Thursday 27 November 2014

Price Reduction. . .

Pricing being a bit of a black art where creative input is involved, I have decided that I was perhaps being unduly optimistic in the prices I was asking for my necklaces. After all, I am still at an early stage of my existence as a seller of such things and maybe my prices should reflect that. Debatable I know. People tell you that if you start off pricing things low you can never raise your prices. . . OK, but I'm not going to give stuff away, just lop a bit off now that I have a better idea of what is out there selling for what price etc.
There are also a couple of new ones I added today and some new barrel beads.
click HERE to Check 'em out. . .
Jon x

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Image transfer musings

I've spent a fair few hours wrestling with various forms of image transfer onto Polymer Clay over the past few months. I have various (hundreds. . . ) of cool images that I created digitally by various means, that I have wanted to get off the computer and onto any substrate that will take them. Getting them onto Polymer Clay seemed an interesting challenge.
My explorations so far have been aimed at trying to get images onto raw clay that I could then manipulate by wrapping them round things. Most of the brighter and crisper ways of transferring images all seemed to involve baking the clay, or blasting liquid clay with a heat gun. OK in their way but you are left with a stiff, flat thing that is unwrappable.
The only way I found to transfer onto raw clay was the one that Donna Kato mentions in her book on Creative Surface Effects. It involves using a laser print, (it doesn't work with inkjets) and water. Several people have Youtube vids of this technique too. Basically you place the image face down on a bit of clay, rub/burnish the back of it to make sure the image is in good contact with the clay surface, then, using water and your index finger, rub gently-ish until the paper rubs off. This leaves you with the image that was once on the paper, now imprinted on the surface of the clay. There are various subtleties to it but in a nutshell, that's what you do.
What I then tried was to wrap that image around a pre-made tube bead, either baked or unbaked. The problem I encountered was that the image stuck to my fingers and smudged badly. OK, I tried hardly touching the image when wrapping, but that was very hard to do as some pressure and guidance is needed to get the wrap at the right angle etc.
I tried this technique with trans clay. The image stuck to the clay better, and much less to my fingers, but the resultant image looked a bit faded and dull somehow.

Early experiments

So I thought a bit and decided to try a mix of trans and white clay, white for the image quality and trans for the relative handleability. I tried about 80% white to 20% trans. This was better and I got some reasonable results, with the caveat that I wasn't going for anything pristine, I liked the wonky, cheap transfer/ancient artifact/rustic vibe I was getting, I just didn't want smudged images.
On a whim I tried something out. .  I figured that what I needed was something in between the image and my fingers that would protect it from smudging when being handled, so I tried a thin coat of Klear floor polish brushed on. This worked OK up to a point. . .
The issue with the basic laser print/water technique is that when left, over time the ink gets stickier and the clay gets stiffer and likely to crack when being wrapped. Putting a thin layer of weak varnish on helps with the first problem, but not so much with the latter, you have to try to judge when the varnish is dry enough to handle but that it hasn't dried to the extent that it will crack when wrapped.
I have had some success with this but still have to handle it as little as I can as the act of wrapping seems to re awaken the stickiness somehow. It's also not consistent enough for me to draw firm conclusions about what I am doing. I feel it sort of works, most of the time ;-)
Any of you found better methods?
Jon x

Sunday 23 November 2014

Man Stuff

Somebody on a forum I hang around on said that my work had a 'masculine' vibe to it. I have no problem with that assertion, I don't have much interest in the prettier more delicate side of things.

(Not that I deem pretty and delicate to just be something that interests women, you understand. I draw a distinction between 'female' and 'feminine', just as I would between 'male' and 'masculine'. Pretty and delicate is generally classed as 'feminine' while the more rugged and chunky side of things is generally considered to be 'masculine'. I'll go with the generally accepted view for the sake of convenience if nothing else. All that 'sex vs gender' stuff gets complicated pretty quick so I will back off before I mess up too badly.)

So, my work has a masculine vibe.

An addendum to that remark was that I might consider making jewellery for men.

This wasn't something I had considered, having only recently started making jewellery at all, and not really thought deeply about who it might be for. . . So I had a scout around online to see what was what in the adornment for chaps department.

Well, there's a fair bit of it about. Quite a lot of chunks of grey metal on thick leather thong, sub David Beckham kind of stuff. Not very me. The other end of the scale seemed to be the hippy guy stuff, rough ethnic beads worn in festoons. Fun but a bit too hippy. There's a sort of 'Man of the Woods' style with it's fair share of chunky clay, wood, leather and twisted hessian. But it's all a bit hairy chested for me. ( I had a hair on my chest once, but it has long since departed. I cry about it sometimes. .)
There's also something that categorises itself as 'beach', which seems to be quite simple stones or beads on a simple thread/thong. Quite nice but my nearest beach is miles away, pretty crap as far as surf goes, and freezing cold most of the year, so I can't get inspired thinking of beaches really. (Although, there is a place called California just a bit further away. Trouble is, it's a basically a bleedin great caravan site as far as I remember and nothing even vaguely like the 'real' California. makes me smile to think of the comparison though. It's entirely likely that it was called California way before the other California. . . hah!)

I guess if I were to go down the road of making male jewellery I would want to situate myself somewhere in the middle of all the above. Kind of Surfing Hippy Man of the Woods with sub David Beckham tendencies. (Google that!)
So anyway, I made this.

Any views on it's gender pretensions? I actually wore it round the house to see how it felt and looked. I thought it was pretty cool. . . Your mileage may vary. . . ;-)

Saturday 22 November 2014

Dangerous Dancing. .

Well, I felt me age yesterday. There I was, working away at my desk with my iTunes set to 'random', which is a nice way to get an eclectic mix of tunes, the majority of which you will like, when this came on.

