Monday, July 7, 2014

Polymer Clay - Lessons learned: Why some of them are brittle

Why   did some of my polymer clay work  break?

This was very disturbing.

I was feeling quite comfortable with my clay work and bought some more clay. Last time I worked mostly with Premo brand.  This time I picked some Sculpey lll as they were on sale in Jo Ann.  But not the Premos.

Some where I read there is not much of a difference among the different clay brands.

I learn a lot from the web and recently  I also  bought  some tutorials from Etsy.  Some of them are just  great and even free, while  the one I recently bought for $12  is totally junk.

Any way, after I doing some hands- on practices, I came to know that some where I goofed understanding  the Skinner blend thing.

 I don't have a pasta machine yet, I was using my rollers.  I was getting some skinner blend effect but not quite  what I had  expected.

Similarly I made some mistakes understanding the Sutton slice  too, but in the process I discovered some thing on my own which I came to know is called Marbelizing.

Any way, I was happy with my new discovery and here are the results:

When they were cured, I mean baked, I let it cool.  Then I sanded and polished and finally varnished it too for the gloss.

I put tiny holes using tooth pick on most of them, but forgot two.  I thought I'd do that when they are dried.

I let it dry for more than 12 hours and then I wanted to finish it with wire work.

I used 20 g wire and immediately one of the earring pieces broke.

I thought I'd use 22 g .  Again the same thing happened.

Finally it took 24 g for the wire work with all the twisting, turning, swirling that were involved.

But why should it be so brittle?

I did not have this problem with the other ones I tried last time?

I researched and found that the reasons could be:

1. I used Sculpey instead of Premo and several sites concluded that Premo is a stronger clay after baking than Sculpey.

2. My pieces were not consistently 1/4 inch thick.  That is one criterion I must remember.  The baking time is 275 F for 30 min for 1/4 inch thickness.

3.  Sculpey says to bake in  275 F for only 15 minutes .  I did it for 30 minutes.  Is over doing bad?  There are mixed opinions on that. So from now on I'll probably use Premo, but be extra careful with Sculpey lll since I already have some of that left, and I like this design with thinner width.  Some  say it is okay to mix two different brands.  I might use the scupeylll as a core with Premo on the top.

I came to realize that unless I  really do it, I can't tell how much I have really internalized this new medium.

Another Polymer clay jewelry article:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thursday 30

I  came across this wonderful blog - Alice dreaming where I got this super cool idea of  30 Words Thursday .

So,  I can write only thirty words  no more no less - and that will be my blog post.

I was thinking about FREEDOM since tomorrow is  4th of July -our Independence Day

And I came up with this quotation from Nelson Mandela.

That is my 30 words Thursday blog post!

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to freedom, I knew if I didn't leave any bitterness and hatred behind I'll still be in prison."


Friday, June 27, 2014

How to put a Navbar on my blog and organize posts accordingly

How to put Navbar on my blog and organize posts accordingly - that was exactly what I had been struggling to find out lately.

You may laugh at my problem but I am sure there are people who are just as web savvy as I am.  The learning curve is different for each of us and we are at different spots in that huge curve too.

But I found out that if you are persistent there is a way.

There are lots of generous people out there who are willing to share what they know.

Just put your problem in the search and you'll get some where.

First of all, there are some  You tube videos  by John Sommers   that were were helpful.  But you do forget important steps  just viewing or listening. You need that guide when you are doing it.

 So I went to this site.  She explained it just in a way that I could understand.

I printed out this valuable post. Just follow the steps.

How I put the Navbar:

She literally took me by my hand, follow the steps in her blog. and I could put  the Navbar in the  Lay out page of  my  blog

At this point I have just two labels or titles or categories - Business and Tutorials.

I have 155 posts so far.  They are  all over my blog  .  I wanted my readers to find what they need, when they need,  that I have taken time to write for them.

I want to share my mistakes and my success to help  others.  That is why I was trying to put a  Navbar in my blog.

Why didn't I do it earlier?

I tried,  but I was not this persistent .  I was determined  not to quit until I  learn it and find it,  this time.

And I did. And if I can,  I am sure any body  would too.

Organizing the posts under the relevant labels:

Now organizing my posts according to the labels is another road block where I got stuck for a long time.

