Monday, October 31, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Ann Kruglak

I believe that everyone is intrinsically creative, and the variety and amazing strangeness of our dreams proves. We all dream, which at core is, a creative act. Dreams and their origin in the deep psyche have been central to my life path, and to my art which connects me to my spiritual center, and the greater Mystery of the universe. I treasure beauty (in nature and art and all its forms) as a gift that infuses my life with meaning, joy, wonder and gratitude. By creating art, I work to bring more beauty into the world, in hopes of sharing a sense of wonder and wholeness with others. I created Mystic Dreamer: Art for the Earth, as a service project, to donate 100% of proceeds to rainforest preservation (World Land Trust - US and Nature and Culture International) as a way of giving back to the Earth. My deepest hope is that my art project will inspire others to bring their gifts of service into the world. 

Visit Ann on Facebook for ongoing dialog on art, dreams, creativity and spirituality.

Visit her Etsy Shop for gifts and treats.

 Deep Space Kachina

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Jackie Ryan

 Hummingbirds and butterflies, gems of peridot, green garnet, Swarovski crystals 

Jackie Ryan makes beautiful polymer clay pieces that are featured on her website, Kydo Jewellery.  You can also find out what she has been up to on her blog.  Jackie writes:

I started out in the arts as a botanical painter later a soft sculputre artist then into making jewellery with silver and gold but, a few years back I was introduced to Premo Polymer Clay, as a painter I thought 'it's a bit like paint in solid form' many years ago I worked with clay but this was different I had colour now and many more colours could be mixed from the basics! To begin with, I made different items from small sculptures to jewellery, which is now my preference.

I prefer to make appliqu├ęd raised and sculptural designs I make mainly necklaces some are very elaborate, but all contain gemstones, opals, fossils, pearls, vintage Swarovski crystals or other elements of silver or gold. I work from my own sketches and make all my own templates, each piece in a design is formed by hand.

Last year with the high cost of gold and silver, I got to thinking how nice it would be to work with gold clay that I could shape into my own designs for necklaces and pendants, a lovely setting for beautiful designer Jaspers, Agates and Gemstones etc, I used carefully chosen quality stones, pearls or crystals to add the perfect necklace to the pendants and neckpieces. So working from my original sketches; I spent the next six months building a collection of art necklaces and pendants. And so the Gold Collection was born.

The inspiration. Water plays a large part in my life as I live close to the ocean, enjoy local lakes and streams, with reeds and swans, birds of all kinds, I love the ponds in our garden, flowers, trees are important to me, also mosses and ferns. Each piece of jewellery I sketch has an inspiration in nature and the natural world around me. Sometimes it is a shape I want to capture or maybe a bird or a beautiful Jasper cab inspires a picture, or a glorious Sunset over the sea. Whatever lifts thought above the mundane into beauty and creativity.

My jewellery has been in magazines and I have won contests. I also had three pieces accepted for the Ganoksin online exhibition Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Misty Morning - a necklace I made for myself, Jasper shapes with peach & grey moonstone necklace. Inspired by an early morning walk to watch a family of swans some years ago (a magical moment I will always remember).

Flames - a flame agate cab with vintage Swarovski crystals tipping the flames and embellishing the chain. 

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up! Jewelry Making
Break into glass jewelry making with these tutorials and techniques. 

Beads & Books
How long does it really take you to make a piece of jewelry? Michelle shares the long process behind a simple pair of earrings.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has a cute fabric brooch idea for Halloween.  

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
This week's Tuesday Tangle features handmade earrings of metal clay and wire.  

Resin Crafts!
This week we have a nice series showing you how to use an ice tray to make fun skull and bone cast pieces.  

Snap out of it,Jean! There's beading to be done!
Wonderful, really exciting giveaway from Beaducation! Read all about it and sign up on Jean's blog!  

A Bead A Day
Are you sharing your talents with others? Lisa shares her recent experience teaching a group of friends a simple, but rewarding project.  

