Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bead Blog Recognition

Hi!  Just a brief note to explain the new image in the right-hand column of my blog's main page.   I was surprised and pleased to receive email saying I had been selected as one of the Top 100 Bead Blogs on the web.  The URL for the Top Bead Blog site is http://blog.feedspot.com/bead_blogs/. There are some great blogs and links there, and I encourage you to "drop by" and scan through the sites.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Late Summer....

Where has the summer gone? In between projects and travel I'm afraid I've been negligent at making new posts.  So here are some pieces I've made up for the August show in Westerly.  You will no doubt recognize the forms such as the ruffled lei and the lariat.  Here they are in some new color-ways.











In addition, for something simple and light, I made a couple of hollow domed circles embellished with inked designs.


I've also put together some light and simple earrings to add to the end-of-summer fun.
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Folded Fans Necklace

This is the last of five necklaces I made as entries into the juried Regional Art Show in Westerly, Rhode Island.  The necklaces in the previous 3 posts on this blog were the others I submitted.  I was very pleased that all five of my pieces were accepted into the show.  The show ran for the month of May and three of the necklaces sold.

I call this new bead style the "folded fan".  The use of a Skinner blend to make the beads change in color, and the graduated sizes added another dimension of interest to the set.  I used small filigree silver balls n between the polymer beads, and finished the necklace with galvanized silver seed beads.  A light and fun piece for summer into fall.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Light and Swingy Lariats

I've recently started exploring lariats.  They can come in a variety of styles, sizes, weights, designs - imagination is the limit.  In my post on April 18th, I showed a lariat with multiple neck strands and a large central piece for the ends of the strands. Since then, with summer coming, I've been experimenting with lighter and more easy stylings.


This gold and black lariat uses ultra microfiber suede strips. The strips are strong yet supple, very lightweight, and are soft against the neck and skin.  The adjustment loop has a sliding goldtone metal bead.  The same bead is also used at the end of the strips to hide the joining work where the polymer bell flowers are attached to the suede strips.  I plan to make more using the microfiber strips.

 The coral lariat is a different design.  I used 2 strands of the suede strips side-by-side.  They lie flat behind the centerpiece with the flowers.  This section lies right against the neck in front.  Then the strips go around the neck, cross in back, and come to the front again. At this point, the dangling sections can be left straight or flipped loosely over each other.  Styling options!
I think that both of these styles would look great with summer T's or tops. Of course, when it's colder, they would also work with a turtleneck.
Versatility is a real plus with jewelry!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Skinner Blend Lei

As you may  have noticed, I really like the ruffled lei necklaces I've been making for the past few months.  It occurred to me that it would be fun to make a set of ruffled lei beads that incorporated the concept of a Skinner blend.  With spring colors just starting, and summer coming, I decided to try a blend that would move from the bright corals and yellows of spring into the more cool greens of summer.  The core of the ruffles is made with translucent clay, embossing powders, and a gentle tinge of color, while the edges are solid clay colors following the Skinner blend I chose. The ruffles on this necklace are separated by honey gold Swarovski pearls.  Their glow just seems to reflect the glow from the translucent clay.  I made this necklace longer than usual since I think it will be a perfect piece to wear with a variety of clothing styles.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Half-hollow Bead Necklace

I was playing around with an Ikat cane I'd made, and started making hollowed circles.  I used a sheet of the Ikat cane, laid it across the edges of a circle shape cutter, and gently smoothed the clay so it stretched down into the cutter.  Then I pressed the cutter onto a flat sheet of clay, making sure there was a firm connection between the domed section and the flat backing.  The pieces baked well, retaining the domed shape. I used a ribbon of clay and some Genesis Thick Medium to bond the various dome shapes together, and created this necklace.  I like the look and feel of the domes, and plan to be making more shapes and pieces in the near future.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tube-Style Necklaces

