Saturday, January 31, 2009

Round The World and Around

To Do List for Today:

Make new molds - CHECK

Pour resin in molds for charms - CHECK

Make two sizes of metal holes in charms for testing - CHECK

Create ad for sponsoring Art Bead Scene Bead Cruise - NEXT

I made these rounded bead charm shapes and got to thinking that the small holes are great for wire wrapping and even large scaled jump rings, but they're too tight for a ball chain to fit through. I made some and wanted to use them on my handbag as a charm, with a short length of ball chain. You know how purses, totes and bags sometimes come with that short length of chain with the designer label or something on them? I wanted to take off the original label and use the chain to hang one of my charms.

So I started experimenting with how large the hole needed to be to make the ball chain pass through, without wire wrapping. In case I wanted to change out the charms sometimes.

I got that figured out.

The one on the left in the photo is the smaller hole, and the one on the right is large enough for a ball chain to pass through, no problem.

So now when I list these in the Etsy shop, I'll have to mention the size of the holes. Because obviously the large hole can't be replaced with a smaller one.

I guess I could even have them with two holes, one large and one small, if I wanted to attach a wire wrap dangle on the bottom.

Large hole dome bead has the center design of a compass rose on it, and small hole dome bead has an ecological design with the Earth, Ocean and Porpoises. I have to go finish off some more now.

But I wanted to mention this to get an opinion. Should I offer the choice between two sizes holes as an option for the heart charms? Right now they all have the smaller holes. And for some designs I think the larger hole would be disruptive to the pattern on the heart.

What do you think? Would you sometimes rather have the larger hole, so you can just ADD-CHAIN-AND-WEAR - or rather keep them just as they are with a jump ring or wire wrap?
Inquiring hole makers want to know!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Seraphim and Cherubim

Crowning and Glorious

Up until now in my designs I've never used ephemera, or old text scripts, combined with old portraits and put pointed crown shapes and wings on them to create a collage.

There is so much of that around. And it just never felt like something I would think to do. So I didn't want to fall into making something that wasn't really my expression.

Hard to explain.

But today I decided to let my fingers go roaming around that imagery and see what would happen.

Would something come forth that was truly mine?

So I've been playing with faces, and crowns and wings. Making ornate little do-dads. They're almost too large for jewelry. But they'd be great as part of an altered book. Or a collage project, a journal.

The round ones look like chinese cast bronze pieces. With most of the color and patina worn off, and shiny from use. I'm going to drill holes and suspend these on metal neckwires. I don't think I'll even put other beads next to them, I'll just have to see. They have a beautiful shiny sanded and polished sheen. I hope it shows up in the photos.

The blue-toned one is hard to photograph. No wings on this one, I think of him as 'blue boy' - he has a decorative neck ruffle and such nice detail behind him.

The coppery golden toned one is just about right for a focal pendant. I can't decide whether to list them for someone to make up or if I should make a necklace with them myself.

They are timeworn and look like old bronze or maybe cast iron.

Have you ever seen an ornamented building, where the outside has been painted several colors over the years, and then the weather and frequent touches of hands have worn off the top layers?

That's what these look like to me. Or like furniture carvings that have been separated from their original place, but kept aside after years of use and wear.

That's the look I was hoping for. So there are crowns and wings, and faces. There are ornate decorations. And I really like how they turned out.
 Now, I must go and grab some sleep. But I know I'll have more ideas buzzing in my head.
 I can honestly say that to me, they look like I made them. Like they are mine, my interpretation of an idea.
 I hope you know what I mean?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Words Are Key

What do you think of
 when you see the image
 of a lock or key?

Vintage style keys have been showing up around me a lot lately.

There were key charms in the Exchange Swap.
 Lorelei's necklace from yesterday's post had an antique key on it.
 A friend gave me an antique key and issued a challenge to create a design with it. I'm still pondering what I'll make with that long, thin skeleton key. This little tile probably wasn't what she was thinking, but somehow it inspired me to come up with this design.

I can see this tile made with more metal holes, at the ends or bottoms, with dangles attached for special memento items to hang. It could hang sideways or upright, it works either way.

