Thursday, December 11, 2014

Midnight Owl Inro

Ok, it's FINALLY done.  I''ve been working on this complex class for CraftArtEdu for several months now and it's loaded!  The class is broken up into 3 sections. The first covers parts 1 and 2 of the class outline, including how to make a custom inro base and lay out custom cane designs.  The second video section overs part 3 of the class outline, working through various foundation canes used to construct a complex owl cane and then assembling the owl cane.  The last video section contains the last part of the class, where we make up the canes to construct out inro and then put them all together.

With an hour of content, the class covers many great new polymer skill building techniques for anyone who has a good working knowledge of polymer clay, including how to design form to build custom inros around, using pearl ex as a release agent, laying out cane designs, calculating the size canes and amounts of clay you'll need, layering & burnishing canes to make unique scenes, making handcrafted tassles, and how to put it all together.  Watch a preview of this class HERE

Midnight Owl Inro
Midnight Owl InroMidnight Owl Inro

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dragonscale Gems

Dragonscale Jewelry   FINALLY!!! Life is known for throwing you a few twists and turns in your plans, and I had hoped to have this class up a month ago. As the saying goes though, better late than never!
   Dragonscale Gems is my new class on CraftArtEdu and my first full class.  I released two free classes un August.  I'ven been working on this class since mid August along with another very detailed class that I hope to finish in the next few weeks.  This class is a great class for anyone who has caught the polymer clay bug and wants to learn some simple, useful jewelry making techniques.  It includes instructions on how to make a deep blue pearl dragonscale cane using Kato concentrates, how to make a beautiful pendant and earrings using simple templates. how to craft wire bails and earwires, and how to cover a scrap clay bangle form with your dragonscale cane to make a making bangle.  You can customize the techniques learned in this class by changing the color of the dragonscale or even using different canes altogether using the jewelry templates.   Use it to grow your skills and make some trendy jewelry at the same time.  You can find the Dragonscale Gems class at the link HERE.
Dragonscale Earrings Dragonscale Pendant
Dragonscale Pendant Dragonscale Bangle

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Catching the Moon

  I've been working on a pretty big project lately that has me experimenting with several new ideas that I'm hoping will come together in a wonderful, miraculous way.  One of those ideas is a Moon Cane.  There are several design questions that need answering in making this cane.  What color do I start with and will it look more realistic with the light being in the center or on the outside?  I want this cane to be extremely easy to make so how to I make the concept of craters or shadows look realistic without making the cane piece by piece like I would a picture.  What is the proper balance of light to gray in the shadows so they're visible but not focal?
   My first trial was a miserable failure!  Though I like the colors of the piece and overall design, the moon didn't look anything like what I was picturing.  I started with two skinner blends, one yellow and white and the other yellow, white and black with the black being darker toward the yellow end.  I tried to shape where I cut out the shadows and  obscure the edges with bits of my darker end of my skinner blend with the black, but the darker blend was too much of a contrast and the edges too distinct.  You can see the results in the little piece to the right and the finished piece below.
Owl in Moon experiment  My second attempt was a success, as you can see from my finished trial piece above.  The cane doesn't make an exact duplicate of the moon, but gives a good artist likeness for my jewelry pieces.  The following tutorial will be part of my upcoming CraftArtEdu class, "Midnight Owl Inro."  It's a very detailed class made for those of you comfortable with caning and looking to advance your skills.  It included instructions on how to make a custom inro form, how to make the owl that is pictured in the pieces on this blog post, how to make a moon cane and various other simple canes, and then how to put them all together in a very detailed, layered millefiori inro.
   Today though, I'm going to share with you the instructions for my simple moon cane.


