Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

I wish everyone could live in my little corner of the world today, because it is a gloriously beautiful Spring morning here in the South Carolina lowcountry. It is 65 degrees at 10:30 a.m. heading toward 80 for the high todweekeend. o put on my shades.

This is the kind of day that makes me want to stay home and play and create with clay. I can't of course, too many appointments on the books today, but if I liked my day job one teeny bit less than I do, I'd chunk it and head for the studio.

I've got a commission to fill, some image transfer brooches of historical South Carolina places, which I am itching to get started on and hoping to do that this weekend. But I also have upwards of 200 finished pendants just waiting to be turned into necklaces, and I want to put some new necklaces in the Etsy shop.

Here are a few of the pendants I may work up into necklace designs this week.

Black Verdigris Ginko Shield Pendant 2 Large Skinner Blend Copper Pendant

35 Dock Street Antiqued Bronze Faux Finish Verdigris Embossed Pendant William Morris Inspired Polymer Clay Pendant 1

Decisions, decisions...of course, I could always do my taxes. I think they're due soon...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It's been one of those weeks, good things happened and bad things happened, some of it ugly. The good thing that happened was that I sold seven pieces to the Colleton County Museum for their gift shop! Yeah! Did the happy dance for that one until I fell down in a coughing fit...that's the bad. I've had that new strain of flu for almost two weeks now, and can't seem to get rid of it. Sore throat, fever, coughing up a lung, congestion, dizziness, and zero energy. The doctor says there isn't anything to take for it, this particular strain isn't covered by the flu shot, so I've been gulping Tylenol and Robitussin DM. Nasty stuff Robitussin. It's a case of the cure being worse than the bite.

What's that? I didn't explain the ugly? Are you kidding? Do you know what I look like right now? My hair isn't washed and my eyes and nose look like I've been on a three day drunk. UGLY, UGLY, UGLY. The cats won't even play with me. Camille growled at me this morning like I was an alien or something.

If I could get a little bit of energy, I'd make some pretty new clay things, but I think I'll head on back to bed instead. Maybe tomorrow...tomorrow is another day...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm the Featured Artist on Linda Riopel's Blog Today

My very good friend Linda Riopel has honored me today by making me her featured artist of the week at her blog. Linda, you are such a good friend and a wonderful mentor. I am undeserving of your praise, but so pleased you see me as a teacher, too. Thank you so much!

Linda's FA Blog

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday Clay and Play - March 19, 2009

Our weekly PCAGOE Clay and Play night is Thursday, and last night I thought I was going to get a piece done for the challenge, the theme of which is "Faux". I wanted to duplicate these African Jasper slab cut beads, which I bought several months ago and have been saving for something special. Project started at 7:00 p.m. At 10:00 p.m., I threw in the towel and marbled the sorry mass of glop together, and voila, a happy accident!

The pendant is a custom blend of Gold Premo, Alizarin Crimson Premo, English Garden Studio by Sculpey, Pearl Premo, Kato Translucent, Black Premo and Ranger Distressed Black Embossing Powder marbled in a deep, rich mahogany color to match the African Jasper slab cut beads, to which I added red Carnelian rounds, tiny silver Pyrite rondelles, Russian Serpentine rounds, and polished black Onyx rounds. It is finished with sterling silver spacer beads and a sterling silver toggle clasp.

Too bad it won't do for the April PCAGOE challenge...so, off to the workshop again!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm the Featured Artist on JewelzODonnell's Blog Today

Thank you, Juli, a/k/a Jewelzodonnell, for featuring me as your PCAGOE artist of the week today on your beautiful blog.

Juli lives in Ontario, Canada and and is a fairly new member to PCAGOE. She makes the most beautiful polymer clay buttons! Here is an example of her work. Please visit her shop to see more of her delightful creations.

Royal Pansy Brooch

Wintergreen Buttons

I am Irish And I am Wearing The Green Today, But Pinch Me Anyway!

Ah, St. Patrick's Day, the day everyone is Irish, whether they've got green blood running through their veins or not. I am definitely Irish, and very proud of it, thanks to my father's Fortune, McCreary and Stoney ancestors.

John Fortune and his wife, Anne and their family of seven children immigrated from Newry, Ireland to Charleston, SC, arriving in Charleston aboard the ship Britannia on August 23, 1767.

John Fortune was born about 1725. He brought his family here on the promise of free land and the chance at a new life. The record shows the family received 650 acres in the Camden District of South Carolina, on the headwaters of Jackson's Creek, much of which was later established as the Town of Winnsboro, in Fairfield County.

