Monday, May 28, 2012

Crumpled - Week 6 of the Challenge!

I need to start this week's blog by going back to Week 5 of the 52 Earrings in a Year Challenge... I wasn't very well last week (still not feeling too good mind you) and didn't have the chance to get my earrings made in I will briefly mention them now....

I actually started Week 5 with an idea for a pendant.  With all this lovely weather I have gone back to a beach theme and being a Geologist, whenever I think of the beach...I think fossils....Ammonites!  So, I decided to make a jellyroll cane that looked 'kind of' like an Ammonite.  I made it using green, blue and black clay but found that it was too dark.  It definitely needed brightening up!  I tried to achieve this by wrapping multiple layers of 'brighter colours' around the cane and ended up with this.....

I really liked the style of pendant I had made earlier in May for The Beach, and decided to make a similar one using this cane.  I wanted to make a bright, bold pendant that would really catch a person's attention.  Hopefully I have managed to achieve this.....

I was going to cut a slice a cane with the Ammonite spiral in the middle and then make this into a pair of earrings but it didn't look right.  So I ended up taking slithers of the cane and placing them onto a sheet of clay.  Putting this through the largest setting on my pasta machine and the cutting out random circles until I found the 'one'.  I think this worked better....

Now onto Week 6.....

I am not sure what has been going on in my head this week (other than trying to fight off a nasty case of the flu) ... but I made these...

The idea just sprang out of nowhere!  I was happily chopping out rectangles of stripey clay and randomly decided to crumple them up! It was almost impossible to make the crumples symmetrical but I did have a good try....  After they had been cured and sanded I noticed the thin turquoise strip running down the length of the bead.  I decided to accentuate this with a strand of a very vibrant turquoise Tiger Tail and some seed beads.  I wanted to liven the beads up, bring out some of the colours and make them a bit more funky! 

Of course......I can't make earrings without making a pendant to match......

I am essentially a lampwork glass artist but I am really enjoying this challenge because it is giving me a chance to work with Polymer Clay and I am learning so much.  I think it will be interesting in a year's time to see if/how much I have progressed.

Sarah xx 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shrooms Tutorial!

The inspiration for these Shrooms came from sitting opposite a local cartoonist at a craft fair who had made lots of beautiful cards some of which contained little red mushrooms.  I started wondering if it would be possible to make one out of glass and during the quiet moments I started writing out a method.

The next day I sat at my torch and made my first attempt at a little Shroom and have never looked back.  I have made them in many different colours, added dots to the cap, flowers to the stem and have had so much fun just playing around with whimsical ideas.  I haven’t finished yet either..... following on from my Enchanted Tree Beads I want to make a series of Enchanted Shrooms as well.

They make beautiful pendants, earrings and little charms that can be added to bracelets and necklaces.  I hope you have fun with this tutorial.

1 Rod Effetre Dark Ivory
1 Rod Effetre White
1 Rod Reichenbach Mystic Red

2mm Mandrel dipped in bead release
Lampwork torch and Oxycon
Protective Glasses with didymium lenses

1.  We are going to start by making the stem of the Shroom.  I have chosen Effetre Dark Ivory because I like the way it reacts with the flame giving a very organic look to the Shroom.  Using your chosen colour, make a small  barrel shaped bead.  Don’t worry about making it look too neat and tidy at this stage.

2.  When the bead is the desired size, warm the bead in the flame and then gently roll on a marver. This will elongate the barrel shape slightly.

3.  Choose a colour for the cap of the Shroom.  In this tutorial I have chosen red but you can choose any colour you wish.  Add a barrel of red to one end of the ivory as shown in the picture.  Keep adding enough glass so that it is wider than the Ivory barrel.

4.  Gently warm the red glass in the flame and holding the mandrel at an angle gently marver the tip of the bead.  This is to create the triangular shape of the cap.

5.  Now we want to widen the base of the cap.  It is really up to you how much glass you add and depends entirely on what you want your Shroom to look like.  Experiment!  Using your red glass, add a ring around the base of the cap where it joins with the ivory glass.  Carefully keep heating this area and adding more glass until you are happy with the shape of your Shroom.

6.  Once you have the shape of your Shroom, you can then decorate it with anything you like...  This is where your individuality and creativity can blossom.  Remember whilst you are decorating your Shroom to keep flashing it in and out of the flame so that it doesn’t crack!

7.  Very carefully heat the tip of a white stringer in the flame until you have a small ball of glass.  Add this to the cap of your Shroom and continue adding as many or a little dots as you choose.

8.   Re-shape your Shroom and tidy up the ends if necessary and pop it into your kiln to anneal.  I hope you have fun with this tutorial and make some very unique Shrooms.  I like to turn mine into fun little pendants but they would also make very pretty charms on bracelets and necklaces.

Sarah xx

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 4 - MonSwirl Earrings!

