Monday, November 10, 2014

Countdown to Chimneyville – 24 days – Eat Dessert First

Today’s Featured Items are my 4 inch mini-mosaics.  Some have inspirational sayings, some religious and some just plain cute.  Today I’m featuring the mini-mosaic I call “Eat Dessert First”.  This one was inspired by a sweet little lady from Florence, Alabama that I met back in June.  She told me that I needed to make a mini that said “Life is uncertain…eat dessert first”.  I loved it, found a stamp that said exactly that and here you have it! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Countdown to Chimneyville - 25 days

It’s been a busy summer but it’s time now to get ready for Chimneyville Craft Fair.  Chimneyville is the annual “big show” for the Craftsman’s Guild of Mississippi and this will be my first year to participate.  After years of developing my skill set and with encouragement from friends and family, I submitted an application for membership for the spring review.  Membership in this organization is not something easily attained and I’ve talked to a number of people at other craft shows who have applied but did not get that magic acceptance letter.  So I feel truly blessed.

But then the hard work starts.  I’ve done craft shows before but not this big so I’m reworking displays, rethinking what I’ll take, beefing up inventory and generally working through the details.  
My primary focus will be on my polymer clay mosaics but I also love making Christmas ornaments and have been working on a few new styles to go with the ones I’ve made in the past.  

Over the next couple of weeks – until the Chimneyville Craft Fair on December 5, 6 and 7, I’m going to be sharing some of the items that I’m making with you.

Today I’m featuring Coiled Filigree Christmas Ornaments.  These are made by extruding long strings of clay, coiling them then applying them to a standard glass ornament.  More of the strings of clay are fitted into the areas around the coils.  I use a variety of colors, either all in one family or complimentary, on each of the ornaments.  Each one is unique and definitely one of a kind.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Great find!

Every year at Christmas I made a fair number of personalized ornaments.  To get the names printed into the clay, I had to tape small wooden letter stamps together.  That was a royal pain!  Then at a recent workshop Laurie Mika introduced us to a set of stamps that snap together!  What a concept!!!  I ordered two sets of two different sizes and it has made it much more possible for me to put messages in my work.  Here is a upcycled cigar box that shows how well these snap-together letters work.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Layered Mosaic Treasure Boxes

I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Laurie Mika, the multi-media mosaics artist who originally inspired me to try polymer clay mosaics.  Laurie took us step by step through the process of preparing the individual tiles, adding color using a variety of methods, layering the different tiles then adding special touches.

It was a fabulous experience and I came home with my head bursting with ideas.  I've been busy trying different techniques and seeing what worked and what didn't.  I love the layering techniques that Laurie taught us.  Then you add in a few "found objects" and the results just makes me happy!

Here is a picture of the box I made in the workshop.  I didn't have a lot of blingy stuff with me so it's a bit on the bland side compared to some of the other boxes made by the other attendees.  We had a great "show and tell" at the end of the workshop! 
I came home and started digging through my stash of bling and assorted "stuff" I'd collected over the years.  Then my daughter introduced me to the "cheap jewelry store" where her teenaged daughters get their jewelry.  One of the things I found was a really cute pair of owl earrings.  I decided one of these owls needed to be on a red and black background so this box was born.

Another interesting discovery was that the clear acrylic pieces that I had purchased for a totally different purpose back around Christmas turned out to be the perfect addition to the top to the box.  In addition to just being really cute, it works like a knob when taking the box top off.  And, amazingly enough, it didn't melt while the clay was being cured.  I did cure the first one separately just in case!!!

One thing that I've discovered about these little treasure boxes is that they are addictive!  I am just having too much fun!!!

I'm in the process of adding these to my Etsy store but for a view of some of my designs, go to my  Flickr photo site.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Exciting times in Harrison Hollow!

This has been an exciting couple of weeks for me.  First I got a letter from the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi telling me that I was accepted for membership.  This means two very important things to me.  It validates my work, which all my friends and family think is great, hey, they are friends and family.  They love me and I so appreciate their support.  But having that validation from the premier crafts organization, one known for being very particular about who they let in, was a big plus for growing my business.  It also makes me eligible to participate in the Chimneyville Craft Show in December which is one of the biggest handmade art shows in Mississippi.  Scary but YEA!

