Tag Archives: holly kellogg

Home from Haystack

Last week at this time I was busy in the metals studio at Haystack learning a bunch of cool new things from Chris Darway,  like how to use an oxygen reduction flame to fuse 22 karat metal clay slip (PMC Aura 22) onto copper, and how to mix up “super pickle” to etch that copper piece to make the gold stand out even more. The demo of making bezel settings on stones by dipping them in PMC 3 slip, was genius! So is the whole idea of using Elmer’s Glue and flattened toothpicks to provide a handle to work with dried PMC pieces before firing in the kiln. There are so many ideas and images going through my head that I don’t know where to start.



I’ve not been back in my studio yet and I have to be okay with that. I am an introvert who has  just spent a whole week among people with almost no time alone to recharge. Ideally, I need at least an hour alone  to balance an hour of stimulation from being with people. Simply put, extroverts gain energy from interacting with others and introverts lose energy. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to be around people or go out in the world, it just means we have to find ways to reboot the system after we’ve been there, even among friends.

At Haystack it is ALL FRIENDS and ALL CREATIVITY all the time! It was a blast and I am so glad I spent the week there. My introvert/people energy may still need to be recharged, but my creative energy is brimming, spilling over into my quiet time in the form of sketches, poetry, and remembered images. When I make my way to my studio it will be with a smile on my face and a feeling of coming home to an adventure.

I’ll be posting an album of Haystack photos on my FaceBook page. If you want to see all of them just send me a friend request (if we’re not FB friends already). If you’re not into FB, that’s okay too. I’m going to post some of my favorites right here.

Our cabin: IMGP6711 IMGP6699

The metals studio awaits:IMGP6832


Demo of PMC slip bezels and Chuck’s version of the slip bezel setting:

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Copper clay is still not my favorite medium, but it was at least humorous…IMGP6725 IMGP6731

Random class photos:

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And one of my favorite additions to this time at Haystack: Holly Kellogg and I went for a 20 minute swim every single day we were there, at this sweet little beach. (It only looks warm. The water was still about 63º just like home.)

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Good bye until next time Haystack! IMGP6835 IMGP6720

It’s time to plant myself back in my own studio, and grow.


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Holly visits Maine and we extrude some polymer



Holly Kellogg and I met on the airport shuttle that carried us to the 2006 PMC  Conference at Purdue University. Over the years we have become good friends who like to learn new creative techniques together. Sometimes we attend workshops, and other times we just try to figure out what we want to try next when we visit each other’s studio. Hmm…what would it be this year when she had 5 days to come to the island with her son Evan and daughter Maia?

When in doubt, we get out the polymer clay. I planned ahead for her visit because I was fascinated with the idea of using an extruder to make thin canes of varying color that I think are called rainbow canes. (I’m confused about the terms “pixilated cane” and “retro cane.” I think they apply to larger canes of polymer clay made from combining these small thin extrusions.) All I know was that we wanted to extrude clay using the technique described by Cynthia Tinnapple in her Polymer Clay Daily blog. We wanted to see for ourselves how the stacks of color keep pushing through each other and changing as they are extruded through a smaller opening, but we didn’t want to wear out our wrists cranking the tiny handle of an extruder. I ordered the stainless steel extruder, adapter, and vise suggested by Cynthia, before Holly arrived.

It helps to read the directions when you’re doing something you’ve never done before.



We conditioned lots of polymer clay by running it through our pasta machines, then cut out circles of color the size of the extruder barrel and stacked them up. We thought we needed a different size hole for the end of the extruder,  so I quickly made a copper version using my disc cutter.

IMGP5260  Holly extruded the fist cane….




It works! (Though the cane in the photo below is actually one from our second day of experiments.)



We experimented with waxed linen between slices of polymer clay to see how it would handle curing. That way our test slices might be able to be used as jewelry components if they worked out.

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My cane slices could be made to slide quite easily on the waxed linen. Not what I had hoped would happen. Holly’s pieces did not slide quite as easily. She had used liquid polymer between her slices to see if it made a difference in holding the waxed linen.

On day two I used all translucent Pardo clay, tinted with alcohol ink, with silver leaf between each disc. I extruded through a small square shape.

IMGP5272 IMGP5275  A cured test slice of one cane I had wrapped with more of the blue translucent Pardo:

IMGP5285   Holly tinted Premo translucent clay with alcohol ink and alternated her translucent slices with light and dark solids. She used gold leaf between her slices.

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I love how the gold leaf seems to glow through the peach translucent clay in the upper left teardrop.

The time went all too quickly. Two morning sessions were just enough to whet our appetite for more polymer clay exploration. We were having too much fun to stop and take photos of it all. Here are two more test pieces, with beads added to the waxed linen before squeezing the two sides of polymer together. In my mind they would be earring components.

IMGP5288  The translucent segments show up a little bit in the finished earrings. What looks like a black stripe in the second segment from the top is actually the linen thread showing through the translucent part of the cane.

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First attempts at scratch foam texture plates

In March, my friend Holly sent me this link to Wanaree Tanner’s blog. I love learning about any technique for creating texture in metal clay and this idea from Wanaree is quick, clean, effective and inexpensive. If you are unfamiliar with her work, take some time to explore her site. You will be blown away by what she makes. I certainly am!

Holly told me not to order any scratch foam myself because she had just ordered more than enough for the two of us, from Dick Blick. We had it on our list of things to try during our one day studio get-together in April, but we ran out of time. She gave me a bunch of the scratch foam sheets to take home. I got around to trying them last week, starting with some simple earring designs. Thanks Holly!

I had my usual “I-can’t-draw-for-beans” paralysis when I tried to think of what to do first with the foam. You literally draw on the stuff with a ball point pen. The indentations will come out as raised patterns when you press metal clay into your foam texture sheet.

I plan to make a whole batch of saucer beads in silver, bronze and copper clay. I’ll be applying patina to the copper after it’s fired. The high spots from this kind of texture will show up really well against the patina background.

I was drawing a blank on ideas for the beads when I started with these earring designs. Probably the best thing I could do for myself, to keep moving forward, would be to make a bunch of large circles in my sketch book, and start making doodles within the circles. Eventually I’ll come up with the design I’m looking for.


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Beads took a back seat…

Where to start?  There were so many possibilities, it was hard to decide which direction to take. I really thought I was going to make some hollow  beads, but I lost interest quickly. Fortunately the translucent polymer clay needed to be conditioned and colored, and the mindless task of running it through the pasta machines opened our minds to using some copper wire as a form for the clay.

Holly worked with circles.

I went for leaf shapes.

Holly’s daughter, Maia, joined us and inspired us with some of her own ideas.

Neither of us knew that leaving an edge of clay around the wire was called a “shadow cut,” until Maia told us. Her design of the tiny beads inside the wire, with a shadow of  clay around the outside, was my favorite of the day.

Of course the day ended too soon, even though we worked into the night. We’ve taken workshops together, but this is the first time Holly and I have been together, in one of our studios,  just to bounce ideas off each other. We had a blast. We each ended up with some ideas about translucent polymer clay that we’ll continue to explore. Thank you my friend! I can’t wait to see what you make next. My own explorations will have to wait until after my visit with Susie in N.Y.


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