Sunday, 31 May 2009

Meandering away

More meander pages, these are 4 inches square with a pelmet vilene base coloured by their owners, and this one's for Fiona, on her theme of 'plants/flowers':

Wales had fantastic weather yesterday, so I sat in the garden and did some needle felting. I used a metal cutter in the shape of an oak leaf, and some blue mohair yarn, and felted inside the cutter. I added some viscose roving in paler blue & green, and felted that in, then spent some time beading the oak leaf. I stamped and embossed the page, added the leaf and finished it off with some tied yarn and ribbons. I hope Fiona likes it.

This one had to be made indoors, as it involves fusing fabrics with a soldering iron:

Pauline H's theme is sea and sky, I cut various colours of organza, layered them and used the soldering iron tip on my Versatool to fuse them together in a wave pattern. I painted the fabric with Stewart Gill Galactica paint in holographic silver (it has a lovely subtle twinkle in real life, like the sun shining on the sea). The sun is moulded air dry clay, and the mermaid is moulded Friendly Plastic. I finished the embellishments off with Treasure Gold, to take the high shine off them and integrate them into the piece, and finished the page off by dangling some seashells. I hope it reminds Pauline of summer seas and skies, and that she likes it.

This is Jacqui's page, she has chosen the them of 'vintage', which is something I always struggle with. At least with paper I have learnt that Distress Inks make things look vintage, but fabric is another matter. This is my take on it:

I stamped and embossed the grey/brown background Jacqui sent me, using Moonglow copper obsidian. I created a frame out of purple fun foam - heated, stamped into while hot, painted with Stewart Gill fabric paints, rubbed over with Treasure Gold - and stuck a transparency and the frame onto the page. I finished this page off with a dangly heart. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing Jacqui had in mind, but it's my take on vintage! I hope she likes it.

Finally, Pauline C chose 'nature' as her theme, and sent me a lilac page. Hmmm. My nature is rather unnatural! I sprayed the back of the page with a deeper colour, using some flower shapes as stencils, but it didn't inspire me, and it was too strong to use as a background. So, I covered the front with lilac organza, and made some flowers and leaves using fusible film. I sewed the leaf and flowers onto the organza, added some bead flower centres, and then took some gold Stickles and added a glittery gold edge and some random dot patterns. I hope Pauline likes it.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

More meandering

Here is another meander book page - also for Annie, whose theme is 'play on words'. Annie provided the ready coloured background, which is textured with embossed writing.

I cut out some heart shapes from felt, laid them on larger organza heart shapes then needle felted silk, mohair and synthetic fibres onto the hearts. The words are stamped onto tyvek with Stazon ink, and coloured with Brilliance ink. I did get the needle and thread out to sew some small gold beads around the edges of the hearts. It was quicker to make these needle felted pieces than do all that embroidery!!!

Meander book pages

I'm involved in a round robin meander book swap. We have chosen to use pelmet vilene or canvas as the base of our 3.5 inch pages, which are mixed media. Each player has coloured their pages, and set a theme, and sent two pages out to each player. When we get our pages we are to decorate both, keep one and return one, so we will each end up with two meander books - one of our own pages for everybody else's books, plus one of everybody else's pages for our own book. Make sense? See Cloth paper scissors issue 5 Winter 2005 for mixed media meander book example and instructions.

Eva chose her theme to be 'rainbow' and has sent a different colour to each player. I got red. Eva wanted texture, but no words. I painted a paper doily, and stuck some of that on the page, then added some Stewart Gill gilding flakes (very shiny!) and made two textured hearts from Friendly Plastic (ironed between silicone baking paper till thin, then stamped into, and finally re-heated and cut using a small cookie cutter). I covered the wholepiece with red organza, and used french knots and fly stitch to 'trap' the hearts and hold the layers together. It's been a while since I embroidered!

Annie send some very subtly coloured pages, and set her theme as 'birds'. I printed a bird I created earlier in the year, and ran the print (coated with gel medium) through the Wizard to create an image transfer.

I used gold machine embroidery thread to sew an eye, the beak, and an outline - all by hand.

I added some green and purple organza 'feathers' to the tail.

I added 'feathers' to the wing, fly stitch to give the body texture, a few french knots for interest, and blanket stitch all round to finish the edge off. It took me AGES. I managed to tangle all the threads. I now remember why my interest in embroidery didn't last too long last time I dabbled!!

I hope Annie likes it.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Polymer clay brocade jewellery

Just a couple more simple pieces of jewellery that I made form my polymer clay brocade sheet and some silver findings. These are on their way to Debra & Pattie. I hope they like them.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Birthday gift mini canvas

I've been playing with texture here. I took this mini 4 inch by 3 inch canvas, and dribbled some clear tar gel onto it. I also added clear granular gel, and some fibre paste. I left it all to dry overnight, then painted it with a coat of burnt umber fluid acrylic. Once that was dry, I painted it with interference green fluid acrylic, and a few areas of interference violet. Finally, I stroked Treasure Gold all over the canvas, bringing out all the high points. I used heavy gel medium to add Da Vinci's self portrait in the polymer clay frame, which was made in a Krafty Lady mould, dusted with Pearl Ex.

