Saturday, 23 February 2013

Memory, Eggs and Zen..

As I sit here ready to write this week’s post, my mind has gone blank. What’s happened this week? What did I do? What can I write about?

I got the dates muddled up with my grandaughter’s birthday for one. It was on Monday, but for some reason, I had 27th February in my head, which I now realise of course, it’s my daughter-in-law’s birthday then, Bethany’s had gone. I quickly wrote her card out, which I got weeks ago, popped in a note apologising, and some money to treat herself with, and now I wait to see if it arrives safely. That’s the problem when you live so far away from them I suppose. So happy belated 12th birthday Bethany xx

Talking of memory, years ago, I had a marble egg. It was about the same size as a normal hen’s egg, and I had bought it in preparation for our attempt at keeping hens, to encourage them to lay eggs of their own. It was never used for that, as we never got the hens. Instead it sat in my cabinet for years as an ornament. A very attractive one mind.

So, when I started covering eggs, not only did I do them with cane slices, but also a couple were done in some mokume gane patterend clay, which look incredibly ‘marbly’ if that’s a word, which I doubt! So, four more eggs were done this week, which l’m pleased with. However having listed some of them, I’m seriously having some self-doubt now. Having looked around the www, I’ve now seen that those who have done similar, have had them on sale for three years or more, and sold very few. So I don’t think I’ll be doing any more just yet. Maybe they are not as collectible as I first thought. Anyway, here they are…

I’ve made plenty of beads this week too, but I have yet to make them up into jewellery. I practised a new kind of kaleidoscope cane, and applied it to the beads, and I must say the effect is very nice. It was only a small cane, so it’s all used up now, but I’ll be making more in a similar style if this one goes well. There will be photos next week.

A little sneaky hint of what else is to come. I took delivery of some blank pill boxes and compact mirrors this morning. Those are destined for my clay, and I can’t wait to get started. First though I must get those beads put together, and have a good sort out, I’ve lost a pack of plastic bags which I store my made jewellery in while waiting to find it a home, and I just know they’re under there somewhere.

Oh! I nearly forgot. (What is wrong with my memory this week?),  I’ve discovered something new, which is my latest obsession. Zendoodling. I’ve seen a local artist talking about it all over Facebook, and thought, oh yeah? Hmmmm! Very complex drawing and patterns etc. Then I came across someone’s blog, I can’t remember who, but she said she remembered doing exactly that when she was at school years ago, and was amazed it’s now a very popular art form, and gave it a go. Then, my memory cogs really started to churn as I remembered similar doodles I did when I was at school, in fact I got in trouble because my maths exercise book was covered in them, and they were all that sort of thing.

So, I’ve dragged out my fine pens, my sketchbook, and researched on the net, played and experimented with some of the patterns in various free tutorials and you-tube videos, just to pick up any techniques. Once that was done, I made a few of my own…and I have to say, I’m pleased with them, though they are not a patch on the real artists. I have no idea what I will do with them yet, though I think one may be framed and placed on the empty space on the wall in my bathroom. What do you think?
Zendoodle flower

Crounching Tiger Hidden Cat. (can you see it?)


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Pendants, Posties and Petholes

With the variable weather we’ve had this week, I was somewhat surprised to look out of the window yesterday morning to see the postman in shorts! Considering it’s still frosty at night, only two days ago we had yet more snow, the sun wasn’t that warm, and certainly not warm enough to start sorting out the summer wardrobe, but there he was, legs exposed, happily marching along. I had to check that he didn’t have sandals on too!

While I was looking, a sight even worse hit me. A mass of holes and little heaps of soil have appeared all around the garden. My cat, it seems, has turned into a mole of sorts. Ok I know the builders did the outside with the ramp etc., leaving areas of fresh topsoil, and I knew this would be rearranged by said cat, but he seems to have become addicted to digging. Is he looking for the cat version of Richard III I wonder? Look at him, butter wouldn't melt!

Besides this, it’s been a quiet week here, and frankly I’ve been thoroughly spoilt this week. On Sunday my partner cooked roast beef, and all the trimmings, leaving me free to work with my clay, and again on Thursday, Valentines Day, I had flowers and champagne chocolates delivered, and a steak dinner cooked for me. He’s really found his way round the kitchen and is really happy to be able to cook again. Being in a wheelchair, on only one leg, he has to do some things differently, but he’s found a way and now just gets on with it with confidence. Quite different from the first meal he cooked since his amputation, scrambled eggs on toast. I don’t know who was more nervous, me or him!

So while I’ve been getting spoilt, I’ve made all these pendants, using up some of the clay cabochons I’ve made at the end of various projects.

 These pendants take about two hours to make, with lots of swirls, and the usual leaves and so on. 

 I've made some a little less arty and just had fun with swirls.
I have to admit though I do like the arty ones, they are enormous fun to make and the end product is stunning.
 The different shapes and textures you can achieve on the same basic foundation is endless.