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Artist profile: Cindy Lietz

Artist: Cindy Lietz
Business name: Polymer Clay Tutor

Website & Blog:
Polymer Clay Tutor blog
Bead Videos, video library

Cindy, how do you describe your work?
I would describe my work and my style of teaching to be easy going, friendly, nature inspired, a little rustic, sometimes quirky and a whole lot of fun! I consider myself your partner and guide in the learning experience rather than  your master, hence the name Polymer Clay Tutor.

What is your creative process like?
My creative mind is always whirring...think several hamsters on wheels trying to outrun each other. And it is a good thing it is that busy, because I have made the commitment to come up with a new polymer clay or jewelry making tutorial each and every week for my students. As well as creating new techniques and samples for the tutorials, there are a lot of non-creative tasks that also need to be done on a daily there is a lot of multi-tasking going on during my creative process.

My laptop desk and clay table are up next to each other and in an L-shape formation. That means that while working on the computer, blogging, reading emails and answering questions, I can spin my chair and work on an idea or project whenever inspiration strikes. You can always tell when I have been sanding beads while working on the computer, by the white clay dust on the keyboard and mouse!

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I am a self taught mixed media artist and polymer clay instructor. All my training has come from making tons of stuff, in a gazzillion types of mediums and making a whole lot of mistakes.

I believe that mistakes are not failures...they are just learning tools. It is a very satisfying process to be able to figure out solutions to problems in techniques that didn't work the way you wanted them to.

Some very cool techniques have come out of an experiment that went 'terribly wrong'. You could never be done learning and improving your skills, there are just too many cool possibilities and not enough time to try them all. It's a journey of constantly working on better ways of doing things while improving and enjoying the process along the way.

As far as when I became a professional craft instructor, my very first teaching experience was actually on television. A friend and TV Producer saw some of my work done with recycled materials and wondered if I'd be interested in doing my own 1 hour Christmas Craft Special for a public television station here in Canada. I was, and we filmed it a couple months later.

The show was called The Sophisticated Scrounge and it aired nationally. I got pregnant shortly after with my daughter, and felt the Television "guru" lifestyle wasn't going to work for me and my new little family. So I transitioned into teaching local workshops in the Continuing Education system (Evenings and weekends).

Things eventually progressed to a completely online video based teaching strategy that my husband Doug and I now run full time. Not your normal way of going about starting a craft business but one that has worked well for us.

Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?
Besides the obviously critical need for polymer clay and an oven to bake it in, my most used tools are a pasta machine and a sharp clay blade. I suppose I could 'live' without them, but I wouldn't want to.

What inspires you to create?
Life around me is what inspires me most. Flowers in the garden become inspiration for beautiful color palettes and stunning shaped beads. A sunset becomes a Teardrop Blend. An etched glass plate makes for wonderful textures when pressed into clay. A quirky little doodle of a Skull and Crossbones becomes a fabulous polymer clay cane. Inspiration is everywhere... you just need to open your eyes.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
Running your own business based on your creative passions, may look like sunshine and butterflies to a lot of people, but you and I both know it is not an easy path. You need to sacrifice a lot at the beginning as far as income and free time. Plus the workload and stress is way heavier than most people imagine. Then as you begin to succeed, the 'haters' come out of the woodwork. That can be a hard thing emotionally to deal with, especially if you weren't expecting it, like I wasn't.

If you have a vision and just stick with it (usually past what friends and family think is wise to do), you can make it. And I tell you there is nothing more rewarding than having thrilled customers writing you long letters about how much joy your tutorials have given them. How they feel excited to get into their studios and create. And the freedom it gives them from their stress and in some cases, physical pain. Those touching letters and comments make every grueling hour it took to get where we have with our business, completely worth while. It is so much bigger than learning how to make a great polymer clay is about living an inspired life!

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Just keep making stuff. Try everything...even styles and techniques you didn't think you'd like. You're going to learn something new in the process. It has been said that you will become one of THE experts in your field when you have spent 10,000 hrs on a particular subject. They didn't say you needed to be a genius... they said you need to put in the time. Just keep working at it. You can only get better with time!

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Customer service, writing blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, answering questions, technical issues, etc., etc. Basically I spend 80% of my time on the computer and 20% creating new tutorials and products. Same goes for my husband Doug. It will be good when we can hire some help so that we can free up more time, to do what we are best at. For me that would be creating more content and for him it would doing more marketing and sales (as well as shooting more video). That too, will come with time...soon I hope!