The colors are rich and yet have a vintage, worn feeling. The dictionary definition words can be read, talking about life, worth and art.

These tiles are special edition, they are one of a kind. I can make more that are similar, but each one will be unique, I can't make them exactly the same.

And I like that about them.
 It keeps it special, and keeps me playing with colors and shapes, finding new combinations.
 I sometimes wonder what it is in the key shape that is so enticing. Is it the idea of special things locked up, or secrets behind locked doors?
 There's something that speaks to me. So I combined the key with the words.
Which way seems right-side-up to you?
 If you reply to this post and let me know how many holes and which way seems to be the top for you, there'll be a giveaway next week of one of these Key Word Tiles made just for you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mystery of the Blue Wing Key

"I believe that I saw it first at a meeting of the London Archeological Society, in the late '90s ... 1890's. I was preparing a publication to be presented that year. It seems so long ago, now.

"The address of the Society was Kemington Gore, where stood Gore House, now demolished, at Gospel Oak (Hampstead), for The London Archaeologist of London and Middlesex. I believe I have a button from the occasion, somewhere about me.

"I definitely have the key to the cabinet where the original marvelous specimen was kept. It's an old-fashioned key, fitting a lock where the tropical items were cataloged and stored in a glass fronted wooden case.

"I still cherish the memories of the search, of seeking the shining blue feathers that resembled an angel's wing for my notebook, to show the unbelieving world.

"And the sash-weight, used to pinion the original feathers. I kept a few mementos, and bear them on a chain for remembrance."

This lovely necklace, with its mysterious key, plumb weight bob and bright blue wing of bird or angel, was made by Lorelei Eurto, who sent me the photo and allowed me to use it here. My humble contribution is the blue wing charm, which she combined with vintage buttons, keys and metal artifacts. She didn't know I would fashion a story around them, but it's my belief that the story was there, intertwined with the items she chose. This is just the way the necklace spoke to me.

How does it speak to you?
P.S. Lorelei has a bracelet giveaway going on in her blog ... Surprise!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tips - Foiled Again

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) started it all by making lovely lampshades with many intricately cut pieces of glass to create florals that drip with color, shine and glisten when lit.

Stained glass windows are made using lead channels soldered together to enclose the stained glass. But that method is heavy and not flexible enough to make the domed and rounded shapes Tiffany wanted for his lampshades, using the newly available translucent 'milky' opalescent glass. It did not allow him the lighter weight and extremely fine detail that became his signature style.

Tiffany developed the copper foil method of wrapping the glass.

He decided to cut thin foil sheets into strips and applied an adhesive, to wrap the edges of the glass in the copper metal foil to solder them together with a lightweight and flexible strip of metal. Imagine cutting all those copper sheet strips individually by hand!

His first lampshades made using this technique were made around 1895. He arranged the bits and pieces of discarded or broken glass from production of stained glass windows to make the lampshades, collaborating with Thomas Edison to create electric lamps with exquisite stained glass shades.

Sometimes we forget that electric lighting doesn't go back all that far in history!

You can wrap almost anything in copper foil tape - glass, stones, marbles. Metal, ceramics - anything that can withstand the acidity of the flux and take the high temperatures of the soldering iron.

Hints and tips for protecting and using
copper foil sheet and tape:

1. Use the width of foil you need for your project. A too-narrow width won't provide enough grabbing space to hold the pieces together, and a too-wide foil will cover too much of your glass or ceramic cabochon.

2. Be sure whatever you are wrapping with the foil is really clean and dry. Use alcohol to clean glass, it removes oil from your cutting tool or fingers and evaporates quickly leaving no trace of residue behind. If you've used the grinder on your glass to shape it, it's worth taking the time to scrub the edges briskly in a small bowl of soapy water with a discarded soft bristle toothbrush, to make sure all the grinder residue is gone. This helps the adhesive adhere tightly.

