Boris Discovers the Workshop

I have to admit that I was very sad when I wrote last week’s post.    But Boris is is coming out of his shell and worming his way into my heart.  There is nothing like a kitten to beat the blues.

Plumpton used to hang out in my workshop and Boris seems interested in doing the same. It will be nice to have company s long as Boris behaves himself.  But what are the chances of that?

 

He was fascinated with the pieces of baked polymer that I am playing around with for a wall piece I am making for a fund raiser for the Fleisher Art  Memorial.  Just the thing for a kitten to bat around.

Playing with the colors, shapes and textures inspired me to try a new earring design.

So it looks like Boris might be inspiring me! That’s good. I could use some inspiration right about now.

The Quilts They Are Finished!!!

I started making these quilts in 2011 right after I made Nathan’s baby quilt which was my first quilt. (I am not a quilter, so I decided I should start out with something small.) Ok, ok, it only took me four years to finish these, but I didn’t work on them continuously.

quilts

I started with sewing scraps of fabric together just to get a quilting mojo thing going.  Then I started buying old clothes at thrift stores and taking them apart for the fabric.  Some friends gave me fabric.  Someone across the street threw out boxes and boxes of great fabric!  I bought fabric sample books
on eBay and a box of scraps from a quilt maker on  Etsy.

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Gradually, I settled on  Log Cabin Pattern.  Since the idea of making the blocks all the same made me want to stick a needle in my eye, I decided to make them all different and had fun with each one.  The only rule was that the colors had to work.  Oh,  and I settled on a size of 12 inches square for each finished block.  I taught myself to chain piece and I became a quilt block berserker for a while.

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The quilts are 6 blocks across and eight blocks long

Headboard

 Years  ago, I painted a headboard  on my wall.  Makes it hard to rearrange the furniture!

Nightstand

My husband said he quit drinking in case he woke up one day and looked at his night stand.  This is from my painted furniture phase.

Quilt Back

I made my own binding, machine sewed it to the front of the quilts and hand sewed it to the back.  Here’s a good quilt binding tutorial.

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I used fleece blankets as the filling and flannel sheets on the back.  I machine quilted by stitching in the ditch around the  blocks.  It wasn’t that difficult with a walking foot.

mirror

The view through the mirror on the wall.  This is the companion piece to the nightstand.

I don’t have plans to make another quilt although I do have a third quilt top left over.  It could happen!

Ugly Bead Beauty School

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Yes, there is such a thing as an ugly bead. I should know because I have made so many of them.  The ones you see below are glass rejects that I have accumulated over the years.  They suffer from such defects as garish colors, drippy dots, pointy ends and general whopperjawdidity.

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I had a sack of ugly beads that I had saved over the years.  At first I thought I would give them away.  But why should I give away crappy beads?  Then I thought I would toss them.  “No,” I decided, I’ll put them in the recycling bin.  “No, I’ll sprinkle them in flower beds in the neighborhood.” No, that didn’t feel right either.  And then I decided to pull out the kiln and see if I  could make them into something beautiful.  And Viola!  All the glass cabochons in the picture below are made from the ugly beads you see in the pictures above along with a little dichroic, Moretti rod chips, stringers and some flat clear Moretti.

 

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I put the beads in the kiln a few at a time and melted them (after cleaning out all the holes thoroughly) I broke up some beads and rearranged the pieces.  Some beads I stacked on top of other beads and put a stringer of a contrasting color glass  down the middle. 

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Orange bead stacked on a blue bead with aqua stringer.  Spacey!

If I only liked part of the fused cabochon,  I cut it off and combined it with something else I liked. 

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I added dichroic class for interest to some of the cabs.  I didn’t want to use too much.  I think that fused glass cabs fill of dichroic glass are boring.  The cab above is a disk bead with dots around it stuffed with goldstone stringer and topped with a layer of clear. Later I fused it to another partial cab that I liked.

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Sometimes I liked the bottom of the cab more than the top.  So I just cleaned off all the shelf primer,  turned it over and fused it again.

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This one is a clunky star bead that I fired with a layer of clear over it.  I considered trimming off the places where the color did not flow and firing it again, but I like the contrast between the clear and the color. I like the bubbles too. The white dot in the middle is where the hole in the bead was originally. 