This week I decided to use the two swirl beads I made last week out of Stroppel Cane as my earrings for Week 4.  I made these beads using a Stroppel Cane.  The idea was invented by a lady called Alice Stroppel. Now, I had no idea this technique even existed until I was taught by Cara Jane during one of her clay days.  Cara told us all about Alice and how this was a great way to use up all of your clay odds and ends.  The effects are fantastic and now I can't stop using it!

The colour combinations I have used here put together within sandwiches of black clay really remind me of a chewed up Mondrian - hence the name of the earrings .... MonSwirl!

I did make a necklace as well this week but not out of the same cane as the earrings.  I have yet to finish that pendant (above).  I decided to use the heart pendant I had made using the same Stroppel Cane as the earrings.  It was Caroline Casswell who taught me how to make heart pendants. 

I started by making an oblong out of some 'left over' pink clay and added very think slices of the cane.  Then I turned this into a pendant.  I was really pleased with the finished result, especially after sanding and buffing.  It really helped to accentuate the colours. 

I added some more cane to a flat sheet of pink clay and put it through the thickest setting on the pasta machine.  Then I cut out 4 circles.  I was going to leave them as circles, then for a reason unknown to myself, I decided to distort them slightly.....and this was the finished result..

Sarah xx

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Selling in the Highlands of Scotland!

I've had a busy couple of days making lots of cakes for my son's rugby presentation evening and preparing lots of bead sets to sell in Kiki's Craft Corner in the Highlands of Scotland. 

Kiki's Craft Corner (click on the link) "is a patchwork & quilting, spinning & felting, knitting & embroidery shop in the Highlands of Scotland." Now, I don't live anywhere near the Highlands of Scotland but I do have a very lovely friend (Sophie) whose very lovely Mum (Teresa) comes down regularly to visit and has popped up to my Shed/Studio/Shed to purchase some beads for her quilting projects - Lochside QuilterTake a look, Teresa has made some gorgeous quilts in beautiful colours.  I have seen some of her work and it is stunning in real life too.

Well, it was Teresa who put in touch with Kiera from Kiki's Craft CornerAre you with me so far...... hee hee....  We had a good chat and talked about what kind of beads to sell and decided to have a mixture of buttons, individual beads and bead sets.  I also included some 'lonelies' too.  These are the left over beads from some of my sets, suggested by Teresa and Sophie.  A great idea!

You can't see it very clearly from the photo but I have had these little 'made with love' charms for ages and had completely forgotton about them until now.  So, whilst stringing up the bead sets I added a little charm on the bottom.  This may sound wierd/strange....but I take a great amount of pride in my work and I am very conscientious. When I finish a set of beads, considering the amount of time and effort I put into my work ... they are I think....made with love!

Sarah xx

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Beach

I don't know why but I love visiting the coast when it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I don't think you can beat that feeling when you step out into the fresh salty air struggling to walk against the wind, the sea spray stringing your face and hearing the sound of the waves pounding against the rocks.  It is very invigorating!

My children LOVE the beach.  They love just being able to run along the sand, splash in the water and collect every single shell off the beach.  I mean EVERY single shell......mind you....who doesn't?  My husband is just the poor little rucksack was full to the brim of salty, sandy shells.....but what inspiration they all found.....

I was absolutely captivated by these Limpet Shells with the abandoned remains of the Barnacles looking almost sculptural on the surface.  A piece of art in itself!
Now, sometimes I make things without consciously thinking about where the inspiration has come from.  Obviously I have been inspired by something that I have seen but I haven't realised that until I have finished the piece of work.  Does that make sense?

I sat down at my bench with all my clay thinking about what I was going to make for week 3 of the 52 Earrings a Year challenge (52 Earrings in a Year). I knew I wanted to make some bright and happy earrings this week because the weather has been so miserable I thought it would be good to bring a little 'summer' into my work.  I picked three very bright colours .... turquoise, mint green and lilac.

But what to do with these colours......I decided to make a Skinner blend using the turquoise and a little white but I deliberately didn't blend it in perfectly as you will see.  I rolled this up into a jellyroll cane and even though I covered it with black clay it still didn't look finished.  So I took the mint green and lilac clay and made a striped cane and wrapped this around the jellyroll, added another covering of black and was much happier with the result ....much better I thought....

As you can see from the picture I made a flat sheet using the remains of the Skinner blend.  I reduced the finished cane, cut thin slithers and added them to the sheet.  I put the whole lot back through the pasta machine on the thickest setting and cut out a round pendant.

Without consciously realising it I had taken the idea of the Barnacles and used this as the main theme for my pendant.....and my earrings for week 3.....because of course you need matching earrings!  Thank goodness I haven't started making bracelets too.....this could end up becoming 52 jewellery sets in a year!

I made some nice big round beads using the cane and decided to string them all onto black suede for a contrast to bring out the turquoise in the beads.  I do like a I also added a wrap around of pale blue seed beads almost mimicking a trapped fishing line glistening in the water....

....and of course my earrings for week 3.......

Sarah xx