What's your favorite comfort food?
My two favorite comfort foods are Steak and Cake. Nice thing is they rhyme, so it can't easily be forgotten when my Birthday comes along. ;-)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Polymer clay tutorials from the archives

So, you already know that I'm not too much of a polymer clay girl, but I do enjoy diving into it once in awhile.  I was actually surprised by how many tutorials I have posted that involve polymer clay, including the three that I posted this month!

Making an assemblage style necklace

A polymer clay frame pendant

A textured polymer clay pendant

Polymer clay swirl necklace

Passion flower necklace

Simple polymer clay earrings

Silver leaf polymer clay cabochons 

Polymer clay frame necklace

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Framed: a polymer clay mixed media necklace

Like many of you, I am a collector, a saver, a…dare I say it?...packrat.  There are many things I can’t bring myself to throw away, including greeting cards.  So I really wanted to figure out a way to remember the cards, but to weed out my collection somewhat.  Framed is the result.  It’s so much fun to be able to take greeting cards that you enjoyed receiving and recycle them into jewelry that you’ll now enjoy wearing!  Polymer clay, an exacto knife, and some greeting cards with pretty designs are what you’ll need to get started.  I used a Christmas card that I received long ago to make this necklace.                         

Materials and Tools:
1 oz black polymer clay
Greeting cards
24 silver-toned jump rings
Diamond Glaze by Judi-Kins or 2-part epoxy resin
7 inch silver-toned bracelet chain with lobster claw

Parchment paper
Rolling pin
Exacto knife
Bone folder
Rubber stamp with crackle pattern (optional)
Small paint brush
Chain nose pliers File
Wire cutters

1. Condition and roll out the black polymer clay on parchment paper to a sheet approximately 1/8 inch thick.  You can run your clay through a pasta machine if you want to, but having each link the exact same thickness is not critical. 

2. Cut small pictures out of your greeting card with the exacto knife.  Mine are all 1 to 1 ¼ inches lengthwise, but the size is up to you.  Lay one picture onto the sheet of clay and use the bone folder to sink it down into the clay.  Push and smooth it down into the clay until it is recessed by a millimeter or so.

3. Cut the polymer clay around the picture with the exacto knife, leaving a narrow border.  Smooth the edges with your fingers.  Cut a slit in each end with the exacto knife and insert a jump ring half way into each slit.  Smooth the clay closed around them.

4. Repeat these steps for each of the remaining links, plus make a smaller link for a dangle at the end of the necklace chain if desired.  I made seven links plus the dangle.  Use your rubber stamp to add texture to the frames if desired. 
5. Place all the links on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Bake as directed.  Exact times and temperatures vary depending upon the brand of clay used. 

6. After the links have cooled, use a small paintbrush to coat the tops of each with either 2-part epoxy resin or with a clear coat finish like Diamond Glaze.  Make sure the recessed wells that you created with each picture are completely filled with glaze.  Let them dry thoroughly.

7. To assemble your necklace, use jump rings to attach all the links together.  Cut a 7 inch chain bracelet into halves, and use jump rings to attach the chain pieces to each end of the links.  Attach your smaller dangle to the free end of the chain. 

8. Decide which greeting card you’re going to cut up to make your next framed necklace!

Copyright 2011 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Polymer clay artists from the archives

We've seen some really wonderful new-to-us polymer clay artists this month and received some great updates, and I don't want you to forget about some of our old favorites! 

Amy E Fraser

Heather Powers

CA Therien

Helen Breil

Dayle Doroshow 

Tina Farthing

Lisa Mackin

Rebecca George

Hunter Reynolds

Kristin Hipple

Ann Kruglak

Cindy Lietz

Tiffany Long

Jackie Ryan

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!


A Bead A Day
Need to stop buying and start making? Lisa is having the same problem, BUT check out these sparkly connectors she found. Jewelry Making
You will fall in love with this new necklace tutorial, or at the very least follow your heart.

Art Bead Scene
Jennifer shares a free tutorial on making adorable bead zipper pulls, perfect to spruce up a fall jacket!    

