Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fractal Art Cane for my project...

a>Hi Everyone,

I recently finished The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen, a book that I very much enjoyed (it's a murder mystery pulp fiction book) and decided that it was time to try to make a fractal cane. I had seen the instructions before through Polymer Clay Daily and you can find them at the Evil Mad Scientist website here (it's also a fun website for a diversion).

I decided that I would use the cane for my project so I needed to incorporate a natural element in it. Hence the use of a very old leaf cane. But to do it again I think I'd go simple and just use a skinner blend - it was tough to have the leaf maintain it's original shape and in the end you don't really notice that it's a leaf cane.

I only went to the fifth iteration and I have to say that I'm very pleased with my results.

I started off with a whack of clay and generated a fair bit of scrap, but that's because I was in a hurry and didn't want to take time to reduce carefully. I'm completely OK with that - the scrap will make amazing Judy Belcher canes.

Once you get your head around the steps, it's an incredibly easy cane and the results are well worth it. At the end, I've got about 4 inches of 1/2 inch tall cane (though I wish I had more). But I can play around a bit more and see what else I can come up with.

That's it for now. I'm off to Guild in a few minutes - today's lesson is faux dichroic which should be fun and is being taught by one of my clay buddies, Karen. She's an excellent teacher and it'll make for a pleasant afternoon.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bev and Wendy's Cabezel Jewellery Molds

Hi Everyone,

This might be a short entry (for me) since I'm doing this on a business trip and have to be in the hotel lobby in 20 minutes (so apologies for the photos going in bizarre places). Since I wasn't able to create masterpieces with Bev and Wendy's Cabezel Jewellery Molds, I asked Wendy if she could send me photos of some of the work that she's done.

Here are a few of her samples. Both Bev and Wendy are working on coming up with more images, tutorials, and other tips and tricks to get the creative spark going. Two of the photos show the beauty of the irregular shaped mold and the things that you can do with them.

I particularly like the second image in this set - I've been cutting the frame right to the edge of the frame, but this one shows how you can trim away from the frame. It really allows for a custom feel to it. I can see doing a collage with the different frames and maybe even putting photo transfers into the framed spaces.

I always love tools that allow you to use them but come up with your own take on how you use them. Bev and Wendy's Cabezel (I even like the name of them) Jewellery Molds fit the bill perfectly. The molds sell for $20 each. You can get more information on them (or buy them) by contacting Bev through her website at



Saturday, July 12, 2008

I can't see a difference, can you see a difference?

Ok, other than one has a brown frame and one has a pearl frame (more on that later) - there really is no difference, (or at least not the difference I was expecting) which came as a suprise to me. Here's why.

As I've mentioned before, I have a terrible time with Pinata Inks migrating into my clay and blurring things up. So, as I was perusing Cindy Leitz' something somewhere caught my attention and I had the idea to cover the tinted flakes with Future to seal the inks into the flakes before trying them out on something else.

So, flakes, plus lime green Pinata Ink (which actually makes almost an emerald green colour on the flakes if it's concentrated enough), one batch drizzled with Future and left to dry, and the other left as is. Put the flakes onto bezels and bake. Add liquid Kato, bake some more. Heat gun, add, bake, etc.

I was even smart enough to put an x on the back of one of the bezels so that I would know which one was treated with the Future and which one wasn't. I wasn't smart enough to put down what the x meant so I'm not sure which one it is.

The brown frame is due to me heat gunning it way too much to try to eliminate a foggy bit in the corner. But, once I saw how pretty the frame looked compared to the pearl background I continued with the heat gunning to try to make the frame an even colour. It turns out that liquid clay is a pretty good insulator as you can see by the bottom edge of the brown frame. The colour flakes change colour quite a bit with heat as you can see in the brown frame and have taken on a bit more of a yellowish cast compared to the frame below.

What I was expecting to see is a bit of a green haze in the liquid clay from the untreated green ink. But, hey, all is not lost, since now I might be able to play with burning the clay just a wee bit (I know, I know, toxic fumes and all that stuff... I'll be careful).

So now it turns out that it's not all inks that migrate so freely. I tried making a faux green opal with the green flakes and I didn't have any problems with the translucent clay turning green, even after many passes through the pasta machine. But, blue flakes turn the translucent clay blue within only two or three passes. And red is just as quick.

I'll have to try another experiment with the blue flakes.

Cindy's got some kind of scavenger hunt going on with her site which looks like it might be kind of fun, if you're interested check out the link here..

And, of course, the frames are from the Cabezel stamps that Bev and Wendy have created. It's so wonderful to be able to make custom frames for things.

Oh, and thanks to Cindy who posted a comment wondering if the experiment actually worked. The answer is...I don't know. I'll have to try it with the other coloured flakes. Might be something to do on the weekend or if others want to play and let me know I'll post images of their experiments instead.

Cheers everyone,


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Faux cloisonne

Hi Everyone,

We had a clay day today where six of us got together to practice a technique that Jacey taught at guild last week. Only one of us in the group were able to attend last week.

It's a faux cloisonne technique that involves using Peel-Off stickers. I had never noticed the stamps before, they're a raised metallic foil stamp that mimics the wire traditionally used in cloisonne. Scrapbookers apparently will be well aware of them.

