Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grand Mama What Big Eyes You Have

I never knew my maternal grandmother but I always loved this little pin that belonged to my mother. It was a picture of my grandmother when she was just a girl. I also always wondered why she didn't pass on her good looks and peaches and cream complexion to me. I decided I would try to do a cane of her. Like most of my canes it was not an easy thing. I have talked about my recent frustration with the inconsistency of clay. I happened on some Fimo classic on sale and bought up a bunch of cream colored clay. I liked the feel of it in the package but I wasn't sure how it would do mixed with my Kato. I did some preliminary testing and the color seemed to be OK after baking and it also took the higher Kato temperatures. I liked working with it. The clay was firm but would stick together when I wanted and yet I could pull it apart for "surgeries" that were required. Of course the big test will be when I try to reduce this "mother". (pun intended) I will let you know how it goes with the reduction.

I built the cane in six sections. You can see them all together as slices in the one photo. On previous mosaic canes my extruded pieces were made up of combinations of color. I decided to extrude individual colors to maintain the more muted palette of the pin. I don't think I quite captured her beauty but I hope she is looking down and appreciating the effort her granddaughter made.

Not sure of the market value of this cane but since I don't sell too often I guess it won't affect my pocketbook too much. Of course everyone in my family can expect something made out of it for Christmas whether they want it or not.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Like a Proud Parent

I started this post about a month ago. (as it was recently brought to my attention) I was going to try to post from my Ipad. I couldn't figure out how to post pictures from my ipad so the first word was as far as I got. Then my Ipad decides to keep losing wireless. UGH!! So I am back to my computer to try to finish this post.

As I was saying.....I felt like a proud parent after my face cane class that I gave to my local guild. They all did such a good job I thought I'd post some pictures. That isn't to say my other students haven't done as well, but I was just slack about taking pictures. Now a good parent would remember whose canes these are....I think one belongs to Sharon Sully and the other's Cheryl Smith. I apologize if I got this wrong and I am sure I will hear about it.

The black and white necklace picture was sent to me by Kim Koval Keane who made it after purchasing my book, Classic Clay. I thought she did a great job. She also has some Zentangle pieces that are really nice.

I am planning on going to the opening at RAM in Racine in a few weeks. Since I am the NPTIPC I knew I had to make a stupendous piece to wear. This is also so that the museum people recognize my great talent and insist on putting a piece of my work in their museum. (We can all dream can't we?!) I hope to have pictures up soon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Frame is Worth a Thousand Words?

Geeesh! It's been since May 1st since I posted. I better get on the stick or I will lose the multitudes (well... the 200 plus) who follow this blog.

I have to say I have been busy at least. I took a 16 day cruise which started in Rome, went around Spain and ended in France. Had a wonderful time and actually got inspired. (not hard to do) Here is a picture of a cathedral in Florence, Italy. I was inspired by the many layers/moldings. Not sure what the architectural term is. I thought that I would give them a try for some of my mosaic faces. I like the way they turned out. It took several steps to make them.

First I had to make some canes. Now I wanted them to be detailed but I knew I was going to reduce them down so it was a challenge deciding the right amount of detail so that all the work could still be seen at the tiny size. Of course some of it is lost but I think of it like my eyeballs in my faces, I know it's there and I convince myself it adds to the cane. I have some books on renaissance designs and borrowed from there for some of the designs. I need to add to my stash of canes if I keep this up.

I made each "frame" separately so that I could sand them before putting them together. I put them together (another baking) I added canes along the sides of last frame. (another baking)

Added the back (another baking) and then sanded again.

As I said I liked the way they turned out. They are a little thick and I may try to scale them down some more.

I have to go condition some clay for a face cane class I am giving my local guild this weekend.

Until next time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Don't Worry. We'll Fix It In Post.

As I told you in my last post I was going to work on a Pop art face cane. After I drew the sketch the look on her face made me think she had a sad look. This got me to thinking about a swap that I had signed up for. I had thought about molding an Egyptian pharaoh type face that I would put canes on, Then I thought about the 20 masks that I had to make and I decided I would make this cane. (after all I'm Julie Eakes face caner!) I decided I would call it "Mask in the City".

Well the idea was that this was going to be easier. Laugh laugh! Now I've written about the new mush that they call Kato clay. I know my students have had problems with it and I have problems with it. The white I was using was very soft. I tried leeching it but you know that doesn't do it right either. I plowed on and made the cane. You can see a picture of the cane prior to being reduced. I thought it looked OK. Alright I know what you are thinking. "what were you thinking with those color choices for the curtains"? I'll admit I was using up some clay that I had leftover and I wasn't really happy with it. It had taken me days to build it and I just wanted it finished.

The next morning I reduced the cane. Now this was a rather tall and slender cane so expected it might be a little difficult to reduce. It seemed like it was going fine. I was beating my clay on the bathroom floor. All seemed to be coming along fine.

