Thursday, December 27, 2007

Squashed cane technique

Hello Everyone,

I thought I'd take some time to play with the Vice-Versa or Squashed Cane Technique that I mentioned earlier from Domicreative.

You can view her tutorial here:

I think I can easily fall in love with this technique. It's dead easy and it doesn't use up a lot of clay to try it. It is a version of mokume gane but you don't end up with very much left over to turn into scrap.

My first attempt was a blue pallette. I wanted to be reminded of the Caribbean. I'll start with the back first since I was hoping to use it as the front. I used my new stamp that I had Bev create which uses words from our wedding ceremony in Costa Rica.

When I skimmed this side, I really didn't like it. The stamp was too small and the colours really seemed to clash. I don't think the silver was a good choice to add to the plug.

I used a different Bev stamp for the front and I liked this one very much. I think a bold stamp is required.

I'll turn these into earrings but I don't know how yet since I haven't mastered the art of wiring to my satisfaction.

My next attempt involved a jewel tone pallette. I have a stamp block of different leaf patterns that I love and I thought these would be perfect for this stamp. I'm extremely happy with these but I found the pinky cream colour that shows on the back (which is why it became the back) really didn't go with the rest of the colours. I like a bit of contrast when I do things but I'm finding with this technique it has to be the right contrast.

Other things that I noticed while doing this is that you can't cut too deep, otherwise you lose the effect of the pattern. And, if you're particularly fond of a colour, make that a thicker first plug and it should slide through most of the extrusion and be the colour of the outside of the extrusion. That'll stay as the colour that doesn't get cut away.

Don't forget to take the scrapings and put them on another piece of clay (very much like the mokume gane technique). You can end up with some interesting patterns with those as well.

I had an idea that the colour chips that come from paint stores might provide some inspiration. Here's a sample of some of the chips that we've got at home. I think four or five colours that look nice on a colour chip would look nice for this technique and would avoid the oops that sometimes happens.

I want to play some more. I always love earrings and this might be a neat way to create them.



Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas ornaments past and present

Hello Everyone,

I thought I'd post photos of the ornaments that I made for the Clayamies Ornament Exchange.

This first ornament is one that I made for last year's swap. The swap theme was whimsy. I made all of the canes and then put them onto the ornament.

The small black oval that you see in the middle is actually a piece of the Holiday Specs 3D glasses. These are pretty cool and they look like the image below. I simply cut out small pieces and put them into the ornament. Surprisingly they baked really well.

When you looked through the ornament at Christmas lights, you saw something like the image below.

This year's ornament used up a lot of my Santa cane that I made earlier. If you click on the photo you can see the detail of how I combined the Christmas carol stamp with the cane work.

For the back I used Lisa Pavelka's waterslide transfer paper. Overall I'm happy with the results but I did have a few problems with it. In some cases the water smeared the ink and I had to re-print the label or decide that it was close enough. In other cases there was a lot of bubbling after baking even though the piece went into the oven looking perfect. I think it might be due to the clay shrinking but not the transfer.

I have to admit that I didn't follow instructions exactly because I didn't cover the transfer with a bit of TLS before baking. I don't remember why I didn't do this but I think next time I would because I had a couple of cases where the label simply popped off after a couple of coats of Future floor polish.

I'll play with the transfers some more at some point.

And that's the posting for this week. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Uh oh - a possibly addictive technique to try...

Hello Everyone,

One of the people that commented on my blog suggested that I look at other Francophone websites. Today's post is from DomiCreative and it's a tutorial on the "Vice Versa" Technique using an extruder gun. I was initially drawn to the photos of the earrings - they're fun and remind me of the Caribbean for some reason.

Anyhow, this is something that I'd like to try when I get done with the Christmas stuff.

The series links are:

The technique
The results
The earrings

For those that don't read French, she says that it's easier to texture one side, slice off layers, then turn over and texture the other side to slice off layers.
The rest of her website has some very nice shots as well so do browse.



New Translator Button!

Hello Everyone,

By looking at my site statistics I know that I get visitors from all over the world. I noticed on Bounette's blog that she's got a translator button so I decided to add one of my own. It's on the left.

I took a quick look at the French and Spanish translation and, while not perfect, at least give a sense on what I'm trying to say. I would imagine that the translator errors are as interesting in other languages as they are when I play with the translators from other languages into English.

