Good Enough vs Better (Part 2)

Okay, we talked earlier about taking things a step further to go from ‘good enough’ to better.  Specifically about embedding the pad of an earring post in your clay when designing polymer clay earrings. (see Good Enough vs Better, Part 1)

You want to go a step further? 

Instead of simply drilling a hole for a jumpring and adding a dangly thing (a technical term), how about embedding a jumpring (or something similar).  The benefits are primarily two-fold:

1: More movement for your dangle, and

2: A drilled hole and jumpring are NOT taking away from your earring design giving a cleaner look.

The left earring has a jumpring embedded while the right earring has a drilled hole and jumpring added.
Its a subtle difference between the two sides but the right side looks cleaner to me.
The movement between the two earrings is substantial. The right side swings freely while the left side is more stiff.

Confused? Let me explain. Prior to adding the back layer of clay and while you are adding the post component, also add a jumpring. I use an oval shaped jumpring to give me a bit more length to hang from on the side of the clay.

Prior to adding the back layer of clay components are tacked down with a bit of super glue for a temporary hold.

The part of the earring where the post is attached also provides another area for design.

Instead of a solid color circle, this area can be textured, patterned, different shapes,  . . .  even 3D!! Lots to consider when designing earrings . . .  who knew?!?!

But wait there’s one more option I want to add to the mix. What about not having the post portion of the earring separate from the dangle. Who says an earring has to have movement.  Are there rules about this????

As I get more ideas and try them out, my collection of single earrings is building.  It seems like as I finish one earring . . . . a new idea comes to mind . . . .  and well, its time to move on and try it!!

I hope this inspires you to take a look at your designs and see where structural improvements can be made or where fun design options await you! Now go . . . . . .make something!!

Posted in jewelry, polymer clay | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Surprise, Surprise!

Earlier this year I received an email from Sculpey. It was a mass email, not to me specifically, letting everyone know there was an open call for their design team.  I thought, that sounds interesting, why not!!  I love teaching and sharing what I have learned on my polymer journey and am pretty proud of how far I have come. So I pulled together my pitch, a few photos and crossed my fingers.  

Well, I can finally let the secret out of the bag, I was selected for the 2019 Design Squad!!  Woo-hoo!

Amy Koranek – Anke Humpert- Claire Maunsell
Jenny Sorenson – Krithika Parthan – Lynn Yuhr
Maria Saracino – Mo Tipton – Rachel Hateley
Sherman Oberson – Syndee Holt – Teresa Salgado

As you can see, I am in very good company. You can check out all their bios on sculpey.com. But I am confident that I am up for the challenge and look forward to working with Sculpey and their team. Hope you enjoy riding along with me on this next journey!

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Good Enough versus Better

I love making earrings. I wear them a lot and I prefer a post versus a wire. Just my preference.

When assembling the post portion of the earring you have options. You can completely finish the earring and simply glue a post on the back or you can embed the finding into the clay. The thought of the glue failing and the earring falling apart gives me heartburn.  Although I know plenty of people who swear by this method and have had great success.

Here is the post part of the earring. You can purchase these in sterling silver, surgical steel, and base metal. I prefer sterling silver to avoid any problems with allergies and it doesn’t cost THAT much more to avoid a problem down the road. I get mine from Rio Grande (www.riogrande.com).  The circular pad part of this component comes in different diameters, from 1.5mm and 10mm. I am using a 6 mm here.

Here’s my approach. I bake what I am going to use as the front of my earring. For this example (and to keep it simple) I am using solid color circles (about 1/2-inch (13mm) diameter and medium thickness) to accommodate the post component.

Keep in mind that the post portion of the earring is usually attached to something dangling or extending from it. So the circle (in this case) needs to accommodate the pad of the post and a drilled hole. 

Once the initial circles are baked, place the post component onto the clay with a dab of quick drying glue (I used Locktite). Walk away and let dry. This is only done so that when adding the next layer of unbaked clay the post stays in place and there is less fumbling around. Also note that I have offset the pad rather than centering it, to allow for a drilled hole directly below.

Add a thin layer of translucent or clear liquid clay all over the back of the earring and the pad of the post. This will help adhere the baked clay to raw clay.

Cut additional circles from the same color clay  . . . the same diameter as before . . . . the same thickness as before. Roughly center the circle over the back of the earring and push down over the post. You will not get this done perfectly . . .  but that is okay! 

Prick a hole into a small piece of cardstock using a needle, a needle tool, or an awl . . . . whatever sharp pointy thing you have on hand.

Place the hole over the post and onto the unbaked clay.  Gently, but firmly, press the raw clay onto the earring using the card stock as support and avoiding fingerprints. You want the clay to be well adhered and spread up to and slightly over the edges of the baked clay.  You can trim the excess with an exacto knife. Remove the cardstock and with the tip of a finger, pull the raw clay over the edge toward the front of the baked circle, hiding the seam.  Smooth it out. Then bake again.

