Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Trip to Italy

You can't see the faces of the two gentlemen below but I am sure you recognize both. I knew I would see the first one, but the second was a pleasant surprise!


The huge archway below is between the Vatican museum and the entry to St. Peter’s.

St. Peter’s Basilica is enormous and beautiful!  St. Peter's is especially huge but all of the churches were very grand with soaring ceilings and huge open areas. They all looked gigantic to me and I've seen skyscrapers -- what did these buildings look like to the "Average Joe" of the the day?


If it looks like gold, it’s gold! All the decoration, pattern, and sculpture could be overwhelming but when the place is so big, somehow it all fits.

We didn't get to spend enough time in the Vatican Museum. So many things to see there. One looooong hallway is painted in trompe l’oeil fashion to appear that sculptures and moldings cover the entire ceiling. The whole thing looks like the picture below but is completely flat.

Anywhere else these floors would be the showpiece... here they're barely noticed!

Traffic in Rome appears to be ruled by suggestion rather than laws. If you ever go there, don’t even think about trying to drive. You will die. Parking is done wherever you can find a spot. But at least they're respecting the crosswalk!

Scooters are everywhere, especially in the one-foot-wide space between your tour bus and the smart car next to you.


A man driving to work with his toddler in the back seat in what is officially the smallest car I have ever seen. But with gas at the equivalent of 8+ bucks a gallon, you do what you gotta do!

A guy was singing opera for tips in the square out front of the Pantheon. He had the whole crowd’s attention. I was slightly distracted by a big cone of dark chocolate gelato at the time but I tossed a Euro in his hat.

Some of the cathedrals had simple striped exteriors of two colors of stone block with a highly ornamented façade (the two photos below are of the side and the front of the same cathedral in Orvieto).


The stripes were inside churches too. Below is the cathedral in Pisa. It is beautiful but all anyone ever talks about is the leaning tower! If you go to Pisa, definitely go in the church!

Busts of the greatest artists of the day sit in alcoves above the top rose window at the Florence Duomo. Artists above all else…as it should be!!

Burano is a charming little island near Venice with colorful houses, a single canal, and lots of artists.


Leaving Venice at sunrise.


Positano has a single one-way road and buildings stacked one on top of another, with a bunch of big rocks above and a beach of gray pebbles below.

The landscape is so dramatic!

This picture of the Spanish Steps is one of my favorites from the whole trip. I like the foreground to far distance contrast and the strong shadows.  

There were people from all over the world everywhere we went. I'm so glad I was one of them! I toured with Uniglobe (Wheeling, WV). Our Uniglobe tour leader was
Georgette Stock and in Italy our Globus tour leader was Allessandro.  

A tour is the way to go when you're in a place that has many sights you want to see.
While regular travelers waited in long lines, we tour people breezed right in. I went "alone" but not really because there were 38 other nice people on the trip. 
We stayed in very nice hotels and everything was done for us...
it would be very difficult to plan on your own all that we did in 10 days.
The tour was called The Best of Italy. I highly recommend, especially if it might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for you.

 And, just to prove I was actually there, here is the only picture of me:


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Faceted Faux Gems, or Wilma Flintstone's Fancy Jewelry

I received a request for instructions on how to make these fun faux gem beads. Sorry, I don't have photos of the steps but will take some the next time I make these giant gems. I know picture tutorials are helpful for my non-English-speaking friends but Google translate can help until I take more photos.

The process is pretty easy. See below and see this older post for another variation on this idea.


1. Roll Sculpey Ultralight ito beads of assorted shapes and sizes. Oblong, square, round, whatever you like. Feel free to make 'em big...all of the beads in the photo are at least one inch long.

2. Poke the hole through them and bake according to instructions on the package. Don't let the beads cool after curing because the clay slices easier when it's a little warm. Cut a few beads at a time and keep the others in the still-warm oven until you're ready to cut.

3. Using an X-acto blade, slice small slivers off the bead. Be sure that none of the original baked surface remains. The baked surface doesn't take the alcohol ink as well and will leave light spots on the beads. However, that's not a bad thing because it makes it easy to find where you forgot to cut!

4. Now, get your alcohol inks. Cover the entire bead with the lightest color you plan to use. When it is dry, put the next darkest color on a portion of the bead, leaving some of your first color showing. Go ahead and add a third color if you want to make them more colorful. The colors will blend and get a bit muddy -- don't over work it. Use a smooth paper towel (Viva is my favorite!) to dab it on for more control. Wear gloves if you don't want to end up with ink-stained hands.

5. Optional step... See the bright blue spot on the bead at front left above? After you have finished putting all the ink colors on the bead, you can shave away the surface in a few spots to reveal the white underneath. Put a swipe of light ink on the white spots. The relative brightness of the lighter spot makes it look like there is a glowing light inside the bead.

6. After the beads are completely dry, rub gold Gilder's Paste along the peaks of the sliced edges. (Inka Gold water-based pastes may work also, so give it a try.)

