Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hello there,

Well, I had quite a weekend. The "tennis elbow" ended up being muscle aches from a bug that hit me full force Saturday morning. I don't know why it took over a week to hit me. Anyway, I have an aversion to throwing up, even when I try, so I didn't get the relief that I needed. My tummy hurt so badly. I did the usual trips back and forth to the little girls room, but mostly stayed in the bed Saturday and Sunday. Woke up Sunday evening feeling as if nothing had ever been wrong. I have a new respect for folks that have illnesses. I am never sick and probably haven't been for twenty years, so I just didn't know what was even wrong with me. My DH wanted to take me to the hospital, because as we know, heart attacks in women have symptoms that are sometimes confusing. I scared him so badly. I'm sorry darling, really I am. I don't mean to sound like a drama queen, but I'm one of those folks that has a very high pain threshold and things have to be really bad for me to slow down.

But I'm all better now and back to work in the studio. I had to take a picture of my table. I don't understand it at all. I sewed for six weeks at this same table and at the end each day there wasn't as much as a thread out of place. But two days of doing polymer clay led to this...

So instead of cleaning it up, I made just enough room on the table for another project. I am currently in love with gemstones and glass. This little beauty is created from jasper teardrop shapes combined with smooth wine colored glass bead that I put onto gold tone wire links.

I always like to share little tips with my friends. After being under the weather I felt a bit shaky and found it difficult to retrieve the jewelry findings from their hidey holes. I came up with an easy way to pick out my eye pins from their little area in the storage box. I used a tapestry needle, and picked them up with that. I don't know if I have ever mentioned that I have very bad close up vision and most of the time have to work under a magnifying glass, so any idea that I can use to pick up small elements is always implemented.

So that's all from me for today. I am feeling good and thanking God for my health and praying for those that are ill. Take care of yourself and try not to get the "bug".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gasp, cough, gulp

Oh my, I cannot believe that it's been an entire week since I posted. I have been a "poor me baby" this week. Wah. My elbow hurt all week and I didn't do anything that would delay the healing of whatever is wrong with it. I thought that I could safely antique some polymer clay elements and apparently popped a blood vessel in my hand while doing that. I have no idea how that happened, but I've had a huge bruise on my finger all week, as well. So you can see that my plan of resting the hand hasn't worked so well. Since I'm going crazy from not doing something creative, I made this little necklace last night.

Pardon the helmet hair, friends, this picture is to show the necklace. I saw a similar piece in the J. Jill catalog and said to my hubby, I could make that in 10 minutes, so that's what I did. Just saved my self $39.00. I had previously wire wrapped a bunch of beads and used them in a bracelet. It never really felt right on my arm and I disassembled it and kept the dangles for a future project. This was so easy, I used inexpensive leather "string" from Michaels and just strung an element and tied a knot through the jump ring part of the element to keep it from shifting on the leather. I made it long enough to wrap around twice and just tied the ends together. This picture doesn't really show how cute the necklace is.

This would be a great way to use charms and other dangles that you have, or you could plan it out and make specific dangles for that favorite outfit.

Speaking of favorite outfits, I watched Project Runway last night for the first time and I loved it. I saw the episode where they made outfits from newspapers and several of them were fabulous. Have you folks been watching this show from the start? What have I missed and how could I have not known about the coolness factor of the challenges?

Well, this weekend will be spent doing little projects like sketching and doodling and tidying up in the studio. I hope you all have something fun to do, or at least to keep you occupied and out of trouble. My Mom used to always say, when I was doing one of my infamous projects "well, at least it keeps her off the streets". She was joking, because I was such a homebody and always so happy to be tucked inside reading or drawing, crocheting or sewing. It was my sister that "always kept the roads hot", meaning that she loved to go, she would "go" at the drop of a hat and even a ride around town after dinner was an adventure. She is still like that, so next month when we visit, I can count on a lengthy ride around her favorite places, being shown things that she finds interesting...like a larger than life figure made out of vehicle mufflers. With her you just never know.

Well that's it for today. I'll try to be a better blogger and post more often. Enjoy your weekend and hug someone you love, and tell them it's from me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Friday

Just a quick post to say hi and to wish you a weekend full of fun. Even though fall is in the air, the weather is still warm. I am still feeling the "settle in for the winter" hints that my pea brain keeps sending. I want to crochet, but my silly little ole elbow keeps hurting when I do. I guess I'll just not start any large projects until I figure out why.

This yarn is 100% sugar cane and is hand dyed in Chile by Araucania Yarns. Do a search for Ruca Multy if you are interested in it.

Small projects can be fun so I designed this little cuff bracelet, added some beads and a handmade polymer button. If you have a friend that can't wear jewelry because of metal sensitivities, this is the perfect solution. Can't wear wool, no problem, this yarn is made from sugar cane. This cuff is about two inches wide from the scalloped side to the straight side and can be made as long as you choose.