Anyhow, if anyone is interested in adding their own Google Translator Button, you can go here:

For people that use, you have to go into "Template" and then add a page element and choose the correct page element.



Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Swap Teasers

Hello Everyone,

I discovered a nifty feature on my Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo image software. It's called "kaleidoscope" reflection.

I thought I'd play with the Christmas ornaments that I've received so far from the swap and post the images.

These images are photos of ornmanents from: Iris, Gera, Gail, Pat, and me. I won't say whose are whose.

But, they're fun to look at and a huge time waster because of all the settings that can be tweaked.

Hope you enjoy the images,


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scrap Clay and Dollar Store Candy Tins

Hi Everyone,

I'm trying to finish up Christmas stuff so that I can move onto other things. I love covering containers and it's nice to put an ornament or something into the container to give as a gift.

Our dollar store sells candy in tins that are just perfect for covering. The one trick is that there is a slight indent in the lid and bottom. I fill that in either with scrap clay or with liquid clay prior to covering - it just gives it a nicer shape.

I tend to generate a lot of scrap clay and I'm not disciplined enough to separate it into nice neat colour piles when I generate it. At some point I like to use it up.

So here are a few samples.

I've used Bev's stamps for texture and PearlEx pigments along with the Daniel Smith powders for highlights. For the silver and gold container I only used the Daniel Smith powders. I then finish them with spray on satin Flecto Interior Varathane (Thanks to Helen Breil who gave a demo on texture sheets at our guild and showed us this magical solution to setting the powders).

Our dollar store near by is selling little glass ornaments - they're perfect for covering with clay. The hardest trick was figuring out how to do it smoothly.

I love how these have come out.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A beautiful face cane

Hello Everyone,

I'm in the middle of finishing my Christmas ornaments for our Clayamies swap and haven't been posting very much. I decided to take a break and visit some of the sites that I've got linked on my blog. One of my first clicks was on Bounette's site.

I'm a caner and love to see other people's cane work. This is Bounette's first attempt at making a face cane and I'm simply in awe. I love the majesty of the face and how she's incorporated it into the finished piece.

You can visit her blog here: Le Blog de Bounette


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bev's e-mail address

Hi Everyone,

This is just a quick blog as I get ready for work in the morning.

I've posted a few blogs about Bev's stamps and how you can ask her to make a custom stamp. She's finally come up with an e-mail address if people would like to contact her directly. It's:



Thursday, November 8, 2007

How to track your favourite blogs (or any other websites)

Hi Everyone,

Today's entry has nothing to do with clay. I use a free utility at work that notifies me when there is a change to a website (such as a blog). It's called TrackEngine and is available for free here:


It's fairly simple to use. You do have to sign up, but once you do when you're on a website that you decide that you want to track, it's as simple as cliking a couple of buttons. I haven't had success with the drag and drop method that they call for, so I use the alternate method of having it sit in my favourites.

Basically, when you come to a website that changes on an irregular basis (like many of the polymer clay blogs), you can add that website to the TrackEngine and you'll then get an e-mail any time it is updated. The changes are highlighted in blue.

Very useful for intermittent posters.

I wouldn't do it for something that changes daily (unless you want a reminder to check that site each day).

One thing to note is that you'll get notifications for EVERY change to the website, even if it's someone adding a comment to a blog. But, because the changes are highlighted in blue, if you don't see any blue, then you probably don't need to see the change. Also, if someone is posting and then seeing what it looks like and then posting (like I've done with this one), you'll get multiple notifications for the same post.

Hope this helps,


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The making of a Christmas stamp...

Hi Everyone,

I thought I'd share the process of making a Christmas stamp that Bev now has available to anyone willing to purchase it.

As an intro, I love words, books, and text (as is probably obvious given how wordy I am in my blog). So, I thought it would be nice to have a stamp based on phrases from Christmas carols. Sounds easy in principle, but not so easy to actually implement. This stamp probably took me 10 hours to design.

Step 1 - choose a list of Christmas Carol phrases that make me sing along just by hearing the phrase. Websites with Christmas Carols were valuable during this step just to make sure that I had covered the ones that I liked.

Step 2 - type them into a Word document with borders that the stamp was a 4 inches wide and six inches tall (this was the easy part).

Step 3 - decide what fonts to use for the Carols. I spent hours on this. Some were easy, such as the "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" needed to be BOLD and larger font. Others were harder, such as "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire".

