Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Projects for December's PCTV Design Team Challenge

Little Angel Jewelry Box

This cloth-covered jewelry box was a thrift-store find that took on a new life with the addition of a polymer clay angel and some starry snowflakes. The angel's curly hair as well as her feathery wings were shaped in  Polymer Clay TV's Large Wings silicone mold. Their Snowflakes silicone mold created both the lacy patterns on her gown and the twinkling stars. I used Premo! polymer clay with Perfect Pearls powders to highlight the molded forms. Flat-back AB gems add some sparkle to the halo and the background. Finally, I cured the polymer pieces and adhered them to the box with hot glue.

Snowman Candle Holder

I used more of Polymer Clay TV's flexible silicone molds to upcycle another found item into this festive Snowman Candle Holder. The only embellishment on original candle holder was the "beaded" trim around the circular edges and the two rings at the narrowest point of the stem. It provided a nice blank canvas to show off some polymer holiday magic!

To create the snowmen themselves I tried something new: I packed four colors of Premo! clay into the large snowman mold: white, black, pomegranate, and just a little bit of orange for the carrot nose. I decorated their hats with holly from the same mold set and adhered the glass-bead berries Sculpey Bake & Bond. The scrollwork at the base of the candle consists of black Premo! shaped in the Fleur Fancy mold, highlighted with gold Perfect Pearls, and decorated with more holly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Projects for the Polymer Clay TV Design Team

With all the hustle-bustle of the holidays, I've gotten behind on sharing my photos with you. But I couldn't let the year expire without catching up!

November 2015 Projects

Autumn Acorn Basket

This cute little round basket found me at the Nassau Humane Society's Second Chance resale shop. I really liked the seeds and stems worked into the weave. So I wanted to embellish it in some way that would highlight the rustic, natural appearance. The leaves are made of bronze-colored Premo! clay and shaped with Polymer Clay TV's Curved Leaf plunger cutters. I accented them with pearlescent acrylic paints and wired them onto the basket, adding a few beads here and there. The acorn caps are black polymer, covered with gold metallic leaf and embossed with PCTV's  Round Detailed Floral rubber stamps. The large beads that make up the body of the acorns are carved bone beads that have been stashed away in my cupboard for years, waiting for just this project.

Falling Leaves Necklace

For this pendant, I incorporated some painted, crackled edge components I had made several years ago.  The leaves were shaped with the Falling Leaves silicone mold and embellished with metallic paint and flat-back crystals. The bail is part of a repurposed clip-on earring. To make the stylized gingko leaf beads, I stenciled green clay with copper paint using Punchinella sequin-waste stencils, cut them out, and impressed the veins with a dental tool. To complete the necklace, I raided my stash of various metal and stone beads.

I really enjoy these challenges! Using the Polymer Clay TV tools and supplies adds to the fun and points me in the right direction. Come back tomorrow to see December's projects: an upcycled duo of thrift-store finds--a candle holder and a jewelry box.

Round Floral Detailed Rubber Stamps

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team  

Here are the Halloween-themed projects I've made with the cool tools that Polymer Clay TV shared with the design team this month. There was an amazing variety of molds, cutters, and even a die-cut hutch shrine kit!

I really had fun with the easy-to-assemble Bat-Wing Halloween Hutch Shrine Kit. It's intended to display artist trading cards, but mine showcases a Halloween vignette featuring a jack-o-lantern made from one of PCTV's molds and some related objects I've collected. I covered the Masonite surfaces with scrap-booking paper and gold paint.

Skeletons in the Closet

The grouping at the left was made using three of PCTV's molds. I then cut the pieces, fitted them together, and added a single backing and bail to create a unique pendant. Two more ghosts add an extra BOO! factor to the finished beaded necklace, shown below. The flowers on the skull and on the hutch were made with the same mini-cutters used in last month's projects.

I've really been enjoying wearing this necklace. It draws a lot of attention!

 Check back here soon to see November's projects, which will feature some beautiful fall leaves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Polymer Clay Adventure 2016 

Register Now!

I'm excited to be teaching in the yearlong online retreat, Polymer Clay Adventure 2016. Last year's painting workshop was a lot of fun for me and seemed to be popular with the participants.

