Beads, butterflies and silkscreens

Today I have some suncatcher butterflies to show off. I made these following Donna Kato’s really cool CraftArtEdu class. These are especially close to my heart because I made them for my mom. See, a while ago when my mom was visiting me, we both bought these really pretty butterfly magnets. Now my dad travels a fair bit and usually gets magnets from all the places he visits. So their fridge is covered with a bunch of cheery magnets (including, of course, the especially awesome ones I made!). A month or so back, my parents had a young visitor who really liked many of the magnets including the butterfly one, so my mom popped them off and gave them to her to take.

Now my mom isn’t nuts about magnets like me, in fact I usually end up buying a pair of whatever catches my eye and cajoling her into taking them back. But apparently she really liked the butterfly in particular and she mentioned that one a couple of times rather wistfully. Now for the life of me I couldn’t remember where we’d bought them. I told her she could take the one I had the next time she visited. But I couldn’t help thinking: could I make that in clay?!

Polymer clay window clings

Polymer clay window clings

Hence, these silver butterflies! They’re not as thin and delicate as the magnet we bought, but my mom’s eyes lit up when I showed them to her, so I consider my mission accomplished! I used Premo silver glitter clay for the outline and really like the bling they added. I plan to make a whole bunch of these and tack them on to my office window. That way they’ll be seen from the outside as well! I made a few smaller butterflies as well. Here’s a blurry picture of how the whole lot of them on my porch window. I’ll try to take a better picture later!

Polymer clay window clings

Polymer clay window clings on porch window

Apart working on these, I finally got around to trying out an idea I had batting around in my head for a while. Silkscreened round beads! I made some hollow round beads following Orly Fusions interesting technique. While the idea is really innovative, it isn’t the easiest in the world. On my tenth try I managed to make reasonably round beads which I used here, but you can see that they’re not really spherical. But I like that the beads really use nothing but clay so I don’t have to hunt down sugar balls or try to compress silver foil or anything. I think I’ll use these as accent beads in a simple necklace with a chunky focal and some thick cord.

Polymer clay silkscreened beads

Polymer clay silkscreened beads

Speaking of silkscreens, here’s another compact style mirror with a clay hinge. This wasn’t planned at all. I got a nice new bunch of silkscreens from Tonja and was super excited about a mushroom patterned one in the lot. So I pulled out some red paint and swiped it over a bit of white clay with the vague intention of making a couple of earrings or maybe a pendant. But once the pattern was on there I couldn’t bear to cut up the adorable mushrooms! So I left the sheet on the tile while I tried to think of something I could make with it. I was debating simply laying it on a tiny canvas when I saw a square mirror sitting in the corner of my work surface. And wouldn’t you know it, the sheet of clay was the perfect size to cover it! And since I was in a silkscreen frame of mind, I added patterns other side of the lid, the mirror frame and the back!

Polymer clay silkscreened mirror frontPolymer clay silkscreened mirrorPolymer clay silkscreened mirror back

Polymer clay silkscreened mirror

In other clay related news, I’m getting super excited about two polymer clay workshops I’ll be attending soon! That’s right, TWO workshops! The first one is with Bettina Welker in Victoria. She’ll be demonstrating how to create her sampler necklace. I love Bettina’s work; I have a bunch of her classes at CraftArtEdu. I’ll be meeting some of the folks from Carol Simmons’ workshop last year, so it’ll be great to see some familiar faces.

In September I’ll be off for a whole week to learn all about master canes from Carol again. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am! First of all, spending a whole week claying sounds like a dream come true. I have been drooling over the master canes Carol and her students create for so long, and now I get to learn how to do that! September cannot come quickly enough! I already have a long list of things I plan to make with my master cane!

So if you don’t see some activity here for a while, don’t give on me! I’ll be back! In the middle of all this mayhem, I also signed up for a Japanese themed swap! I have a couple of ideas brewing in my head and of course they involve new consuming techniques! Stay tuned for updates on all of this and more!

Peacock pendants

I didn’t get a whole lotta claying done this past couple of week. I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my inspiration…but maybe I’ve lost my clay mojo? I usually have a billion ideas swirling in my head and a million projects ongoing. And of course there’ll be tutorials that I HAVE to buy right away and try out right away. There’ve been so many times when I’ve woken up, turned on my TV, sat at my clay spot just start making things! And before I knew it, I’d’ve blitzed through entire seasons and forgotten about lunch. But lately I haven’t had the drive for such claying marathons.

Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily. I suppose choosing to vacuum over building a cane is a sign of growing up! Also, the weather has been getting steadily hotter here in the Pacific Northwest. For someone who essentially grew up in a ridiculously hot place, I really despise summers. I tend to just flop on my couch with two fans pointing at me and not move for long periods of time! But it’s almost August, so fall (my favorite season!) will be here before I know it!

Now all this isn’t to say I didn’t make anything. I can’t stay away from my clay table for very long even if I don’t have the mood or energy for marathons. I made a couple of peacock pendants following Chris Kopano’s PCA tutorial. It was great fun! She recommends using foil backed glass cabochons for these, but I didn’t have any on hand. So I tried a couple of different things. I used a large glass pebble for one and a mini Cabezel filled with Pebeo Prisme paint for another. For the third, I simply poked a ball tool in the middle and filled that with Prisme paints. I wanted to add resin on the Pebeo paints to simulate a cabochon, which works quite well for the Cabezel, but didn’t dome nicely for the other one. So I had to cover the whole piece with resin.

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While I do love these, I still feel like there’s something better I could use for the center cab. I could do away with it completely of course, but I really love the way it draws the eye and makes the whole piece seem richer somehow. I spent a good amount of time searching for foil backed cabs but didn’t find any I liked. Patricia Roberts-Thompson posted a piece she made with a rivoli crystal in the center and that looked lovely. So I’ve ordered some of those.

I was mulling over ideas on how to create my own cabs with translucent clay when an idea struck me, why not try casting some resin cabs? So I went off and mixed some resin and added some blue alcohol ink to it. I quite like these set of cabochons. They’re the right size and while casting is a fairly time consuming process, I can make as many as I like in any color I want. I also experimented with adding some glitter for a brighter effect, which was kinda cool as well.

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I tried these out in the oven and while the cab itself retained its shape, the lovely blue disappeared and color turned kind of yellow. I’ve heard of resin yellowing when baked but didn’t realize the ink coloring would basically vanish. I simply painted over the surface with some blue ink and protected the entire surface with some Pym ii. Well actually I thought I was spraying Pym ii but that turned out to be Triple Thick spray varnish! So far the surface hasn’t gotten tacky or anything, but it’s been barely 48 hours! So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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I haven’t been caning very much lately, which makes me sad. But I did manage a zig-zag cane from Deb Hart’s CraftArtEdu class. I have to say, it’s a lot more work than I anticipated! I decided to follow the instructions exactly, so I mixed up about 8 custom shades of clay, made several skinner blends and built a bunch of base canes. Then there was all the artful slicing and arranging. I used all Kato clay after a long time and it seemed that each color was at a markedly different consistency. So it wasn’t the most fun making it all come together. But the final cane are quite cool I think. I haven’t made a multicolor pattern like this in a long time. Here are some hollow beads with the chevron veneer.

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I have a couple of more things I’d like to talk about, but I want to break out of the cycle of super long posts once a month! So I’m going to leave it for next time!