3. Protect your copper foil from oxidation before you use it. If the copper foil roll or sheet sits out in the air, it will oxidize and slightly darken. Oxidized metal is much harder to flux and solder. If your foil has turned dark, you may be able to cut away the part of the roll that's exposed and get back to clear copper. If your copper sheet has turned dark, you can scrub it with a metal brillo scrubby pad to remove the oxidation. Keep your foil rolls and sheet stored in plastic bags tightly rolled to protect them.

4. Avoid the springy loose strands of foil going everywhere, this promotes oxidation over large areas of foil. I use a twist-tie around the roll from the middle to the outside edge and keep the roll tightly packed. This keeps the air away from the inner layers of your foil and keeps it from unrolling, twisting and getting creased and bent before you can use it.

5. Copper foil comes with various backings available, in regular copper, silvertoned and black. There's also a new foil available in brass sheets. Choose the foil that works best for your project - if you are doing a black patina on your piece and the glass is transparent, use black-backed foil so it harmonizes when your project is finished.

6. The copper foil has an adhesive on the back that works with the heat of your soldering iron to adhere it to the glass. After you remove the protective film from the copper foil, as much as possible keep the sticky side of the foil away from fibers, lint and your fingers to avoid reducing its sticky nature, and burnish the foil down tightly before soldering. If it doesn't seem securely stuck down before you solder, take the time to remove it, get a new strip of foil and re-apply. It's actually faster than fussing around with an insecurely stuck foil strip that's become iccky with flux and hot from soldering.

7. If you do have to remove the foil and try again to reapply after you've soldered it, soak your glass in soapy water and scrub well with a brass brush to remove all the old sticky residue before you reapply the tape. The water makes the foil release better, and the brass brush cleans all the remainder of the old tape before you try again on a clean glass surface.

Hope these copper foil tips and hints are useful! They've been learned in the school of hard knocks and experience and shared here so you don't have to learn them the same way. Let me know if you are curious about more stained glass - soldering - copper foil tips!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From the Dead Cable Modem - A Ghostly Whine

I have new items to post in both Etsy shops.
 I have emails, things to check. And what do I find on Saturday afternoon? The cable modem, with its single green eye shining in the darkness - it's winking! Blinking red and green.
 This can't be good. Definitely not good.
Everything was tried. Customer service was called. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Niet. Non.
 It's not talking to the outside world. Thus, neither was I.
 So ... if I seemed unusually quiet, that's why. I'm not trying to be 'alone' - like Garbo! It was forced upon me.
 However, I was unusually productive this weekend.
 I draw no conclusions from that. I'm not willing to give up internet contact to increase my productivity. Nope.

 So bear with me, please. Until my modulator-de-modulator (or MODEM) gets its green back on again. CLICK. HISS. 'Houston, We Have A Problem' - CLICK.
 In other news, the hubby has been elected Vice-President In Charge Of Shipping - he didn't seek the post. Believe me, he did NOT seek the post, it was thrust upon him. Pushed, even.
 Greatness in shipping at low prices is a talent he appears to have. Whether he wants to or not! Watch out what you're good at, you'll get more of it, I always say.
 So shipping prices have been adjusted so you can take advantage of his new-found skillset.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hearty Party

The ideas are coming fast and amazingly different in feeling and style.

Here's another necklace by Lorelei Eurto using one of the little hearts I've been making. She's entered it into the monthly challenge over at the Art Bead Scene blog - you should enter a design too, you might win something wonderful.
And she used some of my hand dyed ribbon strip. Just love all the little buttons, don't you?
 Very spring-like pastel colors, too. Like a robin's egg blue.
 When I make the charms, I have no idea what they'll go become.

Maybe jewelry, or a cellphone charm.
 A purse decoration, or a zipper pull hanger.
 A pair of earrings.
Gift wrap bling.
 A scrapbook project ornament.
 A Photo ID lanyard dangle.
 So many possibilities. Can you think of some more?
 So it's really fun to see the photos later, it makes me want to come up with more different designs so folks will think of even more creative ways to use them.
This necklace is by Sue Kennedy, with ceramic beads and another of the heart charms.

I've got to find time to just sit and make up some designs myself.
 I want to have some fun, too! Can't wait until the work week ends and the fun times begin!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Treasured Heart

Sometimes I know when someone has put something in an Etsy Treasury, they email or Convo me and let me know.

