Friday, August 31, 2012

"Upcycled Magic" Plastic Earrings

A couple of years ago, I started blogging about #6 plastic, and how it can be shrunk in the oven to make really neat earrings. Since I started, there are a few things I've learned about this stuff.

The lids and containers these are made from: The way those were made in the first place is by being stretched into gigantic, thin sheets. The material reacts on memory. So when you shrink it again, it wants to reverse in the same direction.
That's why I get some rectangles that come out longer, and some wider. This can make it very difficult to control. And, as in the case of earrings where I'm wanting matching pairs, somewhat frustrating. I will get a better yield if I keep adjacent pieces from the same sheets, that were cut in the same direction, together.

Safety: Shrinking this plastic without use of proper ventilation may be very harmful! Where I used to live, the exhaust on my oven was very effective at venting any fumes outside. Once, I thought using a toaster oven might provide a more even heat source or something-but the fumes had no vent! It was horrible. I had to turn on a bunch of fans and get out of the house. So please, if you must use a toaster oven, set it up outside.

Other notes: It would be fun if we could cut out other shapes, like letters, or triangles, swirls. Of course you could try that, but I've found that more corners or angles tend to curl up when they shrink. Once my brother and I cut a #6 plastic foggy-type drinking cup. A piece of the curved side. It shrunk to a white, curled up piece like a thick tortillion or a seashell.

If you need more details on this home-made shrinky dink, see this old post-I'm sorry about the missing pictures, please forgive me =(

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Progressing In Polymer Clay

    Two years ago this month, I started experimenting with polymer clay. I was fascinated by the things I saw people making with it, and all I knew was that I wanted to do it too! As a jewelry artisan who does not bead-weave or wire wrap, I was really tired of the limited selection of mass-produced beads and pendants. I needed to design my own. The only thing I regret is not having discovered this wonderful medium a long time ago.

    Since 2010, I've slowly gathered different tools and materials, learned a few popular techniques, and had lots of trial and error. I'm still a beginner in the grand scheme of things, and I love it. All day I see things that inspire ideas in some shape or form, and I can't wait to get back to my clay station.

I've practiced at a wee bit of everything. Here is a list of some of my favorite techniques and materials so far:


    The first lesson is, let your canes rest and cool before reducing, and reduce slowly. I learned this the hard way. Phase out Sculpey III, it's too soft. Some tools and equipment that are imperative are: pasta machine and tissue blades. Some that are really helpful but not as imperative are: brayer, shape cutters, and extruder gun. The extra tools (and patience) are the ones that will help make your work look more clean and precise. I still need to get shape cutters and a brayer.

    Choose highly contrasting colors for caning. Slice thinly and consistently, keeping in mind the "spread factor" when the slices are flattened. Don't be afraid of waste, with polymer clay there is no waste. I should follow my own advice here, my problem is not wanting to run out of specific colors. Then I have to drive in rush hour traffic, screaming out the window, "I need RED damnit, RED!!" That's normal, right?

Alcohol Inks

     Alcohol inks like Tim Holtz Ranger Inks or Pinata are great for tinting polymer clay or creating cool effects. Personally, my favorite thing to do with them is dye my own pearl and mica clays-so I have a wider variety of metallic colors. I love combining different pearl colors for mokume gane and mica shift. Oh, and that's another reason that I prefer rubbing alcohol and coffee filters over baby wipes, since these inks need to be cleaned up with it anyway. The alcohol is a lot more thorough at cleaning my hands between colors (even without inks) and the filters are more cost effective.

 I like pearls for general sculpting too:

This last one is pretty simple, but still worth mention. "Backfilling" with acrylic paints to make a texture pop. I'm not sure if that's the correct term, but hey. You paint on your cured piece, filling in the cracks, and then quickly wipe the paint off the raised surface with a damp filter. You'll want to have tested the paint beforehand, for compatibility. Most acrylic paints will work, but you may find one that refuses to dry-like, ever. 

Pieces like these that have a surface pigment can't be sanded and buffed (for obvious reasons), and need some kind of sealant. I use a Varathane brand water based polyurethane gloss. (Avoid Sculpey glaze that comes in the little jar, it's garbage) Future floor polish is popular. I have yet to sand and buff my pieces, but from what I understand, no varnish known to man will produce the glassy shine that you get from sanding and buffing. Guess that's next on my list...