This year, I'll be showing everyone how to make an all-polymer hollow vessel using a raw potato as an armature. Sounds "Polymer Chef-y," doesn't it? I'll show you how to make the two different shapes shown here and how to create the surface treatment, which I call the "bubble stripe."

If vessels aren't your thing, you might still enjoy learning the bubble stripe to use in jewelry projects.

Register today and you may be eligible to win a goody bag from the organizers of the retreat. For all of the information--including a teacher-and-project list, testimonials from 2015 students, and much more--click here:

I look forward to chatting with you on the Polymer Clay Adventure forums next year!

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team  

Projects for September 

Last month Polymer Clay TV provided Design Team members with some great tools: a large wing mold, a Fleur fancy mold, mini-flower cutters, and butterfly and bloom two-part molds. I had a lot of fun experimenting with them, and I improvised a couple of tools of my own to provide added dimension to the two-sided molds. Best of all,  I found some new ways to use blu-tack!

(For lots more ways to use blu-tack in your projects, see the post for September 2, 2014.)

You can go from here:
To here:
It's simple! Attach cone bead end caps to a ceramic tile with blu-tack. Then use this as a baking rack for flowers made with Polymer Clay TV's two-part mold:

I molded the flowers, added contrasting yellow centers, and then added a green disk to the bottom to help keep the cone bead from poking through when the clay softened in the oven. The disk also adds height to the floral arrangement on the covered tin, shown below.

This tin makes use of the two-sided flower mold and the Fleur Fancy Mold from Polymer Clay TV.  I textured the entire tin (before adding embellishments) with a copper mesh pot scrubber. The pale blue flowers were accented with sapphire-colored alcohol ink before curing and a black marker afterward. Perfect Pearls mica powder was applied to the ornate scroll-work before baking.

To add dimension and variety to butterflies made with the two-part mold, I folded index cards in half and positioned them like little pup-tents on a ceramic tile, using blu-tack (of course). I laid the molded butterflies over the fold in the cards for baking. The butterflies were solid white clay, but the mold created raised areas on both sides that were very easy to color with a black paint marker.

To create the flowers on this wreath, I used Polymer Clay TV's mini-flower cutters in three sizes, stacked the pieces, and embedded a black glass bead in the center with Sculpey Bake & Bond.

 There's nothing better than new tools! Unless it's figuring out how to use them in new ways to make your projects reflect your own personality and vision.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team

I'm honored that Ilysa Ginsburg and Kira Slye of Polymer Clay TV have invited me to be on their design team. They generously supply me and the other team members with samples of their cool products each month and ask us to produce two projects using at least two of the tools. This has been so much fun, and now I want to share some of the results with you!

August's Projects

The products for August included some beautiful round, mandala-like rubber stamps, a set of molds with all the letters of the alphabet on bunting-style penants, a fancy scalloped border-cutting set, and a pack of punchinella (a by-product of sequin manufacture that makes a great patterned stencil).

 This whimsical dragon keeps me company in my laundry room.

I patterned his skin by using punchinella stencils and acrylic paint. The scales on his wings were formed with border cutters and accented with metallic paint.

I was flattered that Kira and Ilysa used the above photo in their marketing efforts. The base of this project is a thrift-store frame covered with white polymer, which I texture-stamped and inked. The border cutters created a nice lacy effect. I used the round stamps (and some real ribbon and lollipop sticks) to make baby rattles. But the most fun was creating the bunting with the PCTV molds and some stamping ink!

I'll share the photos of my September projects here very soon!

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Labor Day Gift to All My Clay Buddies: 

Not-So-Despicable Ornaments

To glorify the dignity of work and everyone who labors for their bread, here's a tutorial honoring those cute little yellow guys who work so hard (albeit in the service of evil).
I'm making these ornaments to distribute to children in the hospital during the holidays. The children's ornament project is sponsored by the First Coast Polymer Clayers in St. Augustine, Florida.

Start by making the 3 simple canes shown in the photo at left. I used Premo! Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue, and Black for the body and Black, Gold, White, and Translucent for the eye. You can use the same cane, reduced somewhat, to make the 2-eyed variety.

From scrap clay, make a slab the same shape as the body but slightly smaller, about 3/8 inch thick (see photo at right). Sandwich this slab between slices of the front- and back- body canes. Smooth the seams.