Yeeeeeah. . !
It's from an album called 'Intensified' that I had back in the eighties. As I'd been sitting down for hours by then I stood up and stretched my legs. Then I thought I'd try that 'running on the spot in slow motion' type dance that was de rigeur amongst Ska fans in my youth. Like the guy out of Madness used to do. I mean you can't not move to that tune innit?

So I was just getting into me stride when Eeeeek! .  my left calf muscle gave a serious twinge. I curtailed all bopping activity with immediate effect and gingerly flexed my left foot. . . Ow!. . .
So now I can't put my weight on my toe on that side and I'm hobbling about the place. No serious damage thankfully, but it makes you realise A. - How suddenly something can happen that affects your life and how you live it. I can't drive for a day or two, or walk to the shops etc. B. - How often you actually use your calf muscle, going up and down stairs is interesting. . and C. - It makes you admire even more how disabled people cope on a daily basis. Respect!

Oh well, I'll survive, poor old boy. . . Fah!

Anyway, on a happier note I sold three big buttons and a set of small buttons on Etsy, hooray. I shall make some more. . .

Old limping Jon

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Well, that was great ;-)

Now it's all dying down a bit from the somewhat feverish activity yesterday on my various social media type pages, due to the feature on Polymer Clay Daily, (Which I neglected to blog about. . . that was clever) I can draw breath.
I got just over a thousand views on my Etsy shop, a bunch of new followers on Flickr, a load of repins and followers on Pinterest and generally a lot of very nice feedback from all sorts of lovely people. Some of it from people who's work I have admired for ages, like Claire Maunsell and Luan Udell. I feel blessed ;-)
Didn't sell anything, mind ;-)

I put some of my new textured disk beads up on my Etsy shop to keep the momentum going there. Now that I have an audience, or at least a bunch of people who have voluntarily decided to be informed of my Polymer Clay and other artistic activity, I need to keep it coming and keep it interesting. Should be fun.
Jon x

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Hey! ;-)

I had a nice surprise this morning. Cynthia Tinapple featured my work on her most excellent blog, Polymer Clay Daily.

Getting feedback on their creative work can make such a difference to an artists confidence and general mood. Many artists work in a bit of a vacuum of their own making. I know I tend to.

It's all too easy to construct the notion that there's no point showing your work as nobody will be all that interested. Especially if what you do is quite obscure and you feel that it's only likely to appeal to a particular subset of people, who more than likely won't get to see it anyway. . . So you don't bother.
Not a helpful mindset. A nice combination of arrogant and lazy ;-)

So getting the opportunity to see if what I make strikes a chord with others is really valuable. And it shows that a bit of reaching out into the world of social media and creating more of a web presence can be rewarding. Not something I would have said six months ago. A lesson I needed to learn.
Colour me encouraged. . .

Thanks Cynthia ;-)

Jon x

Sunday 16 November 2014

Sold Something. . .

At a local art show. I entered a few of my framed, printed tiles in a 'Well why not?' sort of mood, and when I turned up today to pick up my work, was agreeably surprised to find that I had sold one of my special 3 -tiles-in-a-frame ones. One of my seemingly Art Nouveau derived ones.

Though the 'Art Nouveau' is actually no such thing. The shapes in my tile design that echo that famous art movement being a product of complex fractal mathematics, a finely honed skill set, experience and a creative mind that Follows the Fascination where it leads. . . I found the resemblance during my digital explorations, and pursued it ;-)

I'm glad somebody liked them enough to buy them. I like them, but I don't really count. It also shows that I finally may have the pricing about right. £75. I didn't have time to photograph them before I put them in the show but here is a quick Pshop mock-up. I shall make some more of that design. And I think I shall try a 3 tiler or two in my tiles and coasters Etsy shop.
Onwards and upwards. . . ;-)

Saturday 15 November 2014

An update

Just a quick update on my polymer clay activities for them as are interested in such things and are reading this blog. OK so that's nobody. Well, I'm interested so I shall inform myself of my own activity ;-)

I put Thursday aside as my official Polymer Clay day, as I work hard enough the rest of the week on other stuff, and as I am freelance and work from home, I can allocate my time as I choose. This is the upside of freelance life, and not one I would change for all the tea in China. (partly because I wouldn't have room for all that tea, I would need a VERY big shed, but mainly because I can't see anyone offering me that particular deal, but as they say, be careful what you wish for. .)
So, on Thursday I made a whole bunch of components for possible and probable future projects, such as constructing necklaces.

Here's a pic or two.

From the top, three of my 'unfortunate resemblance' beads, better known to me as 'turd beads'. I shall know better than to make organic looking textured beads out of brown clay and texture them in yet more browny coloured stuff in future. Next to them are some textured disk beads, Below them are some faux 'African' scratched tube beads and some cool round scratch beads.

then some primitive spacers and then some of my image transfer beads, which always turn out just that annoying bit more 'rustic' than I intended. Still, I like them.

I made a possible necklace from various components. This is the sort of thing I want to pursue. Possibly even doing some stuff for men, having had a look to see what is being done in that area on Etsy. Interesting. . .
thanks for reading,
Jon x

Sunday 9 November 2014

OK, so off we go. . .

Up the Road to Nowhere ;-) Ooh, I'm so negative.
So, I now have a Facebook 'page' -

like wot I am told I need to have.

Actually, I do understand why I need such a thing, but it goes against the Northern European Protestant 'don't get above yourself, what's so special about you?' cultural ethos that seems to be hard wired into my psyche, to embark on this self publicity journey. I feel like I'm being a pushy, mouthy git by even trying to draw attention to myself. But this is my problem rather than a problem with the process, after all, if nobody knows you exist, or what you are producing, then it does seem a bit pointless producing it. Innit?

So off we go, as I mentioned earlier. Let's see what happens.