Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Blog

Visit my new blog at http://strebedesigns.blogspot.com/

This is the last entry here.  Thanks for continuing to follow me in my new home!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Feelin' Groovy Covered Bottle - Simply Unpredictable

This is my entry for the Polymer Clay Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) March challenge with the theme "something covered".

Feelin' Groovy covered bottle
6" tall by 2 1/2" square

I have been collecting cool glass jars and bottles for awhile now and when this challenge came up I decided it was a good time to start to upcycle some of them and give them a new life.  I had so many I liked, mmm which to choose?

Stash of glass to cover

I really like the rosy and blue bottles (saki bottles) but I don't think I want to use much clay on those because they are so beautiful by themselves.  For this challenge the object had to be at least 50% polymer clay so they were not going to work.  I finally decided on a balsamic vinegar bottle from Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's balsamic vinegar bottle

I chose it because the flat sides work perfectly for what I had in mind.  I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do (no drawing first this time!).  But I did know I wanted something unpredictable, nothing neat and lined up and symmetrical. I decided to combine two techniques I recently learned from the Polymer Clay Adventure series.  The techniques involved "Cane Mutiny" with Teresa Pandora Salgado and "Polymer Painting" with Suzanne Ivester. I love the organic work of Salgado's cane work.  Freedom to stretch, twist, is so much fun.  From Ivester I learned how to slice your "canvas" and place what you want where you want it.  Then flatten to a smooth painterly look.  So I started by making some cool organic canes.

In progress

Once the canes were made I sliced them in varying thicknesses.  Some very thick ones I flattened with the pasta machine and ended up with a very large "pedal" to make big "flowers" as a base.  I put these words in quotes, because these are strictly my "pedals" and "flowers" all made up! When I wanted to add a smaller shape over the larger one, I would simply carve the shape of the smaller shape out of the larger one and fill the gap with the new shape - as in polymer painting.  I kept doing this repeatedly on all sides, sometimes layering four and fives times to get the organic look I was after.

I made two tops for the bottle, the one shown above is mounted on a cork, the top pictured below is all polymer clay.

Second top made from all polymer clay

More side views:

Showing both tops

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing my story.  I would love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Challenge for the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy team - "Nature"

Time to vote in the March Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy challenge.

The theme is "nature". It is always fun to see what everyone makes, the talent and diversity are amazing! Three lucky winners will be drawn randomly to receive gift certificates from sponsoring shops. All the artists shown here are sponsoring shops so there is very cool stuff to be had! Thanks to all for supporting us!

Click here to visit the challenge

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flight of the Bumble Bee Tin

The theme for the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy for March is Nature.  I just finished taking a virtual class from Teresa Pandora Selgado on Cane Mutiny - on how to join, twist, turn and pucker your canes. I like the way Teresa uses translucent and white clay to emphasize the pedals.  I don't know much about flowers, so this one is purely fabricated. I love the freedom making up your own flowers allows - another great idea from Teresa!  I decided after I put all the flowers that a bumble bee with translucent wings was in order!

The tin is 4" in diameter, and 4" high including the sculpture.

thank you for stopping by! 

PCAGOE February Challenge winners

Many thanks to the public voters for placing my mask in second place.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

February PCAGOE challenge - "Masks"

Voting is up and ready for the Polymer Clay Guide of Etsy group challenge


Vote for your top three and you may win a prize of a discount to supporting shops.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ms. Violet on her Mask

The Polymer Clay Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) challenge theme for February is "Masks".  This is my entry, meet Ms. Violet on her Mask.

Ms. Violet sits atop the world on her mask. 
This mask is wearable or could be used as a fun piece of wall art.

I love masks and have a small collection from my travels. My favorites are the colorful whimsical ones and I decided that this is what I wanted to do ... something a little off the wall and whimsical for this challenge.

I have several cardboard masks blanks and I decided to use one of them. After ideas floated aimlessly around in my head, I captured a combination of them on paper, just enough to give me direction.  I decided on the colors  and with my new pasta machine with motor easily conditioned all the clay.

wasabi, a mixed forest green, navy blue, mixed violet, bronze and gold 

The build:

More views:

Thank you for stopping by! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Polymer Clay Challenge

Happy New Year everyone! With the start of a new year I, like millions of others, make all the usual resolutions: eat less, exercise more, clean the garage, call family more often, ... Some are successful others not so much.

So this year I have found a new challenge. The 2015 Polymer Clay Challenge created by Katie Oskin at Kater's Acres. Katie has challenged us to complete one piece of work each week.  She asks us "Are you looking to challenge & stretch yourself, increase your skills, & be productive in 2015? " Well I said, yes, yes and yes, so I signed on. And simply for those reasons.  I am not going to set my focus in any particular direction except to state that I am currently enjoying working with translucent clay (including liquid) and making night lights using faux stained glass techniques.

This is a no pressure, self motivational type thing, so I could be in a little trouble sometimes!

The guidelines for week 1 can be found here.

If you would like to sign up and play along, just click on the image below.

2015 Polymer Clay Challenge

Happy Creating!

Week 1:

These Little Piggies votives - translucent polymer clay over upcycled horseradish jars.  Lit by battery operated candles. (click on photo for an enlarged view)

Week 2:

This is the bracelet I made after watching Syndee Holt's video on the Polymer Clay Adventure. A lot better than my first two!

