Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

Okay, here it is... the blog post I promised.

I've been working frantically on Christmas stuff for my Etsy shop for the last several weeks because I realized at the beginning of November that I really needed to have Christmas things listed by Thanksgiving.  Of course that meant designing, creating, photographing, writing descriptions, and listing several items in just a matter of weeks.  Hence, no time for blogging or anything else. 

Anyway, so here's a little bit about my journey to getting Christmas ornaments in my shop.

My first idea was to make 4 different snowflake canes in translucent (snowflakes) and white (backgrounds) so that I could place them over a colored base layer and have the snowflakes be any pastel color I wanted.  That's where I hit my first snag.  I apparently can't make a pretty snowflake cane to save my life.  This is what I came up with:
The only one that looks even remotely like a snowflake to me is the bottom right one.  (The top right is actually leftover from the center of the bottom right.)

But I made the ornament I had in mind anyway:
Except for the snowflakes that look more like kaleidoscopes, it turned out pretty much how I imagined.  Of course, it didn't go all smoothly.  I had it propped on a skewer on my work table, waiting to be baked when my 18month-old decided it looked like a lollipop (she loves to chew clay anyway-she doesn't swallow it, just chews it up and spits it out) and took a couple of bites out of it.  Luckily, I had extra strings and was able to fix it up good as new.

All in all, I decided I'd had enough of that idea and scrapped it for now.  I might revisit it next year.

So, I thought I'd try some traditional polyclay filigree this time:
It turned out gorgeous if I do say so myself.  However, it took probably 10 hours or more to make and I'm not sure I love doing filigree on a round surface enough to make these to sell.  Oh, well, another ornament for me.

BTW, you wanna know what happens when your clay is done and you just turn the oven off and leave your project in there and forget about it and then later you go to make dinner and you turn on the broiler to preheat and all of a sudden the house is full of this terrible burning plastic smell and you realize you still had clay in the oven that is now getting broiled?  Take a look:
Yeah, I'm using plastic bulbs for a base and needless to say, they didn't stand up to the heat any better than the clay did.  It's a good thing Christmas tree ornaments only show on one side at a time 'cause I hung it on the tree anyway.

I was trying to come up with something pretty, unusual and relatively quick and enjoyable to make.  Here's the one that finally made it in my Etsy shop:
It took a little engineering to get all of the petals lined up so that they covered the entire bulb and still looked like a flower but I think I was successful.

Next I wanted to try some different colors.  I Googled poinsettias and found out that they come in almost any color but I chose a few of the more traditional ones.

 Blue (although I think the veins should have been skinnier):
And last but not least, pink:
So, that's what I've got in there now.  I've also done some mini ornaments that I will have to blog about later.

Oh, and one last one that I am still experimenting with and trying to decide whether I like it or not.  The photos aren't very good but it's teal and silver.  The skinny stripes were done using a mica shift technique  so they sparkle two different ways.  
Side view:
Top view:
Bottom view:

Hey, let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas for me to try.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cyber Monday Sale!

Oh my heavens!!  It's been way too long since I blogged last.  Don't have time now, either.  Just a quick word:


There it is.  Everything in my Etsy shop is 50% off until Monday night.  I'm trying really hard to get the word out about my work so help me out and tell everyone you know!


P.S. I will do a real blog post as soon as I can steal some time. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Forbidden Forest- I won!

Okay, thanks to any of you who voted for me on the Polymer Clay Central Challenge!  In case you haven't looked yet, I won 1st place!

Anyway, I loved making that particular piece.  I wasn't going to enter the contest this month 'cause the theme was "Spooks" and I'm not really all that into the whole Halloween thing... :P  Anyway, Rocke talked me into it and so I had to find something I could do with the theme.  Then I realized that Harry Potter has everything to do with Halloween and I set out in search of inspiration.  I found it in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."  It was the illustration for the chapter titled "The Eye of the Snake" (not sure of the chapter # offhand).  And the rest is history.  It was so much fun to make and now I'm ready to try a few of the other pictures in the books as well.

So, here's a few notes about how this piece came to be:

So, I wanted to put a hint of something hiding back there in the trees (for those who don't know, it's a thestral) besides just the eyes (which glow in the dark, by the way) so I put some translucent liquid clay on there and then took my heat gun to it to shine it up a bit.  Well, I overdid the heat a little and browned some of the leaves.  Luckily, it worked out okay.  I really like the results. (Of course, I had to burn some more of the leaves to make it look like it was on purpose, and then I discovered that hitting the tree trunks with the heat brought out the colors in them- smoked up the house real good.  Not a technique I recommend unless you are outside and wearing a mask.)

Here's a closeup of the grass and rocks.  I put several shades of green through the extruder with a really tiny hole, cut short pieces and rolled one end to a point for each blade of grass.  For the rocks, I mixed three bits of translucent clay with pepper, ground oregano, and ground cloves.  Then I made them into the little shapes you see here.  (I burned the rocks with the heat gun a little too, although that wasn't intentional- the trans clay just really burns easily.  Hmmm, I think Rocke needs to take away the heat gun...)

And here you can see the depth of the piece.  I absolutely love it! 

I plan on making some more similar pieces only with joshua trees and cacti.  We used to live in Arizona and I love the shapes the trunks of those trees make.  We'll see how that goes.

I know I promised another tutorial soon but I had a few setbacks and am still working on it.  Bear with me, maybe I'll have two in a row.