1)  Roll out a 2 1/2" square sheet of white clay on the thickest setting of your pasta machine.  Cut a 1/4" right triangle from the bottom edge as shown and replace it with yellow clay.
2)  Form your Skinner blend into a plug with the yellow in the center and the white toward the outside.  Flatten the plug to 1/2" height.
3)  Roll out a 2" square sheet of white clay and cut out a 3/16" right triangle and replace it with yellow clay.  Lay two 1/16" black snakes across the blend to tint it toward the gray.  Accordion fold your tinted Skinner blend into a block.  
4)  Cut two 1/4" circles from your Skinner Plug in the upper left corner and one 3/16" circle in the lower right corner as shown.  Make 3 short cuts from your upper two circles, one in the far right upper going to the right and two in the left going down.
5)  Using a small rod, open the cuts and stretch your openings into a moon shadow shape.
6)  Chop up the circles you removed in step 4 and half the tinted Skinner block into a fine pile of mixed colors.
7)  Pack your chopped up mix into your moon shadow openings.
8)   Reduced the cane and create!  You'll notice in the picture that by using a chopped mixture you will get a random pattern to every slice on your cane, but it also gives soft edges and a hint of shadow and texture. This is a very small cane, but if you were to make a larger cane, the shadow and texture would be finer with more shadow definition.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PUBLISHED! The Polymer Arts

     Ok and now for change #4.  I'm still pinching myself about this one.  I've written an article for The Polymer Arts and it's going to be published in the upcoming edition.  This has had me nervous and excited - and I'm still feeling like that awkward person who isn't quite sure what she's doing.  It's a big step for me!  Thank you for everything, Sage!!!
    The Article is called Caning by Numbers: Complex Cane Design.  I go through my process of drawing and designing my canes, using graphing paper and math to help me calculate the amount of clay, size of the canes, and the dimensions of my cane for optimal size for reduction.   It's probably more 'geeky' than most polymer articles, but I've found that a little of bit of planning helps me to plan and prepare.  Plus it cuts down on those leftovers bits that you are always trying to find a use for.  =)
     I have a class in the works on CraftArtEdu that goes into the process in more detail in order to make a fun, acorn shaped Inro with complex caned details.  If you have any questions, please just ask.  I think the best way for me to learn as a teacher is to know what my students are looking for.  And thanks for all the patience and support!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Change #3 - New Homepage

     With all the exciting new changes going on, I've done a bit of rebranding.  When I lived in San Antonio, I wanted a shop name and chose "Renaissance Gals of San Antonio" or "rengalsa" for short.  This is still the name of my Etsy shop, but my blog and homepage will now go by Deb Hart Fine Art and Polymer Clay Designs.  New color theme to this blog, that matches my new business cards, and coordinates with my NEW HOMEPAGE!  Now, for those of you who have known me for awhile, I used to have a homepage that was hosted on apple's website hosting when they had iWeb, but with apple's current changes, they have retired the ability to host websites.  I've been hunting for a new venue for awhile that offers the ease and versatility that I wanted, but haven't really had the extra time to fine tune anything.  Well, with all the changes, I've been forcing myself to put in some hours and I'm really liking the way it's coming together.  I still have a long way to go until it's at the point where it flows like I would like it to, but that's going to take some time....and a few more glasses of wine.  =)
    The photo above is a screen shot of the home page.  From the links you can 1) Read more about me, what my history and accomplishments are, and where you can find my work.   2) View a Gallery of my work.  Right now, this is a bit disorganized to me, but contains a lot of images.  In the future, I want to simply break it into post 2009, and then highlights from each year after.  3) A shop for my signature pieces.  Though I will have some pieces in this shop also listed in my Etsy, I am planning on working toward keeping my Etsy shop open for bead and cane sales only and showcasing my signature work on this site.  4) A link to my classes and tutorials, including CraftArtEdu, written tutorials for download on Etsy, and workshops.   5) A link back to this blog.  6) A forum for any questions on my items, tutorials, or just for fun.  7)  A contact form.
   These is a lot of information here for those of you interested, but if anyone has any suggestions or improvements, please feel free to let me know.  I'm kind of a one horse show right now, so I don't always think of everything because other little thoughts keep interfering (darn those voices in my head).  And thank you in advance for giving it a look and for your interest!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Change #2 - Museum of Modern Art

