Sunday, December 20, 2015

Testing, Testing...

Well friends,  I'd like to start out this post by saying THANK YOU! to those who have left comments, and that I apologize for not being able to respond here.  I have no idea why that isn't working, but I'm looking in to it.  I do appreciate your comments and hope to be able to post responses as soon as I get this figured out.

And speaking of figuring things out, this post will be a test to see if I can edit and upload pics with this little netbook of mine.  I have had connection problems since I've been here in early November, and when I do get connected it hasn't lasted long enough to get much work done.  It never was intended to be my primary computer, and in computer ages (like dog years only they go by even more quickly) this thing is ancient.  But since it looks like I'll be on this thing for a while since I am in Tucson and my real computer is in New Mexico, here goes.

Now for the best news since my arrival - I'm announcing the birth of my newest granddaughter - Jubilation Lee!  Born 11/24 - a happy, healthy, beautiful girl! and here is my first picture upload test to prove it!

and the second test is a different file type - it's a picture I took of the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun here in Tucson when I went with my oldest grandson's class.  We had a great time and it was another beautiful day in Arizona!

Hopefully the uploading will work out, and I will post some more.  I need to get caught up with my Design Team updates.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prizes and Projects!

Two posts in one day.....because I want to remind all of you about the blog hop going on today with Gina's Designs and Creative Paperclay® 

There is a chance for you to win some great prizes (craft supplies!!!!!!!)

All of the design team members got a really awesome bunch of lasercut Halloween goodies from Gina's - I took mine to Tucson with me when I went for some events there, planning to do something with my grandsons when I came back the next time (because my studio is mostly packed up here in prep. for the pending move).  Unfortunately I got sick and didn't make it back in time for Halloween projects, so I don't have one to share.  Trust me though (or follow the link and go have a look for yourselves :) ) Gina's has some fun stuff

If you'd like some more Halloween projects, here are a few I've created on the blog and my site-

 Jack-O-Lantern Tea-Light Covers How-To
Jack-O-Lantern Tea-Light Covers How To

Cauldron Favors How-To

Quarter-Scale Pumpkin House How-To

Miniature Candy-Corn House

Scary trees (1:12th scale miniatures) How-To

Some small and large Halloween Props and more

Thanks for joining me again!  I have big hopes that we will get our move done before long and I will get my studio up and running - I'm really, really missing my creative space!

The Joys of Jack-O-Lanterns

Happy Halloween!

Unfortunately, this year I haven't been able to participate much in Halloween activities due to moving preparations and illness, so I'm just going to share a gallery of previous pumpkin carvings.  Wanted to do another "painting" this year but didn't get to it.  Hope you enjoy the carvings here, it's one of the other artsy things I love to do!

I hope all of you have a safe and fun holiday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Halloween Project with Creative Paperclay®

Looking for something fun to create for Halloween?

"Try your hand" at making one of these poseable skeleton hands and arms

Complete how-to directions are on the Creative Paperclay blog

It may seem a little daunting, but I had so much fun making this one!  I'd love to hear about what you've created for the holidays!

Not much else to post for the day, we are still trying to get ready for the has been a fits right in with the holiday ;)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Getting Back to Where I Once Belonged!

Things have been pretty busy here - my husband will be retiring in a few months and we are trying to get ready to move back to Tucson, Arizona.   I am a second-generation native of Tucson.  My grandparents settled there in the 1930's, and my mother, her two sisters and 4 brothers did a pretty fair job of adding to the population throughout the years.

Ten years ago, when Steve got a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory, we moved to New Mexico (it was only supposed to be a five year least that is all I agreed to, but, that is a story too long to tell).  I have missed my home so much, but at this point I'm also thinking about how it is going to be upon my return.  In the last ten years not only have both of my parents passed away, but most of my aunts and uncles and some of my friends are also gone.  I think part of me will have a very hard time getting used to Tucson without those people in it, it seems like there is already large parts of my home town missing.   I still do have many family members there though, and some I haven't met yet. I'm looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the ones I have missed and haven't seen much of - expect some dinner party invitations cousins!  Looking forward to visiting and hugging the many friends I haven't seen over the years also, some have been friends for more than 40 years!