I love the warmth and glow that translucent clay imparts to a piece.  Recently, I made a couple of blended "cell" canes that have a lot of translucent in them.  I call them cell canes because they remind me of a group of cells clustered together, or perhaps a bit like the inside of a bee hive.  Each "cell" is a bull's eye blend fading to translucent, with a white polymer wrap around it.  Of course, once you've made a cane, the next challenge is to use it.  I decided to make hollow tube beads, keeping the irregular edges as part of the shape.  I made a set which I combined into a necklace. I had done a similar necklace with this type of cane a few months ago in a different color combination.  I really like the way the navy pearls and light blue crystals complement the tube beads.

Just for fun, I decided to try something a bit different.  I made just one larger tube, and figured out a way to hang some chains with pearls from the inside of the tube.  The results are shown here.  I really like the way these turned out.  I particularly like the look of something hanging from inside the tube, and will have to give this idea more time soon.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sweet Floral Dangles

Here are some new earrings I've been making - sweet flowers and hollow buds.  I must admit that these were an off-shoot from the Moroccan beads I was working on a while ago.  The idea to go small and add some three dimensional dangles for fun just sort of evolved.  And here they are!

I have them hanging from a wire "earring tree" that I spray-painted white.  It was a black and brass color, and just didn't shout "spring" and flowers.  I'm happy with the white.  It's surprising sometimes what just a simple change of color can do.  The tree and earrings are to the right.

Here are a couple more close-up photos of some of the earring pairs.  I made a couple pairs for myself. They're fun to wear, and they've been drawing attention.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A New Lariat Necklace for Spring

I should really make more lariats.  They are such statement pieces and really stand out.  Though they take longer than some other pieces, I do enjoy making them. Besides, they are fun to wear!

This particular lariat has 3-D petal designs on the focal piece and smooth, rounded pods at the ends of the strands.  I used ultra-suede strips for the necklace straps. They are strong, yet feel good on the neck. One of the beauties of this necklace form is that it is very adjustable, and one size really does fit most.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lei Necklaces for Spring and Summer

I really enjoy making these "lei" type necklaces, and I think they're fun to wear, too.  These pieces have some nice natural components.  The pale yellow core on the aqua ruffle beads provides a really lovely contrast, and makes the necklace "glow" from within.  I found some lovely turquoise stone beads with yellow markings, and they match the polymer beads perfectly.

For the burgundy and white petal bead lei I used freshwater pearls and garnets for contrast.


The orange and yellow polymer focal piece below went perfectly with some coral chips I had.  I like the way the unevenness of the coral chips compliments the swirled shapes and colors in the polymer.  Mixing natural stones and pearls with polymer adds another dimension to these pieces.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Earrings on a Moroccan Theme

Continuing on the Moroccan theme, I decided to use the cutters and the leather imprint stamps to make some fun and colorful earrings.  In a couple of the pairs, I added a silver daisy bead, while others I left open with a tiny Kemper star-shaped cutter.
These go well with the hollow Moroccan pendants, and can certainly be worn on their own. It was fun to cut these cheerful shapes while I experimented with colors.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Moroccan Bead Necklaces

In early March, I posted some photos I took of some Moroccan themed beads I made in a CFCF 2017 workshop taught by Lisa Haney.  For more information about the class and Lisa's great ideas, take a look at the March 8th post. Today, I'm just going to share some pendants that I made using the hollow beads.  As you can see from the photos, I went a bit wild and made several of these beads in various sizes, colors, and finishes.

To the left is one of my favorite pieces. I used mica powders to add some sparkle and shine to the clay.  I found a wonderful metal bead with a verdigris finish that compliments the piece perfectly, then hung everything from a chain.

To the right is a cluster of other focal pendants hanging from chains, each with their own dangling bead.   These were fun to make and will be fun to wear!