Step 4 - Rearrange carols in the stamp so that there was a mix of bold, capitals, cursive, italics, and other styles. Also try to mix the non-religious themed with the religious themed. More hours spent on this.

Step 5 - Send to Janice for her input - raise eyebrows when she writes back saying that the reindeer are a nice touch but isn't sure of the fish skeletons. After a bit of back and forth realize that her Word reads fonts different than mine does.

Step 6 - Send to Bev for processing. Bev likes it and generates a stamp for me - I don't believe we had any back and forth on it at all (in huge contrast to another stamp that I asked her for where I kept tweaking because I kept changing my mind) though now that I look at it closely I notice that it's not quite what my fonts were for her originally (I'm still really pleased with it though).

Step 7 - Ta dah! A Christmas stamp is born. I do have a new found appreciation for people that generate stamps - it's not so easy.

I'm currently working with Bev to design a new cursive stamp for me since I've misplaced my stamp. I'm basing it on my wedding ceremony that took place in Spanish in Costa Rica. I'm wrestling with whether I want the words to make sense or whether I should mix them up and incorporate typos to make the font more interesting (more y, q, f, t, and ls).

P.S. Bev now has a contact e-mail for people to reach her directly - it's

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bev's new stamp

Hello Everyone,

As I've mentioned earlier, we're lucky enough to have a woman, Bev, in our guild who will create custom stamps for us. What I didn't mention is that she also makes beautiful stamps of her own that are also available for purchase at the very reasonable price of $10 Cdn. When we were at Guild last weekend she had just finished this stamp and had a couple available. Janice and I snapped them up and I love it.

Bev's stamps come as a turquoise flexible rubber sheet (similar to the clear stamps that are sold at Michaels). You can run them through the pasta maker with your clay or you can press them in using a brayer or your hands. They work well as general stamps, too.

Anyhow, I loved this pattern. Here's how it looks with some of my scrap clay. I've dabbed pinata inks on it and some pearlescent powder.

At Guild a friend of mine, Karen, showed me an ugly charm bracelet that had black rubber inlays into a silver blank that she had purchased on one of her craft store forays into Buffalo. Once you peel out the black rubber inlays it leaves a nice frame for polymer clay. When I said that I wanted to play and see what I could come up with she gave me one as long as I promised to fill it in and give it back to her.

Here is what I've come up with. I impressed the clay, covered it with silver foil, then dabbed Pinata inks on it, placed the clay into the blanks, and then started working with the TLS and heat gun.

One thing I've noticed though is that the Pinata inks do start to bleed after a few layers with the heat gun. It's not a big deal with the bracelet - helps to provide depth, but it gives me concerns about how stable the ink is for a long period of time. I have a few samples that I've played with and I'll keep an eye on those.

Here are a couple more stamps from Bev.

Bev is working on a website. Once she's got that posted I'll post it here. In the mean time, if anyone wants some custom work done, leave a comment and I'll get Bev to get back to you (I don't want to post her e-mail since I don't know how that works here).



P.S. Bev now has an e-mail where she can be contacted directly. It's

Friday, October 19, 2007

Landscape Canes

Hi Everyone,

I realized that I haven't posted in a while. That's partly due to me working a fair bit of overtime at my new job. I'm also hosting the Clayamies 2007 Christmas Ornament Swap so I've been planning my Christmas ornaments which I'm happy with but can't show here because it would ruin the surprise for the participants. There are 16 of us this year so there's a fair bit of logistics to figure out.

So to fill in some space I thought I would show some of my landscape canes. The first photo in this grouping is the very first landscape that I tried. I was inspired by Mike Buessler's work which you can see here. I had no idea what I was doing and this one took me HOURS to do. I layered each individual stripe in the cane. It's still one of my favourites, but doesn't look very much like his skilled work.

I tried a couple of others that weren't even remotely successful and decided that it was time to order Mike's video. It's amazing and well worth the price for anyone who is interested in making landscape canes. Some of my inspiration for the snowflake canes came from his method of cutting out bits and pieces (I call it cookie cutter caning).

The shots above are a couple of more attempts that came out OK and not so OK. I like the cane on the left - it made some beautiful beads. The cane on the right wasn't as successful but the clay colours from it made some amazing scrap clay caning (another technique that I need to write up).

