Thursday, 31 December 2009

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda - Happy New Year

I'd just like to wish you all a very happy,
healthy and creative 2010 - or,
as we say in Wales -


I'll drink a toast to you all at midnight. Chink chink.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Perfectly clear

I signed up for a swap called 'perfectly clear', where I had to make an item which incorporated a clear element. I made a votive 'shade' by stamping on 2 pieces of acetate with several shades of Brilliance ink. I used acetate recycled from Christmas card packaging, but you could also use transparencies suitable for lazer printers, the acetate just needs to be either reasonably heatproof or stiff enough to stay clear of the candle flame.

I used 4 eyelets to hold the acetate pieces together. I included a clear tealight/votive candle holder, which can take either a real candle or one of the small battery operated votive candles.

It does have a wintry theme, and makes snowflake patterns all over the wall - maybe my swap partner will like it enough to bring it out each Christmas!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Green & gold Friendly Plastic mask

My step daughter asked me if I could make a mask similar to the one I had made for my daughter:

but in greens.

A mask takes between 3 and 4 sticks of Friendly Plastic, so I checked my stash and found 2 iridescent green sticks and 2 gold. I cut one of the gold sticks in half and then cut each half lengthwise into 7 strips. I did the same with one of the green strips.

I have a paper mache mask form, which I covered in aluminium foil, so that the Friendly Plastic wouldn't stick to it.

I then set my melting pot to 140 degrees and filled it with water. I dropped a gold strip into the water, coloured side down, and after about 10 seconds I fished it out (using a wooden handled pointy tool), and laid it onto the mask form. I repeated with all my gold strips, until I had my mask base. I pressed the pointy tool into each joint as I worked, the joints are what holds the mask together and I wanted them to be as strong as possible.

I topped up the water, and repeated the process using the green strips, overlapping and joining onto the gold strips as I went.

Next, I put a green strip onto a piece of non stick craft sheet and heated it with my craft gun until soft. I pushed a cutter into the Friendly Plastic then dropped the craft sheet, plastic and cutter into a bowl of cold water. After 10 seconds I took it all out, removed the cutter, peeled the plastic off the craft sheet and used sharp scissors to separate the shape I had cut out from the plastic. I repeated with the green and gold until I had 6-8 shapes of each colour.

I heated the centre of the mask with my heat gun, just enough to make it tacky, then laid a shape at top centre, and continued heating until I could see the shape was soft. I pushed into the shape with the end of the pointy tool - this gave a 'crease' down the 'petal' and also pushed the shape firmly into the layer below, making a strong joint.

I repeated with more heat and more shapes until the mask was finished. You need to be careful not to apply too much heat at once, or the mask will melt so much that it loses definition and oozes off the foil...

Once happy with the mask, I left it to cool on the mask form for an hour or so, then just popped it off.

All it needs now is elastic!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Stampbord triptych

Trizzy sent me a stampbord triptych a couple of months ago, and I loved the idea, so I made this one to give as a Christmas present.

I took two of the 2 x 1 inch pieces, drenched with water and zapped with a hot heat gun until they bubbled.

I used fluid chalk inks to colour the bubbled pieces and a 2 x 2 inch piece, then stamped images using Chapel Road stamps and Stazon ink.

I scraped and scratched here and there, but you can hardly tell as when I added a layer of glossy accents to seal it and give it a shine, the ink dissolved just enough that the scratches disappeared!

Finally, I added tiny hinges, and coloured the edges and hinges with a brown Sharpie pen.

Copper & agate brooch

Remove formatting from selection
I had some 16 gauge copper wire to play with, and decided to make a brooch as a Christmas gift. I had an agate heart which had a pre-drilled hole of about the right size, so threaded that onto the wire. I used round nosed pliers to bend the wire into the shapes I wanted, then used a chasing hammer to flatten all the bends, which stiffens the piece so that it holds its shape.

I hammered and flattened the end into a point, and used much finer wire to wrap around the bottom of the brooch to hold the last curve of the wire in place. Thankfully the recipient likes it!

Friday, 20 November 2009

My new play space

Well, I've finally moved out of the dining room into a proper play space. I'm not fully organised yet, so please excuse the messy piles of stuff here and there!

This was once a bedroom, and is still the spare room if/when we have a house full, as the sofa is a fold out bed. To the left of the sofa is the filing drawer unit that I store my unmounted stamps in. To the right of the sofa are the iris carts which were almost the whole of my storage space in the dining room.

