Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009
Gifts Shipped, Sickness Sets In

Well... at least the "Mucus" family waited til I had my silver gifts done before moving in!

I have one more gift to give and one more to ship but the rest are all given or shipped. Now it's time to clean the studio, clean the house, get healthy and enjoy a wonderful couple of weeks. :o)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20, 2009

In between creating Christmas presents I've been playing with copper since it arrived on 12/04. First attempt (as noted earlier in this blog) was not very successful BUT repeated tries have been a lot better.

I tried to do double sided texture on these earings and the only way I could think to do it was to texture two pieces and then put them together. It worked but to a point. One of the textures I used (lace) was a bit deep and caused the piece to break along the lace lines in 2 places. Luckily I was able to stick them back together.

I did a simple rectangle, cut it in half diagonally and then trimmed a section of the widest part of the triangles off to make the earring two pieces. Once they were dried I torch fired them. I added a little patina to the lace side to bring out the texture.

I used copper wire to make jump rings and 'stitched' the pieces together with the jump rings and then added a 12 mm Leopard Skin Bead and copper ear wire.

Not my usual style - but I'm excited to wear them out! :o)

UPDATED: December 21 - While in Michael's I found "rose gold" earring wires. With my sensitivity to copper I'm excited to put them on my copper earrings. I think the pinky color will bring out the pinky of the copper and should be very helpful in further projects! :o)

December 20, 2009
Puzzled Titanium

Titanium brings to mind all kinds of things - hard, metal, 'austere'... but then I discovered Crystalized Titanium from Holly Gage ( As I posted yesterday - it's terrifying to have something so special and then try and use it in a way that suits it.

A few months ago I ordered two "you pick them for me" crystalized titanium pieces from Holly. I gave them an idea of what I was going to create and she and Chris did a great job finding me two pieces that would work together with the design I had in mind. (Note: that the photos do NOT show the gorgeous colors well on these pieces.) Then the hard part started....

I needed puzzle pieces. All the pieces I found on the internet were too 'thin' or didn't connect in the manner I wanted it to. So I pulled out my old nemisis "polymer clay" and started playing. I created two pieces that fit together and then cured them. I used 2-part molding compound to make molds of the polymer pieces and then created the silver pieces.

I spent a good amount of time trying to make the edges smooth but still puzzle like (rounded on the top straight on the bottom) and then worked to carve the hearts into the center of where the titanium would sit on the pieces. The hearts were made so that a little bit of the titanium could show through the silver. I added 24K gold to the pieces - the recipients wear gold... and I think that the 24K gold and the gold chain helps bring out the pretty yellow-gold in the titanium. All in all I'm excited at how it all 'fits'.

As you can see I still have a hard time working "thin" I think these puzzle pieces are probably close to 8 cards thick. Which makes for a medium heavy piece. I was concerned that the titanium would need the thickness but then after doing some more research on Holly's website last night I discovered I could probably have gone thinner with out any problem. A quick trip to Kohl's brought me such luck! Two matching 24" flat chains - about the width of the 24k Gold stripes on the pieces. So excited!!

The pieces were fun to do. I played with them for a couple of months from start to finish working on them in between the other projects.

I only wish I could have shot them to really show the gorgeous titanium! :o)

December 20, 2009
Wisdom & Intelligence

My last Christmas gift is finished... Wisdom & Intelligence is patina'd fine silver with 18g Fine Silver loop on a 19" beaded strand of 4mm and 8mm Hematite and Amethyst with a magnetic closure.

The recipient is never satisfied with "because" as an answer. She looks deeper, researching and learning. Forever learning. The Japanese characters for Wisdom and Intelligence are stacked on this piece. It was designed to attempt an 'old' look. Note: the patina on the actual piece is not as dark as it appears in these photos. Not perfect in shape or imprint. I tried to get it to look like it was worn, by having the edges lower in some areas. The Japanese characters were stacked and the dog tag type outline were put together in PhotoShop. The image was printed on overlay and then a low relief Photo Polymer Plate was created and the piece was molded in silver clay.

Hematite and amethyst are both a favorite and the birthstone of the recipient. The back is tagged with "artist mark" (still find that funny to write! he he he!)

My hope is that she enjoys it and wears it in good health as she continues her journey.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19, 2009
Afraid to Fail...

So close but so fearful!

I'm working on pieces for two very special people and I'm terrified to finish. Not because I dont think they will like the pieces but because I have Holly Gage titanium going on them and I'm afraid to mess up!!

The project are two puzzle pieces - that actually do fit together. They are silver w/ 24K gold (one of the recipients wears gold so I'm working gold into the piece and adding a gold chain to it - mixed with the yellows from the titanium it should look very nice) added to it. The rainbow colored crystalized titanium will sit on top of the puzzle pieces.

Probably a little to advanced for what I know how to do but I'm either daring or stupid... LOL not sure which! You choose!! :o)

Fingers crossed I'm headed back into the studio...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009
WORK Interferes

I have read about addictions interfering with people's work - but work interfering with one's addiction? WELLL Yes! Here I am away from my studio on business of all things and I am 2 days into silver withdrawal and WORK is keeping me from posting the additional pieces I completed in my silver-crazed weekend!

