Mar 292014

I promise I did do a creative project yesterday, there just wasn’t time to bake it and take photos. Sorry that the penultimate Make It In March post is a day late.

color gradation tool

First off, yesterday Robin asked what I do with the test clay color samples that I mix up.  As you can see above, each sample is made into a bead and baked. Them I string them onto some twine, write what colors were used on each end, write the proportions of color on each bead and save it to use as a reference tool.

This strand goes from Sunshine Yellow to Fluorescent Pink. The large middle bead is a 50/50 mix of each color. The bead next to the middle, going towards the pink, is 1/4 Sunshine Yellow, the next is 1/8 yellow, 1/16 yellow and so on. These are fantastic tools if you ever want to replicate a color, as not only do you know exactly what proportions to  use, but you know how the colors look once baked.

(You can learn how to make these color gradations in Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s book, Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.)

Btw, those greasy looking splotches on the paper are the plasticizer that comes out of clay when it sits on paper for any amount of time. This helps stiffen up soft clays.

pink flower bead

I spent a LONG time yesterday working on a pink cane for a flower, and was rather disappointed in the results. It wasn’t entirely the fault of my white clay being too squishy, although that was part of it.

Although this pink flower isn’t horrible, it certainly isn’t what I pictured the end result to be.

kaleidoscope cane bead

Since I had to take frequent breaks to put the pink cane in the fridge to firm up, I decided to play with this kaleidoscope cane I made a while back.

I put two slices of the cane together around some scrap clay to make a bead, then changed the shape and added flowers to both sides.

flower and kaleidoscope cane

Here’s the other side of that bead and a ruler to give you some idea of size.

I’m not really thrilled with anything, it all felt sorta futile. But, some days are just like that. I’d rather a bad day creating than a good day working in a cubicle.   🙂

I’ll see you Monday for the last day of my personal challenge.

Happy creating!

Mar 272014

It’s hard to believe I’m nearly at the end of my month-long challenge to do something creative every weekday in March and blog about it. It’s been quite fruitful and productive. I’ll share some of what I’ve learned and my observations next week.

callie painted coral flowers

But on to today’s project. It had been my plan to make a flower cane, based on a this photo from a seed catalog.  It’s called calibrachoa, and I thought the shading and patterning would be a fun challenge to replicate.

The first step, though, was to find a way to mix that deep, saturated fuchsia.  So I pulled out my fluorescent colors and made a few mixes.  (Using fluorescents to get very saturated colors was recommended by Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio in their excellent book, Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.)

color mixing fuchsia to fluorescent yellow

This row is fuchsia to fluorescent yellow.

color mixing sunshine yellow to fluorescent pink

Here we have sunshine yellow to fluorescent pink.

color mixing fuchsia to fluorescent pink

This  is fuchsia to fluorescent pink. I know it’s hard to capture with the camera, but that one on the right end is the most screamingest of pinks. Like eye watering.  Yikes.

But it’s actually quite lovely when mixed with equal parts fuchsia and then with white.

color mixing fuchsia plus fluorescent pink to white

I started my white/pink blend, but had to stop because the white was way too squidgy to deal with.  You can see the beginnings of the blend here, I think it’s going to be gorgeous.  The clay is sitting on white paper because the paper will leach out some of the excess plasticizer, making the clay more firm and easier to deal with.

So, the flower cane will be tomorrow’s project. 🙂

Have you ever set yourself a creative challenge? What did you do and how did it go? I’m sure many of us creative types would be interested in hearing new ideas for motivation and creativity.

In the meantime, Happy Creating!

Mar 262014

chunky leaf bracelet (1)

Would you believe this bracelet design began with the chain?  It’s funny how I was sure that would be the star player (or at least a large supporting role) but then the design evolved.

While digging through my stash I found this leaf pendant I had made while working through Christi Friesen’s book, Flourish.

