Jun 202017
 

Today’s video is all about the best part of making creative things: experimentation and play.

Sometimes we get so caught up in following tutorials, or making things look like something else we’ve seen, that we don’t take the time to just be creative, explore new possibilities, and find our own voice.

textured beads cover

When you do sit down to this kind of creative play it’s good to just have your focus on a few simple things. This is what I show you in today’s video. I’m just making simple textured beads, but I’m playing with relatively new texture sheets. The only other thing I’m focusing on are surface effects. 

As you’ll see when you watch the video, the discoveries and revelations come from experimenting and having fun with the process.

For me, and I suspect for a lot of other artists, this is the best way to come up with techniques and processes that are uniquely my own, (or at least ones that I didn’t copy from someone else.)

By using just a quarter block, or 1/2 ounce of clay you be able to make 10 to 11 beads. Even though I made around 30 beads I found it still wasn’t enough to fully explore all the possibilities. So be sure to make plenty.

Don’t focus on making a finished product. But when you’re all done I’m sure you will be able to pull out enough pieces to make a bracelet or necklace. Don’t be surprised if they aren’t the ones you originally expected to use!

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Textured Bead Tutorial and Surface Effect Experiments-Polymer Clay at video YouTube.

Jun 162017
 

ff polymer toggles

As much fun as it is to buy unique and interesting products to use for our creativity, I think it’s even more fun to make them myself. I love knowing that not only are my pieces totally unique, there simply isn’t another one like it anywhere in the world, but that they perfectly match the rest of my project.

It’s just very satisfying, doncha think?

In today’s video I will show you how you can easily make toggle clasps for your bracelets or necklaces using just leftover bits and pieces of polymer clay. In the examples shown in the photo you might recognize the silk-screened piece from the Arabesque Bracelet made in a previous video. The peacock cane was left over from one of my 2015 dragons. The copper foiled toggle uses leftover clay sheets from the autumn version of the Fantasy Tree Pendant class I just released on CraftArtEdu.com.

fantasy trees beauty autumn

As always, I give you this idea as a jumping off place for your own creativity. Feel free to add slices of cane, texture, or even sculptural elements to make your toggles not only totally unique, but perhaps use as focal points rather than just the clasp on the back.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the How to Make Toggle Clasps With Polymer Clay-Friday Findings Tutorial at YouTube.

Jun 102017
 

I’m excited to announce another of my classes at CraftArtEdu was just released! This is my Fantasy Tree Pendants for All Seasons class.

Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

fantasy trees beauty spirng

You can see a free preview of the class over at CraftArtEdu.com.

In the class you’ll learn how to:

  • Make your own custom cabochons – in any size you need – using paints with unique self-manipulating properties.
  • Add your choice of sparkly inclusions – like metal leaf, iridescent flakes and more – for a truly customized look.
  • Incorporate your cabochons into a lovely sculpted statement necklace!

fantasy trees beauty summer

In this class, I show you how to make a summer pendant (above) full of sparkling splendor. With the techniques you’ll learn along with the templates included, you can go on to make a pendant for fall, winter and spring, too!
fantasy trees beauty autumn

I also show you several additional techniques to enhance the fantasy of your piece including how to:

  • Create a pendant background that sparkles like dappled sunshine.
  • Sculpt a complex-looking tree (using a very easy method!) and add beaded foliage for extra sparkle.
  • Accent your pendant with a twisted rope border for added texture.
  • Embellish your cabochon with beads.
  • Add and decorate a matching bail and finish your necklace with ribbons, chain and beads.

fantasy trees beauty winter

Every technique in this class can be used in so many ways, and your seasonal themed necklaces are just the beginning!

fantasy trees beauty

This class is on sale for $19 instead of $28 through Tuesday, June 13.

Or perhaps fantasy pendants aren’t your thing, but you’d like to learn just the cabochon technique?

We’ve got you covered!

In the Fantasy Cabochons class you’ll learn to use fantasy paint effects and mixed media to make gorgeous cabochons that can be used in a wide variety of projects. No need to search for the perfect cabochon when you can make your own!
ftree (26)

  • Create intriguing cabochons – in any size you need – using paints with unique self-manipulating properties.
  • Add your choice of sparkly inclusions – like metal leaf, iridescent flakes and more – for a truly customized look.
  • Mimic the look of opals, and customize colors to enhance your projects!

ftree (18)

I include lots of tips, hints and tricks to ensure your cabochons look amazing! This technique is quite addictive, so be sure to experiment with colors, sizes, shapes and inclusions.

This class is on sale for $12 instead of $18 through Tuesday, June 13.

Please note: This class is included in the Fantasy Tree Pendants for All Seasons class above. If you want to take this fantasy technique a step further, consider purchasing that class instead!

In case some were on your wish list, my other classes are on sale through Tuesday as well.

Happy creating!

