Pounding Metal

I haven’t played with metal in a while, but I had an opportunity to take a fold forming workshop with Nancy Megan Corwin!! Yes, I know about my addiction to workshops, but who could say no to this opportunity?!?!

Nancy Megan Corwin is a metalsmith, which is an understatement, a national treasure in my opinion. She generously shares what she has learned over decades of experience through workshops and university classes. She wrote a book on Chasing and Repousse, Methods Ancient and Modern which is a standard reference on the topic.



She came to Miami to teach a 3-day class on chasing and respousse for the Florida Society of Goldsmiths – South (www.fsgso.com) and a 2-day class on fold forming for the Enamel Guild South (www.egs.com).

I took the fold forming class and had a blast! This is just a few of her samples and my photos do not do them justice.

Learning how to make the metal move was fascinating. I was also surprised by my own work. Perfect . . . . no . . . . nor polished and shined . . . . but oh the possibilities!

With any new skill, this is something that clearly takes practice (duh!).  But the nuances that can be achieved are worth an investment of time.  And my head is spinning with the question “how do I incorporate this into my work?”  Now if I could just have more . . . .much more . . . . time, that is!


Posted in jewelry, metal smithing, workshops | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wooden Components

I have been playing with a new type of component, designed to be used with polymer clay . . . . wood. My friends at Banyan Bay Studios create these amazing wood components for jewelers like turned drops, toggle clasps, end caps, etc. They use the most beautiful woods that add a real natural, warmth and yet sophisticated element to your work. The woods can be multicolored stripes for a more fun feel to zebra wood, burls or tightly-grained rosewoods and ebony. YUM!!

I know polymer clay and wood have been combined beautifully before. The work by Cynthia Tinapple (www.polymerclaydaily.com and www.tipple.com) includes turned-wood bowls and Bonnie Bishoff (www.syronbishoff.com) includes large-scale furniture pieces. Both artists use polymer clay to create colorful veneers to be combined with the wood for striking results.


Cynthia Tinapple and her husband with one of their wood and polymer clay collaborations


Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron credenza and polymer veneer collaboration.

So why not at a smaller scale? I explained what I wanted . . . .  they delivered a few samples . . . . and I played.


Then Cynthia offered a class on veneers inlayed into wood. Yes, the planets were beginning to align! I brought a few samples to class and the response was positive, so the collaboration began. Wood was turned, drilled and routed. Shapes were tested. Patterns played with.

Banyan Bay Studio has decided to ‘roll out’ the new product, customizable components, in phases. The first phase will include three pendants and two turned beads in three different woods. These will be available on their etsy website (www.banyanbaystudio.etsy.com).


But, if you have an idea, or want get a modification to these, give them a call! They are willing to do custom orders . . . . . how cool is that?!?! There will be at least one more ‘roll out’ before their big reveal at Bead and Button, June 7 to 11, 2017 in Milwaukee.

From a business point of view, you want (need) to create the largest possible market for your items . . . . what about beading around the channels . . . . what about using them with resin. Any other ideas?? Is there something special you would want to see? Let us know!

Posted in jewelry, polymer clay | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Getting Ready to Teach

I am getting ready for a class I will be teaching at Fandango, a polymer clay retreat in central Florida (www.oapcguild.com). The class will cover the mica shift technique in a 4-hour pre-retreat class.

The mica shift technique utilizes the mica particles in the polymer clay to create patterns or an image in the clay with the surface of the clay remaining smooth. The patterns or image have a real depth to them and everyone reaches out to touch it, assuming it is textured . . . . . but its not!

This is NOT a new technique. It has been used, written about and tutorialized for years. So how do you make it your own and not just a review of what everyone else is doing . . . . and not stepping on anyone’s toes professionally speaking.  And how do you pack enough information into a 4-hour window.

Well you work on it. You make notes and ask questions and find the answers! And in the case of polymer clay, you make samples . . . . lots of samples.


Does the mica shift technique work with the metallic clays (gold, silver, copper, etc.) as well as the pearlized clays (green, white, purple, magenta, etc.)? Can I mix my own color and still get the mica shift? What is the limit of opaque clay can you mix with the metallic and still get the mice shift? Does the color of the opaque clay matter (darker versus lighter colors)?

I am working on it! And when I do my homework and get prepare . . . . . I always learn lots too!

If you are at all interested in Fandango (May 4 to 7), check out the Orlando Area Polymer Clay Guild’s website (www.oapcguild.com) and download a registration form where you will find most of the information you need. If you are joining us at Fandango and want to sign up for my 4-hour class, e-mail me directly!