It’s made by shaping Sculpey Ultra Light Polymer Clay into a leaf shape, baking, and then carving off chips with a blade (a messy, messy process, with static-y bits of foam sticking everywhere.) It was then painted with Christi’s Swelligant copper paint and green patina.

I made three of these back several months ago, and just chucked ’em into my experiments bin, not being really impressed. But now, I kinda love it. Funny how that goes. 🙂

chunky leaf bracelet (2)

Anyhow, this is a fun sort of project for you to dig around in your stash, maybe rediscover some old treasures, and make something fun with them!

You can watch the Chunky Leaf Bracelet Video Tutorial over at YouTube.

Happy Creating!


  • 1 large focal bead or connector piece
  • 6 inches (or so) chain
  • toggle clasp
  • approximately 1-inch diameter decorative ring
  • assorted beads to match/compliment focal, chain, ring and clasp
  • waxed linen twine

General Instructions (watch video for more details):

Arrange jewelry elements in pattern that is pleasing to you.

My order is: toggle bar of clasp, 6mm bicone bead, 8mm bicone bead, leaf focal piece, 8mm bicone bead, decorative ring, 12mm bead, double length of chain, ring section of clasp.

String a 10-12-inch lengths of waxed linen twine through one end of your focal and meet ends together. Tie an overhand knot next to your focal, treating both strands as one. Slide your next bead onto one strand of twine and tie another overhand knot. Repeat to add all beads you want, then slide toggle bar of clasp onto one strand, tie strands in a square knot (right over left, then left over right.) Trim off ends.

Repeat in a similar manner to add remaining beads, decorative ring, chain and ring of clasp, check fit after adding chain and trimming down chain as needed.

Mar 252014

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

2014 03 26 woyww kumihimo flower bracelet

Today’s desk shows I’m still working on kumihimo braiding. Yesterday I finished a necklace which I’m quite happy with.

flowercup kumihimo

The next project is a bracelet based on directions  from the February 2014 issue of Bead and Button Magazine, the Flowercup Bracelet and Necklace set.

The flower shaped beads add a lot of interest…

floral kumihimo bracelet (1)

…but what a pain it was to keep the tension even.

And yes, I MADE those little beaded end caps. Ack. It makes me truly admire the folks who make massive sculpted pieces out of teeny-tiny beads.

beaded rose necklace by Anna Master

Like this amazing piece by Anna Master. No thank you. I did my time with itty-bitty units years ago during my cross stitching phase. 🙂

(If you like the above kind of work this link will take you to a page with loads of similar stunning seed bead pieces.)

floral kumihimo bracelet (2)

Tension problems aside, this is a rather pretty piece. It just needs another three inches in length to make it a bracelet… or maybe I’ll make it the center piece of a necklace. Haven’t decided yet.

So, why did I post a pic of my messy desk along with the jewelry pics?  It’s What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday, doncha know? Join us, if you like, in this weekly worldwide blog hop where we take a peek at the creative spaces of creative folks from all over.

Check back tomorrow for day 18 of my Make It In March challenge. I promise I will be doing something other than kumihimo or itty-bitty seed beading. 🙂

Mar 242014

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We had one springish day and one wintry day AND we’re supposed to be getting snow tomorrow night. Bleck.

kumihimo with beads and glass lamprwork heart (1)

But, I’m happy to be inside and creating. Today’s project is a continuation of what I started last week, kumihimo braiding, but now with beads.

(Click on any of the pics for a closer look.)

I was given this gorgeous lampwork heart ages ago, but never found just the right way to string it.

kumihimo with beads and glass lamprwork heart (2)

What do you think, does this combination of blue, green and gold work with the bead?

I made the bail by twisting two pieces of 20 gauge wire together and then wrapping them around a 10mm mandrel. Two wraps made the bail and one wrap made the large jump ring.

kumihimo with beads and glass lamprwork heart (3)

Kumihimo is definitely an interesting process, and while I think it’s just “meh” with cording alone, I love it with beads. However, it’s very time consuming. The 16-inches I made for this necklace took about three hours.  It’s a great project to work on while a TV show or movie is playing.

