Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Ornaments and a Product Review

Every year I make ornaments from polymer clay.  This year I was sorely behind.  I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do.  Last year I made my usual styles into ornaments, and did a run of Blue Moons to commemorate the blue moon that occurred in December.

This year, nothing was coming to me.  I thought, how can I commemorate this year?  Its been quite a year, with the election and all the great singer songwriter poets we have lost.
And then it hit me.

I wanted to make some ornaments to embrace peace, love, and acceptance.  

First I decided to honor Leonard Cohen, and make something inspired by his song Anthem.  I love the line, "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".  The other part of that inspiration was Karen's post that included a picture of this sculpture by Paige Bradley, which I LOVE.

So I decided to make a heart, with gold shimmer in the cracks, and wire wings.
I added the lyrics and dated them as well

Then I made some star ornaments, to honor David Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust, aka Starman

On the back I wrote "turn and face the strange" because I think it really fits for every single day of our lives. They are also dated.

 I also wanted to make something to do with Peace.  This election has caused so much chaos.  So I made a new design, a peace sign, with wooden textured parts.  It was really fun to make.  On the back, trying to stick with lyrics, I wrote, "Imagine all the people living life in peace".

So, my ornaments are finally done and listed in my destash group. (How my destash group workds: just click that link, ask to join if you are not a member, and then claim items in comments.  I invoice you for them and ship)  
Better late then never, right?  (on top of the normal holiday rush and business, I have had sick kids.  I am so behind).

Anyhow...................since I made a new ornament, I had to make a mold for it!  Thus, the review portion of this blog....

I have been wanting to try that molding plastic, the one that you put in warm water and mold it.  I thought it may capture detail better, or yet, last longer then my typical two part silicone molds.

I purchased this brand, InstaMorph, from Amazon.
I followed the instructions carefully. 

I used water that was 150 degrees as directed and poured in some of the little white plastic balls.  They are supposed to congeal into one piece.

But they never lost their ball shape textures.  So I started again, because the cool thing is, you can re use this product over and over again

 I heated the water again, this time making it between 160-170 degrees

These looked a bit more transparent this time and congealed.

 So I smooshed them together and tried to make it as smooth as possible, but it was hard to get the ball texture out of them

I went ahead and covered my peace sign anyway, hoping that it would smooth out by applying pressure

 While that was setting, I tried again and went a tad hotter.  It did get much more moldable- however, the work time is quick, by the time it cools enough to handle it, and you begin to work it smooth, it begins to harden.

When the plastic was cool, I tried to remove my mold.  it stuck to the polymer a bit, and it did NOT make a smooth mold at all.  As you can see- it never lost that ball like texture- and the sample I did in polymer on the lower right side is terrible

 So, even though I think this is a cool product, and it is amazingly strong, not a fan of it for molds.  I will find a use for it, but it was way more trouble then it was worth.  I ended using my good old trust two part silicone molds.

I actually have an article in the current issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry on making molds with two part silicone.  
(I am also honored to be the Designer Collection in the current issue).  So grab it if you want to have a copy of my mold article- or take a peek at the issue because I was so happy with the pieces they picked to be showcased in the
Designer Collection (12 pages of my jewelry!  squeeee!).

You can pick up the current issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry here, or at some local art and craft stores as well as Barnes and Noble.

I know I haven't been blogging much lately, so I hope you don't mind that I crammed like 3 blogs into one!!!!

Christmas is in 3 days, and I know everyone is just mad busy!  I truly hope you enjoy your holiday, no matter what you celebrate, may it be filled with love, and family and friends, peace and wellness.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Sale

I cannot believe how fast this year is going.  
The holidays are here- and I am having my year end sale.  It's a way for me to say thank you for a great year, and an opportunity for you to snag a piece you may have been eyeing up, at a discount.

The biggest part of this, is that I finally stocked my shop.  That's right, I stocked it.  It has been barren all year!  I am happy to have many necklaces and earrings to offer now.

To take advantage of the sale, use code holiday20 at checkout to save 20% off your order. in my webstore

I also have some items listed in my destash group on facebook.  I have some ornaments, some of my block printed bags and some smaller necklaces that would make great gifts (coupon code not valid in this group, most items are already marked down).

You can check that out here.  If you are not already a member, just request to join and I will add you.  Read the rules and FAQ so you know how it works.  

I also have some of my block prints available- they make great gifts.  So message me to see what I have on hand.  
(stamps for prints- hand carved by me)

I hope you can find something to make your holiday shopping complete- or to just treat yourself!

