Friday, 31 August 2012

New ideas and old ideas

The other day I sat down with a colour palette created by Jeannie K Dukic for the Polymer Clay Collective Color Challenge.  Have you heard of the Polymer Clay Collective?  It’s a Facebook group for those who like to work with polymer and well anyone who enjoys polymer and wants to join in the exchange of ideas.  Jeannie started this group and it’s growing strong, won’t you come join us?

I thought I’d start with the greys. To my eye, or at least on my monitor, I can’t rightly distinguish Black Swan from Tricorn Black.  Take your pick I guess, it was my ground, my start I decided.  Looking at the blue of Distance, along with  Fun Yellow I thought of the polymer canes I had made previously for another challenge.  I was thinking I’d pull in the Jute Brown next, but I needed a bit more contrast so I moved to a lighter, sandier brown. 

But what to make, what to make… at a loss I just started creating colour in sheets and while I was mixing I decided I’d play around with an abstract landscape design.  At one point I ran out of horizontal space and had a thin long sheet of polymer in my hands with no where to put it down. So I stole the vase off my bookshelf! That reminds me, I should go pick up the artificial blue sweet peas I threw aside.


It’s a bud vase, pretending to hold a flower from my curtain here, and let me spin it around a bit for ya.

distant poppies vase

I was going for a mountain scape and playing with that middle ground and what I could create. I liked where this was going, this was the new idea, but what I had so far was too large for jewelry. I went ahead and cured the ones below before really knowing what I would do with them. But I think I have and idea.

mountain ranges

You’re going to have to use your imagination a bit.  I’m thinking the vase will hold a pen and the other polymer sheets I may curve and add to to hold business cards and maybe house a email sign-up or some such for my next show.

vase as pen holder

Now for the old idea. I love the idea of “best friends” type jewelry but I rarely enjoy the execution. I don’t want to walk around with what looks like half my pendant is missing.  I prefer an idea that is complete but part of a larger whole.  This is my take:

mountain range pendents

They match up precisely at the edges, but if you weren’t the owner of the other half, or a very observant third party, you likely wouldn’t know it was a “best friend” type of thing.  Friends are pretty great at sharing secrets and I think this one makes for a fun one to keep or share.  Now, here’s where I get into trouble. I have three lifelong friends, so I usually make things in sets of four without even thinking about it. I suppose this could easily be two sets but for now, I like how it looks as four.

I confess, I may not have lived up to the challenge entirely since I didn’t use any actual beads and my pendants don’t even have holes yet.  I did intend to make a necklace but I couldn’t find a thing in my stash to go.  But hey, close enough.  Are you interested in seeing what everyone else made? Please come check it out here.

Oh and please come back tomorrow and see the reveal of the Challenge of Travel!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Travel rocks!


These aren’t my own souvenirs, but I own them now.  I thought it was a great idea worth sharing.

Once again, I’ve derailed my own train of thought on how I would approach the Challenge of Travel. I have one bunch of stuff going on on the workbench already but somehow I just couldn’t resist this little bag of goodness at the thrift store today.  I went to dig through my goodies, that I’m being intentionally vague about, and discovered these little rocks.  They are all about an inch big and I just thought what a wonderful way to track your trip, especially when touring around.  It’s the wrong part of the world for my selection but I think I’ll find a little home for them to remind me to dream of far off places. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Art Bead Scene challenge, Homer inspiration

I shared an entry for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge the other day and I was thrilled to see it up on the blog Monday as a featured design. Since it wasn’t the original plan I had I thought I better hurry up and get my “real” entry done and show you.

Here is the Winslow Homer inspiration once more, so I can explain my thoughts.

I mentioned before how that glistening water really caught my eye.  It instantly reminded me of a polymer veneer I had in the works with silver leaf.  I retrieved that polymer and got to work reconditioning it, waking it up – if you will. I  took a blade to the sheet with a very loose hand and cut it into a whole bunch of undulating strips.  I layered these stripes over a freshly mixed marine blue to create my own shimmering waves.  [note this difference in “settled clay” versus “fresh mixed” is what creates the crackle and tear you see in the white section below. I think it’s probably important to note that those cracks are healed in the process, so the surface itself is totally smooth and strong but maintains the charm of the imperfection].