Have you tried kumihimo? Would you?  If you’re interested, here’s a YouTube video introduction to doing kumihimo and this video shows how to add beads to your braiding.

Check back tomorrow for day 17 of my Make It In March challenge.

Mar 222014

Hi all!  Sorry I didn’t get this post up yesterday, it was a busy one with errands and such. I did start a project yesterday, but just didn’t have time to take pics and blog about it.

In my shopping travels I picked up this crazy looking thing.

kumihimo braiding

It’s  a kumihimo braiding disk.

I’ve been aware of the kumihimo trend over the past few years, but was never impressed enough with the look to get on board.

(This link will bring you to a page with many photo examples of what kumihimo braiding looks like.)

To me it’s just ok, but… if you add beading to your strands, well, then you get quite a different thing.  I’ve been fascinated by the use of unusually shaped beads or an interesting variety of beads, and so got an IDEA.

If you’d like to see what I mean, this Etsy shop has some great examples of kumihimo with beading.

kumihimo braiding close up

Thus, the purchase of said braiding disk and my first attempt at braiding using yarns I had on hand pictured above. (I really, really wanted to jump right into using beads, but knew it would be wiser to start simple.) 🙂

I like the way the ripply white yarn kinda looks like beads as it stands proud of the rest of the cord.

flowercup kumihimo

Here’s an example  from the February 2014 issue of Bead and Button Magazine. Love the use of flower shaped beads!

By the way, this is a great bring-it-along-with-you kind of project, perfect for doing in the doctor’s office or while watching something you don’t need to pay strict attention to. It’s quite simple and nearly mindless.

kumihimo braiding with beads

My next attempt will be to make a cord for this pendant a friend bought for me years ago. I think these green, gold & blue beads will compliment it nicely.

If that works out, then I’ll move on to my IDEA.In the meantime, Happy Creating!

P. S. Here’s a YouTube video an introduction to doing kumihimo and this video shows how to add beads to your braiding.

Mar 202014

Today’s project is one I’ve been wanting to try since before Christmas when my December 2013 issue of Polymer Cafe arrived.

polymer cafe december 2013

Now, I don’t know about you, but that Santa is WAY too creepy for me.  But I always read through all the step-by-step tutorials anyways, even if I’m not interested in the project, because you can learn something from everything, right?

Wow, was I glad I did, because as I was wondering where Kellie got those great glass eyes, I realized she’d not only made them out of polymer clay , but she’d shared with us how to do it.


clay eye iris tools

The first step is to make a tool consisting of a 1/8-inch (that’s 3mm for you smart folks who use metric) doughnut shape on a stick. Sheesh, that’s one teeny-tiny doughnut.

This gets pressed into clay balls to make the shape of the iris and makes the pupil stand proud of the colored part of the eye.  Since I’ve been into dragons and reptiles & such, I made one with an elongated hole for cat and reptile eyes.  Once again I’m SO thankful for my magnifying lamp for doing such itty-bitty work.

I’d love to tell you more about the process, but it wouldn’t be right for me to share Kellie Mowat’s entire tutorial. You can pick up a back issue of the magazine if that’s something that interests you.

faux glass eyes out of polymer clay


Wow, I am thrilled with how these came out, especially the bright colors of the reptile eyes. I think it’s time to make a dragon to fit. Now, should it have green eyes or yellow eyes?

Btw, the tutorial calls for using Fimo Liquid Gel (I think she meant Fimo Deco Gel?) and I did that on half the eyes I made and baked them. I want to try using Lisa Pavelka’s Magic Glos on the rest, but since the sun has gone down here, that will have to wait until tomorrow. Check back then, I promise to update!

Meanwhile, happy creating!

****** Update 3/21/2014 ******

faux glass eyes

Here are the results after using the Magic Glos on three other pairs of eyes. The upper row was done with Deco Gel and the lower row I did this morning with Magic Glos resin. It’s cured in UV light, so I stuck the eyes  to a piece of cardstock, applied the resin and put them out in the sunshine for 20 minutes.

