Foils….the little minxes!!

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
 Scott Adams

I’ve been very busy with events of late and haven’t had time to blog but here is just a quicky!

I want to talk about foils!

I know, from my membership of the facebook group Polymer Clay Surface Treatments,
that generally speaking ‘foils’ can be a very mixed bag.
I confess that my use of foils is a fairly recent thing but I am increasingly fond of
using them in my veneers.
My first foray into foils was happily very problem free and so I hadn’t realised quite
how tempremental they can be until I came upon a stubborn set that just weren’t
playing nicely!!
I will illustrate with pictures….here’s the background to my tale!
I have been using ‘iCraft’ DecoFoils Rainbow foils and achieved consitent results, good coverage and stable colours during baking so encouraged by this I went ahead and bought the most gorgeous lime green foils from the same manufacturer. I had a purple based veneer and just love the combination of purple with zesty lime green so went ahead planning to make some prototype tube beads.
First problem, I had the devils own job trying to get the foil to transfer to the clay, burnishing and ripping in as many ways as I could think of just didn’t seem to work. In the end I tried spritzing the reverse of the foil with rubbing alcohol (incase there was a fine layer of grease that could have been causing a resist) and did manage to get some of the foil to stick, if a little patchily. (Subsequently I have learned of a little trick that I haven’t tried yet but apparently warming the foils on something like a hot drinks mug helps enormously…thanks Penny Vingoe (ClayAround) for passing that one on and I will try it soon!!)
So, this all took an age and was most frustrating but anyway I went ahead with the purple/lime green combo and made some tube beads.
My next frustration came after baking…..that gloriously vibrant lime had turned to
a fairly insipid grey/blue/pale mint which, whilst not unattractive, was not the look I had
planned for nor expected!
What to do? I had done everything the same way as when I had used the
rainbow foils….used the same clay type, tented my work, used an oven thermometer to ensure temperature, used the correct temperature for the brand of clay I was using and baked for the correct amount of time…why the colour had become unstable this time was a mystery!
So, I went to the aforementioned Facebook group and posed the question to see if
anyone could help.

I love the Polymer Clay community….always ready to help and to pass on their knowledge….sure enough I soon had a wealth of opinion and a few suggestions of how I might rectify the problem and so I set to and tried a few of those suggestions out……..

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So this is the raw tube bead…vibrant foils (though quite patchy due to difficulty getting them to transfer)

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This was after baking…the lime is now a grey/blue/minty green colour. It actually looks ok but not what I was expecting!

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Again….all the grey areas should have been a lovely zingy lime!! Although this does work I think!….Lucky!!!

The suggestions from the lovely members of the Facebook group I mentioned included pre-treating the foils with translucent liquid and leaving it on the raw clay for varying lengths of time….I tried this….no real improvement (maybe a shade closer to green but not noticeably improved!). In the end it was the ever helpful Ginger Davis Allman  (Blue Bottle Tree……her blog can also be found on WordPress by the way…..definitely worth looking up!!!) who came up with the only solution that would provide my lime green. She reminded me that I could always use alcohol inks to dye the foil back to the colour I wanted……palm slapped my forehead and did as suggested!!!

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Alcohol inks to the rescue…..the bottom row were treated with alcohol inks and there was a little seepage onto the purple veneer on this first attempt….I treated the others much more carefully!!! But you clearly see the effect….I went on to seal this colour down with liquid polymer.

Debbie Crothers….(I love that gals work!!) who works a lot with foils and has vastly more experience than myself….also informs me that not all foils are equal and that some are rather more stable than others in particular those specifically made to use with polymer clay are more reliable. I think the ones I was using are for a good many applications and not soley for use with poly clay. I can confirm that since this experience I have tried some of the Lisa Pavelka foils and indeed they do seem to be a bit more predictable in comparison. You live and learn huh!!

Back soon…..thanks for stopping by!!

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Busy Busy…..new work, experiments & meet the boss!!