After baking, I lightly sand using fine grit sanding sponge (I get mine from a beauty supply store). Drill a hole directly below the post. Make sure you are at least one drill hole diameter away from the edge. 

Add a jumpring and a dangly. Ta-da!!

Well I hope you can use this little tutorial and it improves your earrings from just good to better.  By the way, you might have noticed that these dangly things were from my scrap experiments.  I am pretty pleased with them and I think they warrant some more play time.

Posted in jewelry, polymer clay, tutorial | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Scraps

Do you ever get to that point where the mess and disorganization takes over and you can’t seem to get anything done in your studio. I was there . . . . right up against the wall! But in the process of ‘cleaning up’ I realized I had a bunch of scraps that were colorful and just too good to go into the mud pile.

It was a distraction from the goal of cleaning, but I went with the flow. I ended up creating three veneers from the scraps and cutting out some simple shapes . . . . probably earrings . . . .  maybe just samples for ideas . . . . .  maybe nothing.

Veneer #1 was a white background with circles placed all over but leaving a little white between them.  I ran this through the pasta machine so that it was a smooth veneer, going in both directions so the circles were not too distorted. A couple of ovals were cut out and I really like how this veneer looks . . . .  I think fun, whimsical, high energy.  I had a larger piece leftover that I put with some light blue. It’s okay. Then I had scraps from the scraps that I pieced together . . . I appear to be in a triangle phase.  Again I put it with some light blue . . .  too much?!?

A number of scrap circles just placed on a white background.

Veneer #2 was a dark rusty red and the same circles were placed up against one another to make a pattern of polygons. I didn’t think I liked this until I cut out two long pieces   . . . .  that could be earrings. I am really attracted to this, not sure why, but I am.

Circle scraps pushed up against one another to make veneer.
Not sure if it is the shape or focusing the eye to a limited portion of the pattern, but I really like this look.

Veneer #3 was a bunch of little triangles I had that I pieced together. I loved the look of this . . .  definitely my favorite!! The edge of the veneer was what caught my attention, so I cut out shapes focusing on the edges and backing them with black. I think this has some merit.  Not sure where I am going with this but I like it . . .  a lot.  There was a center portion left. These two little pieces could be lovely little earring dangles.  Then, of course there were scraps from my scraps that were pieced together. Again using triangles, but again . . .  too much?!?

Just a bunch of triangle scraps, pieced together to make a veneer.

So while my little distraction was baking, I focused on clearing my work table. I have actually made some real progress!! Not enough to photograph and show you . . . .  but enough for now (take my word for it)!

I find these little exercises very rewarding. I have no expectations, I am not trying to make finished or final pieces, so when something develops or leads to another idea  . . . that’s a win!  I hope you find some time to get distracted in your studio!!

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You’ve Been Accepted!

Who doesn’t like hearing that phrase?!?! Well I did it again, I have been accepted to teach at Bead and Button for 2019. Five classes in all!!   I am totally excited.  Two of the classes were taught last year and are 3-hour quickie classes. But three of the classes are new full day classes.

Last year they didn’t know me. I was given a time slot early in the week. I didn’t sell out my classes, but I had students. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone finished the project, that was a big goal for me! For 2019, I am scheduled in prime-time, Thursday through Sunday.

Thursday, June 6 is Mod Mondrian Lariats from 8:30am to 3:30pm

Yuhr-Mondrian Lariats

Mod Mondrian Lariats

Friday, June 7 is Gone Fishin’ from 9:00am to 4:00pm

Yuhr-Gone Fishin group

Gone Fishin’

Friday, June 7 is Three in Three Earrings from 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Yuhr-3in3Earrings

Three in Three Earrings

Saturday, June 8 is Picasso Inspired Portraits in Polymer from 9:00am to 4:00pm

Yuhr-Picasso Portraits in Polymer-group

Picasso Inspired Portraits in Polymer

Sunday, June 9 is Channeling Mondrian Pendant from 9:00am to noon

Yuhr-Mondrian Pendant

Channeling Mondrian Pendant

I plan to be more diligent about promoting these classes, because let’s face it, polymer clay is not the main stream there. And I am trying to get more ‘up-to-date’ with my willingness to use multiple social media platforms. I am pulling together instagram, a business page in facebook, pinterest and the blog.  It all seems so overwhelming, but it’s the new norm, so I’m going to jump in  . . . . and start treading water!

Posted in Bead and Button Show, polymer clay, teaching, workshops | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Check One Off the Bucket List

We went to the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and yes, it was as good as I expected!!

The opening day of the fiesta (we didn’t have tickets), we got up early and were watching out of our hotel window to see the outlines of the balloons taking off . . . .  far off in the distance. We also had the TV on with live coverage from the field of the festival. Even watching the mass ascension on TV was pretty exciting.

