Sunday, April 24, 2011

great etsy craft finds

WhoKnowsWhat Aren't these metal flowers great? I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I think they'll be a fun component in a project (like attached to a chandelier, wire wrapped around a mirror or frame or separated to use in a necklace).

IUsedToBeATree I bought these to make kokeshi dolls for the kids, since the first batch I made for Azalea came out so well. These blanks are perfectly smooth and don't require any sanding, just grab your paints and get started! I use acrylic paints and mediums to the paint faces and clothes and seal the surface with matte or satin varnish. I'm so excited to paint these! I think an ocean creature theme would look interesting.

Giant Dwarf This felt is really pretty! The felt is made from a blend of tencel and wool fibers, making it naturally soft and sturdy. It's thinner than regular wool felt and thicker than polyester felt. I have lots of ideas for this stuff! Doll clothes, flower hairpins and small bags for gifts. I'd also like to see if this felt could be used with mohair wool, as prefelts.

I love finding good sources, especially if they support small businesses in the U.S. All the photos are from the listed shops.


Check out this customer picture! The new winged skull was sewn onto a leather saddlebag that fits on a motorcycle. I think it looks perfect. Seeing this bag reminded me of some red leather I've been stowing away until inspiration strikes. I just love it when folks use our pieces in creative ways!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Returning home from a vacation always seems a little surreal, relieving....yet strangely as though your brain hasn't caught up with your body and is still on the road. We traveled down to Florida for Spring Break, enjoyed the beaches, Disney, Epcot and the company of family.

The beach photos were taken at a secret spot in Venice, FL. My sister showed us the proper way to hunt for shark teeth and we were happily surprised by our findings. In the photo above, Max and I sift through shells and stones to find shark teeth.

At first, Max was pretty terrified by the huge expanse of water, but gradually grew more comfortable with getting wet (which made the adults reel with nerves!).

Max and Greg, happily traveling along!

My dad can't resist Max at all and loves to carry him around, which I totally understand. Our trip went surprisingly smooth, free of traffic jams or lost things. It felt wonderful to get away, especially after such a hectic few months of Azalea in theatre practice (she was a hedgehog in The Wind in the Willows ) and Greg gone nearly every weekend for shows. I'm glad we had the opportunity to relax before the yearly crush to make new things for the upcoming Bead and Button Show. Well, the vacation is over and its time to get to work!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Studded Bead Tutorial

Here's a quick tutorial for making studded beads (for more detailed information, check out my book Enchanted Adornments). Start by clearing an area away from dust or other small particles that could marr the surface of the clay, then use a piece of plexiglass, or a thin cutting board as your work surface. Gather the tools: *polymer clay (I like premo) *small picture hanging nails (I prefer the golden domed ones) *metal rod/mandrel to use as a handle and hole maker (I like steel ones used in lamp work) *wire cutters *oven *sculpting tools or cuticle stick *liquid polymer

Press conditioned polymer onto the mandrel until they are secured and not loose, then bake.

Apply liquid polymer clay in a thin layer.

Wrap bead with a layer of conditioned clay - this bead was wrapped twice.

Press out any air bubbles and smooth the surface carefully, too much force may loosen the bead.

Clip the nails with wire cutters or bolt cutters. I left about 3mm on the head.

Then push them into surface. This is a very satisfying step.

Then bake the finished bead....some of the nailheads got a little buried, but I don't mind.

Process: 1.Condition the polymer by kneading it until it is soft and warm. Don't skip this step, since it ensures completely mixed polymer which means stronger beads.

2.Decide how large you want your finished beads to be and roll out beads half that size. These will be the core beads that clay will be added to.

3. Push the clay beads onto the mandrel, compacting them to the metal so they adhere well.

4. Cure them in the oven at 275F for 15 minutes for every 1/4" thickness. Allow them to cool, or dunk them into cool water.

5. While the core beads are cooling, use wire cutters and trim the nails to about 1/8".

6. Apply a thin coat of liquid polymer to the cores (you can use a brush or your fingers), then roll out some conditioned clay and add a layer to the core bead, careful not to trap any air bubbles. This is best done by working from one end of the bead to the other, pushing out air as you press the clay onto the core.

7. Smooth the surface with your fingers, using the cuticle stick to get around the mandrel.

8. Press the trimmed nails into the clay and make a pattern or cover the surface. Smooth out any blemishes on the surface.

9. Cure the clay in the oven and while still warm, twist off the mandrel and cool. Tips: Rubbing alcohol works well to smooth uncured polymer clay. Twill works well to buff finished beads.