Sunday, November 1, 2009

Birthdays & a Baptism

By now I really shouldn't be surprised by this, but goodness October super fast forwarded into November! Besides Halloween, this past weekend included friends' birthdays & a baptism.

Is it funny I thought of swords when trying to come up with an idea for my friends' birthday presents? They're artists fighting to make a living doing what they are passionate about, have a lot in common when it comes to views on life (not to mention relatively close birth days!), & yet completely different personal styles.

I suppose something about that (& seeing their creative compromise on bathroom decor!) must have struck a chord with me: a katana style sword for him due to an interest in kendo & a more European dagger for her. <3

Recently I was asked to be Godmother to my friend's baby. My Nina (Godmother) said her tradition was for the godmother to provide the baby's baptismal gown. As my friend was following a Polish tradtion where the baptismal gown was made from the train of her wedding dress, that was covered. If anything, this gown is extra special because it was sewn by the baby's great-grandma. So what's a gal to do without any other guidence? Consult the internet!

Hey now, religious jewelry is traditional gift? I can do something like that....

To my Goddaughter, my prayer for you is that you will always have Faith in God & your family to know that you are never without love. <3

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's on my desk?

A la the Twitter question "What are you doing?," here's what's on my desk:

Did you know after bead shows people scavenge for stuff vendors drop or leave behind?? As everyone was packing up after the Pasadena Bead show, poking around for beads was like following a trail of sparkly bread crumbs!

I've been puttering with this clasp on & off since the Pasadena show. Made a mold out of the wooden bead, did a bit of carving, added a back plate, figured out a toggle bar, everything fired ok (yay!) & when I started stringing the beads for a bracelet.....the toggle fits through the main holes in the clasp, but the jumpring connecting the toggle to the beads doesn't!!


Opps. Now what can I do besides using a S-hook for the catch? That would be a bit funny, fish hooks & mermaids...

Besides this bit of puttering, I took a Cold connections class (very fun!) & I've gotta get my tush in gear for a library fundraiser in a couple weeks. Catch ya later! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Copper etching

Copper cuff bracelet with laser ink transparency resist.

Copper etching is another one of those things that I've read about, sounds interesting...not gonna try it for reason X,Y,Z...but today I took a copper etching class with Candace White & dang is it fun! The class & the process lol :)

Before: Doodles with Sharpie.
Anything black (resist) will be protected from etching action of ferric chloride & end up raised....gotta fill up the blank spaces!!

After - Etched Sharpie doodles.
Yes, my thought is art clay texture haha...

Left: Laser ink image from a transparency.
Right: Paisley stamp with permanent (solvent based) ink.

The fleur de lis turned out interesting, I dipped the piece in ferric chloride, then changed my mind (oops!). Neutralizing the piece with baking soda, trying to clean the sludge off & NOT the resist, then re-submerging the metal caused a neat honeycomb pattern in the "exposed" areas of the copper.

I find the feathery look in the blank areas of the paisly a nice addition. There didn't seem to be as much on the edges of other students' etched brass pieces. Rather interesting.

Though photopolymer plates have their perks & uses, I think making etched copper plates is more fun, & versitile! Too bad the lil bro is on vacation & wasn't able to come to class today, I think he would like it too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pasadena Beads & Bits

This past weekend was the Pasadena Bead & Design show. I was volunteering there Saturday & Sunday for the Art Clay Society of OC. It was fun seeing people from MCWC so soon, & hanging out with Estelle & other OC peeps to spread the love of clay...whoo-hoo! :D

So evidently at the end of the end of bead shows, when bead vendors break down their displays, they don't worry about broken strands of beads & leave behind trails beads & other shiny bits of things...

Found beads & molding compound mischief.

Cloudswing was the piece I made with other artist's things from the January show, we'll see what happens to the stuff from this show!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dream's Unicycle

Flying high on the trapeze with no net below
Challenging the stars with balls of flame

Knives sharper than claws
Paws that show no mercy

Sometimes dreams turn into nightmares,
What started as Dream now looks like Death.