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed my little article-since my posts are so few and far between these days, I'd better try to make them worth the read.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's Not Painted On-It's Cane Work!

You've seen it on many things, from beads, to vases and beautiful jewelry boxes. Intricate and repeating patterns that look like they were meticulously painted onto a surface. Meticulous, they certainly are, but not painted. When you understand how polymer clay canes are made, you acquire a whole new appreciation for the amazing results.
Polymer clay canes are made by arranging and stacking clay in different colors so that a certain pattern or image will appear every time it is sliced. If you imagine making a rainbow cake that consists of five layers, each layer a different color, the concept is easy to understand. Every slice of the cake will have the same pattern.
Canes can be made for simple spiral, or "jellyroll" patterns, or as intricate as flowers and faces. Renaissance Gal of San Antonio created this mime cane that I absolutely adore:
From the example above, you can see how canes like that are made in several stages. A cane for the mouth, eyes, nose, etc. are made separately and then combined to form one log. The images are large at the beginning, and then the cane can be "reduced." That's the process of gentle stretching and pulling that reduces the cane to a smaller scale.
I have drawn a diagram that demonstrates the basic steps in one of the simplest kinds of cane, the leaf:
It begins with one cylindrical "plug" of clay, which is cut and inserted with a sheet of another clay color, represented by the blue. This is done three times until in step B, when a fourth sheet is added, that half of the cylinder is flipped over before putting the pieces back together. Now the blue lines converge. In step C, a final wrap of the whole log is made. This log can now be pinched along the top to change the round shape into a leafier one. My tutorial for making a leaf cane is here. Now, every time this log is sliced, this leaf will appear:
Here are some earrings I made from slices of my first, somewhat floral, cane:
So now you know the details behind these intricate patterns in polymer clay. Cane work takes a lot of practice and patience to master. There are other special techniques that produce interesting pattens too, that also appear "painted." Mokume Gane is one with many variations and striking effects.
I made the above bracelet using the polymer clay mokume gane technique. This is a good method for artisans like myself who are still struggling with caning.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more of my creations, please check out Ecclectic LadyLand on Facebook or visit my jewelry shop on Artfire.
Cheers =D

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The instructions said to use a cardboard guide. Did I? No, the small boxes I have lying around already have a re-purpose. Shipping. The instructions said to use a paperback. Did I? No, all the paperbacks I can spare, I trade for others. But...

I have old encyclopedias ready for something like this. I tore off the binding, front and back covers. Sharp box cutter ready, I began cutting a pumpkin shape through the pages. Marley helped.


                                              "What, mom? You's makin' da mess dis time."

So, the result of my labor was not even close to as snazzy and stylish as the DIY instructional. But it's cute. Live and learn!

I think I'll stick to beadwork and polymer clay for now.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summertime Safety! Fun, Fashion, and Avoiding Lobster Skin

Oh, the barbeques! Poolside margaritas, kids with water balloons...just a few great things about summer. However, being a fair skinned girl, the summer sun really chaps my hide (ha-ha). My family took a trip to the beach, and they all came back toasted red, despite their spray-on sunblock. Today I'm going to talk about sunblock basics, common mistakes in its use, and other matters of warm weather fun.

Things to know : Chemical sunscreens protect you from sunburn by absorbing UVB rays, not reflecting them-but they are very effective when applied as directed. Physical kinds, like ones that contain inert minerals such as zinc and titanium oxides, reflect both UVA and UVB rays away from your skin.
When it's cool/overcast your risk of damage is not reduced! Extended periods in the sun are still bad for your skin, and the rays effects will cumulate. You may not feel the burn until later.
Biggest mistake: Most sunblocks need to be applied at least 15 minutes before exposure, sometimes 30. Do not wait until you get to the beach, for example, to slather it on. The sun had already begun working on you the moment you left home.
Don't rub in spray-ons. Whatever type you choose, read the label. All SPF's and brands are not created equal, as far as how often they should be applied, etc. Most need to be reapplied after sweating or water sport, regardless of how waterproof they are supposed to be.
 Alright! So now we are a little better equipped with knowledge to protect our skin. Sometimes things do happen, and we miss a spot, or something goes wrong and we end up with a burn in spite of all advice...that's when I reach for 100% aloe vera gel, alcohol free. Slather it on and aim the cool air conditioner right at it.

