Thursday, December 8, 2016

Large Detail of rocks at The Dells
It's been a pretty full holiday season already and it's almost Christmas.   This fall my younger brother and his wife came for a visit (something I never thought could happen for health reasons).  My nephew Matt came for a visit and it was wonderful to get to know him better.  Peter and I were tour guides and as often happens we saw places we had not seen before and got a little different perspective on things we had seen. 

Matt in front of some of the rocks at The Dells
We are co hosts of a holiday party coming up and attended another neighborhood party.  Long time friends from Tucson came to visit and we are feeling blessed with all the love from family and friends.  I am reminded of how special each person is and how important it is to acknowledge individual talents. 

This month I'm finishing several projects that I started or wanted to start throughout this year and thought I'd share a few with you.  Part of the fun of the holiday season is allowing myself time to play in between the things that have to be done. 

Rocks!  Peter and I have a collection of lizards and lizards like to climb and hide among rocks.  But rocks can be heavy and can fall on tiny lizards if they are not stacked properly in the cage.  I've started making a few flat rocks out of light weight polymer clay and here are a few examples!  It's a great way to use up scrap clay.

Can you tell which I made?
Pearls!  I've redesigned a pearl necklace and knotted between those tiny pearls.  Every time I repaired, restrung and re-knotted a pearl necklace for someone else I thought I 'should' finish my necklace!  Done!


Birdhouses!  My sister-in-law loves to make fairy gardens.  I decided she needed some birdhouses so I used up some more of my scrap clay and sent her this gift!  Fun for both of us!


List Cover!  What to do with frog canes?  Make a cover for lists and give it as a gift to a friend who will appreciate it.   Lots of learning involved - what size is best?  How to join all the pages? 



Hope you can tell I've been having fun.  I'd love to hear from you about your end of the year adventures.











Friday, November 11, 2016

A Word About Buttons


 

I grew up looking through my mother's and grandmother's button jars.  In fact, I still have one of those jars.  There is something about seeing and feeling those round, oval and square shapes that fascinate.  Some have pictures, some are in relief and some are just colorful and all are pieces of history.

When the owner of a fabric shop asked me is I could make polymer buttons, I said "Sure"!  Having worked in polymer clay I was positive this would be easy.  After a lot of learning and practicing it is an intriguing enterprise that takes patience and is fun!

My latest button inspiration came from a friend who looked at the buttons in my display and said 'Red and Black'  You need red and black and maybe burgundy for the season!'   These new buttons will be in showing up my display case and in my etsy shop though out this month. 


My process begins with conditioning the polymer clay and then make polymer canes in different designs but in the same color scheme.  In this case I've chosen red and black with a touch of translucent (which reads light gray)  and another color scheme in burgundy, black and white.  The backing of the button is black.  


Once the backing is rolled to the correct thickness I add thin slices of canes.  Sometimes I put this through the pasta machine and stretch the design.  Other times I place the cane slices touching each other and smooth the edges so there in no line between the designs.  Then I cut the shapes of the buttons and cure them.  When the buttons are cool I drill the holes, sand, buff and polish the buttons.  Often I'll use Renaissance wax to give them a little extra shine.   



My buttons are one of a kind or a few of a kind.  They are unique handmade tiny pieces of art.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/477594482/red-and-black-button-large-button?ref=shop_home_active_1

Here are some of the things I have learned while making buttons:
      
     o It's great way to use polymer canes. Canes are those clay logs of patterns and color that are sliced, baked and used to make all kinds of things polymer. The logs in the photo are examples. I always make too many canes and am glad to find ways to use them in my designs.

o In my opinion polymer buttons need to be somewhere between 2 cm to 6 cm in thickness. Too thin and they are too flexible and not strong enough. Too thick and they are cumbersome.

o Yarn artists like buttons with large holes so the yarn goes through easier. Sewers like the holes spaced for the sewing machine needle can sew them. (I find that seldom happens with a handmade button).

o Edges need to be smooth - not sharp and the finish needs to feel smooth.

o The curing of the polymer needs to be accurate so the buttons do not break.

o Generally, people like buttons to be durable and washable.

o It's possible to match a button perfectly to a fabric but usually I prefer contrast.

o No matter how many different buttons there are we need more!

o Buttons make great gifts. They are fun to receive with a note "Just thinking about you!", or as a stocking stuffer. They are often used as beads, pins, and earrings.

o Buttons make great accents on bags, purses, quilts or most anything you can think of.