7. When the Gilder's Paste is dry (I usually wait a day but that may be longer than necessary), spray the beads with PYM II to protect the surface. PYM II is great stuff... it doesn't change the color at all.

That's it!

I will post a follow up photo of the finished necklace. I made flat-ish disks out of gold and strung them between the gems to add new texture to the mix. I wore it to work one day and as a group of women passed me in the hallway, I heard one say, "See, *she* wears big jewelry!" Fortunately it was in an approving tone!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Resistance is good!

I've been having fun with a new toy...liquid masking fluid in a fine tipped applicator. I got it at Jerry's Artarama. Here is the link: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/watercolor-paints-and-mediums/masking-tapes-and-fluids/artist-masking-fluid-pen.htm
I used it to make Batik-style beads (see pictures below). Instructions for batik process are below. Super easy and fun.
1. Start with plain white beads. I use Ultralight because i like the surface and I make big beads.
2. Put a few dots or other simple pattern on the bead and let the masking fluid dry (20 min or so). It turns slightly greenish when it's dry.
3. Cover the bead with the lightest color of alcohol ink. I just use my fingers and a paper towel to dab it. As soon as the alcohol is dry put a new design on the bead with the masking fluid.
4. When the masking fluid is dry cover the bead with the next darkest color.
5. Repeat the masking / alcohol steps until you're happy with your design. Don't go nuts... it's easy to overdo it and end up with a mess. 3-4 colors gives a good variety without muddying it up.
6. After you're happy with your design and the ink is dry, rub off the masking fluid and marvel at the pretty colors! 
I embellished with a silver metallic Uni ball gel pen on some of the items. It's a really nice pen. 
I also sprayed the beads with PYM II when I was finished with them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

More colored pencil on clay




All were sprayed with PYM II to protect the surface.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My other love...colored pencil


What be this bee?
Read all the way to the bottom to find out about two giveaways.
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And welcome to Colored Pencil Magazine Readers, if you have landed here by way of the "Paper or Plastic" article in the latest issue. Here's how the article came about and why I decided on the project I chose...

A few weeks ago I received an email from Sally Ford at Colored Pencil Magazine asking me if I would be interested in contributing an article about using colored pencil on polymer clay. She had seen a few of my photos on flickr and my blog and thought her readers would be interested in learning more about the process.

So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to share the love of clay with a whole new gang! I knew that colored pencil users wouldn't necessarily want to start making beads or sculptures or jewelry the way most of us clay folks do. But, they could replace their paper with clay for a different surface that has interesting qualities paper doesn't have.

I also wanted to introduce clay in a way that would complement pencil art and not require anyone to buy a bunch of tools to get started. I opted to feature Ultralight instead of "regular" clay for two reasons:
1) No pasta machine is required
2) The matte Ultralight surface works really well with soft colored pencils (Prismacolors, for example).

The digital copy of the magazine is available for subscribers today and the print copy comes out next week. It was a fun experience and I hope some of the readers give it a shot!
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If you're on Facebook, I would like to mention that I have an Artybecca Facebook page. Go on and Like my page if you want to follow along on my clay, and now, clay and colored pencil adventures. (There might also be an occasional appearance of pencil on Shrinky-Dink plastic and balsa wood shapes!)
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I came up with an easy project with instructions for the readers to try.
Here are photos of the pieces I made, before and after coloring:


I used an organza bag before curing to texturize the surface of this one. It looks nice but I found the colored pencils works best on a completely smooth surface. Before I tried it, I didn't think that would be the case, but it was.
The dark outlines on this one were made with liquid polymer, added after the first curing. I think it left a very slight residue on the surface that also caused the pencil to not lay down as dark as I wanted.


I couldn't leave out a turtleneck fish, could I? We'll call this one a flounder because he only has one side! I used acrylic paint to fill the lines on the fishie. I added it after the first curing and waited until it was totally dry to add the colored pencil. I sprayed the fish and the flower pieces with PYM II to protect the pencil.

No texturing on this surface, just a smooth, unsanded finish.
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I included links to Ginger Allman Davis's The Blue Bottle Tree blog where she has great information. I thought her posts about curing and finishing would make the readers feel more confident about trying the project.



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Colored Pencil Magazine is sold as a digital download or hard copy by mail subscription.
You can subscribe to it here.
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GIVEAWAY!
To celebrate, I'll do a giveaway of two cute little bees I made using this technique. One is a fridge magnet, one is a lapel pin. Put a comment on the blog and you'll be entered in a drawing for one or the other. Please include if a pin, a magnet, is your first choice.
Here's one of the little bee dudes!


And wait...there's more! 


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hold still there, little fishies

While wandering through the craft store yesterday I hit upon a solution to hold my beads and little fishies still while I take photos of them.

Neutral colored decorative sand in a glass dish! You can position the items any way you wish and they stay in place.

You don't want grains of sand that are too small or they will stick to your items. But at the size shown here, the grains easily brush off when you need to reposition the item for the next picture.

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