But now I have cupboards... no curtains yet, but lots of cupboards!

And spaces on top of cupboards and underneath cupboards... the cupboards were once a mini kitchen which is no longer needed, so we moved them in here. We had to buy new worktops as we've organised the cupboards differently, but we managed to find a cheap worktop at a bargain price.

I have invested in lots of plastic boxes so that I can organise things in the cupboards, but a number of them are empty as yet, as I haven't sorted everything out into its final home yet. I m determined to be properly organised, and have even started putting labels on the boxes so I know what's in each of them. I've already used one dymo cartridge and need to buy another to carry on!

I bought a spice rack for the inside of a kitchen unit, and then had a 'eureka' moment, as I realised that fitting these to the inside of these cupboards would be perfect storage for my embossing powders and colourwash sprays and would be really easy to see the colours.

I'm not sure what the best things to out in drawers are, but for the moment this is my metalworking drawer:

This one's full of napkins and glue guns:

and this one has some of my beads, brayers and non stick sheets. No, I'm not sure about the logic, either!

Because there is actually somewhere to put everything, I am pulling boxes out, using the things I need, then putting them back into the box and putting the box away as I work, so hopefully this room won't degenerate into the dreadful mess the dining room was. Things just piled up on the table there until they reached avalanche point, and slid off the table, at which point I had to try and clear and sort everything. And I could never find anything!

Apart from finding places for the last few piles of stuff, and adding more labels to the boxes, the only things that need to sort out are curtains, the lighting, and the power supply. This room is much lighter than the dining room was, but when I am working on the worktop am standing between the light and my work. The desk lamp helps, but is not enough. We have got some spare lights that fit under the wall units. All I have to do is persuade the man in my life to install them... As for the power supply, I have a double socket next to the sofa, and another in the corner of the room above the worktop. I am right handed, so I either have to use the tools which need an electric supply on the small section of worktop near the window, or use them on the longer piece with the wires getting in my way. I think I'll run an extension lead under the units to somewhere near the door. Makes sense to have another couple of sockets anyway!

It's lovely to work in here, and what's nicer, it's a quiet room at the back of the house away form the traffic noise, and the window looks out over my lovely garden! Oh, and there's a bathroom next door, so carrying water is never going to be an issue!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Friendly plastic mask

My daughter is going to a masquerade ball next week. She was going to go shopping for a burgundy and gold mask, to go with her dress. I said I was sure I could make something unique for her instead, and this is what I came up with:

I took a blank mask and covered it in tin foil. I cut thin strips from a gold FP stick, and softened them in water, then used a pointed tool to lift them out of the water and lay them randomly onto the tin foil covered mask. I bent them so that each strip changed direction a couple of times, and made sure they crossed over and joined onto other strips. Once I had a reasonable base, I started cutting strips off an indian red strip, and added those to fill some of the gaps and add strength. When I was happy with this base, I heated it with a heat gun to make sure all the joints melted together. I then took some short red strips and warmed them in the water, and added them to the mask, folded in half, so that both ends were joined to the top edge.

I laid a gold strip onto a small piece of non stick craftsheet and melted it with a heat gun, then used a 4 petal cutter to cut a 'flower'. I dropped the FP and craft sheet into a bowl of water to cool, then made lots more petal shapes in gold and indian red.

I dropped the 'flowers' into the hot water to soften them, then attached them to the mask, trying to spread them evenly over the 'ribbon' framework, and ensure a balanced mixture of gold and red. It's quite sturdy, but nicely lightweight. And my daughter can be certain that her mask is unique!!!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Some spammer has found the time to write spam comments on old posts on this blog. Why do people do this? Where do they find the time? Anyway, as all comments are moderated, you will be spared the details of this spammer's body parts and sexual innuendo and practices. Be thankful.

Sadly, it has made it more difficult for anybody else to make comments now as I have had to change the settings so that anonymous peple can't comment, and you'll also have to do the word verification thing from now on.. sorry!

Monday, 9 November 2009

More beading

If you are in a Christmas present swap with me, and like surprises, you may not want to read this blog post..... don't panic, the pictures are a long way down...

I have been cutting & beating metal, which I find particularly satisfying for some reason....

Here's a photo of me (very rare!) bashing some metal:

And once the metal is cut, filed, beaten, punched and riveted, it needs embellishing...