I had tickets for the second morning. Events kick off at 6:00am, so it was a really early start to the day. The morning was chilly so we bundled up, worked our way through the traffic and was sipping hot coffee in the dark by 5:30am.

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The first thing that struck me was the huge team of people working the event. Directing traffic, organizing parking, giving directions, checking tickets, keeping tables clean and food warm. The organization of the event was pretty impressive.

As the morning was beginning to get light, we kept our eyes on the various flags around the field. Was it calm enough for the balloons to inflate? Was it calm enough for the balloons to launch? We quickly found out that it was calm enough for the balloons to inflate, but not to launch. It was either too much wind higher up, or in the wrong direction.  So we listen to the Star Spangled Banner with everyone on the field flaring their burners! It was great!!

So as the sun came up we walked among the balloons as they inflated. It was like a forest of balloons of different colors and shapes!

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If you ever get a chance to attend the Balloon Fiesta, I highly recommend it. The hot air balloon folks seem to be a very enthusiastic and friendly group. My tips for attending include:

  • This is a weather dependent event, at least for the balloons being inflated and taking off. So keep an open mind, enjoy all the other things going on if things are kept on the ground!
  • The traffic to the event is impressive. There are a number of places you can park (off of the event site) and ride in on shuttle buses.
  • While I splurged for the Gondola Pass, it was overkill. Nice, but totally unnecessary.
  • And yes, it is worth getting up for the morning session!!
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Clay Out West in Review

What a fun four days. I am exhausted both physically and mentally, but feel exhilarated at the same time.  I am guessing that the organizer’s are simply exhausted!! Job well done ladies!

Classes were varied and included Leslie Blackford, Carol Blackburn, Shelly Attwood, Julie Picarello, and Donna Kato. These classes hit all the different parts of your brain from precise and controlled to whimsical to wonderful intent and even a few surprises. Here is what I came home with from the classes.

Leslie Blackford in her Vintage Animal Pins showed us a photo transfer technique and then blew our minds as she took little lumps of clay and with a pinch here and a poke there, created animal heads to go onto the photos.  We did a bit more sculpting creating fetishes. A patina was used on the clay after baking that made all the difference in the world to the finished project.

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Carol Blackburn taught us her Southwest Patterns Brooch or Pendant technique that was such a surprise. Her process is so well done and thought out. And she continued to surprise us with her pendant/brooch finishing techniques.

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Shelly Atwood’s Petroglyph Pendants showed us carving on polymer clay along with creating a variety of patinas. This is not as easy as it looks and is going to take a bit of practice!

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Julie Picarello shared All Meshed Up, her take on mokume gane along with creating windows with mesh or screen. She is a fountain of information and I only wish this was a full day class. But you know how that goes, we are always asking for more time to play! And for full disclosure, the upper right piece is Julie’s sample she made in class and raffled off, woo-hoo!

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Donna Kato took us through her Color Pencil Pieced pendants. These pendants are finished with colored pencils, a surface technique that adds a tremendous depth the clay. And from beginning to the end we learned something every step of the way (at least I did). This is one of the two projects for her class.

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But the real challenge from any workshop is taking all the tidbits and techniques, letting them percolate and see what comes out in your own work. In Carol Blackburn’s class, I had a little time while my pieces were curing to play with my scraps. You know the bits that are eye-catching and you think “I can’t just throw those away!”  And my success rate is low for packing these little gems and not having them get squished, squashed and generally distorted in the journey back home.

Well I wasn’t sure where I was going with them but I lined them up on a sheet of black clay cut out a couple of shapes.  Cute, but then I had scraps left from the scraps. Yes, this is a rabbit hole of sorts! So I then created a second veneer, cutting up the scraps into triangles and fitting them together. Left the shapes angular. Added a border of black. I really liked how these came out. I will be revisiting this.

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And the buttons . . . . I can’t forget the buttons! There were as many different buttons as there were people attending. The buttons covered everything from surface techniques to canes and from complicated to simple. They are like little treasures, not sure what I will do with them . . .  other than periodically admire them . . . .  and that’s ok!

My trip went on for another week and a half after Clay Out West, and had the sweetest ending . . . like the cherry on top.  I was at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and went into a gift store . . .  that seemed nicer than most.  I was admiring a display of animals that were intricately adorned and almost fell over when I realized it was polymer clay . . . . and the work of Jon Anderson.  A personal and up-close look at Jon Anderson’s work at an airport gift shop . . .  I couldn’t believe it.  What a special treat!!

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Well the dates and teachers have already been selected for next year’s Clay Out West. The dates are September 30th to October 3rd, 2019.  The teachers will be Donna Kato, Leslie Blackford, Debbie Crothers, Ron Lehocky, Dayle Doroshow and Wendy Malinow.  Registration won’t open for several months yet, but if you want to be on the mailing list for announcements, send an email to clayoutwest@aol.com.

Posted in polymer clay, workshops | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments