Friday, January 31, 2014

January Component of the Month reveal!

January my friend, you have flown by... while so many of us shoveled and snuggled amidst the snow and ice. Personally - I hibernated, and am feeling more awake and inspired lately than I have for weeks. And I am very excited to see what my friends, colleagues, and our blog guests have created this month! 
Polymer - mold taken from antique buckle. Hand painted, added patina and gilding. Vintage text under resin. 

Here they were - all lined up and sun kissed and glistening. You would think I would have taken a better picture before they were dispatched. But no - so I leave you to see the words chosen, and designs created... 

Thanks to one and all for helping me debut these mixed media pieces that are so very "me". I know they are in good hands. 

Hope of Craftyhope -
Sarajo of SJ Designs Jewelry

AJE team
Jennifer Cameron
Diana Ptaszynski
Lesley Watt
Susan Kennedy
Caroline Dewison
Linda Landig
Melissa Meman
Keirsten Giles
Rebekah Payne
Kristen Stevens
me ( Jenny)

*** This just in - winners for February!  Congrats go to: 

KimmyKats, Lori Bowring Michaud, and Kathy Lindemer

Enjoy the blog hop!
Until next time...


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bead Decoration

I've been making mini bisque stamps to decorate my ceramic beads with this week. I already have a large collection of textures and moulds that I use with metal clay but they tend to be on the large size or in a form that doesn't translate particularly well to small beads. I've been doing simple decorations like the dots and texture in the set above just by using my clay working tools to impress the designs but, I do like to do something more interesting sometimes so I've been accumulating bits and pieces that I think might create good original patterns.

On the bisque beads below I didn't use a stamp but simply pressed the edge of a tiny Ammonite into the clay in a random fashion which as well as leaving and imprint gives the bead a lovely nuggety shape.

 Some of my most popular beads are little rounds and squares with a tiny star impression which is made with one of those tiny stud earrings that they use to pierce your ears which I pushed into the end of a bamboo skewer to make it easier to use.

 I have as many odd earrings as I do socks so it's always worth having a look to see if there's anything with an interesting texture...earrings of course not socks!

Buttons of course are always a good source of material and I'm always on the lookout for something interesting. This piece was made by impressing a button with a butterfly motif into the clay...


But making stamps from the buttons means you can keep the design in the original relief style and you get two design options from each button.

As with the earrings, old bits of jewellery  can produce interesting designs too...I'm keen to see how the tiny bee I've taken from this pewter brooch translates to clay...

And the same with this stamp from an old resin brooch that belonged to my mum.

And then there are just decorative objects that catch my eye like this little scent bottle...

Or a spiral shell bead...

Or something as mundane as a safety pin that you can use to make an abstract design...

I have a huge pot of things to try out in this way and then of course there are always free hand designs to try...plenty to keep me out of trouble then!

The Gossiping Goddess

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy Dancing!

I have to tell you as a seed beader I am totally happy dancing!  There are some exciting new beads that have either hit the market or are hitting the market in the past year.

You have seen me use gumdrops, spikes and studs like these......

But now there are even smaller and sweeter 8mm Studs like these....
You know I love my twins and superduos.....

Now thanks to Starman Inc. and Nicole Starman there are two hole lentils, squares, bricks, daggers and now triangles!!!  Yes I said triangles!  I have been eagerly anticipating and they are finally coming out in February!!

I think I have a bit of addiction to these two hole beauties!!!  They are an amazing addition to seedbeading to add texture and fun.  Now lets just hope for a big lottery win because you know I want them all!!!!!

What is exciting you in beading?


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Product Review: Sterno Professional Culinary Torch

When I took my class with Richard Salley last fall, he introduced me to a new kind of butane torch that has become my go-to torch for most of my soldering work.

This is the Sterno model culinary torch, which runs between $22 and $23 on Amazon. I'm kicking myself a little bit that I didn't think of this myself - I certainly know enough serious cooks and have seen this in operation in more than one kitchen, but I never made the connection to using it in the studio. It screws directly onto a can of butane, which means no stopping for refills.

Here's the Sterno in comparison to the other types of torches you're probably used to seeing - and as you can tell, it's quite a bit larger than the others.

The flame is considerably more robust, which is a really good thing when working on larger pieces.

My friend and partner Gail Stouffer (r) with one of her students in a recent class
And even though the butane canister is much larger than the barrel of the largest butane torch I'd been using, it's really quite comfortable to hold. Even better, one canister lasts a really long time - this torch has been through several classes with multiple students and I'm using it today without any loss of pressure. (Tip: remove the torch from the canister when storing to avoid any potential for slow leaks.)

I've also found that first-time solderers often find this torch less intimidating than some of the others, in spite of its size, in part because it's easier to hold and has a simpler on/off mechanism. My new friend and student Kaitlyn, pictured above, made a large and somewhat complex ring without any difficulty using this torch - her ring is the one on the right. (Didn't she do a great job??)

So if you're looking for a torch for your studio, or you're thinking about a larger one for bigger work, I highly recommend the Sterno. It's more than reasonably priced, and a single can of butane - at only a few dollars - will last you quite a while in a normal studio setting.

I'm heading back to the studio to get ready for the Roadhouse grand opening on Friday, February 7. If there's any chance you're going to be in the Austin/San Antonio area, I'd love for you to stop by and say hello!!

Until next time -

Monday, January 27, 2014

Latest Doings from Starry Road Studio

It's been a crazy two weeks of wacky weather and construction at the new studio. When not working on beads or supervising construction stuff, I've been playing around with my iPad, sketching and painting out ideas and just having fun. Some of these are obviously beads, others are textures, symbols or concepts that may be used in pottery or various mixed media projects. And some are well, just fantasy (creatures, critters and weird forms). I am having a blast drawing and painting on my iPad - it's quite a change from what I usually do, which is to sketch stuff out on paper. The iPad allows me a little more freedom to use painterly effects that would normally take time to set up with traditional media. I also like the ability to quickly export work to various apps, my computer, or to online destinations like Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook. My next idea is to sketch out jewelry concepts using beads I have designed on the iPad, such as some of the ones below.

Well, enjoy some of my early sketch ramblings...

Concept for Beads

Ocean Flower - concept for a focal bead
Idea for a bead
Leaf Wheel and Journey Symbols
Strange Sea Creature

Space Worms that are kinda like beads

Ocean Form

This is the background I created to use behind other pictures, like the flower above,
and the picture below at the bottom
Pod Element and Leaf
Bird Houses - I have already made some of these in clay
Concept for "Bamboo Beads" (in clay or polymer)
Fire Leaf, Heart Bud Leaf, and Fire Pearl - Fantasy Concepts
Sketches for a Lotus Clasp (project in progress)

Mr. Fish

Mr. Porcupine

Whimsy Fish

Another Fish

A Little Fish


Mr. Bigfoot
Okay that's it.