Tuesday, April 29, 2014

May Component of the Month and Giveaway!

I'll say it too!  It's hard to believe another month has gone by!  For May, the Component of the Month will be provided by me!  I'm offering one of two choices - either a set of three pressed flower beads, or 1 pressed flower cabochon.  Here are the beads:

And here are the cabochons:

The Giveaway…

If you’d like the chance to join in with the AJE team component of the month challenge and receive either a set of 3 pressed flower beads or 1 pressed flower cabochon to use in one of your designs, it’s simple, 

Agree to the points below and comment on this post and 3 lucky winners will be sent either a set of beads or cabochon - your choice whether you want beads or cab, but please let me choose the colors. Please mention which you prefer in your comment.
  • I will give away 1 component to each of 3 winners selected randomly from those who leave comments below this post. The design sent will be a surprise for the winners.
  • Please include your EMAIL address in your comment so that I can contact you ASAP should you win.
  • Please - only leave a comment if you can commit to creating a finished piece and blogging about it within the time given.
  • The names of the three winners will be announced on Saturday May 3, 2014
  • This giveaway is open to US, Canadian, UK and European countries, but please be aware, UK, Canadian & European addresses will have longer postage times (sometimes up to 3 weeks) 
The blog reveal will take place on Saturday, May 31, 2014
Good Luck!

***If you don't get chosen but still want to play along, you can purchase some bead trios or cabs in my SueBeads etsy store!***
Susan Kennedy

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Return of Mismatched Monday!

After I returned from the bead cruise last month I came away with an amazing amount of inspiration. I ended up creating and writing tutorials for 8 pieces that will debut in various bead magazines over the course of the rest of the year and into early next year.

A few days ago, I sat down thinking I would still be filled with inspiration but then nothing happened.  Apparently, I used it all up....or so I thought!  I decided to start organizing my massive bead collection and in the process I ended up finding lots of beads I forgot I even had!

Among the forgotten were these ceramic leaf pieces that Karen had made.  They were in two separate locations in my office.  Since they had the same glaze and theme I thought they would be perfect for some mismatched earrings!
I then made a whole new mess in my office searching for the perfect pieces to go with them.  I pulled some newly acquired czech glass, brass beads and a brass dragonfly that was in my bead cruise bag.

It was fun to return to the mismatched earrings again and now I feel the urge to make MORE!  Have you been inspired by organizing your bead collection?

Earring Resources:
Ceramic leaf charm & bead-Starry Road Studio
Brass dragonfly, ear wires, jump rings and bronze wire-Fusion Beads
Czech glass-Arte Bella Surplus
Brass beads-Hands of the Hills and Rings & Things

Happy Beading!

Diana P.
Suburban Girl Studio LLC

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finding Space to Make Jewelry in a Tiny Home

My boyfriend and I live in a 625 sq. ft. house. (Some may consider it a shack, but it has forced air natural gas heat and picture windows, which I think qualifies it as a house.) It is a perfect square. It even has a flat roof.
The Shack (with sailboat detail because we live in the mountains)
Open plan kitchen/living area in the north half of the square, bedroom-bathroom-bedroom in the south half of the square. No outbuildings, no attic, no basement.
There is very little built-in storage: a small walk-through closet between the bedrooms and some kitchen cabinets and drawers. That's it. We do have a storage unit a couple miles away where we keep off-season items like lawnmowers and bicycles. Consequently, I eke out storage wherever I can, being sure to use furniture with storage features and not leaving dead space unfilled. I also want our house to look and feel like a home, so I try to pay attention to keeping everything attractive and neat.

Kitchen cabinets and drawers:

This house is where I store most of my jewelry supplies, and do most of my jewelry work. I admit if I were going to make large amounts of jewelry for sale, for a living, this house wouldn't work as both a home and a workplace. Although if I lived alone I could commandeer the whole house for jewelry crap without making anyone else miserable. So this post is really for hobbyists living in a small space. With someone else.

