Wednesday, September 30, 2009

PCAGOE Monthly Challenge - It's time to vote

Every month the members of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) have a "challenge" designed to spark our creativity and add a new dimension to our body of work. The theme for this month’s challenge is Favorite Artist/Artwork. PCAGOE members were challenged to create something from a favorite artist, or a favorite painting or illustration. They may have been inspired by the colors in their favorite painting to create an entry piece, or may have tried to duplicate their favorite painting in clay, or depict something from the life of their favorite artist. We've got some great entries this month. For a better picture, click on the linked text below.

OK I've done my part. The rest is up to you. I invite each of you to go to, see the prizes that are going to be sent to five randomly drawn lucky voters, check out all of the entries for this month and place your vote. Voting begins on October 1 and runs through midnight EST, on October 8. Come join in the fun!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beginning to think about Christmas Gifts

September 25!!! Three months from today we'll be celebrating Christmas and my goal this year is a handmade Christmas. I've been thinking a lot lately about the people that I want to give a small "token" type gift to this year – nothing extravagant – just something to let them know that I am thinking of them and appreciate all they do for me. I'll bet you have some of those people in your life too!

One of the things that I've made that seem to be pretty universal are my pen holders. These are made using pvc pipe as the internal structure, then I can go as wild and crazy as I want to based on who I am making them for. These are a few that I have in my studio now and that are available through my Etsy store.

The fun thing with these pen holders is that they are basically a blank canvas that I can play on. The Pumpkin Pen Holder is actually one of the first designs that I made several years ago, but I have requests for them every fall. The Mosaic Images Pen Holder is a new design this year and I had a blast making it. The Sea Breezes Pen Holder is another favorite although I made this one without the flamingo that usually graces the sandy beach and palm trees. I'll be adding more as time allows so be sure to check the Etsy store and Picturetrail sites.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's officially Autumn but you can't tell it in Mississippi!

Oh how I envy those of you who live in areas of the country where the leaves turn colors in the fall. We have a very few trees in our area that "show their colors" but mostly we just go from green to brown and time to rake!

But that doesn't keep me from thinking and designing in fall colors! At our local guild meeting last Saturday, one of our members closed the meeting with a demo about making leaves. I was so inspired that I made my own fall leaves using a skinner blend that ran from copper on one side to a glorious golden yellow on the other side. I used a large leaf cutter to create a background leaf, then layered a hammered copper bale with smaller leaves, acorns and copper swirls. Then I made two sets of leaves to go with it, either as earrings or strung on a necklace. These will be listed on my Etsy site soon.

While I was on the hammered copper bale kick, I created what I'm calling my Copper Layered Retro Pendant. This was inspired by a video on You-Tube by Barbara McGuire that shows how she uses hammered copper pendant bales. I had already been working with hammered copper for a while now thanks to help from Cindy Leitz but Barbara's video took me in a whole new direction with it. I'm loving this! I made a retro extruder cane, then used the scrap from that to create a cool marbled effect, then combined the two! I used the rest of the scrap to make matching beads. I am so on a roll! These too will be available on my Etsy site soon.

So to those of you whose trees show off in the fall – enjoy! and think about those of us in the south who are still sweltering in the 80's and 90's surrounded by green leaves!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I normally don't blatantly advertise in my blog but my studio is overflowing! It's time to clear out the old and bring in the new in preparation for the holiday season. I love the fall holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas -- and I love to create for those holidays but I'm running out of room in my stockroom, so some things have to go!


Either pay automatically and I'll refund your 25% by PayPal, or send an email to arlene.harrison(at) to request a revised invoice. There may not be PayPal buttons on all of the Picturetrail items but I'm working on getting that taken care of.

As I have time, I'm photographing and adding items to all store sections. A sampling of the items that I have available are included in the slideship below. Check out both my Etsy site and my Picturetrail site for a full listing.

*** This would be a great time to buy plant pokes
for your gardening friends

*** beads for your creative friends or for you to create for your friends

*** or how about a refillable decorative pen?

*** Do you do an ornament exchange at work? At church? Check out the Christmas Ornaments section.

*** How about the person on your gift list who has to wear a badge to work. Check out the Reel Jewelry section.

*** Picture frames make a great gift too. The small 3x5 frames I offer are the perfect size to fit a favorite store's gift card.

*** Be sure to check the Miscellaneous section on a regular basis. You just never know what you'll run across in there! And all at 25% off through October 1, 2009!

Friday, September 11, 2009

PCAGOE Color Challenge – I tied for THIRD Place!

In addition to my membership in my local guild – Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild – I am a member of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. Every month we have a challenge for the members. Our challenge for last month was Color Combinations and the membership voted on the colors.

As you can see from the picture with the color wheel, we picked some interesting colors! In addition to the three colors selected - 1) Blue-Violet, 2) Blue-Green and 3) Yellow-Orange, you could add your choice of one more color.
The first step in the challenge was to mix the colors to match the colorwheel. Polymer clay comes in a wide range of colors right out of the package but to get these particular shades, you had to do a bit of mixing. Then you had to decide what color to add. I chose white and was able to pull a cane from my new borderless canes collection that fit the yellow-orange color beautifully. I used the blue-green for my leaves and made flowers with the blue-violet. I then took the white, mixed it with some of the blue-violet and blue-green to make a really nice marbled background. The addition of texture finished the look. I initially had planned to cover a picture frame but I had used the last one I had on hand, so I grabbed a small tin. Worked great!

Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so because it tied for 3rd place in the monthly challenge. These votes come from around the world and are not just our guild members! YEA! This is the first time my challenge piece has placed so I'm thrilled. Plus the fact that somebody saw it on Flickr, contacted me and purchased it! It should be in it's new home in New Jersey by now!

Our challenge for this month is a design based on a painting by a favorite artist…

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My No-Labor Day Celebration

I've been running so hard and fast lately that the 3 day holiday weekend snuck up on me! Somebody asked me last Thursday if I had big plans for Labor Day. My response was that I planned to do "Absolutely NOTHING!" Which in my lingo means I had no commitments, no where that I had to be at any given time except church on Sunday. If I had been a really dedicated home owner, I would have taken the long weekend to get some things done around the house that need to be done… and I'll admit, I did do just a bit of yard work because it was so nice and just a touch of cool in the air – which for Mississippi in early September is very rare – but the muse just kept pulling me right back to the studio!

I'm on a bead kick and recently ran across a cool tutorial that used a technique similar to the rolled paper beads that have been around for years. But these beads are made with polymer clay. Too cool! There are actually two different types of polymer clay beads in this tutorial but the rolled paper style starts on page 4.

I used a flower cane that I had made a while back using the play-doh method on a gold clay background with a few leaf cane slices mixed in. I rolled them on a small knitting needle, then cured them. Once they are out of the oven and cooled, they went into the rock tumbler overnight. This gives them a satiny smooth finish. But I wanted a bit more shine, so I took them to my workshop for a good buffing.
Then I decided they needed a companion bead, so I made round millefoiri beads using the same gold background, green leaf cane slices and pink flowers. When I first started making beads, I used a bead roller to make all of my beads but with hints and tips from a number of people, I now hand roll every bead. This works much better because the cane slices don't distort as much as when you use a roller.

On Labor Day, I celebrated by making more pumpkin tea-lites and another pumpkin pencil holder. I made a faux raku pencil holder in a new design that involves some sculpting, some stamping, some faux tiles and metallic acrylic glazes.

Then it was back to beads. At our guild meeting last month, we learned how to make faux ivory. I used some of the faux ivory to make a long oval bead and embellished each end with fairly thick leaf and flower canes to make what I'm calling a dimensional millefoiri focal bead. I used more faux ivory to roll companion beads then added very thin slices of the leaf and flower canes. The soft peach flower cane was one that I made to decorate a picture frame and lotion bottle for my niece who just had a little baby girl! (See my post from August 21, 2009) I used the cane ends to make a marbled peach set too. All of these will be posted to my site soon.
My last experiment was faux cinnebar. I cut some two-hole square beads that will eventually become a stretch bracelet and baked them on two matching small knitting needles. Got to love those little knitting needles. They are so handy for so many things!

So my Labor Day celebration was a No-Labor Day and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August Goals report and September Goals Plus A Winner!

September got here faster than it should have! One day I'm working on finishing up summer beads and the next day fall is here! Where did August go???

Regardless, September IS here and its time to check on my August goals to see how I did and set some goals for September in good Modish Biz Tips Monthly Goals Challenge form. To do this I need to give some serious thought to what I want to accomplish during the month of September to help my online business grow. If you are trying to "grow" your business, this might be something you want to think about doing! There is a positive vibe to setting goals down in writing and publishing them to all your followers to read and hold you to.

So – for the month of August my goals were:

One – finalize design for this year's special Christmas ornament

Back to the comment I made about writing down and publishing goals… Monday night --- the very LAST day of August --- I made myself sit down at my work table and spend several hours trying different ideas for my special Christmas ornament because I did NOT want to admit to all of you that I had procrastinated yet again! The prototype looks good except for the face. I discovered that Premo beige all by itself does not bake to a pretty skin color so I'll be mixing my own skin tone for the next try. I did get all the kinks worked out so it should progress fairly quickly now that I've got the design part done. I'll post a picture as soon as I get one that I'm happy with.

Two – get better photo area set up so I can get consistently good pictures

Completed!!! Again thanks to Lynda of Diva Designs who sent me a link to an article about setting up an inexpensive lightbox and how to correctly position your lights for best results.
Three – locate a source for earring display cards or design my own

This remains on my started but incomplete. I know what I want but I just haven't gotten it done… imagine that!
Four – get everything I have completed posted to Etsy, Artfire and Picturetrail sites

Another item that will move on to my September list. I did get a lot posted and have gotten a decent response. But there is still so much to do and so little time -- particularly since I'm still working fulltime. As I mentioned in my mid-month report, I've started listing some of my loose polymer clay beads and pendants at I've even had my first sale there already!
Now for September, my goals are:

(1) To complete the design for my angel ornament and get a few variations made, photographed and on the various websites.
(2) Improve my online selling ability by taking the Multiple Streams of Income course that I mentioned here on my blog early in August. I signed up for it today.
(3) Update my Etsy, Artfire, JustBeads and Picturetrail sites for the holidays – which is actually a continuation of #4 from August.
(4) Get better at posting on Facebook and research more about Twitter and how it will help my business grow.
Now for those of you who have been following allowing and making comments and/or suggestions during the month of August, I promised a drawing for a handcrafted polymer clay pen. And the winner is Mignon at Jewelry By Mignon Mignon, please send your snail mail address to me at Arlene.harrison(at) and I'll get your handmade pen on its way to you! By the way, what's your favorite color?

I'm going to have the same offer for the month of September. Leave a comment or make a suggestion and you'll be entered into a drawing for your own custom made polymer clay pen – along with instructions on how to change out the cartridge when the ink runs out – because I just know you're going to want to use this pen all the time!