In this post there are some pictures of the Beads on Metal pieces I have made recently. Each uses a different Beverly Gilbert bead soup mix . Beverly taught me how to make these Beads on Metal pieces, and I love the technique, but also know that Beverly's bead soups are really so luscious that the they make these pieces extra special. Beverly also has a new book out, 'Beaded Colorways', published by North Light Books, and I am tapping my fingers and toes waiting for my copy to arrive, as she tells me she has shared all her secrets inside!!!

Anyway, back to the artwork - and I have been testing my new camera taking these pictures, which are nowhere near perfect - I'm getting about a 50% success rate on the close up shots (old camera was about 30% success) but really need to keep a photo notebook so that I can remember which settings I took particular shots in, and in what order! It's hard photographing all those shiny bead and metal surfaces, particularly if the camera wants to focus on a different part of the image than I do....

In this pic, the camera really liked the bottom right hand corner - I knew it wanted to focus there but didn't know how to change it's mind LOL. I wanted it to focus on that big bead, which is where I was aiming at through the viewfinder...

In this pic, it focused where I wanted it to, but not quite as well as I wanted it to, and there really aren't and pink beads in the piece - they are a lovely purply wine colour...

This is better, but could be sharper...

I didn't light this one well enough - think daylight works better!

This is probably the nicest piece, I should have taken the picture from a different angle to show off the big beads!

I tried a minimalist style here, as far as the beads are concerned, and a wriggly hammered wire piece rather than a hole and jump ring, and I quite like it!

Still quite minimalist, but with a few more beads.

This one looks stunning in real life, I haven't caught the colours at all well.

I am making 15 pendants in total, so will post pics of the others when I have finished.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Beads, beads, beads

During Beverly Gilbert's 'Wander with Colour' class, I almost finished one necklace in freeform netting, but I also wanted to learn how to do freeform peyote, so I began a freeform peyote necklace too. The first necklace wanders from turquoise through teal and green to chocolate brown, but I chose autumnal colours to wander through for this one.

I have been beading for days, and have finally finished it (I think! My beading needle broke and I took that as a sign!). I reckon it's been about 25 hours of beading, and I will not be giving it away or selling it - this is a heirloom piece as far as I am concerned! You can see more detail in this picture.

I would never have picked up a beading needle if I hadn't seen Beverly's wonderful work, and been inspired to take her classes, so - THANKS Beverly (I think!).

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cory Celaya

I took a fabulous class with Cory Celaya in Arizona today.

We began by making collage papers:

Next, we painted a canvas:

Then we collaged our handmade and other papers onto our painted canvas, and painted over the collaged papers. We stamped and doodled a bit. This is how mine turned out:

I really like it. I'm not sure yet whether it will become a handbag, a wall hanging, a book cover, or something else entirely!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Wandering with Colour

Wander with colour is a two to three day beading class with Beverly Gilbert. The first half day explores colour theory, and includes collage exercises which reinforce the colour theory, but which also give participants a couple of colour schemes for future use with beads, or even interior design! Beverly then explains how she creates her wonderful bead soups, and evrybody begins to think about the colour scheme for their pieces, and blend beads to make new bead soups which work as transitions between the bead soups in the colours chosen for the piece. That's probably as clear as mud, hopefully the photo below makes it clearer. I worked with the 5 main colours in the photo, but made blends so that the transitions between colours were not abrupt.

Next, I began beading, making a freeform netting, moving through the colours as I went.

After about 4 rows, I began to incorporate bigger beads.

I then began to strengthen, stiffen, and cross over, to bring the piece togeehr and also bulk out some areas.

This is the piece at the end of the two days. It is almost finished, but needs a little work here and there, and will need a clasp. I will finish this when I get home to Wales at the end of the month.

Beverly really is a wonderful teacher. This is the first wholly beaded piece I have ever made, and I love it already!

More beads on metal

I am halfway through making a pendant and earrings to match the bracelet I made. I probably won't be able to finish these for a few weeks, but will try to remember to post a picture of the whole set when they are done.

Beverly Gilbert is such a good teacher, and a wonderful hostess. I have had a great few days learning more about beading and metalwork. I highly recommend taking a class with her if you are able to!!!


Blog Archive


Please note that I assert myself as the creator of all art on this site (unless I credit another artist) and retain copyright of all artwork posted on this site