Jun 092017
 

diy steampunk texture sheet

Last December I made a video for you all showing how to make polymer clay cell phone holders. If you haven’t made them yet you should know that they were and are a big hit. My husband, sons and I all still use ours. They’re just a really great design with a small footprint and easy to use.

At the time I made a steampunk texture sheet to texture my husband’s. Several of you have asked me to show you how I made the texture sheet, and that’s what this video is all about.

You may need to experiment with the thickness of clay that you use in your pasta machine to get the best impression. One thing I’ve found that I can’t quite figure out is that the shapes tend to elongate and stretch as they run through the pasta machine, even if I keep the two pieces separate right before they hit the rollers I still end up with oval-shaped gears. Just gently stretching the clay in the opposite direction will round them back out again.

I love making my own texture sheets because I know that this makes my projects completely unique. Of course, you don’t have to just use gears and make steampunk texture. Try using all manner of household objects. How about paperclips? Or nuts and bolts? Impressions from cutlery such as forks, knives and spoons? I’ve even seen some really cool texture sheets made using pasta!

So I hope you have fun, take this idea and run with it and make it your own.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the DIY Steampunk Texture Sheet for Polymer Clay Tutorial-Friday Findings video at YouTube.

Jun 022017
 

ff apoxie sculpt

Have you ever noticed that musicians usually play more than one musical instrument? Or that folks who do crafts rarely have just one project going? I think this is a mark of all creative people that we want to explore the horizons of our chosen field and that means trying as many different media as we possibly can.

Although my focus for the last several years has been working in polymer clay, looking back now I can see that no matter what I worked in, whether it was quilting, scrapbooking, card making or something else, I always found myself drawn to the sculptural elements.

So when the opportunity to try a new sculpting material came along, I went for it!

In today’s Friday Findings video I’m going to tell you all about what I’ve learned regarding working with Apoxie Sculpt clay.

One of the things I forgot to mention in the video is that you can only color the white so dark. If you are going for a dark color I suggest you add paint to get it close to that color, and then paint over it after the clay has hardened.

As I mentioned in the video I colored my Apoxie Sculpt clay with acrylic paints, but I encourage you to try other colorants such as  mica powders, chalk pastels, oil paints, or maybe even alcohol ink. I don’t know how all of these will react with the clay but it will be fun to experiment and find out.

Tools & Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the How to Use Apoxie Sculpt Clay-Friday Findings Tutorial at YouTube.

May 192017
 

ff controlling blend width cover (1)

In the interest of full disclosure I feel obligated to let you all know that I bought the 7/8-inch dowel I use in the video at least a year ago, maybe more. It has been quietly leaning in a corner of my studio all that time. Occasionally I would look at it and say, “Oh yeah, I should mark that and bring it down the basement and cut it up….”

…. but I never did. I don’t know why. My husband taught me how to safely use his chop saw, and I’ve used it many times before. In fact, I kind of like using it, as it makes me feel rather powerful!

Anyhow, the dowel got taken out of its corner when I cleaned the carpets in my studio and hubby offered to cut it up for me. So I quickly marked it and gave it to him. He cut the pieces and even sanded the ends for me. (Maybe that’s why I was putting it off? I hate sanding, and knew it would need to be done as well. Hmmmm….. funny thing, the subconscious mind.)

So, I was thrilled when I sat down to experiment with my new tools and found how wonderfully they work. Thrilled, and truly annoyed with myself for putting it off for so long, lol.  

All that babble to say, if you use Skinner blends at all, you NEED to make yourself the simple tools I show in the video. 🙂

One thing I didn’t mention in the video is that the end of the dowel next to the clay in the machine will get clay smeared on it. When you are done just lay a baby wipe on the table and scrub the end of the dowel over it and it will be clean and ready for next time.

skinner blend limiters in canning jar

Oh, and here’s how I decided to store them to keep ’em corralled and from rolling all about. All five fit nicely in a half-pint canning jar. The smallest two are stacked on each other. 

There isn’t really much of a supply list to go with this project, but here are a few things you might find helpful:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the How To Control the Width of Polymer Clay Blends-Friday Findings Tutorial at YouTube.

May 092017
 

exotic botanicals cover

Today’s video is a collaboration between myself and Teresa Pandora Salgado’s and Valerie Evans’ Unruly Housewife YouTube channels. Our theme, as you may have guessed, is “Exotic Botanicals.” Make sure to check out their videos! (Links at the bottom of this post.)

I started my project by researching exotic botanicals online and was inspired by the colors of the Gloriosa flower. I didn’t try to make mine look exactly like the Gloriosa but I did love its pretty yellow and red stripy design.

gloriosa

The cane I show you in today’s video is a fairly simple one. I think it’s most effective when you use colors that contrast strongly with each other but also blend nicely. One fun thing about this cane is that you can make either color the dominant one in your design.