Okay, so, skin care-check. What about good stuff? Like tasty beverages...

This "top secret" recipe is looking mighty fine. I bet it would look even better right here on my table. The heat always makes me want to pamper my skin with fresh and fragrant bath products, too. My favorite soap maker has some great selections just right for that!
 And then of course, the things to wear! This shop has some absolutely perfect goodies, like this:

 Gotta beat the heat somehow! I always lose the fight, me and 100+ degree weather can never seem to mesh well. But there are always certain things that make it all better. Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I've Been A Busy Beading Bee

It's about time  to write a refresher course on the land of the eclectic lady. Or Drunkenmimes Ecclectic LadyLand,  that is. There have been so many things to do and create, and so much to learn. It's been a blast making new things with polymer clay, and learning about all of the amazing effects that can be made with it. One successful mica shift pair of earrings, and a lovely floral magazine transfer pendant are just a couple of my favorites.
Layer style necklaces can be especially fetching when the placement of shape is used to please the eye. For that, this is my best example:
Pretty soon my family will have to organize an intervention to get me to stop beading. It will never happen. They'll have to drag me kicking and screaming. Oh look, there's a bead on the floor, gotta go! But, before you leave, check out the pendants I've been hand painting as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five Things I Love About Artfire

You may have heard of Artfire before...and if you haven't, I may have to rescue you from underneath that rock. Or maybe you had it in mind to check it out, but you got busy making delicious pies out of sherbert, shaped like sliced watermelon. Or maybe you forgot because you were preoccupied, trying to cajole your husband into keeping his dentist appointment? It's okay, I forgive you.

Today I am going to share a few of the reasons I am more than satisfied as a handmade seller on It is a wonderful venue for people who want to sell their creations, art, extra supplies, and vintage goods on the internet. I have been a member for just over a year now, and feel a great sense of kinship with the staff and selling community.

Number One: It's a class! A class full of helpful teachers and alumni! Advice, tips, tricks, are readily available from folks who know. The site administrators are quick to answer any questions, and so is the community. Artfire has a strong and well-deserved reputation for listening to their customers (the sellers), including our ideas and input in their brainstorms, and making us feel valued and respected.
There are help guides on every aspect of online selling, and they do all they can to teach sellers the ropes, making it easier for artisans to spend more time creating. I have yet to find customer service like this elsewhere.

Number Two: Tools, glorious tools. I can create coupons, globally edit my listings, customize my own shop (including my studio categories), export and print sales data/invoices, and choose from a number of different payment processors, just to name a few. One of the funnest perks is curating my own "Collections." These may be featured on the sites front page, or even pasted on a website or blog with the widget codes provided.

Number Three: Shopping on Artfire is fun and easy. I do a lot of shopping online, but when I'm looking for unique gifts or particular supplies, this is where it's at. I did my Christmas shopping for on Artfire, and found really special things for my family, things that are 100 times better quality than anything from a department store. I also find it really convenient when I need particular supplies for my jewelry making.

Number Four: I live in a small town and often find it difficult to sell at many shows, particularly at ones that are cost effective. With Artfire, I can share my work with the whole world for a very low monthly rate. Our items are fed to several search engines, and this relieves me of the technical aspects and headache of trying to run my own site. For those who do already run their own sites, the more the merrier. Artfire can help!

Number Five: It's quite personal. When people come to my studio through search engines (which is the majority) or from a direct URL, they think they are visiting my website, not Artfire. I can customize everything, including my banner, layout, colors, featured items...I even pasted a widget code for a chat box so that visitors can speak with me live.

So that's my testimony, straight from the heart ♥.
If you are considering opening a shop on Artfire, you can come test the waters with us. There's no risk of sharks! You can start with a Basic (no fee) studio and get things listed and settled in. I have a special referral code that let's you have your third month of Pro free.

Happy crafting!