At the time, that part of South Carolina was known as the backcountry, a wild and largely unpopulated wilderness. The majority of immigrants to the backcountry between 1750 and 1775 were Scots-Irish who came down the "Great Wagon Road" from Pennsylvania and Virginia.

John and Anne's daughter, Mary was born in 1746 and was 21 years old when she arrived in America. As an adult, she received 100 acres of bounty land in her own name. By 1768, Mary was married to Robert McCreary, Sr. and had sold her land to move to the Barnwell District of South Carolina to raise their family, including son Robert Jr., my 6th great Grandfather.

Robert McCreary, Sr. was also Irish, the son of John and Agness Kennedy McCreary of Groomsport, in Bangor Parish, County Down, Ireland. Robert Sr. first appears in the records of South Carolina in 1764, when he petitioned the South Carolina Council for land near Chester, South Carolina. It is not know how he arrived in South Carolina, but I suspect he was also one of the thousands of Scots-Irish who made the trek down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania. Robert supplied livestock to the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

The Fortune story is a fascinating one, filled with intrigue, betrayal, divided loyalties, tragedy and heartbreak, but theirs is also the story of determination and survival. I am sure my extremely stubborn streak probably comes from my Irish ancestors. Three sons fought for the British in the American Revolution, which caused a bitter split in the family.

The Stoney family is just as colorful. The Stoney family immigrated to Tipperary, Ireland from England in the 1600s. Captain John Stoney was born in Tipperary in 1749and married Elizabeth Caulfield, although it is not known if they were married before he arrived in South Carolina.

In 1773, Captain John left Ireland and sailed in his own ship to Hilton Head Island, in the Beaufort District of South Carolina, smack dab in the Lowcountry. The ship was a privateer named "The Saucy Jack", and was used by the Americans in the Revolutionary War. It was later confiscated by the French government and was the subject of a highly debated spoliation claim concerning the Louisiana Purchase.

It is said that every Stoney in the United States is descended from John Stoney and his wife Elizabeth. It must be true, I've never met one yet whose paper pedigree didn't match John's lineage.

It is an honor to carry the blood of the Irish in me and today, I salute my Irish ancestors AND the men and women they married: John and Anne Fortune, Robert and Mary Fortune McCreary, Robert McCreary, Jr. and Ann Elizabeth Harley, Rebecca McCreary and James Robert Moseley, James Robert Moseley, Jr. and Emma Felder, James Felder Moseley and Julia Craft, and James Felder Moseley, Jr. and Caralie Stoney (my paternal grandparents); Captain Jack and Elizabeth Caulfield, George Stoney and Catherine Jenkins, James Stoney and Mary Clara Reed, Edward Bullard Stoney and Julianna Cora Rhodes, and Cornelius and Caralie Douglas Medlock Stoney.

Erin Go Bragh!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sisterhood Award Winner

Wow, I won a Sisterhood Award for my "creative and informative blog"!

Thank you so much to Ruth, a/k/a Lanyardlady for nominating me for this wonderful award. See, Momma, I told you talking to myself wasn't crazy! Even though it seems at times I really am talking to myself when I blog, I love doing it and I try to make the place look attractive and inviting, too. It is really nice to see my efforts are appreciated and liked by others as well.

AND, the best part about winning the award is that I get to nominate 5 more women myself! So, here are my nominations for inspirational, informative, creative blogs and the woman behind them. Two of the nominees are sisters of the heart, 3 are fellow PCAGOE members, and all are talented women who inspire me daily.

Linda Riopel is a very talented artist and a wonderful friend. She is a sister of the heart to me, and an endless source of inspiration and encouragement. You have seen me blog Linda's accomplishments and generosity many, many times. She gives selflessly of herself to all the PCAGOE members. She serves as our membership secretary, cheerleader and is a mentor to many, including me.

Pippa Chandler is my good friend from "across the pond". Pippa lives in England and is a delight to know. She is a huge source of encouragement to me and is a wondeful artist. Pippa is the only other person I know who is as devoted to sanding and buffing polymer clay as I am.

Marcia Palmer is also a fellow PCAGOE member, and is in fact the reason I found PCAGOE in the first place. I stumbled across Marcia's store at Etsy one night shortly after opening my Etsy store, and my jaw dropped at the beautiful jewelry she creates from polymer clay.

Julie Eakes The things I could do if I had talent like Julie Eakes. My jaw has hit the floor several times over the past few days, but never as much as when I visit Julie's beautiful blog. She is a master at polymer clay canemaking. Her fingers are the paint brush, and I am SO JEALOUS, I can't even begin to tell you how jealous, I am of her extraordinary talent. You owe it to yourself to visit her blog and see her artistry. The Obama face cane is not to be missed.

