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Spring collection

I love birds.  My husband kind of scowls but laughs whenever I bring anything else bird-themed into our house.  (He gave me bird things for Christmas, though, so I think he’s catching on that they’re not going anywhere.)  And bird stuff is everywhere, so apparently I’m not the only one who loves it.  Again this year I did some bird-inspired pieces in my spring collection for Simply Charming Boutique.

Of course there has to be a little pink & green for our beloved Apple Blossom Festival, too.

Brenda (from the shop) encouraged me to do some more artisan-looking pieces like my Elements line, so there is a larger presence of wirework…

…and birthstone stacking rings that are made to order.

I also played around with some empty sterling bezels on copper.  I could fill them with polymer clay or resin, but I liked how they looked with just the metal.

Happy Spring!

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Playing with Polymer

People often ask me how long I’ve been making jewelry, which usually requires a follow-up question like, “How long have I been making jewelry like I make now?” 

You see, when I was a kid my parents wouldn’t let me get my ears pierced, so naturally I was fixated on what I couldn’t have. Using my dad’s tools I would bend telephone wire, gleaned from a construction site, into little clip-on earrings.  I had turquoise ones and yellow ones and I didn’t care how ugly or dirty they were.  Later I found some kidney-wire earrings at a craft store and clipped them upside-down to my lobes because it looked like the end of the wire was going into my ear like a real earring.  Hot stuff!  Add to the mix my great aunt, who mined and polished her own stones and got me interested in rock tumbling, and I was a full-on jewelry nerd.  I got really good at wire-wrapping those slippery tumbled stones to make pendants, though, so now wrapping sea glass is second nature. My friend Jenny, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, recently asked me to wire-wrap this piece of larimar, and (kindly) noted that I’ve come a long way since my rock tumbling days. 

What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, polymer clay.  Also during my middle school years I got a sampler pack of Cernit clay at a train show (my Dad is into model trains).  Soon I got into polymer clay (sounds like I’m dabbling in drugs) and would read Nan Roche’s The New Clay like it was my job.  I worked with polymer clay on into high school and thought it was really cool to make earrings as miniature versions of the designs in special outfits.  That’s when I got started with beads, too, back before internet shopping.  So when I say I’ve been making jewelry since I was a kid, my products back then are not what I consider lovely today.  I haven’t any examples to show you, although my mother still wears her vintage AnneMade Jewelry to my chagrin.
These days (meaning now that I have a jewelry business) after I have a chance to recover from the holiday season of making and selling jewelry and all our Christmas festivities, it’s usually the dead of winter and I get a yearning for spring.  I do have to work ahead of the season, so it’s not unusual for me to use delicate pastels and beachy brights at this time of year.  I’ve been itching to play with polymer clay again and make some pendants for spring.  And I love that my original sampler pack of Sculpey is still as good as it was 20 years ago.  Polymer clay has come a long way since then, including the development  stronger formulas, liquid clay, and surface techniques like mica shift.  I have always been too cheap to invest in a pasta machine, but today I realized that hand-kneading clay takes forever. 
(I think it’s funny that my clay turned out the same color as the shopping list I created while kneading it. Love this color!)  So yesterday I printed out a Michael’s coupon and headed there as soon as Olivia woke up from her nap. I also found treasures in the stamping aisle (alcohol inks to color liquid Sculpey, dye ink pads for rubber stamping, clear stamps so you can see what you’re doing).  And what a difference the pasta machine makes!  It’s like a mini rolling mill, in fact I could run texture through with the clay.  Once I knead the clay to get it soft, mixing colors on the machine is so easy.  And after working with PMC so much, it’s so great not to have to worry about a piece drying out on me.  If I don’t like it I just ball it up and try again.  I do have to worry about foreign particles, though, because I’m not firing this clay in a kiln like PMC.  (Side note: PMC people, if you’re looking for Teflon paper to use as a work surface, Michaels has it in the stamp/ink aisle.)

