Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roses, Just in Time for Valentine's Day

My second attempt at a rose cane, not perfect yet, I still need to get the blend just right. My first attempt was from a tutorial, my colors were too dark and I didn't like the technique. So, I nosed around at other people's rose canes, I particularly liked the ones by TooAquarius over at Artfire, looked at some pictures of roses and got it into my head what I wanted to achieve and had a go. I think for me I need to browse tutorials then look at real images of the thing I want to do and figure the technique out for myself. I did go back to a tutorial for the skinner blend....not trusting myself, again. This ended up looking like a white tipped red rose and not just the highlights I was going for.....but I'm the only one who knows, me and anyone who reads my blog, but you can all keep a secret, right?

I do love making canes and I can't wait till I feel confident enough to start doing some pictorial ones. Many years ago when my occupation was 'graphic illustrator', before computers, I was quite known for my pointillist technique, said to be as good as anyone out there at the time. Pointillism is a technique where you create a picture from tiny dots, most famous for the technique is artist Georges Seurat, one of my heroes and the subject of my thesis. One of his most famous paintings is "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

I remember seeing a couple of his works in London....I was mesmerized. He was a blend of scientist and artist. A fact I like....Seurat was born exactly 101 years and one day before me, a fellow Saggitarian. He died young, just 31, and it's amazing to think how much he achieved in such a short time......totally makes me feel like an under achiever!

Anyhoo....the point (pun intended) of this....the technique of pointillism being just dots I'm thinking little rolls of clay should work. I have an idea of what I want to do for my first piece and I'm going to start with simple black and white. Portraits in clay beads....hmmmmm.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Can't read my own writing!

I just had one of those moments. It wasn't my hand writing it was my handiwork. I was looking at the new art beads listed on Artfire and a couple caught my eye...registering ...lampwork. Nope, they were my own polymer clay beads. Boy, that made me feel good. These are the views that had me confused.
I would love for my beads to look like lampwork and I'm learning everything I can to get there.
I've been surfing the web looking at all the amazing polymer work out inspiring! And boy, does it set the bar high. But, I like to aim high....anal retentive perfectionist that I am.
I need to sit down and do some beadweaving too, these beads were supposed to be an addition to that not take over from it. Obsession, what ya gonna do?
Hopefully I'll have a combined piece to show by the end of the weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


So here are the heart sets I made for the Smooshers challenge.
The first I call "Heart in a Whirl" and I decided to try something rustic so I went more primitive and then distressed the heart before buffing. I actually kinda like this one, even though I'm NOT a heart girl, I keep saying that and then liking the hearts I create.

The second one I went pastel, again quite unusual for me....I guess I need to stretch thesedays. I was thinking about little girls on this one, pinks and purples, all light and airy so I made this one petite, just 1"wide and 1 1/2" long.
Of course after I finished these I thought about making heart canes and layering hearts onto a regular shaped bead. Monday morning bead artist!
Well, maybe I'll do that next.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Keeping It Zipped!

I hate it! But I am keeping my mouth shut about the latest set of beads, my best yet. I made them for someone special based on something they did and need to celebrate so until she gets them I'm keeping them under wraps.....and I am so not good at keeping secrets when I'm excited, lol!

I joined Artfire's polymer clay guild....the Clay Smooshers and I want to put my two pieces in for the February challenge so I have those to create...hearts, and we know how much I love hearts! So it will be interesting to see what comes out of the clay.

I do have to get back to some bead weaving tonight as I need to restring my hexagonal tile bracelet I sent to Beadwork as a project submission....they want to see the actual bracelet. The second one I did I changed how I strung it and liked it a lot better and knew I would redo the first one at some point. I guess the some point is now.

I also want to make some beaded beads to go with a couple of the bead sets, I really think the beaded beads and the polymer clay ones will work together well.

Monday, January 25, 2010

TA DA!!!! Do I Qualify as Bead Artist?

So here are five of the eight sets of beads I made over the past three days.

The first set is aqua and peach over black, a multi-cane technique with a large focal, coordinating small ovals and rondelles.

Next is a fuchsia/purple, silver & black set created with a technique called 'mokume gane' which is very cool. You layer the clays, emboss it and then shave away the raised parts to show the layers.

The red set is a cabochon and two sets of six co-ordinating beads in three designs. Again multi cane techniques in action. It's hard to see the depth of some of these pieces but some are three or four layers deep done with translucent clays.