Using pearl powders, gently brushed on to the surfaces can have a dramatic effect on the finish of the clay, with some given an antique patina, others changing the colour completely. Most will give a metallic sheen to the clay which adds more interest. These are very tactile pendants too, try NOT tracing the swirls with your finger.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A New Technique, Eggs and Sore Hands.

So there I was, ready to get my new ‘Primrose’ range underway, when a new technique caught my eye. First I had to find out what it was called …apparently Balinese Filigree…then work out how to do it.

My extruder fell apart, very disappointing when I consider what I paid for it, but lucky me, my partner bought me TWO (doesn’t he trust me?) new ones. These are simple push-through syringe type extruders, but seem to be solid enough. So to begin my dabble in filigree.

Oh boy! My old extruder had a screw handle which made it quite easy to extrude the clay, these take a fair bit of strength and patience to push the clay through these manually. But I got there in the end, managing to push out enough thin snakes of clay to roll into spirals.

Here is the result of my first experiment. Worked quite well I think. 

Now, I’d always intended blowing and covering eggs ready for Easter for some time, and the shells have been drying out in the airing cupboard for a few weeks, and here was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. So I covered an egg in my spirals. It’s far from perfect, I held it too tight at some stages and flattened some of the spirals, but I’m already working on how to avoid this, but all in all I’m pleased with my first effort. As with anything, the first one is to find out what can go wrong and why, not much did except hand pressure, so I can work on that and hopefully the next one will be saleable.

Meanwhile, as mentioned in the previous post, I also did a bit of dabbling in metal leaf surface treatments, and came up with this gorgeous necklace in purple and orange, with the copper leaf on the surface. It’s easy to get the effect, simply roll out some clay on the thickest setting of the pasta machine, lay some metal leaf, I used copper for this one, and gently smooth down, then roll it one way on the second thickest setting, and again the other way on the third thickest. Voila! You have this amazing shining crackled effect.  I’d also made some matching earrings, but as I make a thin tile first, bake, then add the backing after, in this instance I’d trapped just a little bit of air under one, and when that air expanded during the curing, it made a couple of bubbles in the original tile. It’s a shame because the other earring was perfect! It happens.

When I was talking about polymer clay to a friend of mine, she wondered what a cane was. I tried my best to say it's a little bit like a stick of Blackpool Rock, with the design running through it, but she couldn't envisage how it could be made, so maybe next week I'll post a new rose cane as I make it, then perhaps it'll be clearer. It's really not that difficult if you take your time, don't rush it, and the art is in the reduction of the cane, while keeping the perspective of the pattern inside, which can so easily be distorted by rushing the reduction. You'll see next week..

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Catch up on January

Wow what a month January was! The outstanding thing of course, was the snow. Here in Norwich we had probably 10 inches in all, but it all came down in three parts within a week, unlike some other parts of the country who got that much in one night! Once again the council got it wrong with their gritting and left it too late. I was in the city centre having coffee with a friend when the second lot came down, that's when the gritters were told to go out, but unfortunately, everyone else decided they'd better go home, so the city became gridlocked, the snow froze as it hit the roads and any roads on hills (such as they are in Norwich) were rendered impassable and dangerous, and closed. Well done the Police on getting that lot sorted out. Buses were cancelled, so a two-mile trudge home through several inches of snow (which had fallen in an hour) was the order of the day. It all looked so beautiful though as you can see.

Unfortunately, this also rendered my poor partner housebound for yet another week. We've only just got the ramp for his wheelchair built, used it for two days, then the snow locked him in again. Cabin fever isn't the word.

Anyway, I needed no excuse to stay in and craft. I've designed a bead embroidered collar for a competition later this year, and ordered the beads. Sadly I can't show you that, as the competition rules state it must be unpublished, so fair enough, you'll have to wait! (it is lovely though, using three colours from this year's spring/summer pantone, with celtic design.)

I've also been busy with my polymer clay. I decided to expand a little on the millefiori technique, which I began first with turquoise and bronze petal cane slices on black background, and produced this necklace.

I made a few other pieces but I wasn't happy with them. To be honest I wasn't entirely happy with the bails on these, but they are secure and uniform, so I put it up on Folksy and it sold within the hour!

So, to build on the success of that, and while I was still buzzing from such a quick sale, I did the same again in fuschia tones, and did more than just one necklace.


I plan to do some 'primrose' pieces in a similar style, in fact, that was what I was going to do next, but as usual I got waylaid by something else...lace canes. So easy to do, simply roll a light colour into a log, cover it with a contrasting darker colour, roll and cut 7 equal lengths, arrange 6 of them around a centre one, reduce, roll and do it again, reduce and hey presto!

I didn't take a photo of the cane itself, but I made this gorgeous necklace from it. I don't usually use colours as they come out of the packet, but I so love the sculpey purple..

I've since made a teal coloured necklace, well two in fact, the first didn't have enough contrast, but that's for my next post, along with my forays into metal leaf! Ohhh yes!!!