The second exciting thing for me was the surprise birthday party that my daughters put together for me.  I guess I'm just not suspicion enough because I left my house Saturday night thinking we were going to run by my daughter's restaurant, C. W. Finn's in Flowood, for a quick meal then on to the Country/Western dance.  I even texted my daughter to make sure that they had room - because sometimes Saturday nights are packed with reservations - and she said sure, come on. (HA!)  Imagine my surprise when I walked into the restaurant to see a packed house!  And started recognizing faces! All of my family except the Florida crew, brother, sisters and their families, kids and grandkids!  Fun! The picture below is me with my immediate family.

and here is a picture with my brother and two sisters.  Love all these guys and gals!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Jana Roberts Benzon workshop was a tremendous success!

And for me, this was a surprise.  Not that I don't think that Jana is a great teacher and artist, because I do.  I love the intricacy and detail of her work.  Between the problem with my eyes and the fact that most of the work that I do these days are mosaics, I just didn't know how much of what Jana would be teaching us would be applicable to what I do with polymer clay.

But I've got to say, the entire weekend was a blast!  Never a dull moment! I learned a lot that I can use to make my mosaic designs better plus just a lot of general knowledge that Jana shared with us as she taught.  I know some people want to go home from a workshop with a finished project but I get more from the teacher sharing little bits and pieces of knowledge picked up over the years of working with polymer. 

It's always great to see old friends and make new ones.  I'll be going to Houston next month for a workshop with Laurie Mika and was delighted to meet two of the members of that guild.  Plus a couple of ladies came from the Dallas guild, so Texas was well represented.  Others came from Florida and Alabama and, of course, Mississippi.  It was a great group of polymer clay artists and a very positive weekend for all concerned I believe.

Here are a few of the pieces I finished during the workshop.  The first two pictures are a design that Jana calls seahorses.  I got my first one a bit fat so it wouldn't curve as gracefully as Jana's so I tried a second one... I work fast (grin)!

This design has a self-bale which I thought was really cool!

The other actual project that we made was a collage pendant.  We used canes that we made and some that we brought with us to create an interesting design.  I've still got some work to do on this one but like it so far.

How about you?  What do you look for in a workshop?  Do you want to take home a finished project or would you rather learn techniques?  How much value do you put on all the little tips and tricks the teacher shares along the way?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pins and needles!

No, I'm not taking up sewing... although I did do a lot of sewing in my younger days.  These pins and needles are the ones I'm standing on waiting to see if my application to the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi is accepted.  This is THE guild to be a part of if you are a artisan who falls outside the category of painter. 

Acceptance into this guild will open doors and provide guidance and avenues to pursue my art and grow my business.  It will provide a network of other artisans striving to make sure than quality handcrafted items will continue to be available.  So yes, I'm on pins and needles! The applications will be reviewed this Saturday, March 8th so I should know - yea or nea - soon.

This is one of the pictures that I submitted, along with three actual items.  I love the saying on this because I've got some friends who have seen me through some tough times better than any therapist could.  I hope I've been able to do the same for them.

This is another of the pictures included with my application.  Anybody who knows me knows that I love butterflies so this saying is particularly special to me.  Hopefully it will be to the judges too!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Getting ready for Easter

I teased you a bit with the yellow Daffodil Egg Trinket Box in my last post.  Since then I've done three more and they are so much fun!  I now have all four that have been completed and listed in my Etsy shop plus I have the option for the few remaining egg bases to be covered in the purchaser's choice of colors.  These lovely little trinket boxes measure just a tad over 3 inches and are a great place to store - or hide - treasures!!!  Let's look at all four:

This one I call Yellow Daffodils Egg Trinket Box.  It features a skinner blend on the top half topped by deep green leaves and a bouquet of flower blooms with a few trailing down the sides. A baroque looking trim edges the top and hugs the outside of the lower piece to keep things  snugly in place. 

A spiral stamp adds interest to the background and the baroque trim is repeated around the bottom.

This one I call the Purple Dragonfly Egg Trinket Box.  It is very similar to the daffodil design except that I've added dragonflies.  Another difference is that I used a skinner plug to give the flowers light to dark petals.  The join between the two pieces are covered by sprays of leaves and more of the flowers.


  On a different note, this one has no flowers.  Instead it is decorated with stylized fleur d'lis.  I call it Rose Fleur d'Lis Egg Trinket Box.  A rich rose background is textured, then a more detailed square flourish is added on the top and the design continues from each of the four corners. The stylized fleur d'lis you see on the side of the upper portion of the egg is repeated around the egg.  A more traditional fleur d'lis borders the top and snugs over the edge of the bottom portion.

