Saturday, July 25, 2015

She sells seashells...

...down by the seashore.

Perhaps I've been daydreaming about a trip to the beach far too often this summer. When the time came to construct a fairy house for my (PCAGOE) guild's August challenge, I automatically began thinking about a fairy who lived at the beach. As a child, I was fortunate to have parents who would take us to the beach nearly every summer. As an adult, it hasn't been as easy to get to the beach every summer; in fact, it's been many years since I've felt the sand between my toes and the sea salt in my hair. I guess that's why every project I've done in the last couple months has had a beach/summer color palette. The ocean is calling me, and this is presently my only outlet.

It all began with a shell... at the start of this project, I had decided that my fairy would set up house in a whelk shell she had found on the beach. Well, after I created my little whelk shell, I loved it so much that I didn't have the heart to bury half of it in polymer sand, nor did I want to add a door or cut a hole in it for adding a window. I wasn't completely sold on this idea in the first place, so I gave the theme some more thought.

Above: Shell (before adding orange color and gloss to interior)
Below: finished shell

I considered abandoning the beach theme and doing a woodland fairy house. But I persevered and inspiration struck when I was brainstorming things one might find at a beach. I had wanted to incorporate polymer sea glass, because I adore sea glass. I came up with the idea of a sea worn bottle fully intact, yet partially covered with coral calcification and tiny seashells. This would be a fairy's lighthouse! Can you just imagine her magical light illuminating the inside of the bottle? The cap of the bottle can be removed, so one can insert a glow stick or small battery powered light to illuminate the bottle.

I decided that I would use the faux glass effect tutorial, by Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree, to create the sea glass pebbles that would be the stepping stones to the door of the light house, and also to cover portions of the bottle that would become the lighthouse. I was so pleased with the effect of the faux sea glass. Ginger's tutorial is so well written and illustrated that it's perfect for all levels of experience, beginner through advanced; so if you love the look of sea glass, I highly recommend buying the tutorial. I wanted to incorporate tiny seashells encrusted in the coral on the bottle, and I wanted all pieces to be made from polymer, so I set to work and created some tiny horn, whelk, olive, scallop, oyster and snail shells. I used a white and translucent Premo mix and hand sculpted each shell, sometimes adding inks before sculpting, sometimes after sculpting. I was fairly pleased with my little handmade shells. You can catch sight of those tiny shells here:

The door was to be made of faux driftwood with the smallest of snail shells as a door knob. To create the door I used Premo Rhino colored clay which I sculpted in layers to give the look of water worn wood. After curing the door was antiqued with burnt umber water based oil paint, to bring out the details:

The faux coral was created with various items to give texture and indentations. I used a blend of Premo white and translucent, with some inclusions (scrap clay left over from a previous project). After curing, I gave a gentle antiquing to the coral parts by sparingly brushing the burnt umber water based oil and immediately rubbing with a wet cloth to give only the faintest color.

For a final touch I decided to create one more beach item (a starfish) and a sandy pedestal for my little fairy lighthouse ensemble. The starfish was created with a blend of Premo white and translucent,  it was hand sculpted, given color with inks of yellow and orange and given a treatment of texture using a firm brush.

The sandy pedestal was created with a blend of Premo white, translucent and rhino, which wasn't completely blended together to create a solid color, some streaks were left behind to give the feel of beach sand's varying colors. I gave a light dusting of the entire sand pedestal with macro pearl Pearl-ex powder (not easy to see in the photos), to mimic the shine of mica in the sand. I textured the faux sand with a crumpled up ball of tin foil, and indented areas for where the lighthouse should be placed, as well as indentations for where the sea glass stepping stones and whelk shell would be placed. All items of this little set are moveable for flexibility in decoration.

I am really pleased with my little fairy light house, and still in love with the idea of a beach fairy! But, this little piece is not something I need to keep for myself. The large whelk shell does beg me to keep it because it sculpted so easily and (I think) turned out so well), but I don't really want to break up the set. So, I believe this entire little set will find itself available for adoption in my createmyworld etsy shop within the next week or so... 

