Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh Yeah! I Love It When An Idea Works!

I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday glazing tons of pendant and earring sets, hoping they'd work out the way I wanted.

I took them out of the kiln tonight and only had about 5 sets that didn't turn out well (bubbles in the glaze) but the rest all came out great!

I only had enough jump rings to make 5 pairs of earrings up so I guess I'll have to take a trip over to Joann's tomorrow and pick up some more.  In the meantime, I worked on how I was going to get them in my packaging and came up with this:

I think I'm going to bring the earrings down just a bit farther on the card but other than that I'm pretty happy with it.

I also made some more pendants without earrings to go with them and some earrings without pendants to go with them.  I don't know when I'll get around to listing a few in my Etsy Store but I should get to it before Sunday for sure.  Most of these will be going into the selection for taking to the art and craft show Nov 13th but I do have a few picked out just for Etsy so stay tuned for those.

I guess I'll just string up these pendants since I have to wait until tomorrow to finish the earrings.  Good Night Peeps!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have You Seen The Price of Furniture Lately?

Kiln furniture that is.  Good grief that stuff is expensive!

When making pots, all you really need are a few kiln posts and shelves.  When making pendants that are glazed on both sides, that method is completely useless.

In the very beginning I was looking a bead trees like these:

These would have worked but they are pretty pricey.  Like $35 per set of 2 trees pricey!  Are you kidding me?
I refused to pay $300 for bead trees so I started looking for an alternative.  I came across photos on Flickr of people using the smaller kiln posts and just stacking them and I thought, "Brilliant!"....

But it wasn't really as brilliant as I thought because it was difficult to stack some of them where the pendant wouldn't touch the little kiln posts.  I guess this method works well with beads but not so much for my pendants.  I was losing it trying to figure out how to use the space in my kiln the most effectively.  Grrrr...

So, rather than spend a fortune on kiln furniture, I decided to make my own.  I made 6 to start with which fills half of my medium kiln.

They are stacked when in use.  Three on the bottom, then filled with pendants and then 3 more stacked on top going the opposite direction.  AWESOME!

So, tonight I made 6 more so that I can fill the whole kiln with pendants each time I fire.  Don't you just love it when things come together?  I sure do!  Oh and cost?  $15.00 for the 6 I've made so far.  Not too shabby, eh?

Now it's time to unload the kiln and see how the pendant and earring sets turned out.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coming Full Circle


I've been asked a few times recently why I'm making ceramic jewelry "all of a sudden" and if I'm going to still make art dolls.  Here's the story behind the ceramic jewelry.....

I have been "crafty" for as long as I can remember.  When I was little a perfect Saturday afternoon was having an appliance box I could cut windows and doors in and color flowers and bushes on the outside of to make a pretty snazzy play house.  I loved to color and filled many coloring books and went through reams and reams of paper.  Art class was my favorite class all through school and I also liked heading over to my grandmother's house to help her during the holiday season with all of the Bazaar crafts she made to sell.

When I was a teen I took art every year and filled notebook after notebook with poetry and journal writings.  It seems that I was always doing something creative.

I had my first child at 20 and was in a very difficult and dysfunctional marriage for 8 years which didn't allow for much creative time.  I was focused on survival and through the years I added two more children to the mix and well, let's just say I was way too stressed and way too busy trying to keep a roof over our heads and food in our mouths to worry about "crafts".  I did sneak in a tiny cross-stitch here and there though.  :)

Once I finally broke away from my ex-husband and started getting my happy back again, I looked into making things again.  I started making tea lights out of baby food jars and faux stained glass paints.  Then I played with making ornaments and painting things.  Just here and there, on my off days, when time allowed.

In December of 2003 I met and started dating a man who had a love for ceramics and making pottery on the wheel.  I had played with clay in school but never had the chance to fire anything or learn to use the pottery wheel so I was pretty excited to learn about ceramics and even more excited to be dating someone who was creative.

I had went back to school to earn my Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies and needed to take an elective so I chose to take ceramics, specifically, hand building.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!  Every Saturday I would wake up excited and ran out the door to go to my 5 hour long ceramics class.  I looked forward to those 5 hours each week.  I learned pinch pots, coil pots and slab work.  I was in heaven.  Just the way the clay felt in my hands made me happy.  Later, my boyfriend and I went in on a kiln and a pottery wheel together and he taught me how to use the wheel.  I truly felt as though I had found my calling.

We never did get the wiring done to be able to use the kiln so I had quite a few pieces of pottery sitting around that needed to be fired but no finished pieces.  Time went on, we grew apart and eventually broke up.  He bought me out of my share of the kiln and wheel and I packed up and moved to Florida.

It was after marrying my current husband that my passion for creating really came alive.
In 2006 I discovered polymer clay and started making snowflake ornaments with faces from craft molds.  I thought they were pretty cool at the time but looking at them now I just laugh.

I played with these for a few months and then saw the awesome dolls of Jodi and Richard Creager and thought, wow!  I want to make that!  So I sat down with my husband and we both tried our hand at sculpting just a head.  I so wish I would have taken pictures of what the result was because they were AWFUL!!!  I mean like so completely awful!  Somewhere between an ape and an alien is the best way I can describe it.  I was so discouraged and decided there was no way I was ever going to be able to sculpt dolls.  My husband pushed me to keep at it and one day I sat down and forced myself to keep working at one little face until I got it right.  After two separate 4 hour sessions, I finally had a face that looked human and I was so happy and hooked.

