Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Process

I follow the Art Bead Scene blog, and they have a monthly challenge to make a piece of jewellery using a painting as inspiration.  This one is by Erte, and the warm red of the dress against the cool blue of the sky really appealed to me.  I had lots of ideas percolating in my head, and finally forced myself to go down to the studio and try to make some of them happen (the deadline is tomorrow).  None of my original plans happened, as it worked out, but I was determined to finish this challenge.  The central bead and the blue bead are polymer clay, made by me, as are the two etched metal rings.  The red focal pendant ended up with a distinctly Asian feel, but I feel it captures the motifs in the dress.  The blue bead represents the snowy sky. 

 And, the aftermath.  Some trays of beads that "auditioned" for the piece.
 My very messy worktable.  Creativity is NOT a tidy process!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the twelfth day of Christmas....

my true love gave to me: nine pairs of Christmas tree earrings!  I have been busily making these for my co-workers.  I don't really bake, except for polymer clay, so this seemed like a good way to go.  The first pair were the red and white striped ones, inspired by a pair I saw on Polymer Clay Daily.  Then it became a challenge, how many variations could I come up with, and still stay within the Christmas tree shape.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Must be the Christmas spirit

I have been enjoying having time to get down to my studio on a regular basis.  Can't say I miss the relentless grind of Christmas craft shows at all!  Apart from making beads to sell on etsy,  I can just make whatever I want.  

 Wanted some Christmas coasters, so why not make my own out of polymer clay?
 3 of the ornaments I have been making.  They are polymer clay on a glass ornament base.  They share the same palette of colours, yet they all look different.  
Ornament with a base of red and gold foil, covered with a crackle cane.  

The whole gang, hanging out on the coffee table!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day After Calyx

The Calyx show was yesterday. Thanks to everyone who braved the snow to come and see me.   I worked really hard to get ready for it, that looming deadline always seems to inspire me to create new things.  Here are some pictures of newer work:
 Domed polymer pendant necklace.
 Pendants strung on hand-painted silk ribbons
 Elastic strung panel bracelet.
 Etched brass with faux ivory panels riveted on.  I really like how this one turned out.
Very long lariat style necklace, with polymer and embossed brass leaves.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Calyx Show Coming Up!

I have had the honour of being selected to show my jewellery at the autumn Calyx show again.  The show will run this weekend, and I will be participating on Saturday, October 20.  The show is well worth seeing on both days; there are so many talented artists showing their paintings, pottery, jewellery and fibre creations.  I have been working on some new ideas for this show (as usual have run out of time to implement all of them!) I will try to get some shots of the new pieces posted here, and on my flikr site in the next couple of days. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

In Praise of Serendipity

I have been busy cranking out sets of polymer clay beads to (try) and sell on etsy.  It is a slow slog trying to get a following from buyers, but I am nothing if not stubborn!  However, I was finding making nothing but beads a bit soul-destroying, so have decided to mix it up and make a few pendants, too.  I especially like this one, which utilizes the interesting edge of a mokume gane sheet of clay.  And a pair of earrings to match, while I was at it.  Anyhow, feeling much more inspired now, so armed with the latest Pantone fall colours, I am heading back into the studio.  Who knows, I may even post about it here!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beads of Courage

I met with Rae, a representative of this worthwhile program yesterday, and wanted to pass the information along to all you beadmakers out there.  Basically the Beads of Courage program needs special beads, whether lampwork or polymer clay, to give to children who have chronic illnesses such as cancer.  The beads are strung on necklaces and reflect treatments and milestones for the child.  For example, each time they get a needle they get a black bead, a transfusion gets a red bead and so on.  As you can see in the photos, some of these little ones have a heartbreaking number of beads.  Our beads are used for special milestones in their treatment.  The program has been around in the US for awhile now, but just came to Canada this year.  If you're like me, you probably have a  ton of beads you've made hanging around your studio.  So, do some spring cleaning and do a good deed at the same time! 

My Name is Victoria Plouffe and I am the Executive Director of Beads of
Courage Canada. I am excited that you have taken the time to connect with
Beads of Courage Canada and even more excited that we have actually met! I
reside in Calgary and had the pleasure of buying some of your beads from a
local show a few years back!

Beads of Courage has officially launched in Canada with 5 sites already
training and implementing the program in January 2012. We are thrilled to
finally have this powerful arts-in-medicine program in Canada to further
support the healing of our Canadian children.

Thanks for sharing your time and talents with Beads of Courage and our

Victoria Plouffe 
Executive Director - Canada 
403-771-3793 | |

Beads of Courage, Inc. (A Non-Profit Charity)
"Helping children RECORD, TELL and OWN their stories of COURAGE!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fraser Valley Bead Show

Just a few photos from the Fraser Valley Bead Show happening in Calgary this weekend.  The first one is from the booth I am working in this weekend, Suzie Q Beads.  The other two are photos of just a few of the many fabulous booths at the show.  Lots of really interesting, unusual things.  The show organizer does not allow mass produced lampwork beads to be sold at the show, which is so refreshing.    Means there are high quality, artisan-made lampwork beads there, with the actual artisans selling them!  

