Sunday, September 28, 2008

Needle Felted Monsters

Working on my Hallowe'en necklace project, I came up with these guys:
The jack o'lantern on the bottom is about the same size as the monsters above. In the top 3, Frankie needs some silver bead "bolts" and black bead pupils. The red/white is supposed to look bloodshot. I need to do something to the witch's hat because it's not substantial enough, I may just have to add more roving to it. Drac needs white fangs, even though they won't show up well against his pasty skin, and I need to add fangs to the bat as well.

The pumpkin is about 3/4" tall and wide. The bat is 2 1/2" wide and about 1 1/4" tall. The ghost is just shy of 2" tall. Drac and Frankie are about about 1/2" tall. The witch is about 1 3/4". I need to do a black cat (of course!) and maybe a skull. And I need better lighting to get a better picture of these guys...

I was going to post a link to an article I read in a magazine about a woman who has done some much larger needle felted monsters - really wonderful! Unfortunately, you can't see any of the article online, because Art Doll Quarterly only has a barely-visible image of the table of contents and nothing else. (Personally, I think the Stampington family of magazines have very sucky sites.) However, it's the fall 08 issue, "Judy Bielec's Needle Felted Halloween" if you want to see it. Her website is, and the monsters are pictured here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Limited Edition Prints at Etsy!

I finally got them up: 8 limited edition prints, all of them #1 of 10, matted, signed and numbered. Shattered Photos at Etsy is LIVE! Huzzah!

Half the money I earn from the sale of those prints will go to Autism Speaks.

Bachelor button

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mom: Don't read until after your b'day!

I'm serious, Mom.

Do Not Peek.

I will kick your butt if you read this before your birthday.


OK, then. If she peeks now and spoils the surprise it's her own fault.

I made Mom a really unique (REALLY unique) charm bracelet of sorts for her birthday... or I should say, I made the charms. The assembly will have to wait for this weekend, because I don't know how big she wants the bracelet, and I can't exactly ask, right? I tried Diamond Glaze for the first time, since the Glossy Accents clouded up when I handled it.

I printed, much reduced, some of my favorite (goofy) pictures of my daughter. Since Diamond Glaze is water-based, I first sprayed the photos with a matte sealant. I cut them into teeny rectangles to fit the frames, used a bit of Tacky Glue to hold them in place, and sealed them in with the Diamond Glaze. (Those bubbles are a pain! Neither a toothpick nor an old paintbrush were able to eliminate all of them. I think I'll store the bottle upside down from now on.) I'll connect it all together with clear elastic and bead spacers once I know what length Mom wants.

The picture is of the charms before the DG has completely set, hence the milkiness of the finish. The charms are from Darice, and have two holes for either vertical or horizontal orientation.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Toner Transfer Results

There was pretty extensive plaquing in the translucent clay. I would have preferred a clearer result, but it's not unattractive. I was quite pleased with how well the transferring worked. The holes are to accommodate the transparencies I overlaid these with, attaching with brads, to finish the ATCs.

Clearly, I need to work on my faux stone technique. I added a little pumpkin pie spice to the terra cotta colored clay, and black pepper to the greens, just for a bit of speckling. I was really pleased with the way that looked, but I overmixed my colors (again!) and didn't get much banding.

Practice makes perfect!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toner Transfer on PC

To make some unique ATCs, I wanted to try a suggestion given to me by a lady at Stamp Thyme: toner transfer onto polymer clay. She said it was foolproof. I was skeptical (heavy-handed) but wanted to try it. With photocopies in hand, I conditioned some clay, burnished the images onto the clay, spritzed with water and rubbed off the soaked paper. And I'll be darned, it worked!

I have no idea how long they will need to bake... I'll have to play that by ear. Once they're done, I'll scan 'em and post 'em.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mokume Gane: RESULTS

First try, without a pasta roller - probably not technically mokume gane, as it's only 3 color layers:
The pressing of clay, one layer into another, worked fine, although my results remind me a lot of Tony the Tiger and Chicklets.