  •  







Friday, October 28, 2016

White Plants of Ecuador as Inspiration


Eight years ago we went to Ecuador and, of course, I took hundreds of pictures.   A few of those pictures were taken in a place where there was a Reptile House and lots of flora.  In a small area of the garden was a plot of the most interesting white succulent plants.  They reminded me of the green agave in Arizona but the ones in Ecuador were white.  It felt like I was seeing a black and white photograph. 

White Plants of Ecuador - real color!
A few months ago, the Prescott Art Market decided to have a quarterly art competition and anyone that had their work in the market could enter.  A 20 x 20 canvas with black edges done in colors of the season was the requirement.  I did not participate in the autumn competition but decided for the winter competition that I wanted to do something with polymer clay using the white plants of Ecuador as inspiration. 

What I had in mind was a 3 dimensional painting made of polymer and everything about it would be an experiment .  I thought perhaps you might like to follow the process I took.  It's a longer than usual post but it might be helpful to some of you polymer clayers!

Making the paper supports
I decided to use card stock (paper)  for the supporting structure of each leaf  knowing that polymer would sag in the curing process unless there was a support.  I cut leaves keeping in mind the size of the canvas and folded them and sometimes twisted the paper.  Then I conditioned lots of white Premo clay and added some light blue green to some of the white.  I was experimenting with  the color since an all white plant needs some color for the shadows or it will look flat.  Each polymer leaf was cut to the shape of the paper.  The edges of each leaf needed to the thinned and made uneven (like the real plants) and my fingers were a great tool for this.  Each polymer leaf laying on the paper leaf was placed in the convection oven and cured.  Sometimes the color changed from white to tan due to a hot spot in the oven.  That turned out to be a good thing as it added depth to the finished product.

Polymer leaf on the paper leaf
After the leaves were cured they were arranged on a 20 x 20 unpainted canvas to make sure the finished design would fit!  An important part of planning!

Planning


painted background in progress
At this point I painted the background of the canvas in grays, black, and white with strokes of the paint moving in the direction I wanted the leaves the go.  The edges of the canvas were painted black.
I made a center for the plant that looks like a polymer cone with leaves starting to unfurl with a flat back.  

Adhering the leaves
The cured polymer leaves were added to the cone and crumpled paper and crumpled foil supported the leaves.  Uncured polymer was added to the cone at the base of the leaves so the polymer  would cure in the oven and cement the leaves to the cone.  Once the entire piece was assembled I put the cookie sheet with the creation in my kitchen oven with foil over it to even the temperature, put the thermometer where I could see it and watched the piece cure.  

Ready for the oven!
When I took it out of the oven I was so tempted to take all the paper out and look at it but I knew it had to cool and harden.  The next morning out came the supporting paper!  I held it up and it all stayed together!  I just stood and looked at it!

It was at this point that I realized that the thought process for the assembly of plant to canvas was sorely lacking.  How to attach the plant to the canvas?   Next time I think I would use hardware cloth that was fastened to the canvas by wire. (Another experiment!)  This time I took wire and fastened it around the cone and through the canvas using crimp beads to hold the wire together.  I also used superglue to attach the cone to the canvas.  I'm hoping both the wire and the glue work for the long term in combination! 


After putting the wire on the back (which should have been done before I attached  the plant to the canvas)  and hung the 'painting'  that I realized I would need to put some color on the leaves for more depth.  Polymer paint with medium on a sponge worked really well.  