Thankfully, I have been able to see my kids and GRANDkids "fairly often" though of course not nearly as much as I would have liked, and getting to hang out with them full-time will be the greatest joy of going home.

I've missed "my" mountains, cactus wrens, saguaros, monsoons, and so much more.  Tucson, my beautiful sunshiny desert---- I'll be home soon!


My Miniatures Come Full Circle

Way back in the 90's, after having found and re-joined the Tucson Miniature Society, I started making miniature animals.  I chose the animals of the southwest desert, and since we have hummingbirds year round in Tucson, I chose to try and replicate them in 1:12th scale.  It was a challenge, but also a lot of fun!  I also worked on creating other birds and animals familiar to my desert home.  People began asking me to sell the birds, and soon I had orders coming in.
This was my first print feature for miniatures -
Dollhouse Miniatures magazine 1998

After a year or so, I also had a dealer in New York representing my work.   Her contacts requested all sorts of animals, so I branched out in to creating many other types of animals.  I set a goal for myself; to become an Artisan and then Fellow member of the IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans) in the category of animal figures, and achieved that goal in 2001.  I really enjoyed the work, and put a lot of love in to each tiny creature I crafted, but also began to branch out into other areas of miniature making.  My husband and I began to create animated miniatures and I started working on expanding my skill set to include metal work, carving, etc.  After a while, I stopped making little animals and went on to other mini creations.

Last month, I got a special request from a customer who had seen my hummingbirds and was working on creating a special garden scene for her mom.  Who could turn that down?  I knew I still had a few finished birds and a few "blanks" (when I was producing more hummingbirds, I would carve the bodies in different sizes and leave them attached to the wood block for further work, since they weren't a specific species yet, I referred to them as blanks).

I pulled out the box with the hummingbird making supplies in it and set to work.  I actually ended up making 2 from scratch because one of the birds she wanted was a large one, and the other one wasn't carved in the position I wanted it to be.  I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to make more!  Alas, I don't have time.....but don't be surprised if the hummingbirds return some day!

Here are her little birds, ready to be sent to their new home.
from left to right - 1:12th scale broad-billed, Anna's, blue-throated, Costa's, and ruby-throated hummingbirds

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Three Worst Tools I Own.....and why I love them

Here they are, the three worst tools I use on an almost daily basis.  I think the two paintbrushes are almost as old as my children, who are in their 30's.  The bottom one was worn out as a paintbrush when I started using it as a texturing and joining brush for Creative Paperclay®.  It is PERFECT for that!  The synthetic bristles are just the right length and have exactly the amount of firmness needed to push the clay in to cracks and crevices for repairs and joining pieces.  It is great for blending seams together, and for creating textures such as fur and wood in miniature.

The top brush, with the outer bristles worn off and the bristles in a permanent curve is the most fabulous brush for adding tiny amounts of "slip" clay on miniature sculptures.  It holds the clay and the curve allows me to push or pull the clay where needed.  The ferrule has come off many times, but I love this brush so much that I glue, squeeze the ferrule back on, trim the handle, or whatever needs to be done to repair it.

As for the diamond file, it is a cheap import that came with a perfectly wonderful defect.  The end is ever so slightly bent, which I discovered is an amazing aid in wood and clay carving and sanding.  I can get just the tip under a section and clean out right under the carving lines, and can use the angle to get in just the right spots. The tape on the handle lets me know at a glance that this is the tool with the curved end, since I can't immediately spot it otherwise when it's in the case with the other files.

Someone coming in to my studio might think I should throw these worn out, defective items away, but the brushes are the first things I reach for when I take out the clay sculpting tools, and the file is my "secret weapon" in achieving tiny carving details.  I don't know what I am going to do when the brushes finally wear down to nothing or the file tip loses it's tiny curve, but I will seriously miss these long-time companions.

