Saturday, September 29, 2012

Secret Garden Earrings In the November Issue of BeadStyle Magazine!

In July, Naomi Fujimoto, Senior Editor at BeadStyle Magazine, asked me if I would send her my Secret Garden earrings to be featured in the Earring Gallery in the November issue of the magazine.  Of course I said yes, and promptly shipped them off to her, then waited very impatiently until I received my advance copy this morning to see if there really were in it.  They are!   Woo Hoo!   I am beyond excited. 

Thanks again, Naomi.  You were so great to work with, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  I will probably be hounding you about other submissions now, because you made it was so easy the first time!  You are the best.

Naomi also has a stunning necklace included in the issue, so I hope you will check it out. 

I have one more pair of earrings from this same color batch, too, which are also listed in the shop.   

Okay, now to bring my head out of the clouds long enough to get back in the studio today.  

I got a wild hair yesterday and started working on some faux mercury glass beads, the result of reading Amy Hanna's book, Rejuvenated Jewels.   I love the book, but it features one of a kind, vintage components I am not likely to find anywhere in the boonies of the South Carolina lowcountry, so I have to resort (again!) to trying to recreate the look on my own.  Thank goodness polymer clay is so versatile!   More on those later.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Halellujah! It Is Beginning To Look A Lot Like Autumn in the South

I love the South and wouldn't live anywhere else, but I am not a fan of our Summer humidity.   I walk around feeling like a piece of wilted lettuce until 10:00 at night, so I was happy to see some cooler, crisp football weather this past weekend.  

I was so inspired by the weather, I went back into the studio to do some more experimenting, this time mixing Pardo and Premo with alcohol inks and acrylic paint and to see how far I could take the baking temps on the Premo. 

Turns out Premo is best left to bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.   I burned, no charred would be a better description, several beads set at 300 for 30 minutes, and several I set on 275 for 50 minutes.  

I went back to the manufacturer's suggested temp for Premo and baked the blended Pardo pieces at that, with good results.   I didn't get the glasslike clarity with the Pardo at 275, but the surface of these pieces is VERY strong.   It took twice as long to sand these pieces, but I won't complain because the finishes are absolutely flawless, which really makes my OCD self very happy.

These luscious "Black Ice" pieces are Premo Gray Granite and Pardo Translucent tinted with a generous saturation of Ranger Pitch Black Alcohol Ink.  There wasn't any color shift in the baking that could be seen under the Tungsten lights of my studio, but when I took them outside, there is a slight aubergine cast to them.  I was very tempted not to buff these after sanding.  The matte black look is so attractive, but the OCD took over again, as usual, and I buffed them anyway.  

These blueberry/dark denim pieces were made with Premo Gray Granite, Pardo Translucent, and Ranger and Pinata alcohol inks, a bit of this color and a bit of that.  

I didn't write down the formula, however, so can't tell you exactly how much of any, but the colors were Ranger Denim, Mushroom and Pinata Sapphire.  

These are really rich looking, and the perfect color to accessorize a pair of your favorite blue jeans, particularly the Denim Blue Birds earrings on the left.  I was going to name them "My Little Blue Chicadees" but didn't want to run afoul (I am SO funny) of any copyright law. 

One of my local customers has been after me to create a faux abalone bead to match a piece that is missing from a necklace she owns, but I could never get it quite right.  Yesterday, in a total bit of unplanned luck, the last piece from an experiment with Premo translucent, alcohol ink and acrylic paints (see those pieces in my flickr photostream if you like) was exactly what she wanted.  I called her right away.  

I spent the rest of Saturday with the manual for my camera, trying to figure out how to photograph some "green turquoise" pieces that photographed a very bright, almost neon turquoise blue.  The only way I could make the photos come out anywhere near the actual color was to set the camera for inside under flourescent lighting.   I made a gorgeous pair of purple earrings, too, but they photographed cobalt blue!   Oh, well.  All in all, it was a very productive weekend.

Before I sign off, I also wanted to express my thanks to everyone who read my post about losing my job of 20 years and the scary and exciting next step of becoming a full time artist.  I didn't know I had so many friends, although several of you who emailed me or responded to that post don't even know me; but you are friends now.  All of you offered encouragement and support.  I am truly blessed to have you all, and you have given me a huge boost to my confidence.

Thank you so much!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Will

What will you do to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States of America on September 11, 2001? 

I will proudly fly the United States flag.
I will recite the pledge of allegiance, with emotion choking my heart.
I will grieve again the loss of so many innocent lives.
I will honor the many heroes from that day by giving blood.
I will tell my family I love them, because we never know when our next breath will be our last.
I will say a prayer for peace on Earth.

Our Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic
For which it stands,
One nation, under God
With liberty and justice for all.


Monday, September 10, 2012

My Pardo Fix - Update

I have such wonderful friends!   One of you lovely folks very kindly offered to send me some Pardo to tide me over until I can find a stash.   Thank you so much, and thank you to everyone who has offered suggestions about where to find more.   