     Ya, when I saw this for the first time - I just sat at my computer in awe for awhile.  It's funny when you get so busy working so hard to just make a dent in the vision you see for yourself in your head, that you get surprised when you get to the point where that vision is no longer IN your head.  (I really hope that makes sense.  lol)  So, to sum it up - I'm now selling my creations in the gift shop at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and did a wonderful demo and trunk show there on August 1.
     I have to do a full hearted thank you to Lorri and all the staff there for making me feel so wonderful and special.  The patrons were amazing and so very interested in watching me create the cane that I was working on (future post - spoilers).   I talked until I had no voice - which wasn't very hard because I was coming down with a bug that kept me in bed the whole weekend afterwards.  I needed the rest though and sometimes being sick is the only way to force me to stop and get it.  It's just all so exciting and I want to make the most of every second of this wonderful life I've been given.
    If you want to visit the Modern Art Museum website you can click on the image above or visit there gift shop at  Their online selection is limited, but visiting the store in person is definitely worth while if you're visiting the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Soooo Busy... So many changes!!!

Magic Swirl Cane
     Where has Deb gone?  I'm sure that all of y'all (been in Texas too long) have been asking yourself just that.  It has been a crazy busy few months and when I haven't had my plate full of activities, I sit down to write something here and zzzzzz....  Well I guess I have to sleep sometime, but I really need to fill you in on all the wonderful changes in my life over the last few months.  I'll fill you in in detail over the next few days, but the first wonderful thing is that I was invited to be an instructor on CraftArtEdu!  I'm still in a state of disbelief about it.  I've taught classes and run craft groups, but I think most of the time when I write here or write a tutorial, it's more creative therapy for me.
     So - deep, dark, secret time - though I can handle group situations now (force of habit), I'm at heart a very deep-seated introvert.  And as such, I still suffer from the eternal question - am I welcome here, wanted, are people enjoying my company or am I just being a darn pest.  (seriously, I think this every day).  So, it was with more amazement than I think I could muster on my own that I accepted CraftArtEdu's invitation to become a instructor.  Though I think I still am a darn pest on a lot of occasions.  =)
Scrap Clay Bangle Forms
    Now that I've got that confession out of my system, I'll also confess that it absolutely drives me crazy to record my voice and listen to it!!!!  So be patient with me as I stutter along and I'll try not to ramble too much.
    Here are the two tutorials that I've already posted on CraftArtEdu.  They're both free, so just click on the link or on the photo and ENJOY!  Make sure to send me questions and any photos your have of your own work - I really truly enjoy both!!!  Magic Swirl Cane - This was shared on my blog in 2012 and Scrap Clay Bangle Forms was shared on this blog in December 2013.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Trees

Four Tree Canes     I've created 3 more trees to go along with my palm tree cane. They are a fun leafy tree, a time-worn branchy tree, and a pine tree. These fun canes were also part of a large custom order and have been a wonderful edition to my cane selection in my ETSY shop.
     I've had so many, many people ask me about how I made these.  =)  And really, they're not hard at all, so let me tell you - these will be some of my first tutorials on CraftArtEdu.  I've been working on the details and learning the system and promise y'all that I'll let y'all know when they're done and live.  (Just don't laugh at my voice - I'm still adjusting to hearing myself!)
     There are so many ideas running through my head that I can use these for - country scenes, woodland scenes, or forest scenes.  They would be cute paired with caned houses or barns or with bears or moose for a Northwoods theme.  Maybe even throw in a lake, boat and a fishing pole.  =)  ...but I'd have to keep that one.  If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them!
Leafy Tree Cane - packed and reduced Pine Tree Cane - packed and reduced
Branchy Tree Cane - packed and reduced

