Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sketch Guru

My friend Jo told me about the Sketch Guru app. You can draw some pretty nice things with it.  The tools are intuitive and flexible.

When I'm killing time in the waiting room or on a plane I make pictures to entertain myself. My phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 2) has a stylus so it's easier to control the drawing than if you had to use your finger.

You can draw a realistic things (This guy was in the in flight magazine)...

Or just make simple designs from inside your head ...

You can also schetch ideas for your next project. This funny face may become a new series of beads.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Art is a many splendored thing

It is my opinion, based on personal experience, that an artist is never bored. Rather, there are so many different things to try that there are not enough hours to fit all the interests.

I often ask an artist "what other art do you do?" in addition to their work I am viewing at the moment. They usually have a list of many.

What do you do frequently (now or in the past), what have you flirted with occasionally (or even just once), and what is in your future on your art bucket list?

Here is mine:

FREQUENTLY: polymer clay, sewing, drawing (pencil, colored pencil, markers, and ink), painting (pastel, acrylic on paper and things), jewelry making, photography, graphic design

FLIRTED: mosaic, glass (flameworking, fused, stained, paperweights), enamel, batik, marbleizing, paint (watercolor, oil, spray, faux finishes, airbrush) knit, crochet, cross stitch, PMC, papier mache, printmaking, wool rug hooking, ceramics, and murals, decoupage, handmade books, quilting, macrame, rolled paper beads

FUTURE: woodturning, weaving, sculpting, collage, ribbon flower embroidery, felting

...and I'm sure I'll think of more! Maybe you'll give me some ideas!

In other news, I finally created an Artybecca "business" page on Facebook. If you want to follow my polymer there instead of (or in addition to) the blog, go on over and Like me!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tutorial: Ribbed and Wrapped


Someone asked for a tutorial on the ribbed beads with the twisted ends that are shown in the header of my blog and in the photo above.
Here's the process:

Start with any color you like. This is on the thickest setting of my machine.

Add other colors and put through pasta machine multiple times to blend it. Put it into the pasta rollers in the same direction every time to end up with stripes.

I didn't think I had enough colors so I added more.

Use a long bolt to create the ribs. Make sure it will be long enough to cover your bead form.

Line a pre-baked bead up at the end of the sheet making sure to keep holes pointing out to each end of the sheet..

Wrap ribbed sheet around the bead. Trim and fit where the start and end of the sheet meet.

Holding the bead with your fingers on each end, gently pinch and twist the edges while turning the bead around and around.
Be careful not to squish the ribs. I use Kato clay which is firm and holds its shape well. I don't know what kind of results you would get with other brands.

Twist it a bit more.

Slice off the ends to make them straight and gently pat the edges to round them.

Brush the whole bead with a mixture of  carbon black Pearl Ex and a tiny pinch of Pearl Ex gold for shimmer.
Bake according to the instructions for your clay.

When it's cured, sand the bead with a purple 3M Sandblaster 400 grit sheet, to remove the black from the high surfaces but leave it in all the grooves. You can leave it matte or buff it with a muslin wheel.
I don't recommend using regular sandpaper. It is not flexible and will end up removing too much from the high spots and not enough from the grooves,. Your bead will probably end up splotchy instead of prettily graduated.

And there you have it!



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday with family and clay!

I hauled all my clay supplies home with me so I could restock my etsy shop while still hanging out with the parental units and bro. I commandeered my mom's art table and put the oven on the enclosed porch. It was perfect!

I downloaded a photo editing app (Aviary) and was able to shoot, edit, and upload to etsy all on my phone. I have the Samsung Galaxy Note II. I can sketch ideas or handwrite notes with the stylus.
The screen is huge so I do all my TV watching on the phone while I work on clay or sew. I also listen to books or educational lectures or music on Pandora.
Have I mentioned how much I love my phone? I kiss it every day because I love it so much!