I have four small shelving units around the house--two in the living room, one in the kitchen and one in the second bedroom. This one in the living room holds tools and baskets of toxic chemicals (patinas mostly).
I also got rid of an old hope chest because it was too hard to get into (the top opened like a coffin lid, and the 100-pound television, DVR, DVD player, accompanying cables and assorted houseplants and knick knacks sitting on it made it useless for storage) and replaced it with an entertainment unit with shelves inside and sliding doors that is now full of jewelry boxes, cording, scavenged bubble wrap, photo props and tools I am too scared to use.
I keep additional photo props (like fabric squares and picture frames) in the end tables in the living room.
I buy my jewelry boxes by the gross from Paper Mart, and I can only fit some of them in the entertainment unit. I keep the rest in my car, in the trunk and the back seat. I also keep other shipping boxes in my trunk. I rarely need to carry people or other items or animals so it works fine.
This other bookcase holds wire and sheet, more tools, and various other crap. My sheet and wire used to just sit in the corner in bags and baskets on the floor. I'm thinking of getting more baskets to hold the spools of wire so it will look nicer.
I used to sit on the couch and use a coffee table as my workbench, but I found myself leaning over way too much and it was ruining my back, so I got rid of the coffee table and replaced it with a storage ottoman where I keep greeting cards and extra tissue paper. I use it for a footstool when I'm watching TV now. I don't work on the couch anymore, I use it purely for relaxation.
I traded in the coffee table for a little table from the kitchen. This table is my only work area now (except for sometimes the floor--see below). If I need an extra surface to put things while I work, I can bust out a TV tray. But I put my things, and the TV tray, away when I'm done because I like the living room to look nice.
I tucked a baker's rack underneath the protruding end of a countertop--I keep a lot of beads and findings in there. This used to be unused space. I'm thinking of making a little curtain for it, because the plastic containers are ugly.
The books that were on a bookshelf in the second bedroom were banished to the storage unit and replaced with beads and little plastic storage boxes where I keep finished jewelry.
I keep some shipping supplies in the second bedroom in or near the computer desk--tissue paper, bubble mailers, ribbon, business cards and washi tape. My postage scale is in here too. This is where I do my shipping, on the pullout tray of my computer desk. And on the chair. This wouldn't be feasible of course if I shipped a lot of stuff--right now it's only a few items a month, so no big deal.
I use the tumbler in the bedroom, because it's noisy. (The tumbler I mean, not the bedroom.) If I close both bedroom doors, then we can't even hear it in the living room. I have on occasion put a cardboard box over it to dampen the sound further. (I won't go into all the stuff stored under the bed.)
I do my torching (annealing and making headpins) on top of the chest freezer by the front door. We don't really use it anymore (the freezer I mean, not the front door. We use that all the time.) The freezer has been empty for ages (the boyfriend has been unlucky the last few hunting trips) so that's not a problem.
I do my LOS'ing on the front porch so as not to stink up the house. In the winter this is a drag.
I use a TV tray for taking pictures of my jewelry by the window. I always take my pictures here. Unfortunately I'm away from home during the daylight hours in the winter, so this means I can only take pictures on the weekends in the winter. Which is no big deal because I make such small quantities of jewelry, and I only do it for fun. Otherwise I'd starve.
I still do a lot of hammering on the floor--when I'm doing heavy stuff like embossing metals or cutting discs, it's just much quieter hammering on the floor. I put down a square of scrap wood and get it done. Unfortunately this is hard on my back, but I don't spend a lot of time doing this kind of work so it's all right.
I keep this scrap wood, along with my ceramic and stone tiles for photography, leaning against the refrigerator next to a fabulous chair my mom gave me. There's some tiles and stuff behind the chair too. I'm thinking of looking for an oval galvanized tub or something to put the tiles in so they look better, or maybe a really big magazine rack.

I also keep some things under and behind the couch.
I am thinking of getting rid of some of our wall art in the kitchen and replacing it with some kind of wall storage system to hang kitchen things, which would free up cupboard space so we could maybe get some kitchen stuff off the countertops. Then eventually one day maybe there would be room on the countertop for a kiln or a rolling mill. (Just thinking ahead.)
Apartment Therapy also has really great ideas for increasing storage in a small living area. Check it out!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Behind the Scenes at Tree Wings Studio: Stamp Doodling

Hello again! In my last post, two weeks ago, you all found me a little bored and taking a break from my usual bead sculpting routine. I was rooting around in my studio organizing and such, and I had pulled out some of my older polymer clay stamps. I used to make stamps quite often and I remembered how much fun they were to make, so for this weekend I decided to play with them again.

Care to join me?
Daisies are one of my favorites and with flowers really starting to bloom here finally, I couldn't resist. The stamp pictured here is one of my early designs—a fun design, but some of the details are too fine and don't transfer well to polymer. Today's design is a remake of that stamp. Sometimes I go entirely freehand, but more often I start with a (very) simple sketch just to get the idea out of my head and to help me keep my bearings as I work.

And the other reason I like to sketch it out first—pencil transfers to polymer fabulously well! I simply lay my design on the polymer and burnish it with the end of an acrylic roller.


My tools of the trade—needles!

And the rest is really fun—using the needles I simply doodle away, "drawing" my design into the polymer. I like a rustic, carved look, so I leave the edges a tad messy.