I plan to post some more specific directions and before/after pictures.  By the way, the glass is Moretti and the kiln is a Jen-Ken Bead Annealer hooked up to a Kiln Controller.

Connie, Olivia and Me

I traveled down to Maryland last week, first to Polymer Clay Express  to see Rob and Wilma Yost and their new digs in the charming town of  New Market Maryland.    From there it was on to Olivia’s  for the night because we were both taking a class with Connie Fox  called Make Jewelry You’ll Love in Five Steps.

 

Group

This was not a “jewelry making class, ” and   I didn’t have any idea of what to expect.   There are not many people with whom  I would take a  class under these circumstances.  But I have followed Connie’s work for years and have always admired her sense of design.  And she had always been so generous with information, posting free articles on-line and on her website.  So I took the plunge and I’m glad I did.

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Connie provided a lot of food for thought.  She led discussions on how to evaluate our work styles and personalities.   We spent a lot of time looking at and discussing the work of other jewelry artists.  We looked at one another’ s work   to examine the intent behind it find ways to improve the design.    Doing the exercises Maggie Maggio and Lindly Haunai’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations has improved my work and I am always striving to improve my craftsmanship.    But I came away from Connie’s class with a better idea of my sense of design and what I am attempting to achieve with my jewelry.  I know I like to mix media and use found objects, but I am also a story teller and a lot of my pieces tell stories.  And so the process continues.

 

 Since peeking into another person’s studio is always such fun, here are some pictures from Olivia’s  workshop

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The Quilt In Progress

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I have  started the block trimming and sewing.    Lots of scraps!  But now that I have a decent place to work with a cement floor, it’s much easier to keep things swept up

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I decided to make sections of 12 blocks-2 rows of 6-and then I will join 4 of them to make each quilt top which will be 6 blocks wide and 8 blocks long. (Finished blocks are a foot square so the quilt will be 72 x 96 before binding.

 

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Since I had so many colors of fabric, I decided to use white in the overall design to give the eye a rest.  I’m glad I did, because this is going to be a busy quilt.

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Studio Birdie seems to be enjoying all the activity and bright colors.

 

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I am wearing a wrist support  because I am doing a lot of trimming and I don’t want my wrist to suffer.

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I find that it’s helpful to break up the trimming with the pressing and the sewing.  I am managing to keep all the thread under control  but I have a feeling I will be picking loose threads off these quilts for a long time.

 

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      I started out sewing 2 blocks together then joining to make strips of  6 and then joining this to another strip of 6.  But last night,  I joined a two block section to another two block section to make a four block piece and I sewed three of these together.  It seemed a little easier to line up the seams with the latter method, but I am still learning.  Any tips would be welcome!

 

The Sistine Quilt Saga or 85 Blocks Done!

 

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I now have 85 Wonky (and I do mean WONKY) Log Cabin blocks made.

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The next thing I must do is trim them all to size with my handy dandy 12 and 1/2 inch block template.

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I got a pinking blade for my rotary cutter to keep fraying edges to a minimum

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As you can see, I have not bothered to limit  the color palette

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I just tried to have fun with every block I made.

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  Boy these quilts take a long time!  Will I ever finish?  But I really am enjoying the process.And I feel honored to be using the sewing machines and tools of my Mother and Mother-in-Law   My plan is to make two twin-sized quilts, each 6 blocks wide and 8 blocks tall or  72 by 96 inches.

In the meantime, if anyone has any tips for a newbie quilter like me, leave a comment.I will keep you posted.

Still Claying After All These Years

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Clayathon time is here again. I will pack up my stuff and head to beautiful Galloway Township NJ and the Stockton Seaview Hotel where I will meet new and old friends and have a chance to play with my clay for as long as I want.    Clayathon is a friendly gathering of creative people who enjoy playing and claying together.  Clayathon  can be a time to set goals and try new things, or  a time to make birds.  Lisa Clarke has attended most of the Clayathons and written about them.    Robin Milne designed a great logo for this years’ event.    And Arlene Groch and her team of volunteers have made Clayathon one of the best clay events of the year.  