Week 3:  

Two more cuff bracelets inspired by Syndee Holt's video.  The texture on the wasabi is from a grapefruit plastic mesh bag!.

Week 4: Ms. Violet on her Mask 

read about her here Ms. Violet on her Mask

Week 5: "put a bird on it" cuff

Week 6: Tropical colors cuff

Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE): January Challenge Illuminated

Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE): January Challenge Illuminated: For our January challenge we are featuring illuminated designs. Vote for your favorites. Three lucky voters will be chosen in a drawin...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Global Warming - Polar Bear sitting on a Hudson Bay blanket

I knew I wanted to do a globe shaped nightlight for the January PCAGOE challenge theme illumination. I have just finished taking Leslie Blackford's (themoodywoods.com) class at Creative Journey Studios in Buford, GA (creativejourneystudios.com) on nightlights - an awesome experience.

Global warming is of great concern to me and I worry about our future generations both two and four legged when it comes to the changes it is causing in our environment.  I decided to do a polar bear on a shrinking sheet of ice to signify what is happening.  The Hudson Bay blanket takes me back to my childhood when there were no such worries.

The first steps were to gather supplies: lots of conditioned Pardo translucent (a haul from Buford!), alcohol inks, a round globe vase and an electric cord with socket for a night light bulb.

The worse part for me in working with alcohol inks is waiting for them to dry.  Another Buford find was this rubber "brush" to apply a thin layer of ink to the clay, faster drying ... a real score for very impatient me!

I ended up not using the butterscotch - it is put away for votives to come.  The other three colors I used to make a skinner blend - yes me a skinner blend which I wrapped around the globe vase.  Forgetting just as I did in Leslie's class that the open part (top) of the vase is the bottom of the nightlight.  Fortunately with the translucent the skinner blend got lost in the curing - so saved there. While wrapping the clay around the globe I pinched and smudged the sheet to different thicknesses to obtain the effect of ice, even leaving the glass show through in places.  I then used various sizes of round cutters to cut pieces out of the "skin" and fill in with lighter blue and clear translucent circles. A close up of the ice:

I added another layer of clear translucent over the darker top area to lighten the look of the ice.   Just under the "drips" of this layer I highlighted with blue alcohol ink to emphasize the clear layer. The base and iceberg (under the blanket) are made from the same clay  mixture as is used on the globe touched with a little white acrylic paint to represent snow.

Now for the polar bear, unfortunately I have no photos of the process of building her (from white !Premo), but just know that I went trough a bit of a struggle here.  Building creatures is way outside my comfort zone. Everything I came up at first was way too cutesy for such a heavy topic.  I kept going until I felt I had more of an arty looking polar bear.

The finished product!  Approximately 7" tall by 5" wide at the globe's widest point.

To access the light bulb, remove the globe and the the socket is exposed.  The clip on the socket seats into the hole in the bottom, and the feet allow for space for the electrical cord.  Turn on and off with the line switch.

More views!

Would love to hear your thoughts and thank you for visiting my blog!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE): Mandala Challenge Winners

Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE): Mandala Challenge Winners: The winners in the PCAGOE November Challenge "Mandalas" are: Public Vote Top entries selected by the public: 1. Geometry Clas...

I am so happy to be in the top three for both the public and member voting.  These are very talented artists.  What wonderful work by everyone.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mandala inspired by the colors of Thailand

The November challenge for my etsy polymer clay guild is "Mandalas".  When I first started thinking of what to create, I thought of the colors of the mandalas I saw in the temples of Thailand.  Often you could see stunning stain glass mandalas behind statues of Buddha as in this photo I took during our trip.

In addition to the beautiful patterns, I was struck by all the bright colors.  I decided I wanted to use bright colors; those that reminded me of Thailand.  Orange for the monks was a given, teal for the lush jungle vegetation, yellow for the marigold wreaths you see everywhere,  purple for the color of Saturday, blue for the shimmering rivers, wasabi for the cuisine and just a touch of silver.

Next came my drawing.  With polymer clay I seem to have a need to get something on paper as a way of getting an idea to my "right brain".

My idea was to have open spaces in the pattern which would sit on a black base as a background.  I used liquid polymer clay to build the base.  I cured the clay in the largest Fat Daddio's circle cutter.

Now to start the build.  Again using a leaf/tear shape cutter I cut out eight leaves.  I used a circle cut from card stock to build on.  The uncured clay is held in place on the card stock with dabs of liquid polymer clay in the same color.

By this time the drawing is history, I just keep deciding on cutter shapes and colors and keep turing the mandala adding embellishment upon embellishment.  I have to admit, I kept avoiding the middle! Finally ready for the oven:

I noticed a few little details were off a bit, so I straightened those before it went in the oven to be cured.  I also made a pill box cover and retro cane from some of the leftovers.  I always like to take advantage of conditioned clay (one of my least favorite tasks).

When it was cured, I held it up to the light and I really like the way light shown through the open spaces.  I decided against using the black base which would block that look. 

Completed piece: Colors of Thailand Mandala approximately 7" in diameter.

But then: It started to come apart, so on the black background it went.  I always learn valuable lessons in these challenges. 

More colors of Thailand, photography by Betsy Strebe all rights reserved.