Comic con was this past weekend, & I think Neil Gaiman's Sandman kind of rubbed off on me! The wires for the juggling stars seems to form the outline of a skull with a bow ...what do you think?

Deconstructing the "magic"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2009 Metal Clay World Conference: Week in Review

Last week was the Metal Clay World Conference in Chicago. Jackie Truty, Tom, & Katie Baum of Art Clay World USA organized an awesome conference experience & I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to listen to so many artists share their knowledge! Meeting & making friends from all over the country & world in a hotel that was like a huge beehive? Sweeet!!

Monday & Tuesday: Caged glass beads with Cindy Pankopf

First off, helping Cindy with her class & running around after hours was just uber loads of fun!!

Finished projects in all their fired, yet unbrushed glory, success!! No pic of the beads before they went into the kiln as the glass reacts with the silver clay & an etched ivory & copper green bead lost its frosted look & beacame brown & turquoise. Or an ivory bead with red frit turned brown & blue, just awesome!

Of course, a class pic
(Thanks Emma!)

Wednesday: Sears tower & Charm Swap

Ok, the Sears tower is now the Willis tower???! Taking pics on the glass bottomed Skydeck was fun with gals from the Art Clay UK Guild members. :)

Goodness some people made 100+ charms for this swap! Prosmise I'll be more prepared next time!

Thursday - Saturday: Conference speakers
There was not much sleep this week & I wish I could have gone to everyone's presentation, but after hearing each talk, I just wanted to hole up with my clay & play!

Keynote Speaker: Alan Revere

His talk on jewelry & giving to others is pretty much summed up here:

During his talk, he passed out gold & silver colored foil & challenged everyone to create a ring. Then to go with the giving to others starts here & now, he gave a bracelet with the MCWC logo to someone in the audience & we swapped foil rings with our neighbors.

Clasps: Carol Babineau
So much eye candy, & so playful! Besides seeing the technicalities of how some of the clasps work, the way she designed her clasps to be a focal that doesn't look like a clasp is amazing!

Masks & Faces: Lis-el Crowley
For me, demos speak a thousand words because sometimes the key is in the details of the way a certain tool angle or the way a small lump of clay becomes the missing detail. I missed the open table session with her, but I totally need to get some polymer clay to experiment with her way of making molds for faces, quite intruiguing!

Snake Charming & Coils: Cindy Pankopf
Making coils & snakes is probably considered a basic technique for clay people, though the way Cindy incorporates them into almost everything, is fascinating. Her tips/tricks & sound effect loaded explainations really do de-mystify coil making lol. (yeah, I was scared of making them until recently!)

Tomozuke technique: Ryota Mitsuhashi
As the "Rebel without a kiln," I appreciate the offers from others to fire my pieces (& yes, I'll be taking you up on that!) but anything I can do without a kiln intrigues me!

So "tomo" is to pair & "zuke" is to attach. Fusing brass & copper to fired silver clay pieces, Rio order can't arrive soon enough!

Teaching: Maria Martinez
People tell me I should teach..but I'm scared! Maria broke the orgainization & process down into manageable bites & I found her anecdotes inspiring :)

Negative caning: Holly Gage
Ok, I REALLY REALLY want to try adapting her caning technique with torch friendly combustibles! Like I bought tortillas this week to try this out! :P

& there's the baby titanium pieces..

Photographing your Art: Jen Lowe
I enjoy checking out the crafty stuff on Jen's blog, & wondered about how she got such nice looking pics! 2 thumbs up for the tip of steadying your camera hand by wrapping a string around the camera & holding the other end with your foot to steady & pulling the camera away from the ground for a steadier shot.

Silver screw: Ryota Mitsuhashi
OMG, the tool answer I've been looking for is "screw tap" to make threads for screws!

Water Etching: Lyle Rayfield
I keep reading about the technique & am curious to check it out. Wonder if wax resist would work as a patina mask too...

Complex Hollow Forms: Gwen Bernecker
I found Gwen's process for making hollow forms interesting as I haven't made many. Demystified the way to make a template for walls when you already have the floor & ceiling of a piece.