And this is the finished project!  
 It's hanging on my wall until Nov 15 when I take it to the Prescott Art Market .  All the entries will hang for 3 months and hopefully will be sold for others to enjoy.  If you are in the Prescott AZ area, stop in to look!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Large Detail of rocks at The Dells
It's been a pretty full holiday season already and it's almost Christmas.   This fall my younger brother and his wife came for a visit (something I never thought could happen for health reasons).  My nephew Matt came for a visit and it was wonderful to get to know him better.  Peter and I were tour guides and as often happens we saw places we had not seen before and got a little different perspective on things we had seen. 

Matt in front of some of the rocks at The Dells
We are co hosts of a holiday party coming up and attended another neighborhood party.  Long time friends from Tucson came to visit and we are feeling blessed with all the love from family and friends.  I am reminded of how special each person is and how important it is to acknowledge individual talents. 

This month I'm finishing several projects that I started or wanted to start throughout this year and thought I'd share a few with you.  Part of the fun of the holiday season is allowing myself time to play in between the things that have to be done. 

Rocks!  Peter and I have a collection of lizards and lizards like to climb and hide among rocks.  But rocks can be heavy and can fall on tiny lizards if they are not stacked properly in the cage.  I've started making a few flat rocks out of light weight polymer clay and here are a few examples!  It's a great way to use up scrap clay.

Can you tell which I made?
Pearls!  I've redesigned a pearl necklace and knotted between those tiny pearls.  Every time I repaired, restrung and re-knotted a pearl necklace for someone else I thought I 'should' finish my necklace!  Done!


Birdhouses!  My sister-in-law loves to make fairy gardens.  I decided she needed some birdhouses so I used up some more of my scrap clay and sent her this gift!  Fun for both of us!


List Cover!  What to do with frog canes?  Make a cover for lists and give it as a gift to a friend who will appreciate it.   Lots of learning involved - what size is best?  How to join all the pages? 



Hope you can tell I've been having fun.  I'd love to hear from you about your end of the year adventures.











Friday, November 11, 2016

A Word About Buttons


 

I grew up looking through my mother's and grandmother's button jars.  In fact, I still have one of those jars.  There is something about seeing and feeling those round, oval and square shapes that fascinate.  Some have pictures, some are in relief and some are just colorful and all are pieces of history.

When the owner of a fabric shop asked me is I could make polymer buttons, I said "Sure"!  Having worked in polymer clay I was positive this would be easy.  After a lot of learning and practicing it is an intriguing enterprise that takes patience and is fun!

My latest button inspiration came from a friend who looked at the buttons in my display and said 'Red and Black'  You need red and black and maybe burgundy for the season!'   These new buttons will be in showing up my display case and in my etsy shop though out this month. 


My process begins with conditioning the polymer clay and then make polymer canes in different designs but in the same color scheme.  In this case I've chosen red and black with a touch of translucent (which reads light gray)  and another color scheme in burgundy, black and white.  The backing of the button is black.  


Once the backing is rolled to the correct thickness I add thin slices of canes.  Sometimes I put this through the pasta machine and stretch the design.  Other times I place the cane slices touching each other and smooth the edges so there in no line between the designs.  Then I cut the shapes of the buttons and cure them.  When the buttons are cool I drill the holes, sand, buff and polish the buttons.  Often I'll use Renaissance wax to give them a little extra shine.   



My buttons are one of a kind or a few of a kind.  They are unique handmade tiny pieces of art.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/477594482/red-and-black-button-large-button?ref=shop_home_active_1

Here are some of the things I have learned while making buttons:
      
     o It's great way to use polymer canes. Canes are those clay logs of patterns and color that are sliced, baked and used to make all kinds of things polymer. The logs in the photo are examples. I always make too many canes and am glad to find ways to use them in my designs.

o In my opinion polymer buttons need to be somewhere between 2 cm to 6 cm in thickness. Too thin and they are too flexible and not strong enough. Too thick and they are cumbersome.

o Yarn artists like buttons with large holes so the yarn goes through easier. Sewers like the holes spaced for the sewing machine needle can sew them. (I find that seldom happens with a handmade button).

o Edges need to be smooth - not sharp and the finish needs to feel smooth.

o The curing of the polymer needs to be accurate so the buttons do not break.

o Generally, people like buttons to be durable and washable.

o It's possible to match a button perfectly to a fabric but usually I prefer contrast.

o No matter how many different buttons there are we need more!

o Buttons make great gifts. They are fun to receive with a note "Just thinking about you!", or as a stocking stuffer. They are often used as beads, pins, and earrings.

o Buttons make great accents on bags, purses, quilts or most anything you can think of.



