Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chase Country Christmas

I cannot believe it has been three years since we moved from the Vancouver coast to the little Village of Chase in the mountains and right next to the Shuswap lake.  The first weekend of every December is the Chase Country Christmas which is becoming a real tradition for us along with all the other people who live here and in the area.

Candy Canes are the theme for this year which is what inspired me to make the candy cane beads to create our candy cane jewelry.  (To make your own, see the "free tutorials" at the top of this blog.)

We had some of our candy cane sets for sale at our first two Christmas markets we were in and sold out both times so had to make more for this coming market.

Besides the usual market, there are other activities throughout the weekend.  Small local businesses such as the grocery store, hardware store and drugstore sponsor different events which are a great way to get to know our neighbors.

Here is a schedule of events to give you an idea of all the fun:

We are hoping the weather cooperates for the parade Friday evening.  It has snowed on and off but fortunately none of it has stayed on the ground.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peppermint Swirl Buttons

I had a request to make little peppermint swirl buttons in red and white so this is how they turned out...

Carla posted a photo of the finished sweater with the buttons.  She has a wonderful blog about her quilting and other beautiful projects which you will find here....

We are busy this week getting ready for our last two Christmas shows.  Hope you all have a good day!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our New Button Packaging

Our new button packaging that was on backorder for some time finally arrived so we have been busy repackaging our inventory.  They are the crystal clear packages and show off the buttons better.  This packaging sure beats attaching hundreds of buttons to cards that end up coming off or tearing.  They also keep the buttons clean from all the handling.

We've been making our rounds to all the stores that carry our buttons and have been changing their inventory over to the new packaging as well which they are very appreciative.  They all like the new look as well and feel sales should increase even more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Polymer Clay Addiction

Even though I do not smoke or drink alcohol or coffee, I must confess I do have one addiction and that is to my polymer clay.  I do not eat it, of course, but I love to play with it sooo much I cannot help myself.  My friend, a fellow clay artist, Wendy, asked me if I ever sleep.  Well to answer that I do sleep -- actually I think I sleep a lot.  I get at least 9 hours each night and sometimes I even sleep in the day.  So other than sleeping and eating, let's just say a good amount of my time is taken up with my clay.

This past week we have been busy with other things such as catching up on bookwork (ugh!), making more Dremel buffing pads, and packaging buttons.

Speaking of Dremel buffing pads, I was having a hard time finding more of the material we like to use when we make them but I was looking for the same cloth in the dark yellow color.  I finally found some but it was in pink this time.  My claymate Dave must be a liberated man as he said he doesn't mind working with the pink ones as long as they still do the job.  (Grin)

Anyhow, all this extra stuff has taken me away from my clay habit and I was telling Dave I had these strong urges and was almost feeling symptoms of withdrawl.  He told me that there must be some sort of intervention for such a thing but then maybe my habit isn't so bad since it is at least productive!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polishing Your Polymer Clay Pieces With a Dremel

For some time we had been searching for the perfect finish for our polymer clay.  We prefer a more natural sheen when a piece has been sanded smooth and then buffed with a soft cloth.  But after some time we found the pieces would go dull and look lifeless.  We started experimenting with various varathanes and glazes but were not totally satisfied.  We found if you didn't put it on just right it would leave streaks and if the glaze was too thick it looked too much like shiny plastic".

I then came across an article posted by Lindly Huanani titled "Stop the Glop".  As soon as I read it, I knew we were finally on to something.  The article was regarding how so many people try to add all sorts of glazes on their polymer clay pieces when you really do not need anything at all.  She went on to mention about using an archival type wax such as Renaissance.

We decided to give it a try and were amazed at the beautiful finish it gave!  This is what we discovered and how we prefer to use it.

1.  Sand your pieces first until you have a nice smooth finish.  You will find instructions on sanding your pieces in the "Polymer Clay Tips" section at the top of this blog. 

2.  Apply the wax to your clay pieces and allow to "dry or soak in" for a minimum of 10 minutes.  The longer you leave it, the better the finish.

3.  To remove the wax we use two different cloths.  One is a piece of a cotton rag for wiping off the excess wax .  The second cloth is used for buffing such as an old rag t-shirt or piece of denim.

4.  For a high shine, after (or instead of) the second buffing by hand with the cloth, you can buff your piece with a buffing wheel.

We use a simple dremel set-up in a drill press for easier handling (as shown).

We did not like the buffing pads that you buy for the dremel as they were too harsh so we followed Desiree McCrorey's instructions for making your own.  The most difficult part was finding the right material.  We tried various types of fabrics and discovered they are all not the same.  Some of them were so harsh they would actually damage the clay piece.  When we found the right material we could not believe the difference it made.  Our pieces buffed up to a high shine in a matter of seconds when using just the "lightest touch".

You can make your own buffing pads like we did, or if you would prefer to purchase them already made we now have more available in our ArtFire studio.  We sell them in a pack of three so they will last you a while.  (Just click on the  photo below to order.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Introducing Katja's Quilt Shoppe

Our work has been slowly expanding into more stores and as of this week, our beads, buttons and shawl pins are now sold in 7 quilting, yarn and craft shops.