Then I cut it open to take a look. You can see the results in the second picture. The corner had disappeared, she had a big eye and I don't know what was up with the cityscape behind her. It looked like a nuclear plant behind her. Well that would explain the mutant big eye! There is no explanation for my color choices. Before I reduce my large canes I put scrap clay on the ends. The idea is that the scrap clay would end up being the distorted part and there would be more of the "good" cane. I decided to slice into the scrap clay. You can see in the picture that the softer (mostly white clay) side of the face bulged out faster into the scrap clay. This is why she looks like a big eyed mutant monster.

So much for easy slices for my mask swap. But fear not friends there is help for this cane. Fortunately it is a stylized version of a face. (although for some reason I kept thinking of Celine Dion when I was building it. Sorry Celine!) After reduction I had about 12 - 14 inches of cane. Didn't end up with anything close to that in usable cane. I cut off about a two inch segment and pushed in the smaller eye side. This made this side bigger. You can see in the picture how I did this. I then evened up the ends. It isn't perfect solution but by doing this I removed some of the excess clay in the darker half (the side with less white and therefore stiffer clay). Now I knew that there would be more tweaking necessary of each slice. So long easy swap idea. Fortunately with my handy dandy slicer I was able to make thins slices. For each of these I put onto a backing of black clay. I could then "tweak" the cane some more. Mostly around the eyes. Once I got her looking fairly normal I baked her face down. I knew that there would be an uneven back and I wanted the face part to be as flat as possible. Again I knew that now I would have to sand each piece. UGH! (**&%#$ Kato clay)

I finally got twenty slices looking "OK" so I can continue with my swap. Since I ended up chopping off most of the cityscape I have renamed her "mask of a lonely woman". I hope my swappees are alright with it. Still have some sanding to do. UGH! (#$%^& Kato!) I just wanted to share my frustrations and my attempts at corrections with you.

Take care.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I don't know much about art but I know what I like

First I have to say that I am happy with the sales of my class on CraftEdu. Thank you to all of you who have taken it. I haven't heard anything so I am going to assume that y'all loved the class and made beautiful canes. And if you didn't I surely wouldn't write about that here! It took me a long time to do the class and I have an idea for another class. This one will be more project oriented. And hopefully won't take me as long to finish. Of course I have several other projects in the works so there is no telling when I will get that class up. Stay tuned if you are interested.

If you are reading this (and it amazes me that people do read this) you know that I am into face canes. I like doing face canes because they are a challenge. I don't do shows to sell my work but I do put some items up for sales at various events that I might be teaching at or attending. Recently I was teaching at Cabin Fever in Baltimore. I have to admit I am glad that I don't do shows because I would hate trying to figure out what people like. Now I had a few items made up with my latest mosaic cane, the birth of Venus. Now this is my favorite cane. Up until now my favorite had been my African woman. I sold only one piece. Not too surprising since I have decided to up my prices a bit. But what surprised me was the reaction of my donated auction piece. This was made out of a cane I made last year. It is a mostly black and white "graphic" image. I think I could have sold several if I had had any with me. People commented that it was more wearable which I guess is true. But the amount of work that went into the birth of Venus cane and the end result (at least to me) puts it up there as a work of art. (sorry if I sound pompous here) I still like my mosaics better but I have decided to do a "pop art" piece next. I think I just wanted to be more whimsical not just bending to the desires of the public. (But hey if I sell some that wouldn't be bad either) I guess the other thing is getting that thicker skin that is required when people look at your work. Everyone in Baltimore was complimentary of my work but I have to tell you a story. As I have told you I am a bit of a media whore and I check my blog stats to see how many hits I get each day. Well not long ago I had large increase. I checked Polymer Clay Daily which is what has caused bumps in the past but that wasn't it. The best I could determine was that I had gotten mentioned on a Russian website that must be big in polymer clay. After a while I found the link. I had to use Google translator to translate a comment. Basically it said that my mosaic "wasn't that hard to do just tedious". I had a few comments for the author (I don't think Google would have been able to translate what I said!) It just brings me back to how grateful I am that I don't have to sit at table and listen to people remark on my work. My hat is off to those off you who go through that.

If you are still reading I have to assume you have no life. Sorry that I got to rambling on this post. Now go work on some clay!

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Class on CraftEdu

Well it has been a long time coming but I finally finished my class for, 5 from 1 Cane Building Class. It shows you how to make five complex canes from one simple cane. Starting tomorrow for 24 hours you will be able to purchase the class for a reduced rate. I think it is a good class. It has over an hour of detailed instruction. The class will be posted here sometime tomorrow (3/29/2011)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Pieces

I really wanted to showcase my canes in larger form so you can see the individual canes better. I decided to put them in frames and I really like them. The smaller pieces are pins that can be worn as pendants. I get torn when it comes to putting these canes into finished pieces. Part of me says make some beads or something else to go with the focal bead but the other half of me says that something else would detract from the face. I think of them as the "new cameo". I made some simple ribbon cords to use if you want to wear them as a necklace. I hope you like them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Here She Is!