 Sometimes it's a total surprise.
 This Treasury made it
 to the Front Page
 of Etsy - YAY!
 That's not something that happens often to me, so I am thrilled.

This time I was able to grab a screenshot, sometimes it happens and I miss seeing it.

It's a nice selection of items in the Treasury, I like them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blooming and Blessed

One of my favorite quotations says:

'The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.' --John Ruskin

Last year, around Thanksgiving, I got a wild notion to host a charm swap with the theme 'Counting Your Blessings' with charms, beads and clasps as part of the exchange.

This lovely necklace was made by Mary Harding, one of the charm exchange participants.

She used all the charms, clasps and beads in one long charm necklace.

I really love the way they look, all compiled together.

Wouldn't it be fun to wear - with a black turtleneck, or a white lace summer dress? Now, I think I'd like to do something similar with my charms, to keep them together as a remembrance.

And what did I become by being in the exchange?

Closer to other talented friends, inspired by the results. Enriched by having lots of new lovely charms to create and admire in new works of creativity.

In a word - Blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Earth and Fire

I'm having fun making lots of hearts. It's an ancient shape with many meanings.

I've made simple ones, with a single color.

These are more complex patterns. I like them a lot. They're very glossy.

They remind me of antique woodcut designs. Sanded and polished to a high sheen.

Star charts, or map legends with the four directions.

And the four substances.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

These rose colored hearts remind me of detailed batik dyed fabrics.

The changing colors, the thickness of the lines.

They look really old, like artifacts.

I made pairs, so they could be used together as earrings. It's tricky, to make them match. Even though they're unique, because they're hand colored.

They feel special, like old posters with vintage designs on them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Freedom Creativity From Friends

My friend Lorelei Eurto has been creative recently making jewelry, and she made this wonderful bracelet using one of my new asian connector tiles.

Isn't it fantastic?

She talks about being 'in the zone' and it's a subject I've been thinking about a lot lately.

There's a school of thought that talks about the 'artistic flow' or the 'creative zone' which can happen when you are focused on the activity. And later you look down and think - 'did I make that?' because it seems to just flow out of the tips of your fingers.

Not planned or studied laboriously, just happening smoothly and automatically.

When this happens, time seems to compress. For me, a few hours can seem like the passing of just a few minutes. It's a very productive place to me, there's no struggle mentally, almost automatic pilot. And very rewarding.

I've read some research that seems to say that using the same background sounds can help to initiate this zone of flow more quickly and reliably. I often listen to NPR radio programs while in the studio on the weekend. I've read on others' blogs that certain music seems to be their river of flow.

Have you experienced the feeling of being 'in the zone' or having 'artistic flow' yourself?

Do you know what brings it on for you, and how do you experience it? I find the subject facinating.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Tips Cutting to the Bottom Line


The simple cutting tools that we take for granted, likely have around the house in large numbers and for various different sizes and purposes were once handmade and forged tools, treasured and passed down through the generations.

Scissors date from before the first century A.D. They can be seen in various forms in Egyptian art and have been the tools for tailors and barbers for at least 2,000 years.

In Greek mythology, when Atropos of the Three Fates cut the thread of a life, she did it with "shears" or scissors.

In general, shears have blades longer than 6" and scissor blades are less than 6". The finger holes on scissors will only accommodate one finger in the hole for thumb and finger, while shears will have holes in the handle that fit two or more fingers for applying more force.

The earliest scissors appeared in the middle east about 4,000 years ago and were spring scissors, two bronze blades connected at the handles by a curved, very thin strip of bronze that caused the blades to come together when squeezed and go apart when released. This style of shears is still used to shear sheep wool. Spring scissors were used in Europe until the 16th century, although pivoted scissors of iron or bronze were used in Rome, China, Japan and Korea.

Pivoted steel scissors like the ones we know today weren't manufactured in large numbers until 1761 in Sheffield, England when cast steel was used to make them by melting steel in clay crucibles and pouring into molds, making a uniform strong steel with few impurities.