Beads & Books
See the fun earrings Michelle made with sari ribbon and get inspired to work with this popular material.  

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Cindy's back from her class with Hadar Jacobson. Take a look at the mokume gane pieces she made from metal clay.  

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shows off her holiday packaging and questions photography in another Etsy Boot Camp post.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews the beautiful new book by Heather Powers, Jewelry Designs from Nature.
The Bead Dreamer
Charlene reviews the book Color, Texture and Casting for Jewelers    

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book review: Jewelry Designs from Nature

My friend Heather Powers has written a new book which is perfect to introduce to you during Polymer Clay MonthJewelry Designs from Nature features gorgeous nature-inspired necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that Heather has designed in tribute to her beloved woodlands, flowers, fields, ponds, gardens, and seas.  You will probably already be familiar with Heather's beautiful polymer clay beads, but perhaps you didn't know that she loves creating finished pieces as well.

This book is not about making beads, but rather takes you deeply into the creative process that Heather employs as she gathers artist-made beads and finds a jewelry "home" for each.  You won't have to worry about not having the exact same beads that Heather uses: she gives you extensive information on size and feel if you'd like to make your own (or just gather them at shows!), and she also gives you contact information for the artists whose work she uses just in case you see a bead you can't live without.

The pieces that Heather makes are lush, charming, balanced but asymmetrical, and totally unique.  The feel of many pieces is rustic, which enables the student to chose base metals and less-expensive beads to mix in.  We all know how difficult it's become to afford gold and even silver...well, these designs look best with brass, bronze, and copper anyway, so that makes me really really happy!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yay for Sue!!

Sue, who writes Sue Beads, is the winner of the fabulous vintage bead package from Bumbershoot Designs and Beads!  Congratulations, Sue!!

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Book review: Patterns in Polymer

 Patterns in Polymer: Imprint and Accent Bead Techniques

Are you bored?  Are you in the mood for something completely new?  Whether or not you have any experience with polymer clay, I can't imagine that Julie Picarello's new book, Patterns in Polymer, won't excite you!  this book has the kind of cover that makes you go, Whoa!  How did she do that??  Well, Julie wants to show you exactly how.

Patterns in Polymer launches right into an explanation of Mokume Gane and how the techniques can be applied to polymer clay...much easier than with metal, I do believe!  Starting with a stack of colored layers Julie will teach you how to imprint the stacks of clay for maximum color impact, slice off layers for unexpected pattern treats, make beads and pendants from the gorgeous layers, and put them together into truly unique projects.  There is an excellent section in the beginning with the basics of working with polymer clay, including a section on color blending that will have you mixing like a pro.

Tell me that you don't want to learn to make fabulous one-of-a-kind beads, cabochons, and pendants like these!  Patterns in Polymer is published by Kalmbach Books, a leader in all things beading! 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Mona Fleming

 "True love stories never have endings.." Wedding theme. 8x10 photo opening

Website: Designs By Mona 

Over the past few years I've had a roller coaster with my art work between conquering life changes as well as being a single parent! A full time job put Designs By Mona at a slower pace last year but also gave me the opporunity to really explore new ideas and techniques with polymer clay! Even through the slow times I still continued to take orders from many of my clents, only feeding that desire to put more time back into my true passion, Designs By Mona.

"Friendship is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world" Friend Theme. Vintage/ Retro/ Earthy styles. 5x7 photo opening

I still love making my custom "traditional" frames since each one has it's own story to tell, BUT I have also added some new pieces to my portfolio including some keepsake boxes! As you know, many of my custom orders are for gifts of any occasion so what's better than to capture those same stories and themes on a keepsake/memory box for that special someone to hold their very own treasures inside! Polymer clay has really made the "customized" features possible in such an unique way and I can't seem to get enough of it! Although my artwork includes a wide variety of mixed medias, all my masterpieces contain the magic of polymer clay helping create that "one-of-a-kind" touch. Without polymer clay though, it just wouldn't be the same.

My inspiration is the true passion of art and what its abilities are.