Anyhow, if you are in the Calgary area, there is still time to take in the show.  It is open tomorrow 10:00 to 5:00.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting Knotty

Just wanted to show you a couple of new projects I just completed.  As you can see, both feature knotted leather.  The store I work at, Suzie Q Beads got these Knotty Do It All boards in a couple of months ago, and I have become a big fan.  They make knotting so much easier, and the designer has all kinds of slick ways to finish off the ends of things without having to use cones or end caps.  Suzie is the exclusive retailer of these boards in Calgary.  I mainly use mine for making multi strand necklaces for my pendants, but you can do all sorts of projects with them, including making ladder bracelets.  Suzie will have these for sale at the Fraser Valley Bead Show happening in Calgary June 1 - 3.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anatomy of a Colour Scheme

I have been asked by some of my students how I come up with colour schemes for my (predominantly mokume gane) work, so I thought I would share my process. I like to develop a theme and then use it a lot in a whole series of jewellery and beads.  My starting point was wanting to use Tangerine Tango.  I thought it would look good with another Pantone spring colour, Cabaret, and that light piece of clay is Margarita, a pale green even though it looks white in the picture.  By the way, I am an enthusiastic user of colour "recipes" by craftsbychris on etsy.  She puts out 2 sets of these a year.  Another great source for recipes is Polymer Clay Tutor.  Anyhow, those 3 colours resulted in the slab below.  OK, but not enough contrast.

 So, I added some green pearl to the mix.  I don't have a picture of the slab, but there are some beads I made with it.  Interesting how the green pearl became very muted, almost a metallic colour.  So, not happy with this either.
 Still keeping the Cabaret, have switched out the Tangerine Tango for a Honeysuckle, added metallic Bronze (one of my very favourite colours) and a winter white. You see how this works, I don't even have the colour I had started with wanting in the mix anymore.
 And... success.  I love how these colours look together and there is just the right amount of contrast.  I really like how the bronze shades into the Cabaret.
 And some swirl beads I made with the shavings from the stack.  So at the end of the day, I have developed a scheme that I think has some promise.  Some days I don't even have that, and end up with a big stack of scrap clay.  Tomorrow, time to use this in jewellery!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Good Day To...

stay inside and play with polymer clay!  Yes, it is indeed May 5, despite appearances to the contrary.  Is there anything sadder than patio furniture covered in a blanket of snow?  Fortunately, the morning passed pleasantly because I was teaching a polymer clay class at Suzie Q Beads.  

 There were 7 students.  They learned how to make a Skinner blend, a simple cane, and how to use the results to make swirl pendants.
 Some of the results:
 I love how everyone comes up with their own unique take on the technique.  All in all, a great way to spend the morning!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Even More Exciting!!

Riveted bracelet
"Calgary’s Susan White has been a jewellery maker for 15 years, transitioning from lampwork and metals to polymer and metals. Her etched copper links are accented with gilders paste.
The squares of pearlized polymer are riveted on. Below you can see her earrings with silver tubes riveted in the middle of lentil beads. More links here and here. Have a riveting weekend!"

This is what I saw when I did my usual morning check of Polymer Clay Daily.  Anyone who works with polymer clay knows that this is a huge deal; for the rest of you, take my word for it!  Thank you Cynthia, for a great start to the weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Exciting!

I was pleasantly shocked yesterday when I checked out one of my blogs, Craftgossip, and there were a pair of my earrings in the post!   Here's the link, and here is a picture of the earrings:
They were made from a sheet of clay I created using a bunch of scrap clay, so kind of serendipity/recycled.  Then I riveted a heavy sterling silver tube through the centre.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Calyx Sale

Thanks to all who came out to see me at the Calyx Show yesterday.  It was a fantastic day, lots of amazing artwork of all kinds, as usual!  I was happy with my sales, and it is always great to get out there and get some input from people as to what they are looking for in jewellery.  Here are pictures of some of the pieces I made with etched metal and polymer, all sold.  I am in the process of listing some jewellery on etsy, so you can check that out.  And if you saw something at the show and would like a different colour, size, give me a shout at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fun With Patina

I decided to play with some patina sets that I have had for ages (at least 12 years, pre polymer for me). They are the 2 part kind, a paint on metallic solution, and a patina that is applied on top of it. I used some scrap clay pushed into molds as the base and cured them. The dragonfly (a mold I purchased) had a copper metal painted on, then a coating of green patina. The plant mold (made from our chokecherry tree in the spring) had a blackened bronze coating, with a blue patina added. When everything was dry, I sprayed a couple of coats of Preserve Your Memories on them. Then touched up the raised parts with guilders paste. I think the dragonfly was the more successful of the two, it actually looks like a metal medallion. This was fun to experiment with, fairly outside the box for me since I tend to like patterns and smooth clay. I can see doing more with this technique, am visualizing tiles for making bracelets. I collected a bunch of dry flower stalks and pods on a walk a couple of days ago, will have to make some more molds and see what happens!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

More Stroppel!

I made another Stroppel cane (which turned out almost exactly the same as the last one I made.) Obviously I am in a rut as far as my colour choices are concerned! I arranged thin slices of the cane onto round beads. I like the mosaic quality that these have.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stroppel Cane

I think everyone in the polymer clay world has tried this technique, developed by Alice Stroppel for using up bits of scrap and canes. I have been looking at all the beautiful examples people have been posting (just go to Google Images and type in "stroppel cane" and you'll see what I mean. )I have tried it a couple of times, and not been happy with the results. I figured out that my scrap was too dark and close in colour to the black banding between layers. So I went with lighter pieces, and the resulting cane is below. I love it, although I am amazed at how different it turned out than I had expected, based on the cane pieces I used. Obviously, in my hands at least, results are very unpredictable. Here is my cane, and a veneer I made with thin slices placed on a black background.

And here is what I have done with it so far:

I have lots of other ideas, too. If you want to give this fun technique a try, click here!