Now that you know a little of the history of scissors, here are some tips and hints for keeping scissors safe and sharp:

1. Dust, fluff and the remains of cutting material should be wiped off the cutting edges and blades. The scissors should be stored in a dry place. This applies particularly to nickel-plated, carbon steel scissors and shears because the unprotected areas of the surface can be prone to corrosion.

2. Now and then the screw slot and the joint area between should be oiled with a drop of fine oil. Thus the easy closing force of the scissors will be maintained.

3. To make them last longer and stay sharper, store scissors in a closed position to prevent dulling the blades.

4. Run a small bead of oil up each blade, open and close the scissors several times. Wipe any excess oil off the scissors with a soft, dry cotton cloth. This allows your scissors ride to be free of any debris, thus keeping your scissors sharper longer!

5. Fabric scissors are extremely sharp and should not be used for anything but cutting cloth, since cutting paper will quickly dull a pair of fabric scissors.

6. Use tin snips to cut sheet metal, pulling the bottom blade up instead of pushing the top blade down and keeping the top blade aligned over the metal sheet. If you are using a thin gauge of copper or brass such as 30 and 36 gauge, use a dedicated set of standard scissors that you don't use for cutting fabric or paper. And remember that cut metal edges can be very sharp - protect your skin so you don't get cut!

(Believe me, it happens, I did it myself over the weekend - much worse than a paper cut)

If you are interested in more history and mystery about shears and scissors,
how are scissors made? - What is their history through time? be sure to check it out, it's facinating.

I usually don't think about it, but now when I pick up a pair, I'll think about their long journey.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Going Bananas

I usually favor mixed colors, with just a hint of the aged look. A cloudy blue, a ruddy carmine.

I don't know where this bright yellow came in, I think maybe I'm trying to lighten things up.

These are put together as a pair, they're closely matched in color but the images on them are different.

It may mean that I need more fruits and vegetables.

Or just that I miss the sun.

Either way, they're fun to look at.
And one of them is looking back, in way.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stations and Productivity


The unfortunate situation with the water pipe caused half the studio space to be packed up, moved aside and rearranged yesterday.

But I see a silver lining in all this disruption. I've decided that when it all goes back, I'm going to change how the soldering area is set up, and re-do the location for the kiln.

The other side of the studio was unaffected, but having to relocate the workstations on the soldering side made me appreciate how the other side is set up, with everything on rollers. Except for the tall metal shelving units, I can move all the other parts around easily.

So if I change gears from polymer clay to etched metal or dyed pearls, I can move everything to the walls and make space for another project.

I think of the different work areas as 'stations' - don't know why. I have a 'shipping' station where I put together the handmade boxes, do the labeling and sorting.

For working areas I have a 'baking' station where the polymer clay oven sits on a metal rolling shelf. There's my timer, to remind me to take things out promptly! DING! like an alarm clock. Makes me jump a foot sometimes when I'm not paying attention.

Those woven hot pads were made by my daughter when she was a child. Love 'em! And I use them all the time, they remind me of her.

I have a 'pounding' station where the metal is cut, filed, hammered, measured and stamped. Not necessarily in that order! That's a big thick slab of steel I only use for non-precious metals, I have a bench block for the silver.

There's a 'polishing' station for the buffing and sanding of the beads and tiles, to get that glossy look on them.

The basket behind the buffer is my backstop, to keep the beads from flying across the room if the buffer grabs them.

Somewhere in the studio is a heart that went zooming away, and with all the disruption and mess I'm just going to wait to try to find that little guy.

Today I hope will be more productive than yesterday, so I can get some plans worked out in my head. Some friends have sent me their brainstorms on things that might be good as images on the tiles and beads, and I want to try them out.

And I have some ideas to test, too.
Hope your day is sunny and fun. I'm headed up to the kitchen for more hot tea. With lemon...

Thanks for all the well-wishes and support. You all are the best!

Oh - one more thing - if you wanted to SEE THE FINAL RESULTS of the little poll that was on the left sidebar, pop to the bottom of the page to view what you preferred to see on the blog in 2009.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Magnetical Attraction to Random Numbers

The waiting is over ... drum roll please ... the unveiling of the magnet set winner!

