Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yea! I'm featured on Audrey's blog!

In my surfing about the internet, I ran across this really cool website that features different artists and artforms with a give-away attached to it. I checked it out -- and won a couple of the give-aways -- and signed up to participate. Today is the first day of the blog post about me and my studio and it will run for a week! At the end of the article is a list of things that you can do to qualify to win this beautiful pen made using my layered canes technique. Come on over and check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Interpretation of the Exotic Flower Kaleidoscope cane

Those of you who have been following along with me on my polymer clay journey already know that my first love with all things polymer clay was caning. It just totally amazed me that a series of very simple steps could come together and make a beautiful cane that could be reduced to any number of sizes and used until the last smidgen is gone. That is a very cool concept!

But I've had two stumbling blocks. There are two kinds of canes that I want to make but for one reason or the other (fear of failure being right up there on the list!!!) I haven't attempted – a rose cane and a kaleidoscope cane. I still have a mental block on the rose cane but I did finally give a kaleidoscope cane a try. It's not perfect, but I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

In my wandering around the internet, I ran across the blog of a lovely young woman named Rebekah who does polymer clay pictures. She has some very detailed tutorials on her site, Tree Wings Studio, and one was for an exotic flower which she used on a vase. I followed her instructions and here you see the results. Thank you Rebekah for a great tutorial and an inspiring blog.

I used mine for three different kinds of beads. The largest piece, a focal bead, is a slice from the cane at the point that I cut the first piece off. It measures about 1 inch square and is pierced on the diagonal. I used gold leaf around the outside edge to give it a more "finished" look. I set the 1 inch square section to the side and reduced the remaining cane down to about half of that, or 1/2 inch and come some more slices off. I used a piercing pen to pierce the square beads across the middle. I also finished the edges of these with gold leaf. Then I used a scrap clay core and covered them with thin slices and rolled then into round beads. I have a selection of these available at Just click on the banner in the upper right hand corner.

Now if I can just wrap my mind around that rose cane….

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Color In Motion or How NOT to clean the studio!

It's been a good week at Harrison Hollow Design studios! I started out Saturday morning cleaning my studio. I got a fair amount done just by putting away tools, cookie cutters, stamps, mica powders, bead rollers and various other "stuff" that had gathered on my work table. Then I decided I needed to go through some of the bits and pieces of clay that seem to grow at an alarming rate when I get in "create" mode and tame them into "color families".

That was going pretty good until I thought to myself, all these bits and pieces would make some cool "Jupiter Beads" like Cindy Leitz showed us how to do a while back. So three hours later….

I still had a relatively cluttered studio, but I had made some really cool beads that I'm calling "Color in Motion". This is the second set of these that I've made and I've got to say, I just love the surprise element and beautiful blends that you get by extruding scrap clay and wrapping it around core beads. I don't have a picture of the ones I made Saturday loaded yet, but this is some that were listed on and sold! Just too cool!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I've found the Perfect Wedding, Baby Shower, Birthday, Graduation Gift!

I guess I'm just getting old and cranky! For the last several years, I've decided that trying to find the "perfect" gift for each and every person on my gift list is a royal pain! Don't get me wrong, for those people that are really special to me, I do go the extra mile to give a really special gift. In fact most of the people that that are special EXPECT something handmade from me – even put in specific requests with a little hint on the end – remember I've got a birthday coming up!!! Love it!

But let's be real! I get invitations to baby showers, wedding showers, graduations, birthdays and all other manner of celebrations. Some of these folks I barely know, but I work with, go to church with, are friends with their "people". So some sort of gift is pretty much required. So what to do????

I solved the problem by giving the gift that is perfect for the baby shower, the wedding shower, the graduate and yes, even the birthday! I give a gift card. Lame? Yes, but it is the perfect fit, it does not matter if you get two just alike and nobody really cares what color it is! Still lame you say? Well….. the presentation makes all the difference!

I discovered a nice small picture frame that perfectly fits a gift card and can withstand the curing process for polymer clay. I cover the basic black frame with an appropriate design, cure the frame and do any finishing details. Once the card is inserted into the frame, add a bit of tissue and drop in a gift bag and wa-lah! the perfectly presented gift card. Plus once it's gone, the frame can be reused for the purpose originally intended. How great is that!!!

The picture shown here is for my nephew and niece-in-law who is going to have a little girl in September. The colors for her nursery are peach and soft jade green so I used those colors in combination with a blue sky and white clouds to create a great presentation for the gift card to the big box store closest to her in Virginia where they are stationed. I also covered a lotion bottle to match. She was very pleased and it took a minute or two before she realized that there was more to the gift than was initially apparent. A nice bonus!