A light brush of silver Rub 'n Buff brings out the details and adds contrast and interest.  

I've got to say, this one is my favorite.  I call it Copper Patina Egg Trinket Box.  It started with a random mix of teal and blue that once finished reminded me so much of patina'd copper that I just had to go that direction with it.  I used a metallic antique copper glaze to bring out the details. 

The set of molds that much of this design came from is from Penni Jo Couch's Etsy shop and reminds me of a vineyard.  I love these small molds!

So, which is your favorite? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What makes you think Spring?

Just last week we were fighting unusual winter weather including sleet and snow.  Today I was out walking around my yard in short sleeves admiring the first hint of spring, my first daffodils!  Aren’t they pretty?  I'm a glass half-full kinda gal so I'm seeing signs of spring instead of thinking that it is time to rake the leaves!!!  Although it is going to have to be done before too much longer.  Oh well....

In the meantime……back in the studio, I’m thinking about Easter and spring and all things sunny and bright.  The March PCAGOE challenge is eggs or egg shapes.  Several years ago I found these lovely little ceramic egg shaped trinket boxes at one of the local stores.  I picked up several thinking I would cover them with a pretty design for Easter.  I did one, then put the rest in a container and stored them away!

One of the great things about cleaning and reorganizing your studio is that you FIND things that you’ve totally forgotten about.  That was the case with these little egg shaped trinket boxes.  So in view of this challenge and the happy little touches of spring that I’m seeing here and there, I’ve covered a few.  The one shown is my yellow Daffodil Trinket Box.  I also have finished a rich rosy pink one called Fleur d'lis because of the designs on it, and a purple one called Dragonfly because - you guessed it - it has dragonflies on it!

 I don’t yet have them listed in my Etsy shop but hopefully will get that done within the next day or so.  If you see something you like in meantime, let me know.  They measure about 4 1/2 inches tall.  I’ll be selling these for $15 plus shipping. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The next step... silk screens

So far my mosaics have been limited by the rubber stamps that I can find.  Not too long ago our local guild - Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild - made silk screens.  So when I started looking for a concept for my online guild - PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artist Guild of Etsy)'s monthly challenge - Wall Art - I decided to try my hand at making a silk screen.  Everything is polymer clay except the wooden foundation and the message which is was done using a silk screen and acrylic paint.  I think it turned out pretty good!  What do y'all think?

The entire piece is made of polmer clay layered over a masonite sheet measuring 8" x 10" with a wooden frame backing.  Two skinner blends were used for the color block panels on the right side and the bottom.  A skinner blend was also used for the flower and bud as well as for the leaves.

The background on both the main panel and the lower right panel is done using the finger-painting method as taught in my Finger-Painted Mosaics tutorial.  And, of course, the message was silk-screened.  Opens a world of possibilities!

This is my entry in the February Monthly Challenge for the PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy).  You can vote for your favorite by clicking here

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's not supposed to SNOW in Mississippi!!!

I tell everybody that I was born in the south for a reason!  I DON'T LIKE snow!  We so rarely get much in the way of cold weather, much less snow!  And usually when we do it is light flurries and is gone quickly.  This stayed for three days! 

I know, I can just hear you!  Those of you who are used to this are just laughing your heads off but for those of us not used to this, it was quite troublesome!  And since I live in the country - off of the frequently traveled roads - it was even worse.  Here is the view from my front porch during the snow storm.

The good news is that I did get to spend some quality time in the studio.  Our local guild, the Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild is hosting a workshop with Jana Roberts Benzon on March 15 and 16, 2014.  I've been working on covering some tins to go in the goodie bags.  I used a variety of different techniques on these beginning on the top row (left to right) with a faux batik butterfly design, and three different stamped texture techniques.  The second row (left to right) is a totally random design that I wish I could duplicate!  It has the look of crumpled paper and was just the result of conditioning old and new clay together.  The other three in this row were done using a water color mokume gane.  The third row (left to right) is an ikat design with millifori flowers and leaves, then three have a hand-carved look.  They were actually done using a combination of several molds.  Two are Penni Jo Couch's designs, the other is made by Plaid as part of their Mod Podge line.