Monday, August 17, 2009

Friendly Plastic is not only for Jewellery

It's well known that Friendly Plastic is a great medium for jewellery making but being such a light weight modelling medium it's especially suitable for card making and scrapbooking too. There are many techniques that are suitable to incorporate into your paper crafting projects such as marbling, stamping and moulding.

In mid September I'll be demoing and teaching a workshop at the Stampin' Daze Rubber Stamp Club in Brisbane using a couple of these techniques which we'll use to create the focal piece on a card front. I'll be offering two colour alternatives: an all occasion card in girlie pink................. and for those of you who want to get an early start on your Christmas cards, a green version. The choice is yours.Please pardon the slightly blurry images. My trusty little point-and-click Ricoh camera is having a little stay in camera hospital at present and I've used an unfamiliar camera to take these photos. The images simply don't do the cards justice and they look a whole lot nicer in real life. I can't wait until my Ricoh gets better because it takes the best macro photos - I really miss it. Please get better soon!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Friendly Plastic Earrings

One of the wonderful things about working with Friendly Plastic is how such simple techniques can transform the foiled strips of Friendly Plastic into really eye catching pieces. Take these earrings for example - their striking appearance belies their simplicity.

Both pairs are examples of marbling but using different tools to create the effect.

The first pair was marbled with a marbling comb and the second pair with a needle tool to create two totally different looks.

You can use either a heat gun (as in the first pair) or the griddle method (used for the second pair) to melt the strips together and then slowly draw the tool of your choice through the surface. I used a cookie cutter to cut out the leaf shaped earrings but the chevron earrings are made by layering black and gold rectangles together which have been allowed to melt into each other before using the needle tool.

To finish off the earrings and to add extra bling I've added some Swarovski crystals because they work so well with Friendly Plastic.

Whether you're making your jewellery pieces for sale or as gifts for family and friends, it's worth giving presentation some thought. These earrings are part of a gift enemble so I've displayed them on black cardboard stamped with gold ink - it really makes them pop. You could then place the whole card in a plastic sleeve. But as these earrings are a special gift I've also decorated a coordinating tin to slip them into which apart from providing a beautiful case to store the earrings in, it also gives the whole gift a very professional look!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friendly Plastic Radio interview

CHA is a true showcase of the craft industry and it provides a meeting ground for every facet of the industry. As you walk around the booths on the show floor you will see many video taping segments going on. These usually feature well known designers and craft personalities who are taping TV segments and videos to feature on both TV and the internet throughout the coming months.

So on to highlight number 2 for me from this Summer's CHA show. It was certainly an unexpected one!

During the show, the lovely Linda Peterson (designer behind the The Art of Friendly Plastic blog) launched the first Friendly Plastic Blog Talk Radio Show and I was amongst the invited guests. Now I can tell you, this was a nerve racking experience. Having never done a radio interview before I wasn't quite sure how this would work and found myself jumping my cues to speak several times. But at the same time it was an exciting prospect as I was joining well known designers Lisa Pavelka, Michelle Zimmerman (check out some of her designs which have been turned into Krafty Lady art moulds) and Helen Bradley on the show.

We were all invited to talk on the show about Friendly Plastic and what we had spotted on the show floor that could be used in association with Friendly Plastic. The show was rounded out by input from Dawn Sandoe (AMACO Vice President) and Becky Finch (AMACO New Product Development division) on some of the new products soon to be introduced into the Friendly Plastic line. Here's a peek at some of the colours being considered - notice the holographic ones. I can't wait until these are released!
Image courtesy of Linda Peterson

Linda was also joined by the multi-talented Jen Lowe who chatted about incorporating Precious Metal Clay into your Friendly Plastic creations. You can see a couple of the pieces that they created by combining the two materials on the Friendly Plastic blog - spectacular!

It was a real hoot being part of this show. You can listen to the show here on Friendly Plastic Radio. It runs for about an hour and is packed full of interesting information. Why not join Linda for the next show which is scheduled for Wednesday 2/9/09, 5.30pm Central Time. Don't worry if you can't make it though as it will be available in the archives later on.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer CHA

I've just returned from Summer CHA in Orlando, Florida - the craft industry's twice yearly trade show in the US. I'm not going to give you a full rundown of the show but instead I'm going to share some of the highlights from my trip.

I was really excited to be taking a workshop with Bead Queen of the Universe and craft personality extraordinaire, Margot Potter.
Some of the many hats Margot wears include being a DT member for Beadalon, and an ambassador for Create Your Style with CRYSTALLIZED-Swarovski Elements. She is also author of 5 books including The Impatient Beader, Beyond the Bead and Bead and Wire Jewelry Exposed (co written with Fernando DaSilva and Katie Hacker). There is another book in the pipeline at the moment and it's sure to be just as delectable as the others. Amongst her other credits she is also a public speaker and TV host - in short, Margot is a very accomplished designer, so you can understand why I was so pleased to be taking her class at CHA!
So, on to highlight number 1 - a workshop with Margot!
Margot is a wonderfully patient teacher, very methodical, making sure we all got the hang of each step before moving on to the next. The piece we created in class is called Zig Zagged - a Swarovski Crystallized elements necklace threaded on Beadalon Silver-Plated beading wire. Mine, pictured below, doesn't quite have the zigs and zags that Margot's had but that's not a bad thing because Margot's philosophy is that perfection is not required.