Second try, still without a pasta roller, I just messed with the clay from the above experiment:
I pressed more into the clay, got more mottled results, but now there's no defined pattern, it's just blotchy. 

Colors used for these beads: black, white, sweet potato (Sculpey III).

Third try, with a pasta roller:
These are a mess. I ran it through the pasta roller too many times (I don't even remember how many), and muddied the colors too much. Totally unrecognizable as mokume gane (as I've seen it!), I am calling these my "mess beads" because they are.

Colors used: translucent (not sufficiently conditioned first), black, yellow, sweet potato (Sculpey III)

Things I have learned:
1. I have nothing particularly suitable for photographing beads that keep them from rolling and are a good neutral background (hence the bubblewrap).
2. The pins that come with Amaco's bead baking rack are too small to make a reasonable bead hole (IMO).
3. I make my base beads (the beads that all the above colored clay was appliquéd onto) way too big.
4. I have a heavy hand when it comes to slicing "thin layers."
5. Yellow and black really do make green if you mush it together enough times.
6. Careful attention should be paid to how many times things go through the pasta roller.
7. Translucent clay isn't nearly as easy to work with as the colored stuff.
8. I'd feel really wasteful from all of this learning, if I had paid for the clay I'd learned with. (I got it for nothing when a business closed.)
9. According to my new oven thermometer, my oven runs hot about 30 degrees.

I bought today Making Polymer Clay Beads, by Carol Blackburn, making use of the store coupon from Hobby Lobby. Of the books I looked at, I liked the breadth of techniques and the detail illustrated in photos for each one. I really love the look of mokume gane, and I will learn to do it properly!

Almost a Commercial Venture

Well, I suppose it's a commercial venture already, because I have sold a few cards already. Now, however, I have the right size bags, and the nicer cards, and the matted prints. I will work on the pendants tomorrow and get them done. I have a website, I have inventory, and I have a primo opportunity this weekend in the form of a good friend who has offered to set up that inventory when she vends at a good-sized event this weekend, up in Wisconsin - the Northern Lights Bellydance Festival (wish I was going...).

So I'm getting Shattered Photos off the ground, and will soon have the things I ordered for the Etsy for Autism and get those listed. The response from friends has been enthusiastically positive. I'm guardedly optimistic. We will see. If things go well this weekend, I'll have a much better idea of the commercial viability of this whole thing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Great Source for Mats, Supplies

I'm trying to get Shattered Photos started, and I hunted around online for the best prices for mat boards and bags. I found and their Showpaks - the showpaks include the mat, backing board and a poly bag (adhesive on the bag not the flap) - exactly what I was looking for! There was just no way I'd set up with matted photos in a display and not have them bagged.

The order was placed and I was surprised how quickly I received the order. They also discount the more you order, but I haven't been able to take advantage of that yet, since I'm just getting things off the ground. So far, I am more than pleased, and hope that I will be able to give them lots more business as I get things going with my photos. I'd love to be one of their best customers!

One thing I am just about to have ready to go are very limited editions, available only through Etsy, with part of the proceeds going to autism charities. With an autistic daughter, the idea of putting my work to use for charity is intriguing and definitely worth pursuing. I'm excited about this!

Transparency Swap

I signed up for a transparency (think overhead projectors) swap ages ago, had an idea to use my kaleidoscoped photos, and just this morning got around to doing it. I like the results:
I used one background for all 4, as you can see. I backed the flowers with metallic silver cardstock, attaching them with brads to the background. Stems and leaves are drawn on with Sharpie marker. I used inkjet transparencies to print everything on. 

I'll feel a little better about life, once I get them in the mail. I have one other outstanding swap I need to do before I think about taking on more. I've been feeling so blah lately that I don't want to overdo my commitments, but I really want to find a Halloween swap...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mokume Gane with Polymer Clay

I love polymer clay. I am terribly jealous of people who have sculpting skill, like my friend Melinda who works in ceramic. The wonderful thing about mokume gane is that I don't have to sculpt anything! It's a fabulous technique that involves color and texture (two of my favorite things), and it's amazingly beautiful and even a little goof-proof.