What is up with that?

SO - reports done, email closed and should be sleeping for 2 1/2 hour drive to another site tomorrow but instead I'm getting a little silver fix by telling you about:

Gifts two & three... Brilliant Barnacles - Ahh my pretty little shells! Made for a wonderful lady that I work with and helps keep me sane (stop, I hear you laughing... so just stop). I designed the larger shell for her. The piece is approx 1.25" top to bottom and about 1" wide. It's all .999 fine silver except for the birthstones (clear and colored CZ). It is hanging on a sterling silver neck chain and has a magnetic closure. I used a found shell and 2-part mold compound to make a mold and then went from there.

I love the way the birthstone settings came out - it's the first time I've done anything like this and I thought that the way they ended up looked like barnacles. The stones repesent each of her little girls. The birthstones worried me. First shot at firing with stones in a piece resulted in liquified 'gem' ha! what a mess but very cool to experience. So when I put the blue CZs that Cool Tools labeled as ok for firing I got realllly nervous when I peeked in the kiln and discovered the once "Aquamarine" one was clear OMG don't do this to me!

I put the cover on and did a little dance to the silver gods and asked that they not take the color away. When I took the piece out I was so excited to watch the cz turn back to blue! WAYYYY Cool! :o)

The bail is textured and is another first for me... a bail that isn't a jump ring or part of a stem. I was very nervous but quite pleased with how it turned out. If you look at the piece the bail actually makes it look like an angel - I see potential for Angel items here!!

The Baby Barnacles were designed from another found shell and 2-part compound. One for each of her daughters. They are just about 3/4" wide x 3/4" high and hang from a sterling silver chain. By the way - anyone know the actual size of a necklace for a child?

The little girls were so excited! I loved watching them wearing the necklaces all evening long - it was a great experience! I love my silver clay addiction! :o)

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009:
Crazy, Silver-Fix Weekend!

My weekend started Thursday evening after work because I was off on Friday. Well - the creative portion of my brain has been in over drive lately working on all these projects and it just wouldn't let me do something as lame as SLEEP! So needless to say my sleep schedule was shot when at 5am I decided I really needed to go to bed.

Waking up at 3pm was a little odd! But hey, I worked all night so why not?

Why not? WHY NOT?

Because then that creative brain took over the logical brain and said - "HEY! You slept all day - let's go back to the 'studio'" (ok ok it may only be a computer armoir disguised as a studio but it SOUNDS good!) "and get some more work done..."

I probably don't have to tell you that at 11am on Sunday when I was sitting in front of a spinach and tomato omelette at iHop that I'd been working the 'night shift' for 3 nights! AND I had to fly the next day - some how get back on a normal REAL WORK schedule. OMG what have I done? So here I am on the plane winging my way from Mem to BOS willing my self to stay awake!

BUT - excitement abounds!!

Four (yes 4) pieces COMPLETE! Ready to bestow on unexpecting friends ... so much excitement - I hope they like, like, like as much as I love, love, love these little 'gems'! :o)

Gift one... Wax Seal - This precious little seal is probably going to be one of my favorite molds. It was only the second free-hand piece that I made in polymer clay and then molded and I just love it. It's not big - maybe 3/4" from bail to bottom drip and about 5/8" wide. It starts out plain and then on this one I added two bezels for birth'stones' and some silver balls. (just because I love them! LOL) My hope is that eventually I'll end up with good stamps that I can use to put letters inside. :o)

It's hanging on an 18" Sterling Silver 2mm beaded chain with a magnetic clasp and a cute little (still working on this part) "artists signature charm" (he he he - love feeling all professional and such! "Artist Signature" he he!!

The birthstones I had were not fire friendly and the wrong type for the bezels I put in sooo I went again to my nemisis... (dark sounding music here please) Polymer Clay! The good thing is I had colors that would work for garnet and as I mentioned in a past blog (I know I'm repeating myself but I'm on a plane typing this and am still excited at how it came out) I had pieces of my pistachio and teal skinner blend that look EXACTLY like turquoise - who'd a thunk it? So I used a spare bezel as a cutter and pulled out little birth'stones' from the polymer. Cured them (yes, I sat in front of the darn oven again) and (patting myself on the back) I think they look pretty good!

OH did I mention the cool little packaging I came across?

I was in Hobby Lobby looking for some small boxes to use as gift boxes and found only one 3-pack. The only problem was the 3-pack had one kraft box (perfect) but also a black and a red box (not so much). Welll right beside it are some flat looking "pouches" that fold out to form a little pillow for earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. In 3 diff sizes. I thought 'hmmmmmm I wonder...'. So I bought one package.

Flash Back... During my outtings a week or so ago I discovered the stamp store that my dealer - ahhh I mean my teacher Brandy Boyd works at and had picked up some scrapbooking paper - no clue at the time what I was going to do with it but "boxes" kept seeming like a possibility.