I hope Liz likes it!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Old & new swap

This piece was made for an 'old and new' swap on CC Swaps, where we needed to use something that had been in our stash for a long time (in my case the jump rings, memory wire and clasps) with something new (the pendant I made) and include stamping (on the pendant).

I'm not telling you how I made it yet, it's a bit of a mystery!!!

It's off to the Philippines, where I hope it's new owner enjoys wearing it.

Polymer clay 'brocade'

I was reading Donna Kato's 2nd book on Polymer Clay (Surface Effects for Polymer Clay), which I can highly recommend as having great eye candy and clear instructions, when I came across 'polymer clay brocade' and fell in love.

I've really enjoyed making these pieces, and thought I'd share how I did them.

First, gather your supplies - you'll need:

a ceramic tile or piece of silicone coated baking paper to work on
a pasta machine or Wizard die cutting machine if you have one (but you can knead the clay by hand if you don't)
black polymer clay - preferably Kato or Fimo
metallic acrylic paint, plus 3 colours of acrylic paint
rubber stamps - deeply etched with all over texture or pattern rather than images (you could also use texture plates, or perhaps even an opened out Cuttlebug folder)
cornstarch, talc or similar for dusting
rolling pin - preferably acrylic or brass rod or acrylic brayer but I managed with a glass bottle!
metal cookie or similar cutters if you have them

The very basic instructions for the technique are really very simple, as follows:

Condition clay and roll into sheets. Paint clay, and impress with a stamp. paint clay again, and roll flat. Cut into shapes and bake as per manufacturer's instructions. Simple!!!

You'll be pleased to know there are step photos below, with added hints and tips and leaning points from the mistakes I made when I made mine!!!

Gathering the supplies

I chose to make 3 different pieces of 'brocade' - one with a silver base, one gold, one copper. I thought it would be a good way of using up some cheap copper and silver metallic paint I had. This was a BIG mistake. As you will see, this technique works MUCH better using good quality paint, like the Lumieres or Golden products. Here are the paints I started off with:

Next, I chose my acrylic colours for the copper based piece:

and for the silver based piece:

and for the gold based piece:

All the coloured acrylic paints shown above performed very well for this technique.

Next I chose my rubber stamps, these need to be all over textures or patterns, and one large stamp is easier to use than stamping more than once with a smaller one. The effect is better with deeply cut stamps, rather than shallow ones. The stamps I chose are (from left to right) from Innovative Stamp Creations, Stamp Camp, and Polymer Clay Express. The one on the right worked best of all - it was big, deeply cut, and designed for using with polymer clay.

A rolling pin. Preferably an acrylic one or a brass rod, but I didn't have either. I used this tall thin glass bottle, as I had read somewhere that you can work on clay tiles or sheets of glass and the clay doesn't stick to them. The clay stuck to it. So I used a layer of silicone coated baking paper between the clay and the bottle and it worked absolutely FINE. A wooden rolling pin and a sheet of silicone coated baking parchment would work, too. As would a thick metal knitting needle.

Something to dust your stamps with. You could grab a square of muslin and put some cornflour (cornstarch) in it and hold it together with an elastic band, or perhaps try using talc, or you could take the easy option and use one of these if you have one:

Polymer clay. I used Fimo soft clay. I want to try Kato clay, and have ordered some from the US, but I couldn't wait for it to arrive to try this technique so used what I had. I made about 30 embellishments out of one small pack, which cost less than £2.


Condition the clay by running it though a pasta machine a few times, folding the sheets into smaller packages before running them through the machine again. You can also use the Wizard (and maybe even other die cutting machines) for this bit, just sandwich the clay between two pieces of silicone coated baking paper, run it through, and fold up the sheets of clay before running though again. If you don't have a pasta machine or Wizard, you can condition the clay by hand by kneading it until it feels smooth and soft. This will take you between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on how much effort you put in and how hot your hands are!

Once the clay is conditioned, you need to roll it into sheets. If you use a pasta machine to do this, use the thickest setting. If you roll by hand, use something either side of your clay to ensure an even thickness - you could use double thickness of chip board, for instance. They are somewhere between 1/8th and 3/16th of an inch thick. The thickness is not critical, if your finished 'brocade' is too thin, you can layer it onto another thin sheet of plain clay. I got 3 sheets from my small packet, here are the two smaller ones, the tiles they are on are 6 inches square. I was a little concerned at the obvious ridges, but they didn't show at all in the finished 'brocade', so you don't need to be too picky about pasta machine or rolling pin marks.

Now, dab a very thin layer of metallic paint all over the clay, using your fingertips. Less is definitely more, you will build up 4 or maybe even 5 thin layers. As I found out, if you put the paint on too thick, it will come off when you add the next layer. So, this is what it looks like after 1 layer, I tried using my finger to apply the paint on the left, and a sponge brush for the piece on the right:

Allow 10 minutes for the paint to dry between layers. This next pic is after the second layer, and this is where I began to notice the difference between the cheap paint on the right and the better quality Lumiere paint on the left:

The cheap paint was looking distinctly thin and patchy, but I added a third layer, and found that the cheap paint was coming off as fast as it was going on. The better quality paints have better binders and more pigment, working on polymer clay needs a good binder and lots of pigment.