Thank you so much for supporting handmade. 
I know I have said this before, but I am a small business.  Your purchase literally puts shoes on my children's feet and groceries on the table.  I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love and that it benefits my family too.  My family and my art are what are most precious to me in life.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 
(here is my gang, and let me tell you, these kids never stop growing- my 12 year old daughter is 5' 3"!!- and my 15 year old is at least 1-2" taller then me now)

Thank you, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!  May it be filled with love and joy.

Friday, November 18, 2016

How is it November already?

No, really?  How is Thanksgiving next week?  I am so unprepared.

I have my last show on Saturday at North Penn High School.  It's a wonderful show full of high quality hand picked artisans.  If you are local, I hope you will stop by.  I have been working on my indoor display set up, and I am quite happy with it!

It feels like a little shop you can walk into.  

I finally got some "real" pipe and drape instead of an old taped and tied up tent frame!  I am really liking it.  Very easy to set up.

I will have my bags and my prints available.  I also changed a few things up.  I have these smaller pieces that I offer, and they usually hang on a T-bar display.  They so often get overlooked though.  I think my other pieces are so big that little things just can't compete.  though I still like to make them, and I know there are still people who would like something daintier.  So I packaged them in individual boxes, ready for gifts.  I love it and I think they will finally get some attention now.  You can really see the detail in each one.

I really like how this style I am holding turned out.  I bought these antique brass belts years ago- because I LOVED them.  And there they have sat.  I have tried a few times to work them into pieces and they just don't turn out.  Soooooo, finally, it came to me, and I made a few of these pendants.  So perfect to show off a great fossil like this fossil coral slab!

I also have some cool news I have been sitting on for a few months.

The winter issue of Belle Amoire Jewelry features me for their Designer Collection.  I was so honored to be asked to do it.  Rice Freeman-Zachery did the interview and wrote an article that made me tear up.  She really listened and captured me and my creative process.  It was a pretty amazing experience.  So if you get to Barnes and Nobles, or a local craft store, check it out.  They did 12 pages of my work!  I also have a 4 page article in that issue.  

(this is the issue- not my piece on the cover though)

Now I am going to try to stop staring at my pieces in print and finish getting ready for my show and the upcoming holidays!!!!


I do plan on having a bead sale early next week, before thanksgiving (monday or tuesday).  It will be on my Facebook page for sales.

I will also be offering some gifty jewelry for sale, and some will be made to order (this is new for me- but I think it will be fun to customize some designs for you guys).  Others will be sale items.  I will also have prints and bags available for the holidays.  So if you know someone who would love a block print or bag, check out my sale, or contact me.  I may be able to do ONE custom batch for the Holidays are over!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Musings on Melancholy, Beauty and Love

This day in age, it is very easy to find causes, and injustice.  Just go online.  turn on the TV.  Listen to the radio.  It is not hard to get yourself into a funk.

We are in an information age where - whether we want it or not- we are bombarded with news and media.  And remember, fluff pieces don't sell.  So we hear and see the worst of it, and more then that, much of it is sooooo skewed that it is not even true to the original story.

Throw in a heated, dirty and maybe the most divided election to date, and its hard to find beauty and peace these days.  I know I am not alone in this feeling.

I took a day on Sunday to go to a high end art show with my mom and daughter.  I needed to get out of the house.  We took the train and watched the landscape change from rural to urban as we approached Philadelphia.  My mom said it always makes her sad to see the city, to see the boarded up windows and graffiti'd walls.  I find an odd beauty in though.  

I don't know, maybe it is the artist in me.  I really believe everyone has some sort of creative gift.  Whether it be words and stories, giving, kindness, art, dance, teaching- everything can be an art form when you put your heart into it.  And I realized, that, my ability to see this is a gift.  Because even on days when things feel hopeless or overwhelming, even when the only art and beauty I see is graffiti on a wall in a broken desolate part of town, I see it.  I see the expression of a PERSON sharing who they are.  And I see the beauty in broken decaying things both man made and in nature.  A life gone by, a past and a new beginning.

I also know not everyone can see those things so easily.

It was also wonderful to see Julia, my 12 year old daughter, and her amazement at the beauty of the city.  

She loved the train, and was overwhelmed at the sheer size of the convention center.

 Just look at that smile!

she took this picture, she loved how it all went up and up and up

Anyhow, we have to try to find the good in the sea of awful being thrown at us daily.  I will try to continue to find beauty in all things.  In all places, and in all people.  I know many families are very divided over this election, and already strained relations are even more difficult when the party choices are different from one another.

