Friday, February 16, 2018

A Bit More Mokume Gane

I have a couple more pieces I made recently while on the mokume gane kick, and wanted to share them here.  This first set is made using a polymer clay stack of alternating colors, pressed with various objects, then sliced thin.  I really liked the sea blue-green color I custom-mixed and the way the design turned out.  I decided to leave the matte finish.  One of the polymer colors I used was the black glitter accents from Premo! and the sparkle and shine from that color contrasts really nicely with the matte of the blue-green and cream colors I mixed.

This second set was made a bit differently.  I rolled out the layers of clay so they were quite thin, then pressed a rubber stamp into the clay.  I only needed to shave off a thin layer of the clay to reveal the design from the stamp impression.  This method only produces one sheet of design, but it allows the user to make an impression that imitates the picture or design on a rubber stamp.  In this case, I wanted a high shine, so I covered the baked pieces with Magic Gloss for that extra depth and shine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mokume Gane Demo

I really, really like the effects one can achieve with the mokume gane technique.  Actually, there have been several different iterations of mokume gane in polymer, so I should, perhaps, refer to it as the mokume gane "concept." Recently, the Westerly Artist's Gallery held a demonstration of various art techniques, and I demonstrated mokume gane in polymer.

The first photo, to the right, shows the polymer stack from which the sheet slices came, and a pendant and earrings made from those slices.

The three piece pendant on the left  was also created with sheets from this stack.  I really like this new shape form I found, and the tiered look is fun.  I covered these pieces with Magic Gloss which adds another level of depth to the design.

The last photo shows another pair of earrings, and a brass cuff bracelet. This is a very versatile technique, and would look great covering handles or other objects.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Little Holiday Votives

I like candles. Of course, it's always best when the flame can be encased in something to keep it safe and away from flammable objects. That's one of the reasons glass votives were developed.
Although watching the flame can be mesmerizing,  it's also fun to watch the glow filtered through designs or colors.  So I decided to make some small glass votives covered with translucent polymer designs.  Once you have decided on your colors ( for the votive shown here, I used translucent and white) , you need to make a small cane.  Square canes work well for matching up edges of cane slices.  However, round or irregular shapes also work, as can be seen in the example shown in this post.  Very thin slices are placed edge to edge and pressed together to create a solid covering of the glass.  I wanted a matte finish on the outside so I used some organza fabric as I smoothed the cane slices. This kept the surface slightly textured and ensured there were no fingerprints showing.  After being baked at the polymer recommended temperature, the votive is ready to use.  If a shiny surface is desired, the polymer will need to be sanded and buffed before using.

These last two photos show the votives with small electric tealights inside.  This is another option for creating light inside a votive holder, and is, of course, fireproof.  The lighter photo was taken with a light on in the room.

The final, darkest photo shows the glow from within the votive in a darkened room.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Polymer-Covered Gift Pens

Around the holidays, it's nice to have a few things at the galleries that incorporate polymer into something that would make a good gift.  This year, I decided to make some polymer covered metal twist pens.  These pens take actual ball point ink cartridges, so they can be refilled once the ink has run out and used again. I used twist pen "kits" from Boston Craftworks and from Penn State Industries.  I was pleased with the quality of the materials from both companies, and they both shipped the ordered items fairly quickly.
To cover the metal sections of the pens, I experimented with a couple of different polymer designs. There is a seam where the sheet of polymer wraps around the metal, and hiding that seam is the trickiest aspect.  I found that three options worked particularly well.  A sheet from a mokume gane stack was perfect, since you can take ultra-thin slices from the stack and place them along the seam. The seam is hidden and it just appears that the random design from the mokume gane goes all the way around. Another option is to make a striped stack. Variagated stripes, such as an Ikat stack or stripes that are random (not a specific color pattern that could show where the seam is) worked really well, and looked elegant.  Finally, a square cane that you have made will work very well - just reduce the cane to be sure it fits around the pen without needing major alteration, and it looks like the design just keeps going - around and around.  The photo shows pens covered in mokume gane (#2, 5, 7) pens covered in Ikat and stripes (#3 & 4). and one pen covered in a square cane (#6).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New!! Pictures in Polymer

I've been thinking about trying to make pictures out of polymer, and then this idea came to me.   Of course!  I had to make pictures with flowers.  What fun!

I set my flower designs on polymer sheet backings, which I treated with textures and different color schemes.  Then the pictures were placed inside small frames.  The backs of the frames I used have stands.   In that way, these little pictures, which are about 4"x 6", will sit nicely on a counter, table or window sill.

Before I assembled my first pieces, I experimented with different methods of baking. Some of the frames were solid wood, and could handle the temps in the oven, while others had coatings or coverings on plastic bases, and these did not do well in the oven. So, in some cases I was able to bake the whole "picture" as one piece, and in other cases, I had to bake the components separately, then assemble the picture using an epoxy glue.

Scattered about on this page are my first set of "Pictures in Polymer":

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Peeking Right Through!

