Monday, September 29, 2008

Featured Etsy Seller: SweetRoxs

Yupe it's that time again! ;)

Who Did I Discover:

This Monday I found SweetRoxs who's etsy shop is full of bright jewelry, and warm wearable knitted items.

Who Is SweetRoxs?

SweetRoxs is actually made from Lully (the sweet one), who knits diligently and Roxy (the silly one) who loves making jewelry. Roxy uses a combination of colors, glass beads, and Swarovski crystals to make her unique pieces of jewelry. Lully uses warm and soft wool to knit with. :)

You can find SweetRoxs shop by clicking here.

My Top Picks Are:

1) If you do not like snakes then you may wish to skip this pick. ;) This is after all the "Beaded Ceramic Snake necklace."

I tried to warn you! I really like how the beads and cobra snake match. The colors are very deep, dark, and earthy to me. :)

2) This one doesn't include snakes..."Precious Purple Drop Glass Bead Earrings"

The contrast of the multiple shades of purple combined in this one pair of earrings is wonderful. I also love the pattern on the bottom beads.

3) My absolute favorite item from this shop is...."Black and Red Thick and Warm Scarf"

With this up close photo you can really tell the craftsmanship that went into this scarf. Also the contrast of red and black is priceless in my book, I like the way that the red pops out at you! :)

SweetRoxs Advice To Beginners:

" My advice would be to get a good pair of reading glasses, since you will be doing close up work. Then practice and test your items on friends and relatives. "

My Final Words:

SweetRoxs' shop has some very unique items, and I absolutely adore the pictures! They are so bright, clear, and crisp that it makes me want to redo all of my own. :P I wish you good luck. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Technique Time: Cane Work Part 3

This will be the last part of my cane work series. I may do other posts on cane work later on, but they won't be part of this set of posts. ;) Today's project is pretty important when it comes to cane work, to make your cane from your own unique image/drawing.

I highly recommend reading the first two editions of this series if you haven't done so already. The links to them are below. :)

1) Cane Work Part 1

2) Cane Work Part 2

How Can I Make A Unique Cane?

1) First, find or draw an image that is the same size that you wish your cane to be. I actually drew my own image, since Halloween is coming I decided to do a face of a black cat.

Tip: It may be easier to color you picture in so you know exactly what colors of clay to use.

2)Place this picture flat so you can see it as you are working. It is easier to work from the inside of the picture out. For example, I am going to make my cat details first (eyes, mouth, nose) then make the ears last.

Tip: Think of your image as different shapes put together, it makes it easier to create it in clay.

The cat's eyes will be white with black dots in the center, thus I begin by making two simple bullseye canes.

First I roll out two thin black sheets and cut them into a rectangle.

Then I make two white middle thicker sheets and cut into rectangle (one per eye)

Finally I make two black snakes. They are wrapped with the white sheet, then the black individually: Click picture below for bigger picture. :)

Reduce the eye canes to the desired size and the eyes are complete!

3) Now you need to do other details inside your image.

For my cat I will be doing the cheeks. As shown above they are two round black canes with white on the outside as a border.

The mouth is one black cane curve shaped with white on outside as border. As you can see from the picture above the cheeks and mouth are hooked together, mouth is in the center on the bottom of the cheeks.

The nose will also be completed for my black cat simply by using two snakes of pink "flesh" polymer clay and shaping it into a triangle. It too will be hooked onto the cheeks and mouth, on top of the cheeks centered point of triangle is down.

4)Once the inside details of your cane are finished you can start filling in any gaps you may have with your background color, to make it round. Make sure to hook the eyes on as well, as shown below.

Use black or white sheets of clay to make the borders, and begin to fill in the outside to make that round shape once the gaps on the inside are filled as shown below.

Now at this point your image could be completed, if that is the case then feel free to reduce your cane and you are done. :)

For my black cat; however, I still need to make ears. After filling in the gaps around my cat using black clay with white borders, I reduced my cane, as you can see it's starting to look pretty good. ;)

Finally, I created two ears by rolling a black sheet of clay over triangle shaped "flesh" colored clay.

I attached the ears to the rest of my cane to complete the look.

Now my black cat cane is completed!

My Final Words:

Making your first cane from your own image can be very challenging, but don't give up. Start with simpler images with easy shapes such as the orange circle of a pumpkin. As you become more familiar with cane working, the more complex it will become. ;)

Also feel free to experiment with different shapes, patterns, and details to make your own unique cane. If you have any questions ask away in the comments. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Polymer Tool Of The Week

Nearly another month has gone by, I can't believe it's almost October! Anyhow, this weeks polymer clay tool is....

Pasta Machine!

More specifically, a manual pasta machine with different thickness settings and a clamp. The one shown above is one I bought for $25 USD, it was on sale at a craft store. You can also find cheap buys online. :)

Why Use A Pasta Machine?