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My New Studio – the pros and cons

It’s a beautiful thing . . . . an empty freshly painted white room (even the ceiling) . . . . that echos in the night . . . . longing to be filled with creative energy.

Okay, okay, back to reality. Long story short. Youngest son moved out and to assuage my feelings of being an ‘empty nester’, I am gutting his old room and making it my new studio (insert happy dance). It is slightly bigger than my old craft room, has MUCH more natural light and already had an awesome shelving system in the closet (ELFA). Who doesn’t like a fresh start!!

I had a layout of the room designed almost a year before he moved and would look at it periodically and dream. And when the room was empty I used painters tape to mark out the placement of the furniture and sat in there . . . quietly taking it all in!

So far this story sounds pretty good right??

Well as I slowly prepared for the move, I got rid of a few bags of garbage, combined, sorted and generally went through all of my supplies. This started fairly well, but then I got bogged down in the stuff! There were many moments of ‘what the heck was I thinking’! Why am I saving every badge from every conference/retreat/ workshop I ever attended? Will I ever use this or need this? So how many carrying bags does a girl need??

The room is officially done and it is beautiful. It is organized and clean. I can generally find things quickly.

I love my IKEA Alex drawer units. I have three of them under my shelving system. They are large but shallow drawers that allow you to easily see what you have. I took my time filling them and finding the best way to sort things. I used a lot of box lids from the holidays for shallow trays that keep like items together. I even made some of my own by folding heavy weight papers.

My peg board from the previous room was cut down to fit under the shelving. I love having the colors from the paint tubes displayed along with some jewelry I have done. Take note of the two washi tape garages to the far left, they will be mentioned later.


Meanwhile just outside the door of my beautiful new studio space lies a mountain of remaining items to go through. This is where the tough love begins and my trash, donate or sell boxes get filled. I also have a problem with an impressive collection of storage boxes from big to small and from plain to fancy. I don’t want to fill the new studio so that it is overflowing and ruins the great vibe I have going on. And while I may need to keep a few of the storage boxes, most of them must go!!

This project has been very interesting, a unique combination of a slap in the face and  an educational experience. Things I have learned:

  • Make do with what you have.
  • If you are going to purchase something – save and buy good quality.
  • You don’t need to keep every scrap of paper/fabric, leftover bead, experiments gone wrong, etc.
  • You don’t have to finish every project – it can be very liberating to select the elements to keep (if any), ditch the rest and move on.
  • One ‘garage’ for my washi tape was cute, two was a warning and if you need three there should be an intervention.
  • Do not buy storage boxes until you really, really need them (not even if they are VERY cute) and try to use what you have first!
  • I am not sure I am a hoarder (technically) but I can squeeze 10 pounds of supplies in space for 5 pounds!

The opportunity to start fresh is amazing. Even if you don’t have a new space to move into, just going through what you have and sorting/combining/purging can give you a boost and refocus some creative energy!

I hope I can keep the studio looking great. And I can’t wait to show it off to my local peeps.

And the son that moved out . . . . lives 5 minutes away . . . . and is doing great!


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Oh Fandango!

Fandango is an annual polymer clay retreat organized by the Orlando Area Polymer Clay Guild (oapcguild.com). It is a 5-day retreat where you are able to take three different 1-day classes from internationally known polymer clay instructors. The retreat runs from May 4 through May 8, 2017 this year.

The three instructors for 2017 are Barbara Fajado , Dayle Doroshow, and Jana Roberts Benzon. They each have something completely different to teach us. I can’t wait!!

Barb Fajardo “Mandala Flora”


Dayle Doroshow “Sculptural Books, Triptychs and Standing Screens”


Jana Roberts Benzon “Taking Flight”


In addition, there are some half-day classes offered as an option. After teaching for them the end of August, they asked if I would be interested in teaching one of these half-day classes. Of course I would!! Who wouldn’t want to be included in that group!!

The half-day classes are offered on May 4th and 7th include:

If you are interested in any of these ½ day workshops, contact the instructors directly.

The venue is Lake Yale, a laid back, woodsy and comfortable setting.  Registration includes lodging, meals and the three 1-day classes but does not include the optional half-day classes. The whole event is only $700. That is a bargain no matter how you look at it!

Registration forms are available on-line (oapcguild.com). There are a few options, but if you register before February 15th you can save $25. If you have any questions you may contact Eva (zevacat@gmail.com).

Come join the fun!!

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Happy New Year 2017

Have you set your goals, picked your word for the year, made a list of resolutions?? Whatever works for you to prepare for the new . . . . you should do it! A fresh start always feels exciting!!