  •  







Friday, October 28, 2016

White Plants of Ecuador as Inspiration


Eight years ago we went to Ecuador and, of course, I took hundreds of pictures.   A few of those pictures were taken in a place where there was a Reptile House and lots of flora.  In a small area of the garden was a plot of the most interesting white succulent plants.  They reminded me of the green agave in Arizona but the ones in Ecuador were white.  It felt like I was seeing a black and white photograph. 

White Plants of Ecuador - real color!
A few months ago, the Prescott Art Market decided to have a quarterly art competition and anyone that had their work in the market could enter.  A 20 x 20 canvas with black edges done in colors of the season was the requirement.  I did not participate in the autumn competition but decided for the winter competition that I wanted to do something with polymer clay using the white plants of Ecuador as inspiration. 

What I had in mind was a 3 dimensional painting made of polymer and everything about it would be an experiment .  I thought perhaps you might like to follow the process I took.  It's a longer than usual post but it might be helpful to some of you polymer clayers!

Making the paper supports
I decided to use card stock (paper)  for the supporting structure of each leaf  knowing that polymer would sag in the curing process unless there was a support.  I cut leaves keeping in mind the size of the canvas and folded them and sometimes twisted the paper.  Then I conditioned lots of white Premo clay and added some light blue green to some of the white.  I was experimenting with  the color since an all white plant needs some color for the shadows or it will look flat.  Each polymer leaf was cut to the shape of the paper.  The edges of each leaf needed to the thinned and made uneven (like the real plants) and my fingers were a great tool for this.  Each polymer leaf laying on the paper leaf was placed in the convection oven and cured.  Sometimes the color changed from white to tan due to a hot spot in the oven.  That turned out to be a good thing as it added depth to the finished product.

Polymer leaf on the paper leaf
After the leaves were cured they were arranged on a 20 x 20 unpainted canvas to make sure the finished design would fit!  An important part of planning!

Planning


painted background in progress
At this point I painted the background of the canvas in grays, black, and white with strokes of the paint moving in the direction I wanted the leaves the go.  The edges of the canvas were painted black.
I made a center for the plant that looks like a polymer cone with leaves starting to unfurl with a flat back.  

Adhering the leaves
The cured polymer leaves were added to the cone and crumpled paper and crumpled foil supported the leaves.  Uncured polymer was added to the cone at the base of the leaves so the polymer  would cure in the oven and cement the leaves to the cone.  Once the entire piece was assembled I put the cookie sheet with the creation in my kitchen oven with foil over it to even the temperature, put the thermometer where I could see it and watched the piece cure.  

Ready for the oven!
When I took it out of the oven I was so tempted to take all the paper out and look at it but I knew it had to cool and harden.  The next morning out came the supporting paper!  I held it up and it all stayed together!  I just stood and looked at it!

It was at this point that I realized that the thought process for the assembly of plant to canvas was sorely lacking.  How to attach the plant to the canvas?   Next time I think I would use hardware cloth that was fastened to the canvas by wire. (Another experiment!)  This time I took wire and fastened it around the cone and through the canvas using crimp beads to hold the wire together.  I also used superglue to attach the cone to the canvas.  I'm hoping both the wire and the glue work for the long term in combination! 


After putting the wire on the back (which should have been done before I attached  the plant to the canvas)  and hung the 'painting'  that I realized I would need to put some color on the leaves for more depth.  Polymer paint with medium on a sponge worked really well.  

And this is the finished project!  
 It's hanging on my wall until Nov 15 when I take it to the Prescott Art Market .  All the entries will hang for 3 months and hopefully will be sold for others to enjoy.  If you are in the Prescott AZ area, stop in to look!