Thursday, March 5, 2015

Carve your own style

Using commercial stamps is great for certain jobs, but they’re limiting and you don’t get much opportunity to express your own style of art through them. It’s also quite boring to just stamp and cut the same designs over and over, and as they’re readily available, it’s common to see the designs used in different artists work. If you want to create something that is entirely your own, lino cutting is a great technique.

I got myself a lino cutting kit a while ago and wrote about making tiny signature stamps to mark your work here. It’s taken a while to get around to it, but I’ve finally had a proper go at making some larger designs and trying them out in porcelain. 

I’m exploring more illustrative styles on my beads at the moment and making stamps from lino is a great way to get a line drawn style with the option of consistent reproductions.

The tools needed are minimal. A piece of lino, I’ve used the soft cut type which is really easy to use (with less chance of stabbing yourself with the tool) and a lino cutting tool. 

I got this really neat tool and baren set. The baren is the base of the tool and is used for burnishing paper on to the lino cut during printing. The handle unscrews and with a collet, turns in to the cutting tool.  Although I don't print with paper, I love the way all of the tools are stored inside the handle, and for five pounds, it’s a bargain!

Start by sketching your image on to the lino. I’ve drawn a stylised tree.

Then put together the cutting tool and carve out the pencil lines. It's easier to keep the sheet of lino whole while you carve, then trim the stamp out afterwards. A larger area means you have more to hold on to and lets you keep your hands well away from the blade. Keep an even pressure. Tilting the blade of the cutter alters the cutting depth so if you keep it nice and even through your cut, you will end up with a level line when you come to stamp. 

I decided while cutting not to go around the edge so that when I trimmed the shape, I wouldn’t have to worry about the outside line.

When you’ve finished, lay the stamp face down on your clay and roll over it with an even pressure.

This imprint looks really neat, but you can always rework the stamp if you’re not happy with it!

Here I’ve trimmed out some different shapes and designs from other stamps.

And some tiny ones for headpins.

Everything was glazed…

And fired…

I really like how these turned out, and I love how the glaze breaks over the lines of the image. The only down side is now I need more glaze colours!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: Copper Jewelry Collection

"Once relegated to practice scrap, copper now shines in jewelry making." --Karin Van Voorhees in the intro to Copper Jewelry Collection

I am sent several books each year to review. Some I don't bother because I wouldn't have much positive to say about them. Kalmbach Publishing sent this one and I really enjoy it because it's not just a rehash of some projects pulled from other sources. Instead, it has pulled technique based articles for the first half of the book, while reserving the second half of the book for projects using some of the techniques. When I am evaluating a book or magazine for my own use, the one that teaches techniques is a much better value than the one that teaches a project...unless that project happens to teach a technique. 

I should take a moment to mention that I like to know what I'm buying and always appreciate it when people share what's inside the book. To that end, I've taken lots of photos, but I also did a lot of blurring. I am sharing the photos of what you can potentially learn without sharing the copyrighted instructions or materials lists. I assure you the photos and directions are all very clear. All blurring and darkening is on my end. 

The first half of Copper Jewelry Collection contains lessons for how to do certain techniques. There are five different sections on getting color on copper. One section that is not shown in the collage below is enamel scraffito. That's one I've never tried and would love to. 

I would also like to mention that here on AJE, we've had a couple posts about colored pencil on copper. Here's one by Francesca and another by Diana.

There are also sections on etching, air chasing, and wire weaving. (Note-Several people on AJE have written about etching. You can find those articles by typing in the word etching into the search box on the top right of this website.)

Once the techniques have been covered, the book moves into 10 projects created by several different artists. I am sharing photos of 8 projects. Missing is a tapered Viking knit project and a crocheted cuff using several different sizes of wire. 

There's some really great projects shared in these pages. I am especially attracted to "Woven Window" by Mary Hettsmansperger.

The last section of the book rounds everything out with safety and other metal and wire working techniques. 

Overall, I think it's a valuable book if you want to learn some of the techniques listed above and/or have directions to make the projects so you can learn how to take the new knowledge to add to your toolbox and make something that is your own. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

We interrupt your regularly scheduled evening... 

with an announcement! 

The 2 winners for the March "Hare" theme COM are... 

Cindy Martin-Shaw
Heather of Hidden Ridge Studio

Congratulations to you - and thank you to all who commented.

 Please remember that all are welcome to join us in this Hare themed challenge this month. Please see the original post for details. 

Until then - be creative! 


Exploring Spiral Stitch

It's just been too cold to make beads in my basement, so I have been concentrating on making beaded ropes with spiral stitch.  In addition, I've been exploring texture within the spiral stitch rope and using different clasps.  I thought I'd show you some of my experimentation today!

The very first spiral stitch rope I worked on is in the larger photo - I used an awesome cab by Diana Ptaszynski, and the colors I used were perfect!  I then made spiral stitch ropes to go with my own ammonite cab, my own lampwork heart bead, and ceramic pendants by Diana and Lesley Watt. I love how they all turned out. They were all made using only size 11 beads in two colors, with the exception of the one I made with my lampwork heart - I used one single color on that rope, and although it's hard to see, the beads have a really great rainbow effect.