I also think you can’t help but feel the presence of the boat approaching from the left.   It gives a sense of movement with the sailor leaning forward as if to see how much room to pass by.  (I’m no art critic, this is just what I see intended or not).   This had me thinking of the shapes of the boats in the water and this was the starting point for creating the focal beads for my piece.


Do you see it?  Think of yourself as observing the boats from above.  I wanted to have a focal with that slight intrusion of second body moving towards that focal point.  Now a bead this shape is not meant to be at such an angle but with the joy of polymer I was able to create a channel along the top to secure it in that position, no flipping over – take that gravity!  Continuing on the nautical theme, there just had to be knotting, and I didn’t have any white rope on hand so I went ahead and made three white knotted rings of varying size. This is also where the pennants started, I think they add some whimsy.  There are three crystal water drops and another silk sail reference to round out this all marine theme. 

Here are more of the details of this necklace I think I shall call “when two ships meet”.

details of two ships meet

There was one other element I couldn’t work into this design without things getting crowded so I think there just may be a third and final entry this month! We’ll see.

Confession time

So yeah, about tomorrow…and how I told you fine folks I would have more to show off from my bead soup in time for the third reveal.  Well instead of actually finishing pieces of jewelry I made four or five more types of coordinating beads.  I sat down to create and still, one idea I had in mind – I hadn’t made the right beads for.  Story of my life. But the great news is there will be so much beady goodness going on tomorrow no one will miss me! Find the third reveal links here.  I do promise when the pieces are done I will be showing them off, it’s going to be a whole collection by the time I’m done.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Joining in on the Bead Fest Pity Party

I’m RSVPing to Heather Power’s Bead Fest Pity Party!

Now this party is full of all sorts of wonderful guests offering awesome deals you should know about.

Since I can’t be attending Bead Fest myself, nor am I sending my personal shopper like a little while ago, I’ll just have to make do with my own bead stash.  It’s pretty modest really but it is housed by the most beautiful Hamilton chase.  It was no beauty when I got it.  I’d show you the before pictures if they hadn’t been eaten by our last desktop, but imagine a whole lot of grime and assorted yuck.  Before I go further, I should really give proper credit as it was my husband who found it in the local used ads online and convinced the seller to give us an awesome price as he wanted to surprise me with it for our anniversary.  It wasn’t our anniversary, but it was one of the best gifts ever!

So back to the yuck, I wanted it gone.  Antiquers look away – I stripped it!  There was no way I was ever going to part with this beauty and it really needed to go back to bare wood, be re-stained (a tad darker to go with our stuff) and then protected by three coats of poly.  It took me weeks in our garage, balancing all twenty drawers all over the place, but it turned out beautifully.


It is in the darkest corner of our basement so a flash photo is the best chance to show you.  I decided too to show you the truth with it covered with all the usual junk.  Before you get extra jealous let me tell you it’s no where near full, that will probably be a lifetime pursuit. But I will give you a few sneak peeks.


A quick look in part of the pearl drawer, and you may see a few bits of tape around.  When I’m really on top of supplies there is a per bead price on the little strip of tape per section.

I had this idea about showing you my storage, when no sooner than I had the thought, I saw Lorelei Eurto showing off her new beauty.  I hope hers is nice and clean!  Mine, the filth was really stubborn so I had to come up with a work around.  Below is a half lined drawer.  When I first started filling it I wanted to be sure I could see the colours accurately as it’s in a dark spot, so I wanted a white background.  While paper would have probably done the job I chose white craft foam (by the roll) instead for it’s extra cushion. There are 1920 compartments in this thing (96 per drawer) so I’m a long way from done, I just add as needed.


I’m being a bad party guest since I’m supposed to be “busting my stash”.  For the sake of the photo I moved around some vintage Humblebeads from their regular home to close to some gorgeous lampwork I had bought for myself and some Marsha Neal Studio pendants… I think there may be something in the making!


I adore these humblebeads! They used to be in a necklace but it wasn’t quite right for me so it returned to the drawer. It’s funny but it seems that because I work with polymer I have a hard time creating jewelry with polymer made by others.  I feel conflicted about making anything to coordinate and then I feel conflicted if I am wearing a necklace I’ve made, but not the polymer beads themselves… I do make things complicated for myself don’t I!