“I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.”    Thomas Keller

Oh my word…what a busy couple of weeks!!…. and so it continues.
I have had a bit of a creative spurt….you know how it is…you start working on one thing
and that gets you to thinking ‘what if I just….’ and there you go….happily skipping off in a
direction you weren’t neccessarily intending…this seems to happen to me a lot!!!
(not just in the studio either!!! hahaha!!). This surge of creativity has come at an opportune time as I have a ‘run’ of events coming up and like to have lots of pieces to keep my display looking ‘tip-top’.
I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I attend craft events and artists’ markets in and around my county (Lincolnshire, UK is quite large as English counties go) and with Easter just around the corner there are quite a few such events coming up in addition to the ones I regularily attend.
This past week has been spent ‘tweaking’ (not twerking!!) my displays and replacing
some of the signage to make it clearer for my customers…the ‘what is what’, ‘what is where’ and how much ‘what’ is …kind of signage.
I have also been ‘finishing’ pieces of jewellery ready for said events.
My style of jewellery design is not overly clever or complicated as it is my intention
to make the bead the focus of the piece, so, many ‘designs’ consist of a focal bead with
a simple method of hanging/dangling/stringing….whatever.

Much of what I have been making recently seems to fall into the ‘Rustic’ category….I have been using up some of the (many) veneers I have been stacking up in the ‘ooo that’s too nice to cut up’ pile (thanks Debbie Crothers for the nudge I needed).

As I had previously promised not to get too ‘wordy’ for the rest of this post I will let the pictures do the talking!!!
I will be back after Easter….wish me luck!

(….there were quite a few photos but I’ve condensed them into collages!!

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This collage shows 3 of my pendants, all are reversible with complemetary or contrasting faces.

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A large reversible pendant….oh and some conical earrings just to show I’ve not just been making pendants!!!

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My latest ‘Talisman’ pendants. This is my favourite design style and a ‘staple’ for my displays….I am constantly evolving this design….love it!

The next couple of collages show some of my latest experiments with faux techniques. I have definitely been in an Ancient Artifact/Tribal zone of late and and in the first photo-collage I am trying to get a faux ‘Marble’ effect using a crackle technique rather than a clay mix.

In the second my intention was to produce something that resembled a carved ‘Obsidian’ arrowhead. These were both first attempts (not at carving- I’ve been doing that for a little while now)  and I think warrant some further exploration….I definitely believe they show promise!

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and….my little signs…..I made these from scrap clay and will be putting them to use on my display frames….they are quite robust and will withstand outdoor displays plus they are in keeping with the rest of my display.

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Finally…I couldn’t resist….this is Mr Ginger Jimmy Yu-Yu, as you can see he likes to think he’s my boss, always looking over my shoulder…..no slacking with Ginger Jim around!!!

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Heaven is a space…

“Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice.” ~Phil Cousineau

Wow!!!

What a difference a space makes!

So, I’m pleased to report that everything is brilliant with the new studio. I have found
that having more physical ‘space’ has given me more space in my head…room to move,
room to breathe, room to grow…explore, experiment, develop new ideas and ways
of working.
Definitely a big thumbs up from me!!

What next then?….
Now that I can concentrate on my work rather than my work-
place I am hoping to continue with a kind of documentation of what I’m up to. I’ve
never really done that, outside of photographing things to sell, but when I think back
to my beginnings with Polymer clay (or look at the one or two bits and pieces that
I’ve hung on to over the years) I can see that I have come a long way, both creatively
and technically….so I think that I really should start making some kind of record.
Hopefully it will be of interest to a few Polyclay enthusiasts and or beginners, I’m not
sure what form the blog will take I guess I will come up with things as and
when they pop into my head…I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep!
I will most certainly be recording images of what I’m creating so you can expect a
good deal of photos!

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Brooches made using my canework.

 

I tend to work in one of two ways, either in very controlled colour/pattern-polished-precise (within my own limitations) kind of way with cane- based geometric style jewellery component/ beads…..or I work with techniques that have a lot less predictable outcome….in a nature based, rock/fossil inspired ‘organic’/rustic kind of way.

This past week or so I have been concentrating mainly on the ‘rustic’ side of my interests.

A lot of the photos in this weeks blog reflect this…..so here are a few of the things which are currently on my workbench awaiting the next stage in their transformation into finished pieces.

I will try to remember to post some photos of the rustic components once they are completed!

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crackle beads and mixed media experiments

20170330_123126apaint More crackle beads in all shapes and sizes…..(thanks Debbie Crothers for showing me the light with veneers!! So much more control!!)

….oh look a finished pair of earrings!!! Hahaha….mixed media (poly clay charm is reversible) and quite rare to have something finished to show at the moment!!

