Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Adjustable Tube-bead Lariats

I really like the concept of lariats, though I haven't made that many.  A few weeks ago, I taught a workshop on making hollow tube beads.  Of course, making beads often involves deciding how to showcase them.  Usually, you have to plan on how the bead will be used and displayed. Sometimes, I have a plan all set out before I begin, while other times I have not thought about it as much as I might have.  At the end of my demo on hollow tubes, I had a couple of sweet tubes without ends. Then came Clay Connection 2016, the every-other-year polymer conference, hosted by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild (SCPCG).  I always look forward to this conference, and this year was no exception.  I had the tube beads with me, made a couple more, then decided how I was going to use them.  Adjustable lariats!





Here are samples of 2 adjustable lariats.  I have a few more tube beads made up, but they're not in lariat form yet.  This particular design leaves the cording just loose enough so the length and the size for around the head and neck can be adjusted. I like making little pod beads at the ends, too.  They provide a form to hold while adjusting the cord length, and they're just plain fun.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Upping the Sparkle on Leis

I really like making these "lei" necklaces, and I'm enjoying playing with different shapes and decorative features.  Today I have a new teal and aqua lei made with small rectangular shapes.  I used an iridescent micro-glitter mixed with translucent for the center of the rectangles, and solid color clay for the "frame."  To bake, I bent the shapes across a small wooden dowel.  They came off easily after baking, and there was no shine nor other marks left by the dowel.

The black and white lei features ruffled circles.  I used a black glitter embossing powder in translucent for the center of the canes.  It really added sparkle and these beads look especially pretty in the sun.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Few Things for Summer


How did it get to be July?! Perhaps the fact that I was traveling in Canada and California during June made that month fly by.  I have been feeling polymer withdrawal, and had to get back into the swing of things.  I wanted to make a lei necklace in summer colors, so decided to branch off into a color I don't use very much - orange! I came up with a semi-subdued orange, but it is orange.  I also made the ruffled disks go all the way around the necklace. This makes the lei stand out as it circles the neck, perfect for summer months when people are wearing tops without collars.



I was also in the mood to make earrings.  I have some sweet little flowers blooming in the yard, so decided to make up some posy earring, shown here in 3 colors.


Monday, May 30, 2016

May Flowers

I've been on a flower-making rampage for some reason.  I'm not making anything in particular with them, but as I sit viewing something, I've found my fingers busy using some recently made canes to make flowers.  They are all different shapes and sizes, and I'm enjoying it, so why not!
Here is a snapshot of a pile of some of the flowers, scattered willy-nilly. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Purple Pinch-Petals

I have always liked asymmetry in things such as flower arrangements, wall hangings, clothes, pictures, and jewelry. There is something about the slight off-balance being set "just right" that I find attractive.  I had some striped petal canes that I'd been using for other projects, so I decided to make some pinch-petals and see what I could come up with.

I formed the pinch-petals into a long cluster and baked them. Then I made a very thin tube that was the length of the petal cluster and fit around the plastic coated metal neckwire.  I baked these pieces so they bonded together and made a solid petal cluster that could be strung on the wire.

I finished the rest of the necklace with size 8 hex-cut seed beads in a really pretty  purple iridescent tone.  If you look carefully, you can see the sparkle of the glass beads next to the matte finish of the petal cluster.  I think it makes a nice contrast.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Regional Show Entries

In my last post, I showed  you two somewhat "traditional" necklaces that I made for submission to the Westerly Regional Art Show.  I made 2 more necklaces, submitted all 4, and just got the results of the jurying process.  Happily, two of my pieces were accepted.  They are along the "lei" and ruffle lines that I have been playing with lately.  I'm pleased they were accepted.  It's always interesting to me to see what pieces are juried into art shows.  I think the overall "look" of a juried show definitely reflects the preferences of the jury.

Here are the pieces of mine that are in the show.  I am really enjoying making this style, and plan to do more over the next couple of months.  The piece to the right has a really full look, and sits nicely around the neck.  I'm using magnetic clasps to make these easy to wear.  The wavy polymer disks are from a translucent cane colored by embossing powders.  The matte glass pearls I found were an amazing match and made the back of the necklace lie smoothly.


The other necklace below is made of ruffles instead of disk slices.  I made these from bull's eye cane slices that I rolled through the pasta machine on a really thin setting. Then I formed them into ruffles by hand and placed them up against each other to create the joined piece.  This necklace also has glass pearls in 2 colors and sizes, as well as some teal round crystals.


This photo to the right is a close-up of the ruffled section.  The second photo, below,  shows the whole necklace.