Anyhow, bake the clay, put the sticker on, paint with tinted liquid clay, bake again, add thin layer of translucent liquid clay, bake, heat gun, add another layer, bake and heat gun. The photo is what I created today. I used Donna Kato liquid translucent clay and tinted with PearlEx powders. The piece is about 1.5 inches high. Others in our group used different colour backgrounds including black, fuschia, blue, green. All came out quite nice.

Time consuming, but meditatively easy.

Jacey learned it from a scrapbooking store she frequents, but the technique is also published in a how to make polymer clay bead book that Laurie showed us today (though I don't remember the author).

Thanks to Jacey for teaching Barbara the technique so that she could teach us.



Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bev and Wendy's bezel and cabochon kits

Hi Everyone,

This post has been a long time coming and apologies to Bev and Wendy who are probably wondering why I haven't written about them. It's simply because I've been waiting until I created something wondrous with their new tools. But, since I don't seem to have time or focus for anything other than a few minutes here or there, I haven't done anything terrific yet and my stuff doesn't do the tools justice just yet.

Bev, whom you all know from my previous posts, is able to generate beautiful stamps that are perfect for clay. Her website is here. She belongs to our Southern Ontario Polymer Clay Guild. Wendy is another guild member, gets less mention in my blogs, but probably should get more mention due to her generosity and talent. Wendy has an Etsy site which you can find here which currently lists her unique Remembrance Vessels.

Anyhow, the two of them are great friends and have come up with a nice set of tools - the bezel and cabochon stamps. They taught us how to use them a month ago and you've seen some samples of the bezels in my previous postings of pinata ink mistakes. I forget the price of them off-hand, I know they're more expensive than the conventional stamps that Bev sells because there is a lot more material used with these. When I find out I'll post the price here.

The stamps are very easy to work with. I've been using the bezels for a lot of my playing around with liquid clay since the frame holds the liquid quite nicely. I'm also happy to say that I've decided that all is not lost with Lisa Pavelka's Magic Glos since it works very well with the smaller bezels (I will post more later). The idea is that you can fit the cabochon into the frame once you've decorated the cabochon. Here are a pair of earrings that I did with the stamps and I've received several nice comments on them at work. I'm thinking of trying to make a bracelet with the small squares - that would be easy enough I would think.

There are three sets - the smaller frames, the larger frames, and the irregular shaped frames. Using a pair of nail scissors (the ones with the slight curve) makes cutting out the curved frames very easy. Bev and Wendy put a lot of thought into the design and the small circle frame can be cut out using a Kemper circle cutter.

The cabochons on the larger frames are slightly undersized for the frames. They seem to work best if you bake a base cabochon from the stamp and then cover it with a layer of decorative clay and then re-bake. This is an intentional design element for just this reason.

Anyhow, I've got to get ready for work (on a Saturday!) and I'll have to end the posting here. If anyone is interested in why I'm so busy these days in my real life, take a look here (make sure to watch the video). I'm responsible for the air quality assessment portion of this project and I'm busy setting up the model runs and doing public consultation on the project.

Tomorrow we've got a play clay day scheduled with some of the local gals - I might have more to show tomorrow. It's a beautiful sunny day here and I hope that others get to enjoy it.



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day and Mom's strawberry pie

Hi Everyone,

It's Canada Day and with Canada Day comes my mom's strawberry pie since it's strawberry season. I only make this once a year typically and because if I make it more often I eat it more often. It's a very light sweet and easy pie and, unfortunately, when the strawberries are perfect, I am quite capable of finishing off an entire pie in very short order. The pies take about 15 minutes to make but if your strawberries aren't flavourful it's not really worth making.

Here are the ingredients:
- 1 pint (500 mL) whipping cream
- 500 g (a large bag) of marshmallows (miniature are easier though not necessary)
- some sugar
- 2 graham cracker crusts
- strawberries, approximately 4 cups when chopped

Here's how to make it:
Chop the strawberries into smallish pieces - quarter strawberries or less. Sprinkle with sugar to get the liquids flowing.

Melt the marshmallows over low heat - you want them just to lose their shape. Scoop into a large mixing bowl Cool for 15 minutes or cool by placing the bowl in cold water. They just need to come to body or room temperature. You don't want them so cold that you can't stir them.

As you're letting the marshmallows cool, whip up the pint of whipping cream - you can add sugar if you like but it's not necessary since the cream is going to be combined with the marshmallows.

Fold the whipping cream into the marshmallows. Then start adding the strawberries. You may not need to add all the strawberries, if it looks like it's getting too runny then stop adding the berries.

There are two schools of thought on how to fold the strawberries and cream into the marshmallows - you can do it all at once and the theory is that it causes less of the whipped cream to collapse. Or you can fold the whipping cream in first and then add the strawberries gradually. Either way seems to work fine.

Add the mixture to the graham cracker crusts and chill. Pour any remaining mixture into cups and eat later. Garnish with sliced strawberries if you like. Mom usually cuts strawberries in half and puts them on the pie starting from the centre to form a radial pattern. I didn't do that here since I've got some leftover chopped strawberries that I'll drizzle over the pie when I cut it.