A pasta machine is one of the more important buys you can make when it comes to polymer clay. It saves a lot of time, and the project ideas are only limited by ones imagination. Pasta machines also make inclusions, patterns, and blending easier.

How Can I Use A Pasta Machine?

1) Whew, this question is like opening up a can of worms. Before one should use your pasta machine you may need to get to know it a little better.

a) First thing to do is clean it, you can do this by running alcohol wipes through the machine several times. This gets rid of any residue that you do not want on your clay.

b) Finding a sturdy table or ledge to clamp it down is key. Many craft store pasta machines come with a clamp, as the picture shows below.

c) Having lots of space, and a non clay sticky surface to work on is also important. You will need plenty of space for those long pieces of clay, I use a folding table covered in wax paper. The wax paper ensures that the clay will not stick.

d) The only accessory I have for my pasta machine is the feeder tray. This feeds the clay directly to the rollers, good for a large amount of clay being put into the pasta machine.

2) Now that you have gotten to know your pasta machine a little better it is time to actually work with it. ;)

Pasta machines come in different settings, mine starts at 9 (thickest) and goes back to 1 (thinnest). The picture below shows pieces of clay that I put through the pasta machine, after it was conditioned, on each of the different settings. From left to right is the thickest setting to the thinnest, your machine may vary.

3) The thicker setting can be used in a variety of projects that need a thick background, or stand. For example, I used the thickest setting on my Haunted Pumpkin Patch as shown below for the grass.

4) The thinnest setting is used a lot with transparent clay, and faux materials. When using the thinnest setting you may need to sandwich the clay between two sheets of wax paper, so the clay does not tear.

In my Hungry Coco above I used transparent clay on the thinnest setting so one can see the blue water and to get an "ice" look.

5) One can also use the pasta machine to blend colors. I used red, and black clay on one of the middle settings. The red piece of clay was smaller then the black piece and thus when stacked and rolled through the pasta machine I got a blended look.

6)Inclusions become pressed into the clay with a pasta machine as well, one could use very fine glitter and brush it onto flat piece of clay then roll it through the machine. The glitter will be firmly pressed into the clay, and will have a larger chance of staying. Don't forget to glaze each piece that has inclusions to seal it in after baking. ;)

7) Patterns from cane work can be easily enlarged simply by putting them through a thinner setting on the pasta machine. This will also distort the pattern a little. This pendant's original cane was actually no bigger then a dime while on the pendant it's about an 1 inch long!

My Final Words:

Pasta machines are a definite must for those who wish to work with polymer clay. I really only gave just a handful of uses for it, as it would take years to explain them all. :P

One thing to note though is you will need to clean your pasta machine often if you do not want residue from old clay sticking onto your new project. Again, just roll some alcohol wipes through the rollers a few times and you are good to go. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Featured Etsy Seller: designsbybrie

Welcome to my second post on a new etsy seller. :)

Who Did I Discover?

Today I ran into the shop of designsbybrie who makes colorful and cheerful personalized hooks and hair bow holders.

Who is designsbybrie?

Located northwest in PA she is a mother and wife before anything else. :)

She uses colorful acrylic paints and embellishments to make her own unique designs on hook plagues as well as hair bow holders.

You will find her etsy shop by clicking here.

My Top Picks Are:

1)The first item to catch my eyes was this personalized hook:

My favorite two colors happen to be blue and green, so the colors she used here really caught my attention. I also love that each item can be customized, so it's fun to think of all the possibilities.

2) Another favorite item of mine in designsbybrie's shop would have to be this personalized hair bow holder as shown below.

I like how she uses different shapes for the plague, and this shape pops out at me.

3) My most favorite item by far in her shop would have to be.....

I love the color combination in this hair bow holder. The grey, and bright red goes perfectly together. That's a lot like my own style, dark with splashes of color!

Designsbybrie Advice To Beginners:

" My advice for someone just starting out is to make sure you know how much all of your supplies are before coming up with the price of your item, as well as considering the time you spend on it and be fair with pricing! "

My Final Words:

I enjoyed wandering around designsbybrie's shop. The best part of her shop to me is that everything is customizable, it's up to the buyer what colors, and design they want. Also the price is more then fair for the hard work she puts into these items. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Technique Time: Cane Work Part 2

Boy did time fly by this weekend! Anyhow, I am still doing some cane work techniques, this next one is also by using a bullseye cane. Last time I showed you how to make a very simple bullseye cane, this time I will be doing a more complex pattern. Also I will show how one can use this pattern to make a pillow bead. ;)

For those of you who did not read Cane Work Part 1 I highly recommend it before going forward. :) You can find my post by clicking here.

How Can I Make patterns With Cane Work?

1) You will first need to make a basic bullseye cane as I described in "Cane Work Part 1." Use any colors you wish, be creative. :)

I shall in fact be using the exact bullseye cane I used in that post for this one as shown below.

2) Next you will need to cut this cane into four sections.

3) Now you need to reduce each section by pinching the middle until it looks a little like a hourglass. Roll each side of the hourglass with your palm against your work space until each side is even.