Here are the folks who commented on my post for the magnet giveaway last week:

1. Suebeads
2. Lorelei
3. Peacock Fairy
4. SummersStudio
5. EmandaJ
6. Ikkinlala in Canada
7. Erin EveryHeartCrafts
8. lynn1231
9. FabFibers
10. Connie in Hawaii Cetta Cheese Chatter

I went to the random number generator and spun the dials.

It whirred and clicked and made machine noises.

And it picked ....

Lucky Number Seven!


Click on the photo of the Ringleader of LLYYNN and send me your mailing address. And I'll send you a set of magnets for your refrigerator, filing cabinet or cubicle, whatever you prefer (just keep away from computers).

And for the others who aren't ERIN, if you still want a set of magnets really, really do want them - mention this post at my Etsy site at checkout and I'll give you free shipping and 10% discount on the magnet sets in the shop as a thank you for helping me find out which themes and colors you liked best.

You're all great, and I appreciate all of you!

And Then Life Happened

If you're tuning in for the giveaway, that post is coming a little later. This is just a post about - what was that water coming out of the ceiling?

I worked in the day job 12 hours yesterday, big deadlines etc etc - got to the house and there was a bit of excitement. Of the not-so-good kind.

As I've said before, it's really really cold here. Like zero degrees. For Saint Louis, that's unusually cold. I know, I just lost the sympathy of everyone in a location where it is NOT unusual.

Apparently, a water pipe in the basement froze and broke, and water was cascading down. Fortunately, it didn't happen over the kiln, or the computer. (it can always be worse)

Unfortunately, the fellow who came (very quickly, thank you!) to fix it so we had water last night and this morning had to cut big holes in the finished basement walls to get to the problem.

If it was cold before, I may as well be outdoors now! Of course it will be fixed later today, and the fellows with the water suction equipment will get the water out of the carpet. It's indoor-outdoor carpet but it's not supposed to go SQUISH when you walk on it.

Anyway, thanks for listening, I'm going to bundle up like an arctic trapper so I can work on some designs. And occasionally I will go soak my hands in warm water to get the feeling back.

But this just goes to show that life is what happens while you were making other plans.

Stay tuned for the regularly scheduled giveaway announcement! And thanks in advance for keeping warm thoughts coming my way!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tubes of Eye Lights


It sets your mood sometimes, affects your outlook.

Like painting a bedroom a soft sage green, to make it seem restful.

Or restaurants that paint their walls red, as it is supposed to enhance appetite.

Recently I've been playing with five tubes of saturated pure colors. The three primary, red-yellow-blue. Plus a green and a violet, to keep from mixing those up over and over in each color play session.

I issued myself a challenge to really get to know these colors, how they work as tints, blends, tone and shades. But keeping it simple, with just these five.

Plus sometimes white, to lighten things up. But not very often.

I have a white sheet of thick glass that I use as my palette. It lets the pure colors show up clearly. And a natural light bulb, so I'm seeing the true colors. Daylight is the best, of course, but it's pretty gray here these days.

When it gets messy and the colors are muddy, I can just rinse it off and start again.

When you mix all three primary colors, you get a Mississippi Mud brown color. Or a Red River reddish brown. Sometimes I want that.

And if you get really heavy-handed with it, you can actually make a deep, dark rich black color.

You can make a blue-black, or a green-black. Both are lovely and distinctive. Not like store-bought black.

Get yourself a bunch of watercolor paper and cut into 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles, mix up some color and go to town.

Later you can use them for ATC cards. If you can stand to part with them, that is ...
But you can always make more!


Tomorrow the winner of the magnets will be announced ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Home, Heart, Hearth


The charms from the swap are still finding their places in finished jewelry. I have a pendant I created, but haven't photographed and posted here yet.

I don't want to put my own 'stamp' or coloring on what others do, although it probably wouldn't affect the free flowing thoughts and gentle creative ideas that I've seen recently.

Here's a perfect example, an out-of-this-world look made with items from the charm swap.