Real time... So I took one of the sheets of this newly procured paper and carefully pulled apart one of the paper pouches that I bought and traced it onto the paper. A few cuts here, some scoring and folding there and PRESTO - POOF! I had a cool little pouch/pillow all ready and waiting for my caldDESIGN Naturals logos! The store bought pouch came with a card that you would attach the jewelry too (in this case I bought the earring version) so I traced it too, put a little logo on the bottom of the card, two slots on the top of the card - slide the neck chain into the slots, center the pendant on the front and again - PRESTO - POOF! all ready to insert necklace holder.

My excitement knows no bounds - ok ok I think I stated earlier... easily distracted by bright and shiny objects but I also have this thing for paper... pretty paper, journals, older looking stuff, I loooovvveeee my litte paper pillow/pouches!! (ha! say that 3x fast!)

Oh oh ... plane is "starting our decent into the Boston area" so I must close for now - and will pick up later!

Hi, My name is Cindy and I'm a Silver Addict.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 12, 2009:
Tumbling & Blogging

Caught up!

I spent part of my evening running the tumbler. First time with the tumbler and I think I need to hand burnish the pieces a little more than I did this time and then tumble. OR I need to put more shot in, OR I need to put less silver in. I need to check with my Art Craft Friends on Facebook.

Then I spent the rest of the past 4+ hours setting up this blog. Going back to the beginning of my adventure with metal clay. Luckily I've posted on Facebook and taken photos of classes and projects which are all dated and once my memory was jogged I was able to post as if it was that day! :o)


Because I love what I'm doing. I'm having a blast and sometimes you just want to share that with people! As I indicated on my first post.. my family and friends are "about up to here" with listening to me go on and on about metal clay. My hope is that as they receive the gifts I'm working on they too will understand my excitement and enjoy the fruits of my labor as much as I enjoy making them!! And I am enjoying making them!!

If you are looking for gorgeous pieces to buy check out the ETSY sites of some of my Art Clay Friends from Facebook:

~ Dreamsome
~ Holly Gage
~ Lune Designs
~ Lizards Jewelry

It's 7:09 am here and I'm going to sign off and go put my polymer birth 'stones' into the wax stamp pendant then go find some breakfast!! :o)

December 11, 2009: Fire in the Hole!

I became a firing machine tonight!

All pieces previously listed were fired tonight except the silver heart. That I've put aside til next weekend so that I can fully concentrate on them. I want to be sure that I use the best method possible to hold the copper mountains on.

I added 18 gauge fine silver wire to the puzzle pieces to form prongs for the crystalized titanium. I've never done this before so it will be interesting to see how it works. I also added a 'hidden' medium size bail on the back of each piece so that I wouldn't have to put a hole through the top of the puzzle piece.

The pieces are cute - they have a little tiny heart carved through each of them that can only be seen if the piece is flipped over. If all goes well the back side of the titanium that sits over this heart will have color right where the heart is so color will show through.

Now I just need to add the 24K gold stripes to the pieces. Why titanium and gold? because the recipients wear mostly gold. So I'm adding gold to the piece and will put them on gold chains which will allow it to fit in with their usual color preference. :o) Smaht thinkin' eh? :o)

The shells are gorgeous. Only ran into one problem. I used a Swarovski crystal for the birthstone on one of the charms. I used a Cool Tools labeled CZ Clear for the other one - to look like a diamond. The Cool Tools gem had the listing that it could be fired. The Swarovski did not. The surprise to me was the Swarovski crystal melted in the kiln... what a fun experience that was! LOL Better on this piece than on the large shell piece!

I recreated the little shell charm, put in a Cool Tools light blue 'gem' (approved for kiln) and then used the same 'gem' on the large shell. The cool thing about the shells are the 'bezel' I created makes it look like the birthstones are barnicles on the shell. So pretty.

Cool surprise when firing the blue 'gem'... when I looked in the kiln (bad habit) I noticed that it had TWO clear 'gems' ... I thought ohhh no! but when it came out I watched with absolute excitement as the color came back to the blue 'gem'. It is so pretty.

Waiting for Tumbling:
~ Large Shell Pendant w/ birthstones
~ Shell Charms (x2) w/ birthstones
~ Japanese Character Dog Tag-like Pendant
~ Wax Stamp Pendant - to hold 2 polymer clay birth 'stones'
~ Shell charm w/ melted birthstone (just for the heck of it)
~ calDESIGN tag - to be used on the Wax Stamp Pendant.

Photos coming Sunday!

December 10, 2009:
Like Being Over Caffinated!

This new metal clay addiction of mine is like being over caffinated!! I am working on 7 pieces - 4 of them started tonight - NOT counting my cute little acorn copper test pieces!