Can't crochet? Do the pictures in the books you have not make a bit of sense? Check out this YouTube tutorial that I found. There are lots of crochet videos on YouTube, but this one shows the exact way that I learned and so I'm figuring you can learn from it. Seriously, if you do want to learn to crochet, remember this, the foundation row of chain stitches and the first row of other stitches are usually the most difficult to do, so keep at it until you learn and try not to get frustrated. I've been crocheting for years, and I can still relate to the difficulties of getting started.

Well, that's it for me today. Have a great weekend

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mica Shift, Bling and String

I have heard all my life that you are only as good as your tools. This means using good brushes and paper when you start out as a painter. It means using nice yarn for beginner knitting projects. It certainly means using the right ingredients when you bake. All that being said, it really applies to polymer clay. I have always been enthralled by the look of the mica shift technique using metallic polymer clay. I have been playing with polymer clay since the early 90's and I have never been able to make the mica shift technique work. After a while you decide it's you and stop trying. I know, I know... Any who, last week I absentmindedly reached for a conditioned piece of silver Premo and started working it around in my hand. I first thought it had picked up some darker clay or even some paint in it, because it was showing swirls and lines and all kinds of designs as I kneaded it.

TAA, DAA, light bulb moment!! That's not junk in the clay, it's the elusive mica shift. It wasn't me after all, it was the clay I was using. Folks, Sculpey III metallic clay doesn't seem to work with the technique. It's cheaper, but that's not always better. Now I get it. Now I see how it works. I was so happy when I realized it wasn't me that I ran to Michaels to get more Premo. Hmmm, they were out of gold and silver. Am I the last person to discover this truth? Off to A. C. Moore to get some Premo metallics. Plenty on the shelves there.

Ok, Ok, I promise not to drag this on forever. Here is a heart pendant that I made using this fabulous technique.

My friends, this is done with silver Premo. That's right, just one color clay and you can get this look. This piece has been wet sanded smooth (which I love to do) and it looks great. There are several ways to do this and I'm sure my expert friend, Marie, (who is responsible for the development of Premo clay by Sculpey, and gulp, I can actually say I know her) could give us lots of insight. I used a technique similar to this one that I found on Polymer Clay Central. I hope you will try out this fabulous and surprising polymer clay technique. Remember it's all about the tools, kids.

The bling in the title of this post comes my recent infatuation with all things HotFix. I decided to try my new Bejeweler tool again, this time taking more care about my work area. I got out my supplies and placed everything in a box, to contain wayward stones and placed my work on a sheet of shelf liner that actually keeps beads and such from rolling around.

I should have done this with my previous project, but I was too excited to take the time to do things correctly. Once again, it's all about the tools.

So here you see my watch with a leather band that needed some sparklies. I taped the watch to the shelf liner to keep it flat and placed the stones on one at a time. I did somewhat better this time and like the result.

Less than 10 minutes later I have it partially done and...

In about 30 minutes I have a new watchband. (That's the fun of taking pictures of your watch, you can actually time yourself-another one of my self challenges).

In case you are wondering where I got the idea of HotFix rhinestones, Art Beads.com has a wonderful program that I am part of, which allows me to try different beads and such and make a blog post about the them. I am sometimes hesitant to give a less than glowing review about the beads that they supply, because as you can tell from my mica shift experiences, I sometimes tend to think it's my own ineptitude. But, the whole purpose of the program is to get the opinion of real beaders and find out how their company can better meet the needs of their customers.

After seeing my post and reading about some of the challenges that I had with the rhinestones, they have given me several helpful tips and are sending me a tool , called a jewel setter, that will help in picking up the stones for easier placement.

Well, now onto the string in my title. I can rarely create a new piece of jewelry without being reminded of the comment that someone made, several years ago, about a necklace that I had designed. I was very proud of it and was showing it to some friends and this person said, "oh, you just strung that". Whether she was dismissing it because I had not made the beads, or whether it was because it was not an elaborate technique, I will never know. While that person is now out of my life, the phrase did have a lasting effect on me. Now, I always stop and think before I make a comment on something I am being shown.

This piece is one that I strung using large beads that I got at a local bead show last year. I have looked at them and thought about them for well over a year and finally put together in a design that I am most happy with.

Sometimes the simplest technique requires the most thought. So that's my post for today. I hope everyone has a great week and hope you are being creative... in life, love and as always, in art.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hot Fix Swarovski Rhinestones

First off, I wanted to mention that since I have several new followers that may not know what I look like, I am changing my profile shot for a bit. Hopefully that will make my new friends feel like they know me a bit better.

All that being said, I wanted to show you my first project using Hot Fix Swarovski Rhinestones. In my latest order from Artbeads.com, I decided to get the Bejeweler, an electric tool that makes designing with rhinestones a bit easier. I am not hesitant to use hot tools, such as wood burning or soldering pens, shoot I've even used a torch to make glass beads. This tool is very much like a wood burning pen and was very easy to use.

My main problem with this project was that I spent so much time deciding on what color stones to get, that I based my order on the cost of the stones, trying to get the most for my money. I'll know next time to buy fewer colors but larger stones. I didn't do enough research before I placed my order and was a bit surprised by how small the stones were. Artbeads.com has a learning center with a video that showed me how to place the stones and how to use the heat tool, but I couldn't find anything showing me what size the stones were. Since getting my order, I have found another website that has a really good guide as to how big the stones are and what the abbreviations mean. I now know that SS means stone size and has nothing to do with mm which was what I was thinking.

