Dec 022016
 

ff stencils heat tool (1)

Have you noticed all of the creative shape templates available out there? (This Pinterest search shows what I’m talking about.) If so, have you had a chance to try any of them out?

I have been noticing them, and I’ve been really intrigued by all the different things that people can do with them. Sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut when it comes to shapes, so these can be very inspiring and helpful.

template

photo from MelanieMuir.com

Above is an example of how the nested shapes can be used to create a piece of polymer clay jewelry.

shapes

This quick little video shows just one way you can use these tools.

When I went to price out some of these wonderful templates (there were at least a dozen that I wanted!) I found they were a bit out of my budget. I am certain they are worth every penny, with their nice thick template plastic and smooth edges, there are many techniques you can do with them. But…

Since I mostly wanted to use them for design I came up with a way of making my own. In today’s video I’ll show you how to use a heat tool to cut out your own stencils and design templates in any shapes and sizes you want.

Below I also have a link to several pages of free shape templates available on the Internet. I’m sure you can find more, or you can design shapes yourself on the computer.

Tools & Materials:

Happy creating and designing!

Watch the Friday Findings-Making Design Stencils/Shape Templates video at YouTube.

Nov 302016
 

Meet my new fall jacket:

teal reptile jacket

This jacket was inspired by a sweater I purchased at a store. The sweater had what appeared to be a very complicated and interesting hemline, but once I took took a closer look I realized that the body of the sweater was simply a cropped long sleeve cardigan with long, wide bands of knitted trim sewn around the back and around the neckline, meeting together at the side seams.

teal reptile jacket 2

Hopefully these photos will help you understand what I mean. It’s much simpler to make than it is to explain!

The cardigan is cropped about 7 inches under the armpit and the trim simply consists of two long rectangles. They can be as long and as wide as you want them to be. Mine are 14 inches wide and 60 inches long. The heavier your trim fabric, the narrower you would want to make it, especially around the neckline, but I think this design particularly suits lightweight drapey fabrics.

teal reptile jacket 1

I’m thinking that if I ever come across a couple of really pretty 60 inch long silk scarves they would make a gorgeous trim for a lightweight spring top.

I got the fabrics at MoodFabrics.com and was very pleased that the colors were accurate enough on the screen that I was able to match the two, the solid and the reptile print, so they look as good together in real life as I thought they might.

It was fantastic to use McCalls 6408, because I had already made the alterations so it fits. I just cut the front and back sections 7 inches below the armpit. sewed shoulders, sleeves & side seams as normal, sewed my band on the front, sewed my band on the back, and then did a serger rolled hem around everything.

Quick, easy and a top I love wearing!

Nov 292016
 

These snowflakes are a relaxing project to do with older children or with friends, but they’re also kind of nice to work on by yourself! It was fun digging through all of my small shape cutters and finding different combinations that would work to make interesting designs.

I love to hang these on my windows with suction cup hooks and very fine gold thread. If the light shines on them they sparkle, and if they’re back-lit the silhouettes are pretty.

snowflake ornaments cover

Here’s another tip: If you’re going to make spirals or scrolls, make one first, then gently unroll it and measure it. Cut five more clay pieces to that length and they all should end up being the same size.

If any of the shaped bits fall off after baking, which may happen since they are so small, just use a little dab of super glue to stick them back into place.

Also, I didn’t mention it in the video, but if you use a mat like mine with the blue printed lines, make sure to design your snowflake on the side without lines. You may have noticed in the video when I flipped one of my snowflakes over that it had blue marks on it. My lines came right off onto the clay, oops!

snowflake ornaments 2

There are so many different combinations that you can make, the possibilities are endless. Don’t forget that you can also brush portions or the entirety of your snowflakes with mica powders. Perfect Pearl would be a great color, or perhaps a pale blue like Interference Blue would be pretty. You could even cover these with flocking powder after baking for a really interesting look. Have fun creating and designing!

Tools and Materials:

If you like making snowflakes out of polymer clay, here are a couple other tutorials with very different methods:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Sparkling Snowflakes-Polymer Clay Christmas Ornaments Series-2016 video at YouTube.

