In Arlene’s Studio

Earlier this summer I got to spend some time in Arlene Groch’s spanking new studio.   For years , the room had been a makeshift storage closet for Arlene and her husband but now it’s the studio she always wanted.

I have to admit,  there was something refreshingly different about Arlene’s first studio.  She was a practicing lawyer and when she decided to quit, she turned her conference room into a clay area; the conference table was just right.  But when another tenant wanted the space, she decided to move on.  She took over a room in her house but it was never quite what she wanted.    Something had to be done.

There is a room near the front door of Arlene’s house and for years she and her husband used it as a makeshift storage locker.  Arlene knew it could be put to better use.  They cleared it out and now Arlene has the studio of her dreams.  Two windows give plenty of light on sunny days; one is a  bay window complete with window box.  The studio  has running water, work tables to accommodate five people and plenty of storage.

Now students can come to Arlene’s front door and right into her studio.

Arlene keeps her oven in the  laundry room it behind the door on the left and happily reports that she’s finally caught up with the laundry.

Arlene has filled her studio with her work and little mementos are everywhere.  Her studio is a happy place.

A work space like Arlene’s is conducive to creativity.  Next week, we’ll take a peek at what she’s been making in there.

Felted Jewelry and Beads.

I had said in an earlier post that I had been in a felting frenzy. I made a few felted Christmas ornaments.  Here are some of the beads and jewelry I’ve been working on.

This bracelet incorporates my polymer clay and lamp work with the felted beads.


The bangle on the left is needle felted and for the one on the right, I sewed needle felted beads onto a ready-made felt bangle.


Needle felted bangles


Some needle felted beads


Earrings.  Felted earrings are so light!


I prefer needle felting to wet felting although for the bracelets, after I needle felt the wool onto the core rope, I like to give it a bath in hot soapy water and work it so it’s more durable.  I am experimenting with needle felting  bracelet and bead cores from polyester fiberfill (cheaper)  and using the more expensive  colored roving over them.  I have also needle felted undyed  (cheaper)  roving over the fiberfill and then have dyed the beads (you can use food coloring and vinegar) before drying and embellishing.  I have just started  cutting tiny simple designs out of craft felt and needle felting it on to the solid bead.  For one thing, you can make lots of felt dots with a paper hole punch and needle felt the dots onto the bead.

There are plenty of felting supply retailers in the Internet.  Don’t forget Etsy and eBay.  Check out the Red Barn Farm storefront while you’re on eBay.  If you’re interested in trying felting, they have some supplies that won’t break the bank.

Here is a good beginners video from YouTube.

My Name is MC Fuzzy Fuzz

MC Fuzzy Fuzz is a sock puppet I made for my Step Grandson (AKA DJ Spud) so his parents would have another way to interact with him and make him laugh.   I started out with a wool sock and added felt, pom poms and googly eyes (not baby safe.) Then I got some childrens  gloves at a dollar store, cut off the fingers and stuffed them with batting, and sewed them on his head for hair.  I had the top of the sock left over and made a hat.  Then I got pom poms and took the puppet to visit my mother.  She picked out the pom poms and I sewed them on.  “You get to name him,” I told her.  “Fuzzy,” she replied.

I came home and my husband said, “No, he’s MC Fuzzy Fuzz.”  (My husband, who is a 62 year old Jewish man with a Ph.D. is heavily into Hip Hop. ” It took me a year to understand Biggie Smalls,” he tells me, “but now I get it and I think he’s a genius.”)  The hair became dreadlocks and the hat became a Rasta hat.  Then my husband said Fuzzy should be a rapper, so I sewed on the arms and gave him some bling.  Then we decided he should be a dawg, and I sewed on ears.  (Thank you Le Mutt for modeling.)  I also gave him a lower fang (his grill).

Like some stars in the sock puppet hip hop industry,  MC Fuzzy Fuzz has a back story.  He did not grow up in the dog pound. He went to the best obedience schools and his father held a high post in the national branch of the ASPCSP (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sock Puppets).  MC Fuzzy (whose real name is S. (for Sock) Pupwell Baskin dropped out of obedience school to try his luck in the music biz, much to his father’s dismay.  But he hit it big.  To read an except from one of his songs,  press here. And remember to kiss a sock puppet today!


Clayathon 2010

I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching Wilma Yost of Polymer Clay Express demonstrating the Dream Machine and trying it out for myself, watching Melanie West’s demos, catching some of Arlene Groch’s enthusiasm or having uninterrupted time to continue working through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations.

I clayed, drank whiskey, sat up until 7:00 am one night (morning?) claying and chatting, made new friends and saw old ones.
Everyone had a wonderful, relaxing time.  See you in 2011!

Bob’s Urban Garden at the End of Summer.

What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

slk5 slk2 slk1

Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

sklclass13 sklclass18

Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

Fantasy Runs in My Family

My cousin Ken Bloomhorst sent me some pictures of his newer work recently, and I love it! My last post about him talked about his art as a product of the Midwest. His new work comes from a vivid imagination probably stoked by embellishing stories for grandchildren. Or maybe we have a fantasy gene in our DNA.

Ken is at an age where no one can tell him, “Don’t you know elephants don’t wear glasses and rattlesnakes don’t have pink and orange stripes?” We all need to get to that place, no matter what the calendar says.

Ken also did the illustrations for a soon to be published children’s book Dragon Tales The Three Sisters. You can see more of Ken’s work at The Bridge Kids site.

My New Hat

     Life has its ups and downs.  Sometimes a girl’s just gotta get herself a new hat.  I got this great hat from The Hats You Want Then I decided to dress it up for the summer with ribbon and some fabric flowers. I love it because it is crushable, packable and so very me.

Bob’s Urban Garden 2008

I wrote about my neighbor Bob’s Urban Garden last year.
Since then, he’s built a wooden Koi pond complete with solar lights that keep it lit at night. Three of the Koi fish from last year are back and bigger (literally!) than ever. They have smaller Koi fish and two turtles to keep them company. Bob’s added a new ceramic fountain, Lilly pads, and an additional wooden tub of flowers in front of our house to give it badly needed curb appeal. Loki the cat is still around checking under cars for hapless pigeons. Barbara the Macaw had a good time mugging for the camera. While I was taking pictures, several people stopped by to admire.

Enjoy the slide show.

Happy Bracelets

Happy Bracelets

It’s a good thing that February is the shortest month, because it’s my least favorite.

Here’s something to make you happy–polymer clay Happy Bracelets.