The grey set are graduated ovals of black white and grey with some of my green/red/grey kaleidoscope cane .
Finally, a set that may become a signature design for me. I call them "Splitting Pods". More of the 'mokume gane' layered over a marbled base and split to show the inside, which is then textured. Rondelles to match.
So....what do you think? Am I on to something? I guess I'll know when I try to sell them....which I will do as soon as I drill the holes a little bigger.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturation Learning

I think that may be the best term for what I've been up to. I think I've read every article and tutorial on making polymer clay art beads. I know that absorbing so much knowledge in a short time (three days) is something people would call crazy or overkill but I have an almost photographic mind and all that info actually takes root. The proof will be in the beads though.

I think the most important thing I learned is that I'm a sander/buffer rather than a varnish gal. The first set of beads I made I varnished and at the time I was happy....not any more! The second and third sets I painstakingly sanded and buffed, yeah, that's the look I'm going for, as smooth and glossy as glass. It's lots of work and I realised pretty quickly that I would soon end up with carpal tunnel if I did the sanding and buffing by hand. So, a trip into Dad's tool shed, a little bit of ingenuity and I have an electric buffer. I suppose I could rig it as a sander too but after learning some pre-baking smoothing techniques I decided hand sanding is best. Also, in my travels to see what all the polymer bead artists were doing I learned that the sanded/buffed beads fetch a higher they should because even with an electric buffer these beads are labor intensive. The good ones are fetching as much as lampwork glass and I could see them becoming more desirable as the level of detail you can achieve is astounding.

It was extremely encouraging when at class I brought out the wires of my first attempts and the first exclamation was "where did you get those gorgeous beads?" Gotta love that.

I woke up this morning with the idea to sign my beads....they are miniature works of art after all... and how easy it is to do....I just have to make a signature cane and add a slice to each bead. I get to play again today so the signature cane is first on the list. Tomorrow it will be back to pattern writing and I can see now that I'll be working on the reward soon as my work is done I get to play with clay. First on my list today is buffing the two bead sets I made yesterday. Amazingly these beads have even got my Mom interested, she actually keeps popping into my studio to see how I make them and what I've made, that may be a sign that I'm onto something :)

So, stay tuned for photos.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Polymer ~ Then and Now

As I mentioned a few posts ago I'm back to playing with Polymer clay.

My mom dug out this brooch I made her over 25 years ago when clay was relatively new and there wasn't much inspiration out there. Since then I've delved into many things that translate into clay well....quilting and marbling come to mind.

After burning my first set of beads in my new oven due to being over eager (they were pretty too) I think I've worked out the temperature issues and was smart enough to build a 'foil tent' to further protect from burns. The new beads I made last night are baking as I post and I keep sneaking peeks to make sure they are fired and not on fire.

I'm quite excited about the sets I made last night and can't wait to create a necklace from the teardrop green/black/red kaleidoscope set. It will definitely give my beadwork a new look and I LOVE the fact that I can make the beads I can't find. I think I am more colorful when I work with polymer, the colors more bold, just the kick in the pants I need! Of course, these are a lot of fun to make and knowing me I'll make a lot more than I'll be able to use, but that's what I have my Artfire store for, right?

My horoscope this morning was typically a day late and described exactly the day I had yesterday, "a new direction of creativity". So far this new year (and we're only 3 weeks in) has actually been positive even though some things seem to be negative.....silver linings are outweighing the clouds right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Revisions & Reassessments

That's what I did at the Bead Society meeting last night. In the first 15 minutes things were reviewed, reassessed, reorganized and voted upon.....quite an achievement in 15 minutes! Of course, when you're sitting there by yourself it's not that big a deal. So much for 'build it and they will come'. I was joined by Annabel after that and we got to know each other, swapped stories did our own little show and tell....a bead society of two.

The main subject for the meeting was to elect a committee who would help run the society, so it remains just me. Yes, I'm disappointed, but I'm going to be positive and just change it all up. I voted that the newsletter was going to just be every third month after a quarterly meeting, I don't have time to write a whole interesting and informative newsletter myself every month and I've had no response to my request for submissions. The core group who are usually at the meetings have joined me for a bead-in at Starbucks a couple of times and I think those meetings are much more popular so I'm making that a regular thing, at least once a month. I'm also putting out a monthly date for a joint bead order....basically if you want me to do it I'll have to have your order and payment by a certain date.

Hopefully that will fill the need and create the beading community I was hoping for, if not, I may have to join the Las Vegas bead society and make the two-hour, each way, drive every month.