Bench Tricks for MC: Lorrene Davis
I'm so glad I went to this talk! This maybe an utter "Duh!" thing, but making the tools work for you & not the other way around...well, duh! & the blade bending technique she was showing at her open table session? I am SO going to play with that!

There's all the new "toys" I've come home with...yay!

With love to all my new muses & old, thanks for the inspiration!
~ Michelle

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Torching where no torch has gone before!

Ok, maybe not really but seeing how complex of a piece I can torch fire is an interesting challenge & I'm totally tickled (chuffed?) that this piece held together!

It was fired before MCWC & I took it with me, but since then it has had a bit of a face lift with some polishing "wheelie bobbers" to give the flower a satin finish to contrast the band & decorative spikes.

The flower was made & fired as 1 piece with cz already set in place; the shank as 1 piece, the flower & shank joined, then a couple more times to patch some small cracks .

As the ring wraps around 2 fingers & is on the poky side if you're on the receiving end, it's girly brass knuckles!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Midnight musing

Ok, took a bit of a break from the flower ring & tried putting together this little unicycle dude that's been bouncing around my desk. Well, mostly figuring out the cycle part, as the unicyclist has been chilling on my desk for a while.

One side of the wheel says "dream" & is decorated with silver flakes.

The other side has a pattern with the silver flakes.

The unicyclist is a paste person with a fine silver skeleton (armature) & he's still nekked, but I haven't quite figured out how I want to dress him.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fire = Gratification & Focus

Today I'm going to go with 1 small win. Very small.

The flower focal for the ring is fired.

Yeah, that's it.

At least the flower won't have any accidents sitting on my desk! ><

The coiled swirls for the shanks has proven to be a bit more challenging than expected. Or at gravity's effect on them, as they tend to slide of the mandrel. Between the open design of swirls for the shank & the rather top heavy focal, I guess it was a good thing that they broke before the flower could be attached. Assembling the whole piece then firing would be ideal, though this ring is larger than the neuron ring & making sure the piece is heated evenly for full scintering would be a challenge with a torch.

Could this have been finished hours ago? Yeah, most likely. Thinking about this project over & over is causing more second guessing about the design, which at the moment is a frustrating challenge, but not impossible!

There's always tomorrow to try again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Challenge pieces for July

Ah, that title sounds so much more productive than it really is! "Challenge pieces" = the pieces for my challenge project. It is almost July, & once again not much seems to have come from my sketchbook. But, the purpose of having a journal is to record the journey, up or down, right?

The challenge theme for for July's Art Clay Society meeting is "Holes." Most of the pieces for the ring are there pic, they just aren't put together yet (gotta love gravity!).

Playing with the fat coiled filigree look of the Neuron ring's shank, I'd like this one to wrap around 2 fingers like a W with the flower in the center. Each finger's shank is being constructed individually, & hopefully I'll be able to mold the coil ends to curve around the base of the flower.

One thing that has distracted me from sitting down to work on the 2nd finger's shank & assembling everything is the urge to scrap the whole project as a silly waste of clay because this sucka is gonna be huuge!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Do you doodle?

Poor old sketchbook stuffed full of notes & doodles waiting for their turn to hop out & try to make it in the 3D world.

So it's been a bit quiet on the blog-front, but doesn't mean my sketchbook hasn't been getting a workout! I admit I'm a planner & draw to try to work technicalities out on paper before reaching for clay, wire, or pliers. I'm also trying to get into the habit of taking notes while working on projects to make it easier to create/recreate variations of something & organize my tangential thoughts.

Last night I just needed paper to write some notes on for a project & found only the back cover of my sketchbook was left, whoops! As I'd picked up a replacement earlier (I like the size & how it has spiral binding) this sketchbook sadly has a rather flimsy cover. The plan was to quickly reinforce it with scrapbooking paper & go back to my clay. As with many of my "simple" sounding ideas, this one became a doozie!

Cover with ribbon tie closure - Oh So Girly, I don't know whether to cringe or giggle at the excessively pink & fluffy-ness!

The front cover is a pocket & has a "If lost please return" tag.

Why is the back always considered the dark side?