This wonderful writer whom I don't know personally, cleared it for me.

All you have  to do is go to your post and  at the bottom, just before the comments, in my case,  you see the picture of a  pen, click it. 

It will take you to the HTML page where you  write, where you can edit your work.  At the very right hand side you'll find the word Label with a little tab icon.  Just write your label there, for example I might write the word Tutorial or Business for my two labels that I am working on.

Now click View Blog.  You'll find at the very end of your post - just before comments- the word Label and your specific label ( tutorials in my case or Business) .

Now if you click that word all the posts that have that particular label will appear there.  So you will get all my tutorials under the Tutorials heading.

Isn't that cool?

And most importantly I learned something that I was trying to learn for a long time.  It was great sharing it with you.

I have tried many blogs and web sites that tried to answer this question or solve this problem.  These two were the most lucid ones for me. And I want to thank them profusely.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What is the Most Popular Color in Jewelry?

Alankarshilpa- The Blues

I was wondering - what is the most favorite popular color in jewelry?

What is yours?

I did some research on this online.
Hope that will help me in my jewelry making and help my readers  too.

My  own experience showed that it is RED.  Whenever I put some vibrant red jewelry on the bust, in my craft shows,  people are drawn to it immediately.  It sells fast,   even if the workmanship of the next piece is much complex and more note worthy.

But my  online research says some thing else.

Statistically and historically the color is BLUE.

From denim jeans to corporate logos, the color blue consistently ranked as the world’s most favorite color according to Color

It has been noted that-

53% percent of the world flags have blue in them

Blue jeans are worn most all over the world as casual dress.

A dark blue suit is considered most professional business attire

Aristocracy is blue blooded in European language.

Mother Mary wears blue lapis lazuli in most art

Lord Krishna’s body is blue.

Look at this experiment in this  blog - True Colors – Break down of color preferences by gender.

Both male and female audience chose blue.

The most popular jewelry color around the world is blue.

From the days of Egyptian royalty lapis lazuli was designated as the official color of the pharaoh. It remains popular today, in part because blue evokes feelings of loyalty, dependability, commitment and relaxation. It is also less gender specific and looks great on men as well as women. The blue sapphire is currently the most popular and most affordable of the top gemstone- according to Appropriate Fashion Colors for Every Fashion Statement

Let’s see what Pantone says for Fall 2014 jewelry trend.

“ This is a season of untypical colors- more reflective of imagination and ingenuity, which makes for an artful collection of colors and combinations, not bound by the usual hues of fall”- Leatrice Eiseman – Executive Pantone Color Industry.

Create an individual imprint

For example, take Sangria red or Aurora Red for a more sophisticate red

Pantone Fall   2014 trend:

Then I like this Sangria in the goblet.

I love that wine color!  Ooh! So yummy.

Choose Bright Cobalt that has a subtle twist on the traditional Cobalt Blue.

Look at Cognac a classy cultured brown and the Misted Yellow.  These are the popular color trends this Fall season 2014, suggest  Pantone color specialists.

My favorite color changes according to the season and  my mood of that particular day. I can’t say blue is my all time favorite color.  When I choose color I am more in the present.

But now, today, I am drawn to a vibrant vivacious color.  I am feeling like working with some rich lapis lazuli.

So it is BLUE again? 

Alankarshilpa - Knitted wire jewelry in blue.

I am curious to know what is your favorite color.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Polymer clay jewelry with stamp and a shine

I found the answer - How do you bring the shine on your stamped polymer clay?

I found the answer -Yesterday was my second day with Polymer Clay jewelry making .  As I am playing  with play do more and more with my grand children,  I am getting more and more interested in trying out polymer clay jewelry making.

Here is what happened yesterday

At  the very right hand corner you see what my husband calls pillars of success - the broken ones that got ruined while adding the wire part to it.

I used Fimo and I think I used 250 degree for about 20 minutes.  Next time I'll raise the oven temp a little bit more and keep it for longer. 

I found a great site where Gina was demonstrating using the embossing thing. Here is the link of the video .

What I liked about it  is that the raised , stamped part had a nice metallic finish.  How can you do it with out using metal clay or powder?