Katja's Quilt Shoppe in Kamloops is now selling some of our handcrafted buttons and we will be making some specialty items just for her store which I am quite excited about.  I will show you a hint of what I will be doing.  Katja has a quilt pattern logo that she uses throughout her store.  She had asked if it was possible for me to put her logo into clay so I wanted to give it a try.  Here is the cane I created before the final reduction:

And here is the store logo (I took a photo of the one on the store window):

And now here is a pendant I made with the cane for Katja.

I didn't like how the cane became slightly distorted when I reduced it so I am working on some ideas on how to get around that.  I would like to get into creating other quilt patterned items and this was a good jumpstart for me and I can hardly wait to do more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Home Decor Pieces

I made my first soap/trinket dish for a housewarming gift for some friends.  Their home decor is in silver, grey and black so decided to go with a leaf pattern in those shades.  This was actually my first prototype and I love how the design worked out and plan to make more in different styles.

I hadn't made any candle collars in a while but finally got around to finishing a new set in the chandelier style for a wedding gift.  Their home decor colors were similar to our friends so went with the same leaf pattern.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Dreamin

I finally did it!  I ordered the Dream Machine for an early Christmas present to myself. 

I had a lot of pain in my shoulder for some time now and after checking with my doctor he told me I had tendinitis in my shoulder rotator cuff.  He said the only way to help it was to stop cranking my machine.

I have a wonderful Atlas 180 with modified blades for easy cleaning but I have not found a motor powerful enough for the amount of clay that I use.  I am looking forward to this new machine with it's heavy duty motor.  My claymate hopes it can crank out my clay without making me so cranky! lol!

I will let you know when it arrives and how it turns out....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tiger Print Buttons

We love to see what others have created using our tutorials, beads or buttons.  This is a photo someone sent us of a beautiful neck warmer scarf they made using our round tiger print buttons.  

We have more tiger print as well as other animal print buttons in our Etsy Shop and ArtFire Studio.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas Show in Westwold

Our second Christmas show for the year was yesterday in the little town of Westwold.  We thoroughly enjoyed the country setting with home baked pies, Christmas decorations and music and even a short flurry of snow outside for a festive atmosphere.

We have been going with a more festive theme in our displays this year adding touches of metallic red and silver.  Our set-up here at this show was similar to our last one but more compact since we had less space. The main idea is to utilize the area in the best way possible without it looking too cluttered.  The other most important thing we have found is to have good lighting which really brightens up everything and shows off all the true colors.

We set up a separate display for our shawl/scarf/hair pins as  we feel they deserve their own space.  I happened to have this white sweater that doesn't look so good on me to wear but makes an excellent backdrop and prop to attach and show off the shawl pins.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Make Quick & Easy Earring Stands for Christmas

We wanted some cool stands to show off our earrings on cards at our Christmas shows and had an idea as to what we wanted.  I planned to make some from clay but our time was limited with more pressing orders to fill instead so I came up with a quick and easy way that was also inexpensive.  It involved a trip to a dollar/discount store where I found some photo/name card holders.


Unfortunately they only had ones in a wedding theme which did not fit in with our jewelry display so I improvised and covered them up like this:

I found some gorgeous metallic laser gift wrap in red which happened to be silver on the opposite side to wrap the card holders in.

The name card holder was attached to a card with a metallic silver twist tie.  If yours has the same, you can save them and use them like I did or use ribbon of your choice.

Cut circle shapes from your gift wrap using pinking shears or fancy scrap booking cutters.  I used a bowl to draw the circles out that was just the right size.

I didn't want the top of the card holder to show so I used a scrap piece of the same paper to wrap the upper part.  I kept in mind as to what side of the gift wrap I was going to use.  If the silver was showing on the outside for instance, I would cover the top part of the holder in red to match with the inside of the gift wrap which would be red.

Now center the card holder in the gift wrap circle you cut out and bring it up to create a nice "package".

Your place card holder might be a different shape than what I have here so you may have to play around a bit to see what works best but these ones had an indent towards the bottom so I used the metallic silver twist tie to hold the gift wrap in place.  A pretty ribbon would have worked nicely as well.

As you can see we made a few of them with some silver showing on the outside and others with red.

Here we used them in our last show and they worked very well for us as we could display our earrings next to any other jewelry pieces that matched.

Our next show is this Saturday in Westwold which we are looking forward to.  Our display will be a little different  again as we try to customize it to each show and the type of space we have.  We will share on that after with more pics.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finished Our First Show for the Christmas Season

Our first Christmas show was yesterday at the Kamloops Craft-a-fair.  It was a very busy and successful show and great start for the season.  Our booth set-up was a little different again this year with some new display props added.  We used all of our new "hand" displays as well as some framed photos of our niece modeling our jewelry.  Seeing the pieces on an actual person must have helped as we sold more of these "modeled" pieces than any other.

We also made these little stands to show off our earrings.  I planned to make some from clay but had too many things to do and too little time so I improvised with these.  I will show you in our next blog post how you can make your own.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When Wendy Meets Julie

Ever since I took Julie Picarello's workshop 2 years ago, I cannot stop playing with her mokume technique and creating all sorts of lizard tails.  The same goes with Wendy Orlowski's CaBezels.  So what happens when you combine the two?  You can come up with something like this -- my new Lizard CaBezel Collar Necklace.

I used Wendy's latest CaBezel (3 Fab Focals "Two"), to create the Bezel and cabochon with some mokume using Julie's technique.  I now feel some more new designs coming on and can't wait to put them into clay!