Friday, January 29, 2010

Birds on the Brain

    Today I am inspired to make small fat little birds.  It seems everything I shape turns into a plump little sparrow.  I'm thinking that this simple design will be wonderful for raku firing so I'm breaking into my white clay.  It's pretty heavenly to work with, nice plasticity--part of why I keep making birds.  I've made a few with the stoneware clay (which fires to a pretty speckled brown) and plan to try out some of my higher fire glazes such as Coyote Glaze's saturated iron and light blue shino. I love the rusty look of the saturated iron.  For ones I'm planning to raku fire I'm thinking Amaco's tarnished silver, copper matte, and copper patina.  I accidentally bought bluebell instead of Caribbean blue so I'll probably try that too.  I've made so many now...the other day it was cats and the day before hedgehogs. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Clay, New Kiln, New Passion


     So I checked FedEx and it shows that my kiln and glazes are on the truck for delivery. I'll have them today! I'll be able to fire some of my stoneware pieces today if it arrives pretty soon.  I've got enough pieces for several runs now.  I will be very happy to finally have some finished pieces. At the moment the garage is full of tiny, FRAGILE bits of greenware. I'm pretty impressed with Clay King right now. Not only were their prices very competitive but they shipped the same day I ordered.  The glaze prices were low enough that even with shipping it was less expensive than buying them locally. 

    I got several boxes of clay yesterday when I made the trek up to the supplier.  One of the types I got is this wonderful red earthenware clay.  I love the way it shows detail, it's a joy to work with.  I'm really trying to choose clays that are as beautiful unglazed as they are glazed.  I did get some plain white which I think will be nice for my sea urchins and sea shells but I haven't broken into that one yet.

   In addition to beads and pendants I'm planning to make small sculpted pieces and I'm planning some mixed media stuff.  I'm planning an excursion to the coast so that I can collect driftwood, sea glass, and maybe some shells.  I guess I could buy it, but what fun is there in that?

edited to add :
Well....I guess I wasn't really thinking clearly, OF COURSE the kiln would be shipped from the manufacturer.  On the upside, I got wonderful fast shipping on my glazes.  I can't wait to try them out!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bounty of Buttons, Molds in the Making

            I love looking at buttons anyway but it sure is nice when I have a planned use for them.  They really make fantastic molds for clay bead making.  I use buttons pressed into polymer clay to make molds of different sizes.  Now, what's really great is that Joann's (my local craft store), had buttons AND polymer clay 50% off when I went in yesterday.  When I'm choosing buttons for molds I usually have a certain theme in mind, always Celtic at the forefront but also nature, sea life, and I like patterns that have a Moroccan look to them. I was able to find heart shaped Celtic knots, spirals, Claddaugh , sea shells and an adorable pine cone. Most of the designs can be used as a mold....OR I can fashion a polymer clay handle and I have a very nice stamp. I actually prefer the spirals stamped as opposed to molded.  I try to make two of each mold so I can press a ball of clay between the two to make a double sized button.  I also rolled some larger sheets of polymer clay to make a texture pattern.
          So far, my clay beads and pendants made from the molds look very promising. I'm waiting for them to finish drying and also waiting to get my new kiln. At least I know they'll be very dry by the time I fire them, haha.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Book Wish List and some of my Favorites

These are two books at the very top of my list.  I haven't really done much with metal aside from wire wrapping and I'm always intrigued with beautifully hammered silver jewelry. I adore the earrings on the cover.  Now that I'm getting into ceramic bead making the second book seems like a no-brainer.  I've looked at some of the projects in the book and they involve many techniques I'm anxious to try, especially RAKU!

Now for my faves....I taught myself lampworking from Cindy Jenkins' books. They are very informative and enough to get ANYONE started with this beautiful art form. 

Another favorite book of mine is this informative book by Sherri Haab.  It is full of beautiful (and classy) metal clay projects.  I really love the bracelet made from a tree branch and her artichoke beads.

This Chain Mail Jewelry book is full of beautiful projects and many of the projects are so versatile because they would work well for a man or a woman.  I find the Japanese 4-1 Chain mail bracelet to be absolutely stunning.

Woven Wire Jewelry has projects that look really hard but many are deceptively easy.  Actually my most favorite project in the book "the woven bracelet" is one of the easier ones.  It looks very Celtic and has a lot of ways to customize it.

I'm always on the look out for well written craft books with clear explanations and lots of colorful pictures.  These are all books that I'm very happy to have in my home library.

Mold Making and Hedgehogs

I've been working on making some more molds to use for my raised relief type beads. I've been using polymer clay to take impressions from all kinds of things such as leaves, twigs, and sea urchins. Now I'm working on ideas for frogs and hedgehogs. I love both, especially hedgehogs. I've also made some ceramic clay hedgehogs. Really excited with how they've come out. Should be getting a new kiln in a few weeks so this gives them lots of time to dry out before firing. I just love the color this clay is supposed to fire to...a nice speckled brown. I used to make glass frog beads--so fun to make and each had a different character. I'm really hoping my idea works for making these molds. I could always get a little plastic frog and press it into the polymer clay, but I'm hoping by sculpting the original it will give them more character.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I'm adding some helpful tutorial links that have been inspirational and informative. I'll be adding more as I find them. Every time I pick up a new art form I seem to get the most pleasure learning it through my own research, trial and of course error. I found these most excellent videos on by an artist under the name BHClaysmith. They are so well done that you can really see what's going on.


So I haven't really played with regular clay since about middle school age, which is quite awhile ago! I'm really excited with how these are turning out. I'm using high temp wire for the whiskers but I'll probably either loop the ends or epoxy tiny beads over the ends to make them a little less likely to catch on stuff.

Clay Experiments

I got really lucky Shawn found a box of clay that I bought a few YEARS ago but didn't get a chance to use...and it's still fairly soft. I cut off a chunk and wrapped it with wet paper towels and put in a ziploc bag and it softened to a really nice consistency.
When I made lampwork beads my big things were my Folk Art Cats, Ocean themed stuff, and Organic looking stuff mainly. So I thought I would start by sculpting some cats and a few earthy looking beads.