Thursday, April 9, 2015

This blog is being redirected

I've been claying sporadically, but haven't been posting.  Chalk that up to new interests in life, including a new grandson.

I've been paying to have this blog posted, but now I'll take advantage of not doing that.  Effective immediately, I'll be reverting back to the free website.

The new/old  blog address is

I used to hate spending time setting up the blog.  It appears that it's a lot easier now.  Maybe I'll start blogging again.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

My annual labour of love...

Hi Everyone,

This year's cake for my husband was a Wonder Woman cake.  Not sure why I decided to go this way - a month or two ago I decided to make him a bikini top cake and then a few days ago I changed it to Wonder Woman.  Maybe it was the Avengers movie coming out.

Anyhow, when I mentioned the design to him he smiled.  Then I started telling men at work about it and they smiled and told me what a good wife I was.  Seems men of a certain age have very fond memories of the TV show, and particularly this portion of the costume.

I googled "Wonder Woman corset cake" to see what was out there and then figured it out.   The cake that I liked best from the images was here.  She used fondant on her cake, which is a no-no in our house so I used crusting buttercream. I didn't have untextured paper towels to smooth it with so I used something similar to parchment paper.  There are several recipes for that on the Internet, and I modified a version from here

Fortunately I was able to buy the cake pans on sale and they will be used for other things.

I had help.  My friends, Janice and Karen, came over to keep me company.  I put them to good use.  Karen mixed the colours once I added the colouring.  Janice helped smooth the cake while I was doing other things.

This is three cake mixes and over 2 kg of icing sugar.  We will freeze much of it.

All told, it's about 10 hours worth of work, including the clean up time.  You only see about half of it in the last picture below.

I don't think this will be showing up on Cake Wrecks any time soon - I'm very happy with it, and so is my husband.  In the end, that's all that really matters. 



Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm a Mobile Making Machine...

Hi Everyone,

A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of attending Morrisburg 2012.  I wrote about it earlier before I posted the tutorial on my blog for my Magic Glow Lentil beads.

Anyhow, one of the classes that we learned was how to make mobiles.  Margi participates in the One of a Kind craft show and had won first place for her interpretation of the word "Umbrella".  She did so with a mobile.  We're very fortunate that Margi is one of the coordinators of Morrisburg and is generous with her knowledge, including how to make these.

I love mobiles and hers swayed so gently that I knew that I wanted to try one.  But what to make?  Then it hit me - one of my friends at work is having a baby boy very shortly.  She loves hand made gifts and I knew that she'd like something that I had made.  Because it was a boy, I knew that the primary colours would work, with the added bonus that I didn't have to think too much about colours. 

The result is below.  Homi was thrilled and has this mobile hanging over her head in her cubicle, where, as she says, "I like letting the positive words rain down on me during the day".  I don't think I've ever received higher praise. 

I did have a word stamp for "escape" but I thought that it might not be appropriate for a child in a crib.  Instead I settled for "explore".  The hardest part for me was the antiquing of the stamped words - I'm not very adept at it and thank goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which does a pretty good job at removing most of what needs to be removed.  Each piece is textured differently.  You can ignore the one upside down word, that was before I glued the mobiles into place.  It's probably best to click on the pictures to see the detail.

Another woman at work saw what I had done (actually the whole office has seen Homi's gift) and asked if I would make one for her 20 year old daughter.  It's much harder to do work for someone that I don't know, but we settled on a smaller version with pinks and purples.

Here's the second mobile.  This one was wired twice.  The first time it was too gangly and made me think of an insect.  I was much happier with the second attempt and Linda liked it so much she bought it without hesitation.  Her daughter was apparently thrilled at it so bonus there.

But, like the first one, I really hated the antiquing of the words.  I have to find an easier way.  The words come from the unfortunately now defunct "Impress It" textures and are the Bottles of Hope words, but there are still some available if you'd like to purchase them through Shades of Clay here.

Leigh, another friend at work, stopped by after seeing Linda's and asked for one - she left it up to my discretion with the only caveat that she wanted purple.  Purple is my least favourite colour so that was a bit of a stretch.  But, I had scrap clay left over from Linda's project above so I used that as the basis of the flowers that I wanted to try for someone else. 

Leigh has seen a teeny picture of it and says absolutely that she wants it.  So that's nice.

This one went together much more quickly and easily.  Hanging was pretty much a breeze and all in all it probably took about 4 or five hours to do.  This time I inked the words on a stamp pad and pressed them into the clay, so much easier than antiquing.  And I only did three of them.