Here are a few shots of my experience with the hotfix rhinestones. I didn't have a real project in mind, I just wanted to learn to use the tool. I chose a really plain everyday blouse and decided to put some snowflake type designs on the collar points.

First I marked the design using a gel pen - not the best idea kids...

(next time I will use a marker that disappears after a while, but this did OK, I guess)

Then I laid out the crystals on the dots, I used tweezers to pick the little buggars up with and in the process dropped two of them. (At .12 each you don't want to drop too many, because they apparently become invisible when they hit the floor)

On the first one I laid them all out and then got the heat tool and pressed down on each stone...

This was a bit difficult to do and on the other one I tried placing one down and then using the heat gun. This didn't really work that well either and even though the tool has multiple size tips, the stones I chose were too small to pick up with the heat tool and place individually like that.

Since I seldom give up, I persevered and added a green design on the other collar point and added crystal ones down the front. It actually turned out pretty good and I plan on getting some larger stones and dressing it up some more. Actually, if I can figure out how large the iron on designs are, I might go that way the next time.

So here is the finished product...

All in all, this was an interesting project. These crystals are really, really sparklie and if you had a costume or a ball gown to embellish these are most definitely the product to use. If you have little ones that want to jazz something up and they are old enough to use a heat tool, it would be such a fun project, but keep in mind these little stones can get away from you really quickly and you end up needing many more than you might realize at first. For me, I think my next sparklie project will be made with the Swarovski Crystals that you string, I am a beader after all and can somehow keep up with beads better.

In the mean time, put your thinking caps on and maybe you and your BFF can come up with something that needs some sparklie bling. If you do, check out ArtBeads.com. The shipping was so fast I could hardly believe it and the packaging is always cute (tissue paper and stickers) and very secure and they include a card with a project on it.

I hope to start working on yet another new project tomorrow. Not sure what I will get into, but cooler weather is certainly making me think about yarns and crochet hooks and maybe some fiber jewelry. How about you? How does the change of seasons affect your art? Do you tend to want to hibernate and snuggle in or are you invigorated and wildly productive in the winter?

Just remember that whatever your style is, wherever your creativity takes you, you are an artist. In the kitchen, at the computer, putting together everything for school or work each morning, wherever you are...you are ART. I really believe this. I really do.

Have fun and enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I've Got Mail

I got the cutest thing in the mail last week. I won a give away by the always lovely Suze at Pink Crayon Studio. She gave away this beautiful angel for her two year blogaversary. It arrived securely and sweetly packaged and looks so beautiful in person.

The back of this little prim angel is as pretty as the front...

She bears a tag that states "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once she grows up". Such a thoughtful gift. Thanks again, Suze.

When I wasn't admiring my gift, I was playing with polymer clay. I made several items last week, but my favorites were adapted from the book "Ancient Modern, Polymer Clay + Wire". I say adapted only because the art ring isn't exactly like the project picture, but it's pretty close. Art is all about putting your own spin on things, anyway, isn't it?

With the exception of a piece of wire in the ring keeping the beads together and a piece of leather cording holding the brooch elements in place, they are entirely constructed of polymer clay. The ring is extremely comfortable, but probably too bulky to actually wear, but it is such a nice piece of art that it can't be discounted for that. Since brooches are one of the earliest pieces of adornment, I felt that my brooch deserved an aged appearance. I achieved this look with texturing of the clay and using several colors of acrylic paint.

Well, that's some of what I did recently. I also got my order from Art Beads this weekend and had fun adding some "bling" to a fairly plain blouse using my new BeJeweler...

I took so many pictures that I may post them as a tutorial of sorts. I do have several things to mention about this tool.

All that being said, stay tuned folks and later in the week I'll show you my BeJeweled creation.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicken Every Sunday

Back in 1949 there was a movie called Chicken Every Sunday. I've never seen the move or even read the book, but I think the premise of the title was that times were tough in this particular family and since chicken was the cheapest thing to cook, it was the meal that was eaten most often.

All that being said, I remember my mom frying chicken for Sunday dinner and I'm sure some of you do too. Today is Sunday and my hubby suggested a quick trip to KFC to try the new grilled chicken. We got two 2 piece breast meals with potatoes and gravy and mac and cheese. No drinks, no extras. It was $17.80. In my book that is almost $20.00 and that's not a cheap meal for two people. It was very good, the chicken was cooked perfectly and the side dishes were yummy. We did get the extra chicken breasts so we could top a quick salad with chicken tonight and that way I don't have to cook today. That works for me. Still eighteen bucks for 2 dinners is too much.

I have been very busy with polymer clay this week and have several cute pieces to post and I got some goodies in the mail that I want to share with you later this week.

So in the mean time, have a great Sunday and an even better Labor Day and look for me on Tuesday with some fun things to show.