Friday, July 31, 2015

Grinding and Polishing - Mojave Stone and Opals


 This is my JoolTool.  I first saw it demonstrated at "Metal Clay by the Bay" and thought about buying it for a day.  I bought it with the metal clay kit and was delighted with both the time saving and the finished product.  Then several months later I bought the polymer clay package.  I was equally happy with the time saving and the end product.
For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it has a variety of sanding and polishing discs that easily screw on the vertical spike.  The discs have slots evenly spaced and when they turn you can see what you are working on.  Less mistakes and less time spent sanding and polishing.

Last February I went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.  Since I had been to Australia I wanted to find some black opal from there.  The finished pieces proved too expensive for my budget.  Fortunately a friend and I found a booth with rough unfinished Black Opal.  I decided to buy some (having no idea how to select the better quality).
Australian Black Opal in the rough

I bought 4 pieces and thought that sometime I would buy the lapidary kit for my JoolTool and polish them myself.  That's what I bought myself for my birthday in May!  It took until now to get my courage up and try the lapidary kit.  I started with some broken cabochons of Mojave Stone that my dad and brothers had mined in the Mojave Desert.  After a little practice I ground the one with both ends broken to make a bead.  I still have to drill the hole!  But the piece came out really well.
broken both ends
ground and polished both ends!


I also ground and polished the end of this broken cabochon and plan to make a silver cap for it.  Then it will be a pendant.


Since that went so well, I started on the opals.  I had lots to learn having only watched my dad make cabochons many years ago.  I did not know the matrix for the opal was mud like.  I also did not know who to really shape a piece or what to look for in selecting an area for jewelry.  I decided to take out the mud-like filling and see what was left of the stone.  The first piece was small and I basically ground it to dust.  It was a good learning piece!  The second piece  was flat and once the mud was gone I could shape it into a piece that would work for a pendant.  I like the pattern and the color on it.

Second piece - for a pendant
The third piece was fun to work on as it had caves and crevices that appeared as the mud was removed.  I've decided to keep it natural and enjoy the shape and colors as they are.

Third piece - one view

Third piece - another view
The fourth piece stole my heart!  As I removed the 'mud' this heart began to take shape.  It has lots of color and shapes made with fractures and it has a cave like indentation in the center.  I'm not sure what will become of this piece.  Should I leave it and enjoy it or should I set it and have a pendent?  Ideas?  Comments are welcome!

Fourth Piece- my heart



Friday, July 24, 2015


I recently spent 3 days with a very good friend I had not seen for too long a time.  We talked non-stop and caught up with so many ideas, thoughts and projects.  She showed me her hummingbird feeder she made from a vinegar bottle.  She attached a wire for the hummingbird to sit on that would be too delicate for a woodpecker.  It seems her woodpeckers try to get into (and do) the feeder to drink.  We laughed because I'm trying to feed and attract the woodpeckers at my house!  As you can see, the wire is a perfect perch for this Broad-billed Hummingbird.  It was the first time I've really seen one.



There was one bud on this cactus when I arrived at her house.  Of course I took the bud picture and was very excited the next morning when it opened.  This spectacular bloom lasted one day...one day of glory!







The grasshoppers were also just hatching!  I got to take their picture before they were unceremoniously sprayed off the zinnia leaves!




So much fun to visit and see the world around me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happenings!


Last week's beads
Lots happening at our house this week!  I’ve been working on 2 translucent polymer necklaces from the beads I made last week.  It’s always interesting to see how pieces go together and what can be used that will accomplish what I see in my mind.
The first one is made of oval beads, some with a black polymer edges and some with a silver alcohol ink edges.  I wanted the beads to overlap and dangle from silver jump rings.  The chain is made from glass gray spacer beads and each polymer bead has one of the glass beads hanging from a jump ring as an accent.  I think it works well.  I wore it to Chico’s and happened to find a blouse that went with the necklace beautifully!  Good thing it was on sale.

lovely colors as the light comes through the clay

against a black ground
 The second necklace took even more thought.  I had to decide how to drill the holes in the polymer 3-d beads so a jump ring would fit.  I lost one bead by trying a too small jump ring.  Then I practiced putting crimp bead and bead covers on the ends of pearls.  I wanted the polymer beads to hang from pearls and attach to jump rings on the silver chain.  The 3-d translucent beads have an extruded cane slice in the center and a different cane slice on the back.  They are edged in black polymer and when I cured them I turned up the sides to make corners.  I used different sized jump rings as design elements. Now I need a slinky black outfit and a place to wear it!

light through the translucent clay beads
against a black ground
As I was working on the beads, Peter was working on the pentagonal virginal (music instrument!) he is making from a kit.  His meticulous attention to detail is paying off and he is nearing the staining stage.  Lots more to be done but I wanted to share. 

Pentagonal Virginal 
And on Sunday, I changed my space at the Miller Valley Art Market from a vertical 4 ft. wall in a corner to a 4 ft. glass display case in the center by the gelato.  My friend, Luana, helped me ‘dress’ it up.  She was on one side and I on the other directing, pulling, arranging until we both were happy.  So good to have friends!  If you are ever in the area, stop by the Art Market.  There are over 100 artisans showing their work.