The photo at the bottom shows a few more necklaces made with hand-dyed silk ribbons instead of hanging from chain.  The ribbon is pretty, allows these pieces to be adjustable, and creates a softer, more rustic look.  These necklaces are all going to the Westerly Art Gallery where I'm a featured artist for April.   Drop by if you're in the neighborhood!

Friday, March 31, 2017

More Plaid Pieces

I really like making these sheets of plaid to use as veneers.  Here are a few earring and bracelet combos I've just finished.  The bracelets are from my new adjustable knotted line.  The earrings are new with a cutout section that gives the piece some dimension as it is pulled to meet in the middle. I'll be putting these pieces in a show I'm doing at the Westerly gallery for April.
I tried something new with this periwinkle and pistachio colored bracelet.  The surface wanted some spring-time decoration, hence the little flowers.
The colors in these next two sets remind me of the Madras shirts that were so popular many years ago.  One of the things that is fun about a plaid is colors you might not normally put together have a way of complimenting each other and creating an interesting visual harmony.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Little "Floating Flower" Earrings

Sometimes, when I'm finished working on a project, I'll pick up some of the left-over pieces, and start fiddling around with them.  I was playing with a "scrap" from a wedge cane, making a little drop shape, and it looked like a bud or flower center.  Since I'd just been making the wine glass "ID rings", I had some of my smaller shape cutters out, too.  Well, one thing led to another, and these little lotus flowers took shape.  They remind me of the water lilies that floated on the backwaters in the delta area near where I went to college.  They looked like this with wider petals open and the center still folded tight.  I may play again with more petal layers, but I like the simplicity of these for now.
I guess the saying is true, in polymer, there are no scraps!

Friday, March 24, 2017

New Polymer Beaded Necklace Design

I enjoy making canes, particularly the wedge canes that work so well in flowers and similar designs. Of course, once I have a cane made, I have to play around with a slice or two to see what shapes might appear.  That's pretty much how these 2 necklaces evolved.  I had made new canes and was folding and bending slices in different ways, then combining them, when the design on the cane slices led to the curved shape you can see in these 2 pieces.  I had to make a lot of individual beads before I could construct the necklaces.  It was fun to watch them lined up on folded card stock for baking.

The necklaces, while very similar, are strung slightly differently.  The pattern on the piece with the pistachio green and deep periwinkle beads just flows all the way around the necklace, each piece separated from the next by light green fire-polish crystals and deep periwinkle glass pearls.  I really like the way the deep purplish lines radiate into the cream section on each bead, and lend a feeling of motion and continuity to the piece.

The purple and fuchsia polymer beaded necklace has the beads facing in opposite directions along each side, meeting in the middle in front. The lines from the wedge cane in this example fill the whole space of the bead and look almost velvety.  Glass pearls in mid-cream and deep purple pull the piece together.

I have found that good magnetic closures are working well and make it easy for anyone to be able to wear these pieces.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New! Wine Glass ID Rings

A couple of months ago, I decorated some wine classes with polymer. I really liked the effect, and thought it rather elegant and fun.  It seemed this might also be a way, depending on the design used, to help designate the difference between wine glasses in a group. Making them takes time, and washing them should be done by hand.  I wanted something faster and simpler.  I came across the idea of wine glass rings, and decided to give them a try.

These are fun to make and the design possibilities are endless.  Because polymer is so lightweight, it doesn't interfere with the balance of the glass.  Keeping the charms on the ring large enough to be easily spotted, but not too large, makes drinking from the glass easy.  Then the glass can rest safely on a table, waiting for it's owner to return. Since I'd been playing with the Tandy leather stamp tools and the fun-shaped cutters I'd been using to make the Moroccan beads, I decided to make the wine glass charms using these tools.  I baked them on a slightly curved surface, which gives the charms a bit of a 3-D look.

