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February 2012
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April 2012

March 2012

Clay Fun

So, a couple of weeks ago I had decided I was going to try making some of my jewelry pieces with porcelain clay instead of the precious metal silver clay.  I kind of knew a little about porcelain, but really not much.  After some research about firing it and looking at info on my glass kiln, I realized my kiln does not safely fire to a hot enough temperature for porcelain (over 2200 degrees).  Bummer.

So I bought another packet of silver clay.  It is very expensive.  I have not opened it yet. 

Today Mark and I were at Michael's and I decided to see what they offered in the way of clay I might be able to use.  I settled on an extremely inexpensive packet of white Sculpey III clay.  Some of you may be familiar with this clay.  It is used for everything from jewelry to buttons, sculpture and a lot more.  

I did not know much about it and found a couple of interesting articles and videos, but nothing that really told me exactly how to do what I wanted to do.  Most of the online info is about making millifiore canes or beads.  So I just went for it.

It's properties make this such a wonderfully workable medium.  And the best part - it only has to cook at 275 degrees and DOES NOT SHRINK!!  I can insert my glass with absolutely no worries.  I am very excited and thrilled to present my first piece of polymer clay and glass jewelry. 

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Like I said, this was made from white clay.  I layered a base sheet, stamped it with this attractive tree shape, then centered my glass on the front of that, wrapped a "snake" of clay around the glass, then layered strips across the top all the way around the glass.  With my fingers I smoothed it all around, poked the holes, trimmed it up a little bit, then cooked it in my oven.

Then the work began.  I used a tiny carving tool to carve all of the grooves in to the face of the frame.  I also used an exacto blade to trim all the way around, round the corners and clean up the inside edge of the frame.  I sanded it all over with a very fine sanding pad.  

As I was carving I accidentally carved a hair too deep on one of the corners and the glass poked through.  I thought "UhOh" but did a tiny little patch and refired it and it came out perfect. 

I then put some black acrylic paint on a rag and just basically painted the entire piece black.  Then I took a clean rag and rubbed it all over so that the black stayed in the texture and crevices.  After the paint dried I brushed on a coat of clear satin acrylic finish to protect it.

In some lights it actually looks like silver, but it is very lightweight and not as shiny as silver is.  I attached silver filled chain with beads and a lobster clasp to finish it off.

I am bubbling with excitment and looking forward to making a whole series!!

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Wild Birds Unlimited

I am very excited to announce that I now have a small display of my bird pieces in the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Riverside.  You can see their website at www.wbu.com/riverside or pick up some awesome bird loving stuff at their store at 10456 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA  92505.

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I was contacted by the owners who saw some of my work at the Lake Arrowhead Gallery.  They thought that some of my reverse glass paintings of birds would fit well in their store.  They have never had any artists on consignment, so I am the first.  They brought in a special curio cabinet just for me!!

Coneflower Snack"Coneflower Snack" - Anna's Hummingbird

I quickly made about 8 pieces, added a couple from my stock at home and dropped off 10 wood pieces and 1 framed piece last Saturday.  Mary called me on Sunday to tell me they sold one.  Wow - pretty cool!  She also asked if I could make more hummingbirds since they were holding a seminar on Hummingbirds this Saturday (tomorrow - March 17th).  Of course I could.  I made 4 more pieces and delivered them on Wednesday.  I am quite anxious to see what the response was.  

Winter Plumage"Winter Plumage" - Hooded Oriole

Anyway, this was really cool - to be recognized for my art at a store that specializes in wild birds.  I am hoping the relationship works well, that they sell some pieces and make money for both of us.

A Mothers Work"A Mother's Work..." - Anna's Hummingbird


Glass Puddles

I was recently searching online for glass related information.  I came across a website that I have looked at many times, but honestly had not remembered to check back in with on any kind of regular basis.   It is www.fusedglass.org and it has connections to other glass artist,  glass art galleries, links to suppliers and online tutorials and information.  It truly is a wonderful site.

The latest online tutorial was for creating glass "puddles" - beautiful little stripey/swirly glass 'stones' - that can be used in jewelry, fused into a larger project, or rubbed even smoother as little worry stones.  

The tutorial suggests cutting neat little pieces of 3 x 3" squares in the first step.  You take these squares, stack them up, and fuse them fully.  Since glass always wants to be 1/4" thick, it melts and spreads out creating a thin striped pancake that is then broken up.  Those little broken pieces are laid on their sides and fused into little puddles.  You can see the whole tutorial (with pictures) in the link above.

I know that I have mentioned my ever-increasing stash of scrap glass to you all.  I figured, why should I cut up perfectly good sheets of glass when I can just layer my scrap glass into neat little piles.  It worked like a dream!  I layered pieces to create approximately 3 x 3" square piles up about 6 or 8 pieces high. (sorry, I forgot the picture of this).  Then after firing - I did not look back at the tutorial for the firing schedule and just guessed how long to hold it at top temperature and so it did not get as thin as it should have - my resultant 'pancakes' were more like 3/8" to 1/2" thick.  Still fine, but much harder to break into the small chunks than if they were 1/4" thick.  I ended up scoring them with the glass cutter then smashing with my hammer.  

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You can see all of the colors I used - green, almond, tan, terra cotta, blue, yellow, red, clear, black ....and probably some I forgot.  I ended up making 3 different color patterns.  So, then these little chunks were laid on their sides in the kiln again and fused again to make them rounded and 1/4" thick.  This time I used the correct firing schedule.

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They are a lot of fun and really cool to just run your hands over.  I am considering what exactly to do with them - sell as is for "worry stones", turn into jewelry, maybe do some painting on some of them before turning into jewelry?  Maybe all of the above. 

If you are a glass artist I hope you will check out the FusedGlass.org website and check out all they have to offer.  It's great to have a resource of artists and suppliers and they surely do not balk at "silly" questions.