What do you think of my little fairy house? Please leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts! Voting for this challenge opens on August 1st (how can it be almost August already?!?). I will try to post a reminder here when the challenge is open for voting! Thanks for stopping by to check out my little fairy light house, and please consider leaving me a comment! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Polymer Cover-up

I'm posting about a project that was completely independent, i.e. not driven by a guild challenge! ;) Don't get me wrong, I love my guild challenges, but I never seem to post about other projects here. This one happened because I have this coral/salmon colored t-shirt that acquired some bleach spots at the bottom. I love the cut and fit of this t-shirt and really didn't want to retire it to the household chore wardrobe. So, I decided to cover up the spots, with polymer!

I sketched out a basic radial design in washable fabric pen, then I set to work attaching small circle and oval cut outs of polymer in shades of blue and white (yep, still in that orange/blue phase that I've been in for the last 2 months...) ;) The blue and white clays were rolled out to a thin gauge (#4 on my Imperia pasta machine, which has a range of 6 different thicknesses, #1 being thickest and #6 being thinnest). I used a tiny round kemper cutter to cut the round circles, and I used the empty ferrule of an old paintbrush that lost it's bristles to make the tiny oval slivers. I kept the cut pieces small to eliminate cumbersome feeling within the shirt and keep the fabric movable. I attached each cut shape by applying bake n bond to the backside of the polymer pieces. I worked in segments of about 6" by 8", curing in between segments to keep the areas for curing totally flat in the oven. 
Here's a shot of the shirt before the applied polymer, you can see the bleach spots (lower center and right) that I was trying to mask:

So, next time (and I do plan to do more of these), I will use a thinner setting on the pasta machine for my polymer sheeting, probably #5. While the #4 guage worked okay here, it did add a bit of weight to the shirt. I also think that a thinner setting will make for a sturdier design. You might ask, is it machine washable? I tested that, this shirt has gone through the wash on a normal cycle and survived, only one of the polymer pieces came off (as you can see in the front view below). This I consider a success, and I will be replacing the piece that came off. If you decide to try this for yourself, please consider washing your finished garment (in cold water only) with small loads of laundry or, choose delicate cycle or hand wash to avoid causing any missing pieces... and always air dry (heat from the dryer could effect the polymer).

The design wraps around the side and also spreads across the back. Here's the flat back view:

And the flattened side view:

I had so much fun making this, I love that I saved a favorite shirt, and I love how it turned out! I can hardly wait to jazz up another piece of clothing! I can also see this idea put into use to cover up unwanted holes in clothing.... lots of ideas running around in my head! So, until my next project posting, leave me a comment and tell me what you think about my polymer bedecked T-shirt... Thanks!

UPDATE 7/19/15: I just reattached the one piece that went missing after machine washing, and I removed and replaced the one circle that (for whatever reason) got a little darker than the rest.  It must have been touching the side of the oven at one point and got a bit scorched. Let me tell you, removing that little circle was tough! I couldn't believe how fast it was attached... and it ended up tearing into the blue clay and leaving a bit of the blue behind... I was thinking it would just pop off with a little pressure, but it did not! So, now I'm even more certain about the strength of these little pieces attached to the shirt. 

I'm so happy to report that this project was shared on Polymer Clay Daily!! Here's the link:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Last Minute Reminder!

I nearly forgot to post a reminder about voting for the July Texture Plate Challenge! If you missed my post about my entry, you can find it here. Just look at all the wonderful pieces created by my guild mates for this event:

As usual, I had a tough time choosing my 3 favorites because of the many wonderful interpretations on the theme. Please take a moment and choose your 3 favorite entries, then cast your vote at our website. Don't delay, voting ends tonight (7-7-2015) at midnight EST! Remember, you could win a prize, just for voting!!