Sonia Romero I've built several treasuries around Sonia's beautiful prints. She creates with printmaking like I want to create in polymer clay. I love the graphics and colors she chooses, the clean lines and crisp style. Her blog is one I visit often and just drool when I see something new. Sonia, if I hit the lottery, yours is the first stop on my spending spree!

So thank you ladies, for the inspiration and encouragement. I am honored to nominate each of you for the Sisterhood Award.

Hello, Muse! Long Time No See!

Finally, I did some work yesterday that satisfied me. About time, too. The garbage can was full to overflowing! Here are a few necklace designs I finished yesterday and last night.

My friend Kate at organicodysseys sent me some neat animal print background images, including a Cheetah print, which I scanned and shrunk to about 25% of the original size and saved as a jpeg file. I love the subtle shading and the touches of salmon/red, which match perfectly with Leopardskin Jasper. Leopardskin Jasper is my favorite gemstone because it is the chameleon of the gem world and adapts to almost any color because there are so many colors included in it. It can go from pink to peach to tomato red to burgundy. I also used Dalmation Jasper and Grafic Feldspath, two more very versatile gems whose colors and patterns adapt to their surroundings, so to speak.

This is another image transfer, of a piece of wrapping paper which I scanned and converted to a jpeg. I used it to make my shop banner at Etsy and her, and I couldn't resist turning it into a background image for a few pendants, too.

I enhanced it with polished black onyx rounds; facted, basketweave cut black onyx pillow beads and Turquoise, faceted Czech glass cathedral beads tipped in silver.

This pendant is another image transfer from the decorative papers Kate sent me. I love a zebra print, how could I not? It screams Diva, doesn't it?

I have tried cylindrical pendants before, but they always cracked. I really like the look of them, and thought I'd try it again with the zebra print transfer. For this pendant, I had to bake the paper right on the raw clay because the design would have smeared when I touched it and shaped it. Baking the paper caused a few little horizontal creases which I think give it a bit of a vintage look. I applied several coats of Glossy Glaze by Studio by Sculpey to protect the image and soften the creases a little. I am very pleased with the results.

I added fuschia pink turquoise rounds, faceted black onyx and Balinese sterling silver drum beads to enhance the pendant.

Today, it's more image transfers. I have some interesting Victorian ladies and some sepia backgrounds sitting on my workshop table waiting for me.

Happy Sunday, everyone. I hope it is a glorious day wherever you are!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sister Mine

My family had a bad scare Thursday night. My brother-in-law called at midnight and said my sister was being rushed to the hospital with chest pains...my beautiful, 47 year old, baby sister.

She had been having chest pains all week and was scheduled to have a heart catherization next Thursday.

I was in the middle of creating some new pieces, my muse having tentatively returned. It was the first time in weeks I felt like making anything or even looking at a package of clay. I dropped everything and drove like a maniac to get there.

Luckily, it turned out not to be a heart problem, although my sister is still going to have that catherization next week, but she spent the night in the local hospital and it was a tense, sleepless night Thursday until we heard the results of all the tests the doctors ordered. The final diagnosis was an acute asthma attack. Asthma we can handle, and it was a huge relief to hear the news.

I came home yesterday and after a quick nap, went back to work. I had decided to start slow, doing what I know I am most comfortable with, which is image transfers. I love animal prints and was thrilled to find that instead of having to learn to make canes from polymer clay of my favorite animal prints, I could cheat and do it the easy way, making image transfers with digital images instead!

Here are a couple of faux cheetah pendants, which I am going to make into necklaces today, and a few more image transfers.

My friend Linda Riopel of nkdesigns emailed me some historical ornament transfers from a collage made by a student of hers, and I love them. They have a Pennsylvania Dutch/Colonial look and feel, and I immediately put them to use.

More image transfers. Recognize the pattern? I swiped it from my banner. Hee hee.

And finally, I made some chatoyant pendants with silver and gold Premo metallic clays. I am particularly pleased with the silver pendant. I used a lightly etched stamp because I didn't want to slice off the top, which I find makes the pieces flat. Sanding the design down gives the piece more depth, and I sanded it a lot, spending almost 15 minutes with the 400 grit before going on to 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000.

I wonder, could this considered a "faux mokume gane", since it isn't sliced, but sanded?