 My client wanted one made for each of his children with their Persian names engraved as well as "Laugh Often" "Live Strong" and "Love Truly" Indian/ royal style. 8x10 photo opening

"ForgetMeNots" Keepsake Box

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Beadaholique beading challenge

Falling Leaves
Deadline: 10/26/11

Consider entering the first ever Beadaholique Beading Challenge! This month the challenge is to create an original piece of jewelry inspired by the theme of “Falling Leaves.” Beadaholique will select 10 finalists from the contest entries, all of whom will have their work published on their blog and Facebook page, for public voting. The winner will receive a $50 Beadaholique gift certificate and further exposure on the blog and Facebook page!

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Silver leaf polymer clay cabochons - part two

Last week, part one of this tutorial covered how to make these sparkling polymer clay cabochons.  Today, I want to share with you one way to construct a wearable pendant from one of the cabs.  For more specifics on bead embroidery or more details on each of the stitches and steps listed below, please download my free e-book chapter of  Every Bead Has a Story.    

1. Glue to a piece of soft suede-like fabric and back stitch around the cabochon. Use an even number of beads.

2. Use peyote stitch to build up a bezel around the cabochon.  Add another row or more of back stitch.

3. Cut out the embroidery with a scant 1/8th inch of extra fabric.  Lightly glue the piece to the wrong side of some backing fabric (I used the same suede-like fabric for both top and bottom).

4. Cut the backing off even with the top and add edging brick stitch all around the edge.

5. Add a picot stitch around the outside.

6. Stitch a square stitch band to the back of the cabochon near the top and connect it into a loop.

7. Slip a cable necklace through the loop.


Copyright 2011 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Hunter

Hunter sent me an update on her wonderful whimsical polymer clay work, along with a link to a new website, Lexn7th!

Hunter writes:
Since your last blog post featuring some of my work, I have been a busy bee. I've been doing a lot of custom work for many different occasions, from weddings and birthdays to female sports fan OOAKs. I was listed on etsy and other sites, but I was not able to do a lot of branding and many of my customers kept urging me to create my own site, so I did. In July of this year, I opened Lexn7th where I create not only clay pieces, but pieces I've made using a wide variety of other materials. I REALLY enjoy working with clay, and trying to find new ways to bring my ideas to fruition . As you can see, I am still experimenting with different techniques and trying to invent news ones.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!


The Bead Dreamer
Charlene shares how life seems to be crowding out jewelry making! Sometimes that's just how it is... Jewelry Making
October's jewelry designer interview includes some interesting ideas from Lorelei Eurto.  

Art Bead Scene
Heather shares a free project that tells a little story of her recent move back to Michigan.

Carmi's Art/Life World
A little Apoxie Clay goes a long way when you have time to play in the studio.  

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares another week of Etsy Boot Camp goals.
Resin Crafts!
This week Carmi demos several layers of resin in a small tin.  

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reminisces about the lovely book which she and Melanie of Earthenwood were in. She used Melanie's knockout components and they look just as fab today as they did then!  


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Dayle Doroshow

Last year I was privileged to introduce you to Dayle Doroshow and her amazing mixed media work that features polymer clay.  Well, she hasn't been sitting around resting for the past year, that's for sure.  Check out her new work.  Dayle has a new book too, called Creative Sparks.  Very cool!

Also, during the months of June and July 2012, Dayle will be leading mixed media workshops to FRANCE!  If you've ever wanted to go, don't miss out!

Website: Dayle Doroshow

I have always been intrigued and excited by the mystery of ancient cultures and other countries. Dreams of archaeological ruins and travels to far off places have influenced my artwork from the time of my studies in traditional ceramics in New York City. Upon discovering polymer clay in 1994, I’ve enjoyed creating and learning new techniques with a pioneering medium while still reflecting my passion for the magic of past civilizations and their artisans.

Recent work is inspired by and using textiles along with polymer clay. I'm using fabric to inspire surface designs on the jewelry and also creating large fabric collages that incorporate polymer embellishments as part of the overall design. Several new pieces are on my blog ad will soon be in my new online shop.

I enjoy sharing my love of creating with mixed media and teach many workshops across the country and in France. Workshops range from one day to five days and are usually focused on a theme or series of mixed media techniques.

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