Coloring

So, almost everybody knows that Adult Coloring is quite a thing. Folks have coloring parties. It was/is so popular that Prismacolors had a horrible time keeping stores and websites supplied. I waited 6 months for a few specific colors last year. People fill up Craftsman tool carriers with all of their pens, pencils, crayons, and markers.

2-2-coloringI LOVE coloring. I do it at night while watching TV. Sometimes I get so lost in coloring that I look up and it is 2am. I have 2 YHUUUGE notebooks full of finished pages. I created a form to keep track of my pens, pencils, and markers by color family so I can easily pick which color I need.

I use coloring to try out color schemes that I might use in my polymer designs. I see design elements that may show up later in a cane design. I try and justify it as a important part of my art/business. But in r2-3-coloring-gridseality, I just like coloring. Always have. But what to do with all of these finished pages? One day in a future studio they might be framed and grace the walls. But I don’t have wall space now. And so they sit in page protectors.

Then I had a great idea! Why not make transfers of the images and create some jewelry pieces. Well, it turned into a class for Craftcast.com that was so much fun to develop. The ideas just kept coming.

The class is Creating Polymer Jewelry from your Colored Artwork. It takes you step by step to create transfers from anything that can be printed on a sheet of paper.  The BIG 11-0-color-testsecret???  Avery Fabric transfer paper for ink jet printers and Fimo Gel. I’ve tried all the other alternatives and this is what works best for me. You can also do a direct to clay transfer with  Avery transfer paper as I did with the green bowl shown above. You just have to remember that they are ‘see through’. So anything that is white in your images will show the color of the clay underneath. And the clay color will affect the colors in the transfer.

I also experimented with some shrink plastic and resin to make jewelry. I had never really played with ‘shrinky dinks’. But I had always been mesmerized when ever I saw the magic that happens when you put a flat piece of film into the oven. However, it always looked ‘cheap’ to me. Once I coated the pieces with doming resin my mind was changed. I used the new white and clear shrink plastic from Silhouette Shrink Plastic and the Grafix Injet Shrink Film. These are some more of my coloring pages that I used. I think that I will be playing with this a bit more in the near future.  Watch this space….

 

Cut it out!

I mhopsake and sell an awful lot of hop inspired jewelry and beer related accessories. Hops are what make beer taste like beer. My DH is a home brewer and we are entrenched in the craft beer scene in Vermont and Asheville, NC. What started as a lark to wear at beer festivals has become a serious piece of my business. So much so that I couldn’t keep up with the demand just using aspic cutters to make the beads.hop-ears-surg-06

My DH said that there had to be another way. And he was right…..as always. I started with the Cricut Cake Cutter. It was meant to cut fondant and that’s about the same consistency of raw polymer clay. And it worked for awhile. I switched to a MAC and they decided not to support that OS. I was able to cobble along with a half broken PC laptop while desperately looking for another option.

We searched around and found a professional cutter  – the Silver Bullet – that looked like it could handle the raw clay. And it does. It’s BIG and powerful and able to cut, etch, carve, andsilver-bullet-pic2 all kinds of wonderful things on all kinds of media. It was a huge investment.But something that we needed to do.

About the same time Alison Lee at Craftcast.com found out I was cutting raw polymer on a digital cutter. She asked if I could do a class using the Silhouette Cameo with polymer. She already had several classes using the Cameo to make projects from paper and metal clay. Her base had the machine and she wanted to give them something else to do with it.  I wasn’t sure if I could get it to work with polymer. I googled and didn’t find a lot going on with polymer. There were just a few instances and in all cases the clay had to be very, very, very thin.  cameo-pic

I had a friend come over who was using the Cameo with metal clay. We tried everything. We could get it to cut, but it left ‘smoosh’ marks all over the clay. The only way it would work was if the clay was really, really thin. I didn’t think that would be every useful. Then the DH poked his nose into the studio to see how it was going. Hair was being pulled out at this point and there was a lot of swearing. We recapped the problems and he looked it over. Then he very casually said -“why don’t you take the cap off the blade?” Yet again…. he was right. That was the secret.b-u-blade-2
It was the cap that was causing the ‘smooshing’.
With that gone we were now able to cut thicker pieces of clay that were more usable. But the Cameo still had a limit to the thickness it could cut. Mostly because of the layout of the machine that was meant to cut paper, card stock, and vinyl.

I was able to create a version of my Fantasy Flower Garden necklaces for the class. (The image at the top of the page is a bridal version of that collection). I even used the Silhouette Studio Software to design the flower shapes, colors, and layout of the piece.

I continued to experiment with the Cameo to create other projects. I made some ornaments and some what-not bowls.

 

About a year later Silhouette announced a new machine  – the Curio. It was built to handle a variety of media in different thicknesses. It has adjustable platkey-82forms and a dual tool holder. By now I was on Silhouette’s radar and was able to score a machine early on for testing with clay. It worked great. I could cut much thicker clay and could even use special tools to carve the raw clay.

My next class on Craftcast took advantage of those properties. I taught my recipes for faux gemstones and ivory. Then we created a box using the faux ivory and the Curio to cut out spaces to inlay the faux gemstones and carve designs on the lid and sides of the box.

Last year I connected with Terri Johnson who organizes the All Things Silhouette conferences. I did presentations at two of the conferences last year and will be participating this year. The conferences are held outside Atlanta, GA  – June 10-11 and November 4-5. Terri puts on an A+++ event. Lots of great people sharing lots of tips and techniques. Since I never got these machines to use them for the purposes they were intended I learn quite a lot at these events. lol

I host a PC SILie Lovers group on Facebook. The ‘files’ section has lots of documents that cover the settings I use to cut different thicknesses of clay. There is a lot of useful information there. But the best way to learn the tips and tricks is by taking the Craftcast classes.