It felt really good to get back to doing something productive after sitting and worrying about my sister. She is an amazing woman, one of those "Superwoman" women who manage to have beautiful families, gorgeous showcases for homes, fabulous friends and of course, know how to whip up gourmet meals and entertain 200 with little effort. Yep, she is one of THOSE women, and as I was sitting and waiting and waiting and waiting to hear from the doctors, I couldn't help but think how different my life and my family's lives would be without her in it. She is the backbone of our family and does so much to enrich our lives and make them better.

I came to the conclusion that I hope I go first, because I don't want to face a future without her in it. Realizing one's mortality, or the mortality of a loved one, is the worst feeling. So, we're breating a collective sigh of relief today, and thank God for all his blessings and for keeping our little family safe and happy for a little while longer. We are very lucky, and know we are blessed.

This one's for you Tara, sister mine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forgive My Flaunting, But I've Apparently Got "IT" This Week!

To steal a line from my friend Linda Riopel, Woo Hoo!!!!!!! It has been an exciting week for me, being featured on several blogs and getting some great feedback on my designs, and I am also featured in three Etsy Treasuries. My cup runneth over it seems. Thanks again to everyone who blogged me, commented on my work, complimented me and featured me in a treasury. I hope I'm coming out of my creative funk now. I'm determined to work tonight and will post photos tomorrow if there is anything decent in the bunch.

Linda Riopel of NKDesigns, featured two of my designs in her sexy Red Hot Romance Treasury, My Italian Romance Necklace and my Jungle Love Brooch I'm in good company, too. All the featured designs are fantastic! Thank you, Linda!

Tina, a/k/a Chicki, featured my Extremely Rare Spotted Cow Egg Necklace in her gorgeous Monochrome Treasury. Black and White is one of my favorite combinations and I love all the pieces featured in this treasury. Thanks, Tina, for including my bodacious bovine!

And finally, Alissa, a/k/a DivaDea, featured my Antique Bronze Embossed Ginkgo Brooch in her Not Too Bright Treasury. Thanks so much, Alissa. Beautiful artwork in this treasury, too!

Monday, March 9, 2009

An Abundance of Riches - I'm A PCAGOE Featured Artist

Thank you to my friend and fellow PCAGOE member, Tina, a/k/a Chicki, for making me the PCAGOE Artist of the week at her beautiful blog.

I have admired Tina's work since I joined Etsy. Last year, she shared her technique for making faux turquoise from polymer clay in our PCAGOE newsletter last year, and I still use it. It is a wonderful "recipe" for creating beautiful faux turquoise gemstone beads, like these from her shop.

Turquoise Drops Polymer Clay Necklace and Earring Set

Faux Turquoise Nuggets Polymer Clay Beaded Necklace

Thank you so much, Tina!

I'm The Featured Artist of the Week at Art Bead Scene!

Wow, I'm having a good run lately, aren't I? Thank you, Tari Sassar and the great ladies behind Art Bead Scene, one of my favorite online blogs, for making me their Artist of the Week this week. They spotlighted my Green Savannah Necklace, which I entered in ABS's March Challenge, as blogged below. I'm thrilled, ladies! Thank you so much!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Verdigris Finish Copper French Script Brooch Featured In A Treasury!

I made a tutorial on how to create Etsy Treasuries a couple of months ago, and a few people actually read it, including my good friend Linda Riopel, a/k/a NKDesigns, who just created this great PCAGOE filled treasury featuring some of the single women and our beloved David Vanover, a/k/a Revonav. For a long time, David was our only male team member, until Keith Henning and Wes Warren joined us.

Linda, on behalf of all the right-hand ring girls out there, thanks for including my brooch and me in your sassy treasury!

Small Verdigris Finish Copper Script Brooch

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hangin' Out on Cloud 9...What A Difference A Day Makes!

I think I hear my muse sneaking back into the building, thanks to Eugena Topina! Eugena emailed me this morning to tell me she was featuring me as her Etsy Polymer Clay Artist of the Week at her blog, polymerclaychameleon. I think I forgot to breathe there for a minute. I am thrilled and honored to be chosen. I think I'll be hangin' out on Cloud 9 for a long time!

Eugena is originally from Russia and has been in the US about 13 years, a scientist, no less! She is on sabbatical to devote time to her art, and is a gifted artist who has worked with polymer clay for the past 10 years. Her faux finishes are amazing, and she generously shares her techniques. Here are a couple of examples of her work, but you owe it to yourself to visit her shop at Eugena777 to see more of her beautiful artistry. For polymer clay lovers, it's a trip through wonderland; and if you are new to pc or considering working with clay, prepare to be inspired. Better take a drool cup with you, too!