Started tonight:
Large Shell Pendant - to hold 2 birthstones w/ deco bail
Small Shell Charm (x2) - to hold 1 birthstone each
Japanese Character Pendant - shaped like dog tag
Silver Heart - will be two of them and will hold copper mountains and natural stones

In clean up:
Puzzle Piece Pendant (x2) - to hold crystalized titanium and 24K gold

Waiting on Tumbling:
Wax Seal Pendant - holds 2 birth'stones'

The shells were created from 2-part mold compound of shells I have from walking the beaches of Cape Cod. The Japanese characters were put together on the computer and then a Photo Polymer Plate (PPP) was created and used as a mold for the silver. The puzzle pieces were created from polymer clay and then molded using 2-part mold compound and the wax pendant was - as indicated in a previous post - created from polymer clay and then molded in 2-part compound mold material.

So much to do, so little time! :o)

December 9, 2009: Silver Clay Success!

EXCITED! Yes, Excited!!!

I'm working on 7 projects right now. One of them a "Wax Stamp" pendant came out soo sweet tonight. It's adorable. I created the piece with polymer clay. Cooked it and then molded it with 2-part mold compound. Then I used the mold for the silver clay. I used bezels for the first time... little fine silver cups the size of the 'gems' that it will hold. They are attached to the piece before firing.

The idea for this is that the stamp holds birthstones of the receivers children.

Here's my question though - Do I put the 'gems' in and THEN tumble or TUMBLE then put gems in? I've looked and looked and don't find anything specifically along this line. (Tumble - putting the pieces in a jewelry tumbler with mixed size stainless steel shot and the pieces are burnished by the shot. I purchased a Lortone tumbler - yes another tool! :o) and it sits on the top shelf of my work bench out in the garage.)

My Art Clay Friends on Facebook all said that it needed to be done before the tumble. Because part of the thing that tumbling does is 'work harden' the silver. Meaning the more it is burnished the harder the silver becomes. A good thing when dealing with delicate bails.

So I attempted to put the gems in and discovered something - i have the wrong type of bezel. I bought bezel cups which you normally use for cabachons but what I needed were pronged settings. Sooo now what? Make due.

Here's the biggest problem. I originally made this piece for a different recipient. Then wanted to make 'charms' for her daughter and thought hmmm should use something else. So I decided to use this piece for another friend who also has two children. However the 'gems' I have for this project are not perfect circles and they won't fit ... what to do, what to do?

Polymer Clay!! Yep that's right. I used the correct colors mixed to look like Garnet and then went back to that slab of Skinner Blend left over from my polymer clay techniques class that is the PERFECT match for turquoise. I cooked the little pieces and once the piece is tumbled I'll glue the polymer into the bezels.

So much success - so little time!

Photos to come!

December 8, 2009:
Bead Fix!

Life is good! My bead addiction is full - for this minute. My Fire Mountain Gem order came in and oohhhh how lovely are the yellow jasper, leopardskin, chrysanthemum stone, harvest stone, crazy horse, serpentine and snow flake obsidian - ahhhh some of them will go soooo well with copper ... excitement abounds!

Why the excess? Well I'm working on some silver pieces and needed "aquamarine" gems for one of the pieces - March Birthstone. But the shipping was $5. Can't pay $5 for shipping for a $2.00 'gem'. LOL

So I browsed - and found the sale section. So many beads, so little time!

Off to finish the silver pieces!!

December 7, 2009:
Copper & Pickle

Sounds like a bad craving by a pregnant woman!

But it's not. Pickle is what you use to clean the black fire scale that is left on copper after you fire it. It eats away the black and leaves you with pretty copper waiting to be shined up like a new penny.

I chose to use Silver Prep. It's natural and not a haz mat accident waiting to happen. And according to some it smells 'less bad' than the regular pickle. Although it smells pretty bad!!!

So, my Silver Prep arrived. I went to Kroger in search of a Lil Dipper crock pot and found instead a 1.5 quart crock pot that was on sale for $10.88 - SCORE! Little larger and less expensive! PLUS the pot comes out and can be cleaned in my dish washer - got to love that!

I came home, read the directions for the 15th time and then let it go. About an hour later I checked and it was pretty hot so I added my copper test pieces - the good and the bad. The whole and the broken. I wanted a good test. Someone had said it may take longer with the non-toxic stuff so I left it in for 2 hours. A bit of over kill but IT WORKED! The pieces came out clean with no scale left at all.

And the mountains - ohhh boy is this piece going to be stunning!!! I'm very, very excited by copper now.

Still no pics - will post later. I'm on a mission to finish silver pieces that will be gifts before I head out on a business trip!

December 5, 2009:
Copper Clay - Good & Bad

Never one to let something kick me in the butt - copper clay has almost done this! I experimented... molded some (angel mold, shell, maple leaf, mountains), textured some (about 2 cards thick) and then sliced it into triangles thinking I could make earrings from it, and all the while thinking - it dries out faster than silver.

I fired the pieces:

Angel mold - too big for torch firing so after the piece was fired and dipped into water to stop the fire scale from popping off as it cooled and hitting me in the face - I waited a while and then stress tested it. In otherwords I mauled the piece. The wings snapped off but the head remained solid. I believe it was a sintering issue - I dont think I held it at 'salmon' for 5 full minutes. THAT and the fact that in trying to use less clay (remember by propensity for using too much) I put the clay into the mold in pieces and I personally think some of the breaks were along the lines where the pieces were mushed in.

