Saturday, February 26, 2011

Determined Bear

I don't know who took these or where- my sis-in-law emailed them to me...

I have only two questions:
1. What was in that bird feeder that the bear wanted so badly?
2. What the heck was that line made of?


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PCC Challenge

They've got the February challenge up over at Polymer Clay Central and I've entered something again.  There are a ton of great projects! So, head on over there and vote.

Awesome Etsy Artists!

International Friendship Week ends today and in honor of this, I created a friendship-themed Etsy treasury:


Friday, February 11, 2011

My Polymer Clay Studio

So, for some reason, I have this fascination with people's workspaces.  I love to organize stuff but I can't seem to keep it organized.  I also love to see all of the various ways people come up with to organize their stuff.  Someday, I plan on having my garage organized in such a way as to allow me to actually park at least one car in it.  (I have a LOT of stuff.)

Anyway, I decided it was time to show off my studio space- not that there's much to show off.  It's way more functional than attractive.  And, it's constantly evolving.  I'm always rearranging stuff and adding/taking away various decorations.

So here it is from the doorway:
It's not fancy but it's home.  (Well, it's where I spend the bulk of my afternoons anyway.)

 My shipping station.  I got the postal scale at the thrift store for a couple of bucks.  It's all computerized and fancy but I just use it to weigh packages for shipping.  That's part of my food storage holding up the "table."  You can see one of my Christmas decorations waiting to be mended there on the old T.V. stand that is holding up everything else.  And of course, the paper shredder down in front.

Next to all of that is my clay table- or, as it's known to the kids, "the brown craft table."  My clay is organized by color in all of those little white baskets which are organized into an old cardboard shoe holder I got from my grandma.  My work surface is 2 glass panels from an old entertainment center over a fabric cutting mat.

The other half of my clay table.  I mounted some of that foam stuff they use in shipping on the wall to stick anything sharp and/or pointy in for storage.  I keep the computer handy for watching Netflix movies when I'm doing something brainless.  The drawers underneath hold all kinds of stuff related to clay.

A couple of sets of shelves under the window.  On top are various glass and wood things waiting to be covered with clay.  The little drawers are full of canes, and below that are bins with more clay in them.  The right side holds my baking pans, stuff waiting to be baked, more clay, and my box of ribbon (for tying up packages) on the bottom.  The bigger drawers on the right are full of more clay tools and supplies.  That unit just kind of drifts around the room wherever I need it.  I love the big window in my studio.  There's a gorgeous view of the farmland across the street and mountains in the distance.  (Unfortunately, not the Tetons... they're out the other side of the house.)

Here's my bookcase with all of my clay books, surplus school supplies, and other craft stuff I need handy but don't use a whole lot.  (I've got tons more craft stuff in the aforementioned garage.  I've done a bazillion different crafts and I've got a lot of supplies to show for it.  Luckily, we homeschool and much of that stuff is needed at some point or another.)  You can also see the left side of my finishing station.  More on that in the next photo.

So here's where my clay stuff gets "finished."  Sometimes I clear-coat stuff.  Sometimes I sand and buff.  This is also the place where I add the charms to my pens and occasionally assemble jewelry.  The sewing machine stand was my mother-in-law's and eventually will go to one of my girls.  The plaque you can see on the wall above the stand is one I painted when I was working for a ceramic studio after high school.  The lady that owned the shop entered a bunch of my stuff in a state ceramic show (unbeknownst to me) and I won several prizes.  That one recieved a first place and a best of category.  I love it and it doesn't really "fit" anywhere in my house so it's in the studio...

Now for the photography station.  Everything I do for my Etsy shop is fairly small so I can do it in a lightbox.  I prefer to do my photography outside in the lightbox on a sunny day but winters in Idaho are pretty long and seldom sunny.  So this is my setup until the weather warms up.  I seldom use my ironing board for ironing but if I do happen to need it for its intended purpose, it's easy enough to clear off.  The basket underneath currently holds things the kids have broken and need their dad to mend.  He doesn't get to that job very often.  The black box to the left of the lightbox is my entry for the Polymer Clay Central Challenge this month and I didn't want to give it away so that's all the hint you get. :)

This is Rock's personal workspace.  Just the left half of the table.  (It's a mess 'cause I refuse to clean up after him.) Okay, so he can use the whole thing if he wants to but he seldom does any work in here.  I set the table up for him to fix computers on but he mostly does that at the desk in the living room.  So here it sits, usually collecting clutter.  Anyway, I store my shipping boxes and stuff under it and he keeps his tools under there as well.  It's also a place for me to get out my sewing machine when I want to do a quick project or some mending.  The floral arrangement is one I did several years ago to match my living room in another house.  There's no where to hang it in the living room here so once again, in the craft room.

Just two more pictures to go.  I took the corner brackets from some storage shelves (that I lost some of the parts for and can no longer put them together) and mounted them on the wall for holding my "thin" work- you know, ACEOs and such.  I hope to get them full enough that I'll be wondering where to store this stuff while I wait for it to sell...

I also have a pegboard to hang all of my beads, pens and pendants on when they are finished (with more brackets underneath).

