Saturday, March 29, 2014

Soup Mail Received

After two trips through the mail, the bead soup I created for my BSBP partner (Arlene Dean of a glass bash) is finally in her hands!  While my package was in transit from my home to hers, she heeded the call to help out family in another state.  So, when she realized how quickly the reveal date will be looming upon her, she enlisted her family back at her home to forward the package to where she is staying.  I'm relieved that she finally has it!

So, here's a photo of the entire soup I sent:

As you can see, I was thinking in terms of burgundy reds, purples and gold.  I included: some yardage of silk ribbon that is dyed in purple to red gradations with sparks of gold thread, there is some yardage of both a grey color and a red tone of bamboo cordage, some gold tone chain, french ear wires, 2 brass filigree pieces, some czech glass beads in vials - in tones of red to lavender, yellow gold, and purple to black, the beads on strands are - one strand of large teardrop shaped purple agate, the next row are round purple and rose colored marble stone beads, some clear glass teardrops, two strands of faceted crystal beads that have burgundy/magenta sides, a strand of rose colored faceted crystal beads and a strand of gold colored freshwater pearls, and handmade components of polymer clay flower blossom headpins, a fan shaped dyed tyvek focal, a polymer fan shape with donut clasp, and a handful of rustic polymer disc beads.

Here's a shot of the handmade components:

 The first pieces I made (and which set the tone for the color scheme) were the flower bud shaped headpins which I made using the tutorial from polymer artist Lillian de Vries, her lovely blog is called "at the clayground".  You can find her tutorial for these flower beads here.  Here's an up-close look at those flowers:

My partner had commented that she really liked my tyvek flowers and shells.  So I had originally intended to try something new, in creating a dyed tyvek flower surrounding one of these polymer buds.  Well, when it was finished, I wasn't as happy with it, so I decided to make her one of the shell/fan shaped pieces, sticking to a color scheme of burgundy/magenta/pinks and purples with accents of gold.  Here's the final focal that I created using cut, formed and heat fused upcycled tyvek that was hand dyed:

I wanted to make some polymer beads in the same tones of the flower blossoms, so I made these rustic shaped discs in the same hues and added gold to their edges:

And finally, the clasp I made in a polymer fan shape with a donut connector in the same color tones as the flower blossoms too.

I really loved this soup and wanted to keep it for myself, but I am afraid my funky style will prove to be a challenge for my partner.  When we began our dialog, she didn't give me any information on the types of things she likes, and her blog doesn't really give me much to go on either... she just said that she doesn't like to provide too much information so that she can have a challenge.  So, I made and curated a soup that I would love to receive. So far, my partner has said that she really likes the flower headpins, but not much else about it.. so hopefully those pieces will provide enough inspiration to figure out how to utilize the rest of the soup ingredients.  I gather that my style and my partner's style are likely quite different and I believe that using the both soups will prove to be a challenge for us both!  Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the creativity that comes from a challenge, so I am really looking forward to both my creating and seeing what my partner makes of my funky collection to her.  The reveal date is May 5th, so be sure to check back to see what everyone in the Bead Soup Blog Party has created!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Diamond in the rough

I had decided to do something with a different shape for the April PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy) challenge.  The theme this month is "containers".  I had this wooden form in the shape of a hexagon that tapers to a point (the shape of the bottom of my piece).  Something in the shape reminded me of a faceted diamond and thus the wheels went spinning! 

My first job was to cover the wooden pyramid with translucent white clay.  That was then covered with gradients of black to translucent white cut into triangular shapes to give the feel of light reflecting on the facets of a stone. 

The bottom part, having been cured twice, was finished when I set to work on the top.  I had figured if I covered just the widest part of the wooden form up only part of the way, this would create the walls of my lid and should sit easily on top of the base, but how to get the flat piece on the top of the lid?  Well, I just happened to have a big Fat Daddio's hexagon cutter which I used to first determine how far up the wooden form the lid walls needed to come and then cut out a flat piece of translucent white clay.  After curing both the lid walls and the flat hexagon, I glued the two together.  Because I wanted the lid to sit securely in place, I needed to build up a lip inside the lid's mouth, so I did that in the next baking and added another layer of translucent to give more strength to the lid.  After another curing, I then mapped out and placed layers of black to translucent white value in triangle and polyhedron shapes to mimic light refracting off the facets of a stone.