But before we do that, lets take the time to reflect upon 2016 and what you accomplished (both big and small). These years are going by so darn fast that I often miss being in the moment and let the special times whiz by without fully appreciating them. It is one of the reasons I like to keep an annual journal. It is interesting to look back and see what I recorded.

I also have fun making a new annual journal each year. It includes selecting special papers, figuring out a new binding technique or a special way to construct the book. There is always one particular thing that triggers a flurry of creativity.

I have to admit, the first year I just used a store bought ‘sketchbook’. It was a good start to see if I liked keeping a journal and if I would keep up with it. I did like it and I did keep up with it!!

The next year I got a little more creative. It was a Parcheesi board that struck my fancy and I used it as my cover and bound together 12 signatures. I loved the look of this one! But it was a hefty book to carry around.

Then I got a holiday gift that came in a cool box with a magnetic closure. I collaged the box and covers for four separate ‘books’ that fit inside the box. I thought if the books were smaller, I would be more likely to carry one around. This was a different approach and look, which I also really loved!

For 2015, I decided that I wanted to be able to hold the journal closed. It was the idea of a closure that inspired this journal. So I created one large journal with leather straps as closures. I also added some wood veneer, maps and metal numbers onto the cover. Again, a successful approach.

Then the next year I decided to have 12 individually bound signatures that could be stored in a nice cigar box that I acquired . . . . yes, I love a nice box. I carried several of these around, particularly on trips, but I didn’t consistently play with them. I had several other travel art journals, sketchbooks, journals for workshops or my bullet journal to keep me busy. There are doodles, sketches, notes, and reflections in all of these. But the 2016 annual journal was largely ignored.

I want to get back into the habit of keeping an annual journal. So I was rummaging through my stash of papers and collected treasures. I came across a sleeve of pretty pink and orange but thin cardboard that came off of a holiday package. When I opened it up and saw that it was polka dotted inside, the hunt was over!! I found my inspiration!! I reinforced the cover with chip board and a pretty handmade pink paper. Papers (both plain and painted) were cut, torn, folded and signatures were made. Each signature will be sewn together and they will be held in place with the elastic cord . . . . it’s the plan anyway.


The making of my 2017 annual journal.

I already have the making of a pretty good year. . . . . . multiple trips (nothing crazy big like last year), a couple of learning opportunities, a couple of teaching opportunities, and a new studio. Of course I am pretty sure a lot more will be added as the year progresses. And now I have a fun journal to record all my adventures!

So what do you do to get ready for the new year??

Posted in Art Journaling, inspiration | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Making Improvements

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was taking an on-line class, well actually a couple. But one was focused on design principals for polymer clay artists. It was taught by Christine Dumont and Donna Greenberg as part of a creative design series on www.voila.eu.com. The class was called Repetition and Gradation. These are design principles that can be applied in a variety of ways.

Initially, as we entered week 1, the students were asked to create a photo album of their current work. I put together a few photos showing a variety of my work (these along with some of my tribal series).


I was totally surprised as the other students added their photos. These were people that are, in my opinion, already doing fabulous work. I have followed them on-line. I was immediately intimidated!!

But I decided to stick with it, what do I have to lose . . . . right?!? I repeat this thought often.

The class focused on developing our understanding of the use of repetition and gradation through observations. Being able to make observations and understand why a piece works . . . . . or doesn’t work is essential in applying these principals. Making observations seems simple and obvious but describing what you are seeing in an intelligent way is not . . . it takes practice . . . and lots of it!

The last part of the class was where we put our understanding of repetition and gradation to work. Our assignment was to selected a piece we had completed before and redesign it, adding repetition and gradation. So “which piece”, “do you start from scratch”, “how much do you change”, “what parts do I keep” all ran through my mind. This is the piece I selected.


Well we all started by sketching out our ideas and presenting them for comments from both the instructors and students alike. Below are a couple of my sketches. I kept the original form with a minor adjustment to the “tail” where I added a curl and a pearl.


We then hit the studio. The transformations ranged from subtle to dramatic, but all were very impressive to say the least.  I actually did two versions of my final piece. The first version is based upon the upper right sketch. The second version was based upon comments from the instructors that caught my attention.


I was pretty pleased with the improvements made. Masterpieces . . . . well no . . .  but I was able to successfully play with repetition and gradation in the colors and patterns. And I still have more ideas for this piece rolling around in my head.

I have really enjoyed taking on-line classes. They can be a ‘live’ format where you actively interact with instructors and students with deadlines for assignments or a class that you can take any time and go at your own pace. They both offer a great opportunity to learn.

Posted in polymer clay, Uncategorized, workshops | Tagged , , | 2 Comments