A new year and some reflections

It’s 2016 already! Where did the the last year go? That’s such a clichéd thing to say, but sometimes it feels like time is just galloping ahead, too fast for comfort.

I did have a pretty creative year though. I tried a variety of new techniques, screwed up the courage to start blogging, attended my first ever workshop and participated in swaps with other clayers. All of these things are big milestones for me for different reasons. New techniques still remain a touch scary for me, especially if they involve a large amount of clay. Cane designs that didn’t work out would put me off caning for a long time. But I’m trying to move past that and not let it discourage me. I want to try more complex cane patterns this year, with my own color combinations and designs.

Sharing my work and putting it out there through this blog has been so fun! More than I thought it would be. I enjoy writing up these posts and discussing things here. Surprisingly, writing isn’t the hard part, but taking photographs has been challenging. I’ve developed a lot of respect for other bloggers and artists who take such wonderful photos of their creations. Because it sure isn’t easy! Starting from setting up the photo tent and lights, taking pictures from different angles, post processing to adjust brightness, only to find a spec of dust ruining the perfect picture! I’m still a little lax on the quality of pictures I post here, but will be aiming to improve that. (On that note, I’ve seen a bunch of different food photography workshops for bloggers. But no jewelry based ones? I’m sure there are lots of people who want to improve on that!)

I had so much fun at the Carol Simmons workshop I attended last year! I’ve signed up for her master cane workshop, scheduled for September this year, and I couldn’t be more excited! I have ever so much to learn about color and how to combine them (as I type, there’s a muddy looking mokume gane veneer sitting on my work table that I’m averting my gaze from) to make striking canes. I’m also intensely curious about how Carol makes one master cane and combines slices from it to make unique patterns. I’ve reserved my spot; I’m hoping and praying that nothing changes in the next nine months (NINE MONTHS!!) that would prevent me from going.

I plan to participate in an as many swaps as possible this year. It is so cool to receive polymer clay pieces from other clayers and see how their mind works. I’ve received a few sets of earrings, pendants, a large focal Natasha bead, two snow people sculptures, a lovely pen and a kickass steampunk penguin. I’ve sent off several earrings, pendants and some ornaments. I’ve made some polymer clay gifts for people before, but it’s a unique experience to send it to another clayer. I was very upset when a covered glass ornament I sent one of my swap partners was damaged en route. It was covered with slices from this sweater cane. If it’d been up to me, I’d’ve just left it as it is. But she was so innovative, she covered the broken part with some faux knit patterned clay and made it look like a part of the design!

I’m starting this year with a purse charm theme swap and one centered around fish. I almost opted out of the fish one, but decided to take a chance and try it. And wouldn’t you know it, once I’d decided to do it, ideas started flowing in. I’m still a little concerned over how I’ll make the base form (I plan on a sculpted fish form), but I have a month to experiment, and plenty of scrap clay!

In other news, I’ll be participating in the Polymer Clay Challenge this year. This is something Katie of KatersAcres put together last year and this year, where artists are invited to set a personal goal of finishing one item every week. Some like to set themes, such as a cane per week and so on. Seeing that I get bored easily, I’m simply aiming for a finished project per week.

I also have a supplementary goal. As with any other crafter or clayer, I have boxes of orphan beads sitting around hidden in cupboards. Occasionally when I’m on a cleaning spree, I dump some beads that I know I will never willingly include in a project for whatever reason. But that still leaves a fair number. I’d like to take at least one bead from that lot and use it as a part of a finished piece.

On that note, here’s a pair of bangles that are my finished pieces for week 1 of the Polymer Clay Challenge. I made the cane for this last week (following this tutorial), and used the slices for bangle veneers over the weekend. At this point, these are just sanded smooth, with no buffing or finish of any kind. I usually prefer to leave bangles this way, since they’re subject to a good amount of friction. I so love this cane though. Doesn’t it seem to just burst out of the bangle?

Caned kaleidoscope bangles Starburst bangles

Kaleidoscope bangles

For my “recycling” challenge, I retrieved a some batik beads from one of my bead boxes (yes, one of the SEVERAL boxes!). The set of batik beads seemed to lend themselves nicely to earrings-pendant set. I really like pairing these with Swarovski crystal beads. I’ve also pulled out some other flat pieces that still need finishing, but that will be made into jewelry next week!

Batik earrings and pendant
Batik earrings and pendant

P.S: I was supposed to post this last week, but was too lazy to take good pictures as usual. I did finish the bangles last week! Have a yummy bangle in the works for this week’s challenge, stay tuned!

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