Saturday, 27 August 2011

Getting technical - linking blog with facebook and twitter

One of my friends was telling me about the other day, it's a way of making one post appear on your blog, facebook, twitter, Flickr etc. I had a brief look at it, thought it might be a good time saver but filed it into the something to have a look at when I've got time category. Anyone used it?

Today I finally got round to activating my NetworkedBlogs blog link, by putting their widget on my blog (see right down their at the bottom on the left). It does much the same thing. Now in theory this blog post should automatically be posted to my facebook account, my facebook fan page (which I still haven't really got my head round) and my twitter (which I have largely ignored so far). Anyone use networked blogs?

There are so many different places on the internet to share information and pictures these days it's hard to know which ones are worth bothering with. I still spend a lot of time reading other peoples blogs (I don't comment quite so much these days but I still read them), I love to look at peoples pictures on Flickr and I spend a few minutes everyday on Pinterest. I check in on Facebook now and then and I try and visit the Polymer Clay Central message board as often as I can becuase it's a great source of inspiration and help.

I have a lot of things on this Autumn so I am going to have to be disciplined (eek not something that comes naturally to me!) about my online time. Hopefully I can streamline it a little but still keep up with most of what's going on. What do you make time for? Any tips on keeping up with it all and still having a life away from the computer?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Polymer Clay Wedding Jewellery for my sister

I have been very busy helping my sister prepare for her wedding. My main job was to make wedding jewellery for her and her partner. They came down to look at the jewellery I had and chose what they wanted. Their wedding colours were brown and duck egg blue and I was able to match my polymer clay colours to their fabric colours. Their outfits had matching embroidery on and they wanted pendants with the same pattern.

When I sat down to make it I realised that it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought! I was trying to make the pattern by doing an inlay with the other colour but was having trouble making my carving neat enough that I was happy with it. I thought about making a big cane (if in doubt go back to what you are comfortable with!) but in the meantime had been playing with the faux wood and really wanted to make one of the pendants using that, too complicated to make a cane with faux woodgrain and a swirly pattern!

Luckily for me I was able to attend the London Polymer Clay Group meeting and was able to discuss my technical issues with lots of very skilled and helpful people including the wonderful Carol Blackburn and Christine Dumont, thank you ladies!  It was a great opportunity for which I am very grateful!

In the rush at the last minute (was also making rather a lot of cupcakes for the wedding) I didn't take photos of the jewellery. I managed to borrow it briefly to take some photos the morning after the wedding in a bright spot in the foyer. I'll get some proper photos taken when they get back from honeymoon.

Here's my sister Kirsty's jewellery

Her bracelet.  It start off as a simple swirly bead bracelet, but became a charm style one with the same beads as you see there but she didn't like the chain. This is what we ended up with and it is much more delicate looking than the charm style bracelet.

Her necklace, the same as the bracelet but much, much longer! Struggled to get a good photo. She was going to have a pendant originally but also wanted some crystals, this is a far cry from the starting point but I am pleased with how it turned out.
 Her tiara, a last minute decision after her trial hair appointment, luckily it wasn't too tricky!

 Here's me with my sister on the big day! (If I'd had more time I would of made a tiara for myself too ;)

 Her partner Heather's jewellery

This design didn't change too much from the original request. The main difference is the faux wood instead of just being brown. Once I had learnt how to do with faux wood I thought it would really suit the style of this pendant. I finished it off with a glass like shine from sanding and buffing and a little faux wood bead with some jellyroll slices on a chain at the clasp.

I had a lot of issues with that inlay, I tried a lot of different things, many of them suggested by Christine Dumont - thank you Christine! If I had had more time I could of played about with some of the other techniques and got them to work but I just didn't have enough time with the kids at home for the holidays. In the end this pendant was made carving in the raw clay, baking and then back filling with the duck egg blue clay (which was what I was doing but thanks to the suggestion from my clever friend Sean I lined the circle bit instead of trying to carve it - that was the bit I really couldn't get neat!) I had more issues in the last few stages, including sanding some of the pattern off and loosing it for about 20 minutes whilst it flew out of my hands whilst buffing! I wasn't 100% happy with it until I saw her wearing it - it looked fabulous on!

 Heather's bracelet. She wanted beads of different shapes, like some other bracelets I've made. I included some faux wood ones and some with flowers to match Kirsty's jewellery and lots of swirls as their embroidery was very swirly.
 Here's Heather and I on the big day. Her trousers were brown linen with the same embroidery along the bottom of the legs. The main brown of the faux wood matched that colour.

Congratulations to my lovely sister Kirsty and my lovely sister in law Heather! May you have a wonderful life together full of joy and happiness!

The journey to create this jewellery was a long and twisted one but I learnt so much along the way. I have many more ideas floating round my head, I just need to find sometime to play with my polymer clay!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

whisking up a birthday present

Here's what I made with that curling petal cane

 I bought a pink silicon whisk, it had a plain metal handle, I made it a bit prettier
and here's a closer view of the handle.

Happy Birthday Helen!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Curling petal cane

Here is one of my latest canes (sorry photo isn't the best, was in a rush). I have made it into a special gift for a special friend (I'll show you that next time). It's from a tutorial I bought and reviewed ages ago. I never made any more at the time as I had plenty of new tutorials to try out so it was nice to come back to it. It is a great tutorial, love the result! Thanks Zuleykha!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Keeping a pendant in place - tips

I get fed up when I am wearing a pendant on a cord and then I realise the clasp has twizzled round to the front and is distracting from my beautiful creation. I keep meaning to design some necklaces where the clasp is a feature but until I get round to that here's a couple of tips to avoid it happening.

Tip 1 - Add a little extension chain (which also makes the length changeable) to the jump ring the clasp clips too and add something to hold it dangling down, here a little matching polymer clay bead. You can buy ready made little extension chains but I find they are too light on their own and still twizzle. I just bought a length of chain and used a 3cm or so length.

Tip 2 - This idea came from Caroline Harvey, Beads from the Coast, you can see more images in her flickr gallery. You wrap a bit of wire around the cord in the centre and then poke it inside the bail. Wouldn't work for all pendants. I tried it on one of mine and once I got the thickness of the wire wrap so it fitted snugly in the bail it worked brilliantly. thanks for sharing the tip with us!

Tip 3 - Use crimps or knots to hold the pendant/beads in place. The pendant shown below has some little beads and crimps holding it in the centre of the wire, the weight of it stops the twizzling. I have done this with simple knots either side if on a couple of wide pendants if I am using cord. I can't find a picture of knots though but you get the idea I am sure.

If you have any other tips do let me know in the comments below, I am sure others would be keen to see them. Hope you can find a way to string your things so you don't end up showing of the clasp.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Latest jewellery - blue and brown pendants

 I am still busy making special things that I can't show you - yet. In the meantime here are a couple of new things I've made with some of the scraps from my secret project.

This was a birthday present for my soon to be (official) sister in law Heather.

This you might recognise as one of the projects from the new Julie Picarello book - Patterns in Polymer.