Happy Birthday Sketchbook!
A couple hours of paper, ink, & glue - crazy makeover is complete & waiting for more doodles to be added!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crafty Surprise - Ponte Amour

Crafty Surprise - Ponte wine cork set in Art Clay silver bezel with the couple's names, wedding date & a heart on the back.

Crafty Surprise was a chain-note, going through Facebook (see end of post for the text). Based on the concept of Paying it forward, you make something for a couple people & they do the same for others.

I looove stories, if they involve friends being happy, even better! Last year, a couple friends from work invited me & another friend to the annual grape stomping event held at Ponte winery in Temecula. As fun as the event was watching people run around covered in grape pulp, Ponte winery is a special for them because they were married there May 12, 2006. As they have just celebrated another wedding anniversary, I wish them many more! :)

If you want to take part in your own crafty surprise, here's a start:

Crafty Surprise

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It'll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you when you least expect it. I may even create something totally unbelievable and surprise you at work!! Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange. Or extremely boring.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your note.
7. Send your mailing address if you don't live close to me!

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I do not see you post your own note to pay this forward. ( well, not really..)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Neuron neurosis: Sketch to Completion

Funny the Metal Clay gallery on Yahoo Groups has a sketch to completion themed challenge this month as that is the whole point of my blog-venture, well here goes: Neuron-ic as the Next Guy.

This doodle has been bidding it's time in the sketchbook since my birthday in February, & the amethyst cab was one of my gifts. The design for the ring is based on a neuron twining itself around 2 fingers. The ring turned out close to my original sketch, though it evolved a bit to accommodate for functionality & structural support.

I first started building the ring shank with 1 thick coil laid out over a S shaped pattern. After it dried, the tentacle & bezel setting "cup" perched on one side & decorative coils tacked onto the others with syringe. (I do <3 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">Humpty Dumpty proportions, & never got put back together the same again. (The nice way of summarizing a couple hr long ordeal!) A messy blessing in disguise, as the final ring band with 3 layers of thinner coils is lighter & more proportional looking than the original band.
As I don't have a kiln, the secret to building larger & more abstract things seems to be Overlay paste & repeated torch firings. Fire small pieces, cement them together with overlay paste, dry/sand/fire, & repeat. So the 3 swirls on the dendrite tail (swirly end) were formed & fired together, before being pasted to the previously fired setting (yay for salvage!). One thing I found about overlay paste is that it doesn't particularly appreciate sand paper or files. Smoothing blemishes with a rotary tool after firing still remains to be seen, but I'm psyched everything is holding together nicely!

The final challenge for this ring was to set the amethyst in the bezel setting, which I haven't tried before but it didn't seem that difficult. The stone was easy enough to get into the setting, & though it isn't technically the right tool, I used the scoop/burnisher to push the bezel walls in. It is the tiniest bit loose still, but the stone doesn't seem like it will fall out. I tried putting the ring in the tumbler with stainless steel shot to hopefully work harden the ring & bezel, though the bezel seems unaffected. Probably the shot was too big to get into the little nooks & crannies.

So here's one that's hopped off my sketchbook. Going from theory & asking for advice to actually doing has resulted in some "oh duh" moments, & even better - more ideas, including 1 with the original attempted ring shank, hmmm.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Glass fused Pokemon!!!

My brother expressed interest in glass fusing, so we both gave it a shot. I think he's pretty good at it!

Steven's pieces assembled, tacked, & ready to fuse.

Can you tell who they are? Eevee is on the left (I love how it's cheek fuzz sticks out & the dichro is perfect for the face!) & Giratina is on the right (SO much work went into that one!)

First jewelry show *check*

What a weekend! I admit I've read about doing jewelry shows, but never attempted one before. It has always seemed SO daunting. Well, a week to prepare is pretty good motivation to get things done! The seller's permit wasn't as difficult as expected to obtain as expected, make some more pieces, update business cards & hang tags. In the end, not so scary & definitely do-able.

The Pretty Little Pageant turn out was fairly small, but I got lots of feedback, made new friends & got to hang out with old ones. It was a fun learning experience :)

Table set up - Left: Merveilles by Estelle. Center: My ACS cork collection, A different Vintage Right: Swarovski & fun wire wrapped jewelry.