Erin at EveryHeartCrafts made this inventive, colorful necklace. Wouldn't you love to slip it over your head and wear it, fingering the little baubles and dangles all day? They remind me of little berries, alongside the leaf that Erin made, and they remind me of the hope of a spring that's coming.

See the little strips of my hand-dyed cloth tied on, and the lengths of hand-dyed silk in the chain? Beauty, beauty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Psst! Want to See Something Pretty?

Yo-Yo Midnight Oil, Burning for Heat

It's very cold here, and the studio in the basement is quite nippy!

A friend gave me a suggestion to use a heating pad to keep warm. It does help some.

Why am I down in the basement dressed in multiple layers of clothes, working in a chilly studio? In the wee small hours of the morning?

I'm having a creative moment.

And I don't want to stop yet.

That probably happens to you all the time. You're in the middle of a process, and in your mind's eye you can see what the finished thing will be. But it's not completely there yet. And you hate to break the moment, stop the momentum.

You don't want to put it down and hope you'll recapture the mood the next day. So you keep working, while your feet get cold.

And your hot tea is no longer hot.

But your ideas are smoking and you can't stop.

Not yet.

I'm calling these asian themed beads 'YO-YO' beads.

(**ahem, update, have since learned that there are already beady type things called this, I will have to come up with something fresh...**)

I want to do wire wrap around them.

And wrap them in seed bead collars.

To string them on metal neckwires, and wrap them in knitted cords.

My mind is racing with ideas. If only I could stop the clock. To have more time to try them all out. I hope it warms up soon, so I can spend more time in the basement studio, without being wrapped in a heating pad.

These are asian themed, but I can see them with many different types of designs.



Black and white graphic designs.

Folk Art.

The ideas are coming, and I have to jot them down.

 They are all hand-colored. Sanded, buffed and polished to a high, gleaming shine. They feel good in the hand, and look wonderfully aged.

Like an artifact found in an excavation. They have that aged, very old feeling to them. Smooth as if handled by many hands for generations, shiny but dark with a patina from use.

I've got to stop soon, and catch some rest. And warm up. Maybe I'll dream of new designs ...

Dare I ask - what do you think?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Tips Featuring Gloved Hands

I've been running a little poll on the sidebar of the blog, to find out what you'd like to see more in the new year. I decided to dedicate Tuesdays to posting a tip here and there. Nothing earth-shattering.

Just little tidbits.

Tuesday Tip Tidbits. Say that three times fast ...

Anyway, here's the first one for the year. I don't have specific topics in mind, so they may be a little random. But hopefully there'll be something you can use from time to time.

The mysterious story of the

black gloved hands ....

Not really.

(check out the link to the source for these, there are black gloves like the CSI folks use - cool, huh?)

In working with polymer clay for beadmaking, wear disposable latex or nitrile acrylic gloves. It protects your hands from the clay, paints, liquid polymer clay, glazes or other products you use when you work with polymer clay, as well as the plasticizers in the polymer clay itself.

And it keeps your fingerprints off the clay, reducing sanding and making a smoother surface on your polymer clay beads.

If you find your hands getting damp inside the latex gloves while you're working, cut out the palm section and the back of the hand and just leave the thumb and fingers. You'd be surprised how well they stay on, even without the entire glove. And your hands will stay dry, mostly.

There are things called finger cots that you can find in some office supply stores, you apply just to the finger part. I find that I'm always losing those off my fingertips, but if you like those you can stick them to your fingers with just a little blue painter's tape. Imagine how interesting your hands will look after this?

Another tip is to rub powder onto your hands before putting on the gloves to keep them dry and make it easier to pull them on and off. And if you put on one pair of gloves and rub the powder on the glove exterior, you can pull on another pair on top. When the first pair gets wet, messy or discolored, just pull them off and you have a fresh pair on underneath like magic!

Finally, get gloves that are the right size for your hands so that they fit snugly. Then you won't have puckers at the fingertips that will interfere with your smooth handling of the polymer clay.

These tips also work with 2-part resin, super glue or paper archival glue, casting plaster and painting it, doing collage painting on paper, or anything that's messy and wet, gets under your fingernails and sticks to your hands!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Directions

I have an Etsy Main Showcase spot today for the ExpeditionD shop, I added a lot of new things over the weekend.
Folk Art.
Faux-tiques of various kinds.