One of my best friends is coming home after being away for four months and I'd like to have one hanging in her cubicle when she gets back so that's at least one more.  It'll be similar to the flower one above since she loves flowers, but it probably won't have purple, or who knows, maybe it will.

I'm starting to feel a bit guilty that I haven't done anything for my sister's kids so I may make a few more for them. 

I'm very much enjoying these.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Magic Glow Lentil Bead Tutorial

·        Clay in your choice of colours or patterns or textures
·    Foil leaf or Jones Tones/Lisa Pavelka foils, enough to cover two large circles, silver works best, but other colours are interesting, too
·        Two donut or rondelle crystal beads in your choice of colour
·        Four headpins
·        Pair of earring findings.
·        Wire cutters, Round nose pliers, Small drill.
·        Circle cutters, large (1 inch – 1.5 inch) and small size (1/2 inch to ¾ inch)
·        Marble (1 inch approx, also known as shooters) and small to medium size lightbulb
·        Weldbond or other glue
·        Small drill
·        Toothpicks and PiƱata ink if tinting rondelles
·        A few drops of Future floor polish or your choice of gloss finish


The bead is composed of four pieces and requires three short bakings and one long baking.

The back piece (this will be the back of the earring)
1.     Decorate or texture a medium to thin sheet of clay clay large enough to cut two circles from your larger circle cutters.  Cut two large circles.
2.      Place the clay circles on the marble (texture or pattern side out) and roll gently in your hands to shape to the marble.
3.      Bake on the marble for 10 minutes.  Cool.
4.      Remove from marble. 

The glow piece (make while baking the back piece, this goes inside the back piece)
1.      Roll clay out to thin setting, large enough to cut two circles from your large circle cutters.
2.      Foil the clay using your choice of foils.
3.      Cut two large circles.
4.     Smooth one of the foil circles foil-side-up into the inside of the cooked back piece so that it conforms to the back piece and makes a cup shape.
5.      Trim even with edge of back piece.
6.      Do this with other back and foil piece.
7.      Bake for 10 minutes.
8.      Cool, and coat the foiled piece with thin layer of Future or your choice of gloss sealer.  Dry.   I find placing the piece on top of (not inside) a hot oven makes the curing go faster.

The top lip piece (this is the part that you see when staring straight at the earring)
1.      Roll clay out to med setting, large enough to cut two large circles.
2.      Cut circles out of clay and place cut circles onto lightbulb.
3.      Cut smaller circle from inside of larger circle while on lightbulb so that it forms an “O” shape.  You can be off centre if you like.  Don't try to remove the smaller circle - you'll sometimes accidentally distort the large circle.
4.      Reshape larger circle if necessary by placing large circle cutter over and gently using a spirograph motion around clay circle.
5.      Texture or finish large circle if desired.
6.      Bake on lightbulb for 10 minutes.

You may want to do two pairs – one with a larger inside hole and one with a smaller inside hole.  After the 10 minute bake is up, place outside lip piece on top of the back piece with the glow piece inside.  Place a donut bead inside and see which lip piece works best and which colour bead you like.   This is trial and error.

You can also get creative here and use different shapes for the inside, or decorate the outside with additions.

The inside lip piece (which joins the top piece to the glow piece) and clay bead assembly
1.      Roll clay out to thin setting, large enough to cut two large circles.
2.      Cut out two large circles.  Cut a smaller circle into the large circle so that you have an “O” shape.
3.      Place inside lip on underside of cured top lip piece.
4.      Place the back piece onto the inside lip, squeeze together.
5.      Smooth the inside lip clay on the backside and on the inner circle of the outside lip.
6.      Bake for 30 minutes for a final cure.

The donut bead
1.      If you’ve got clear rondelles, applying a couple of drops of Pinata or other inks will tint them to a colour of your choice.  Let dry.  Otherwise you can do what I did and buy a crystal bracelet from the local dollar store.
2.     Future Floor Polish can cause a colour shift in the Pinata Ink.  This may be something you want.  Dip the bead into Future Floor Polish and shake off excess.  Apply a couple of drops of Pinata ink.  Let dry.
3.      Beads aren’t perfect, and some will cause more glow than others.  Experiment.