There is definitely a melancholy in our society right now.  There is a lot of unhappiness.  People want change.  People are sad about others reactions to the election.......  There is just so much on all sides.  

I saw this video this morning on Facebook, and for some reason, it really touched me deeply.  I can't find it on you tube to embed it, but it is a group of men, I believe called Supermarket Sweet, who randomly pay for other peoples groceries. I saw the people who were helped, genuinely desire to do something nice for someone else.  It's a glimmer of hope.  It was beautiful.

It doesn't have to be something big like paying for a whole grocery order, but try to do something nice for someone today.  Hold a door for someone, tell them their hair looks nice, or tell a tired mom her kids are well behaved in the store (you will not believe how far that one goes!!!)- or better yet, tell a mom with NOT well behaved kids she is doing a great job and kids will be kids (because some days, no matter how good a mom you are, kids have mental breakdowns).  Smile at the guy in the business suit who looks way too busy to notice.  Make a conversation in the produce aisle about how great the oranges look.  
Connect with someone.  Anyone.  You will feel better and so will they.

And as we move forward and try to get along again as friends, families and a nation, we may have to accept we don't understand each other fully, and that is ok.  And most of all, we have to know that love is more important then being right.  
We can't let ourselves become part of the hate and anger.

And sometimes, we have to take the high road, and love anyway.  

"I love you anyway" has gotten me far in this life.  And it doesn't always come easy, and it doesn't always come quick.  But it comes, because it has to.  Because I would rather love someone then be alone stewing in my own words and thoughts.  "I love you anyway" is the path to forgiveness, acceptance and connection.

Karen McGovern did a post the other day, with Leonard Cohen's lyrics from Anthem and this photo.  This sculpture has always resonated with me.  It is so profound and powerful.  So I leave you with this.  Remember, we are all broken and cracked.

"There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

Expansion by Paige Bradley, New York, USA

Please please please do NOT use this as a forum to complain about the election, the results or anything else.  These are just my musings, and I hope perhaps, sharing them will resonate with someone who may be feeling the same way, or struggling with the same thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sometimes I need a push..............

When Jen Cameron of Art Elements posted this months Bead of the Month, and it was one of her glass sugar skulls, you know I commented on that blog in hopes to win one.  

I mean, looks at how fun these are!

Each month, one of their artists make a bead, and each member, plus a couple lucky readers, get one of the beads, and then they create something with them.

I haven't really had a chance to do that in awhile (to create with something that I did not purchase), and you know what, once in awhile I need that push.

Now, I buy and use a lot of different components.  But when I am making and / or hand picking my components, they are all very much my style, and something I can see right away in my jewelry.  Once in awhile, I like to have something given to me, something that challenges me to think a little more about the design.

It's no secret I love sugar skulls- and Jen sent me a delightful one.  It is however, bright.  Like sugar skulls usually are.  And I didn't really want a bright finished piece.  So it took me some time to figure out how to maintain the color pops, but tone it down, so it still looks like something I'd make- old and a bit gritty.

I love a good challenge and push now and again.

I began to pick beads that matched the colors in the skull, but were earthy.  At first the layout had some polymer beads in it, but it quickly changed to all / mostly gemstones.

I decided to wrap the skull in wire.  Putting antiqued copper wire around something bright immediately tones down the brightness.  So I started there.  

Since the hole is vertical, I could not do one of my chunky classic chokers.  So, it needed to be the dangle, or part of a dangle.  I kinda saw that would have to be the layout from the start.

Well, after much fiddling and doing and un-doing, I am so freakin happy with how it turned out.  I honestly didn't think I'd love it.  As I added elements, I wasn't sure they would work (like those seed beads).........but they did.  It all came together quite nicely.  It is heavy with all those large gemstones and heavy wire (16-18g) and the extra chain, but it lays perfect and is oh so comfy to wear.

I think I need to make some more like this, one one art bead shown off among many large gemstones.  

I am so thankful I got to be a part of this challenge.  I needed that little push.  Something a little different and fun came out of it- and that is what it is all about.

Now hop over to these other blogs and see what everyone else made with their pieces!

Guest Designers

Staci Louise SmithKarin Grosset GrangeSolange Collin

Art Elements Team

Caroline DewisonSusan KennedyLaney MeadClaire FabianDiana PtaszynskiJenny Davies-ReazorCathy Spivey MendolaLindsay StarrNiky SayersLesley WattCooky SchockJen Cameron