This is something that I'm thinking about offering in my Etsy store. I'd have some that were pretty generic but would also take custom orders. What do ya'll think? It is something that would appeal to the masses?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August Goals - Mid-Month "How I'm Doing" Report

I've been following the Modish Biz Tips blog for a while and decided to take up their challenge this month. I just got my mid-month reminder to review and report on how I'm doing so far. Let's take a look at the goals I set up at the first of the month and how much I've accomplished (or not) so far.

So – for the month of August the goals that I listed were:

One – finalize design for this year's special Christmas ornament
Started but incomplete - So far all the ideas are still traveling back and forth between my head and my drawing pad. I can see what I want in my mind's eye but I just have not made the time to do this, but in my defense my "spare" time has been tied up by outside influences for the last several weekends. Can't fuss too much, though, one Saturday was a baby shower for a favorite niece-in-law and another our monthly polymer clay guild meeting which is always a blast and which feeds my clay cravings! We learned how to make faux ivory at this meeting, so I'm now seeing some ivory angel ornaments… Here are a few of the beads I've made with my faux ivory and some of the borderless flower canes that I've been making using the play-doh method of packing that I blogged about last month.

Two – get better photo area set up so I can get consistently good pictures
Completed!!! This one I can actually say has been done, thanks in very large part to the advise of an online friend and fellow polymer clay artist, Lynda of Diva Designs. She sent me a link to an article about setting up an inexpensive lightbox and how to correctly position your lights for best results. As it turns out, I had everything I needed to modify my current setup on hand and now I'm much more satisfied with my pictures and spend a lot less time on the computer "cleaning up" the photos before I can post them. I'm also able to get better clarity by changing a couple of the settings on my camera. A very big Thank You goes out to Lynda.

Three – locate a source for earring display cards or design my own
Started but incomplete. I've decided to design my own cards and have researched several options online. I can do some of the research during slow times here at work but the actual hands-on stuff has to be done at home. I'm also researching various printing services to use once I get my design finalized. I'm just not excited about the results I've gotten from using stock business cards so I'm wanting to locate a source where I can send a digital image and have them print, cut, punch two tiny holes and fold. Again it's just finding the time to actually sit down at the computer and spend a bit of quality time. Any suggestions on who ya'll have used that were good but still relatively inexpensive?

Four – get everything I have completed posted to Etsy, Artfire and Picturetrail sites
Started but incomplete – I've got most of my pictures taken now, thanks to my online friend Lynda. Even have them cropped, resized, saved on my hard drive and ready to upload. Maybe I'll get some of that done this weekend. Plus I added a new site to the list. Based on a recommendation from one of my bead customers, I've started listing some of my loose polymer clay beads and pendants at I'll try it for a while and see if anything comes of it. I figure any exposure of my work is good… right?

Even though I haven't completed everything on my list, I have found that writing down my goals for the month has made me take them a bit more seriously – thank you, Modish Biz Tips, for providing both an excellent resource and a gentle push to get things moving. In checking my calendar, it looks like I have two more weekends in August. Hopefully the report on September 1 will show more completed goals!

And don't forget!! Those who help me along the way by posting suggestions, comments, etc. here on my blog during the month of August will be eligible for a random drawing on September 1st for a handcrafted polymer clay covered pen along with instructions on how to replace the ink cartridge when it eventually runs out of ink. Check back frequently to see what I'm up to!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beads, beads, everywhere!!! Now what do I do?

I may have mentioned before that I am NOT a beader! I love making beads and trying new techniques but I've never gotten good at putting the beads together in a creative way. I have some friends who do beautiful work and I have several prized pieces that they've designed. I was watching "Design Star" recently and the judge's remark about one of the competitors' room design was that it was "uninspired" and "conventional". That's pretty much the feeling I get when I try beading! And to be perfectly honest, I think my beads deserve more!!

So what's a girl to do when she loves to make polymer clay beads but doesn't want to jump into the jewelry market? What I did was run across an online auction option called This is a site where I can sell JUST THE BEADS without trying to make something with them! Much less frustration for me and hopefully some fantastic beader will buy some of my beads and make something absolutely marvelous with them! This sounds like a win-win situation to me.

This picture is of beads I made for a recent swap. I'll be adding similar sets to the JustBeads site. My user name is Ashpaints or just click here to go there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mine is a Premio Meme blog! Lynda said so!

My good friend Lynda, of SCDiva fame, awarded me the Premio Meme Award! She tells me that I need to tell ya'll 7 facts about myself then share the award with 7 other people. Now there's a lot of stuff about me that I could share, but for the sake of the innocent, I think I'll keep those to myself! But facts about me.... Hmmm...let's see...