Zig Zagged Necklace designed by Margot Potter
Don't you love these gorgeous crystals? The way they catch the light just has to be seen in person to appreciate how pretty this necklace is.
To finish off the ends of each beaded length, we used findings from Beadalon's E-Z crimp range - an all in one crimp and jump ring component. Brilliant idea! The E-Z crimp eliminates the possibility of the beading wire slipping through the jump ring if the ring hasn't been completely closed. Of course, we all know that there shouldn't be a gap in your jump ring, but none of us are perfect and sometimes it happens. But you'll never have to worry about that again if you use a Beadalon E-Z Crimp.
Whenever I'm in the US I always try to slot in a trip to Michaels and the other day whilst I was there I found E-Z Crimps that also have the clasp attached. What a bonus!
Here's a rather grainy little snap taken after the workshop on my mobile phone. My trusty Ricoh camera decided it too was on holiday on just the second day of my trip. It wasn't until after CHA finished that there was time to buy a new one, so this little snapshot is the best I can do.
There was a prize give away in class too and I was the lucky winner. Who said number 13 was unlucky?!! And my prize..... I got to keep all the tools we used in class - what more could I ask for? Thanks Margot and Beadalon.
You can read more about Margot in the feature article of this month's issue of Get Creative, available from Spotlight and selected newsagencies. Check out her website and blog too - her posts always make interesting reading!
And don't forget to tune in to my next post for another CHA highlight.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soy Silk Fusion

Right now, I'm in the middle of designing pieces for two collaborative projects with artists from around the world which is an exciting prospect. One project is hush, hush and secret but the other is..... well, it's a bit hush, hush too but I can at least share a step-by-step on how to make the background I'm using for the project.

I'm creating a sort of "fabric" from soy silk fibre - a bi-product left over from the manufacture of tofu. It's really soft and very colourful. When you fluff it apart, it looks like fairy floss! It comes from a completely renewable resource making it environmentally friendly.

So let's get started!

Gather the materials together: soy silk fibre (mine is from Conjoined Creations), Textile Medium, freezer paper, tulle, paper towel and water.

Pour the textile medium into a cup. How much will depend on what size piece of fabric you want to end up with. I've just used enough to cover the bottom of the cup. Dilute with water in a ratio of 1 part textile medium to 3 parts water.Pull a piece of soy silk from the roving...... and fluff the fibre up.....Build up layers of the fibre on the freezer paper. A depth of about 2.5cm (1") is good. The thicker this layer is, the more dense your fabric will be. Place the tulle over the fibre. Pour the diluted textile medium over the tulle. You need enough to wet all the fibres, but not so much that it rolls off the freezer paper.Gently pat the solution into the fibre, spreading it evenly. Don't be afraid to use your hands for this - the solution will wash off easily. Work any air bubbles out towards the edges. Blot away the excess solution with paper towels. Remove the tulle and wash it in soapy water. Set the fabric aside to dry for a few hours or you can speed up drying by placing it in the sun or dry it carefully with a heat gun.Once dry, peel it from the freezer paper and it's ready for use in your project. This piece will become a pennant but here's a piece I've turned into a sewing kit. Even the mannequins (Krafty Lady art moulds) are dressed in soy silk fabric!
This tutorial is available for download as a printable pdf from my website: Mill Lane Studio.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Butterflies Take Flight

Brrrr..... it's been a cold winter here in South East Queensland. Yes, I know, I know, we have no idea what cold is here in our little corner of the world, but then, we are not geared up for cold weather. Night time temperatures have regularly hovered just a few degrees above zero and that's pretty chilly when you don't have any heating.

But spring is not too far away in the southern hemisphere and to banish away the winter chills, I've decided to bring spring forward a month and let the butterflies take flight in search of spring blossom.My butterflies are all breaking free of their chrysalis - their winter nest, so to speak - in search of all the wonders or spring..... blossoms, love, sunshine. Yes indeed, warm sunny days. I'm looking forward to those!

The base of my butterfly chrysalis is a Pavlova Magic container. Now you have to be an Aussie or a Kiwi to know what that is. Pavlova is kind of like our national dessert and we both lay claim to having invented it. But who cares who invented Pavlova - the thing is, it's just plain delicious!

But I digress.... the container is shaped like a flat bottomed egg which breaks into two halves. For this project, I've just used the bottom half which I've painted inside and out with Piñata alcohol ink.

To stop it from toppling over, I've half-filled it with plaster of paris and then poked a bunch of coiled wires into it before it set.Each wire is topped with two stamped, acetate butterflies placed back to back. These were painted with Piñata alcohol inks. I love Piñatas because they have a great white alcohol ink in the range. It extends the range of colours from brights to pastels with the addition of just a drop of white. Awesome!The bugle beads I used for the bodies are held in place by the kink in the wire - no need for adhesive at all. I also added some antennae made of wire which is sandwiched between the acetate butterflies with a dab of glue. I finished off my chrysalis with a little paper shred in the bottom - it covers the plaster of paris and it also adds some visual interest.

So with my thoughts turning to spring, I leave you with this quote:

How does one become a butterfly?" she asked pensively.
"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.

From Hope For The Flowers