Ready for another reveal?

*Looking for bead soup - it's here*

Are you ready to see what I created for Charming Peggy’s Link Challenge?

link challenge - Emma Todd

A necklace!  Yes, I seem to always make necklaces, but it was the right choice for these links.  The premise of this challenge was that Peggy would send out these acrylic links to twenty bloggers, challenging us to see what we could come up with.  In the end she sent ten sets of black and ten of this transparent tortoise shell you see here.

I had several ideas, involving wrapping one side with some irish waxed linen to either lash a button to the top or to create a fringe type effect, or, or, or.  I thought about doing some version of a Peter Pan type collar but didn’t have quite enough links to pull it off … please feel free to run with these ideas if you are inspired!

A Polymer Penchant link challenge

The links arrived apart and I dreamed up all sorts of ideas using them on their own (hello toggle!) but I couldn’t help myself I just had to start putting some together.  I made them all one string to see how long and ultimately separated them to three sets of five links and one of ten.  I was a bit nervous taking them apart again but they ease out pretty easily especially when you line up the slits.

The whole piece came together with some rich purple polymer beads that I highlighted with just a dash of copper pearlex.  I’ve been creating so many structured beads lately I just had to make some that were all about the squishing and pulling, very technical, I know.  Add in a little sari silk and some thrift rescue beads of appropriate scale and voila, necklace!  It’s nice and long to throw over your head and you can wear it a variety of ways.

If you like what I’ve created I invite you to vote for my entry on Peggy’s Blog

I’m excited to see what the rest of the group came up with
Ilenia Ruzza -
Shelley Graham Turner -
Tania Spivey -
Ambra Gostoli -
Kashmira Patel -
Linda Florian -
Jami Shipp -
Terri Gauthier -
Miranda Ackerley -
Mischelle Fanucchi -
Mary Govaars -
Sarah Goode -
Paula Hisel -
Shai Williams -
Jennifer Reno -
Kay Thomerson -
Denielle Hagerman -
Janeen Sorensen -
--> Emma Todd - <—This is me, thanks for coming!
Audrey BĂ©langer -
Michelle Andrade -

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

When is simple too simple?

*Looking for bead soup - it's here*

I actually had good timing this month for the ABS challenge.  I had a partially completed a polymer veneer and the inspiration piece sealed its fate.

That patch of sunlight reflection in Winslow Homer’s “Fishing Boats, Key West” was the first part to catch my eye.  I then soaked up all those blues (yay more blue!), the flash of red and darker crimson where the hull of the boat meets the water.  The first beads I made from this inspiration aren’t yet in a finished piece of jewelry so I will save those for next week.  So here is my second thought on this jumping of point.


Has the pennant/bunting trend passed? I don’t know, it’s been around for a while but you know I’m not over it yet.  I ended up with these fun pennant beads when I folded my “boats” in half – see it? 

Here is the flip side (slightly different waves)


This is when I start to wonder, when is simple too simple? Here is the part of the ABS rules that worries me:

***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply wire or cord will not be accepted.***

I feel I have designed with art beads, ones made by my hands, seven of them actually -- BUT they are strung only on a silk cord (my reference to the sail) and the only other component are the ebony wood beads at either end to keep all the beads on the silk (what’s a boat without some wood?).

I understand the reason for the rule of course, in it’s essence.  I thought about how I might change this design, but I really like how versatile it is without any additional beads or knotting of any sort.  This allows you to tie it up tight at chocker length with the tails down your back, or tie a bow and wear it to the side, or even tie like a lariat and have the pennants up one side.
 the maybe entry

I actually find it nicest a little higher up than in that first picture, and it does sit nicer than I’m showing on the far right, but you get the idea.  It’s light as air, can be worn at least six different ways (remember it’s reversible) so I think that’s designed, right?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you approach simple designs.  I’m going to go ahead and submit this entry and let the powers at ABS say yea or nay.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

It's time to get your fill of bead soup!

Hello, hello! Welcome to reveal day for the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party!  This is my first time joining in so if you’re new here I work with polymer as my primary media.  If you haven’t heard about the BSBP I’ll let the inspired and impressive Lori Anderson describe it in her own words.
Here is the beautiful and thought provoking soup that my partner Lois Moon de Padilla sent me

Isn’t that pendant, made by Tracee Dock incredible? She has similar palette/pattern pendant here and here as a brooch.  I love how it’s suggestive of a flower, but the colour of the “petals” could make you think of them as leaves.  I stayed in that vein, creating floral referencing polymer pieces to accompany my soup.  This is what I finally ended up with.