 









Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s on My Work Table This Week? or The Learning Curve of Translucent Polymer Clay


Translucent polymer clay with no color added
Translucent polymer clay has intrigued me for quite a while.  Every time I went to Hobby Lobby I would buy 3 packets of Pardo Translucent Clay.  When I asked if there were more, the response was, “Each store only gets 3 packets a month!”  I would have felt bad about taking all three but it was usually the end of the month!  The funny thing is that I did not use them often and now have a nice stash.  Of course, when you keep polymer clay a while, it can get crumbly and be difficult to condition.  Yes, that did happen to several packets!  It just takes more time and a little of clay softener to get the clay to the correct consistency.  Pardo seems to be the most translucent and you can actually see print through the cured clay.

There are two beautiful polymer clay necklaces hanging on my studio wall that I made a good year ago.  I did not add color to that clay, edged the circles in wire and found it fun to work with.  

The alcohol inks are in the small bottles at the top of the photo.  They were mixed with the translucent, set to dry and then conditioned.
 This year I wanted color!  Craftcast (an online site that has wonderful classes) had a class https://www.craftcast.com/videos/secrets-creating-jewellery-using-translucent-polymer-clay-debbie-carlton   where I learned to add color with alcohol inks to the translucent polymer.  It is a really good class teaching many techniques and sharing tips.  One was to wear gloves because the ink can go many places you don’t want it.  Letting the ink dry on the clay before conditioning it is also wise.  This keeps the ink from squirting between the layers of clay and going everywhere. (That reminded me of making pomegranate jelly!) I also found a big difference in color before baking the clay and after.  Since I was just learning and playing I did not care.  But if the color is important I’d do a test sample.

Different techniques of using translucent clay - lower beads are handmade canes.  Middle beads edged in black were extruded.  The top beads were made in mokume gane technique.  Haven't decided how to assemble them yet!  Stay tuned!

Clay before shaping and curing.  See the yellow color before baking?  It's the same color used on the disc below.

Cured translucent clay with no light shining through
The same translucent clay with light behind.  See how the color changes?
After watching the class and trying some of the techniques, I thought you might like to see some of the parts I made.  Hopefully next week I’ll be able to show you some that are finished.

Cured pieces ready to be sanded and polished.  


One finished piece with 3 layers - black background, green middle and red top.  Holes have been drilled allowing colors to be seen.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Grinding and Polishing - Mojave Stone and Opals


 This is my JoolTool.  I first saw it demonstrated at "Metal Clay by the Bay" and thought about buying it for a day.  I bought it with the metal clay kit and was delighted with both the time saving and the finished product.  Then several months later I bought the polymer clay package.  I was equally happy with the time saving and the end product.
For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it has a variety of sanding and polishing discs that easily screw on the vertical spike.  The discs have slots evenly spaced and when they turn you can see what you are working on.  Less mistakes and less time spent sanding and polishing.

Last February I went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.  Since I had been to Australia I wanted to find some black opal from there.  The finished pieces proved too expensive for my budget.  Fortunately a friend and I found a booth with rough unfinished Black Opal.  I decided to buy some (having no idea how to select the better quality).
Australian Black Opal in the rough

I bought 4 pieces and thought that sometime I would buy the lapidary kit for my JoolTool and polish them myself.  That's what I bought myself for my birthday in May!  It took until now to get my courage up and try the lapidary kit.  I started with some broken cabochons of Mojave Stone that my dad and brothers had mined in the Mojave Desert.  After a little practice I ground the one with both ends broken to make a bead.  I still have to drill the hole!  But the piece came out really well.
broken both ends
ground and polished both ends!


I also ground and polished the end of this broken cabochon and plan to make a silver cap for it.  Then it will be a pendant.


Since that went so well, I started on the opals.  I had lots to learn having only watched my dad make cabochons many years ago.  I did not know the matrix for the opal was mud like.  I also did not know who to really shape a piece or what to look for in selecting an area for jewelry.  I decided to take out the mud-like filling and see what was left of the stone.  The first piece was small and I basically ground it to dust.  It was a good learning piece!  The second piece  was flat and once the mud was gone I could shape it into a piece that would work for a pendant.  I like the pattern and the color on it.

Second piece - for a pendant
The third piece was fun to work on as it had caves and crevices that appeared as the mud was removed.  I've decided to keep it natural and enjoy the shape and colors as they are.

Third piece - one view

Third piece - another view
The fourth piece stole my heart!  As I removed the 'mud' this heart began to take shape.  It has lots of color and shapes made with fractures and it has a cave like indentation in the center.  I'm not sure what will become of this piece.  Should I leave it and enjoy it or should I set it and have a pendent?  Ideas?  Comments are welcome!

Fourth Piece- my heart



Friday, July 24, 2015


I recently spent 3 days with a very good friend I had not seen for too long a time.  We talked non-stop and caught up with so many ideas, thoughts and projects.  She showed me her hummingbird feeder she made from a vinegar bottle.  She attached a wire for the hummingbird to sit on that would be too delicate for a woodpecker.  It seems her woodpeckers try to get into (and do) the feeder to drink.  We laughed because I'm trying to feed and attract the woodpeckers at my house!  As you can see, the wire is a perfect perch for this Broad-billed Hummingbird.  It was the first time I've really seen one.



There was one bud on this cactus when I arrived at her house.  Of course I took the bud picture and was very excited the next morning when it opened.  This spectacular bloom lasted one day...one day of glory!







The grasshoppers were also just hatching!  I got to take their picture before they were unceremoniously sprayed off the zinnia leaves!




So much fun to visit and see the world around me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happenings!


Last week's beads
Lots happening at our house this week!  I’ve been working on 2 translucent polymer necklaces from the beads I made last week.  It’s always interesting to see how pieces go together and what can be used that will accomplish what I see in my mind.
The first one is made of oval beads, some with a black polymer edges and some with a silver alcohol ink edges.  I wanted the beads to overlap and dangle from silver jump rings.  The chain is made from glass gray spacer beads and each polymer bead has one of the glass beads hanging from a jump ring as an accent.  I think it works well.  I wore it to Chico’s and happened to find a blouse that went with the necklace beautifully!  Good thing it was on sale.

lovely colors as the light comes through the clay

against a black ground
 The second necklace took even more thought.  I had to decide how to drill the holes in the polymer 3-d beads so a jump ring would fit.  I lost one bead by trying a too small jump ring.  Then I practiced putting crimp bead and bead covers on the ends of pearls.  I wanted the polymer beads to hang from pearls and attach to jump rings on the silver chain.  The 3-d translucent beads have an extruded cane slice in the center and a different cane slice on the back.  They are edged in black polymer and when I cured them I turned up the sides to make corners.  I used different sized jump rings as design elements. Now I need a slinky black outfit and a place to wear it!

light through the translucent clay beads
against a black ground
As I was working on the beads, Peter was working on the pentagonal virginal (music instrument!) he is making from a kit.  His meticulous attention to detail is paying off and he is nearing the staining stage.  Lots more to be done but I wanted to share. 

Pentagonal Virginal 
And on Sunday, I changed my space at the Miller Valley Art Market from a vertical 4 ft. wall in a corner to a 4 ft. glass display case in the center by the gelato.  My friend, Luana, helped me ‘dress’ it up.  She was on one side and I on the other directing, pulling, arranging until we both were happy.  So good to have friends!  If you are ever in the area, stop by the Art Market.  There are over 100 artisans showing their work.

 









Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s on My Work Table This Week? or The Learning Curve of Translucent Polymer Clay


Translucent polymer clay with no color added
Translucent polymer clay has intrigued me for quite a while.  Every time I went to Hobby Lobby I would buy 3 packets of Pardo Translucent Clay.  When I asked if there were more, the response was, “Each store only gets 3 packets a month!”  I would have felt bad about taking all three but it was usually the end of the month!  The funny thing is that I did not use them often and now have a nice stash.  Of course, when you keep polymer clay a while, it can get crumbly and be difficult to condition.  Yes, that did happen to several packets!  It just takes more time and a little of clay softener to get the clay to the correct consistency.  Pardo seems to be the most translucent and you can actually see print through the cured clay.

There are two beautiful polymer clay necklaces hanging on my studio wall that I made a good year ago.  I did not add color to that clay, edged the circles in wire and found it fun to work with.  

The alcohol inks are in the small bottles at the top of the photo.  They were mixed with the translucent, set to dry and then conditioned.
 This year I wanted color!  Craftcast (an online site that has wonderful classes) had a class https://www.craftcast.com/videos/secrets-creating-jewellery-using-translucent-polymer-clay-debbie-carlton   where I learned to add color with alcohol inks to the translucent polymer.  It is a really good class teaching many techniques and sharing tips.  One was to wear gloves because the ink can go many places you don’t want it.  Letting the ink dry on the clay before conditioning it is also wise.  This keeps the ink from squirting between the layers of clay and going everywhere. (That reminded me of making pomegranate jelly!) I also found a big difference in color before baking the clay and after.  Since I was just learning and playing I did not care.  But if the color is important I’d do a test sample.

Different techniques of using translucent clay - lower beads are handmade canes.  Middle beads edged in black were extruded.  The top beads were made in mokume gane technique.  Haven't decided how to assemble them yet!  Stay tuned!

Clay before shaping and curing.  See the yellow color before baking?  It's the same color used on the disc below.

Cured translucent clay with no light shining through
The same translucent clay with light behind.  See how the color changes?
After watching the class and trying some of the techniques, I thought you might like to see some of the parts I made.  Hopefully next week I’ll be able to show you some that are finished.

Cured pieces ready to be sanded and polished.  


One finished piece with 3 layers - black background, green middle and red top.  Holes have been drilled allowing colors to be seen.