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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Art Bead Scene February Challenge

Every month the amazing group of talented artists over at the Art Bead Scene Studio challenge their readers to create a piece of jewelry using art beads inspired by that month's featured artwork. And girl, can they pick some beautiful works to inspire! I know you are probably wondering what an art bead is, so let me tell you. An art bead is defined as a one of a kind, or small batch of beads that are handmade by an independant artist. I decided to dust off my polymer clay tools and half a dozen other supplies, and accept this challenge!

Here is February's Inspiration Artwork titled, Star Lovers, by Warwick Goble
  I loved the colors, the stars, the movement, and especially the birds in this piece! I used a whole laundry list of things to create these beads, including polymer clay, resin, acrylic paints, alcohol inks, embossing powders, crackle glaze, and StazOn ink. I layered and fussed and massaged them until my hands were covered in all kinds of probably carcinogenic goodness! I am rather pleased with the results after not making beads for several months, but you can judge for yourself. I found the perfect sari ribbon to string them on too!

Until Next Time...Challenge Yourself!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Santa on the Rocks

They say the first step is admitting that one has a problem...Hi! My name is Rachel, and I am addicted to the feeling of Christmas morning. You know what I'm talking about? That feeling of excitement, of anticipation, of does Santa really exist, kinda jitters that you had as a kid?  Or as an adult do you get the equivalent feelings of "I wonder what's in this box that rattles like broken glass when I shake the bejesus out of it" or the "I wonder what's in this expensive looking box that appears to have been professionally wrapped by the Junior League president herself" kinda feeling? Oh make no mistake, if by chance that box WAS wrapped by a Junior Leaguer who was raising money for St. Judes outside of Dillards, then it WAS professionally wrapped! But I digress...you see, my friends, for the past year I've mastered the art of recreating that Christmas morning feeling! And would you believe that all it took was some ice, a few carcinogenic dyes, a little soda ash water, some Hefty storage bins, and lots of cotton items! Well to be fair, at this point in my addiction I've purchased several hundred pounds of ice, more than enough carcinogenic dyes and soda ash to be on the ATF's watch list, and the very kind folks at Dharma Trading know me on a first name basis! And I know what you're thinking, and NO I'm not cookin' up some new form of crafty meth!  I am ice dyeing! It's super easy and never fails to give me that Christmas morning rush! Let me show you...
Step one is to gather dyeable items. Cotton is the best and other combinations of materials will result in some pretty awesome things too, so experiment! First, you need to wash the items in a professional laundry detergent and then you soak them in a mixture of soda ash and water for at least 30 minutes. The soda ash water preps the garment by opening up the fibers so that they will take up the dye. Don't skip this step. Now, please note that soda ash water will eat the gel clean off of your fresh manicure, and will leave your hands looking like they belong to an 80 year old who is in dire need of a few boluses of lactated ringers (aka severely dehydrated) if you do not use gloves! And the stuff will put your eyes out if you get any in them. No kidding. Invest is some serious safety glasses and thick rubber gloves for this part of the process! You can find all the supplies and a good tutorial at Dharma Trading Company.
Now gather up an old storage tub. You probably already have one that's missing a lid, or if not just dump out those few Easter decorations that are hogging up a perfectly good ice dye bin. You can put them back in the new one you will buy later. While you are at it, you will need something to set your dyeable thing on so that it doesn't become contaminated by the dye runoff. Confused? Hang on, things are about to make sense. I like to use some metal shelf like things I found in the organizer/kitchen section at Lowes.
So while wearing your rubber gloves and sexy protective eye wear, take the garment out of the soda ash water and twist or scrunch it up and place it on the rack in the storage tub. Here is an example of some napkins I'm about to dye. They look like Cinnabons, don't they? Perfect for Christmas morning if you ask me! They are in a clear tub-yeah I know, I'm fancy like that :)
Now here comes the fun! You get to pretend you are Darth Vader for this part! You will need a respirator for this. Know why? CAUSE THE DYES ARE CARCINOGENIC AND ARE GROUND FINER THAN FROG HAIR and you will inhale a lung full of color so fast that your Pulmonologist won't have time to say ventilator! Get a good respirator, because trust me, you will want to do this again! These are Procion dyes and they come in lots of colors!
I have found that you can do this two ways and get the same results! Yep, its that foolproof!  One is to put ice on the garment and then sprinkle the dyes on the ice, or you can sprinkle dyes on the garment and then add the ice. Either way, the action of the ice melting is what pulls the dye through the material. The twisting of the garment and the trickle of the dye through the garment is what results in the marble effect that is the outcome of this process. It is like tie dying but without all the rubber bands!
This picture shows the first way: garment, ice, then dye..
This is the garment sprinkled with dye prior to adding the ice
ice added on top of the dyes
 Now whichever way you decide to go, you must give it 24 hours to melt. I like to put a batch under ice before I leave my studio for the night, so when I come down the steps in the morning I have that Christmas morning feeling! Look what I got!

Did you notice all the blackish water that is left over? That is why you have the shelf system in place because you don't want your garment sitting in this muck! Now you get to put on your gloves again and rinse the dyed piece with COLD water until the water running out of it is fairly clear. Then the final step is to wash this rinsed garment in HOT water with the same professional laundry detergent you used earlier. This final wash sets the colors. Once you've rinsed and washed your dyed piece you are ready to strut around in it like a proud peacock!

This is a freshly washed batch
I spy with my little eye a...
The colors are simply amazing

And if you are lucky enough to have enough snow, you can use that instead of ice! 

