Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Random Beauty of Mokume Gane

Yesterday I added 4 pairs of mokume gane earrings to my Etsy store, and wanted to point out a great example of how awesome the mokume gane technique is. 

In case you don't know....this is how it works, in basic terms:

1)  Select two or more colors of polymer clay.  High contrast works best.  (It can also be done with translucent clay and metal foil/leaf, but the steps I'm describing here involve just polymer clay.)

2)  Roll thin sheets of each one in a pasta machine.

3)  Stack them on top of each other, making sure the high contrast colors are next to each other.

4)  Roll that stack through the pasta machine.

5)  Cut the stack into a few equal in size as possible.  I usually do 3 pieces.  This will give me enough surface area to play with.  Stack them on top of each other.  Now you have a "loaf" of very thin striped colors.  Trim the scraggly edges and set them aside for future use.

6)  Grab some tools.  I use awls, floral tools, stamps, wavy blades, shaped cutters....anything to pierce those layers.

7)  Push the tools down through the loaf, penetrating as many layers of the loaf as possible.   As you create gaps, you can leave the gaps, or squeeze the sides of the loaf back toward the center to close them.

8)  Set the loaf aside for a few minutes to settle and cool off.  (Sticking it in the fridge helps, too.)

9)  NOW....this is the most fun part of all.  Grab a strong, clean tissue blade. (The ones marketed for polymer clay are the best.)

10)  Turn the loaf sideways so your solid "top and bottom" are now on the side.

11)  Begin slicing through the distorted layers, starting at the end where you used the piercing tools.  Try not to drool all over yourself as you peel away the amazing layers!

12)  Process as needed to achieve awesome miniature art/jewelry/whatever.
All four of these earrings were made from slices of the same loaf.  All 4 have the same colors as the others, in varying degree, in varying design. 
There are many great photo-enhanced mokume gane tutorials out there, if you are a visual learner.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

30 turns into 40

Today I increased my whole-store sale discount to 40%, through May 18.  Coupon code is "MOM40".  This discount applies to everything in my store, including these amazing brand new earrings that I just made the other day.  (Regular price is $65...can be yours for $39!)
There is an Etsy shop event today protesting Etsy's allowance of mass-produced items being sold as handmade.  Although I completely agree that Etsy should maintain it's insistence that items be handmade by the shop owner (except, of course, in the instance of vintage and supplies), I need to be open.

More information about the protest and the reasons behind it can be read here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cover that naked wrist, wench!

This bracelet below is a stretchy bracelet I made a while back that I just put in my Clearance section in my Etsy shop.  The little bumpy red Czech glass beads between the thin polymer disks match the reddish-pink perfectly.  That's why I used them.


This fiery bracelet is made from some beads that I made while toying around with my Stacker bead technique.  I love to make cylindrical beads.  LOVE IT!  And I LOVE to use red, orange and yellow together.  I'd do it all the time if I could.


Sometimes scraps make beautiful stripes.  This bracelet's beads were made from a pile of scraps that, when rolled into a long cane, was then twisted to get these great beads.  If you don't know how to get your beads the same length without wasting hours with a ruler (like I used to do), consider a Marxit.  It's one of the most important tools for beadmakers who make sets of beads. 


Ok, this bracelet, even though it's not red, orange and yellow, just really sings to me. It's too bad I don't have a "look" with jewelry....honestly, I rarely wear it unless you can barely notice it....but if I did, this bracelet would be part of my grown-up, nearing
middle age "artist look".


In any case, I could go on and on about stories about the bracelets I make.  I make a lot of them because more often than not, I only make enough beads in a set TO make a bracelet, and sometimes a pair of earrings to go with it.  This week I added 12 bracelets to my Polymer Clay Jewelry section on Etsy.  I'm also having a Mother's Day sale for all of us who want something nice but would like (or need) a deal.

My jewelry is already very affordable .... I don't have a big ego about my work and think that I need to charge a hundred dollars for something (Well, my Bead Embroidery work is another story.  But that stuff is on sale, too.)  ANYWAY, if you shop in my shop, and enter the promo coupon code "MOM30" at checkout where you're supposed to, you will get 30% off EVERYTHING you buy.  That includes my Stacker bead tutorials, which I can send to you via email as a PDF, or via "snail mail".  (If you get the snail mail version, I send two free Stacker Beads as an example to study.) I'm also extending the sale to May 18, because I know that there are folks like me who procrastinate.  We're all human.