Rubber-stamp a lighter-blue square for the overalls pocket. Make 2 yellow/black arms and gloves, and a rectangular blue/black slab for the legs and feet (see above left). Put these elements in place, and use sculpting tools to make an indentation for the mouth and to separate the legs (above right)

Loop a piece of thin wire through a tiny jingle bell and insert it into the top of the head. (Don't worry--he won't feel a thing!) Secure the wire with a drop of Sculpey Bake & Bond.

Cut a semi-circle from a medium-thin sheet of Pomegranate clay. Wrap it around the forehead, forming a point just below the bell and with the seam in the back.

Bend the point of the hat over in proper elf-hat position, and embellish it with a green star-cutout with a flat-back yellow crystal.

Add a narrow black strap to hold the little guy's goggles on.

Insert a jump ring into the hat, secured with a drop of Sculpey Bake & Bond, to string the ornament.

Now your ornament is ready to bake! If you use Sculpey Premo, I would recommend you bake it at 275 degrees for about 45 minutes. Allow the ornament to cool, insert a loop of metallic cord or ribbon, and find someone wonderful to give it to.

Hope you enjoy the project!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fun with a Belt Sander

At the recommendation of my friend Peggy Ward (owner of the Bead Chick in St. Augustine, FL), I bought a small belt sander. It's a 1" x 30" model, which cost about $40 at Harbor Freight. I had never even seen one before, but the project Peggy demonstrated for the First Coast Polymer Clay Guild was so cool, I just had to try it. 

This sander won't give your beads a beautiful smooth finish. Quite the contrary! It will beat 'em up, knock 'em around, and make 'em look like they've been through a war. But sometimes that's just what you want! 

Project 1: Man’s Necklace

I came up with this design a few years ago and made necklaces for my husband, son, and grandsons. They all wore them, and I don't think they did it just to humor me! This updated version makes use of the belt sander and some paint. I think this treatment adds visual texture and enhances the masculine quality of the design. Here are the basic steps: 

  • Make the long, curved, two-tone beads and cure them.
  • Scuff them up on every surface with the belt sander (60-grit belt).
  • Brush on acrylic paint, rub off most of it, and allow it to dry. 
  • Hand-sand the surface lightly with 220-grit sandpaper; wash the beads, and let them dry. 
  • Seal with one coat of Sculpey gloss glaze (optional, but I like it). 
 Speaking of Paint: I’m grateful to Meredith Arnold for introducing me to Plaid’s Folk Art acrylic paint in Wrought Iron color (number 925). The greenish off-black shade really works well for antique effects. It’s available in most craft stores.

Project 2: Disk Beads

I wanted some large-holed, round, flat beads for a particular project. After curing them, I had one of those “What the heck was I thinking?!!” reactions. They looked like Life Savers (above, left). I didn’t like them and decided not to use them in the project.

Later, having nothing to lose, I decided to cut grooves and facets in them with my belt sander. Then I gave them the same paint-and-glaze treatment as the necklace (above, right). Now I have beads that are definitely usable!

Do You Need a Belt Sander?

You probably could achieve many of the same effects by hand-sanding with very coarse-grit sandpaper, but it would take a lot longer. And I think it would be hard to achieve the same irregular, random look, which is what I love about these belt-sanded pieces.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Is This Some Kind of a Bust?

Ok, now that I have the attention of all of you Naked Gun movie fans out there (yay!), let me explain.

Well-endowed female suspect: "Is this some kind of a bust?"
Detective Frank Dreben: "Yes, it's very impressive, but there's no time for that now."

One of the mannikin busts in the Second Chance Store had lost its head, and its neck hole was looking pretty sad. Being an intrepid crafter, I brought it home to fix. It was a pretty easy 4-step process, requiring only some polymer clay, a little gold acrylic paint, and 2 clip earrings, which were rejects from the store.

If you ever need to do something like this, here's how:
  1. Create a ring of polymer clay that fits well inside the neck hole, cure it, and affix it to the inside of the neck hole with super glue (and a little duct tape just for insurance--not shown).
  2. Create a circle of cloth-textured white polymer that will cover the neck hole completely. Cure it and rub it with gold acrylic paint.
  3. Remove the clips from the earrings. Remove the pink plastic gem from one and the gold metal disk from the other. Glue the disk inside the setting from the pink gem, and glue the piece to the center of the neck cover.
  4. Glue the underside of the embellished gold circle to the top of the polymer neck ring. Voila! Is this some kind of a bust, or what?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Speaking of Dog Portraits . . .