Another creative chapter in my past is painting.  If you come to my house I may not point them out, but several of the pictures on our walls are watercolors and drawings I did in high school.  And if you’ve ever worked with oil paint (or acrylic) you’ll know the concept of color saturation.  A tiny dab of alizarin crimson or titanium white is all it takes to affect the whole glob of paint because those colors are so saturated.  Same goes with certain colors of polymer clay, so if you’re just starting out remember to mix in only a little bit of a new color at a time.
I view the Pantone season forecast a little like I view the Farmer’s Almanac.  Does anyone ever look back and grade them on how accurate they were, or do we just trust them?  I live in a small town out in the country, so we’re a little behind the style trends anyway, so I tend to just use what I like.  Right now it’s orchid.

Did it again! This ballet pink pendant matched another Post-It. Maybe I need to get my fashion forecast from 3M.

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Two New Tutorials

Custom Texture Sheets for Metal Clay or Polymer Clay

Remember this custom pendant I created from a wedding invitation?  Now you can make your own raised monograms, or you can type out a phrase in a pretty font to use again and again instead of stamping each letter individually.  Like this.
Vertebraid Bangle
This is a square/round (as opposed to flat) braid created with doubled strands of fine-gauge wire.  It makes an interesting base for sliders or Pandora beads.  Click here for the tutorial.
I had this braid sitting on my desk all summer; I’d pick it up and work on it when my computer was busy processing so I don’t really know how long it took me to braid. I think it takes less time than Viking Weave, but then again it depends on your proficiency at each.
Enjoy these new projects!
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Thinking spring & The Bloom

It’s that time of year…  The holidays are over, there are pockets of warm days surrounded by blustery cold, and I’m yearning for spring.  This is the time of year I start on my spring line, and especially now that I have a little one it’s important to start early or it becomes summer before I know it. 
I’m experimenting with “new” media like doming resin and polymer clay.  Oh, I’m no stranger to polyclay, but it’s come a long way since I was working with it as a teenager.  While cleaning out the storage room in my parents’ basement I came across my old box of Sculpey.  So I experimented with some simple textured pendants and bird eggs and it’s still good after 20+ years.  And mixing 2-part epoxy reminds me of helping my dad with his model train layout when I was a kid.  We didn’t get the mixing quite right, so part of the river was sticky after curing.  This time around I’m aware of tricks like using a flame to encourage air bubbles to pop, and testing the leftover epoxy in the cup (instead of getting fingerprints on my pendants) to see if it’s cured. 

Here are some of the components I have gathered to make into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings for spring.

Along with spring in the Shenandoah Valley comes the Bloom.  Everyone wears pink and green to celebrate the apple blossoms, so here is the start of my collection for Simply Charming Boutique.  Fortunately in recent years the rest of the country has had a love affair with that color combination, so there is some wonderful lampwork to be had. 

If you see something you like in either photo, just email me for pricing and availability.

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Holly Lane Studio

Last week I went to visit my PMC friend Tiffany Scott in Purcellville, VA. She has a teaching studio in her house and I seriously thought about moving in. So beautiful, so well-organized. She apologized for it being so “messy” and I told her she was not allowed to come to my studio. Tiffany showed me how to transform a drawing into a stamp. Brilliant!  Texture is something that is so fascinating to PMC (or even polymer clay) artists. It often becomes an obsession… finding objects around the house that have a unique pattern, looking at commercially available texture sheets, making molds of everyday things. I recently purchased a pack of sage leaves, took molds of them, and threw them away. Another day I asked the waitress at a restaurant if I could purchase a spoon because of the texture on the handle. It’s a sickness.

Tumbler and kiln  Sink area  So organized  Teaching table   Actually a garage

Tiffany also introduced me to Lucketts, a tiny town near the Leesburg outlets known for its antiques. That’s where she gets a lot of decorations and furniture. My brain was too full that day to shop, but I will return. With the big car.