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Doors

Four Door Canes     It's been a rather busy few months here for me and it's looking like it won't slow down for awhile now. =) It's exciting though! First off, the next few days, I'll be catching up on new creations - lots of fun new canes from a custom order. The first set of canes I'm showcasing today will be all my door canes.
     There is lots to learn in making canes of doors and maybe the first how to minimize the natural distortion that comes from cane reduction in order to keep the lines straight.  There are several ideas I've experimented with during this caning adventure. The deeper you make the cane when first creating it, the easier it is to reduce without the edges warping and pressing the edges against a flat table top to keep the ends from drawing in helps TONS.  I'm also thinking in the future I may use a layer of scrap clay around the outside to help with reduction.  All in all though, these are meant to be whimsical and they succeed.  I did a bit of experimentation with the shading inside the door as well.  The glass in the door with the window is a light skinner blend of white and silver.   I'm looking forward to doing some experimenting with various house scenes and barn scenes and these will come in handy.
Four Door Canes     Now for all the news that is keeping me so busy.  First off, I have been invited by the folks at CraftArtEdu to become an instructor.  YEAH!  I've been teaching art and craft classes privately and professionally and running craft groups for almost 20 years.  Creating my own designs and sharing my learnings is one of my passions in life, so I think CraftArtEdu is a perfect fit for me.  I look forward to bringing new projects to the polymer world and I'll be sure to let all of you know about all my new adventures.   Secondly, I'm now selling my jewelry through the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, Texas and will be doing a trunk show and demo on August 1 at their monthly First Friday event.  I'll be posting more about specifics of the demo in another post once I get my design all laid out.  It's going to be a great evening.  And there is a number 3 that was on my list, but that'll have to wait until later so I can give you all the details.  =)  Come August though, I'll need to catch up on my sleep.
Rustic Red Door Cane Rustic Black Door Cane
Rustic Green Door Cane Rustic Blue Door Cane

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kokopelli Kachina

Kokopelli Kachina Tile Bangle     The Kokopelli is just revered as the herald of spring.  Native American legend says that his flute can be heard in the spring breezes, bringing an end to winter.  As he talks to the wind and sky, the sun comes out, the snow melts, the grass grows, and the birds and animals gather to listen to his songs.  He symbolizes fertility, happiness & joy, and is luck for hunters.  When this traveling prankster and seducer visits a village playing his flute, everyone sings and dances the night away.  When he leaves in the morning, the crops are bountiful and the women are pregnant.
     The Kokopelli has always been one of my favorite Native American images.  As you can see below, I have used the image not only in polymer clay, but also in my other artwork.  To me, he reminds me to celebrate life and all the joys it give you.
     In designing this little guy, I started - like my Clown Kachina - by attaching slices of my yellow and orange zigzag canes from my Sunface Kachina canes to a prebaked & sanded bracelet tile with the help of some Kato polypaste.  I then also added the border and corner canes from my Southwestern Bear Claw bracelet tiles.  While this background tile was caring, I cut out the face shape from scrap clay and covered it with a thin sheet of black clay.  I added a strip of white down the center and textured the edges, and then added the nose.  The eyes and eyebrow details were formed from thin extruded white clay and carefully shaped and attached.  The color was formed from white and black balls cut in half and pressed together with the help of a touch of Kato polypaste and then textured on the edges.  Once the background tile was cured and sanded, I pressed two feathers of different colors - one from each of my first two owl canes - to the top and then added the face, collar,  and red ears to the tile with some Kato polypaste to secure the bonds.   I placed an additional feather from my Sunface Kachina canes onto the forehead and white triangles to the ears as final touches.
Kokopelli Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant Kokopelli Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant
Kokopelli Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant

Morning Singer Kachina

Morning Singer Kachina Tile Bangle     The Morning Singer Kachina or Talavai wake the Hopi people by singing in pairs from the rooftops.  During the day, they prompt the other kachinas and lead them in song.  They have a small spruce tree in one hand and a bell in the other.
     This is another of my favorites!  I love the colors and the dimension that I achieved from the design.  I started by building up the feather headdress on my lined, cured and sanded 2" bracelet tile.  I used feathers from my original Sunface Kachina, but in the future will design feather canes specific to each Kachina.   I filled in the center of the headdress and cured it along with a short ring of red clay around a crochet hook for the nose/mouth.  In the meantime, I cut out the head shape from a sheet of scrap clay and covered in with turquoise clay.  I then added the black hair on top and textured it.  The rest of the elements I wanted to add after curing the nose/mouth, so I proceeded to created the green color by placing thin layers of left over palm tree fronds around a tube of scrap clay.
   After the headdress base was cured and sanded, I attached the face and red ears to it with the help of some Kato polypaste.  I carefully inserted the nose/mouth with a bit of Kato polypaste as well and then added the eyes, the white reversed step on the forehead, and the colored oval shapes on the cheeks.  For final touches I lined the reversed step and ovals with a thin string of extruded black clay, added a white triangle to the ears, smaller feathers to the hair, and then attached the collar with the help of more Kato polypaste.  Time for a final cure, sanding, buffing and tah dah!!!!
Morning Singer Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant Morning Singer Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant
Morning Singer Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Owl Cane Take 2

Blue/Gray Owl Cane - reduced   This is my second owl cane. I started with a different sketch and a different color scheme than the first.  I was hoping for a more subtle black, blue and gray theme with a hint of cream, but the colors of my component canes when reduced down to the size I was using in my own were much bolder in color that I was hoping for.   It's always a learning process though and eventually with enough practice I'll understand the amount of color I need in component canes for the look I'm after.  So that is the first challenge I faced in putting together my second owl cane.
     The second challenge was the clays I was using.  Most of the time for canes of this type, I like to look through my stock of leftover clays from other projects.  I guess it's that practical farm girl that still resides in my soul.  =) Most of the time it's a great use of my leftovers, but for this one I grabbed a bag of cream colored clay for the owl's face that was made from some clay that I was having issues with.  It conditioned well, seemed to
Owl Sketch #2Owl Cane
have the right consistency, but would split rather than reduce.   I didn't realize it was "that" clay until I started reducing the cane for the face and it started breaking into pieces rather than reducing.  I really should have just thrown it into my scrap clay jar at that point because it gave me issues in reducing the whole cane.  My frugal nature is the death of me sometimes.  lol
    Challenge #3 was the size.  I started out with a fairly small and shallow cane for this one, but have learned from the demand for my previous owl that a larger cane would be worth my time and easier to make and reduce.  So in the future I will buy more clay and start with a larger, deeper cane that reduces with less tlc.
    Challenges aside, I'm learning and all these challenges are necessary if I want to learn more about how involved complex canes of this nature are.  I've been working on a few dragon sketches, a griffon, and several southwestern animal motifs.  It may be a few months before I get time to tackle these, but I am excited about the new challenges ahead.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Butterfly Kachina

Butterfly Kachina Tile Bangle     The Butterfly Kachina is a herald to spring and symbolizes fertility, rebirth, beauty, freedom and nature itself.  Since the butterfly lands and pollinates flowers used by Medicine Men, she is also a symbol of healing.
     The headdress on the Butterfly Kachina is elaborate and left me scratching my head about the best way to design this.  In Native American masks the Butterfly Kachina headdress is open, but there was no way to make an open design so I put the different design elements on a white background.  The first thing I did was create the cane that you see pictured on the headdress.  It is a step cane with a red center, yellow/orange and turquoise blue sides, and a long striped black and white border between the sections.  It is slightly reduced on the inner headdress layer (and I'll probably make it even smaller in future masks) and stretched longer on the bottom edge.  The outside edge and divisions are lined with black.  The inner layer and bottom edge are raised up by one layer of clay (about 1/8") to give the design depth and then the face was layered on top.  Finally I placed feathers from my Sunface Kachina and my Blue/Gray Owl Cane in between the layers.  I completed this design before attaching to my tile based and curing, but in the future it would be easier to do this in multiple curing steps - sanding in between layers.
Butterfly Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/PendantButterfly Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant
Butterfly Kachina Mask/Bracelet tile/Pendant


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