I really like the way my stripes squiggle and curve in the yellow brooch. This is a result of some not-so-careful reducing. If you want your stripes to remain nice and straight you might consider keeping your blend narrower to begin with. This can be done by placing something such as a dowel onto the rollers of your pasta machine which will keep the blend from growing too wide.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that after baking you can pull out the wire that was left there to make a stringing channel by grasping with pliers and then giving a twist. This, by the way, is why I said you want the wire to be nice and straight, because you need to be able to pull it out after baking.

exotic botanicals back

Another thing I didn’t show in the video (because I hadn’t done it yet) was to texture the backing that went over my pin finding with a small ball tool. I think this gives it a nice organic look and it’s a good finish to the backside of the piece.

I hope you have fun with this project and if you make your own version I would love to see photos!

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Exotic Botanicals-Floral  Polymer Clay Tutorial at YouTube.

Be sure to check out the other videos in this tutorial collaboration:

Valerie Evans’ Hollow Polymer Clay Jungle Egg.

Jungle-Egg-Thumbnail-Val's collab photo

Teresa Salgado’s Dimensional Millefiori Pandorafied.

pandora collab photo

 

May 052017
 

ff color confidence

Many of you have asked me for advice in choosing and using colors in your jewelry and polymer clay work. It always makes me so sad to hear of folks who say they are afraid to use color, as for me it’s such a fun, enjoyable and intuitive thing.

Using color shouldn’t be scary, but joyful. What a wonderful and blessed thing our creator gave us when he introduced all of the colors into the world!

colorful flowers

This Pinterest search for “colorful garden flowers” just makes my happy to scroll through. Click to brighten up your day!

When I was younger I used to think there were certain rules about using color, like red and purple don’t go together, nor do pink and orange. But now I think that any color can go with any color as long as you get the tones, shades and tints right. One of my favorite sights is a riot of colors in a garden, the more the merrier!

In today’s video I will give you several tips and ideas for how to approach using color in your creative work. I usually don’t start with the color wheel although, as I mentioned in the video, I do always keep the color wheel in mind because it is the basic tool and understanding its principles will only help you. 

green purple broken dishes quilt

One of the more helpful things I have learned about using color I learned from quilt making, specifically a project in Gai Perry’s book Color From the Heart. The lesson is that the more shades of the color you throw into a project, the richer and more interesting it will look. Above is a mini quilt that I made many years ago as an exercise from the book. The colors are green and purple, but the greens range from bright kelly green to blue greens, light greens, dark greens and yellow greens. The purples are bright purples to fuchsias, blue purples, deep purples and lavenders. It’s so much more fascinating to look at than if I had just used two or three greens and purples. I try to apply these principles in anything I do, whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a polymer clay sculpture.

One thing I didn’t think to mention in the video is that if you have a smart phone there are a multitude of apps to help you play with/design with color. 

Here are a few color resources you may find helpful:

 Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the How To Choose Colors With Confidence-Friday Findings Tutorial at YouTube.

May 022017
 

sculpted seascapes cover

Today’s project is the result of combining several different ideas I’ve come across in the polymer clay world. Christie Friesen in her book Flourish showed the idea for using  silicone putty molds in a variety of ways, including making partial impressions on clay shapes. I’ve seen several projects around the inter-webs using metal charms and bits of clay to make a little wearable scenes. And of course I’m sure you’ve all seen lots of projects incorporating spirals and scrolls and swirls.

I call my project “Sculpted Seascapes,” since they all seem to have a beachy theme, but you could make yours any style you like. Creating the base goes fairly quickly, but adding all of the details can take a while. I find it to be a relaxing, meditative process. Don’t forget to stand back on occasion and take a look at the piece as a whole. It’s easy to get lost in all those little details!

Although you can pop out the metal charms and other mixed media used in your piece after baking and glue them, I prefer to arrange bits of clay around them so that they are trapped in there once the clay is hardened by baking. It’s a much more secure bond than trusting in glue, which at times can be unreliable.

If you incorporate things that you found perhaps on a nature walk or vacation, you’ll have a special, wearable momento of that time.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Sculpted Seascapes-Polymer Clay & Mixed Media Tutorial at YouTube.

Apr 282017
 

ff clay bead cones

I’ve gotten lots of requests for more jewelry findings made out of polymer clay, so today I have for you a simple way to think about making bead cones.

The basic coiled cone that I show you it’s really just a starting place. As I mentioned in the video you should consider applying paint, patinas and surface effects to these to make them work perfectly with your jewelry pieces. Also, I think I would like to experiment with applying slices of canes or pieces of veneers such as mokume gane or a retro cane. Of course, if you’re not careful your bead caps will end up stealing the show!

With that in mind in upcoming videos I will be showing you how to make jewelry that allows these bead cones to be the stars.

If you want to make lots of cones that are all the same size you might consider making a mold of your form. Use two-part molding putty to mold the form, once set fill it with clay and bake. This way you can make as many forms as you like that are all the exact same size and shape.

Let me know in the comments if you find any interesting cone shapes in household objects. Like I mentioned in the video I found it to be one of the toughest shapes to locate.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Custom Bead Caps From Polymer Clay-Friday Findings Tutorial at YouTube.