I say finally since I think this was one instance where I had too many ideas going on and this is the scaled back version, seriously.  I struggled with wanting to use more of the lovely selections from Lois all in this piece but “more is more” didn’t hold – frankly it just looked a mess and too busy with earlier attempts.  I ultimately played by the rules and used both the clasp and focal but only ten other beads from that whole bounty above. 

I created the three polymer components you see in teals, browns, and pinks.  It may be hard to make out in the dead on shots, but the mottled cafe-au-lait coloured parts are raised and hollow, to spare some weight (not that this is heavy be any stretch).  The recycled sari silk is so lovely to wear, and really helped simplify this necklace. Although I fought the idea for a while as too easy.  There is no wire in this, only the silk, waxed linen to tie it all together and “cotton suede” I used for the bail.  All this textile allows for easy movement with the length short enough not to interfere with scoop necks but long enough to just be seen as I look down.  That’s how we all measure necklaces right?

Time for some closer looks

bsbp petals

The little pink polymer petals are applied individually at the final stage of this multi-cured component.  Notice too there are three colour layers so you get some nice interest from the side.  I had never heard of cotton suede but I guess my local bead store has a moral objection to leather products.  It knotted beautifully and looks plenty strong.

bsbp clasp detail

Above is the close up on the clasp and a few of the beads Lois sent.  To the right, I’m pointing out that ribbed copper bead which is a minor detail here but really launched so much more.

ribbed mokume

That copper bead inspired the purchase of that vintage yellow bead, which is about an inch across, and that bead became the tool to create the texture you see on the polymer sheet on the left.  I used the resulting veneer to make the two pendants on the far right.  The process muted the colours so they no longer go with the remaining soup however I will be drilling a hole through one shortly to put on a simple sterling chain for my mum, for her birthday – today!

Ok if I didn’t lose you in that last photo hopscotch I have just two more.  Right now I kinda feel like the kid who picked out all the cashews from the mixed nuts and walked away… since I’ve only the one completed piece to show you.  But I have so much more in the pipeline with all the rest from Lois, and the rest I picked up on my shopping trip (I have a truly awesome plan for the delicas I just got frustrated and had to rest it a bit)

bead leftovers

These are going to come together with all the as-yet-unused beads I created from this inspiration

bead leftovers by me

Those ones in front on the left, did you guess yet where that texture came from?

So it seems my soup has regenerated.  I know, it was a big batch and I froze the rest to bring it out on a rainy day.  Really, I’m going to work with these bits and baubles and hope to reveal the rest say on the 25th tagging along with the third reveal.  I hope you will stop back then or consider following along since I’m sure I might change plans a few more times between now and then.

I’m glad I didn’t promise any brevity with this post, but they aren’t all such marathons.  Please be sure to check out my very creative partner Lois and all the other amazing participants (scroll down for the second reveal).

Lastly, I am so very thankful for the spark from Lois and the incredible fuel for the fire from Lori – how does she do it?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Finally Friday–count me back in!

It’s been a while since I joined in with Shannon’s Finally Friday challenge.  All the palettes from Design Seeds seem to be so inspiring – so as I’ve said before, I love that Shannon picks ONE to work from otherwise I’d be lost on that site for hours and hours!  Self-confessed blue girl that I am, there was no way I’d let this week’s selection get away

Here it is: door tones

I would love to walk through that door, but I’ll have to settle for it just entertaining my muse.  I had already created this “shutter” focal for a previous challenge and other coordinating beads.  They had sat in the same dish for these last months waiting to become something.  I thought of them as soon as I saw this palette.

Here is my interpretation

door with shutters

When I made those little cylinder beads with two holes I wasn’t quite sure how I would use them.  I work like this all the time creating different shapes and hole positions with no clue if it could be wearable.  Most of these experiments are just a product of squishing polymer and saying what if? I think this time though this works for me.  I don’t know what on earth to call them, they feel a little like ladder rungs in this necklace.  Rounding out the handmade by me polymer in this piece are the small rondelles then I’ve added Chalcedony, ebony wood, and a whole bunch of seeds.  It ended up quite long, but light as a feather. 