1. I used to be sane and sensible.
2. Now I'm to an age that I don't sweat the small stuff.
3. I am one of six siblings, the oldest of three sisters.
4. I tell everybody I'm the calm one (if you met my two sisters, you'd understand!)
5. I have two daughters, one son-in-law (and one soon-to-be, I hope), three grandkids, two dogs and two cats.
6. I like to laugh and I try to do it often.
7. I was a decorative painter for 30 years before I fell in love with polymer clay!

So now you know more about me... who shall I share this award with? How about:

Audrey, Audrey's Country Crafts, who has all sorts of cool things - including give-aways - in her blog
LANYARDLADY, one of my favorite reads when I need a giggle
Sharon, Livewire Jewelry, who is always an inspiration
Mignon, Jewelry by Mignon, who creates beautiful jewelry and whose website takes me to the beach every time I visit
Pips, from the UK, who does some really cool things with polymer clay
Rebekka, Tree Wings Studio, who does marvelous clay pictures among other things!
Christine, Stories They Tell, who shares her trials and successes

OK, Artists, the ball is in your court. Will you accept your award and share it with others?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Check out the online class Multiple Streams of Income

This course was mentioned today on one of the blogs that I follow. I've checked out her website and this sounds like something that would really be beneficial to anyone wanting to grow a business doing "what you love"! Here is the poster for this class.

If you want to know more about this great opportunity, check here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My August Goals and How YOU can help -- and perhaps win, too!

August is here and I've decided to participate in the Modish Biz Tips Monthly Goals Challenge. To do this I need to give some serious thought to what I want to accomplish during the month of August that will help my online business grow. I've been reading this blog for a while but decided it was time to get my feet wet and participate!

So – for the month of August my goals are:

One – finalize design for this year's special Christmas ornament.
Two – get better photo area set up so I can get consistently good pictures
Three – locate a source for earring display cards or design my own
Four – get everything I have completed posted to Etsy, Artfire and Picturetrail sites

September is going to be my target month for getting Christmas everything posted to my shops and sites and to best do this, I really, really need to accomplish all the goals that I've listed here for August.

Join me as I work though this month (I need encouragement, pushing, shoving and suggestions, whatever you want to share.)

For those who help me along the way by suggestions, comments, etc. posted here on my blog during the month of August, I'll have a random drawing on September 1st for a handcrafted polymer clay covered pen along with instructions on how to replace the ink cartridge when it eventually runs out of ink. Check back frequently to see what I'm up to!

Monday, August 3, 2009

And the Winner is....

Back on July 20, I added a new post to my blog talking about the technique introduced to the polymer clay world by Yonat (Art by Yonat), who credits the initial inspiration of the technique to Idit Zoota, a polymer clay artist in Israel. The link to Yonat's tutorial is in my July 20 post.

At the end of that post I invited comments and announced that a name would be drawn randomly from those leaving comments for a 2" section of one of my new borderless canes. I am pleased to announce that:

The Winner Is:

Edie who commented: I love this technique, and the smell of the playdoh takes me back 45 years to preschool- and I think that encourages the child in me to play. It works well for caning and it does amazing things to my willingness to put aside my adult mind and experiment!

Edie's name was randomly drawn (by one of my co-workers) but I really love her comment about putting aside her adult mind and experimenting! Polymer clay in all its variety does that for me!

Edie – send me your snail mail address to me at the email address in the sidebar so I can get your borderless cane in the mail to you. Thanks to everybody who commented. It's always good to know that I'm not just writing this for my own entertainment (big grin)!

Now August is here – where has the summer gone???? I'm beginning to think about Christmas and what I want to do for my special ornament this year. Two years ago I made mirrored snowflakes. Last year was the Roly Poly Santas and the Long Tall Santa ornaments. They evolved together. Nothing has really grabbed my attention yet but I'm leaning in the direction of angels. Maybe something with a drapey skirt made over some type of a cone form, but I haven't really worked out all the details in my mind yet. I can see a lot of potential for using my borderless canes in the skirts!

Have any of you tried making something like this? I want the inside of the skirt hollow – like a bell – but I need for it to be strong enough to stand on its own. Any tips, suggestions, ideas on how to make this work?

By the way, I finished the nursery set that I mentioned in my last post. The picture frame was just the right size to hold a gift card to my niece's favorite store and the lotion bottle was just plain fun! This is the first of those that I've done but I'm thinking now that I need something a bit more decorative on my desk at work…. Anyway, here's a picture of the finished project. I really like the fact that I could use the flower canes sculpturally without having to worry about cutting the translucent border off without destroying the flower!!!! I LOVE this technique, can you tell?