Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tutorial - Leaf ornaments

Some years ago I bought the children's book The Snow Tree by Caroline Repchuk, illustrated by Josephine Martin. It is delightful. I don't usually buy books (I'm more of a public library person) but this one was just too cute. The storyline starts with Little Bear coming out of his den to find the whole world covered in white. "Where have all the colors gone?" he wonders. Then various forest animals start appearing with offerings of color to hang on a snowy tree. So I bought a small, fake, snowy tree and decided to make ornaments to go along with the story. The first animal to arrive is Lynx, who brings orange leaves to remind them of fall and of sunsets.
Supplies, clockwise from upper left corner: Sculpey UltraLight polymer clay, the largest Ivy Leaf Embossing Cutter by Lisa Pavelka, rubbing alcohol, Tim Holtz Adirondack alcohol ink in Butterscotch and Mountain Rose, PearlEx mica powder in Sparkle Gold, eye pins (any brand or color will work), a paintbrush, and gloves. You can mix/match/omit/substitute any materials you wish to--this is just how I did it. Not pictured: an oven for baking.
Condition the Ultralight and roll it flat (Here I've used the thickest setting on my pasta machine). Using the leaf cutters, make as many leaves as you want. Smooth any ragged edges with your finger.
Using a bit of rubbing alcohol and five or six drops of Butterscotch alcohol ink, brush the front, back, and sides of the leaves with a wash of color. Since I only needed a small amount of ink mixture, an old, clean contact lens package was the perfect size. Note: alcohol ink can stain some surfaces, so you may want to put down a protective covering (which I didn't).

Make another alcohol ink/rubbing alcohol mix using Mountain Rose ink and dab it on the outside edges of the leaves - I did this only on the front of the ornaments. I wore gloves to avoid dyeing my fingers pinkish-orange.

Insert a short eye pin into each leaf. Try to keep it from poking out the front or back, which can be tricky.

As an afterthought, I lightly dabbed some gold mica powder on the front of the leaves. BAKE according to the instructions for the specific clay you are using. For UltraLight, it's 15 minutes for every 1/4 (6mm) inch at 275°F (130°C). See * note below.

When I checked the leaves after about 15 minutes, the backs of some of them looked quite thin and breakable (I could see the eye pins), so I reinforced them with more UltraLight and alcohol ink and baked again. *I have an oven thermometer and can be sure that the temperature never gets higher than 275°F, so I left the leaves in the oven for about forty-five minutes to make them stronger.

And ta-da! Orange leaves from Lynx. You can then attach hooks to make ornaments or findings to create jewelry or anything else your creative mind can come up with.

Here is the entire process in one picture (R-L): roll out clay, cut leaves, wash with diluted alcohol ink, dab the edges with diluted alcohol ink and gold mica powder (not pictured), insert eye pins, and bake. I will probably spray mine with an acrylic sealer to protect the ink and powder.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Learning to Metalsmith

  Wow. I knew it had been a long time since I posted, but I didn't know it had been THAT long. This is my first post of 2014!
  The most recent development in the life of Sleepy Turtle Beads is that I am taking a metalsmithing class at my university. I love it. Each class is about 3 hours long, and I usually stay after for another hour. I have learned how to solder, anneal, file, hammer, dap, sand, saw, and polish metal - mostly copper and sterling silver. I bought a small slab of sterling silver at the beginning of the semester, then melted it down and made silver sheet and wire. The butane torches are a bit scary(that is a LOT of heat), but I'm getting more and more comfortable using them.
  Here are a few of the projects I've been working on:

Hammered copper earrings
Sterling silver pendant with copper and brass hearts

This is the second bezel I made - pretty rough, but I set it with a stone and gave it to my mom for her birthday.

I like to make knot rings in copper and sterling silver
  I have more projects in the works and some that currently exist only in my head. More to come!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Christmas my sisters and I decorated faux gingerbread houses made from polymer clay. Yesterday, I finally got them assembled into ornaments.
Mine (This picture was taken with my sister's nice camera)
My sisters' (This picture was taken with my cheap camera)

 Now to hang them on the tree!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tangled - but not in a nice Disney way.

Today I spent more than two hours on this silk-and-coral-chip necklace, and it was pretty...until it tangled beyond rescue. Blah.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A few things I've been working on lately

 Polymer clay sugar cookie set
 Animal print polymer clay discs
 Vintage-look pendant
Copper chain and pearls
 Fun, lightweight acrylic beads
Jewel-tones bracelet

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Peanuts and Popcorn

For some reason, these brightly-colored striped polymer clay rounds have always been "circus beads" in my mind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Beading Buddy

This picture was taken before I had a designated bead room. 

Once I got my bead room, the plan was to keep all cats out in order to keep their fur out of my clay, but my devoted Scrawny wouldn't hear of it and I caved. She wants to be where I am, and that is worth digging a few hairs out of my clay.