Please pardon the lint and gas meter – it was starting to rain so I was taking cover and hurrying.  I just thought it looked a lot better on.  Someday I’ll get the swing of taking nice pictures of necklaces, sigh.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Take two

Last night I sat down with my favourite coffee, tools I love, the perfect inspiring focal, and a few of the ten or so colours I mixed the other day.  With the mission of creating for my bead soup, I jumped right in!  I spent the night creating for the August ABS challenge instead somehow (navy and red).  My muse is oh so fickle.  Tonight, round two, only I’m missing my fuel.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Thrift store blog hop reveal!

Reveal day is here and I have one finished bracelet to show you.  I have plans for more but nothing else materialized in time.  Let’s go back to the top on this, Sarah Goode of Pookledo challenged us to make a piece of jewelry from a thrift store find for less than £1.  I told you about my find at $1.40 that just squeaked in, as a reminder here is what I started with


Since I work with polymer, my radar is always tuned to finding anything that will produce a texture so that was what initially drew me to this little link bracelet.  My first step was to use it whole to impress a stack of polymer (like a rubber stamp) to create a mokume gane effect.  I will have to share that with you another day as the resulting veneers of polymer haven’t been made into any finished form yet, just patiently waiting sheets of polymer. 

Let’s just skip to what I do have to share!

A thrifty bangle

Pardon the lighting differences, I missed the best times of day for a great shot.  I created those diamond shaped blue beads by impressing the polymer with one single link and then squishing from all sides to concentrate the texture.  I then used tinted liquid polymer to create a glaze on the top surface.  The bracelet came together with some other polymer beads I had made a few years ago that just happened to have the right shade of blue.  Throw in a few Swarovski pearls, seed beads and some memory wire and voila!  In the end I didn’t use any of my starting piece in the bracelet, oops.  Here’s what I’m left with


If you are a real detective you would have seen the original is made of ten links and there are only nine above.  One is tied up on my worktable in a stage of being partial covered in polymer, but I haven’t decided yet if it is done.  That link alone above will stay on my worktable for future patterns and textures.  That leaves me the two with the clasp and the remaining string which I may or may not break up for some earrings, still pondering that.  One plan I had was to tint the metal itself with alcohol ink but it was a complete fail so I have to embrace this metal tone, a stretch for me.
Thanks for coming by for a visit, I hope you hop on to see what everyone came up with from their thrift store finds

Sarah -
Deb -
Kimberley -
Skye -
Ambra -
Beti -
Emma - <--- you are here, thank you!
Shelley -
Tammie -
Leah -
Denielle -
Keri Lee -
Rochelle -
Pam -
Ingetraud -
Audrey -
Julie Anne -
Sharyl -
Micheladas -
Lo -
Kala -
Jo -
edit to add Dyanne -
Oh I almost forgot, there was one other thing I brought home with me from the thrift store that day for a whole $2.80

It’s not great quality, and it’s in rough shape but I really like how the top lifts and the two side pieces flip open  - like so


I’m thinking that with a little TLC it could become a great display piece for my next show.  Any and all ideas welcome since it’s been a month and I haven’t touched it yet.

Ok now get hopping!

Friday, 3 August 2012

The sweetest friday

Wow! Where did the week go? It was a busy one, but it ends today and brings on three weeks of vacation form my day job – hells ya!  We won’t be doing any globetrotting unfortunately, but it will be nice to have a break and soak up more of this great summer we are having.

I’m happy that I ended up with the second reveal for the upcoming Bead Soup Blog Hop, this means I have lots of time to play before showing off next Saturday.  On Monday I took hubby and Averleigh bead shopping with me to pick up a few beads in person.  Lois sent wonderful options but I just couldn’t help wanting to go look for what more I could bring to the table.  She does such beautiful work (check out her latest – gorgeous!) with the itty bittys I just couldn’t get it out of my head, I’ll have to figure out a way to bring them in to the mix.


I missed Finally Friday over at Shannon’s blog – again. But just look more gorgeous blues for next week, courtesy of Design Seeds

Come on back tomorrow for reveal day for the Thrift Store Blog Hop!