A Surprise Package!


You know we all love a new tool . . . . well I received a sweet little package from a dear friend from Scotland, Melanie Muir, a polymer clay artist, teacher and creative coach extraordinaire (www.melaniemuir.com)!! She visited last February and I had a chance to see her new line of jewelry before she headed for her next show. Very graphic. Very modern. Very beautiful.


She also shared that the new line of jewelry resulted in a new line of texture stamps and shape templates. Woo-hoo!!   Who doesn’t love a new tool!

A few of the things that make her stamps nice for polymer clay work is that they are clear so you can see the underlying clay and make sure the contact is good, they are deeply carved stamps (great for mokume gane) and the size is manageable for jewelry size pieces. A twist to her new line of texture stamps is that the designs include both innies and outies for the same stamp shape!


In addition, she has developed a few new shape templates along with a new line of cutters! And yes, I have already placed my order for the cutters!!

I have been playing with the stamps and templates a little. I used them to make some samples for my mica shift class I recently taught at Fandango.

So thank you Melanie for your generous gift and making a gal do a happy dance! It has been so hard to keep this secret but I promised I wouldn’t spill the beans until they were up on her website, go check them out!!

I know a tool doesn’t make an artist . . . . . but a new tool can make an artist happy!!

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Early Riser

I am not a morning person. For those that know me, this statement might evoke a ‘laugh-out-loud” response. While I like mornings, I want them to be leisurely, sipping coffee, thinking about the day ahead. It is probably in response to the many years of rushing . . . .  always rushing  . . . . . somewhere . . . . . for something.

On a recent visit to Melbourne Beach, Florida a walk on the beach to see the sunrise was discussed. I thought  . . . .  why not? I was not disappointed.  It was refreshing to see the beginning of the day greet us. And the view of the ocean waters soothes my soul! I don’t mind that it was cloudy and you can’t see the sun. The expansive view reminds me that I am just a little part of this world . . .  so small, . . . .  so very small.


While walking along I looked (and found) treasures along the beach.


Turtle tracks. Evidence of the nocturnal activity.  Leading to and from the new nests.



Porpoise (bottle-nosed dolphin) just off-shore. My finger on the camera wasn’t as quick as they were, but if you zoom in a fin can be seen!


I would follow these foot-prints anywhere (hubby leading me down the beach) as I dawdle and look for treasures!!


Getting up a little earlier seems like such a small price to pay for something so wonderful. Its nice to have the opportunity to do something as special as this.  We should all look for these opportunities to enjoy our surroundings and appreciate where we are for the moment. It really helps put things in perspective.

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Trip Planning . . . Again!

It has been awhile, but the travel bug reared it’s head again and I have a full schedule.

Hubby and I have talked for years about going to southeast Asia. The history, the temples, the geology! We were thinking 2018 . . . . . or even putting it off until 2019. Then, in one of my ninja travel scheduling moves, I convinced him to go before the end of this year.  You could insert many adverbs here, such as . . . . . tricked . . . . . nagged . . . . charmed, he has his own list!

We are actually both VERY excited about this trip. However, my normal mode of operation when planning a trip is having a year or more to . . . . well plan! It is one of the parts of traveling that I do love. Finding out what the possibilities are in a particular place is exciting and then weaving a journey together makes me swoon!

This trip will be different for us in many ways, but the biggest is that we are going with a tour group. I waivered on this for a long time, but decided to let someone else be in control of the bulk of the planning (me, give up control, very unusual, I know). What pushed me in that direction was that I know four individuals from very different walks of life that have each used this tour group, three of them went to Southeast Asia with them. All four people used Gate1 Travel and gave them rave reviews. Fingers crossed!

map of itinerary

The tour will be 17-days long with a few extra days added to the front and back ends. The biggest coup for the trip, so far, was nailing round trip tickets using airline miles . . . . in business class!! Getting the tickets using miles was key for us going on this trip because if hubby is kept comfortable and happy, he is willing to travel.  Having a credit card that gives you miles is like my magic wand!! And I only use my miles for those international long flights, otherwise I will just buy domestic tickets. And yes, this will be a series of long flights. Miami to Los Angeles to Osaka (Japan) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Hanoi (Vietnam) where we will begin our adventure!!

So with the planning taken care of, I can then obsess about ‘packing light’. The intent is always there, but . . . . well . . . the ‘be ready for any weather or occasion’ usually interferes and things get added. Well, its a goal.