I've also decided to drop my current classes to one a week plus the monthly open bead. As it's a core group who attend my classes there's no need really to do a repeat which is what the second class is. So, with all this freed up time I should be able to get to some more profitable the book, the second! Not to mention all the contests and project submissions on my list. Though I do need to get my classes going in two new locations.

January is supposed to be the month for overhauling your life, right?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I haven't made earrings in a while, well, except for the pair I made for my niece for Christmas, so I thought it was about time I made some!

These are based on one of my beaded beads....I fell in love with these matte ovals in a cantaloupe color and they go so well with red. I chose tiny burgundy Swarovski pearls and ruby Swarovski crystals, highlighted them with a little champagne gold and "Voila!"

They actually look very elegant and have a nice sparkle to them...alas not easy to capture with a photograph.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Photos

Today was a photo day. After receiving a couple of emails from people wanting to buy some of my beading I decided to take some new photos before listing the items in my Artfire store.
It was a fun search for items to pair with the jewelry and hopefully enhance them. Inspired by the tile work of a Persian fountain this is one of my faves.

This one was a winner in Beading Daily's "Pattern Play Challenge", apparently it's "off the wall".

Classics. A staple in any jewelry closet!

Always a favorite these wave bracelets are just fun to wear.

I couldn't resist making this one look like a caterpillar.
Anyway...I finally got some pieces into my store and I'm offering free Priority Mail shipping in the US and free First class shipping everywhere else.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Yesterday I made a huge push to organize my studio and am happy to say it's 90% there.
I actually have a photography station, a computor station and a designated work area! And a beading corner with all my beads easily accessible as I usually bead in a comfortable chair watching some TV. I'll take some shots in a few days when it's finally complete.

I started working with polymer clay again this weekend. I used to make jewelry with clay years fact, my Mom dug out a brooch I made her 25 years ago. I didn't know she still had it, I'd forgotten about it, and I was quite surprised to see how it still looked great after 25 years. Of course, my style has changed in those years and today I'm more interested in making beads than brooches.

I got a Sculpey conditioning machine on sale at Joann's and some clay and started experimenting. I had seen a tutorial on making bicone and lentil beads so I thought I would give it a try. I was quite pleased with my first attempts and I don't think it will take too much practice to get back up to speed. I do need to get one of those bead rollers as I really want to make some oval beads, I just designed a bead using some vintage oval beads and want to recreate that bead in clay. All these great tools weren't available 25 years ago, I think the only tool I had was a Kemper(?) clay extractor which I gave away with my beads stash to a single mom who was making jewelry to help pay her bills. I'll have to replace that and I do need to invest in a little toaster oven though so I can bake the clay in my studio, maybe I'll pick that up today.

I got a little off track with the studio overhaul but hopefully I'll catch up this week. It was a pretty good week, my classes were slow but I may have a couple of new students, I got a check from the gallery for a piece that sold, was asked to put my jewelry in another gallery in a great location and the scales say I lost a couple of pounds. Positive things to keep me positive!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Track

No pictures to show for the last few days of work as I've been glued to my computer writing instructions. One of my goals for the new year was to get three months ahead with projects for my classes and I'm on track to do far, so good.

Now, if I could do so well with my personal health goals I'd be a very happy camper. I hit 150 on the scale after the holidays and that means I've gained 15lbs in the last twenty months. I know that doesn't seem much to a lot of people but my weight had been constant for about 15 years so it horrifies me. A couple of years ago someone bought me a skipping rope as a joke (he said my personality reminded him of skipping) I'm thinking about using it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Busy Month

It's actually a crazy month for what I'm trying to accomplish.

This month has eight new classes and, of course, I didn't even start writing instructions until after New Years. Now I just have three sets of instructions to go.

One of my New Year goals was to get three months ahead with my classes so by the end of the month I plan to be in that position. I have classes planned into April and already have all but one sample done for next month. I'm also going back to just four new projects a month, new classes on Tuesday and then repeated the following month in the Thursday class. Any other classes I book will be from past projects. Much more doable.

So....the month is full of illustrations and writing with a bit of beading thrown in. This little heart earrings and bracelet are one of my latest class projects. I'm not really a heart girl but even I would wear either of these. Created in brick stitch, with no thread showing (I hate that about brick stitch) these earrings are made with four colors of Delicas and Padparadscha Swarovski crystals, all from Artbeads. The bracelet is galvanized silver Delicas with Erinite Swarovskis.

Artbeads has a great sweepstakes going for the new year and the prize is a $1000 shopping spree, who wouldn't want that?

