Wednesday 24 June 2015

Making Decisions

My mode of working of late seems to be to mess around with an idea, make something, and then try to work out what it might be used for. It's not such a daft idea if you are mainly making beads, like I am, because beads are either things with holes that you thread a cord or wire through, (for necklaces, pendant and bracelets etc) or something without holes that you stick onto something else. (rings, cufflinks, stud earrings etc). So if you make something with a hole in it, it could be used in a necklace by somebody, and so on.

lazy beads with no holes. I messed them up when I drilled a hole down the middle, so that serves me right . .

But I am beginning to realise that having a plan of sorts is a better idea. I made some beads recently that I was thinking of selling without holes, to leave the decisions about where the hole should be, and hence the bead's ultimate use, to the buyer. You know, empowering the end user, not dictating what they should do, freedom. . . But actually that was dishonest. What I was being was lazy. I didn't want to have to make a decision about what the beads were intended for, and pretended I was enabling people somehow. Oh well, I fooled myself for a while. As kind people on Facebook pointed out, without holes they are just pretty rocks, or words to that effect. So in future I will make beads for a purpose. The end user is still free to adapt them for another purpose as far as that is feasible, but they will start off, at least in my head, with an intended use. . .

Tube beads. Proper beads with holes. For stringing no less!

Thursday 11 June 2015

Well it was there last time I looked. . .

The other day somebody bought one of my cufflink sets on Etsy.

'Hooray!' I said and trundled over to the shelf where I keep my jewelry stuff and pulled out the most likely box.
Nope, not in that one. No worries, it will be in the box with my other cufflinks. . .
Nope. . . OK, well it should have been in that box, maybe I put it somewhere else, though I can't think why. .

Yeah well, you can see where this is going. The cufflinks weren't anywhere they ought to have been or anywhere they didn't ought to have been, and I still haven't a clue what happened to them. I looked everywhere. . About six times. . . Grrrr. . .

I shamefacedly contacted the buyer, apologised profusely and explained. I suggested I could try to make a replacement set, send a photo to see whether she thought the replacement was adequate, and if not give a refund. She said that was a good idea, so I set to.

As I set up the necessary bits and pieces, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to document the process as I hadn't tried that before, so I took shots of the various stages of my image transfer and nasty aging process and montaged them into a series of jpgs for your amusement. I hope you're easily amused. It's almost a tut, but would need work to make it coherent enough for that. It's more of an experiment. I might try documenting stuff again but with more care and a better set up.

1- cut out images from laser print/photocopy sheet.
2- cut out squares of polymer clay, thickest setting on the pasta machine.
3- trimmed images and squares.

4- place the images face down on the squares and rub gently with your finger to ensure contact.
5- add water and let it sit for a minute.
6- gently rub away the paper with your finger in a circular motion, adding water from time to time. Go easy as it can start to smudge after a while.
7- the image/soft clay will probably distort a bit if you aren't careful enough. I wasn't.

8- don't do what I did and forget to place the squares on a small tile to start with. I had to lift them off my work tile with a blade, which also distorts the shape. Not a big issue this time as I wanted a slightly irregular shape.
9- put small tile in oven. I did 25 mins at usual temperature.
10- baked squares. The camera angle makes them look more distorted than they were.
11- selectively attack with medium sandpaper.

12- results of selective sandpaper attack.
13- I painted the surface with greyish alcohol ink diluted with isopropyl - ratio 1 ink 2 iso p.
14- gently added renaissance wax, but rubbed it in too hard. see top right of left square, the blue has come off leaving purple/magenta where blue should be. Ren wax will take the image off if you aren't careful.
15- buffed with dremel thingy after ren wax had dried for ten mins or so.

16 - the final result. Overdid it, so I made another less messed up version.

This is a pic of the second, less messed up version I made. These made it to the stage of cufflinks. Check the pic below of the 'lost' original ones and see if I got close. The originals weren't quite as brown in real life as in the photo btw.
Let's hope the buyer gives the OK. ;-)
Jon x

Monday 1 June 2015

Life gets in the way

Not that messing about with polymer clay and blogging about it isn't part of 'life', but it does tend to get subsumed by other stuff, when said other stuff raises it's ugly head. Sorry not to post sooner. Not that you were waiting with bated breath, or 'baited breath' as I have seen people spell it, now there's a surreal concept. . .

We've been away for a few days, cruising the villages of Suffolk to see what the places where vaguely possible houses for sale are situated. (we haven't sold ours yet, but research was needed) Interesting stuff.

pretty stuff

Some pretty bits, and some right crap. If you were ever thinking of checking out Friday night in Stowmarket, not that any of you are in a position to do that, I would advise against. It was a flippin wasteland! Deserted streets, the two pubs we could find just had a couple of fat blokes with shaved heads watching sport on a bloody great telly. The sign outside one had 'Friday Night Explosion!' chalked onto it. Yeah right. Friday night Mouse fart more like. . . Totally our scene. . . not.
About the most exiting thing happening was that the branch of Subway was open. . . The town's depressed looking teenagers were huddled round it and round the steps of the baptist chapel or somesuch building nearby, poor things. There was more life in the Asda car park than on the high street. . .

Anyway, real life apart, I have been messing about with poly clay a bit. I bought some titanium wire, as it's hypoallergenic and cheaper than sterling silver. It has a dull finish, but I like that. It fits the vibe of my work better than something shiny does. imho.
Here's a couple of sets of earrings I made using some black and white image trans beads and said titanium wire.

I was wondering whether I should offer a set of two of earring that actually match. I like unmatched, but there may be those who might be put off by that. Not sure I want to cater for such unadventurous types ;-) but I might try a set or two in my shop as an experiment. Or I might not.

And I made some 'Dread beads'. Not sure whether you sell these individually or in sets. I shall research. I used at least four coats of Renaissance Wax on them, buffed up on my dremel between coats. That should render them weather and sweat proof, or am I being optimistic here? Should I varnish them?