Monday, May 2, 2016

It's Spring Necklace Time!

I've been working on some new necklace pieces for the Westerly Arts Regional Show.  This is an annual, juried show with different judges each year. There is no particular "look" or criteria to try to meet. Entrants just try to present pieces which showcase their style.  This year, I've come up with a couple of pieces, and we'll see if any get accepted.

This first necklace is a bit of a departure from my usual floral style. Starting with a cane I made from a Skinner blend of purple, fuschia, tangerine and cream, I've made some pointed, layered "petals" which are suspended on a wire with gold hematite beads between the petals. Even with some editing, the photo did not come out as lightly as I had hoped and the deep purple looks almost black, at least on my screen.   I've started using magnetic clasps because I think they make everything so much easier.  Above is a close-up of that necklace.

 
Necklace number 2 is a little more along my usual lines.  The flowers are free-hand shaped with ruffled edges using my spider mum cane for the slices. There is a crystal in the center of each flower.  The "chain" is made of 2 sizes of matte purple glass pearls and silver spacers.  The purple color matches the PJM rhododendrons blooming in our yard.  Love Spring!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New Necklace Style: Suspended by Metal Neckwire

A few months ago, I discovered some new neckwires, and was intrigued.  I liked the fact that they were more substantial than regular necklace cables, were flexible enough to allow ease of use, and required no clasps or closures.  I purchased a few, and spent some time thinking about how I might use them.  I developed a couple of design ideas, and set to work on them.

The photos here show 4 necklaces I made, using different neckwire designs.  I formed the flowers and leaves free-hand, then placed them on the front of the wire forms.  I made "backing" pieces which I pressed against the flowers and leaves from the back side of the forms.  The clay pieces hold the neckwires inside.



The result is a really strong bond, and lightweight necklaces that have a sort of "floating" effect. Since there are no clasps or fasteners, these pieces are really easy to put on and take off.



Friday, April 15, 2016

Pins for Spring

For the April show, I decided to make a couple of pins. Although I admire pins when I see them on others,  I don't wear them very often.

I made a couple of different styles. To the left is a photo two brooch-type pins.  These are about 2.5 - 3 inches in diameter and create a splash of color.







To the right are some stick pins.  These flowers are smaller than the brooches and seem more casual to me. Different effects, yet both are fun ways to have a flower that stays in bloom.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Lariat ~ My First!

I have always liked lariats.  I like the way they look.  I like the concept of something that just slips around the neck without having to fiddle with clasps.  I like how adjustable they are.  And I love the dangles that hang below the "slip through" portion. You have to have dangles.

With all this positive feeling about lariats, why have I never made a polymer lariat?  Answer:  I don't know.

Well, I've remedied that situation, and present here my very first polymer lariat.  The modified triangular "slip through" piece has a mica shift surface that I decorated with flowers, leaves and vines.  It is Spring, after all.  I used three colors of soutache trim for the cording that wraps around the slip through triangle. Each cord ends in a leaf pod or petal pod, echoing the colors from the triangle and in the cording.  As I mentioned, I love the dangling part of a lariat, and these little pods have a nice shape and feel.

This lariat was in the center of my display for my show at the Westerly Arts gallery. It sold during the opening night reception - guess I should make some more lariats!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Surface Sheets from Scrap Rolled Logs

A few days ago I described a process that makes striped sheets from clay scraps which are then cut into slices to make a checkered or plaid look.   It's a really fun thing to do with your bits and pieces, and I really like watching the patterns just sort of "emerge" as you place one cut strip next to another.

Here are four examples of pendant and earring sets I made using this technique.  The width of the slices I cut gave the pieces different looks.  The coral set to the left was made with wider slices while those in the turquoise set on the right were thinner.

They all have a Magic Gloss finish which adds depth to the design.


 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Daffodils and Posies

I have to post something spring-like today.  After weeks of pleasant temperatures, some days even in the 70s - which, for Connecticut in March is pretty good - we have suddenly had snow.  Six inches of the stuff.  A little is okay in December or January, but is absolutely NOT allowed in April.  So, I'm feeling as if I'm in a bit of a time warp and I want to bring spring back as quickly as possible.  I figured posting some little flower pieces might help.
So here they are.  I tried my hand at little daffodils for the first time, and am now wondering why I haven't made these before.  They are a pretty basic design, but cute and cheerful, just like the daffodils that are trying to pop back up through the snow in my yard.



  
I also decided to make a couple of very simple Skinner blend pendants.  I decorated them with little flower clusters to add a spring feel.