I was around the corner from most of the other vendors, who were grouped around the entrance, but people heading to the registers would stop to check things out in my corner.

Some new friends include:
Mary of Bear Chick Her jewelry is quite fun & tasty looking!
Yolanda of Yolanda's clay & jewelry creations She had a bunch of fun pendants on watercolor ribobons!
Kaori of DK Delights She has really cute button jewelry, & wonderfully colorful displays!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pretty Little Pagent

It's been a hectic this weekend, but I'm really excited to participate in Tall Mouse's Pretty Little Pageant jewelry show this Saturday! I will be at the Tall Mouse in Yorba Linda, which craft store I grew up with, so fun for all! :)

So what's the scoop?

Saturday May 2nd from 10am - 3pm
Tall Mouse in Yorba Linda
7576 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
(714) 996-0101

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time out from jewelry making for more jewelry!

There's something brewing this week, requiring a 3 day weekend, but more on that later. :) Today's break involved stepping away from the clay to go to a jewelry & handmade soap/candle party held by a fellow jewelry making coworker. It's relaxing to step out of my busy bee mind for a couple hrs & hanging out with people I don't run into or talk to everyday.

I DO find it funny how "hey, can I use this for my clay!" pops up at utterly random times!

Essential clutter in my craftspace includes a lightbulb & neck massager that have never been used for their intended purposes. The deoderant looking thing is a soy lotion bar that I'm highly tempted to add to my clay kit as that tin of Burt's bee's in the corner is looking a bit sad!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

She's gone crafting

So it seems this whole blogging thing will take some practice! Either way, here's a some of the shenanigans that has been bouncing 'round my brain:

In the debate over cupcakes or scones today, the winner is scones!

These are Mango-honey scones, recipe adopted from
I really like how the dough puffed up & became ginormous after baking! As I haven't made scones before, I'm not sure if the dough was stiff from over mixing or from the frozen mangoes, seems to taste ok though.

Last weekend I hung out with a friend at the craft store she works at & got in touch with my crafter roots again :) They had blank canvases decorated with paper, fabric, maribu, etc. What started as a started as a mini-folding screen idea, somehow turned into a jewelry (or scone!) box of sorts.

The canvases are 8x10, the side with the mesh is a regular artist's canvas, & the other side is a deeper gallery style canvas. The insides of the canvases are painted with black acrylic paint, & the hardware cloth attached with a staple gun.

The little the hinges & upholstery tacks ar so cute! <3

Surprising to me, only 1 "fat quarter" of fabric was needed, which included some overlap so the edges of the fabric could be folded in neatly. The fabric is attached to the face of the canvases with spray mount & at the edges with upholstery tacks. The latch & hinges screwed easily into the the canvas & fabric.

No plans for jewelry stuff & look what happens, go figure! :P

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter & Happy Spring!

I'm off flitting around this weekend, but leave my Cloudswing aerialist pal here for your entertainment :)

This adorable lampwork aerialist hails from the studio of Stephanie Sersich & the yummy sherbet-y ribbon created by Heidi Bond of Jamn Glass.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tsuru crane carving

Has it really been a week since Breabeadworks' Bead Away in Las Vegas? Well, obviously there's been too much fun (& tool unpacking) to be had!

I took a carving workshop with Gordon Uyehara, & learned how scrape/carve a tsuru out of a flat piece of clay. It was challenging, fun when you get into the groove of it (haha), & something I want to keep playing with. Besides learning the techniques highlighted in the projet & being able to hang out with clay buddies, I also get the reminder to have patience & be gentle with my pieces. Common sense, but still a good reminder!

So it seems my claying has also spread to some of my friends, though in polymer. I <3 getting other people into crafts, don't you? :D

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pursuing a Passion

I've found the more I try to single mindedly pursue 1 medium, Art Clay right now, the more tangents I find to explore & incorporate. With so many different possibilities, my sketchbook ends up being filled with doodles, but not many things actually make it out of the ink & into my jewelry box.