For larger space that I want to be more raised, I'll cut out parts of the polymer…

… and then smooth it out slightly leaving a nice impression.

And there you have it! A new doodled stamp! I think I'll probably do a bit more refining (amazing how much you notice when taking photos!) and then it will be off to the oven… and then the first stamping! I'll show you how it turned out in my next post.

Have a happy creative weekend!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Clay Hoorray!

Its been a wild and wonderful two weeks since my last post.  At the time I was beginning to create polymer clay beads, charms and pendants.  In the meantime I have taken up ceramics!!!  I am so excited about both of these ventures!  But the ceramics story will have to wait until another post.

I promised I'd share the outcome of the polymer clay pieces I had started two weeks ago.  For some reason they came out of the oven very darkened.  Not at all the bright, pretty colors they began with.  I was really disappointed.  I don't know if I had accidentally set the temperature too high, or if the oven temperature suddenly spiked or what.
 I freaked out for a bit, but then my rational mind (I do have one, I think) kicked in and I realized that I could just paint them and the darkening would never show or matter. 

So I mixed up some blue acrylic paint with a dab of green and a dab of white.  I wish I had paid attention to the proportions, because it turned out to be a beautiful, vivid cobalt blue.  But, as usual, I was just winging it, not being precise or systematic. So I guess I can call these "one of a kind" now, because that exact color is never going to happen again!
I added coppery metallic highlights on the raised surfaces and I love how they turned out!  Its always a delightful bit of serendipity when your original plans are spoiled, but things turn out even better in the end!

This is my favorite pair of earring charms from this group.  All of these are in my Etsy shop.
Originally I'd intended to list my polymer clay components on Etsy, but I've changed my mind.  I've decided to put all of the components in my ArtFire shop instead.  I'll keep the three items above on Etsy until they sell or expire, and then I'll move them to ArtFire.

I have 2 component listings on ArtFire so far. This is the pair I wrote about two weeks ago, where I created the texture by just using the edge frame on a Christmas stamp.  I like the architectural look these have.
Since I was "into" painting at this point, but had run out of my super blue mix, I decided to improve on a previous heart pendant that I had made.

I applied several layers of paint on this pendant and I adore how it came out. What do you think?  Paint is my new best friend!
What projects have you botched that turned out better in the end?  I would be fun to hear your stories.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sandblasting ceramics

A few months ago, I bought a great little kit from my lamp work suppliers for sandblasting. It was sold for working with glass, but I wanted to try it with ceramic. I’ve had an idea in mind for a range of relic beads. Beads that look like they’ve been lying in the ground for years and been recently discovered by archaeologists. Beads like these!

GREEK-SCYTHIAN, c. 300-100 BC, lot of 1 stone & 4 clay beads, 18-24mm dia., from Bazera

This is the kit. You get a blow up sandblasting booth, a compressor and hosing, and an airbrush type gun. To create the weathered look, you use the abrasive powder, (also supplied in the kit) to blast the glaze from your work. 

For safety, you also get a dust mask. This is a messy process with the abrasive powder ending up everywhere, so it’s an outside job!

I’m still at the experimenting stage with all this, but so far, I’m loving the effects I can get. 

This Goddess bead was made from earthenware clay and fired with a variegated green glaze. She was the refired with 24 carat gold lustre before going in to the booth for blasting. The majority of the gold was removed during the process, but you can see hints of it in the deep crevices giving her a worn appearance.

I really like that with the softer earthenware clay, you can blast right through the surface to the clay below exposing the bare material. You can half imagine that these scuffs have appeared from years of being worn as an amulet around an ancient warrior queens neck as she went in to battle!  I’m looking forward to making more of these and trying out some different designs!

These next beads were glazed in matt turquoise  and shades of blue before being blasted in the booth. Again, you can see the porous clay beneath. These could have been lost at sea, being tumbled by the waves over centuries before finally washing up on the beach!

For my next experiment, I tried working with porcelain clay. This is much harder to blast, just getting through the glaze takes a good 10 minutes of work, so I decided to try a more etched effect. I made some hollow porcelain lentils and created a digital design of a dreamcatcher, which I then cut in vinyl to create a resist for the sandblasting. The vinyl stickers were placed on the glazed bead and then went in to the booth. The blasting created a much softer effect and etched where the glaze was exposed, leaving the design shiny. The lentils were teamed up with some porcelain feathers to make dreamcatcher sets.

With orders and preparing for shows, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to explore more of the effects I can get with this technique, but I’m really enjoying experimenting, and am excited to see where this takes my work! I hope you enjoyed reading along!