Somebody got it right. My latest cane is of Botticelli's Venus. You can tell that she is a favorite of mine. I had previously done a cane of her as shown in the second picture. For the mosaic version I opted to make it in the 6 segments which allowed me to take a couple of slices off before I joined the pieces prior to reduction. I cut off the end as I had done on the da Vinci cane. Because I built it in pieces I was not totally happy with the way the pieces looked when I put them together. You can sort of see where the segments were joined. I will try to remember to post a picture of this at some time. I am happy to report that the reduction went well. I was a little worried because some of my Kato clay of late has been a bit mushy. I don't know why the companies can't come up with a consistent product. I really think I am going to have to give fimo classic a try. I am trying to get a few finished pieces with this new cane to take with me to Cabin Fever Clay Festival where I am teaching next Saturday.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Final two pieces

No guess yet on what my latest mosaic is. I will tell you that I did the reduction this morning and she came out beautifully. I have to say she is my favorite cane so far. I will be debuting pieces for sale at Cabin Fever Clay Festival in Maryland in a few weeks. That is if I can get some pieces finished by then.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

parts 3 and 4

OK Here are the next two parts. Can you tell what it is yet? I'll be posting the final two parts soon. I am actually going to try to do the reduction tomorrow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One step closer

Here is the next part of my latest mosaic. Can you tell what it is? I ended up having to replace quite a few pieces in this one. I am a little concerned that I don't have the contrast right. I actually have 5 of the six segments completed I just haven't taken their pictures yet. As usual I am worried that it is not coming out right. But I am pressing on.

The other picture is a credit card holder that I made for a friend of mine. I covered a bungee type card holder with a sutton slice veneer. It looks better in person. I wanted to show that I do more than just canes.

Monday, January 31, 2011


My apologies go out to Wendy Orlowski for not writing about this sooner. I don't know if y'all know about cabezels or not. I was introduced to them at a retreat I was attending and fell in love with them right away. Wendy was nice enough to send me some to try out. I keep meaning to post some pictures of some of my finished pieces but I keep selling them before I get a chance to take pictures. I know I really need to work on that. I promise I will get some up on this site. If you have been following my blog you know that finishing is not my strong point. But I am getting better. Cabezels are nifty little molds that come in different shapes. They give you you the cabochon shape and then its corresponding "bezel". I like them because they are clear which lets you see thru them to aid in positioning your work before pressing them into the mold. If you find yourself "finishing challenged" like me give them a try. They can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Well I am 1/6th of the way thru with my next mosaic. Can you tell what it is? I have worked two weeks on it and this is what I have to show for it. Look back at my earlier post about a "leap of faith". I am tackling this cane in a different way. Instead of making the whole thing which will be too large for the slicer I have decided to build it in 6 segments. I can then take slices off of each segment before I put them together. Keep watching here for further segments to see if you can see her face take shape.

I have learned that there are times when the exact color of the selected extruded piece isn't that critical but there are times that it is. I decided that there were a couple of pieces that I didn't like but it was about 4 rows back in the cane. Fortunately I was able to pull it apart and replace the few extruded pieces with better ones. Hey, it's why I make the big bucks. (Insert alphabet code here like LOL or :) or OMGTFFW (OK I made that one up))

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

So it's 2011. As I tell my kids...Odd years are always better than even. I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year's eve. Although it appears from my blog that I haven't been doing anything, I have been very busy. I leave tomorrow for Dallas, Tx to teach my face cane class. I am glad it was this weekend instead of last because I think both Charlotte and Dallas got hit with a snow storm. I know it may not seem much to you Northerners (which I was once) but for us Southerners is can be crippling. Everyone runs to the store to buy bread and milk. Whereas I know the two things I can't run out of are toilet paper and diet coke. But I far as my claying I have been in copy mode. I made a necklace for my daughter-in-law for Christmas that I stole the idea from Carol Blackburn. It was one of her spirally (is that a word?) type. I did write and tell her that I was stealing her idea. As I told her I thought my daughter-in-law would like her art better than mine. She did like it but I forgot to take a picture of it to show you. I have also been channeling Carol Simmons and her kaleidoscope canes. I have pictured several of the disks that I have made from a Carol inspired cane. My plan was to make some pendants for some friends. I got behind. They got nothing. Geesh what kind of friend am I?

I have started work on a new mosaic cane. I am excited about this one. It will be a few weeks before it is done. I am constructing it a little differently so that I will be able to get some slices of it before it gets reduced. I will keep you posted.

I also have pictured a collaborative piece that I worked on with Hollie Mion. Sorry it's not a better picture. I was too lazy to pull out the lights. I gave her some of my da Vinci cane and she mounted it in silver. I love the way it turned out. I am hoping to get into silver work. The silver clay kind because Santa brought me a kiln for Christmas. As I tell my children when they see all their loot under the Christmas tree, "I (They) must have been better than I remember this year!"

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. I will try to be better this year.