At the urging of Beth Wheeling, a new Facebook friend, I contacted Trish at PolyPlayClay in Lubbock, Texas.  She emailed me right back and said she would save me some bricks of the Professional Art Clay when she gets her next shipment.  If any of you want some, you might want to give her a shout.   You can contact her from her website.   

Trish also relayed that a reliable source has suggested you can bring the clay back to softness by adding Sculpey Clay Softener and/or Sculpey Mold Make, but that the Mold Maker would affect the level of translucency.  She also said it has been suggested to her that when you want to soften already baked clay slightly, to reheat it, but that it will never get back to the soft, pliable state.   Sigh.   I guess I am going to have to be patient and wait, so the Pardo experiments are on hold for now.  That's the bad news.  The good news is I met several new friends as a result of the search for Pardo!  

Thanks again, everyone.   

I said I would post a few pieces I created with the scraps of the cobalt and amethyst experiments, which I marbled with some Premo scraps.   These were all cured at 275 degrees F as recommended for Premo.   No heroics with these.  

Next up for me is my 2012 Holiday collection, and then I promise to finish at least two new tutorials.  I decided this year the theme for the collection will be "Winter Wonderland" and will feature lots of Winter White, crystal, antique brass findings, and Vintage Victorian Angels.   Here is a sneak peak:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

More Cobalty Blue Goodness... And Showing Out

These were made with the last of my good batch of Pardo.  I am now desperate for more.  As I am finding out, getting more is not an easy thing.  It's like looking for a golden Easter egg, or that proverbial needle in the haystack.

I received part of the shipment of Pardo yesterday from   Yes, it was the only place I could find Pardo Professional Art Clay in 2.1 oz. bricks.  I bought 6 bricks.   They weren't supposed to arrive until next week, so I was so excited when I opened the package and saw them.   Excitement quickly turned to frustration, and my famous temper surfaced.   I ranted, I raved.   My Momma calls it "showing out."   Well, I showed out, big time.   Why?   After having worked with nice, pliable, lovely, flexible Pardo, every brick of this stuff was so hard, it crumbled to dust when I tried to roll it through the pasta machine.   A scientist can't work her experiments without the main ingredient with which to work!   

I didn't want to add another brand of liquid polymer clay to soften the Pardo, which would defeat the purpose of my pure Pardo experiments; but that may be the only recourse.  I tried softening it by putting a brick in a sealed plastic bag and leaving it in a bowl under the spigot of hot water for 10 minutes.  Nothing.  I tried using a hair dryer on it, and even holding the heat back 2' resulted in the clay yellowing and looking like melted, HARD candle wax.   I tried holding it in my hand for a long time.  I tried wrapping it in a towel and setting the iron on it (iron set on low.)  None of these worked.   

I went to Viva Decor's website.  It was no help.  Lots of pretty pictures, but nothing to help.  I emailed Viva, but haven't heard back yet.  I don't know how to speak or write in German, so I am hoping they have someone there who can read my pitifully plaintive English email.  I googled how to make Pardo soft again.  No help.  While I was looking for a cure, I began to wonder why the translucent bricks aren't being offered anywhere.   Have they been discontinued?   I did find 3 bricks on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby last week.  Is that significant?  Does that mean Hobby Lobby isn't going to carry Pardo any longer?   All the Pardo was on the clearance aisle, come to think of, even the colored balls.   

It is the stuff of nightmares, I tell you.  Now that I have discovered Pardo's translucent qualities, I don't want to give it up.  I hope someone somewhere out there has an answer.   In the mean time, I guess I'll have to add some liquid Kato and see what happens.   The mad scientist in me is still showing out, only inwardly.  

Hmmm, wonder if any of the ladies who helped develop Pardo can help out a sister in need.  Surely they can spare a few bricks... I bet they got a lifetime supply of free Pardo... 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Cobalt Blues

There is a lot of experimenting going on in the Diva house this weekend.  I am knee deep in Pardo translucent and loving the glass-like results.   And the colors!  Oh, my!

First up, these mouthwatering faux jade Asian Kanji tower focal beads.  Mouthwatering and a mouthful, right?  I call them "tower beads" because they are 4-sided instead of round like my signature "cylinder beads."

My friend Ginger of The Blue Bottle Tree saw the faux jade tower beads on my flickr photostream earlier this week, and she wanted to experiment with a cobalt blue color.  She made a fabulous faux cobalt blue bead, and I was so positively pea green with envy, I had to try it myself.  I kicked a few formulas around, and got various shades of blue and purple, but ended up liking these the best, my first attempts.  What do you think?  They are a deep cobalt blue, and have great transparency.

Here are some faux red jade gingko leaf cylinder beads created from the Pardo, and a sweet little robin's egg blue Asian Waves cylinder bead.   The bead behind it actually has the waves stamped on the inside.  Those of you who have purchased my faux bone and ivory tutorial know how these are constructed, but it's the first time I've put the stamped design on the inside.  I love how the clay is so translucent, you can see the design from the other side.

And wait until you see the marbled earrings I made from some of the cobalt scraps.  More on those next time.  I gotta get back to the laboratory!