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Monday, November 7, 2011

Making Autumn Leaves with Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay Leaf Boxes

Purple Sweet Potato Vine

Tree leaves are like snow flakes, there are never two completely alike and when they begin to change in the fall the variety of color and patterns are infinite. While running on a local trail I was inspired to try to recreate the colors of the changing leaves with polymer clay. I stuffed my pockets with leaves that met three criteria, they were fresh enough to still be pliable, they had intriguing colors and patterns, and they were small enough to fit through my pasta machine. Some leaves were singular in color, like the sweet potato vine leaf that was a striking shade of aubergine, while other vine leaves were green. Elm leaves were different shades of a deep, brilliant red. Oak leaves turned into a leathery soft brown. However, maple leaves show a variety of different colors and patterns on each leaf.  
Elm leaf
I began my project by reproducing the singular color leaves. These were fairly easy compared to recreating the maple leaf.  The colors on the maple leaf are like painted blotches of color that flow into each other and no two look the same.  Imitating the color pattern was complicated and it would take me a while to get the combination of polymer colors to web and flow like they do on the leaves. With the addition of colored powders and colored liquid Kato, I was able to achieve the shades and textures I desired
Green Sweet Potato Vine
  Once the individual leaves were completed, I wanted to put them together so they would cascade organically. Making a piece of jewelry seemed too flat and one dimensional, Searching my work area for more  inspiration, the petit four cutters on my shelf called out to me and gave me the idea that small boxes would be the perfect for what I had in mind. One box could would look nice on its own but having three boxes would add even more depth and an additional dimension to the over all design. 
The three boxes worked out very well and I am happy with the end product. I hope you like them too. If you are interested as to how I made the leaves and the boxes, let me know.  I’ll be glad to give write down the instructions for you.
 Berries on round box are poly clay and twig.

Oak leaves. One is real, one is poly clay.
Berries are made with poly clay and
telephone wire.
Polymer clay maple leaf with colored powders and ink.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tormented Soul with Sunflower Hat

My grandmother taught me about ghosts. She shared a story with all her grandkids that as a child she saw the ghost of her dead sister come through the bedroom window, float down the hall and into her crying mother's room. She could hear her mother talking as if being comforted and after that night her mother never cried about her lost child again.  Gramme had no doubt about spirit world and expected us all to believe, too.

As I was creating jewelry for the celebration of the Day of the Dead it occurred to me how ironic and sad it would be for a ghost to travel through eternity with a sunflower on its head forever reminded of an existence in which it could no longer participate. Some ghosts can be a sorrowful lot caught between one world and the next but the despair of one ghost carrying just a touch of a living thing, a constant reminder of its in-between state seemed a particularly miserable and unjust fate.

My imagination got the best of me so I had to create with polymer clay the image of this tormented soul, burdened with a length of chain each link representing a terrible misdeed from its previous life, forced to float through the netherworld constantly reminded of what it doesn't have.

Tormented Soul is a light weight pin about 4 inches long by 2 inches wide. The pin back is gold and is 1.5 inches long. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Cindy Mickey Friedman!

Cindy Friedman Mosaicon
When I was 9 a new family moved into the house two doors down.  The Mickeys consisted of a mom, Trudy, a dad, Skip, three boys, Dave, Dan and little Rich, and a girl, Cindy. Within months, Cindy and I were becoming best buds. Although we were different in many ways, I was a tomboy and Cindy sewed Barbie clothes, we shared an interest in art, drawing and design.  Our lives continued to intertwine as we grew into adults and 48 years later, Cindy and I are still best buds. Although we've shaped very different lives we have grown together.  We are no longer just friends we are family. I can’t imagine my life without Cindy and I feel confident Cindy feels the same. 