Here is something rather unusual.  I've made lentil beads with an opening on one side before. Making one large opening allowed me to place a charm or other item slightly inside the bead, creating a focus point within the larger bead.  This time, I decided to poke holes of varying sizes on both the front and back pieces of the lentil.  Of course, that wasn't enough, and I had to try embellishing through the holes.  The result is the pendant you see here, hung simply from a stand of purple Swarovski pearls.  It's a unique piece and should bring comments when worn.  I plan to give this concept another visit and see what I can come up with.  The smaller image below right shows the back of the pendant.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Extruded Canes Revisited

Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop on extruded canes.  It's been a while since I've worked with extrusions, and working with these canes again reminded me why I like extrusions so much.  There are lots of different extruders available, but my favorite is one by Makin's that they call the Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder.  It is very easy to use, and comes with a variety of shape discs.

These first samples were made with one of the smallest round discs, and several of the long round "snakes" made with this disc piled next to each other.  I really like the way the extruder passes colors at different speeds, creating new color combinations and designs.

I also have the 2" diameter extruder gun from Polymer Clay Express.  This is a great tool and opens a world of extrusion possibilities. The larger size allows the creation of some interesting disc shapes.  Here are a few pair of earrings made using the 2" extruder and a larger shape disc.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sweet Little Flower Basket

I had to share this sweet pendant I just finished. The curved front of the basket creates the perfect space for the flower stems and leaf tops.  I hadn't realized how much the sparkle in the gold clay would resemble a type of special pottery. Although it's a bit hard to see in the photo, each flower has a pearl below the small gold center ball.  The balls in the gold-filled chain match well.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Translucent Stripes

I really love to work with translucent clay.  There is a warmth about it that changes the tone of what you are making, and it often seems to glow from inside. Recently, I taught a workshop in which we used translucent to make Skinner blended stacks with white stripes. Taking thin slices from the stack and criss-crossing them over one another is a lovely way to make a base for a bead.  A raspberry, coral and light gold stack made this sweet teardrop shape.  I encircled it with glass pearls and included brass heishi in the chain.
The pendant on the left is an example of using a striped translucent stack as a base for 3-D flowers.  The flowers were made of slices from a translucent cane.  The whole piece has a subtle glow that pairs well with pearls.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Earrings, Earrings, Earrings.....

Perhaps you can tell from the title of this post that I have been enjoying an earring-making binge.  It really got started at a workshop with Marie Segal from California.  Thank you Marie! If you ever have a chance to take a class from Marie, or to get her book, do so!  She is filled with information and ideas that don't quit.

This particular workshop, sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, focused on the use of translucent polymer.  Marie has used a wide variety of translucents, and introduced us to her favorite:  Cernit.  Cernit translucent proved to be an incredibly versatile product, and we couldn't find enough time to play with all the different options.  I particularly liked using the colored translucents mixed with the clear, and incorporating composite goldleaf into the clear translucent.  Pictured in this post are several pairs of earrings demonstrating different applications.

The round disk-shaped earrings demonstrate the translucent qualities the best.  Light shines through these earrings from the back, giving them an overall glow.  The blue and purple earrings have colored translucent swirled on top of clear.  Marie showed us how to make narrow tubes of swirled lines and I couldn't resist making the leaf shapes with them. The aqua earrings have a smaller disc of pressed gold-leaf composite, and these discs really sparkle.

The pairs in red and gold highlighted both the true red color of the Cernit clay, as well as some other techniques that Marie helped us develop.  

In addition to disk earrings, I made some of my favorite triangle shapes.  I added pearls and crystals.  Because of the shape, the clay took on a different look and did not seem quite as transparent.

These last earring shown here are not made with Cernit translucent.  Instead, these are made from canes I made using Premo! polymer clays.  I used special ear wires that I could include in the design.  These are really pretty and fun to wear. The long wire in back is especially nice since it not only adds to the design but helps ensure a secure fit.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mokume Gane & Beads

Every once in a while, I like to blend beading and polymer.  They are two of my favorite art forms, and I think they go well together in jewelry.  Recently,  I made a mokume gane stack and then worked some beading into a few pendants.  I forgot to take photos before I put the pendants for sale in the Westerly gallery.  The result is I only have one piece left - which must mean the combination of polymer and beads appealed to others.  To the right is the remaining piece.  I used seedbeads to weave a bail for the top and strung strands of seedbeads and pearls to hang below the pendant.  I also made a few pairs of earrings, and enhanced the polymer pieces with crystals, glass beads and metal components.
The third photo shows a grouping of earrings and a pendant from the same mokume gane stack. One of the things I love about the mokume gane process is the way in which colors blend and sometimes hide. I haven't decided yet what to do with this particular pendant.  A beadweaving idea is in the back of my mind.....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sweet and Simple

I taught a workshop recently on making striped Skinner blend translucent stacks.  As part of the demonstration, I made a stack and then fashioned a simple bead from thin slices of the stack laid over pearl polymer.  When I got home, I played with the bead a bit, reforming it, and wondered what I might be able to do with it. Looking at my worktable, I spied a baggie of pearls, and knew what I would do. This sweet and simple little necklace is the result.  The pearls are semi-imbedded into the polymer before baking. Then, I varnished the bead as well as the pearls around it, to ensure they are firmly sealed.