorite animal. 
This one is destined for a new home as of this evening. One of my guild members gave me a heart for the holidays and I am presenting this Siamese Cat to her as a thank you at our meeting tonight.  Would have been sooner but have not been able to make the last several  meetings.

This fab feline was made by stamping onto a thin layer of translucent clay. Then I colored him in using PanPastel Chalks. After that, I laid the image over clay to which silver foil had been applied.  Baked and applied a thin layer of liquid clay to give it a little shine.  

I just hope that she can make it to the meeting tonight.  It might snow again and that will keep a lot of us folks home.