  I did not quite have quite the ingredients she mentioned, not her stamp, or the particular embossing thing,  but I had some embossing powder that needs heat to show the gold shine.  So I used that.

At the very left hand corner I integrated it with my wire knit jewelry part and I will finish it as a pair of earring.

Today, I went to Michael's and bought some Primo- I think Fimo and Primo are kind of same, and the kind Gina mentioned in the video for the embossing material too.  It was on sale 40% off - other wise the thing is pretty pricey $18.

Anyway I'll show what I am coming up with in the upcoming posts soon.

I am also seriously working on wind proofing my  craft display ideas.  I do have a show in early June, so every day I am working a little bit on that aspect. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wind proof Jewelry Craft Display

How to survive a windy craft fair for your jewelry display?

 How to display my jewelry for the craft show against horrible wind ?  I am at my wits end.

I am serious about displaying my jewelry for craft shows with the most beautiful and functional way.  And I work hard to make it look aesthetically pleasing  and functional. A week earlier I do a mock show display  at my home , in my living room, even after doing craft shows for the last five years and at least six or seven shows a year so that I do not forget any thing. So that I can give the best I can.

Still, it was such an embarrassment  this weekend in an out door show that it took me quite awhile to get over with it.

Here is how it looked in the beginning:

After 2:30 pm the wind stared catching up.  First, it knocked off my two  rotating wire earring stands that hold 24 earrings earring each. Then the busts one by one with necklaces on them.  It totally destroyed my whole theme, all my planning, my pride and self confidence. And  when people started to come back to my store for the second time  after they have seen all the booths, this  is what they saw.  I was totally crushed.

What do they see now ?  My earrings are flying, bracelets on the floor...I am running around like a chicken with out head.  I was almost in tears.

My friend, a ceramic artist and I was sharing the booth.  This was her turn to bring the tent and the weights.  She forgot the weights. And we found after we hoisted the tent,   that part of the tent is  broken, We kind of managed- the roof was not all the way up, and it was not that noticible.  But forgetting the weights was disastrous.

We could  not go home at that point, we had to find a solution very quickly. All my jewelry was flying all over.  I started putting the necklaces  that were on the busts just flat.  Put all the earrings in a basket ( thank God, I had some extra baskets).  We took off the sides  of the tent which was working as a sail  at that point and then took off the whole tent with the help of our kind neighbors.

Fortunately I made okay selling before this catastrophe started,  so made the booth fee and some more.  But the whole thing made me feel very low.

We have already signed up and paid  for another show in August right  here and many vendors said it is typical that the wind will be there.  So I need a solution.

 I took a deep breath and remembered
  So I decided to  think about strategies.  First of all the remedy for wind is weight.

Bring weights - not only for my self but for the neighbors too - just in case.

I do use stones in pillow cases that I tie around the legs of the tent at the bottom.  No matter what,  I should always bring them.  In case my neighbors forget them, it will be giving them an important helping hand, besides we are not alone in this journey.   I learned that my neighbor  vendors' mistakes can affect me.

I read from the comments in a blog - a fellow sufferer, Janice writes - "... that not only weights at the bottom of the legs, the key is to attach the weight to the canopy frame."

How to use weights so that they look pretty?

 I decide to attach some weights to the canopy frame.  How could I do that so that it looks beautiful as well as functional?  I think I'll get some stones or rice bags that I'll tie in  burlap  bags and squares tied with raffia.  I'll use several weights - 5lb, 2 lb and 1 lb weights in the similar burlap squares with raffia to match and  give the display a cohesive look. These bags could be hung from the sides of the tent in a nice way.

There are some useful ideas in Rena's blog where the writer mentions similar solutions to add weight aesthetically, making it cohesive with your display and brand.

Remember bungee cords, sturdy yarns or rope, safety pins, paper clips, silly putty, clamps and all these things that with help against wind.

Flat display:

Think how I can display things flat?
*Use beautiful baskets,
*Trays  uplifted  with easel - ( I did this and it it did not topple)
*Tiles standing on wire easels for necklaces instead of flimsy leather or velvet busts -(save them for indoor shows).
*Here I got a great idea that I am going to steal - the portable jewelry binder
*Boxes with lids attached.

