Monthly Archives: January 2012

Look what came in the mail today!

I wish I could find glass like this from a simple walk on the beach. Thick, rounded, and well tumbled by sea and rocks; matching the size and shape of the beach rocks I love to collect. But, I might take 4 walks on the beach and only come up with one piece like this in either a white or sea foam green. Most of the glass around here is a spearmint green, or brown, and much thinner, and less well tumbled. None of the pieces in my necklace from yesterday have a smooth rounded shape, even though I’m still happy with how it came out.

Check out these beauties. I could look at them for hours.

Lucky for me there are collectors in England who have a chance to visit the beaches along the northeast coast, near where old (1800’s) glass bottle factories would collect glass waste at the end of the day and hurl it off the cliffs into the North Sea. Most of these pieces are at least 100 years old.

And they are the perfect size, shape and color for some new necklaces I have in mind.

Looks like I better order some fresh drill bits and get to work.



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Today’s mix

The necklace I worked on today is a combination of  handmade lampworked beads, (bought from *artists on Etsy) local beach rocks, my own fine silver PMC beads and some local bits of sea glass.

Lampworked beads by Sue Kennedy and Leese Mahoney.


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Mixing it up

With some of the beach rock beads and glass beads from yesterday.

The hollow rock beads, of fine silver PMC, are from a batch of beads I made a few years ago.


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A good day for beads

I never did get on the mailboat this morning. I played it safe and stayed home when I started feeling like I was coming down with some kind of bug. I slept and read for the morning and found some energy to work in the afternoon, turning a dumb day into a productive one.

It was easy to feel inspired with ideas when this package of beads from Leese Mahoney arrived in the mail.

I imagine combining some of the “earthy” rough textured beads with some of my own beach rock beads. I finished up a batch of drilling I had started last week, and waxed and buffed the beach rocks.

Holly Kellogg asked what the polymer clay swirl beads looked like after they were fired, so here are two photos for you, my buddy Holly!

Buffing the beach rocks with a muslin wheel got me wondering about buffing some of the polymer beads. I already had a clean (no polishing compound) buff for the rocks, why not try it on the translucent clay to see how it changed the appearance? The photos below are late afternoon shot, done in a hurry, but they show the difference between the un-buffed beads (top row) and the buffed beads (bottom row).


The copper beads I covered with translucent clay were among the most disappointing when I first fired them. After buffing them with a muslin wheel, I really like how they look. Especially the beads with a little white beneath the translucent salmon. When an experiment changes from something I would not bother to repeat, to something I can’t wait to explore further, that’s a good day.


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Adding to Etsy

I’ve just uploaded a few new things to my Etsy shop, check it out!

If I didn’t have to go off island (again!) tomorrow, I would stay up later to add more.


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As part of my translucent clay experiments, I embedded bits of hammered wire and opaque clay between rolled layers of translucent clay. The layers were rolled to #3 on my pasta machine.

Discovery: Unless using the wire in a mechanical part of the design, it seems a waste of metal to embed it.  Especially when using silver.

I was much happier with the look of pearlized white clay beneath a translucent layer, as in the round beads at the top of the photo below. To me the dots and lines show  up well, and the pearlized white clay resembles silver, or what I hoped the silver would look beneath the translucent clay.

The beads in the lower part of the photo are copper beads covered with a layer of translucent clay  tinted with “Salmon” colored alcohol ink. I was surprised at how the salmon color seemed to disappear when layered over the copper. In the mid-left of the photo are more copper beads covered with a layer of blue tinted translucent clay. It looks more purple than I thought it would.

Earring components from a random mix of green and blue alcohol inks. I’m not sure what this color would be called, but I used it as a base for the earring pieces. I made a design with black and white and added a very thin layer of the grayish green translucent clay on top. (I’m pretty sure this was Premo clay because I could bend these pieces almost in half without then breaking or cracking. The Pardo pieces were firmer after firing.)

As an experiment, I liked the way they came out. By chance, I think the smokey greenish color will mix well with silver findings. But, I really am at a loss when thinking about mixing color. I have no art background, so a color wheel memory is not readily available to me. (I think a little color wheel on the wall of my studio would be a good aid to my polymer clay experiments.)

Below, I placed a white unglazed ceramic disc between two layers of Pardo translucent clay. With the milky aspect of the clay before firing, I had no confidence about this turning into an interesting bead. So, I only made one. (duh, not thinking)

The disc bead, after firing, was a pleasant surprise. I plan to make more of these in a variety of translucent colors.

Imbedding? Embedding? As a “wordsmith wannabe” I had to determine which word is the correct one to use. Like Pardo and Premo translucent clay, either one can be used.  Both are correct. The choice is up to the user!



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Playing with polymer

After checking out the recent blog of my friend Holly Kellogg, and her reference to the polymer clay work of Katrin Neumaier, I decided to get out some of my own translucent Premo clay from last fall. I also ordered some translucent Pardo clay, inspired by Katrin’s incredible pieces. Holly blogged about some of her trials and errors with the Pardo, so I decided to try alcohol inks for tinting the translucent clay. It had been at least a few months since I worked with polymer clay, so I warmed up by fooling around with some simple beads. It took most of the first day just to condition the different clay colors I wanted to use, including some opaque colors.