 

Want more?  Here  are some past Clayathon posts from this blog.

Christmas Ornaments in Progress

I’m trying some new things this year.  I decided to try making armatures out of compacted newspaper wrapped with aluminum foil.  I could have used all foil but I wanted to recycle.  So far, it’s worked pretty well.  Nothing I’ve covered and baked has cracked and it all seems pretty solid.  I’m not sure how I am going to hang these ornaments when they’re done.  I’ll figure that out later.

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 Three birdies dancing.  These are the armatures covered with scrap clay, painted and baked.  I am going to add some more clay features and bake again.  The crooked beaks are intentional.  I  want the birds to have personality.

Birdie in Oven

One Birdy Baking

Tinted TLS

I added a drop of the ink to about two tablespoons of  liquid clay to paint the bird..  You don’t need much ink; a little goes a long way

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I like the translucent look of the tinted liquid clay. Since my scrap clay was mud colored, I painted the bird with white acrylic clay before I baked him the first time  to get the full effect of the translucent clay.    He gets a second baking for the blue layer.

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One sea turtle swimming.  This guy has the same newspaper and foil core.  I painted the fins with liquid clay tinted green to test the effect.  He still needs a lot of details added and a proper shell.

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This ornament will be a pussy cat.  It’s baseball sized and built around a newspaper and foil core,  

Cat

It’s starting to take shape.  I haven’t decided whether to give him crazy feet or put feathers in his mouth.

The Model

I’ll ask the model what he thinks.

Recycling Ideas From My Workshop

My friends call me “thrifty.”  Maybe my penchant for reusing things comes from having parents who lived during the Great Depression and were always trying to out do one another with stories of how poor they were.  My father recalled having to eat chicken skin, chicken fat and gristle at dinner because his mother “paid for that too.”  Little did they know that with some imagination, some secret ingredients and a whole lotta cooking fat, they could have made the first chicken nuggets and ended that Great Depression  at least as far as they were concerned.  But I digress. (Why do I always do that?)  Here are some examples of how I’ve been recycling.

Unraveling Sweater

I bought this Man’s size large Shetland wool sweater at a thrift ship for $5.99 so I could take it apart and reuse the wool.

Unaveled Yarn

Taking a sweater apart can be tedious but who doesn’t love a challenge?

Ball

One big ball of yard and lots of sweater left to unravel.

316 rods

I wanted some fatter lamp working mandrels.  These are about 5 mm.  I got them from a discontinued  Ikea storage cart.  I think they are aluminum but they work fine although not as well as steel.

Cheerios

Now I can make beads that look like Cheerios!

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I had to stop eating cheese because of a medical problem and had no trouble finding a new role for the cheese grater.

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Cheese graters hold lots of earrings.    You could blast it with a coat of spray paint (minus the earrings of course) to give it a new look.  Make sure the holes don’t get clogged though.

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Here’s a silicone mat with little fingery things meant to be used for drying  crystal wine glasses.  I got mine on sale for about $5.00.

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They’re a great tool for coating small items with resin .  Place your cabochon or what have you on the mat and pour.  The excess resin runs into the mat and when it cures, simply pop it off!   Here’s a link to a similar mat that Amazon sells.  You could probably find a better deal or snatch one up at a yard sale.

Here’s a good video on sweater deconstruction and yarn harvesting.

Happy Happy!

Happy Bracelets  combine beads with flexible tubes of polymer clay.  You can flex and bend the bracelets and the clay  doesn’t crack (Ok, OK,  it probably will crack if you go at it with a jackhammer or drive over it with a monster truck.  What I mean is that the clay in the bracelet won’t crack with normal wear.)

I made my very first Happy Bracelet at Clayathon   and was so excited to discover another side to the so-called flexibility of polymer clay that  I wrote a blog post about it.  People were curious about how I made them,  and I promised to write a tutorial.

And now I am happy to announce that a complete Happy Bracelet tutorial

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Is in the August 2013 issue of Polymer Cafe

Thank you Anne Huizenga and Polymer Cafe!

And last but not least,  the winner of  bead giveaway number three
(drum roll please . . . .)

is  ZanC!