May 242017
 

Hello creative people!

I hope today finds you well, and maybe even finding the time to do something crafty. 🙂

I have some great news for you:

Keepsake Crafts is finally getting an email newsletter!


Years ago I set up my blog so those who want to read my posts could subscribe via email.  Sadly, the service I’ve been using is no longer supported, and may soon disappear completely.

No only that, but keeping in touch via social media is harder and harder these days.

Haven’t you noticed that it seems like the venues are so saturated that you can’t always get messages from the people you want?

Instead, it’s the companies that can pay the big bucks that get prioritized in your feeds (I’m looking at you, Facebook!) 

So, let’s make this transition as easy as possible.

pink email

If you subscribe to my blog via email, you need to:

  1. Click here: keepsakecrafts.net
  2. Type your email address in the box that says, “Get Blog Posts and Creative Inspiration In Your Inbox” and click “Subscribe.” (There is a good chance you are already subscribed, but this will make sure.)
  3. Scroll to the bottom of this email you are reading and click, “To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.

rss

If you read my blog in a feed reader:

  1. Go to your feed reader and delete the Keepsake Crafts feed that is there.
  2. Add http://keepsakecrafts.net/blog/feed/ to your feed reader content.

That’s all there is to it!

Be watching on Friday, May 26th,  for a Friday Findings video with a special giveaway of beads and jewelry supplies.

Happy creating!

P.S. If you read my blog online at KeepsakeCrafts.net, you should still sign up for the newsletter, as I’ll be periodically sending out information that isn’t on the blog, like special deals, discount codes and announcements. 

May 232017
 

seascape necklace cover

When you work with polymer clay,  whether experimenting, trying new techniques or just generally playing with it, you will necessarily end up with a lot of unfinished pieces. Some of these pieces aren’t really worth finishing but are often worth saving just to use as tests in other projects.

Sometimes, though, some really nice pieces get tossed into the junk pile. Or sometimes there are pieces that you hate when you make them, but like better later on.

In today’s video I pulled a piece that I really liked out of one my many boxes of polymer clay bits and pieces and showed you how I finished it, fashioning a necklace that I’m really happy with and love wearing.

Many of you have said that you like my tutorials where I walk you through the design choices and decision making that happens before I create a piece, so I hope you enjoy today’s video.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Seascape Necklace-Beaded Jewelry Tutorial video 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 162017
 

bell flower earrings cover

As is often the case these earrings started with the beads. I’ve had these cute little Czech glass bell flower beads for some time.

I bought them at the same time as I bought the pink tulip flower beads and the green leaves for the Sweet Spring Tulip bracelet thinking that they would go together in a project. However, once I put them together I thought the styles were just a little bit too different and although I had originally thought the red and the pink would be pretty together I just didn’t care for it.

sweet spring tulip bracelet insta

I’m always a fan of earrings with drooping flower dangles and decided these cranberry colored beads would look good with gold and white and crystal. My original thought had been to dangle them all from lengths of chain, which I still think would be a good look, but once I got started making the links with the freshwater pearls and crystal rondelles I thought that was plenty.

When you watch the video you’ll notice that I make a design decision right in the middle of the project. This happens all the time, I’m not one to plan things out with detailed sketches from the beginning, but usually only have a general idea of where I’m heading and make adjustments as I go along.

What kind of changes would you make to this design? Do you plan things in advance or work it out as you go along? Or perhaps design in a completely different way?

Tools & Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Bell Flower Bead Earrings-Jewelry Tutorial at YouTube.

May 122017
 

ff what is pressed glass

It’s always fascinating to learn just how the products we use in our creativity are made. Since most of us who work with jewelry and polymer clay use beads I thought you might be interested in learning more about pressed glass beads.

Since I used to work with hot glass, namely lampworking, I understand a bit of the process. It really is exactly what it sounds like: glass is pressed into molds. In the video I’ll also explain to you what fire polishing means, which sounds intriguing and mystical, but is really just a way of professionally finishing glass beads.

Have any of you done torch work with glass or metal or other materials? Would you if you had the opportunity? I know the thought of working with flame is scary, but it’s fun once you learn how to do it safely.

It recently occurred to me that my youngest son may have come by his pyromania honestly, as I realized how relaxing I find it to be sitting behind a torch, playing with fire.

Huh. Gotta find me some time to do more soldering… or lampworking… or both! 

This webpage gives some details about which types of beads are pressed and other processes used in making them.

Here are links to a few of the things I show in the video, in case you’re interested:

This video playlist is a tour of a bead manufacturer. They show the whole process: pressing, tumbling, faceting, polishing and coating. The final video is a view of their store room, which is kind of like an Aladdin’s cave for beaders. 🙂 

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the What is Pressed Glass? Friday Findings Jewelry & Beads Tutorial video 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.

Apr 252017
 

filigrees n roses cover

I was hesitant at first to do a video with polymer clay roses as they seem so very basic to me. However after thinking about it I decided to go ahead because even if you’ve made polymer clay roses before you may not have thought of using them in this way.

I love the vintage look you get when putting these delicate flowers on metal and filigree pieces!

As you can see, the possibilities for application are endless. I made just a few pieces of jewelry, but you could use them to decorate all sorts of things. Think about covering boxes, home dec, pens… anything that doesn’t get too much handling, as they are rather delicate.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video was that for the earrings I only used six petals in addition to the center to keep them small and in proportion to the findings. It’s really simply a matter of using as many petals as you need to get the fullness and shape you want.

Tools and Materials:

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Watch the Filigree ‘n’ Roses Polymer Clay Jewelry Tutorial at YouTube.