My findings comparing the two:

Magic Glos:

Pros –

  • no need for another oven baking step
  • resin is perfectly crystal clear

Cons –

  • you need a $30 UV light or a sunny day to cure it
  • you need to be especially careful of bubbles

Fimo Deco Gel:

Pros –

  • can be cured in any weather, without any additional equipment
  • is slightly less expensive than Magic Glos

Cons –

  • not crystal clear (it can be cleared up a bit with a heat gun after baking, but it will never be as clear as resin)
  • doesn’t dome as much as the resin

So I would use the Deco Gel in a pinch, if I absolutely had to get something done at night and crystal clarity wasn’t an issue. Otherwise I definitely prefer the Magic Glos.

Ok, I’m off today to buy some more black and white polymer clay (and probably some other colors, too.) 🙂

Mar 192014

Last week I showed you some faux lapis lazuli beads I made using Desiree’s tutorial.

faux lapis lazuli beads (2)

This week I thought I’d try a matching pendant with the rest of the color mix.

lapis lazuli dragon pendant (2)

The purple mold is one I made with Castin’ Craft EasyMold Silicone Putty, it’s of one of the dragon cameos I made a while back.

I use the ball tool to push hard and pack the clay into the mold so it will pick up all the detail.

lapis lazuli dragon pendant (1)


The variations in the clay mix don’t do much for the details of the pendant. Ah, well. You gotta try a lot of things that don’t work before you hit on the few that do. 🙂 Not sure whether I’m going to ball this up and start over, or bake it and try to make it work. Hmmmm……

Happy creating!

Mar 182014

Happy Wednesday again!  Spring’s official arrival  is in just a few days. Yaaaaay.  But here in New England it won’t appear in reality for another month or so. Booooo.

As a result, you can see the spring fever on my desk today, with all the bright and happy colors.

Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

2014 03 19 woyww colorful cane (1)

It’s day 12 of  my personal Make It In March challenge, where I’ve promised to not only make something creative every weekday in March, but to blog about it as well.

Last week I shared a kaleidoscope cane tutorial on Polymer Clay Central. Today I decided to try it for myself.

2014 03 19 woyww colorful cane (2)

The plan was to make another square kaleidoscope cane and cover another lizard, but this design absolutely insisted on being hexagonal.  I argued with it fiercely, reminding it how I dislike dealing with the 60° angles, but to no avail.

It’s pretty, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it.  Any suggestions?

Making canes is fun, it’s kinda magical to slice into one and see the results, but I think I prefer sculptural work. I’ll definitely never be one of those super-precise cane makers.

Wondering why I’ve shared a photo of my messy workdesk?  That’s because it’s What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday. Come and join us in our weekly snoop into the desks of creative people around the world.  It’s fun and often quite inspirational.

Happy creating!

Mar 172014

Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

kaleidoscope cane lizard (1)

Ok, I am in love with this kaleidoscope cane and think I must do one in every possible color. (The sparkly specks are glitter, as I ran out of plain white and had to use some glitter white. Time to go buy more clay!)

kaleidoscope cane lizard (2)

I followed the visual tutorial on Almu Mendelbaum’s Flickr stream to make this glowing star-like cane. (Click to the left on her stream to get the rest of the steps.)

kaleidoscope cane lizard (5)

I decided to make another canework lizard, this time following the steps a bit more carefully, and with much better results. 🙂

kaleidoscope cane lizard (4)

I don’t think I’ll be giving Jon Anderson a run for his money any time soon! (I felt privileged to get to see and even handle some of his work at the El Paso airport last summer, and it’s even more amazing in real life than in the photos.)

kaleidoscope cane lizard (3)

Hubby thinks I should make all my dragons this way, covered in cane slices.  Which do you prefer, the visual texture of the canes, or actual texture?

Check back tomorrow for the next Make it in March project.

Happy creating!