I tried using my fingers instead of the sponge brush but it got worse, so I decided to change paint, for this high quality one by Golden (but I think any good quality, highly pigmented paint would work just as well).

Just look at the difference, after the 4th coat:

Because I'd used the cheap paint and got poor coverage, I added a fifth coat of the copper. if I'd used good paint form the outset, I think 4 coats would be enough.

The next step is to THOROUGHLY dust your stamp, then lay it on top of the clay (patterned side facing downwards) and take you rolling pin and roll it ONCE, pressing down hard. This is where you find out if you dusted well enough. If you didn't, you'll be picking bits off clay off your stamp for a while, believe me. This is what my gold sheet looked like after impressing the stamp into it:

And this is what the copper one looked like. I used a smaller stamp, and impressed twice. You can see the join line at this point, but not in the finished 'brocade'.

I completely forgot to dust the stamp in between impressing it into the clay. After the second impression, it was hard to get the stamp off the clay, and the sheet broke into small pieces while I was trying. And this last small piece was not the easiest thing to get off the stamp. I picked it all of bit by bit and scrubbed the stamp with warm soapy water and it is fine, but I learnt how important dusting the stamps is!

After impressing the clay, you add colour, again with you fingertips. Here's what the copper colour looked like after adding my paints:

After the paint dries (about 10 minutes) you roll the piece flat, here's what the gold sheet looked like after painting and rolling flat:

Finally, make embellishments from your sheets of 'biocade'. Here are a selection of the embellishments I made from the gold and copper sheets:

Here are pictures of my third sheet, using the same process. This sheet is about 3.5 inches wide and 7-8 inches long. I began this sheet with cheap paint and switched to better paint mid way:

Top half has a third coat of the Golden paint, the bottom half has a third coat of the cheap stuff:

After stamping:

After adding 3 acrylic colours with my fingertips:

After rolling to create a flat surface:

And here are some embellishments I made from the finished 'brocade' - I poked holes into these with an awl before baking, so that they can be made into pendants and earrings:

There will always be left over polymer clay when you do something like this. I rolled all my scraps up and ran them though the pasta machine a few times. All the acrylic paimnt got absorbed by the clay, and I used the scraps to make some moulded embellishments.

If you brush your moulds with PearlEx before putting the clay in, then bake in the mould, this is the sort of thing you get:

This was made in a home made mould, taken from a milagro ornament I bought in an art gallery shop in 2007. I brushed the mould with 3 colours of PearlEx before pushing the polymer clay into the mould, and baking it.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Friendly Plastic course - September 2009

Friendly Plastic is fabulous stuff to use in your art. It is pretty inexpensive, very lightweight, very strong and quite flexible - and it always survives the rigours of postal system!

It can appear very very bright, brash and shimmery, but can easily be toned down if that's not the effect you're after. It can look rather like dichroic glass when made into jewellery pieces.

If you've never seen it, this is what it looks like

It can be used with moulds, stamped into, 'ooozed' through punchinella or metal grids, cut with cutters, run through a die cutting machine to make shapes, and there are more advanced techniques that I ahven't tried yet. You can use it to make jewellery, card embellishments, and with textiles and to make large sculptural pieces if you're more ambitious.

Here are my blog posts about what I have done with this stuff:

and here is what Liz Welch, a great tutor and Friendly Plastic expert who invented the 'ooze' and 'lace' techniques, and who has made several instructional DVDs, can do with it:

Now, Liz and I are colluding to offer a Friendly Plastic course in the beautiful setting of Tintern Abbey, in the Wye valley:

Tinterm Abbey inspired Wordsworth to write poetry about it, and Turner to paint it. The patterns found in the Abbey stonework will be the inspiration for the jewellry that people will make on the course. The course runs for 2 days, but Liz had kindly made each day a stand alone day, so if you came for two days, you would learn different things each day.

For more information about the course, see Liz's web page:

And I hope to meet some of you there - I'm going for both days!


New baby card

A beautiful baby girl entered the world yesterday, my 7th grandchild - Seren (pronounced as in serendipity, serenade, and which is the Welsh word for 'star'). I made a card to go with the gifts I gave her parents:

The edging is just Stewart Gill Pearlise and Metallica paint dabbed and smeared on thinly using a baby wipe, with some pearlescent cream textured card layered on top. The main embellishments is made from Stewart Gill glitterati fibres (also known as Crystalina). I used two colours and mixed them well, then fused them together with an iron on a medium heat (protect the iron with non-stick paper). I trimmed 3 sides of the fused fibres, then ran the piece through my Wizard machine in a Cuttlebug embossing folder. This creates a lovely subtle pattern in amongst all the shimmer. Finally, I used a stencil and Golden light moulding paste to create the hands.



Please note that I assert myself as the creator of all art on this site (unless I credit another artist) and retain copyright of all artwork posted on this site