Shell mold - seems good no breakage

Maple leaf mold - the stem broke off - and the piece was not 100% stable. See final reasoning above in Angel mold - I think it was 'Stupid User Error' in putting the clay into the mold.

Mountain mold - OMG worked great... settle, settle dont get all excited.

Texture sheets - not so good. After checking with my Art Clay Friends on Facebook I discovered that it could be because it was too thin. The break test failed in a major way.

Then I created an "acorn" pretty thick. That sintered completely after 5 mins of heating to 'salmon' stage. And I made a mold of a cool acorn cap and that too sintered well - although later when trying to put a hole through the stem, it broke off. That piece had been re-attached after I dropped it on the floor - dah, hard wood floor not good for pre-fired pieces!

So far, my one wish for copper is that the heart pieces I want to make for my Brother and Sister-in-law work out seems to be good-to-go.

Waiting on Silver Prep to come in so I can "pickle" them and see how they look once I burnish them.

No photos yet.

December 3, 2009:
Copper Clay Arrives!!

It's here! My copper clay has arrived.

Now you may be asking - why the sudden excitement in copper clay. Wellll - I've been working on a design of a piece that I want to do for my brother and his new wife.

They were married in Valley of Fire about an hour and a half outside of Las Vegas. The location was stunning! Red rock mountains, red sand, her white dress, his black tux - all stunningly beautiful. While there I took about a million photos and picked up a couple of small stones that were the same material as the mountains. I was thinking they would work as 'gems' in a piece to commemorate the event.

The design started out as a .999 Fine Silver heart with the mountains carved into the front and one of the stones on the silver heart portion. While talking about the design with a Facebook Art Clay friend she mentioned - copper. That got me thinking. Knowing that the new torch-able copper was coming out the next week I started playing with an idea that would have the mountains be COPPER. The red of the copper would make the mountains come alive ontop of the silver heart. In my head and on paper it was going to work.

Then the copper arrived - which brings me to where I am now. Working on the sofa, in front of a roaring fire .. doing - work. SAP VC work. SAP Marketing Master work. And the box with the copper is on the other side of the couch. Watching me. Eyeing me... I feel like I should be in one of those commercials with the money with big eyeballs staring at you. The box with the copper was staring at me - taunting me "ha ha you have to work and can't play with me yet!"

Thankfully tomorrow is a "personal day" I'll get you copper... I'll get you!!!

December 1, 2009:
Copper Clay!

At 12:10am I went to and looked and sure enough, as promised Copper Clay was available for purchase. COPPER CLAY!

Ok - so I was excited because Silver Clay is all I can fire with my little baby kiln or my torch. That means I didnt have to 'wish' for bronze, copper or now steel clay supplies - because I couldnt fire them. HA! THEN they introduce low fire Metal Clay - Copper. Copper clay that can be fired without using a metal can with firing materials and a cover and a huge kiln - AND at $14.99 for 50g it's way more friendly on the wallet than silver ($80.40 for 50g at least today!).

So I ordered some... and ordered the copper "pickle" that I need to clean the fire scale off the copper and copper tongs.

Copper clay - another addition to my metal clay addiction!!

November 29, 2009: Thinking of Others

I have a friend that I work with who is fighting a major battle with throat cancer right now. And every day I think of his strength, his good spirits and ::soft chuckle:: his self-proclaimed theme song "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba.

I have another friend - from high school - that I recently learned went through her own battle with breast cancer while her sister fights every day a battle with colon cancer.

All these people - and so many more fighting every day. I kept reflecting and the more I thought the more I wanted to do something to celebrate them and their families and possibly help in some little way.

I created this piece - a medalion of .999 Fine Silver with lapsis blue-colored polymer clay. It's hanging on an 18" sterling silver 2mm beaded chain with a magnetic clasp for easy closure. The design represents the The Fifth Chakra - Throat Healing.

I don't know how to express the feeling behind this piece. Depending on what you believe it could be a form of grasping at straws thinking that the dark lapsis blue color combined with the natural silver, the Fifth Chakra symbol, wearing it around the neck and the good thoughts, love and concern that were always present before - during the design and creation of the piece - and will continue after the gift is given, will - in some way - help to 'clear' the illness from his life.

Learn more about the Fifth Chakra.

For my friend from high school I made a necklace for her mom. The 18" sterling silver chain holds two "Awareness Ribbons" that I designed. The .999 fine silver ribbons are filled with polymer clay - one pink for breast cancer and one blue for colon cancer. The ribbons measure approx 1.25" long. I'm excited to post that I have received a request to make 2 more sets - one for her and her sister. A little part of me feels that I'm helping knowing that my pieces are going to help them bring awareness to the diseases that so need to be cured.

Notes: I used new techniques to create the molds for these pieces. Photo Polymer Plates. It's a way to take something you create on you computer and then print onto overlay material and then transfer to the Photo Polymer Plate using UV light. It's a great technique that I love along with making pieces from polymer clay and then molding them in 2-part molding compound.

