Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I've Been Working On: Christmas Presents 2014

Wow! It's been a full year since I blogged last but I promise I have a good excuse.  Not long after my last post (the jellyroll heart tutorial) we found out I was pregnant with baby #8.  I have mentioned before that I have miserable pregnancies and this one was no exception.  In fact, it was the worst one yet.  Needless to say, I did very little claying and even less blogging.  But baby arrived safely on Halloween and is now almost 4 months old and I am finally getting back into doing the things I have missed for the last year.  It's kind of a bittersweet thing - I've loved holding my new baby almost constantly even though it meant things didn't get done. That stuff will always be there and baby most certainly won't.  But now she's not wanting to be held all of the time and so I get more time to do other things.

But I digress.

I did manage to carve out some time at Christmas to make presents for the extended family members and I wanted to share them with you.  I bought a bunch of big glass vases at the local thrift store and wanted to gussy them up with clay but I didn't want them to all be the same.  So I scoured the internet for inspiration and then turned off the computer (so the pictures would come out of my head and not from someone else) and started sketching.  I also decided, that since I had a ton of mud (clay scraps that have been mixed together to make one solid muddy color) that I would use that and then use pearl powder for the color.  I was going to do different colors but when I saw what the silver looked like on there, I decided to do them all the same color.  For the tree one and the one with the flowers and vines all over, I had to take the clay off the vase after it was baked and superglue it back on. (Oh, and forgive the lousy photos. I was trying to hurry and get pictures so I could deliver the gifts and I didn't get a chance to preview them.) So here goes:

I made this one for my husband's brother's widow.  It's got a tree on each side. 

The trees up close.

This one was for my mother- and father-in-law. There's a "rope" that goes around the neck of the vase.

The flowers up close.

I made this one for my husband's sister and her husband.  The main part was supposed to look like twine wrapped around the vase.  The leaf shapes were intended to look like large buttons.

"Buttons" up close.

(This was the worst picture.)  I made this one for my husband's brother and his wife.  I made the vines similar to the way I do the tree branches and then added the flowers.

Close-up of the flowers and vines. (Sorry for the blurriness.)

I made this one for my dad and step-mom.  I cut out shapes from the top part and then appliqued them on the bottom part.

Close-up of the cut-outs.

I did this one for my mom and step-dad.  I love how the roundness of the vines contrasts with the perfectly flat flower petals and leaves.

Flowers and vines up close.

This last one I made for my sister. I took a long, flat strip of clay and formed it into the bow shape.  There's also a ribbon that goes around the neck of the vase.  This was probably my favorite vase.

Close-up of the bow.  I gave it some texture to make it look a little like lace.

I loved making these and may do some smaller ones to add to my Artfire shop.  Either way, I'll be making at least one more as my oldest daughter has requested one with roses on it.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Polymer Clay Tutorial: Jellyroll Heart Cane

This pretty cane tutorial is just in time for Valentine's Day!  
red clay (for the heart)
black clay (for the background)

pasta machine or acrylic roller
tissue blade
cutters in various sizes (optional)


Condition your clay and roll both colors out in long strips with the red being about twice as thick as the black.

I rolled the red out on a #0 setting on my Atlas and the black was at #3 or #4.

Lay it on the work surface with the black on top and press your blade into the end of the clay at an angle.  (This step is optional - it just makes it easier to get the jellyroll started.)

Carefully roll the clay up into a jellyroll, pressing firmly to keep any excess air out.  Roll up about 3/4 of the strip.

Now flip it over so the red is on the top.

Make your indentation with the blade again if desired and roll up that end just one revolution or so.

Now make a long, narrow wedge of black to start filling in the inside of the heart.  I missed a photo here but I just took a block of conditioned clay and trimmed it to the shape with my tissue blade.

Make another block of clay from the black about the same width as the length of the cane.

Find yourself a cutter with a round part about the same size as the larger part of the jellyroll.  I'm using a gingerbread man head.  It doesn't need to be a full circle.

Stand your block of black on end and use the cutter to cut out a round part lining up with one corner of the block as seen here:

See?  It fits!  Now for the larger curve.

Find another cutter that will fit the curve of the black part you've already put in there and cut away at your block again.

Stick the block in there and press it in firmly.  Now, if you are at all familiar with my methods, you know I like to overpack and cut away the excess.  That's what I did here.  Line up your blade with the two jellyrolls as shown and cut away the excess black.  You should have a flat surface there with no gaps.  If the second block of black wasn't big enough, you may have a gap.  You'll need to fill that in before continuing.

Make sure you trim away some of the black on the smaller jellyroll and expose the red underneath.  If you don't, the bottom of the heart will have a gap.

Now fill in the back of the heart with black the same way.

Roll out some thick sheets of black and wrap them around 3/4 of the cane.  You don't need to do any on the inside of the heart.

Trim the inside of the heart flat again and then cut away the excess on the ends to make a rectangular cane.  I laid a second blade across the cane to make sure the two long ends were parallel.

Now you have a rectangular half-heart cane.

Cut it in half.

Put the two halves together to form a heart.

I wanted my cane to be square so I added a sheet of black to each side of the cane.  Your's may or may not need this step.

Let it rest for a while and then reduce.  Now go find something to cover with it!

I covered (yet another) pen.  I think I'll make some filigree hearts out of the red to make charms for the pen.

Hope you like it!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Finds on Artfire: Snowflakes

We've sure had a lot of the white stuff around here lately.  There's a huge maple tree in our front yard that collects the fluffy, wet kind of snow on its branches and then when the temperatures rise above freezing, the tree rains on the yard.  The kids think it's quite fun.  Me - not so much - especially when I have to go under the tree to get to my car.

But it sure does make for some gorgeous landscapes and, up close, it makes for some lovely artistic inspiration.  So enjoy these snowflakes from Artfire sellers:

You can also enjoy these photos of my own work inspired by snowflakes:
Currently only available by special order.  Contact me for more information.

Available in my Artfire shop.

This one sold a couple of years ago.