In this photo above, you can see what pattern you get when you use only size 11 seed beads.  This is pretty basic, easy to stitch up, and fun to do.  You can get a lot done in a short period of time!

I decided I wanted some more texture in my spiral ropes, so for the next two pendants (from White Clover Kiln) I used size 11s as the base row, and used a pattern of a 15, a 15, an 8, a 15 and a 15 for the spiral row.  I also used buttons for the closures this time, instead of toggle clasps. The first button was a sort of flower pewter design that matched the pendant, and the second button was an antiqued copper button that matches the color in the pendant perfectly!

 In the photo above, you can see the texture that the different size beads lend to the design.
These two photos are closeups of the pattern of beads and the texture.  You can achieve awesome looks with this pattern - imagine how many combinations of bead colors you could use!
I think right now, this is my favorite pattern for spiral stitch!

Finally, I used a base row of 8s and a spiral row of 4 11s in this example that was my CoM for February from Melissa Meman.  I love the colors I used, and I love the angelite I used to accent Melissa's wonderful copper clay pendant.  However, the stitch of using 8s and 11s is too loose for me; I maybe have a control issue, because I just can't stand the looseness of this pattern.
The spiral row just doesn't lay nicely on the 8s based on the pattern of three size 8 seed beads and four size 11 seed beads.  This pattern was learned from Jill Wiseman's Beaded Ropes book - I think it would be better if I hadn't followed the directions exactly and instead of going through three size 8 beads whenever I was stitching a new row, I should have gone through 4 size 8 beads.  I think that would have made the stitch tighter.  I'll try that if I ever do another rope in this pattern of beads.

Finally, I made some clasps and bead caps the other day, so I thought I'd show you a photo of them!  I was pretty happy with the way they turned out! These are the bead caps - I made them out of the cutout section of the clasps!  I textured them, punched the holes, dapped them, antiqued with liver of sulpher, and then tumbled for a couple of hours. I love the heft and richness!  I will be making more for sale in my etsy store.

I was clasp deficient, so I made some copper clasps.  I punched them out with my pepe disc cutter, punched the middles out, textured, dapped, antiqued and tumbled.  The toggle bars are made from FREE 12 gauge electrical wire I got from Jason from a job we were doing - I formed them, hammered the ends, antiqued and tumbled these as well.  I love how the hammered ends look.  Two sizes will also be available in my etsy shop too!
And finally, my next project - this clasp held an envelope together on a card Jason got me for Valentine's Day!  It's all the more special because we were in Sint Maarten when he gave it to me (Dutch side).
And here's the necklace I made with it! I used some of my favorite beads, turquoise teardrops, turquoise tubes and freshwater pearls, separated by silver beads.  I used two figure 8 connectors to connect it to the heart. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out! 

Thanks for stopping by today and seeing what I've been up to since I haven't been making glass beads.  Are you learning anything new?

Susan Kennedy
SueBeads Etsy Store
SueBeads Web Site
SueBeads Blog

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bead Cruise Workshops: Recap

Last Sunday I flew back in from Florida after a 10 day trip on the bead cruise.  This was my second year attending and I had an amazing time!
Fashionably matching the tiles in Puerto Rico with my maxi dress.

This trip included stops at 3 bead stores (1 in Florida, 2 in Puerto Rico), 3 workshops, 4 ports and countless parties.

I was honored to have my beads featured in two of the workshops on the cruise.  The first was for Beverly Herman's Star of the Sea class.  
Photo by Beverly Herman

The Star of the Sea necklace featured my stoneware cabochons.  Techniques in this workshop included bead embroidery, peyote and herringbone stitches.
Making the decorative starfish
I have a pretty good handle on basic bead embroidery but bead weaving...bead weaving and I have a history of not getting along very well.  This little starfish took me FOREVER.  Thank goodness Beverly is a very patient teacher!  I only managed to get this starfish and the base bead embroidery done during this workshop.

It didn't help that this workshop was held in a room with an amazing view of the ocean.  LOL!
Working hard on their necklaces
I had also signed up for Tracy Stanley's Byzantine chain bracelet class.  I taught myself Byzantine weave last summer so I ended up assisting some of the other students in class.
Erin Siegel working on her Byzantine weave.
Norma making her chain.
The third workshop was Erin Siegel's Tribal Inspired Beaded Bracelet.
Photo by Erin Siegel
This workshop involved knotting waxed linen and included my ceramic buttons as the clasp!
Selecting the right button for each kit
Here I am working diligently on my bracelet.  Waxed linen is so easy to work with. 

I ended up buying some knotting tweezers from Erin and they were well worth it.  They really get the knot right up against the last bead.
My completed bracelet

Sarajo and Kathleen sat behind me in class and we had a blast.  Speaking of Sarajo, she was the lucky winner of the massive AJE door prize on the cruise!  Congrats Sarajo!  Enjoy playing with all those beads!

I actually made another variation of this bracelet over the weekend.  I have plans to make more in different colors.

Overall, the cruise was fantastic.  I did have some sea sickness here and there but I didn't let it ruin the trip for me.  If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going on it.  You'll learn new techniques, make new friends, enjoy tropical locales and just have a great time.  

If you'd like to see more photos from my trip, make sure to check out my blog later this week.  I'll be posting a recap with lots of photo highlights.  

Happy Beading!