I never know if the
Etsy Main Showcase does anything for the shop.

But I thought it might introduce some new eyes to my new things.

I venture over there myself sometimes, to see what new things all the fantastically creative folks are doing.

That and the Treasury section.

This round compass emblem is made to resemble an antique compass rose design. I used to crew sailboats when I lived on the Gulf Coast, and sailed a small one of my own on the lakes of North Texas for some years. That was a long, long time ago. But I still enjoy the visuals of nautical symbols. Maybe that's the source of my fondness for maps.

I'm the most directionally challenged person around. I guide myself by doing the opposite of whatever feels correct.

So I like to have a little compass in the car with me, just as I used one when I was sailing. To find the way.
To me, this compass design has a bit of a steampunk feeling to it. Not every steampunk item has to have a clock face and gears or be made of metal, do you think?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Featuring Hearts on Art Bead Scene

I was up yesterday for Studio Saturday yesterday, and I talked about the fun I'm having making colorful heart tiles, pop over there and check that out!

If you post a reply you might win one of them ... Quick - go!

There are photos of some of my heart tiles ...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blitz of Color - Bits of History

Legendary Jewelrymakers and the Chameleon Medium

It's clay-like in texture, but it's not ceramic clay. It's malleable but takes permanent form in an oven, not a kiln. It's colored in the package, not glazed. It doesn't break when dropped, but can be cut with a tissue blade. It comes more from the laboratory than from the earth.

It will transfer images, and can be sanded and buffed to a fine finish.

It sometimes looks smooth like china, or rough like volcanic rocks. It imitates natural stones like jade and turquoise, and can look like varnished lacquered wood or fossilized bone.

How did it get its start, what's the history of this changeling that can mimic so many other finishes and materials so successfully?

In the 1940's, Zenith Products in Illinois manufactured industrial fastener materials and coatings. Like so many things that don't turn out the way they were originally intended, it developed a material for use as a thermal transfer compound to transfer heat away from electrical transformer cores, but the material was unsuccessful and it went on the shelf.

One day a visitor to the plant, the wife of an employee, started playing with the substance and the created figurine was baked in a lab testing oven. And polymer clay was unleashed in the mid 1960's.

Because it was a completely new type of art medium, many different uses were created by people experimenting with it. Some practices used for other materials were used on it, such as metalworking, ceramics, glass and paper.

Polymer clay is soft and malleable before baking, and can be shaped and manipulated. It doesn't dry out over time, and regains its stiffness by being chilled if it is overworked. Once baked it can be carved, sanded, buffed and painted. It can have a translucence, or be totally opaque. It can be drilled, inlaid or painted.

In the beginning, some artists were creating 2-D paintings on canvas, using the clay like a paint on canvas or wood. Some artists sculpt fine figures from it, including fantasy images. Miniatures are made with it, and imitations of food that look authentic down to the tiniest detail. One original use was in dollmaking, and polymer clay is still heavily used in creating hands, feet and faces for figurines.

Two of the original innovators with polymer clay were David Forlano and Steven Ford. They started collaborating on jewelry designs in 1988, with caning, bright colors and complex patterns. They are featured in Craft In America for their innovative work.

Their creations are edgy and modern, with great shadings of color and depth.

In the beginning polymer clay work had difficulty and met with resistance for being recognized as true fine art, but Forlano and Ford helped change many minds about polymer clay and whether it could be used for serious artistic work.

Easily formed, molded and manipulated, many artists find polymer clay to be a liberating material for working out new ideas and creating new and challenging designs.

With 2008 marking 20 years of their collaboration, Forlano and Ford are still working together and making groundbreaking new visual pieces, both wearable and sculptural, and finding new ways to combine polymer clay with wood, metal and wire to make creative new images and wearables.

From the tiny mosaics created in the late 1990's at City Zen Cane to the present day, their art is continually inspirational.

And I hope you find this series on legendary jewelrymakers inspiring, click on the tag at the bottom if you haven't read all of them.