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Just before I sign off for today. I have a question….
Since I have been in my own space, rather than sharing with my husband (from now
on refered to as ‘himself’) I have the option to work with background music!….. I should explain that ‘himself’ is not too keen on my musical tastes (eclectic though they might be) and so I have rarely inflicted them upon the poor souls delicated ears whilst we were sharing the tiny space he now calls ‘The Hanger’ and in addition, there really was no spare room for cd players (I don’t do the whole download on the phone thing!!!)  Anyway as a consequence I have got into the habit of working in silence! (well when I say silence that’s a bit inaccurate as there is a constant dialogue going on in my head but  I’m not sure if I should be owning up to that one?!!??).  Now I find that I have the choice I have been rocking along to some of my ‘tunes’ but am finding it a bit distracting and have had to revert back to ‘silence’ when I want to concentrated!!!
My question is…..how do you work? Do you listen to radio, music or do you have your
own soundtrack running in your head??
I’d be interested to hear your take on work habits (soundtrack-wise)….so if anyone is reading this, please leave me a comment.

Many thanks and back soon!

Boxes, boxes everywhere!

I’m not a hoarder I’m a curator of an extensive collection of art supplies!!

Seriously, if I never have to move another box it will be too soon!!
I cannot believe that all the ‘stuff’ which I have lugged and heaved into my new studio was once crammed into a space less than a quater of the size……how did I ever move in my old one? I think it must have been some kind of ‘Art Tardis’….I am totally amazed!!!
Of course now that I have got so much space I can be a lot more methodical about
where things go.

I have ‘zoned’ my areas….one dedicated to polymer production, another
for putting components together into finished pieces, one for packaging and
displays, you get the idea.boxes

I think I have got a workable configuration, although I can’t believe that there won’t be many changes happening over time.

Everything has a place and so now all that is left is to start working in this, fabulously tidy and seemingly organized, new set-up so that I can see if everything works as well in practice as it does in theory!! I’ll be back soon to let you know how I get on!

 

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Hiccups over….. and breathe!

OK, so my path often takes the ‘scenic route’ and there were a few hiccups with my move from one studio to the other!!
We won’t go into details but a serious window issue and storm Doris were part of the mix!! (oh and you will have realised by now that these first couple of posts are written retrospectively, hence the speed of my bloggy narrative!)
Anyhow….the existing floor covering in my new studio was well past its best and so a new floor covering was a must.
I love the look of simple floorboards and had decided to get them in the form of cushion flooring  as not only would this look nice but would also be warm underfoot and better able to cope with spills and jettisoned bits of polymer, beads etc. I’m not saying I’m a messy worker but I have spent too much of my life scraping squashed and hairy bits of polymer from the floor or digging tiny beads out of the cracks between floor boards….and… standing on a bead with no shoes on is akin to standing on a piece of lego!!

Also, in my infinite wisdom, I had this brilliant idea that I could keep my costs down by ‘laying’ said floor covering myself.
Fortunately the lovely Tom, of Askews Carpets….(local firm, lovely people!!) had offered to  cut it more or less to size for me before it was delivered….with this in mind and as the room is totally rectangular with no nooks or crannies I figured it couldn’t be that difficult to fit it myself….. could it?
Wow…I hadn’t realised just how HEAVY cushion flooring could be!!! The fact that two burly fellas delivered it should have been a clue but I was busy and my mind was elsewhere, moving an 8ft long roll of 20ft worth of ‘lino’ was a job I would do ‘next’. When I finally got round to it I found that the roll was pretty much impossible to move! Hey, I’m no wimp I’ve been a fitness instructor and lifted kettlebells for years so I can do the weight thing but this was something else (good practise for caber tossing I reckon)!!

Hahaha…’me- no- movey’…I had to call in the cavalry in the shape of my lovely son, fortunately with the two of us and some tactical shuffling we actually had it down in no time….I could not have done it on my own….lesson learnt!
OK…..flooring down, check…..furniture, underway. Next job finalise the furniture and then….woop-woop….materials can come in!!!……back soon!!

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A movin’ and a shakin!!!

So….the excitement starts!!!
After several years of working in a pokey little studio measuring just 7ft x 4.5ft (which was
half of a room I shared with my husband and his hobby- R.C aeroplanes)….I have finally
managed to ‘bag’ myself a bigger space!!!

This new room measures a palacial 20ft x 8ft and it’s mine all mine!! It has both East and South facing windows, so plenty of natural light, lots of wall space and I can totally have it all to myself….hurrah!
Ummm, did I mention…..it needs a bit of work!!!……..
Watch this space…..literally!!

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