Here's the holiday output...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Good Question: Black Pearl Ex vs Kato Black Liquid vs acrylic paint

Laura Lang wrote to me with a question about using Black Pearl Ex vs Kato Black Liquid vs acrylic paint. My experience with the brands I use is below...you may get similar or different results with other brands. I have specific uses for each type of product:


Black Pearl Ex 

This was my go-to material for almost everything until recently. It mutes the colors a bit for a nice antique look and it is easy to control during removal. The color is called "carbon black" for a reason...it is dark, dark, dark flat black. I mix a tiny bit of gold Pearl Ex with it to give some sparkle. A $6 jar will last a long time!

You brush it all over your piece before it goes into the oven. You don't have to put a ton of it on, just make sure it's all covered. It looks scary, but don't be frightened.


You should wear a mask to be safe. I put the powder in a butter tub so I can hold the piece down in the tub and brush it with the powder. It helps keep it contained and reduces the amount that might blow into the air. It's also a good storage bin because it has a lid!

When the piece cools you wet sand it. The 3M "sand blaster" pads are critical for this step. They are flexible which is perfect for the curved surfaces and they remove the darkness gradually.


Regular sandpaper seems to remove the darkness too starkly for my taste. The Sand blaster material removes the dark gradually so you end up with a nice ombre effect to the shadowing like you see below.


The nice thing is that once you've sanded (and perhaps buffed the piece if you want more shine), the shadowing will not rub off. It bakes into the clay for a permanent finish. 




I love using the Pearl Ex concoction on gold Kato clay. It ends up looking like aged wood.




Kato Black Liquid Clay

I had a bottle of this for a while but didn't quite know what to do with it. I recently took a workshop with Barb Fajardo where we used Kato Liquid to fill in the grooves we had made in our pieces. The pieces were impressed, scored, scratched and marked, then cured, then rubbed with Kato Liquid and the excess removed before curing again.

It is very messy but surprisingly easy to control. I put a few drops on the piece and then rub it with my fingers to get it down into the grooves. Then wipe the liquid off the surface with a paper towel (I am brand loyal to Viva paper towels! I like their mostly untextured fiinish.)

I like the end result of the liquid because it's very opaque and has a bit of shine. It makes a nice sharp line in the groove, and doesn't mute the colors too much. You also don't have to sand afterwards if you don't want. However, at a minimum, I always like to give the pieces a quick sanding with 1000 grit to clean them up a bit and polish the surface. Or if I want a higher shine, I do the sandpaper and follow with the buffer. (I don't do the multiple grit process...I don't have the patience. However, if you're trying to create a glass- or metal-like finish, you would put more effort into sanding.)




Acrylic Paint

If you want a color other than black for antiqueing or coloring, you would need to venture into the paint world. The paint goes on your piece after curing the item. I almost never use paint because I think it's difficult to put on and then remove without taking too much off which then requires you to put more on, then wipe it again...and around and around you go. I find it very frustrating. It can also wear off a bead after a while if there's no protective coat. Perhaps that wouldn't happen if you cure it after painting (though I don't know about that for sure...anyone?) or spray it with PYM II or another finish.

I know some of you use oil paint...I've never tried that and don't know anything about the process but it looks interesting. I know Doreen Kassel uses oil paint on her absolutely adorable characters and I would like to take a workshop with her some day.

If you have favorite methods for antiqueing your pieces, shout 'em out!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sewing Tools Tote

We had to buy a set of odd-shaped tools, plus an L square which is  24" long x 15" wide.
Last week in class we discussed creating designs for a tote to hold everything.

 I designed mine as a vertical bag with multiple Velcro closure pockets sized to hold the various tools. (The pockets can seal up all the way; I just have the tools poking out in the photo to show what goes where.) 



One pocket needed to hold a small plastic box so I put darts in it.


There is another pocket on the inside for a 9" x 12" sketchbook. My drawing shows the t-shirt and asymmetrical wrap vest I hope to make with my new patterns.



I bought the fabric Thursday night, started sewing last night, and finished it up on Saturday.
The inside of the bag shouldn't be examined too closely because I didn't finish it as well as I could have,
but it will be very functional regardless.

After I finished it, I realized it looks like I turned a pair of striped pants my brother had in the 70's into a bag!! (Though to be fair to Joe, they were various shades of brown stripes, not these circus tent colors.)
Oh well, my tote will be a conversation piece.




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