Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Day

Tomorrow is the last day for my 10% off sale and Saint Helena postcard offer

We leave June 5 and since the island is only accessible by ship I'll be out of touch for at least eight days. Once we arrive, get settled and sort out internet service I'll be back to blogging about all the new things I am learning, jewelry/art experimentation, fellow artists and most definitely some gorgeous landscape shots. 

These are images from the Blurb book Kyle and I created after our first trip to Saint Helena in 2008. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recycling ideas

I continue my search for ways to recycle my shavings of baked/cured clay. (TerraCycle does not currently accept polymer as part of one of their programs although they encouraged me to check back as they are adding to their accepted materials list all the time.)

Here is one simple re-use of already baked clay thats working well for me so far.  I just treat the pre-baked bits as inclusions. No doubt some of you are already doing this but this is my method. 


Chop the pre-baked clay by hand into pea size bits if its large and then pulverize it to varying degrees of grain in a coffee grinder. I worked with a mixture of sizes for these beads. I wear a mask to do this because some of the clay is so small that its dust.

I incorporate the grit into an unbaked piece of clay. Here I mixed up a "cardboard" sort of brown to play with the recycled theme.

 Incorporating the grits deeply into the clay or just into the outside surface will achieve different looks.

 Next I shaped and texturize the beads with sanding pads. I make my basic shape, they I pierced the bead and go back and shape further with the needle through the bead. 

I've tried differing amounts of the re-used inclusions and several colors of soft clay, keeping to neutrals so far. 

Do you have good ways to recycle/re-use pre-baked clay? I'd love to hear what you are doing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Artist spotlight

With the school year all but finished, my "studio assistant" has had time to produce some new work. His focus? Animals or aliens. Or sometimes alien animals. 

Sam's elephants and mini mini mini flocks of sheep. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Making "seed" beads

Its probably a bit ambitious to be making jewelry to give to friends we'll be visiting on Saint Helena in just a few short weeks. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. But since quite a few of these people are artists/craftsmen themselves this seems appropriate. 

Today I'll be making a bunch of "seed" beads. I've gotten a lot faster with these and this is how I quickly make a lot that are all about the same size. This is much quicker than pinching off pieces of clay and then rolling them and its easier on the fingers too.

I roll a long piece as evenly as possible. This is the slowest part and I do it on a larger scale than what I am showing today. If the log is even it helps the beads be even. For larger beads make a fatter roll - tinier beads, tinier roll. 

Then I chopped even chunks off the roll. You could put a ruler along the top of the log and actually measure but with practice I can get them very close in size, quickly. Like a chef with a carrot except the clay sticks to the work surface a bit so you don't have to use your other hand to hold it still. 

Then I roll beads using both hands. I like organic shapes so I don't shoot for exactly round. And I pierce them with a needle. 
I can do this like a little factory now and I find they are comfortable on the neck.

One of the artist's I'll be visiting is Mrs. Rose Bennett. (Here she was in her front garden in 2008 showing us fresh acacia seeds.)  She been making seed bead jewelry on Saint Helena since she was five years old. It would be interesting to learn more about her techniques and try using my beads so I think I'll take a small stash with me. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Its hard to believe but we start our second journey to the island of Saint Helena in just 15 day. (The photos below were all taken by my husband, Kyle, as part of the Saint Helena Images Project, 2008)


"Ma" Flo, Florence Richards

Johnathan and Plantation House

Charles Thomas,  his dear sister, Maisie Benjamin and a very fine tea.

Dang, I forget the name of this plant.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Leave more up to chance

I don't like everything planned out. In some areas of my life I have to plan - a lot. So by the time I get to the studio, frankly, these days, I don't feel like ticking off a checklist. 

I've been messing about with this method of working. Its relaxing. It feels a lot like how I played when I was a child - more concerned with the process than the outcome. (I posted about earrings I made this way a couple weeks ago.)

I start with a big marbled sheet of clay in colors that I like, or colors that I'd like to watch combine, and make repeated passes through the mill. 

This is how I start the beads for my Reef bracelets/necklace so I'm not going to end up with waste either way. I roll the sheet through, if the shapes created by chance are interesting, I cut them out using patterns and add additional abstract texture. Scraps are cut into disk beads for the Reef pieces. I doubt this makes me sound like a very good business person...but it is relaxing.

No two pieces end up a like. It is, perhaps, the antithesis of caning. 

My SALE and Mail offer is going on until the end of the month - details here

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I've been messing about with Premo's flexibility. I'm trying out adjustable rings to see if they will retain their shape and go back to their original size even if they are worn, and expanded, over time. Still clunky  to wear - I'll try thinner.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Day in the life

My days are a patchwork of activity as we prepare to leave the country in about 1 month. Any given day right now you might find me...

-  emailing the South African Embassy
-  reading history essays
-  assisting with a science project on inertia
-  discussing the use of quotation marks
-  checking math problems
-  researching/purchasing next year's school curriculum
-  working on our final permaculture design project
-  tending seedlings (our daughter will keep the garden going while we're gone!)
-  making appointments for medical check-ups
-  exercising (yoga and several miles of walking/day)

This really was my day yesterday in addition to meals and laundry. 

One would think a highly organized worktable would be helping me stockpile work before we leave - and one would be right. However! I'm finding the need to just unwind and play once I make it into the studio. I find myself doing this patchwork/collage kind of stuff with my shape patterns. I'll see if I can get some photos of the process for next week. 

Looking forward to some gorgeous spring weather over the next couple of days! Have a great weekend wherever you are in the world!  

Our back garden - things are really getting green now!