I've been on the lookout and searching through my old brushes for possible replacements, but so far, I can't find anything that comes close.....and as for the file, if you see a lady in the hardware store feeling the ends of the needle files to find the defective ones - say "Hi", it's probably me.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Heartfelt Words

My Design Team project for July is a journal cover with the words from one of my favorite poems.  For a complete how-to on making the faux ceramic tiles in the mosaic, visit the Creative Paperclay® blog

I'd like to share the poem here as well, and some other poems from a 1946 book that belonged to my mother "Best Loved Poems" -  She used to read to us from that book and we enjoyed so many of the poems.  These are the selections I chose for the journal cover; I hope you enjoy them also.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Creating with clay, new friends and new fun

I recently signed on for another term on the Creative Paperclay® Design Team!  The new term runs from August through January, and I've been very busy working on new projects for the blog.  I've been reflecting on the last six months as a team member - I've enjoyed it, and was excited every month to come up with a new project and share it.   I'd like to think some people have tried the projects and techniques, or at the very least, were inspired in their craft and art work.  The blog is a wonderful resource for both those new to clay and experienced users.

One of the best things that has come from working on the team is "meeting" the other members.  No, unfortunately, I haven't been able to meet them in person, but I feel I've gotten to know them a bit and have really enjoyed seeing their posts and chatting with them about using clay.  One of the members started a Facebook group: Creative Paperclay® Q&A so if you're on Facebook and have a question about Creative Paperclay® products, that's a great place to ask.

Another big bonus of my time on the team is that I have gone beyond my comfort zone with my usual clay (and I still love, love, love it!) and have become more familiar with the company's other product, Delight™ Air Dry modeling compound.  I've had so much fun trying to come up with different ways to use these two materials, and learning so much along the way!

I also realized, in signing the new contract, that I think I have been remiss in posting my projects here with links - So, here are the projects I've created for the Design Team - I hope you enjoy them! Complete instructions & patterns are on the Creative Paperclay® blog, so I've added the links directly to the project.  I'm looking forward to sharing more projects and soaking up knowledge from the wonderfully creative people on the team.

January Project - Inspiration Mobile

January Tip - "DO Try This at Home!"
keeping track of ideas and experiments - see tip

February Project - Conversation Hearts
photo holder  How-to

February Tip - Saving Clay
see tip

March Project - Crayon Art Jewelry

March Tip - Building a Mold Collection
see tip

April Project - Garden Gear Upcycle Hanger

April Tip - Free Craft Supplies
see tip

May Project - Fairy Lanterns

May tip - Work boards & Drying Panels
see tip

June Project - Mermaid Balance Toy

June tip - Make Your Own Tools
see tip

and now I've caught up with my first six months on the Design Team, and I'm all "fired up" for the next six and beyond!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Junk Mail Revisited

For my Creative Paperclay® Design Team tip of the month in April, I wrote about free craft supplies from junk mail.  Of course for that blog my posts generally involve things that relate to using clay, but here I'd like to share with you more things that can be done with junk mail.  The beads below may look a little bit like exotic sea shells, but they are really just the variety of exotic junk mail known as security envelopes.

paper from security envelopes, rolled and glazed with
black/brown acrylic glaze mix, then varnished

To make your own, all you need is a security envelope (or other paper of your choice), scissors, white glue, and a round toothpick (for small to medium beads, like the ones shown here, for larger beads you can use a bamboo skewer or dowel but will need to adjust the length of the paper strip accordingly to make the shapes come out well).

Simply cut out a strip of paper in the desired shape/width, then, starting at the large end, roll onto the toothpick.  Start gluing after you've gone around the toothpick a few times.  Finish with varnish, or paint as desired.  I've provided patterns, but you can just "freestyle it" and come up with some pretty amazing beads as well.

All of these bead were made from one business size security envelope - excluding large window!

When painting the beads or adding varnish, I use a home-made drying rack - paint one end of the bead, slide it onto the pin with the wet side up, let it dry, then turn over and paint the other side.

A simple drying rack can be made by pushing straight pins
through a piece of cardboard

Add extra cardboard to the sides and you can fold them over
for safe storage of the rack

Naturally, an envelope with a different pattern creates a different type of bead.
It's fun to see how the different types of security patterns turn out.

Any type of paper can be used to make the beads, interesting results can come from newspaper ads, colored envelopes, etc.  The possibilities are endless!