I taught a tutorial at Morrisburg this spring and the landscape cane in this next image came from the demo. This is a faux jade book (technique taught by Gaby) that we made at Morrisburg and the cane seemed to fit right in with the theme that I had chosen. The scanned colours of the jade are a bit off - the blue in the landscape is more harmonious than it appears in this image.

And, I also created this landscape cane as part of my practice for my tutorial. I don't seem to have any cane left, but here's a box that I covered with it. It's got a bit of a southwestern feel in my mind.

I do want to get back into making more landscape canes. I have plenty of light blue clay around and clouds are just so much fun to make. Maybe after Christmas I'll have some more samples.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Be Still...

Hello Everyone,

Today's topic is more about resources than about technique since I did a direct copy of something I saw that I liked.

We get the Signals Catalogue at home and I fell in love with this plaque a while ago for whatever reason. However, it's $90 and only made out of resin. If it had been made out of pewter or other metal I might have purchased it from the catalogue.

But, I have these wonderful metallic powders from Daniel Smith (if you're at all a painter you should visit the site and they have some really neat textured papers that I'm thinking about ordering) and a ton of scrap clay so I thought I would make one for myself instead. These powders are a little different from the Perfect Pearls and Pearl Ex powders in that you can do blending one colour on top of another so you can get the subtle shifts of colour. You do have to seal the clay afterwards because the pigment does rub off after a while. All I needed was a way of putting the letters into the clay.

We're lucky enough in our Southern Ontario Polymer Clay Guild to have Bev Larose who has a printing company. She's been generating custom stamps for us for a while at the incredibly reasonable price of $10 for a 6 inch by 4 inch stamp (and as an added bonus, if she likes the stamp well enough she'll let you have it for free as long as you let her make as many as she wishes). So, I had her make me a stamp of this and made my own plaque. She's developing a website and once she gets it up and running I'll make sure it gets posted here. I also had her make me a Christmas stamp which I'm going to use in the Clayamies Christmas ornament swap.

Here's my first attempt. I love the torn edges of mine. One thing that is really obvious is the roller marks on the clay from my Mona Kissel Atlas Pasta Machine (but I think it's common to most machines and I wouldn't give up this pasta machine for twice what I paid for it). I find that it leaves these marks at the thicker pasta machine settings. I'll play around some more to see if I can get rid of the marks. I tried brayering it but that wasn't very successful.

There are some subtle differences between mine and Signals in the emphasis of the words which I hadn't realized until I posted the photos side by side.

Overall I'm happy with the concept, just have to perfect it a bit by getting rid of the roller marks. I have lots of clay and lots of powder so I'm sure it'll come together. I rarely so obviously plagiarize a product but I do like having it around.



Saturday, September 29, 2007

Francophone blogs...they're beautiful!

Hello Everyone,

As I've mentioned before, I have a particular fondness for Louise's blog from Montreal. Tonight I decided to follow her links to other bloggers and I've discovered that there's a whole host of beautiful polymer clay blogs in French. However, you don't need to understand French to be able to look at the photos.

A good starting point is Parole de Pate/. It appears to be sort of like Polymer Clay Daily except in French and points to interesting artwork. If you click on the Index General on the left where the links are, you'll end up at a whole host of tutorials, including an incredibly simple (much more simple than my technique) cane by Magali.

On the right hand side of the page is a listing of blogs and oh my goodness, you can really get lost for hours in that page. Many of us Canadian clay bloggers are new at this, but the French have been participating for years

The Hidden Magic technique seems to be a theme at the moment and there is some beautiful work by a couple of artists including this bracelet from Marie Pier/

and these samples from Pluie de Perles.

And, I probably spent an hour on just looking at the images. I tend towards a blue palette but I'm not generally keen on florals. However, I loved the work on the website, particularly this image. She uses a lot of different techniques and it's easy to get lost in the photos.

So go out and play with the Francophone side of things. I've only captured a small portion of it, but there are literally dozens of websites to explore.



P.S. I apologize for the choppiness of the photos and paragraphs. I haven't yet figured out how to do these things smoothly.

Learning about Blog Features - Technorati

This morning I'm relaxing and playing with Blogger. It mentioned some of the Blogging communities that are out there to join. This posting is about Technorati. Right now I'm following instructions on it which are telling me to create a blog and paste the following code:

Technorati Profile

From what I can tell, Technorati allows you to get your blog out there to more people and it also has a feature that allows you to be notified when your favourite blogs are updated. The website gives instructions on how to add a button that allows you to be notified whenever I update my blog. I've added it here but don't know how to add it to the rest of my page.

Add to Technorati Favorites

We'll see. I have a few more things to play with so there may be multiple not-very-exciting posts today.



We finally have a dishwasher!!

This is just a short post and has nothing to do with clay though has a lot to do with my general mood.

In January this year our still-under-warrantee dishwasher started spewing water all over the floor. Three attempts to repair, at least 45 phone calls, many of which weren't returned and one letter to the president of the manufacturer, we finally have a replacement dishwasher installed. It's been a long and extremely frustrating process. If it hadn't been a top of the line dishwasher we probably would have just spent the money to buy a new one.

Our new dishwasher has blue LED lights on the inside that glow when you open the dishwasher. Not sure of the purpose but they make a cool night light in the kitchen. We've also been trying to figure out whether they turn off when we close the door (we feel like cartoon cavemen seeing a refrigerator for the first time).

What I learned from this process is that I should have started documenting as soon as we called the repair guy in the first time. I also believed everyone I spoke with but it turns out I shouldn't have.

But, since I hate, hate, hate doing dishes (it's a toss up on whether I hate sanding or dishes more, but I can avoid sanding), now that I have a dishwasher my mood has improved considerably and that's always a good thing.



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Snowflake cane samples

Hello Everyone,

My class was switched to this month so I've been creating some samples to show for class. I'm fortunate enough to have a couple of other clayers (Barb and Karen) in the neighborhood and we got together last week to see if my technique was teachable and just to play in general.

Below are some of the samples that we made. I've mentioned in previous posts about how tinting the translucent with Pinata ink causes bleeding. You can see it in bottom dark blue samples of the photo below. They're not out of focus, that's how hazy they've become in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the scrap clay that I've generated from that cane, might make some neat wave scenes or something.

While I'm not overly keen on the translucent snowflakes that I made (I think I like sharp edges rather than rounded edges in the cuts), it did make a cool ornament. I've backlit it in one photo and the other photo is front lit. I've added some shiny bits in the inside of the ornament.

And here are a couple of more samples.

I'm teaching the class this coming Sunday at our monthly Southern Ontario Polymer Clay Guild meeting. I'll post more photos after we're done.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

I dub thee, Marla's Method!

Hi All,

In one of my previous posts I mentioned that I had been lucky to attend a class by Marla Frankenburg. I've also mentioned that I was trying to figure out how to reduce my snowflake cane.

While Marla was walking around the class I asked her if she had any advice on how to reduce stubby triangle canes (which is what you get with the snowflake cane). She thought about it for about 30 seconds and suggested that I use something flat to help out with the reducing. She'd never tried it but thought it might work.

I'm pleased to announce that I've tried it a few times and last night had the opportunity to teach it to Barb and Karen with terrific success.

And, because one of the great things about clayers is the constant tribute to others who inspire us, I'm happy to thank her and to name this Marla's Method. It's a limited technique for now because it only really applies to triangle canes that are too short to reduce easily using the typical pull and stretch method, but I'm sure people can adapt it (maybe to a hexagonal cane to keep the edges?).

Here it is:
Position your clay triangle against the edge of your tile (for whatever reason the photos make it look like I've got a beveled tile, but I don't).

Use a glass coaster or some other flat stiff piece and position it against the side of the triangle (see images).

Push down with your hands (in the photo there's only one hand, but that's because I was using the other to take the photo) and give it a bit of a wiggle as you push.

After a few seconds, remove the coaster, and rotate the triangle such that the surface in contact with the bottom is in contact with the coaster and the surface that was in contact with the coaster is now free (on the left in the photos). Repeat and rotate.

You're likely stronger pushing with one of your hands than the other, so every so often pick the cane up and rotate it 180. For example, in this series of photos the cane face that's showing in the photos would now become the cane face away from the photo (clear?). You'll see what I mean when you try it out.

Eventually the triangle cane will be long enough that you can start to use the stretch and pull method for typical triangle canes. What's really cool about it is that none of us had very much end distortion at all.

And that's it - the Marla Method!

Oh, and by the way, the blue is translucent tinted with Pinata Ink. Don't do that! The Pinata ink starts to bleed in the cane and all the sharp edges become somewhat blurred. I'm leaving them as experiments to see how long it takes to generate just a pure blue cane.