I tried covering some mother of pearl beads and some copper beads with the mix of clays.

I can’t say I’m too fond of the “Citrus” ink color. It reminds me of pee. (well, post-vitamin pee maybe)

The lighter green also disappeared when layered over a copper bead. I was happy with some of the beads, so all in all it was a good warm up.

I stopped back into my studio, before bed on Monday, to get a feel for what I would try next. I draped some thin translucent clay over a metal form, to give it an unusual shape, and ended up with a sticky mess. But I also ended up with some midnight inspiration. Though it was really late, I started sketching…

Don’t you love it when you can’t wait to wake up in the morning to get going on a new idea? I filled my day in the studio with systematically mixing alcohol inks with two kinds of translucent clay;  Pardo and Premo. I made similar earring components with embedded copper wire and pieces of silver, brass, and opaque clay. I couldn’t wait to see how they differed when fired. They sure handled differently. Premo is much softer and easier to condition. It looks more translucent in its pre-fired state. Pardo is crumbly and annoying to condition and it is more opaque in its unfired state.

For each earring I rolled the clay to a #3 on my pasta machine.

Before firing:

After firing:

(I quenched all the pieces in ice water, just out of the oven. I tried to get them back into their positions on the tray for reference.)

Holy Pardo Batman! There really is a significant difference between the translucence of the two clays.

This is the first time I have used alcohol ink to tint clay. I was pretty relieved to see the Pepto Bismol pink turn into more of a salmon color, and the blue turn into less of a milky purple.

I learned a few more things from this batch that I will blog about later. I’m headed for bed and a day off-island tomorrow.



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A whole day in the studio!

And no photos to show for it.

Yesterday, I combined different brands and colors of polymer clay together, working with a variety of green colors. I  hoped to get a layering effect with some of the translucent clay.  The colors were darker than I expected after firing. Some of the pieces I expected to be translucent were not.  I used mostly Premo yesterday afternoon, and one of the alcohol inks I used was a citrus green. After I fired those beads, the light green clay looked like pee!  I have forgotten a lot of what I used to know about polymer.

Today, I decided to get a little more organized. I kept the Pardo translucent separate from the Premo translucent. I tinted each one with the same color ink. I made similar earrings to see how the two clays differ. I haven’t fired this batch yet, so I’ll wait to do that tomorrow and take more photos then. One thing I do know, I like the feel of the Premo translucent clay  much better than the Pardo. Pardo was dry and crumbly, and took much longer to condition.

In the meantime, I’ll post some photos of lobster bait at the Cranberry Isles Fishermen’s Co-op.

I know. It’s pretty random.

Redfish racks. Yum.

Some bait gets so old, it can’t even be given away!

And some bait gets left behind, unintentionally.



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Deciding what not to make

Today I got out some polymer clay so I could experiment with translucent clay and alcohol inks. I wanted to make some beads and earring components to combine with silver, but I didn’t have a definite plan in mind.  I spent a good part of the afternoon just conditioning different colors of clay, and I kept getting interrupted by phone calls. (The kind of calls that involve follow up phone calls, like trying to find out the wheel chair accessible van schedule, so I could then call back and make an appointment for a follow up visit with one of Mom’s doctors. It all came together pretty well, as far as rearranging my own appointments and my mother’s appointments.)

Actually it was surprising how things worked out in a way I could not foresee, even though it wasn’t the afternoon I thought I would have.

Last year, in the spring, I went to the Museum of Arts and Design with my friend Susie when I visited her in New York. I had been wanting to see their jewelry collection, and the exhibit,  A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry, sounded like it could be interesting. It was. Even though most of the pieces were things I would never wear, they were fun to look at and the execution was fascinating. They made sense to me, as art.

However, there were a few pieces that just made me think, “Are you serious?” In trying to find something positive, I will say that the pieces balance well.

Even with a lovely explanation of the artist’s intent, I thought to myself, “Really? Uncomfortable jewelry for the sake of it being uncomfortable so we can talk about it?”  (I don’t want to even know what she means by “other mysterious waste materials…vaguely repellant…”)

Maybe it’s not so bad that I didn’t have a definite plan of what to make this afternoon.


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Yay for the early boat ride home

I’m glad I pulled in at the dock in Northeast harbor before I gave Brenda a ride back to her house. My timing was perfect to get a ride home an hour earlier than the regular Sunday ferry. Thank you Ted and Jeri! There were 9 of us headed home on the Hope.

Coming into the harbor, the Islesford Dock Restaurant looks cold and empty in the off season.

My brother, Steve, arrived for a two day visit with our mom, yesterday. I went to meet him as he came back to the island on the regular 3:30 boat. When I saw the sky looking like this, I kicked myself for leaving my camera at home. I almost never go out the door without it in my pocket.

Lucky for me, Steve knew right where his camera was, and let me borrow it.

Home sweet home.



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