And of course I have to start thinking about a travel journal. Listen, our trip is now about 5 months away, so yes, I have thought about it . . . . a lot!  I put a plan together based upon where we are going, number of days traveling, how much sketching I will have time for, etc. So the plan, the papers, and the signatures are done. Then I focus on the structure of the journal . . . how I want the journal to function . . .  the cover, the pockets, extra space, etc. I had a piece of a painter’s drop cloth lying around and decided that would make a great cover and started sewing!

Once assembled, the next phase is laying down backgrounds and little bits of decorations throughout the journal. A dear friend, who is well aware of my obsessions has already offered to bring me her collection of Asia themed stamps so I can get started!! I love people who ‘get me’.

I will add photos when the journal is ready for the trip! Until then, its back to planning  . . . . . and dreaming . . . . and a few little trips in between now and then.  Happy travels!

Posted in Art Journaling, travel | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Pressing the Button

Your forms are filled out . . . . your photos are uploaded . . . . your finger is hovering over the SUBMIT button. And the little voice in your head is screaming ‘don’t do it’, ‘what are you thinking’, ‘who do you think you are?!?!?!?!?’ But you take a deep breathe and push that button anyway. There . . . . it’s done . . . . what have I got to lose?

That was me at the computer this morning as I submitted some work to the IPCA Awards. The IPCA is the International Polymer Clay Association (theipca.org). They have periodically over the years held juried competitions for polymer clay based art – wearable jewelry, functional containers, non-functional sculpture and hanging art and mixed media. There are also three levels of applicants – student, emerging artist and artist. As a member of the association a small fee allows you to submit three pieces. And I did.

The theme this year was ‘To Boldly Go!’ in honor of the 50th year of Star Trek and your pieces needed to be from your current work (no more than 12 months old). I have been spending a huge amount of time in the studio and have a fair bit of work to show for it over the last year. Is it great? No. Is it my best work? No. Is it something I am proud of? I like them, but none of them are earth-shattering. But what they do show is progress . . . . steps forward and that is what is important . . . . . at least to me. And as part of pushing myself in that forward direction, I submitted three pieces.

The fact is, this submission (and fear of it) is in the realm of the ‘small stuff’ . . . . that we really shouldn’t sweat, right??? Then why does it feel so BIG??? Putting yourself ‘out there’, particularly  in our digital world is a lot bigger in terms of exposure.  Okay, so it’s a bigger deal, so what.  In the effort to tame those damn voices in my head I continue to say . . . . ‘so what’s the worst that can happen?’ at least I pushed myself a bit and stepped out into the world.

I am finding that there are so many opportunities that are all a little uncomfortable, but once you step up and do them, you find out that they are not so bad after all. So if something comes your way, why not take the step to be a little uncomfortable . . . . push yourself . . . . and be rewarded with the experience and a new perspective!!

Sorry for no photos, but I am not allowed to post any photos until after the competition!!

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Collaborating Continues

While the blog has been idle, my hands have not been! I don’t think I have spent this much time in the studio . . . . . well, ever!! And that’s a good thing.

My friends at Banyan Bay Studio continue to experiment with wooden components, but there is a twist. They have a second company, Blue Tarpon Studio, where they create finished art jewelry. They got into the “One of a Kind Show” in Chicago, April 28 to 30th.  Since the wooden components and polymer combination has been so successful, they asked if I would collaborate with them for the show. Exciting, right?!?!

Let the playing begin . . . . . . the flat components (circles, squares and rectangles) provide a nice background in which to work . . . . but what about going three-dimensional?


We are also working simultaneously on additional wooden components for Banyan Bay Studios (picture the performer with the spinning plates on thin sticks!). We came up with tubes of wood that have both channels and sometimes dots.  I worked on various color-ways that I thought enhanced the color of the wood.


The length can be varied . . . . . . the placement of the channels and dots can be varied . . . . . . the color of the wood can be varied. What would you do with these?? Earrings . . . a single tube for a simple pendant . . . . . . or a series of tubes for a necklace?? Oh the possibilities! And yes, these will eventually be added to the wooden component series offered by Banyan Bay Studios.

Then in one conversation, the topic of natural edge pieces of wood came up. This is a slice of wood that not only highlights the beautiful grains of the interior, but has a unique, unaltered edge where the bark has been removed. They are like little landscapes themselves.

So what do you add to these to enhance the natural beauty that is already there? Well here is one idea.


So what would you do with all of these new pieces? If you happen to be in Chicago the end of April, come by and see us at the show! I would love some feedback on . . . . . well everything!



Posted in art shows, jewelry, polymer clay, selling jewelry | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

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