Dwellers of the Mechanical Garden, Red, a Steampunk Necklace with Filigree and Watch Parts

Faux Lampwork Beads, Green, Turquoise, and Black

Thanks so much, Eugena!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Muse Has Left The Building

Okay, my muse deserted me and I need something to jumpstart my creative flow, so I thought I would enter a few contests this month. Nothing motivates me like a good pat on the back, soooooooooo, here goes. Of course, dismal failure probably won't get the muse singing again, but what the heck, I'm going for it!

I like Art Bead Scene's March Challenge, the theme of which is "Red Fish", based on Henri Matisse's painting "The Goldfish". I'm a Matisse fan and I love goldfish, so entering this one was kind of a no-brainer.

Matisse was known for his brilliant and fluid use of color, and I think my Green Savannah necklace is a fair example of fluidity. I don't marble clay much anymore, most of my work lately has been created using image transfers, but this is a sentimental favorite. What do you think, does it fit the bill for the March ABS challenge?

MarchABS Entry

I also decided to enter this necklace in GraftGossip's "Pi Challenge". Julie Leir-VanSickle, the Polymer Clay Editor at CraftGossip, is looking for polymer entries depicting the pi symbol, or a play on the word pie. Hope this fits the bill.

Thanksgiving Necklace 2

And then there are those huge contests from firemountain and several other bead-related magazines and publications, the deadlines for which are fast approaching. I'm working up to them! I think angst over what to create for them is actually what sent my muse running for the hills in the first place, but baby steps, people, baby steps...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Congo Necklace Featured In A Treasury!

My Congo Necklace is featured in this beautiful treasury, a tribute to the Gorilla. It is titled Gorillas In The Mist and was created by the talented mother and daughter team known as NatureVisions. Erica and her mother Nancy are fellow PCAGOE members and very talented artists in their own right. The proceeds of the sale of some of the featured items goes toward several charitable endeavors. Please visit the treasury and show your support by clicking and commenting.

Erica, thank you so much for featuring my necklace in your inspiring treasury!

Here are a few items from Nancy and Erica's shop at Etsy. Nancy is the sculptor, Erica the photographer. These are so wonderful! I love the daintiness of the fawn and the expressiveness of the bulldog, and the glorious colors of the Wishes Butterfly photograph. If you would like to see more of their work, please visit their shop at Etsy!

Photographs used with permission from Erica Lea

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Copper Ice Brooch Featured In A New Treasury!

Linda's Latte Treasury

Copper Ice Polymer Clay Brooch

Thanks again to Linda Riopel of nkdesigns for featuring my Copper Ice Brooch in her beautiful new Iced Cafe Latte Grande Treasury!

Linda lives in New York state and got a teeny bit of snow this past weekend. Being snowbound will just give her the opportunity to make more beautiful designs, so I can't wait to see how the bad weather inspires her!

Linda is a master of the canework technique used in polymer clay design. One of her necklaces is entered in this month's PCAGOE challenge (see below) and she is as famous for her image transfers. She is a huge inspiration to me and my mentor in all things Polymer Clay. Thanks again, Linda. You're the best, my friend!

Resin Finished Polymer Clay Shield Pendant

She is also an expert on image transfers, and has generously shared her tips and techniques with me on many occasions. I love this geisha image transfer. Linda seals her cane and image transfer pendants in resin for a "smooth as glass" finish. Aren't they gorgeous?

Resin Finished Geisha Transfer Pendant

A Treasury To Promote PCAGOE's March Challenge

I snagged an Etsy Treasury to promote the March challenge for PCAGOE. Please visit it, click on the photos and comment on your favorite items! Let's try to get it to the front page for the artisans included!

Thanks so much!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Featured in April's Polymer Cafe Magazine!

Thanks to Linda Riopel of nkdesigns, who wrote an article on PCAGOE's charitable endeavors which was published in the April, 2009 issue of Polymer Cafe magazine.

Last year, many PCAGOE members participated in making 2" x 2" letter tiles for two Alphabet projects, a random mosaic and a rainbow spectrum mosaic. I was assigned the letter "L" in the random project. The finished wall hangings were donated to a Ronald McDonald House in Pennsylvania and a children's hospital in New York State.

I had the most fun making this tile, and I was thrilled to find my tile among the photos included in Linda's article. So, thank you again, Linda Riopel and the editors of Polymer Cafe magazine!

Here is a photo of the completed random alphabet wall hanging. Aren't they gorgeous? PCAGOE rocks!