The sun's features are molded from the face
of an antique bank.
    Many years ago, I shared with Cindy my enthusiasm for American folk art quilts and quilting.  She ran with it and now is an exceptional fabric artist, well-known in the Philadelphia area. As I’ve gotten involved in making jewelry and polymer clay art, Cindy has been my biggest supporter and promoter. This year I wanted to do something really special for her birthday.  I decided to make a Cindy Mosaicon based on the work of artist Laurie Mika. I constructed a mosaic of glass tiles and my own polymer clay tiles. For some tiles I used image transfer to show some of Cindy’s fabric art pieces. Other tiles were made with a variety of stamping, coloring and texturing methods. The sun compass represents our shared astrological sign, Leo, and Cindy’s travels around the world.  
Artist: One who professes and practices an imaginative art.
   To learn more about Cindy and her art, go to her website at  Also, if you are interested in creating a Mosaicon of your own, look into Laurie Mika’s book, Mixed Media Mosaics, Techniques and Projects.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ColorSmash Beads: Polymer Clay, Color and Maggie Maggio Part 2

At the end of my class with Maggie Maggio, I gathered together my leftover black/white canes and mixed rainbow colors used for my split ring bracelet.  In a rush I just smashed them together into one big lump of clay, wrapped it in Syran Wrap, threw it in my carryall with my tools and headed for home. A few days later, I pulled out my leftover clay with the intent of using it for scrap. I sliced it in half and what I saw was a great mixture of black, gray and white stripes mixed with blocks of color--way too cool to turn into mud. So I made what I call “ColorSmash” beads.  I cut slices of clay, wrapped them around wooden beads, punched holes and strung them with brightly colored rondelles to make a necklace, bracelet and earrings.  What fun. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Polymer Clay, Color and Maggie Maggio

Where's the Yellow?
I am a member of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild (PAPCG). In August the Guild held a class with Maggie Maggio, co-author of the book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. Maggie studies color and believes polymer clay is the best medium for exploring color.
    For the class we were asked to bring color clippings we cut from magazines.  First Maggie had us sort through our clippings, pull the colors we liked and put aside the rest. Then we created a collage of our liked colors based on value. Maggie showed us it is possible to make any color from three primary colors plus black and white. Using Premo the primaries we used were cobalt blue, zinc yellow and magenta.  We chose 4 or 5 colors from our collages and mixed clay to match.  From our mixes we made a skinner blend which we stretch to almost transparency. My skinner blend was made of the rainbow colors of yellow, orange, red, purple and dark purple.  Maggie had each of us lay our blends on top of black and white striped canes. Then we stretched it all again. Making long snakes with our striped blends we formed them into split rings to create split ring bracelets.  Although my skinner blend had shades of yellow and orange when you look at my bracelet you will see greens. What I discovered thanks to Maggie is that in the polymer clay world, when you add yellow to black you get green. Surprise! Black is really a blue. Who wudda thunk? I didn’t know.
    Although I left the class with a really cool bracelet, my real take away was in my head not on my wrist. I learned that before I start a new project I need to take the time to consider the colors I think I want use, mix and experiment with them first to determine how they work together and move forward from there. Maggie encouraged us to play with color. So the next time I’m just in the mood to smash around with clay with no real objective in mind it’s OK. I know now to make note of the new colors I’ve created in the process and not only have I relieved some stress, I’ve done color studies. Thanks Maggie!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My New Favorite Necklace

Add caption
I made this necklace last week and it has become my favorite item.  It started with the pendant I made from polymer clay mixed to look like ivory.  The pendant is impressed with a butterfly from an oriental stamp. The design is highlighted with gold and antiqued with burnt umber.  The vintage gold chain came from a local antique shop and I combined it with irregular-shaped colored pearls found at a local bead show. Added are a few glass crystals for some extra shine. It was if all the elements were meant to come together and the final product went beyond my expectations. It is elegance with a difference. I hope I find it a good home with someone who loves it as much as I do. If you are interested in assuming ownership this lovely piece, please go to my Artfire studio to complete the adoption process.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Summer Collection

Green Pearl with Glass Conch Shell
   The pieces I placed in my summer collection all have some connection to the beach and the ocean. I included four necklaces, a white pearl necklace made with irregular peanut pearls, a lovely green potato pearl necklace with glass blown conch shell, a crystal necklace that shines like the reflection of sunlight on the ocean,  and a glass bead and wire wrapped charm necklace because it includes shiny fish beads. Also I have a bracelet made with seashells from Jamaica, and I had to include Mr. Fish pin. See the collection at my ArtFire studio:
   OK, I have to admit that the only item made with polymer clay is Mr. Fish but sometimes I see beads and other things like the Jamaican seashells that just cry out to me. I just have to do what I have to do at the time.
   I now accept payment through Amazon.  If you have an Amazon account you can use it to purchase from my studio.  This allows you to use your credit or debit card.  I still accept payment through PayPal or by check or money order.