Nov 252016
 

pca supplies unboxing

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, for the past two years I have been part of the Polymer Clay Adventure which is an online art retreat in which you pay a single fee for classes that will last you an entire year.

I’ve shared a lot about my experiences and even based many of my 2015 dragons in my Dragon Challenge on the techniques learned in the classes.

Sometimes it’s fun, though, just to do the projects as taught, rather than trying something new and different. It can be a bit of a mental break just to follow the directions and do exactly what the teacher teaches. So this year with that in mind I decided to purchase their supplemental supplies. These are specific things called for in the classes by the teachers that might be difficult to find elsewhere. It’s also a good bargain, another plus in my opinion. 🙂

By the way, after recording this video I looked at the enclosed paper more carefully and found they tell us which class each supply is for. Yeah, I was wrong about the ring, but I’m looking forward to doing that project in Lisa Loria’s class!

pca 17 supplies list

So that’s what this video is, showing the supplies that I received in the polymer clay surprise package. And, of course, speculating a bit about what the classes will be.

Here are the links I could find for these supplies:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Friday Findings-Polymer Clay Supplies video at YouTube.

Nov 222016
 

gingerbread cuties cover

Last year in the weeks before Christmas I did a five week series of polymer clay Christmas charms making a really cute polymer clay charm bracelet. If you missed it click the link to watch the 2015 Christmas Charms YouTube playlist.

This year I decided instead of making charms I would make ornaments, The first of which is this cute little gingerbread man. These were so much fun to make that I couldn’t stop at just one! I kept thinking of new and different ideas and things to add. I didn’t have time to do all of my ideas which included giving them festive striped scarves, Santa hats or chefs toques. How about a baking pan with cookies on it? Kind of ironic, but still funny and cute.

gingerbread cuties candy cane

I got a wonderful note back from Sculpey regarding the problem with the icing cracking. Here’s what they had to say:

I think it is because you are baking the pearl squiggles on the ceramic tile for 15 minutes at 275°F is the issue.  I don’t think you are getting full fusion of the liquid Sculpey because of the ceramic tile.  We have noticed that when baking items on glass or ceramic, the glass or ceramic takes a long time to heat up versus using other baking surfaces like metal or paper. 

The ceramic tile probably takes a good 10 minutes or more to heat up to the 275F, so really the Liquid Sculpey side that is on the ceramic tile is not getting baked properly and is really only baking at 275F for 5 minutes or less at 275F.  I think this is causing the breakage.  Since you are bending the squiggles to put them on the cute gingerbread figures, if the piece is not fused properly, it will break.

You should try baking the pearl squiggles for longer – 30 minutes at 275Fand see if that helps. 

Keep increasing the time by 5 minutes until you get the pieces to not break.  Or you might have to bake the squiggles at slightly higher temperature to get full fusion.  

I am sure you are doing this – but use or recommend that your viewers use an oven thermometer on the inside of your oven to make sure that the oven is accurate.

That’s such great info! I never thought about having to heat up the tile first, before the clay even starts baking, but it makes sense.

icing it

cartoon by Dave Coverly

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is how to turn them into hanging ornaments. Once you have baked your ornaments you just want to find the center of balance so that they will hang the way you want and then gently screw in a screw eye, starting the hole first with an awl. Once the screw eye is in, back it out, add a drop of super glue and then screw it back in. Add a ribbon and you have an ornament for your tree.

gingerbread cuties lights

Tools & Materials:

gingerbread cuties bowl & spoon

Those of you who are my patrons can click here to find your bonus video showing how to make the gingerbread girl’s dress, collar, sleeves, mixing bowl and spoon.

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Gingerbread Cuties-Polymer Clay Christmas Ornaments Series-2016 at YouTube.

Nov 182016
 

ff hook clasps

You can be certain that one of the first purchases a new jewelry creator will make is for some kind of clasp, unless all they ever plan to make are earrings.

Hook clasps are one of the most basic closures for bracelets and necklaces, but there are many variations on the theme. In today’s video I’ll show you several examples of types of hook clasps, give you some tips for purchasing them, and also show examples of different ways you can use these findings, sometimes not as clasps at all!

clasp

This clasp by Karisma by Kara’s Etsy shop is nice enough to use as a focal point.

Here are a few of the clasps I showed in the video as well as a few others I think would be fun to use.

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Choosing & Using Hook Clasps-Friday Findings video at YouTube.

Nov 152016
 

silver & gold crystal pendant cover

Today’s necklace began when I realized that my rhinestone spacers were silver plated while the cup chain that I wanted to use was gold in color. Most of the time I always feel like I have to use all gold or all silver and not mix them, but then I realized that the holidays are coming, It was then that I started hearing Burl Ives singing “Silver and Gold” from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and knew what I had to do. 🙂

So here’s a classy, sparkly and really quick to put together necklace for you today.

In the video I show how you can use the same design to make earrings or even turn it into a bracelet.

Tools and Materials:

  • Rhinestone cup chain, 6 to 10 inches
  • 3 eye pins
  • 2 3 hole 20mm spacer bars
  • cup chain connectors
  • 9 5 to 6 mm brass or gold beads
  • Necklace chain and clasp
  • Round nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Wire cutters

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Silver & Gold Crystal Pendant-Video Jewelry Tutorial at YouTube.

Nov 142016
 
ceramic set

Cardinal Red Challenge Kit

Last spring I joined in Firefly Design Studio’s jewelry design challenge, and it was a lot of fun. So I decided to join in again. The way the design challenge works is that everybody purchases a set of Michelle’s beautiful ceramic jewelry components (above.) Then we each design and create a set of jewelry using all the components plus whatever else we want to add.

ffc 3 pieces

She also includes a single component from a guest artist, which is rather fun. This time it was the copper teardrop shape that I used as a dangle at the bottom of my necklace.

ffc earrings

The kits of components are available in two different colorways, and this time I chose colors that are quite out of my comfort zone. However, I have to say after completing this project I was really pleased and I’m looking forward to wearing these, my usual colors or not.

ffc necklace

The fun thing about this design challenge is that you get a chance to vote on your favorites. Voting is open from Monday, November 14 through Friday, November 18. Go to the Firefly Design Studio Challenge Facebook page, check out all the designs, and click like and or add a comment to your favorites. Likes and comments will both count as votes for your favorite items.

ffc bracelet

I think it’s really fun to see what different people come up with using the exact same set of components. People’s creativity never ceases to amaze me!

Nov 112016
 

ff multi strand findings

One classic way of adding interest and complexity to a jewelry piece is to have multiple strands. There are many different ways of accomplishing this but one of the simplest and most convenient is to use multi-strand findings.

In today’s video I show you not only a wide variety of multi-strand jewelry findings, but I also show you a few different ways you can create your own findings for multi-strand designs.

One tricky thing about looking for these findings online is that they don’t have any particular standardized name. I’ve seen them called multi-loop, hole or ring findings, and the pieces themselves have been referred to as connectors, bars, ends, end pieces and more.

Whatever name you call them and however you find them, I hope that you’ll have fun using your imagination and creatively using these interesting findings.

Below are links to some of the findings you’ll see in the video as well as a few others that I thought would be fun to use.

Here are links to the two bracelets I show in the video:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Friday Findings-Multi Strand Findings video at YouTube.

Nov 082016
 

sedona bracelet cover pt 2

This week brings the second part in how to make this bracelet. I really had a lot of fun using my scrapbooking dies and embossing folders to shape and decorate these copper pieces.

In today’s video I show you how to make a “tornado toggle” to finish up your bracelet closure. It’s really simple to do, a lot of fun and has great impact.

tornado toggle

This closure with its embossed copper flower and tornado toggle would look fantastic as the focal point of a necklace. Simply have the chain go around the neck, and then perhaps punch another hole in the flower to add a dangle to keep it everything weighted and hanging nicely.

Yes, the list of supplies is long, but if you’ve been crafting for a while you may already have many of them. And if you plan to continue making jewelry you will find uses for them for a long time to come.

Tools and Materials:

If you need more detail on some of the techniques mentioned, these videos will be helpful:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Sedona Bracelet Part 2- Jewelry Tutorial at YouTube.