And on that note I better get my butt in gear and start on my day's work....two new sets of instruction.

The beads from in this post were provided to me as a promotional gift by in relation to their blogging program. My comments on these items are my honest personal opinion, no compensation has been received.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Smarter in My Dreams

That's my conclusion after rewriting the instructions for the truncated octahedron bead for a third time. The second instructions worked but weren't as simple as the ones I saw in my dreams. I wasn't sure if my dream was Escheresque and beyond understanding until I sat down and made the bead in that manner....and it was a breeze. Simple and straightforward and pretty easy to illustrate. So that was how I spent my Saturday evening.

It always amazes me how my brain works out problems when I'm asleep. And then I wonder what kind of sleep I'm getting if my brain is working all night. And, of course, there are times like now when I wonder where sleep has gone. Insomnia strikes!

At 11:30pm I was getting tired and thought I'd hit the sack, read a few pages of the Dan Brown I picked up today and get a great night of rest. HA! I read a chapter, turned off the lights and waited for sleep to take me away. So, three hours later sleep no where in sight, I got a quarter of the way through the book and I finally gave in. I'm hoping the hot milk helps put me out and debating on taking a sleeping pill.

I've has a super productive week and that's probably the problem....trouble turning it off.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

MIT Beads

Yes, I'm back on the math bead kick. This is my truncated cube bead I'm teaching in a couple of weeks. I've been playing with different versions while writing the pattern. I've started to refer to these beads as "MIT beads" because it's been mentioned one has to be a math genius to figure them out. Just for the record, I didn't go to MIT and as far as I know I'm NOT a math genius though I confess I always was extremely good at math and was Mr Howden, my high school math teacher's pet.

I'm sure my dear friend, student and pattern tester Suzanne would have loved to do this bead before she attempted my truncated octahedron which had her tearing her hair out and me rewriting the instructions with step-by-step photos, as the cube is a much easier bead....only six faces to worry about. The thing is these beads are complicated until the construction base 'clicks', then there's a "duh" moment and they get easy but I think that's true with most bead weaving....the first few rows are always the hardest.

I did come up with a new way of constructing the octahedron in my sleep last night....and it will be interesting to see if it works and if it is simpler to follow. It's much harder to illustrate the construction of these three dimensional beads than it is to actually make them, I crank these babies out in about 30 minutes. If you really want to learn how to make them I suggest taking a class as a little instruction goes a LONG way! I'm trying to figure out if I can put together a video tutorial on my own....or if I'll need help. Once all the pattern glitches are worked out the patterns and kits will be available at my Artfire store. If you're one of my students reading this.....I do have a few kits for the colorways you see here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Surfacing & Happy New Year!

Gee, I'm really doing well with blogging this year!

I'm finally getting back into my stride, I think, famous last words and all that!

I have been busy though. I created these hexagonal lozenge bracelets and submitted them as a project at Beadwork cross your fingers for me. The theme for one of their issues is monotone and contrast and these bracelets fit quite well as not only are they monotone but they are reversible and the reverse side is a play on contrast.

My reorganization is being done in stages and I made good headway last week but still a long way to go. My Delicas are now inventoried mostly so I don't buy something I already have, which I did last month. I used the Delica list I downloaded from, if you don't know about that, check it out....a great list telling you every size and shape a color comes in.

Yesterday I did something new. I photographed every stage of making my truncated octahedron bead. The math beads can be quite confusing until the process clicks so I'm being extremely thorough in putting the new instructions together...these will be downloadable or available on disc as printing costs would make the patterns unaffordable IMHO.

I'm even thinking about doing some video tutorials if I can work out how to do that.

I also went shopping again with my Beadstar prize from Beadaholique. I think what I like about this store is the large selection of strand reducers they have, I don't know if I've seen so many before. I like to use slide lock clasps on my bracelets but this limits who the bracelet will fit so a strand reducer allows takes care of this problem by allowing an extender chain. They have also got me turned on to Delica #15 cylinders, I've used a #15 seed bead that were presented to me as Delicas but now I'm not so sure. I like the storage trays I got for my tubes but this time I ordered a Beadsmith bead tower.....made of canvas and plastic this is a folding triangular tower that holds 168 3inch tubes but also accomodates tubes up to 6inches. This has to be fantastic if you're going to a bead retreat or off to a class at a show, not bad as a sales display case either.
Anyway, I hope everyone had a great holiday season and has an even better 2010. I'll say watch this space as I've got some interesting pieces waiting to be photographed and introduced to the world.