Monday, August 29, 2011

Polymer Clay Cuffs

This post has come because I feel the need to proclaim my new found love for polymer clay. I have been steadily working with the material for almost 2 years now, but I went thru a period where I was lacking some motivation and creativity when it came to coming up with new stuff...until recently.

I can't to stop making cuffs. I love them! There are so many possibilities when you are working with clay. I can mix pretty much any color I can imagine, use many different stamps in many different ways and then accent the design with any paint color I chose. If I mess up, I just roll up the clay and start over.

There is nothing like rediscovering a favorite material and becoming inspired by it all over again. The kind of inspiration that makes you feel like you have just stumbled upon something new that kick starts your creativity triggering a marathon of new projects. A domino effect that all crafters, artists and designers understand.

You might be familiar with a material and think you know all that you need to know about it, but sometimes there is a moment when you are introduced to it an a whole new way. Maybe you accidentally mixed the wrong color...or haphazardly sliced your clay in an unintended angle, or prematurely pressed down on an imprint leaving the design off center...What do you do when this happens? Roll up the clay and start all over? Sometimes, but most of the time I just go with it because I have learned by now that these are the moments that often produce my favorite pieces.

This green floral cuff was a "happy accident". I have had this large flower stamp for awhile, I just never really looked at it until the other night. I was actually trying to work on something other than a cuff, and I was only experimenting with the stamp in some spare green clay I had sitting on my work station.

I'm pretty sure this might be one of my favorite cuffs so far. Everyone I have shown it too seems to be just as enamored with it as I am. Too bad I sold it last night. I will make another one...or eight!

How I make my cuffs...

First you have to condition the clay. I have come to realize that I must be patient with this step. Sometimes I am too excited about my idea and I do not work the clay long enough, but it really is worth the time. Run it through a pasta machine (designated only for polymer clay), roll it and work it with your hands, turn on a bad 80's movie or anything that stars Schwarzenegger and hand it to the man hanging around. He'll be so zoned out watching the movie that he won't realize how long he has been working the clay.
What..? My hands hurt after awhile...his are bigger and stronger!
He has mixed some pretty bad ass colors for me...Thank you, Jeff!

After the clay has been sufficiently conditioned I run it thru the pasta machine again. Then I use a rolling pin to gently smooth any lines the pasta machine has made. I will trim my piece a bit at this time, but not down to the exact size that my finished cuff will be because when I press down with the stamps it will distort the edges and you will have to trim again.

Then stamp it up, bake it and paint it.

What? Did you think I was giving away all of my secrets? :-) Leave a comment if you have any questions about my process.

Here are some more of my favorite cuffs...
If you want to see more, visit my Etsy shop and my facebook page.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome Baby Patrick!

This past weekend my family welcomed my Sister's second child and first boy, Patrick Edward. A nice strong Irish name for a beautiful baby boy.

When my Sister had her first child, I made a slideshow of the pictures taken during Elizabeth's first few days to share with family members who live far away, so of course I made another one for Baby Patrick.

I chose "Circle of Life" by Elton John mainly because of the theme my Sister chose for Patrick's nursery. She went with an adorable Lion King crib set from Babies "R" Us. If you are wondering how I made this video, I used Microsoft Live Movie Maker. It is actually a pretty easy program to use if you are just a little patient with yourself. If you take the time to use all of the features they offer, your video will turn out really well.

I also felt that the song was a good choice because of what my family has gone through these past few months. Edward is our Grandfather's name who recently passed away this April. My Grandfather was a wonderful man and although he had many children (8), many grandchildren (14) and now 4 great grandchildren...he loved each and every one of us just the same, and made us all feel just as important as the first. Unfortunately my new nephew is the first member of our large family that my Grandfather will not meet, so it is very fitting that he carry his name with him. I am certain my Grandfather is watching over Patrick and the rest of the family that he and my Grandmother so lovingly created during their 58 years of marriage.

Aunt Ryann likes to paint...
In preparation for both of my Sister's children I offered to make paintings for their nurseries. I struggled a bit with Patrick's painting because I wasn't too sure about trying to paint a I went with other parts of the nursery set.

Once I got started it all seemed to work and flow together. The spots above are from the crib sheet and the rest mimics the crib blanket. I just wanted to incorporate all of the colors to pull the room together.

I really enjoy painting. It is very relaxing and helped pass the time while I was eagerly awaiting Patrick's arrival.

I am so happy to welcome Baby Patrick into our family. I have loved watching Elizabeth learn and grow over these past (almost) 2 years, and now we are able to share in the life and growth of two new family members!!

Elizabeth is a little skeptical of Patrick right now, but little does she know that Mommy and Daddy have given her a friend for life. I don't know where I would be without my Brother and Sister.