I think I am also going to use boxes as my display.  Cover the Priority Mail Boxes with fixed lids that I receive for  my jewelry  supplies from various on line stores and cover them with the same co ordinating burlap.  I can use the  flap as a vertical side for  hanging necklaces and keep similar necklaces in nice gold boxes for people to find out.

The most important thing it to do a trial show at home on the driveway a week earlier.

Phew!  Instead of making jewelry I have enough home work cut out  now to survive a windy craft fair show.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why Healing Gemstone Jewelry

.Why  would you wear healing gemstone  jewelry or energy jewelry?

Jewelry is worn to make a statement.

 The kings and queens showed their powers and hierarchy wearing the appropriate crowns. 

The rich showed their affluence wearing the dazzling pieces,

Style – uniqueness:
 Celebrities showed their style in their unique chosen piece.

Healing and Energy:
 There is also another reason why people wear jewelry- to heal. To bring positive energy in their lives.

Do gemstones really have healing properties?

Crystals, gemstones, minerals and the metals we use to make our jewelry have been in this earth for a long time.  They have witnessed and absorbed energies from Mother Earth and the celestial universe, over thousands of years.  Crystals may look inert and still, but they are vibrating, vibrating with energy. 

The scientists have acknowledged that fact. One simple example is- the use of crystals in watches or use of quartz in surgical instruments.   Various old civilizations have given thoughts and respect to this aspect of energy and have used it in healing. The Hindus and Buddhists used the Chakras, the Celtics, Native Americans and the Far East civilization; all understood the potentials  the gemstones have for healing.

While we sometimes may feel skeptical like Benjamin Dean, poet, philosopher, holistic healer – who says “How in the world can a rock help to heal?” we find the answer agreeing with him – “Any thing can heal if you can open your heart to it.   Receptivity is a necessity.”

“Healing occurs because stones bring the hidden core of spirit energy to mind” – explains Ms. Elisbeth in her writing.

Healing properties of Gemstone Chart:

There are several resources where you can find the healing properties of different gemstones and crystals, just by searching the Google search.  I'll just give one example.  I use many of them  for cross references, to be sure. 

Cleansing energy jewelry:

Holistic healers and even a lay person like me, who believe that the gemstones have healing powers, are serious about cleansing the gemstones to energize them with positive vibes.

 Because the gemstones, crystals and minerals are here for thousands of years and have absorbed energies, they might have absorbed some negative energy too.  Therefore, it is important to cleanse them and charge them with positive vibes.

“You catch a sight of a beautiful crystal, but when you pick it up it feels strange, you wear a necklace and you feel suffocated, even though there is plenty of wiggle room.  … What you perceive is the invisible ballast “explains Michael Gienger , in his book, Purifying Crystals

Holistic healers use different kinds of cleansing methods: the Sun and Moon method, the running water method (where you let the crystal be under a natural running water source like a river, brook, water falls not tap water), the Reiki, are  just some examples.

Reiki Method:

The one that I’d follow is the Reiki method.

What is Reiki ?

 In a nutshell Reiki is a form of energy balancing, the gentle healing art of hands that is used to help and heal any living thing. 

Mikako Usui , a Japanese Buddhist monk( 1865- 1926) brought this healing art into the modern world from the Far East around 1922.

Reiki method is also used to cleanse any negative energy and charge the gemstones used with positive energy, to manifest its positive healing properties.

I do not have formal Reiki training,  but I use my prayers and cleansing rituals so that the gemstones  I  use in my jewelry may fulfill their healing energies.

One experience I’ll share with you before ending this post.  

 I had made a bracelet with the gemstone,  apatite.  Apatite has the power to control appetite, or  help with emotional eating.  I had given that to a friend whom I wanted to help.   She was struggling with her weight loss.

 She  came back after six months losing significant amount of weight and gaining a lot of self confidence.

 I am sure her positive thinking, creative visualization, receptivity to my good wishes and hard work all contributed to that result.  But I cherish her comment –“Your bracelet was beautiful to wear in parties, and whenever I thought of taking second helpings on my plate,  the amazing apatite beads held my hand.”

You may want to read her story here.-, The Healing Blue Apatite  
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