The rings holding the charms open quickly and slip around the stem of a wine glass.  I bent the end slightly to help keep the rings closed when in use.  If you decide to whip up a few ID rings and charms before your next gathering, let me know!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Colorful Moroccan Beads

I took one more workshop at CFCF 2017.  This class was also taught by Lisa Haney, and ranked up there as one of my favorites.  As you can tell from the photos, we made rounded lentil beads with a Moroccan theme.  The shapes of the cutters and the impressed designs really made these beads interesting and unique.  The application of oil paint after baking gave an antiqued look to the beads, and made the designs we had stamped into the clay really stand out. Some of the beads were made with white or beige clay, some with colored clays, and some were even made with Skinner blends.  Once again, Lisa came up with some clever tools for us to use.  She provided each participant with marbles of different sizes to use as forms for baking the clay.  She also gave us small wooden stands that were perfect for holding the marbles while they were baking.

Another idea Lisa shared with us was to use the shapes and impressed designs to make curved earrings.  Here are three sets I made, just waiting for finishing and findings.

As in the fish workshop, we were fortunate to have donations of many of our supplies. Polyform again donated all the Sculpey Premo! clay we needed. Tandy Leather gave each participant five Craftool Pro stamps, and Makins provided same shape cutters. We all really appreciated the donations and I'm already using some of these items for more creations.  That of course means you can expect to see more pieces based on this Moroccan design coming soon!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fun Fish!

This class at CFCF 2017 was a lot of fun.  Lisa Haney was the instructor. I always enjoy Lisa's classes.  She comes up with unusual and creative ideas. Last year she showed us how to make a small heart shaped box with a hinged lid.  The hinge was hidden and quite clever.
This year, she taught us how to make fun, colorful, free-standing polymer fish.  She shared a great method of developing the fish body and building the rest of the fish around that base.  My little fish is in the photo above.  First, Lisa had us make an Ikat cane using extruded square rods.  The cane was used for the tail and fins on our fish.  I used parts of the extruded pieces to decorate the tail with colored dots.  The body was made from one of the colors in the cane.  A really clever aspect of this project was the use of a tapered light bulb for the head and body.  The bulb was a perfect shape, and provided a stable form for building the rest of the fish.  Since the bulb was light, baking it and keeping it inside the fish didn't add any real weight to the piece.  The bottom fins are set up in such a way as to support the fish so it can rest on any surface.  I choose to bake mine in "shifts."  First the body, then the tail, mouth and eyes, and a last baking for the remaining fins.  I'm really pleased with how my fish turned out, and I plan on making a few more.
We were quite fortunate to have some of the items needed for this project donated by their producers. Our clay was provided by Polyform. In fact, Polyform provided Premo! clay for most of the workshops, and this was really appreciated.  We had some great colors to choose from, and they certainly helped make our fish bright and fun!  Tandy Leather donated some of their excellent Craftool Pro Stamps.  We used these to create the look of scales on the fish body.  I'm delighted to have these tools for use in the future, too.  Makins gave us each a set of cutters which we used to help shape the tail and fins. These companies and their donations really made a difference to the participants!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lynn's Coloring Book Canes

On the third day at CFCF 2017, I was delighted to spend the day in a new workshop by Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg.  In her usual creative fashion, Lynne Ann has developed a way to bring the adult coloring book concept into polymer caning.  We had an excellent time making a "coloring book cane" that looked quite complex when we were finished.  After baking pieces made from the canes, Lynne Ann showed us how to color them, giving the pieces a whole different look.  This is one of her latest ideas and I hope she brings this workshop to other locations.  If you get a chance to take a class with her, be sure to sign up!
The photo to the right shows three pieces made from the canes I developed based on Lynne Ann's instructions.  The butterfly and flower petal pieces I left just as the black and white canes looked after baking.  The piece at the top of the photo shows a mirror image of the cane that I colorized after baking.  Great concept and great fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