Remember to do all four sections, so we end up with four skinnier versions of the original cane.

4) Cutting, yupe that's right you will need to cut those four skinner versions in half. Making a total of eight small canes.

You will need to stack the eight small canes on top of each other, so they are somewhat round and look like the picture below.

5)Roll this newly formed cane until all seams blend together with your palm.

6) Again reduce this newly formed cane (please see step #3). You may need to cut off the ends, and as you can see you have a unique pattern!

How To Make Pillow Bead?

1) Using the cane you just made above pinch the sides in carefully with your thumb and middle finger as shown.

2) Now pinch the top in between your thumb and middle finger to make the cane square.

3) You should now have a square cane, which is perfect for making pillow beads. Next take a scrap of clay and roll it into a ball. The size of your ball should be slightly smaller then the diameter of your square cane.

4) Flatten the top of the ball with your thumb and middle finger. Do not flatten the ball all the way as you will be turning this ball into a square.

5) Pinch both sides of the slightly flattened ball, it should turn out looking like a square in the end.

6) Now pinch each of the corners of the now square clay, it should look something like this:

This is where pillow beads get their name, they make a shape similar to that of a pillow. :)

7)Remember the square cane we made not too long ago? You will be using this square cane to cover up your pillow shaped clay.

Cut a thin slice from your square cane and cover one side of the pillow shaped clay. This slice of the square cane should be cold by now and easier to not distort the pattern.

8) Now cut another thin slice from the square cane and cover up the other side of the pillow bead. You will need to carefully blend in the seams at the side and make sure the corners stay put. Some adjustments can be made until you are happy with the results. ;)

You now have a completed pillow bead, all you need to do now is put a hole through the bead with a needle.

My Final Words:

Cane work, like pillow beads, are very addicting. I really suggest you experiment, even just with the left over square cane I found a new pattern. I simply cut the cane in half, the long way, and inside was a different swirled pattern. ;)

Next technique time I will be doing another cane work part; however, this one will be far more complex. I will show you how to make your own unique image into a cane. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polymer Clay Tool of the Week

I am a little behind posting so Thursday (tomorrow) will be the technique post. I will be doing the polymer clay tool today. :)

This weeks polymer clay tool is...*insert drum roll here ;) *


When I say images I mean from the past or present. You could be looking at pictures from online were taken years ago. You could also be walking outside and see a beautiful leaf color.

Why Use Images?

Working with polymer clay allows one to be creative in your own way. Many times are creativity is influenced what what we see, or in other words images that surround our lives. Since we all live in different areas of the world and have experienced different sights using images gives a personal touch to each item made.

How Can I Use Images?

1) The easiest way to use images with polymer clay is to simply look around where you live. As individuals we are all attracted to certain objects, colors, patterns, etc. Pick your favorite item(s) and study them. Try to put something about that object into one of your polymer clay projects.

For example, I love color, and lots of it. I also like it when different colors are woven together to form swirly like patterns. In my house we have a blown glass tube to water our plants with. I picked this object myself online a year ago, and I adore it's look. That is why I decided to use those colors in a pendant I made.

As you can see from the pictures above I used many colors and gave it a swirled effect in the pendant to match the blown glass tube. I also added in blue clay as the base to match the main color of blue in the glass.

2) Other images may not even be from objects in your house, but events in your life that you found amusing, special, emotional, etc. Using your own memory of such events one can make personal projects. I have made two such projects myself, neither of which I will ever sell.

The picture shown above is something I created in memory of one of my birds. I had two love birds, Prince and Princess, when I was about ten years old. Prince was a bit of a jokester, and could get out of any kind of lock. Meaning he would escape the cage every night, only to sleep with me on my pillow. :) I was terribly upset when he died. With this project I wanted to capture the happy moments in Prince's life.

This other picture is of my kitten, Lance sleeping in his cat tree. When we first adopted Lance he couldn't climb up that cat tree, even though he tried for hours at end. Finally, the first time he made it, after about five jumps, he was so exhausted he just collapsed and fell asleep, his head held high.

3) Other images you may find outside of your home. For example, the internet is a great place to start! If one searches on google for images you can find many different things to influence you. I was actually influenced by the image shown below, and thus made my candy corn. ;)

4) Stepping outside of the house, literally, one can find many different sights. Many of my items were made in season because of what I saw outside. For example, I made these pumpkin buttons, as shown, because near our townhouse is a pumpkin patch.

I also decided to make this very funky looking orange and black necklace because of a orange neon sign I saw while we were driving home one night.

Final Words

Images of color, patterns, shapes, etc are everywhere one looks. Since becoming involved with polymer clay I can't help myself but taking a closer look around me. If something does appeal to me then I will try and create something, whether it be abstract or an exact replica of that color/shape/pattern etc.

I leave you with a few images of scrapbook paper, I find these influence my choices as well with different patterns, and color combinations. ;)