Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friendly Plastic beads

I've spent today in the kitchen working with Friendly Plastic and AMACO bead rollers - what fun! It's hard to imagine that you can turn a flat stick of Friendly Plastic into these little gems. And once I got into a rhythm, I was producing beads production-line style.

I also tried some different colour combinations to produce unique, one of a kind beads (shown below). They're set up on a block of foam ready to be painted with a coat of resin. The resin really brings out the metallic lustre of the Friendly Plastic and makes the beads glow so that they look more like dichroic glass than plastic!Once they're all dry I'll turn them into unique pieces of jewellery. But you don't have to coat the beads with resin: this sample shows that they look equally as good without the resin coating.I'll be revealing my secrets on how to make these beads in an AMACO tutorial soon so I'll post the link when that happens but in the meantime check out their website for all sorts of other Friendly Plastic techniques.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day Sweeties!

Happy Valentine's Day to you all - the day where we get to be all soppy and mushy and can get away with it! So with that in mind I'm sharing this set of cards with a romantic theme with you.
Whether you have a special someone to share today with or whether you're just a romantic at heart like me, this set of Valentine's cards is just for you. And if you don't have anyone special to share today with then I hope that Cupid soon finds you and points his bow in your direction.
'Til next time......

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And the Winners are.........

Over recent months I've written a couple of posts about the AMACO Friendly Plastic Challenge and at CHA in January, AMACO announced the winners during their 90th Birthday celebrations. And I'm so excited to be able to report that I'm amongst the winners.

Here's pics of my 3 entries:

Venetian Jewels (Friendly Plastic beads made with a bead roller)
Sweethearts for my Sweetheart - Winner Best Jewelry Design Set
(tied with Lisa Pavelka)

Butterflies in Flight - Winner Best Butterfly

It was an honour to be presented the awards by Dawn Sandoe (AMACO Vice President/Creative Director) and Julie Stephani (Today's Creative Home Arts managing editor) .

As in past years, all the entries will be going to worthy organisations. The butterfly entries will become part of a permanent installation at the Holocaust Museum in Houston and their goal is to have 1.5 million butterflies on display - one for each of the children whose lives were taken during the atrocities of the Holocaust. The jewellery pieces are all going to a women's shelter in California.

Word has just come through that AMACO will be hosting this challenge again so I hope that you will consider entering knowing that your artwork will be going to a good cause. If you'd like to learn more about how to use Friendly Plastic, there is a Friendly Plastic Yahoo group and also a Friendly Plastic blog: The Art of Friendly Plastic. The blog is brand new but is already chock full of information: Check it out!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marie Segal's very clever word moulds

During CHA I had the wonderful pleasure of chatting with Marie Segal (polymer clay artist extraordinaire) whilst she was conducting make and takes at the Rupert, Gibbon and Spider booth. I also got to play with Cernit, the pthalate free polymer clay and create this little piece below.This one is going to my daughter who has joined a youth ministry team for the next 12 months and will be living away from home for the first time...... I'm sad to be letting go of her, but happy knowing that she will be enjoying what she's doing!

But what I want to chat about today is Marie's very clever word moulds which we used to create the words for the top layer of our pendants. Marie has generously shared her idea and how she created her moulds on her blog here. Do check it out, it's such a neat idea!

Now if you're in Australia, you're unlikely to find the alphabet noodles that she talks about in the Mexican aisle at your local supermarket but check out the Italian aisle and you might find something like this.You'll have to hunt through the pack, but with luck you'll find all the letters of the alphabet and will be able to make your own moulds.Thanks so much for sharing this with us Marie.

Having found a source of alphabet pasta to work with, I got to work creating some more pendants which are just so easy to do. Marie had us roll out the clay in the pasta machine, texture it with stamps and texture mats and then cut out the shapes using cookie cutters. A light brush with Pearl Ex highlighted the texture nicely. We made holes in the top of each piece for the jump ring and baked them in the oven using the guidelines on the package. Very simple!

Here's some I did at home with the polymer clay I had on hand.Next, add a word tile (using Marie's mould making technique) and a few embellishments and here's the finished product! I've made this one into a pendant but I'm thinking it would look lovely as the focal piece on a card front and with Valentine's Day just around the corner I just might convert it to a Valentine's card for my Sweetie!

For the one below, I used a choker which I bought some time ago. My original intention was to make it into a tribal necklace but it worked quite nicely with this piece so the tribal piece will have to wait.

I'll turn some of the other pieces I've cast into jewellery when I have more time but this has been such a fun idea to play with and I just can't stop saying it, so I'm going to say it again. Thanks Marie!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

CHA - Jewellery - Beads, Bangles and Baubles

Where do I start with this post? The jewellery market was very well represented with beads and findings ranging from top of the range Swarovski crystals to pre-packeted plastic bead kits and every other kind of bead and finding in between. Beading and jewellery making is thriving!

Some notable finds were at Beadalon where they had a number of new items. My favourite was the wire twister which can twist up to 5 strands of wire at once into a single length of multi coloured wire. Turn the wire into jump rings using the jump ring mandrel and then you have some really funky, and very strong, rings to use as unique connectors for your jewellery. Beadalon also has the wire twister packaged as a kit with the round and oval jump ring makers - a neat idea.