I was playing a bit with the technique last night. I really want a pasta roller so I can get more serious about poly clay, but I don't know that I need one more thing taking up space... Anyway, a pasta roller would have made my life a lot easier, but I managed without it, so I guess I don't need one. I only did 1 3-color layer, but the results are pretty cool. Since I feel so crummy, I'll probably do more today. (Need to get an oven thermometer!) 

I'll post the results when I get them baked and finished.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wonderful Etsy Find

I was looking for beads for my still-in-my-head Hallowe'en necklace and searching Etsy when I ran across this seller: PoetSummer. (She's a busy gal; she also blogs, and maintains a website with her stuff beyond the stuff at Etsy.) She's either a Halloweenie* like me, or is just stocking her store for the season. Either way, I am in LOVE with her stuff! What a fantastic jumble of stuff crammed onto those charm bracelets! I probably don't need one, strictly speaking, but how can I resist? But decisions, decisions... I have my eye on a couple, and I fear I will need to act fast. 

Seriously, check out her stuff - from cemetery angels to steam punk to Bettie Page! 

*What my darling husband calls me. Isn't he sweet? *rolling eyes*

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Busy, in Spite of a Cold

Felt beads are easy to make, and rather entertaining. Here's the first round I've done and finished with the boiling water/ice water baths: 

The three in the foreground are purple, green and yellow - Mardi Gras colors. Those I made for a friend. The ones behind are orange, green and yellow. I need some black roving!

These are the first paper beads. Orange cardstock, two with black Sharpie on the edges, and painted over with Halloween nail polish, with black and orange glitter.

The nail polish worked really well, even if a bit stinky. I rolled them on those rattan sticks from an empty oil diffuser, so maybe the residual scent from the sticks will permeate the beads, too.

And THIS is the first of my kaleidoscope pendants. Made with Memory Glass and the coordinating frame, it's one of my kaleidoscopic photos reduced to 1.5x1.5" - small! But the 2x2" frames seemed big to use as a pendant, so I went with these, and the 1x3" (microscope slide) size. 
All in all, I am quite pleased with the results. If I wasn't feeling so crappy, I'd be running the bottom ones to a friend of mine who is vending this weekend; she said she'd take whatever I had and try to sell it for me. I have 5x7" prints to mat, and and waiting for the next batch of greeting cards to get here. The website's all set up, but still under construction.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pendants Update

As I was putting head pins in one of the wooden pendants I made, I learned something unfortunate: the pretty shiny gloss from the Glossy accents™ glaze got very cloudy from my handling it. Apparently, it's not going to be appropriate for jewelry if that's what a few minutes in my (clean!) hands does. I suppose the next experiment will be with brushing on resin and seeing if it will do the job without running off the sides. I'm so bummed. I'm glad it was one of my least favorite of the ones that turned out well. I may be able to "save" the others with a layer of resin on them. I've also been looking into using glass slides to make pendants, but I don't know how much of a pain the soldering will be. I have a few ideas that may or may not pan out, but I am having some trouble finding the supplies I need. It may come down to scrapping the whole thing, buying the silver bezels from Rio Grande and just doing that.

Stuff I Can't Make (Easily)

Etsy's all about the handmade stuff. Cafépress can make stuff I can't, or at least not without a lot of trouble, so I set up Shattered Photos for that stuff. I may do a Premium Shop, it makes a certain amount of sense, but I want a little cash from the prints I have before I put more money into this venture.

Monday, September 1, 2008

To Etsy, or Not to Etsy

According to a friend who sells there, Etsy is under new management, and undergoing some changes. She also added that jewelry is saturated (easy to see). While photographers do have a bit of a market share, it depends wildly on the photographer whether or not they have sales. 

I have some professionally-printed kaleidoscope photos ordered, and mats with backing boards and bags. What I may do is try and sell them locally and see what happens. If those sell, I may then try Etsy and see if I can give them a go there. Christmas is coming!

Now I need to price them....