After curing a final time, I sanded and polished for hours.  I was almost afraid I wouldn't make the deadline, but I squeeked it in with an hour and a half to spare! The metal holder was something I hadn't originally planned, but when I had considered this piece laying on it's side and the potential of the lid falling off from the angle which it had to sit, I decided only yesterday to go to my local thrift store.  It seems that whenever I am in need of something specific, serendipity or my fairy god mother, just makes it appear at my thrift store.  I'm quite lucky in that regard.  I had wanted something gold.  I think this piece had once belonged to a copper coffee carafe, it is an aged copper metal (close enough!).  And the hole and three support curves were perfect for my 6 sided geometrical shape!  

While the piece doesn't really scream faceted stone, as the original thought had been, I do like the minimalist geometric shape of this piece and the design interest which the varying values in shapes lends to the whole.  If I were to recreate this piece I would construct the bottom in similar fashion to the top, with more solid values instead of gradations... lesson learned.

Another interesting thing with this piece, is that it can be flipped around to have the lid be the bottom and the bottom become the lid.  With this switch, it can even be simply set on a table without the metal holder.  I like it both ways, but think I prefer my originally intended positioning idea.  Though there are a few things I would change to remake this piece, I am quite happy with how it turned out.  I do think it's a deviation from my typical style, but that's just my opinion, others might see this as fitting right in with the rest of my work....  And I think it is an example of how my handwork is getting better with executing my crazy ideas.  I noticed with this piece, and with the last, that things just seem to fall in place and work out the way they were intended with little struggle, which has not always been the case in my history.  I know that in setting a goal for myself, to complete a full year of my guild's challenges (I'm now halfway into my 2nd year of continuous entries), it has strengthened my skills and honed my idea process, for which I am so grateful.

What about you?  Is there anything that you have done to sharpen your talents or hone your idea process?  If so, please share with me in the comments!  And let me know what you think of this new piece!

Voting for this challenge opens on April 1st and will run through April 7th at midnight.  I'll be sure to post again here, as a reminder!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Soup mail!

I received soup in the mail yesterday!  That is, bead soup...  I signed up to do the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party which is organized by Lori Anderson of the Pretty Things Blog.

So the way this blog party works is that we are given a partner with whom we swap a gift of soup beads, and then we have a month or so to design something with the soup that we received.  The soup each person receives is totally unique and a complete surprise.  The soup must contain a focal, a clasp and complimenting beads.  Lori Anderson, and a few people who help her, processed all the requests to join the party and spent loads of time partnering everyone.  This was a Herculean task to say the least, as this blog party has something like 600 participants, and she endeavors to not repeat partnerships from past bead soup blog parties. 

Lori partnered me with a glass bead artist named Arlene Dean who blogs over at A Glass Bash.  Arlene sent me a beautiful package that I received yesterday (March 21st).  It was presented in a beautiful little box with a matching gift card:

I opened the box and I first laid eyes on this:

Beautiful blue silk sari ribbon and some great metal textural plates!  So fun!  I've always wanted to try some sari ribbon, so I was thrilled to see that!

Delving further into the box contents revealed some spools of wire and these organza bags:

...and upon opening those bags, here's the full soup:

I love the focal, it really reminds me of SPRING with those bright colors!  I think Arlene must have known that since I'm in PA, I've had a long winter and am craving spring!  And the clasp is darling, two interlocking butterflies.  Here's a close up of the focal, clasp and large green lampwork glass bead:

 The complimenting beads are a melange of various sorts, which also remind me of spring.  I really love the large moss agate beads and the bright pink dyed shell beads.  There are a couple various colors of freshwater pearls, a couple acrylic pearls and the rest are mostly faceted glass or czech beads.  Here's a close up of the bead mix:

I'm really looking forward to creating something with my soup.  The gears are churning already!  The reveal is on May 3rd, so you'll have to check back then to see what recipes I come up with to utilize these charming soup ingredients!

As this is a swap, I did indeed send my partner a package of soup.  It's likely at her house by now, but while it was in transit from my home to hers, she had to attend to some family matters elsewhere; so it awaits her opening.  Thus, I cannot share a photo of the soup I mixed for her until her eyes have seen it in person... I will tell you that I have a couple handmade components in her soup and it's all coordinated in a color combo that I love, but rarely use myself.  I will post photos of what I sent her as soon as I hear that she's opened the package, so check back soon to see what I concocted!

Have you joined in any of the past Bead Soup Blog Parties? If so, leave me a comment telling me about your experience, and remember to post a link so I can check out what you did with the soup!  If you haven't, leave me a comment anyway and tell me how you'd use my soup ingredients! ;)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Voting!

Time to vote! Go to the PCAGOE blog to cast your vote and be entered to win a prize! Voting is now open and will close on March 7th at midnight... 

Check out all the Eggcelent entries...