Final Assembly.
1.      Drill hole in centre of glow piece.
2.      Place a small dollop of Weldbond or other glue on top of hole on the inside of the glow piece.
3.      Apply glue to headpin and thread headpin onto donut bead and then through hole.  This secures the bead to the earring.
4.      Let dry and trim headpin excess flush with back of glow piece.
5.      Drill small hole through from the outside lip join to the back piece through to the inside join of the lip to the back piece.  This allows for the earring to be attached to the bead.
6.     Thread another head pin through this hole and on the outside create a circle with the headpin wire to allow for placement onto earring finding.

Alternatively you can trim the headpin/bead combination to a longer length and use it for a brooch using the clamp fasteners, or you can create a loop on the back side and use it for a bracelet.

Samples from the class are shown below. The pink beads have been dyed with Pinata Inks.  In the centre you can see the Jones Tones foils - they're also in the Bottle of Hope flower.

Please let me know if you find any mistakes or need clarification.  They're actually easier than the instructions make them appear to be.

Hope you enjoy!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Magic Glow Lentil Bead

Hi All,

I haven't been blogging because I've been prepping for our annual Morrisburg retreat.  I've just returned from two full days of happy claying with 27 or so women.  One woman, Vio, joined us for most of the tutorials through an Apple IPad which was new and great fun.  It felt like she was there with us.

We learned a new take on an Ikat cane, a pre-Stroppel Stroppel cane, box beads, mobiles, volcanic rocks, and a whole host of other techniques.  I actually finished one pair of earrings and a very cute mobile for a baby boy who is about to be born.

I taught the Magic Glow Lentil Bead which you can see above.  It was the result of a happy accident while playing with hollow lentil bead technique that Wendy taught us at Guild a while back and I've spent the last month experimenting with the technique and trying different variations.  Some worked better than others and I had my doubts about whether it would fly as a tutorial at Morrisburg.

But the tutorial went OK and there were several oohs and aaahs as the women experimented with my samples.

Several of the women tried the technique and the results were spectacular!

Once I've caught up on some much needed sleep I'll post the tutorial and some pictures.



Monday, February 20, 2012

My head hurts a little less...

Hi All,

I've decided that I'm going to try doing more Jon Anderson canes.  I thought I'd ease into it by repeating my cup cane that I did a couple of years ago which you can see here.

The hard part for me was figuring out the skinner blend.  Took me a long time to get that right - I cannot rotate images in my mind for anything and the big trick was to use spacers in my pasta machine to keep the blend no wider than about 2 inches.  And this turned into a happy accident.  When I was making the skinner blend portion of the cane I debated on whether to make a skinner blend plug using the stacking method or the roll method.  I ended up using the roll method but thought for sure that I had messed up the cane by doing so.  Actually though, I'm thrilled with the roll and will use that for other cane work.

The cane started off about 2 inches wide, 2.5 inches tall, and about an inch thick.  As I was reducing it I ran into the same problem I've had previously which is that the white was much softer than the blue (very frustrating!).  I ended up trimming some of the left cane edge off so that I could get closer to the dark blue to be able to manipulate it better and that seemed to work.

The end result is shown below.  I've reduced most of the cane to about a half inch because that's the scale that I like to work with.  I'm quite happy with it.

Start to finish is about 3 hours, and almost half of that was in trying to figure out the skinner blend orientation.

There are a few more Jon Anderson canes that I want to try.  And while trying to find the difference between a stacked and a rolled blend I came across a wonderful website that I've not seen before.  Tokens has some wonderful tutorials, and I'm particularly enthralled with their mandalas which I may have to use as inspiration for some of my work.



A Better Bear

Hi All,

Some of you may remember my first very poor attempt at making a bear cane.  If you don't, you can see it here.

It's been a few years and I decided to make another go.  The source of the inspiration this time was a shot glass that we picked up for my niece during our recent New Mexico vacation. You can see that in the first photo.  

I used the image for the general shape and size, but since I knew that I was going to be reducing it to about a 1/4 inch size I wanted a little less detail.

He wasn't too bad to make, I used some canes that I had had for other things.  The Sandra McCaw technique for reducing canes worked out nicely.  All told there's probably about three hours of effort in this cane.

Am I happy with him?  Not sure.  The shape seemed to square off a bit - maybe if I had put him in a round cane that wouldn't happen as much.  I don't know that I would call him a bear in the final cane - he still looks more cow like.

And I'm really having a heck of a time getting the Kato clay to match consistency across colours.  The white stayed soft no matter how much I leached it and that meant that it reduced faster than the other colours.  Some of that is that I've run out of white with the old formulation, but the bronze is with the new formulation, too, and it was still stiffer.

But he's a lot better than my first attempt, that's for sure!



The inspiration

The unreduced cane
The final reduced cane