Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tutorial: Super Easy Earrings to Match Your Outfit

I think we all agree that part of the fun of clay is the ability to whip up jewelry to match any outfit. Here's an easy way to make half-moon curved dangly earrings. 



Mix up an assortment of colors roughly like the colors in the garment you want to match.

Roll each color on the 3 setting (on my pasta machine, 1 is the thickest) and
tear into rough edged strips. Work with the strips on a small smooth tile so you can easily
move it around to roll it, and hold it up next to your garment as you work.
Roll the layers with the acrylic rod to flatten the them. It's important to roll along
the length of the strips and start in the center and work out to the center. Otherwise you
may just worsen gaps between the colors and not end up with a smooth surface.
I needed to muddy the colors up a bit and work some sparkle in, so I added a thin layer of metallic clay to the back and blended some more with the gold on the inside.
Fold the clay in half with the fold on the short edge of the stripes.
Run it through the pasta machine several times to blend the colors for a softer effect.
I should have used the magnet on the roller trick to keep the clay from getting too wide.
But I didn't, so instead...
...I ripped off the blue and purple from the ends and put them back into the center.
I was planning on big earrings, but not that big! I needed to make sure all the colors stayed within a 2-2.5" area.
I checked the colors against my top every so often to see how my blend looked.
I ended up liking the back side of the clay so I flipped it over.
I waited to the end of my blending to add a strip of black so it wouldn't overtake the other colors.

When I was happy with my colors, I backed the sheet with a layer of black
and rolled it lightly to make sure the layers adhered to each other.

I determined where I wanted the colors to hit inside the circle, making sure to get
a little bit of purple and green because they are prominent colors in the shirt I was matching.

I laid the circle on a curved surface to cure.
This is the bottom of a soda can that the ever-helpful Jan Montarsi gave to me.

Cut the circle in half. (I used my blade while the clay was on the curved form.)
I used the point of a bamboo skewer to create the holes. I gently poked it in and then
wiggled it in a tiny circular pattern until the hole was the size I wanted.

I cured the clay, sanded the finished pieces, and buffed them.
I made earwires out of two head pins and voila, earrings to wear out to a lunch with friends.

And here's what they look like on!







Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gift Exchange with the Gals? Play the Note Card!

Do you exchange gifts with a group of friends? Or need to have a collection of hostess gifts or something nice for the kids' teachers? Here's an idea for a gift that supports artists and provides you with a perfect all-ages, all-occasion gift. 

There are many, many choices of lovely notecards with blank insides on etsy.com. Buy a handful of different sets and then mix them up into sets of 5 or 6. Make as many sets as you need for all your gift-giving occasions. Put each set into a small printed paper bag or colorful envelope with a bow and you're ready to go.

I made a Pinterest page of a zillion choices. Each one links to the page where you can buy.

Don't forget to keep one set for yourself... they are perfect for thank you, congratulations, or sympathy notes.









Sunday, November 8, 2015

Invisibility Cloak -- a handy thing for your car

If you have a hatchback car with a black interior, a large piece of black fabric can be your own "Invisbility Cloak." A two-yard piece of 60" black knit fabric spread over anything in the car virtually makes it disappear to passers-by. Knit fabric doesn't unravel so no hemming is required. And when you don't need it, just fold it up, or don't... it won't wrinkle. Best of all, when you're not using it, it barely takes up any space.

I made one each for my mom and stepdad as gifts. Wait until Joann has a 40% off sale on fabric and you can make an invisibility cloak for about $12.


The groceries and a blanket randomly strewn in the back of my little hatchback.
The black fabric can be seen on the roof.

The Invisibility Cloak has been placed over the items... it looks like nothing is there!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Coincidental Colors?

Do you find that jewelry, pendants, or whatever you make oftens matches exactly with clothing that's already in your closet? If I wear a piece with an outfit people will say "did you make it specifically for that outfit?" And most of the time the answer is no. It just so happens that when I'm shopping I'm drawn to colors I like and when I'm at the worktable I'm drawn to colors I like. No surprise, they often end up being the same colors. Like this for example...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cane Evolution Tutorial

I am not a caner but after my guild's recent workshop with Carol Simmons I had leftover cane chunks to play with. My usual work is more blendy than a typical cane and I favor large patterns over small so I "blew up" my cane.

Here's how I made these...

...from these leftover 1" tall cane slices:

1) I placed a few slices of cane on a sheet of lime colored clay that was about 3 times as thick as the cane slices. Then I ran the sheet through the pasta machine on successively thinner settings (from 1 to 4-5). 

2) I alternated the direction I fed the clay through so the cane would stretch in both directions. The cane clay was more leached than the underlayer so the the cane cracked a bit as it stretched, letting the green underneath show through. 

3) I rolled a log of scrap clay, sliced it into equal portions, and rolled each piece into a ball. 

4) I ripped the cane sheet into random pieces and wrapped them randomly around the ball, covering it completely. I rolled the ball until all the wrapped pieces had melded together. I turned two of the balls into long barrel shapes.

5) With my needle tool I traced lines to loosely define shapes of leaves and petals. 

6) I baked the beads for 15 minutes and then lightly sanded with 1000 grit wet-dry sandpaper. 

7) I rubbed black liquid clay into the etched lines and wiped off the excess with a paper towel.
Then the beads went back into the oven for 15 more minutes. 

8) I sanded them again with 1000 grit. I could have stopped at this point but I like them shiny so I used my buffer.

The cane slices on the beads below were put on a lilac base layer. I didn't etch these beads. I wish I would have, the design would have looked more "focused."

So, there you go. Grab some of those old canes and blow 'em up!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Great Smokies photo inspires a necklace

My coworker Ashley Macik attended a photography workshop called Spring in the Smokies with instructor Jennifer King a few months ago. She came back with beautiful photos. I really liked the colors in the one at left below so asked if I could "borrow" it for a bead project.

First I pulled out a few colors from the photo:


Then I got to work with my new clay color mixing skills learned in Carol Simmons' workshop in May. I used Premo fuchsia, ultramarine blue, and cadmium yellow, plus black and white to make the 5 colors. I made a variety of shapes and sizes, some etched, some plain. Below are a few after the first baking. Next step: fill the inscribed lines with black liquid clay.

I strung them up but couldn't get them to drape the way I wanted. I also decided I needed more beads because the necklace wasn't long enough.


I made a variety pack of additional beads and strung them up. Ultimately I chose not to use the large round tree bead... I just didn't like it enough. The red and gold each should have been a bit more orange-ish and the eggplant could have been a bit more purple but the colors all look decent together.
I will wear this with an eggplant-colored t-shirt and black skirt.




Tuesday, June 23 P.S.: What a nice surprise to find out I'm on Polymer Clay Daily today. Thanks Cynthia!

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