Here are some finished pieces

Until next time...Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Nose Is So Raw...

From the giant grindstone I've had it stuck to this past year!

Apparently the practice of choosing a word for the year to serve as your mantra, really does work! I've been so busy this year working on my art, and raising my two beautiful creatures, that I sat down to blog and discovered that it had been a whole freaking year since I last posted! I guess that comes with the territory of choosing the word "work" for 2017! So here are a few things I've been working on this year...first, an updated photo! I'm trying to get a head start on my crone years!
I've created new lines of beads and expanded into ice dyed clothing 

I've taught several workshops
 I've vended at several shows too!

And I've been busy with my two beautiful creatures!

I chose FOCUS as my word for 2018! What did you choose?

Until next time...get on your grindstone! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Art Bead Scene Challenge

Don't you just love a good challenge? Now, I'm not talking about dumping perfectly good ice water over your head, or wasting expensive cinnamon by the tablespoons, or even trying to out plank your fellow barre friend (ok this one is a secret one, but let's be honest, we ALL do it!) No, I'm talking about a great creative challenge, complete with awesome prompts of masterpiece paintings and topped off with a Pinterest board! I'm talking about the monthly art challenge for jewelry designers created by Art Bead Scene!

This is February's prompt: An oil on canvas, titled "The Two Crowns" by Sir Francis Dicksee
I decided that with all that wonderful color, that I would make one of my paper Dragon Beads. They are crafted using well over 100 circles of paper that are then inked around the edges and adhered to a 16 mm wooden core bead. They are finished off with Ice Resin for durability.
Here is the other side of the same bead
What do you think? Do you think this qualifies as an art bead? I can't wait to start on next month's challenge! I'm thinking that one will involve polymer clay...

Until Next Time...Challenge Yourself!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wanting Walden

Henry David Thoreau once said, "Man wanted a home, a place for warmth, or comfort, first of physical warmth, then the warmth of the affections." I'll agree with that, but I want mine to be nestled into the mountainside with great wifi reception, unobstructed views of the stars and a natural gas supply! Seriously though, for as long as I can remember, I've had a love for cabins and barns...log cabins, stone cabins, shacks, horse barns, tobacco barns, barns in various stages of implosion, and more likely than not, kudzu covered... I look at them and wonder about the lives that have subsisted both in and around them. Oh the stories these vessels must hold...joy, sadness, triumph, grief...hopes for the next generation, lives lived with both grace and grit...meals shared, unanswered prayers and unconditional love...

So what does a girl do when her own life-size Walden is currently out of reach? She makes her own- in miniature! I found a really good online tutorial by Isis Mishly and created these little rustic vessels. Did you know that Thoreau spent about $28 total to build his cabin? Well, I spent more than that, but then again, a set of forty-eight soft pastels hardly qualifies for simple creating!

 This little cabin reminds me of a house I might find in the hollows of South West Virginia. 
 My favorite red barn, complete with kudzu crackle vine, and rusting tin roof
This is an old tobacco barn made of weathered Locust wood
Abandoned hunting cabin, I imagine being surrounded by old hardwoods

Until Next Time....Discover Your Walden!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

I thought I'd hit you with a big, 'ole box of happiness right out of the gate! I mean really, once you start a blog post with crayons, how can you NOT keep reading! Am I right? Crayola does have a way with making the world a very happy place, especially when its packaged in 152 wonderful colors along with a sharpener AND a caddy too! And yes, they are great for coloring but I discovered a new way to make some pretty awesome beads with them!
First, I shredded a few crayons using a fine grater. You want the pieces to be very small so that they mix well with your polymer clay. I used Premo clay in both transparent and Opal colors. The crayons will melt and will color the clay to a degree depending on how much crayon and what colors you use.
I simply smushed my conditioned clay onto the pile of crayon shreds and then worked the clay into beads. You should follow your clay manufacture's instructions for baking times.

These are all in the pre-bake, aka gumball or bouncy ball stage. Aren't they fun!? After I bake them, I add a bit of my own mojo to them! They turn out looking like tiny galaxies which thrills me to no end!

What do you think? I love learning a new technique and I can't to see where this will go next!
After all, I still have well over one hundred colors to try!

Until Next Time...channel the Force and get out your crayons!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Ringmaster Is In!

 Happy New Year! The Ringmaster is in, and I am very excited about this upcoming year! I have a HUGE list of goals to accomplish, projects to tackle, places to see and tribes to assemble! It's going to be lots of hard work and loads of fun, and I'm sure there will be some cussing involved too!
Work is my word for the year. Yeah, I know...boring, yet highly effective. Did I mention I have a HUGE list of goals? The word "play" or "believe" wouldn't really match...I could "believe" in my goals, but that list isn't going to just get accomplished on belief alone, now is it??!
I plan to continue the pursuit of knowledge...not only my craft, but life in general. Did you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert or You Are A Badass by Jen Sincere or anything by Brene Brown this past year? May I suggest you start there...
I will continue to count my blessings, keep my gratitude journal, and assemble my tribes.  I'm sure this year will be full of many things to be thankful for...
I will try new products and techniques and get in the habit shipping my work...and I don't mean dealing with the postal service...I'm referring to tackling my habit of perfectionism...and so far, I'm winning this battle i.e. this blog post ;)

This is going to be a magical year indeed! Grab a ticket and enjoy the Circus! I cannot wait to get started! 

Until Next Time....Start working on your list!