Anyway, I hope you got through all of that.  (Maybe there IS such thing as too much information...)  If you didn't, that's okay too.  You can probably tell that I've spent very little on my "organizational supplies."  But that's okay.  It's fun to find something and go, "Wow, I could use that to organize my...!" 


Monday, February 7, 2011

Polymer Clay Enthusiasts

Hi all,

Just doing a little promotion for my Etsy polyclay team.  If you'd like to see some really great polymer clay works, just head on over to the Polymer Clay Enthusiasts blog and take a look.  (Clicking on a photo will take you to the Etsy shop the item is listed in.)

If you like what you see, spread the word on your social networking pages...

Thanks a bunch!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Polymer Clay Valentine's Magnet Tutorial #3

This is the third and final tutorial for my Valentine's Day magnets.  You can see the first one here and the second one here.  I think this one is my favorite and it was the most fun to make.  I love using texture in my clay work but for some reason, I don't use it very often.

Anyway, here goes:

Valentine's Cut-Out Heart Magnet
Supplies Needed:
gold metallic clay
pink clay
gold metallic powder
iridescent glitter

Tools Needed:
pasta machine
tissue blade
small heart cutter
ripple texture sheet
basketweave texture sheet
stamp with the word "love"
     or blunt needle tool

Step 1: Prepare your elements.
Condition your gold clay.  Run it through the pasta machine, fold in half and run it through again several times to align the mica particles.  Rip your sheet of clay into a bunch of little pieces and pile them on your  work surface:

Condense your pile of clay pieces and mash it until you can put it through the pasta machine.   

 Run it through the pasta machine on a medium-thin setting. (The tearing and mashing should have made a cool random mica shift design in your clay.)  Cut out a 1 1/2 inch square.

Cut a heart out of the center of your square.  (Turn the cutter a little so it's not perfectly symmetrical.)

 Now, condition and roll out your pink clay at the same thickness as the gold.  Cut a heart out of it.

Use the basketweave texture sheet on your heart.

Step 2: Prepare the base.
 Roll out some more pink clay at the thickest setting and cut out a 2-inch square. 

Texture your sheet all over using the ripple texture sheet.

 Lay your gold square over the background (turned about 45 degrees) so you can see where to put the letters.

 Stamp or carve the word "love" in the space inside the heart.  (You may need to move the gold square for a moment to do this.

 Next, get out your gold metallic powder (I'm using PearlEx- I think it's the antique gold.)  and very gently touch the surface of the powder with your index finger.  You just want a micro-thin layer of the powder on your finger.  Touch the pink clay with your gold-plated finger a few times.  Keep touching the powder and then the clay until you have a sort of splotchy gold design on your pink clay.  I made the gold fingerprints a little thicker around the letters to make them stand out more.  Do this to the pink heart as well.  (I added some clay where the corners of the gold square will hang over to support them during baking and give them added strength.)

 Step Three:  Put it all together.
Lay all of your elements on the base and press down gently to get it all to stick together.
Now you get to add the glitter.  See my notes about the glitter here.  (Scroll down about 3/4 of the way.)

Step 4: Bake and finish.
Now it's time to bake.  Put your piece on something flat (I have several pieces of broken stone tile that I can bake small things on.)  and bake at 265 degrees (or whatever the clay manufacturer recommends) for about 30-45 minutes.  I like to err on the side of caution and bake longer than may be necessary.

So now you're ready to add the magnet to the back.  I'm just using what I have on hand, which is some of that thin, flat, rolled-up magnetic strip with the sticky back.  This is not my first choice but as the magnets are light and I seldom hang stuff on the fridge with my magnets, it will suffice.  I cut a piece slightly smaller than the back of the magnet, peeled off the paper, and stuck it on.  If I were to sell these, I would use the stronger round magnets and adhere them with a suitable glue.

 Reverse side:

There you go!  Make a bunch and give them away for Valentine's Day or keep them for yourself.  If you do, feel free to send me pictures and I will post them here.  I think I might give mine to my sister who has a magnet collection dating back to her junior high school days.

P.S.  Do yourself a favor and don't sell any of the stuff you make from my tutorials.  When people buy handmade, they want a story and "I followed some instructions online" is really a lousy story.  Do feel free to use my ideas as inspiration or a "jumping-off point" for your own creations.  Besides, if anyone is going to make money off my ideas, shouldn't it be me?  :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January PCC Challenge- 2nd Place!

Once again, I won a prize in the Polymer Clay Central Challenge seen here.  I love doing the challenges because the themes force me to expand my horizons and try something I may not have otherwise done.  I keep saying I'm not a jewelry designer but maybe I'm not as bad as I thought I was.  The idea came from a photo of broken sea ice I saw on Google.  I think I may make another one like it in a different color and make a tutorial for it.  I've actually considered making tutorials to sell in my Etsy shop for some of the more intricate work I do.  (They take too long to do them for free...)  Anyway, here are the photos of my 2nd place-winning entry:

I really enjoyed making this piece but it took a long time and I'm not sure I'd want to repeat the process too many times.  That's why I think a tutorial might be a good idea.