Tube beads and faux ceramic

I don’t have much to share here. Most of my time recently has been split between challenges at work and working on finishing up a Japanese themed swap that I was supposed to send out last month! But I’ve been in touch with my swap partner and we’re both travelling this month. So we decided to mail our pieces in a week or so. She suggested doing a “sync-ship” so we’ll both get our packages around the same time. And of course the minute the deadline moved, I pushed away the pieces I’d been working on energetically and went off on a clay tangent!

Even with all that, I have finally finished a few different things. I still need to do some finishing, but that shouldn’t take too long (I hope!). It’s funny, at first I had no idea what to make for the challenge. And then slowly I found about four different tutorials for Japanese related things that I already had and ideas started flowing. I didn’t have enough time to implement my original idea, which was to make a tiny Japanese garden or Zen garden. But I still have that at the back of my mind and will be making one when I have a moment. I think a wee Zen garden will be great on my table at office.

There are a few other techniques I tried as well. I bought the Cosmic Ceramic tutorial set from Iris Mishly a while back and have been playing with it on and off whenever I find a scrap of white clay that I’m too bored to reshelve. I haven’t nailed down the realistic finish yet (have you seen these gorgeous pieces from Christi Uliczny?! I think this one is my favorite). But I’m having a total ball with these. I’m finally putting all the PanPastels I have to good use, as well as various assorted stamps. I’m in the process of organizing some of my craft supplies and I keep uncovering stamps I forgot I owned!

Faux ceramic beads

Polymer clay faux ceramic pieces

Another artist I’ve been following a lot lately is Ludmila Bakulina. She has a wonderful YouTube channel with lots of tutorials and tips. The one that got my juices flowing was a video she did recently using texture sheets and stamps with clay. What piqued my interest was that she showed a bunch of CoolTools textures that I’ve had trouble with, because they have a very fine texture. And boy does her technique work like a charm!! Here are a set of hollow tube beads I made with various small texture sheets. Also, a earring pair sitting on top of the fine line texture sheet I used for them. Even with the crazy close-up, you can barely see the texture. I have NEVER gotten a clean impression with this one by just pressing the stamp into clay. But rolling the clay onto the stamp created a wonderful raised pattern, nicely highlighted with Gilders paste.

Hollow textured tube beads Fine texture earrings

Textured tube beads and textured earring pair

In other exciting news, I’m finally off to Carol Simmons’s master cane workshop this week! My bags are packed, my supplies are in and I’m all ready to learn buckets of things! I spent some time making a few color keys in preparation for this workshop which was quite insightful. I never realized the lovely shades of green between Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow. I will be making many more of these scales once I get back and start trying to mix more custom colors of my own.

Polymer Clay Color Keys

Polymer clay color keys

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Bettina Welker Workshop in Victoria

I had a great time couple of weekends ago learning all sorts of cool things at Bettina Welker‘s Texture, Form and Color workshop. Bettina is a great teacher and a super fun person to be around! I made a whole bunch of beads and learnt some neat tricks with Genesis Heat Set paints. Barb and Irene, who organized the workshop, had arranged for a set of samples in the primary colors for all of us, so I came back with a good amount of paints and other bits of things I can use.

The flow of this workshop was a bit different than I expected. Bettina demoed a whole bunch of techniques and sent us off to try them out in any way we liked. This was more of a “technique” workshop and gave us a lot of freedom on the beads we wanted to make. I liked this approach, because it let us set our own pace to a certain extent and everyone came up with markedly different results. Bettina also worked along with us (though she had to be a step ahead so that she could show us each stage) and took a few minutes occasionally to walk around and offer encouragement and suggestions.

I didn’t finish up my necklace in time, because I had a ferry to catch. But here are some of the beads I made in some configurations I’m playing with. I’m pretty chuffed with them. They’re much larger than the beads I usually make. But I love that Bettina’s bold graphic style shows its traces here. Bettina gave us some good tips on assembling the necklace, which is something that I always struggle with. I’m still not sure this is the “final” layout for either of the necklaces but it’s a start!

Sampler necklace 2Sampler necklace 1

Sampler necklace layouts

I meet a bunch of clayers during the workshop, some new friends and some old. I was thrilled to meet Carolyn Good of 2GoodClaymates and put a face with the name (checkout her summary of the workshop, you can see me hovering behind Bettina in the picture!). She made some really lovely beads AND I got to see a lot of her snap jewelry in person! It was great fun to talk clay over lunch and dinner and discuss all our experiences with clay. I’ve resolved to try and make it to one of my guild meetings but we’ll see how that goes (they meet on weekdays and it’s pretty far away)!

Things at work are heating up again so I apologize for sparse posts. This post itself has been so delayed! I actually have a pile of beads I need to drill and finish up, see the shot of them below piled into bowls. I’ll try to do some quick posts on them as frequently as possible. Also, my master cane workshop with Carol is getting closer and closer! I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk about after that! So make sure to check in!

Beads To Be Finished

Beads waiting to be finished