They have also added connectors to their range which are used to attach fancy rings to each other without the need for jump rings and another new addition is the stainless steel loop crimp - an eye loop with a hollow shaft that you insert beading wire into and then crush to secure - no crimp required. Very tidy indeed!

I fell in love with Plaid's range of resin disks and metal word components all ready to be attached to each other for a multi layered effect. The motifs include birds, leaves and chandeliers etched onto resin plaques and the collection includes coordinating beads, cords and frosted silver frames.Jolee's Boutique, famous for their 3D scrapbook embellishments has released a range of Swarovski crystals called Jolee's Jewels and I was able to do a make and take bracelet using these little lovlies at the EK Success stand..... just gotta love the sparkle of crystals!
Another favourite was the unfinished wooden bangles from Indus Trading Company. Let your mind run riot with the possibilities here. Paint them, decoupage them, spritz them with any of the mica mists, use markers or a combination of any of the above, but just let yourself go wild with these ultra smooth bangles which come in 4 sizes from small to extra large (to fit those who usually have trouble sliding a bangle over their knuckles). I have some fun ideas for these so look out for a class later in the year.

Apart from the great range of beads and findings, there were also many exhibitors using their products to handcraft beads: felt beads, fibre beads, paper beads, and more. At the Rupert Gibbon and Spider booth, Marie Segal was creating pendants using Cernit polymer clay (I'll blog about that in a separate post) and at AMACO, Jana Ewy and Linda Peterson formed a wonderful team creating spectacular pendants with Friendly Plastic and pewter. Many attendees were lucky enough to walk away from the booth with one of these little beauties. I'll blog about the AMACO Friendly Plastic Challenge later on too.

Another make and take I enjoyed was at the Sakura stand where they introduced their UV Cure 3D Crystal Lacquer. This product cures in the sun or under a UV Lamp in just minutes. The sparkly faux dichroic look is achieved by adding Sakura Gem Particles. How stunning!
Judikins also released a similar product whilst Lisa Pavelka released her product Magic Glos and UV lamp at last year's Winter Show.

So anyone who doubts that beading and jewellery making is alive and well need not be concerned as it is one craft that looks like it is well and truly here to stay.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

CHA - Other general crafting finds

Yesterday I shared some of the new paper ranges which took my eye so today I want to move on to other crafting/mixed media/home decor/painting items I liked the look of.

My first two are from Ranger. Inkssentials has brought out the cutest Memory Capsules - and they're designed to fit Memory Frames and glass. These are just adorable and are small enough to work on either a card front or a scrapbook page.

I also liked the look of Tim Holtz's new Adirondack Alcohol Inks Fillable Pens. These pens are dual tipped with a broad end and a finer tip. They come empty, ready to be filled with your favourite colours. I can see a whole lot of new and interesting alcohol ink techniques being developed from this idea. The release is scheduled for March and I can hardly wait to get hold of these products.

I also really liked this range: Canvas Home Basics. This is a range of unique decorative hardware fittings designed by interior designers for home decorating enthusiasts. The samples in their booth had real eye appeal. OK, I know Christmas is over but what an eye catching colour combination.Red, black and canvas packs a real colour punch!I just adored the banner strung beneath the shelf, pegged up with designer coloured clothes pegs - a simple designer trick to add interest to a boring old shelf!

Next, I wanted to highlight Fredrix new Float stretched canvasses. What makes these stand out from the crowd is the angled sides. Instead of being straight, they are angled away from the front at a 45° angle so that when they are framed they appear to float within the frame. This is such a simple, yet clever idea. If you look closely at the pic you can see the angled sides as the lovely Jane Seymour (actress and artist) applies a basecoat to the canvas.

Now back to a papercrafting idea - this one is from Piggy Tales.

This piece was their quick Make and Take project and took just a couple of minutes to complete. The sample shows fresh flower petals (which I had to remove for quarantine reasons) but you could easily add a photo, mini collage or a keepsake such as a lock of hair between the two pieces of acrylic and then reassemble it by sliding the clips back into place.... Neat!My next great find came from a workshop - the Kandi Corp Hot Wax Art Stylus. This is not a new tool, but it was the first time that I had used it and it was totally addictive and strangely, I found it very therapeutic to work with - perhaps it was the aroma of the beeswax pigments! I'm not sure, but anyway, this product is already available in Australia so ask your LSS about getting one in for you. It comes with three tips included in the package and the beeswax is available in packs of 4 coordinating colours. The samples here are Encaustic Wax on a Style Stone frame (above) and on foam core board and regular cardstock (below). This workshop was just so much fun!!

Here's another product that's been around for a while but it was a fun make and take so I'm going to share it with you. Over at the Duncan Crafts booth, cotton gloves were the canvas for stencilling with fabric paint. The Tulip stencils are fabulous - super tacky to ensure that the stencil doesn't slip and also that no paint is able to seep underneath leaving lovely crisp edges. This pair of gloves will be staying in my studio for those times when I need to keep fingerprints off my work!My last one for today is called The Painter's Pyramid - a clever idea from K & M of Virginia. The idea behind this is that you set the piece you want to work on, on top of as many of the pyramids as you need to support it so that you can work on it without ever having to touch the painted surface with your fingers until it has dried. How wonderful - no more unsightly fingermarks to patch up! These were some of my favourite general crafting finds at the show this year. Tomorrow, I'll be sharing my favourite jewellery finds with you.