I'm so thrilled with the responses to my Polymer Painting Workshop at Polymer Clay Adventure! Several of the students were interested in painting portraits of their pets. I've never used my dogs as painting subjects, but I did make some dog face canes and used them on bracelet tiles. I want to share them with you here.

The top one is a Chihuahua (in case you can't tell), and the bottom one is a Boston Terrier. I made the basic face canes without the ears, chest, or collar. Then I added those elements to each tile individually so that each dog would have a slightly different look.

I made these several years ago, but hearing people talk about portraying their pets in clay makes me want to have another go!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Re-purposing Costume Jewelry for a Good Cause

Things to Do with Old Clip-on Earrings (Chapter 2)


Here's another idea for turning old, unlovable clip-on earrings into wearable (and saleable) costume jewelry.

The middle earring (above, left) had no mate, but it did have a interesting shape and design that I thought would translate well into a pendant.

First, I removed the clip finding from the back with a pair of pliers. Generally, you can just pull them off without too much muscle. Sometimes you may need to file off some rough edges on the back.

Next, I removed the crystal-bead dangles from the other pair of clip-ons. I could have opened the eye pins to remove them, but it was easier to cut up the thin metal backing with metal snips and remove the closed eye pins that way.

The next step was to attach each dangle to the earring-now-pendant with an inexpensive jump ring. The dangles slide freely on the rings of the pendant, casting light from their facets for extra bling.

Finally, another jump ring attaches the sparkly pendant to a thrift-store chain. (I hadn't yet attached a clasp when the photo was taken.) Again, this may not be a great example of the jeweler's art, but it is an attractive costume piece made from throw-away items.

The clip-on at left was another "single." Again, I thought it would make a nice pendant and could be combined with the plain wooden beads and another pair of clip-ons shown at right. (I decided not to use the zebra in this design, but don't worry--it will be used eventually.)

I removed the beads from their string and dyed them with alcohol inks. This is easy! Just put them in a glass container, spritz them with isopropyl alcohol, add several ink drops directly from the bottle, and shake the container lightly to swirl. Let the beads dry in the container overnight, and you have brilliant, lasting color!

I removed the findings and the blue crystals from the donut-shaped amber resin earrings (shown inside the original necklace), and they instantly became focal beads. I drilled a hole through the copper earring/pendant and strung it on the bead strand with a jump ring.

I'm actually quite proud of the resulting necklace, shown below. I'm sure it'll sell quickly and bring a decent price to help homeless pets in Nassau County, Florida.

I still have more ideas for using clip-on earrings, which I'll share in the next few days.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Re-purposing Costume Jewelry for a Good Cause

Things to Do with Old Clip-on Earrings (Chapter 1)

My Facebook friends may have already seen this photo of a mixed lot of "junk" jewelry I got from Second Chance, a resale shop that benefits the Nassau Humane Society, where I'm a volunteer.

My first task was to sort this and clean and repair what could be made resale-ready without too much effort. I reclaimed seven pairs of pierced earrings with just a little metal polish and some inexpensive earring backs.

That's when the fun really began! I looked at the whole lot, deciding which pieces might be combined to create new/old pieces. There were several pairs of clip-on earrings (and a few single earrings) that included some good beads and elements that could be detached and used in new designs

This necklace (at right)  combines beaded elements from clip-on earrings and a partial macrame shell necklace (above, left). The beads were on eye-pins that could be easily detached from the earrings' thin metal base and strung directly between the shells and black beads. I only added stringing wire, a clasp, and some inexpensive aluminum beads from my stash.

The result might not win any design awards, but it's a pretty and wearable necklace that someone will buy at Second Chance to benefit the cats and dogs.

The clip-on coin earrings (below, left) needed a good cleaning. I removed the clip from the back with a pair of pliers, added a jump ring and a chain (also from a resale shop), and voila--a new/old pendant.

Stay tuned for more adventures in reclaiming usable (and even cool!) elements from old clip-on earrings.