 I finished that "doll" (more a sculpture than a doll) and I still have it today.  It's really really bad, but it's the first one I made that looked human and it has a special place in my heart.

Don't you just love how his "clothes" are plastered to his body?  Oh, and that's SOLID polymer clay.  I didn't know about armatures back then.. lol.  And the gloss.  GLOSS!  What was I thinking?

From there I went on to make another sculpture, a wizard.  this one was also made as solid polymer clay... lol  I just laugh and shake my head.

I was pretty proud of him at the time.  I added texture to his clothing and worked really hard on those fingers and my family was impressed.  :)  God love them.

From there I read like a mad woman and learned about armatures and doll versus sculpture and I was trucking right along making gypsies and elves and then I saw a Haunted Dollhouse online and I was completely derailed.

I was so fascinated at the detail in such small stuff and how cool this haunted house was and how real it looked in the pictures and I had to try to make some myself.  I started with a witch's cabinet and before you knew it I was making miniatures about 10 hours a day and couldn't get enough of it.

I made lots of witch cabinets, pushing myself with each one to make it better and better.

Then I started making Gypsy tables and pushed myself to make those better and better

and then I made a gypsy seller's wagon that I so wish I hadn't sold.

My all time favorite creation that I am totally kicking myself for selling was the Fairy Magic Store that I made in 1/2 scale.  I spent weeks working on that piece and could cry now when I think about it being in someone else's home.  Boo Hoo!  I am happy to say that the person who bought it on eBay loved it every bit as much as I did so that made it a little easier.

At some point in 2008 I was really missing playing with clay. I was doing really really well with selling the miniatures and had even built up a pretty nice group of repeat buyers but I wasn't inspired anymore and I really wanted to get my hands in clay again. (I sometimes question that decision from time to time but I think I needed to do that)

So, I decided to make a few miniature dolls in a Halloween theme and that was all it took.  I enjoyed working with paperclay so much that I ran with it.

As most of you all know I started making a lot of art dolls and had some success selling them but not the same kind of success that I had selling miniatures.  I didn't really care because I was happier working with the paperclay.  Something about that feeling of clay drying on my fingers is so pleasing to me.  I made many dolls and participated in many doll swaps and I was really happy making them.... until.....

My husband bought me a kiln.  We wasted no time deciding on a product and gathering the needed supplies and I was in my glory!  After 8 years I was finally able to work with ceramics again and I was/am loving it.  There's something so exciting about it for me.  Learning how this glaze reacts with this glaze and how it then reacts with that clay and at that temperature and and and and.  lol  Pendants are satisfying because I can make a lot of them and when I'm testing techniques and glazing I'm not as invested in time and money with big pots so I don't feel bad when something doesn't turn out great, or as I had expected.  Opening the kiln and seeing rows of pendants makes me happy and sure, I want to make bigger pieces too but for right now I'm thrilled making jewelry pieces.

So there you have it.  I didn't start making ceramics "all of a sudden", I've simply been given the ability to do what I loved again.  As far as dolls go, and miniatures for that matter, I plan to make more, just not as many as I used to.  I have a gypsy table in mind that I want to make and I have 3 doll heads staring at me every day that are begging to be finished but they simply have to wait their turn as I work like a mad woman to make enough pendants to have in my very first art show in a few weeks.

I hope all of you will stick with my little blog here even though I change what I do a lot.  I hope I inspire you in some small way or offer you something valuable here from time to time.  Most of all, I hope you stick around because I've really enjoyed getting to know you all through your comments here.  You guys rock!

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to give you all a little peek into how my crazy mind works and why I seem to jump around from one medium to another.  There is a method to the madness, I swear.... lol.


Miles and Miles

of pendants.  Okay, so maybe not miles, more like feet but still.  :)  I created some pendant and earring sets and pulled them from their bisque firing today.  I know it's kind of hard to see their detail since they're all white at the moment but you can get an idea anyway.  I initially thought these would make great gifts for my female family members until I realized that not many of them have pierced ears.  Hmmmmm.... so, I guess I'll have to come up with something else.  :)  Dang it.

So, tonight I have been watching a workshop on Social Marketing and it has really been an eye opener.  I have been doing things ALL WRONG!  There are apparently two parts to this workshop, I'm still on part one but it's been really helpful and I will be changing how I market from now on.  (Here's part two in case you're interested.)

I'm also taking the time to finally go through the Seller Handbook on Etsy.  I've been putting all of this stuff off because let's face it, creating is a whole lot more fun than researching and learning about marketing.  Y-A-W-N!  I'm so right brained it isn't even funny.  BUT, I'm forcing myself to exercise that left side too, just a little, every night.  So, instead of watching my favorite programs on, I spend my evenings learning how to be a better business person.  It pains me, but it's important.

Do any of you struggle with this?  How do you juggle it all?


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Remember Those Giant Erasers I was Carving?

I used some of them to make these pendants.... I really like the textures.

I also made some cat pendants.  :)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ceramic Pendants

I added another handful of pendants to the etsy shop!  I'm working hard to get ready for art and craft shows but to keep my etsy shop updated, I take a handful from each kiln load and add them to my shop.  Here's a little taste of what was added yesterday:

Fall has finally arrived in Florida!  I didn't think it was ever going to get here.  We opened all of the doors and windows and I am loving the nice breeze coming in and all of the smells of Florida Fall.  I'm really going to love those low electric bills!  Running the a/c in Florida is expensive! Like $500/mo expensive!  It will be nice to have a break from that for the next 7 months.

Now I'm off to load the kiln.  Have a great day everyone!