Monthly Archives: October 2011

A little afternoon squall…

…as we unloaded groceries at the Islesford Town Dock.



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                                                  I’ve just spent four (4!) days in a row in the studio. This fall has been so full of other things that it seems like forever since I’ve been able to work for four days straight.  It was total bliss. I’m getting ready for my third annual visit to Val’s in a few weeks, along with finishing up some other commitments.

The recent bead show in Ellsworth was a blast and I learned a lot from the experience. I sold very little jewelry that weekend, but I did watch many of my little packages of beads head off to fresh new creative homes. It was a great way to clean my studio of the beads I no longer use, while offering bead buyers some great bargains. I would definitely do it again.

Is it just me, or is this fall whizzing by  much faster than usual?


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Thousands of beads and a show in 4 days


If you are going to be in Ellsworth, Maine this weekend, stop by at the Ramada Inn (old Holiday Inn) and check out the talented company I’ll be keeping at the Beads Baubles and Fleece Downeast show!

This is going to be a great opportunity to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while, and to see what they’ve been creating lately. It is also a chance to de-stash my own studio a bit as I offer some beads I haven’t used in a while.

Once upon a time, before PMC was invented, I made a lot of my own polymer clay beads. I created colorful canes to slice fire and drill so I would have plenty of 8 to 10mm  beads to use in multi-strand, multi-colored necklaces.


I like all kinds of beads, but I love making my own beads to use in combination with others. For many years these Fimo beads fit the bill. I could make canes and slice them into beads all day long. I made many many necklaces with them. Then, in 1998, Fred Woell introduced me to a product from Mitsubishi Materials known as Precious Metal Clay. I learned to make beads from silver that started out as a moldable metal clay. Once the “clay” was fired, and the binder burned away, I had beads of pure silver. Eventually I said goodbye to the polymer clay, and stored my many handmade beads high on a shelf in my studio.

Once in a while I would get a request for a beaded necklace like the one above, but the beads mostly stayed out of sight and out of mind…until I applied to the Beads Baubles and Fleece show. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what someone else might do with my beads if they were for sale. I dug out the boxes of Fimo beads and I was shocked at the number I had put away. There must be thousands. (unfortunately, some of them were never drilled so I still have some work to do before selling them.)

These boxes represent hours and hours of work. I have no idea how to price them, but I will come up with a plan before Friday. Bruce suggested selling them by weight, using a scoop. It sounds like a pretty good idea.

I will also have some jewelry for sale at my booth, though I’m running out of time to finish more necklaces. I’ve never sold beads or components before, but it’s an idea I’ve had in the back of my mind for a few months since I like to buy beads and components from other artists on Etsy.  I enjoy making beads so much, I wonder what it would feel like to stop at that point and sell them, rather than work them into necklaces or earrings.

As I get ready to sell beads I’ve made, and an assortment of other beads I bought but haven’t used in a while I’m thinking:

What if I have the prices too high and I can’t sell them? What if I have the prices too low and I piss off other sellers at the show? What if I sell beads I really like and then wish I had kept them? What if I sell everything on the first day? What if I sell nothing in two days? What if my display looks cheesy, tacky, unprofessional?

What do you know? My insecurities about selling beads at a show are the same insecurities I have about selling jewelry at a show. Only this time I’ll have both beads and jewelry for sale. It’s time for me to remember that I’m not the only one who feels this way before a show. Maybe I could just lighten up and decide to have a good time no matter what. But first…I have a few holes to drill….




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One week ago…

…it was all about the polymer clay. At Celie Fago’s mokume bracelet workshop in Vermont. I should have posted a lot sooner, but I feel like I am still catching up.

Making the billet for the mokume slices involved mixing a few different layers of translucent color.

The billets were made with several layers of translucent polymer, separated by sheets of metal leaf, ending with a layer of pearl white and then black. Then it was time to press tools into the clay, carrying the black from the top layer down through the translucent layers.

Next, the layer of black was removed, with a tissue blade, to expose the translucent mokume layers below. Holly’s colors above made me think of s’mores.

The colors and patterns show up as a surprise, as the thin layers are harvested from the billet with the sharpest of tissue blades. The slices are placed on a  layer of translucent clay, then  fitted to a bracelet core and pressed on carefully to be sure the long seam butts together.

My bracelet, straight out of the oven, will need some serious polishing with various grits of wet/dry sand paper. Then it will be polished with a muslin buff allowing the depth of layers to show through.

This photo does not really show the subtle change of color in the bracelet’s layers. This bracelet is quite a bit larger than something I would usually wear,  but I will definitely try the mokume technique again. It will probably show up on beads or on polymer inlays for other silver pieces, or who knows where?  On the next attempt I’ll use translucent colors that are not quite as closely related.

With any  new technique, I usually find the first piece to be one I would like to bury somewhere. Especially in the case of this piece since a large part of it was burned in the oven (unintentionally.)

This will hang around my studio for a while, as a reminder that I have a new technique to master. I won’t pick it up again until probably after Christmas, but the whole time it sits inactive on my bench, my brain will be taking in ideas to try when life slows down in January.

The class was comprised of 9 students. All but two of us had worked with metal clay before. All of us wanted to know more about polymer clay. We did most of our metal clay work before starting the polymer.Which meant that 7/9ths of the class was in their comfort zone, and were perfectly willing to share and teach what we knew about metal clay when our 2 friends got stuck. We knew that on the following day, with the polymer, we would be out of our comfort zones and need some polymer advice.

Here’s what happens when metal clay people get together for a polymer clay workshop. The metal clay portion of the class explodes with work because we are all so happy to know what we are doing! Previous classes have made many less PMC  pieces. Everyone was prolific in this class. Even the beginners who found their comfort zone pretty darn fast!


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