November 21, 2009: Naturals

While creating the Interchangeable Holly Pendant and Earrings for my mom I kept thinking all the pieces I am working on, the ones I really like - are natural - staight from nature. It's what I love, it's what I 'feel'. So Naturals came to mind.

Flash back... while growing up I was considered "crafty" no - not in a bad way! LOL! I would make cards and do cross stitch, paint, knit, I even made jewelry back then. And everytime I made a card my dad would say "when you care enough to send the very best you send a 'cal original'". My little signature on the back of my cards was always "Another CAL Original" with the date. Later on it evolved into calDESIGN and everytime I do something for someone - cards, logos, posters, t-shirts - my parents will ineveitably ask me "did you put your cal original on it?" (It doesn't matter how old you get, Mom & Dad always will ask the same things! :o) )

Back to the present... so Naturals came to mind... calDESIGN Naturals. I like it. I feel it. My "natural" instinct (pun intended) is to immediately pull out paper and a pencil and my computer and create a 'logo'. Drift wood, old wood. Old wooden sign. calDESIGN. calDESIGN Naturals. Shells. Flowers. Beach. Sand. Hmmm...

While I'm working I'm thinking - kraft (brown paperbag like look) boxes. Hmm. I came up with the logo you see above - and then went a step further and looked around the local "Hobby Lobby" (OMG that store, that store!) and found a couple of large shells and some cool looking wood along with sea sponges. These I will use for photos - an example are in my last post where you see Mom's pendants and earrings on these shells and hanging from the wood.

When I shipped Mom's pendant and earrings they were in a Kraft earring box w/ a calDESIGN Naturals logo on it along with a card explaining the process and the unique-ness of the pieces made specifically for her. The first pieces I have done that I have given as a gift.

November 16, 2009:
Birthday Present for Mom

My mom loves Christmas. And she loves Christmas shirts, sweaters, jewelry, everything. Of course - you can't wear Christmas jewelry all year now can you? Well... Mom's birthday was today - Nov 16 - and I've been working on a couple of pieces for her.

Interchangeable Christmas Pendant and Earrings. These little pieces are made for Christmas - molded from little holly leaves from my back-yard w/ red charms but can be worn during the rest of the year by switching out the red charm for the green/blue charms!

The Pendant is molded from a leaf mold made from 2-part mold compound. The bail is designed into the leaf like a stem that rolls forward to form the bail AND then loops up to form the hook for the charm. The charms are red/black glass beads with a gold glass bead on a stainless steel head pin that was hand twisted to make the loop.

The Earrings are made from metal clay paper - yes, metal clay that is as thin as paper. Sold in little 3" x 3" squares you can fold it just like paper. I used it and traced around the leaf to create the pieces. But the thinness of it worries me.
I really prefer the thickness of the molded pendant and when I create these again I'll use the mold for sure. The earrings 'stem' also is used to attach it to the sterling silver earring wires and jump rings and, like the pendant, curls down to create the hook that holds the little charms. The earrings have 24K gold added to them and the beads are green/blue glass beads on a stainless steel headpin tha twas hand twisted to make the loop.

The shot to the right is what the earrings look like "carded" Shows the interchange-ability with the red charms on the earrings and the green/blue charms on the card.

November 15, 2009:
Polymer Clay & Silver Metal Clay

The skinner blend I came home from Polymer Techniques class with was making me crazy. It looked like the ocean. I cut a shape out of it and cooked it.

It burned.

I tried again.

It burned.

One more time... not a lot of 'good' variations left... it worked. THANK GOODNESS! (of course I sat in front of the oven the entire time!)

I keep thinking ocean. I love the ocean. Being originally from New England I grew up being only an hour at the most from the ocean. I miss the wind, the smell, the pounding of the waves, the sounds. I miss it all. And the skinner piece kept making me think ocean - nature - natural ... then I started thinking: drift wood and shells. Ok back to polymer clay. They said I could mold it with my hands - lets see what I come up with. Ta Da! Drift wood (yes, it's over cooked but it worked!) I sprayed it with matte clear coat and after seeing it together wished I hadn't - I think that wet/dry sanding it would have been better - BUT I learned that technique AFTER I created the piece.

After molding the drift wood I used 2-part mold compound to make a mold of the drift wood and 3 tiny shells that I had laying around.

After this I filled (have I mentioned I STILL have issues with using too much clay?) the molds with metal clay and when dried I cleaned them up and fired them. I ran into problems. I should have attached the pieces together before firing them. Then fired them as one piece. But I was afraid that the torch wouldn't be able to handle all the pieces together because it was so big. (I had not yet fired up the kiln... you know back to that fear of stepping into the unknown mentioned in an earlier post.)

After much messing around and practically melting the silver pieces I finally got them to stick - Note to self: when firing multiple pre-fired pieces together use Metal Clay OIL not Metal Clay paste. Metal Clay paste works on pieces that are not yet fired, but Metal Clay Oil is what I should have used.

And now to put it all together - the torch makes cool little balls when you heat fine silver wire. AND if you pull the heat off just at the right moment the balls will stay attached to the wire - in what I think looks like seaweed! So I've put the polymer clay w/ the silver pieces and fine silver wire seaweed and come up with a really cool looking piece - a really cool HEAVY piece, but a really cool piece non-the-less.

Is it a pendant or a "broach"? I'm not sure. Right now it has a bail on it, but I really think it needs a pin.

November 7, 2009: Polymer Clay

Ugh! I think I have a love-hate relationship with it. I don't like the little people and creatures that some folks make. It's nothing against them, I just don't like them. HOWEVER I took this class - Polymer Techniques again at the Memphis Botanical Garden (MBG) with ... yep you guessed it - Brandy Boyd! :o) Now... if you may be asking... "if you don't like polymer clay, why take a class?" Because I need to learn! LOL

Techniques learned in one medium can be used in others - sound familiar? I learned how to make a cane, make skinner blend, cook (although I have to admit I tend to burn pieces at home... thankfully I mainly use them for molds) and more!

I came out of the class with a better understanding that polymer clay is so much more than the little people and little animals that I feared we would make. I learned that I could use it in my silver pieces - and that you could make some cool looking jewelry with it if you wanted to!

October 22, 2009:
Wanted: Bigger Studio Space!

Well... the closet isn't cutting it! I need more room. Where to go, where to go? The 'dining room' in my house is not really a dining room. It's a 'library' it has book shelves, and display shelves, and a 6' Aruba Cat condo. But it has potential I mean what do I really use it for?

So - I did some hunting. The furniture I put in there is actually from the Christopher Lowell "Shores" set that is available at Office Depot. And wonder of wonders they have a computer armoir. hmmm bigger space. doors that close. close to the garage - ohhhh did I forget to mention that addition? (More on this later!)

I bought the new piece. It matches perfectly of course - and it's GREAT! I added boards to the inside of the open spaces that you can use to hang hooks, baskets, and more from. I put in a light with a magnifier on it, it has display area for my pieces as I get more done - right now if you look closely it holds my 2010 Holly Gage Metal Clay calendar - OMG - talk about eye candy!! The pieces are gorgeous!

(OH and the mascot on top? That's Nubbles - on is good as long as he and his brother don't figure out how to get IN! :o) )

Did I mention I bought a kiln? ha aha ha! I knew it wouldn't last, you probably knew it wouldn't last. I mean it's another tool! Don't get me wrong the micro torch is awesome. I use it for 80% of my works but I also wanted to do pieces that have 'gems' in it and you can't do that with a torch so I invested in a itty bitty kiln. It works perfect for metal clay - silver and enameling.

So I cleaned out the other side of my garage and put the kiln and my 'mini photo booth' on the work bench. (In the very near future it will hold my polymer clay oven and my Lortone tumbler - yes, yes, I know, I know... more tools! geeze!)

So now I'm working out of the 'library' it's right around the corner from the door to the garage - which puts it close to the kiln and the polymer clay oven. I have a wall that I could add another table if needed. And I have book space for my inspiration books. PLUS the boys can hang out and the guest room is once again a guest room! :o)

October 17, 2009:
Ahhh Sweet Success!

After buying all kinds of tools and 'getting ready' - honestly I think I was avoiding. You know, you buy everything you need, you read, you research, you quiz people, you draw - all while avoiding the one thing you really want to do 'create'. Anyway after the enamel class I decided... this is it. Just do it as the commercial says - so I did.

I made a mold of the maple leaf that I enameled in Enameling on Copper class. Then I made a silver clay maple leaf. AND... I fired it! OK so not a big deal but to me, yes. I needed to get past the hump of worry. Just do it.

I used my little micro torch - that is what drew me into this little addiction. The fact that I didnt need a big kiln to fire the pieces. I could fire it with a micro torch - the same thing the Iron Chefs would use for creme broulette. And I did it - it came out sooo cute! Then to add to the panic - I added 24K gold to the leaf! Yes, you read that right... 24K gold! Talk about nerve wracking. Not only had I never done it before but I'd never seen it done in person - only what I learned on the internet. God I love the internet!

Then I combined this sweet little silver maple leaf (well maybe not so little - I'm still working on the thickness thing! :o) ) with my enameled pieces from class - and with some gorgeous chocolate pearls from Fire Mountain Gems and poof - the kitchen sink was born! It's got a little bit of everything - copper, enamel, silver, gold, pearls - everything! :o)

I think this will forever be my favorite little piece. My first "on my own" and my first big step into metal clay.

October 10, 2009:
Enameling on Copper

OK so it's not fine silver clay BUT what you learn for one medium you can translate to another medium! :o)

Yet again a great Saturday found me at the Memphis Botanical Garden (MBG) and a class on Enameling on Copper being led by whom? Yep, you got it... Brandy Boyd. (I mentioned I consider her my "dealer" in this addiction right? :o) )

What a great time we had learning to enamel. This I will have you know is one of the techniques I needed to learn to work on Mom's Mother's Day pin. Check this off now!

OK did I written about Facebook? After spending a TON of time online researching this new metal clay addiction I thought - I wonder if more people than Brandy and I on Facebook love this medium. I found fellow addicts! And they are GOOD - CRAZY GOOD! This awesome group of artists have become my mentors. They deal with me asking questions: how do I do this? where do I find that? can this be done?

There are so many great people that I am learning from I can't even list them all. The ones listed here have websites with information I find interesting, helpful and inspiring. The first is Brandy Boyd and when she gets her site back up... I'll definately post aside from her metal clay, polymer, enameling skills - her photography skills are crazy good.

~ Pam East:
~ Pam also has a great book "Enameling on Metal Clay"
~ Gordon K. Uyehara:
~ Holly Gage:
~ Deb Fitz:
~ Lorena Angulo: different flavor -
~ Kristi Bowman:

Photos from class can be found here:
Enameling on Copper

September 26, 2009:
Vessel Making with Precious Metal Clay

Another great class and further cementing me into this wonderful world of metal clay! Back at at the Memphis Botanical Garden (MBG), Brandy Boyd again was the leader of this terrific class. She came prepared with really cool little shapes made from cork clay. Yes, Cork Clay. I couldnt believe it either - first you tell me there's clay made from precious metal - silver, bronze, copper, gold - and now you tell me there's cork clay too? Hmmm

The theory behind the class is to paint many layers of metal clay that has been watered down to be a paste-like consistency onto the cork shape. Then you add design using metal clay, carving, texture... whatever you choose. And you fire. Here's the thing - when you fire the cork BURNS OUT and you are left with a hollow fine silver form. Be it bead or vessel - it's fine silver and it's hollow.

The picture is all I have from my class I was so engrossed in what I was doing I forgot to take pictures!! I probably sat there with my tongue between my teeth concentrating all I know is I was committed (or perhaps should be). The silver beads are hollow as is the vessel. The little pieces of black "coal" is what is left of the cork after it burned.

How cool is that? Warning though - the cork smells when it burns out.

Now I need to get some supplies. It's to much to handle. I must have supplies so I ordered -

~ silver clay
~ cork clay (gotta have cork)
~ tools (roller, torch, knives)
~ and so much more!

Where do you get these supplies? ~ ~ ~ www.wholelottawhimsey ~ ~

September 2009:
Art Closet

When my office moved into my house I lost the extra space that I would use for an "art studio" but this need to be creative has taken over. So I look for space - spare room - but if I have visitors where would they stay? Living room? Negative any place out in the open is free reign for my 'kids'. (Note: my kids are 4-legged and fluffy.) Anything out in the open has potential to be kicked off onto the floor, chased and even in Shadow's case - picked up and carried through the house. So I start looking closer.

Back to the guest room I decide to use the closet - coincidentally my drafting table slides right into it - the doors can shut and POOF it's 'kid proof'.

The first project to really get started in the "closet" is a pin for my mom for Mother's Day 2010 - the design is done, techniques are yet to be completely learned. I won't start it til I get everything down! It will be fine silver with enamel, 24K gold, and will have 'gems' attached.

The second is painting of my carved Cardinal. Did I mention I love to carve wood? My last project was a female cardinal. She was carved and burned and all she needed was color and I moved and got caught up in work. The picture shows her carved, burned and sprayed. She has two coats of gesso and the first coat of color - no going back now!

August 2009:
Mold Making

I consider Brandy Boyd to be my 'dealer' she got me hooked on this great new creative outlet. This first class was simple - how to make molds from 2-part silicon mold-maker and 1 part sculpy mold maker.

Take a found object and make a mold - then... and this was the kicker - then fill this mold with delicious material called metal clay, dry it, fire it and POOF .999 Fine Silver from what was a clay-like material. "Are you serious?" I thought. She was. We molded buttons, leaves, fungus, little objects - anything you can put the molding material on - we molded.

And then... then we made the silver! ohhhhhh let the addiction begin.

Photos from the class are here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The adventure begins...

Having made a move from Marketing Director for a promotional products supplier to Variant Configuration Manager for a security products company in August of 2008, I lost my creative outlet. For 23 years I worked as a graphic designer, a web designer, commercial artist - in public relations, advertising and marketing. Suddenly - I'm programming. No pretty pictures included. SAP variant configuration programming for me is about lanyards, attachments, finishing options, and how to get them all to work together with BOMs and Routes. No pretty pictures.

I still had photography, gardening, and the computer but I was missing something that could really make my creative juices flow.

As a member of the Memphis Botanical Garden (MBG), I noticed a class in June 2009 for making silver leaves using something called precious metal clay. No clue what that ment but the pretty picture of the leaf (Note: easily distracted by bright, shiny objects - maybe I was a crow in a past life?) I decided to take the class. Then as things would have it... I had to travel for work the week of the class.

In August of 2009 MBG offered a class called "Mold Making for Precious Metal Clay" led by Brandy Boyd. Brandy was the same gal who led the first class I missed and I thought - "hmmm maybe she can tell me how to do the other piece!".

Welll - that was the beginning of my addiction.

The following posts will be from my Facebook postings - to show the excitement, the questions and the photos of the journey I started that gorgeous day in August.