CFCF 2017 - Day 2 with Lisa Pavelka

I had the pleasure of taking a full day workshop with Lisa Pavelka.  Lisa has been working with polymer for about twenty years, and has developed her own product line for polymer and metal clay artists.  Her ideas and tutorials are creative and varied, and she always has some great tips and tricks to share, which I have found helpful.
This particular workshop focused on learning to make a moveable hinge to join two pieces of polymer.  In typical Lisa fashion, the polymer pieces also had a twist - they were "puffed" and hollow!  In addition, she demonstrated a cane and a surface design, and most of us incorporated one or both in our sample pieces.
I was really interested in her concept for hinging the hollow pieces together.  She also had stationary joint ideas.  My pieces were too small for the hinges she provided, so I used twisted metal hoops to join two of my pieces.  I plan on making a hinged pendant or two in the near future, since I really like the concept of motion in jewelry.  I'll be sure to share my piece once I get it made.  In the meantime, here is a photo of some of the hollow pieces I made during the workshop.  The two pieces on the right were made using the cane and the surface design that Lisa taught us.  The pieces on the left were made with the "plaid" surface design that I have been making recently.  You can see the twisted metal hoops I used to join the pieces on the right.  I still need to add a small jump ring or other finding to the top hoop so I can add a necklace chain or ribbon. As you can see, the shapes Lisa had us make were also interesting and different.  A great project and one that I expect to explore further.

Friday, February 24, 2017

CFCF 2017

I'm just back from Laurel, Maryland, and Cabin Fever Clay Festival 2017.  Once again, I had an excellent time.  The participants and instructors were wonderful, I learned lots, got to see some great creations and wonderfully creative ideas.  Over the new few posts, I'll share a bit from the classes I took and hopefully wet your appetite for learning more.  Many of the presenters take their workshops and classes on the road, so be on the lookout for names and projects that pique your interest.

For this first posting, I'll share a bit from an all-day workshop with Ann and Karen Mitchell of ANKARA Designs.  This workshop was on various uses of liquid polymer.  The sisters have all sorts of ideas, including tips and tricks, which they willingly shared with the participants.  In the morning, we worked on mosaic pendants which were later encased in liquid clay.  One tip was to be careful about putting the liquid clay over the metal leaf sections on our pendants. The leaf was easy to rub off unless the liquid polymer was added carefully.  All the pieces on the mosaic, with the exception of the seed beads I used, were made from various processes using polymer.

In the afternoon, we worked on a project that I found fascinating.  The Mitchell sisters have developed a process for transferring images onto regular fabric. After baking, the fabric may be cut and the pieces used.  The photo here shows an edge of fabric with the transfer on top of the majority of the fabric piece.  The leaf shape was cut from the treated fabric piece and shows the back of the fabric. The holes are designed to allow sewing of beads or other items through the polymer/fabric to create shapes for items such as jewelry.  All-in-all, it was a very interesting process, and one I plan to revisit soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New! Adjustable Bracelets

I make a lot of bracelets, but they're on brass channel cuffs or bangles, so the size is pretty much set. I've been wanting to learn to make bracelets with adjustable bands of some sort, and decided to try my hand at some basic sliding knots.  For the solid bracelet sections,  I used some polymer sheets I made with a pattern that reminds me a little of plaids.

I also made some smaller beads to incorporate into the knotted sections.  This next photo gives a better look at the knots, the additional beads, and the sliding section.

I experimented with different cording, using 1mm waxed cotton and 2mm plain cord. The sliding section works nicely, so the bracelet opens wide to slip on, and then closes as tightly as desired.


Here are two shots of another bracelet in the same design.  The beads on this maroon and yellow bracelet were larger than on the coral bracelet since I used 2mm cording here and 1mm on the coral piece.  I think the proportions work well.

Last, I decided to try a really simple closure using elastic thread.  I did add an extra flat bead in the area opposite the band section.  This provides a gentle area against the delicate part of the wrist, and also serves as the place where I could hide the thread ends.  Both designs are easy to use, even if you have to put the piece on yourself.