Chess Set

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Last Year I made a breakfast bar with a chess set painted on the top and a set of chess pieces out of Polymer Clay. For all kinds of complicated reasons, mostly my failing health, I didn’t quite finish and just need to make the two Queens entirely and the white King still needs his crown. So this has been waiting in the side lines but as part of the catch up I thought that I would put up photos anyway and hopefully that will be a reminder to finish those last two pieces. I am trying to finish as many projects as possible that I was not able to touch last year, for my own piece of mind as much as anything…

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New Stuff…

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I know, not a very imaginative heading but I am trying to get pics up on here so that we can catch up AND keep doing what we do and there are only so many hours in a day and for both of us that isn’t too many hours that we are allowed to work. We both need to pace ourselves for health reasons and we both are finding it really difficult to learn how to balance rest and work. We LOVE what we do and it is vitally important for our souls and well beings, which in turn is also good for our health…

Balance balance balance… I am yet to find someone who has truly found balance everything in their lives…

(By the way, yes those glass tiles in there have nothing to do with jewellery .. see what happens when I rush! Haha… but I am not going to redo that … and anyway, we do use a lot of glass in our mixed medium works of art however, and we made these glass tiles by the way.. from scratch so we are pretty proud of them… and they will be used in upcoming tiled mosaic projects so watch this space!…

 

Fabricated Mosaics

Julie and I have to confess that we both have a MAJOR problem in life… we love, just love, going against the rules and stretching limits when it comes to creating things, and we love making things from multi mediums, with a ton of variety and a ton of colour. This might not sound very dramatic but it means not only that we have some failures along the way (andย some amazing triumphs) but that we often work blind,ย with much of the way forward ย a little like hard work, forging the way ourselves. This is challenging but rewarding, but sometimes is extremely frustrating because when we ask people for help or advice ย who are more expert in any one field than we are, in general they are often horrified and tell us that it can’t be done.

Jack of many trades and an expert in nothing” would have been a good way to describe either of us in our youth, but with decades of experience now under our belts, and some pretty decent qualifications in everything from Silver Smithing and Clay, Polymer and Fibres, we have been good girls and done what we were told in each field and continuing toย set our own path and have a blast along the way … (which includes more than a little laughter I am pleased to say).

There is nothing quite like working another person, and we build off each other in ways that even today blow both of us away! (I know, just because we are both astounded doesn’t mean that it isย really anything amazing, but we think it is haha).

Through the summer we did a lot of fabric dying and had a ball, we made candles and at the moment we are doing a lot with the mixed medium stuff including paintings and jewellery using lots of fabrics from wool to cotton to any other fibre we can think of. So here are a few:

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Catch Up!

We have been so busy that we haven’t had time to update the blog, so here are a handful of things that we have been doing recently… some of them feel like they are “old” but they aren’t that old really, just never made onto the web site. I will go into more detail on anything that I post now if you would like to just send me a message on jenny.julie.clay@gmail.com but in the meantime here are some more collages of our goings on ….

Today it is some shelves for the bathroom and bedroom (and I didn’t mean to but I see that the collage features both my favourite inside mug and my favourite working mug haha)…

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Back Again!

It’s been a rough year since we last updated here, but hope to be ย more regular again as things settle. Both our lives have changed in ways that neither of us could have dreamt, and both of us are now struggling with long term health issues … some small, some big, some just plain annoying!

Julie is still running small classes, but Jenn won’t be able to run them any more, which is heart breaking as it is her passion, but at the same time she is learning a new normal, and finding pleasure still in creating creating creating, but not the same kinds of things … No it is a season for crafts that are less physically taxing, can often be done from bed, and are not too hard on her fingers!

The problem with working in bed however is that once in bed and starting to work, there is no room to get out again to go to the loo!!!

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We haven’t been nothing as you can see, and recently completed a small mosaic project for a client, which isn’t exactly a job to do in bed, (and neither is pewter work for that matter!!)ย … and not all days are bed days by any means, so we save those for strong days:

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And then on the less robust days there is always knitting, jewellery, sewing and card making… and drawing for the new ADULT COLOURING IN BOOK!!! (details soon!!)

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So for those who are still following us: thank you! And this will still be a great place for us to showcase what we are creating and hopefully give you some great ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

Workshops and Classes! Sign up!!

With both of us being down due to illness the last couple of weeks, we have been quiet both here and on our fb page, so I apologise for that, but we have worked out our dates for July and August and already have takers, so get in early!!

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July:

The beginning of July we are going to take our half yearly well earned break, so there will be no workshops or classes for the first 2 weeks … BUT we will still have two workshops in the second half July:

July 16th & 17th in Fourways!

and July 29th & 30th in Norwood!

These are both Beginners Polymer Clay workshops where you will learn all about the clay, how to use it, and make yourself some fun and beautiful pieces like the beads below! For details check the CLASSES page here: https://jennjulieclay.wordpress.com/scheduled-classes/,

and/or email us on jenn.julie.clay@gmail.com

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In August we will be resuming our UFO/Play Day classes, so if you have completed a Beginners course, and would love to join us to play each week (for details also see the classes page link above and scroll down to UFO/Play Day, then email us and we will let you know dates for those!

Mosaic Sample Board…

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We spent the last couple of weeks making a sample board, as students are intelligent people who also often like to think outside the square and ask loads of questions about whether or not we can use this or that in their mosaics, and if so what will happen (and if not then the same question!) So I decided on a mirror instead of a boring square background, and went BIG (you can see the whole thing only just fits through a door!) โ€ฆ and to use a design that makes sense rather than just random, and I am quite happy with the results!!

We used more tiles made from polymer than ever before, both in the feature tiles and much of the background, which made the project sooo much lighter yet just as strong! Then we included everything we could think of from paper to old jewelry, children’s toys to resin beads, glass tiles, ceramic tiles, porous and non porous, sealed and unsealed, coated in varathane before the grouting process and afterwards, (and not at all). We used glass beads, plastic beads, fake pearls real stones, and even real bone! We threw in a button and something made from polystyrene, โ€ฆ. basically you name it, we used it โ€ฆ… with pleasing levels of success, (almost all were better than expected) โ€ฆ and the few which didn’t work out well, it was easy to see why! There were things that shocked us that they worked so well, and others that we would have expected a different result but still love the one we got, and believe it or not, there were only 2 “no”s! (which weren’t the end of the world)…

A fun thing for me was that one set of clay leaves I made 23 years and had been sitting at the bottom of a drawer since then, I decided that it needed a place here and it is fabulous!! So for all those artists who can’t bear to throw anything out, DON’T!!! (but do find something to use it for !!)

Softening VERY Crumbly Clay

The other day I needed a lot of white clay for an upcoming class on polymer clay mosaic, but the clay was VERY crumbly…. Over the years I have heard many many theories on clay consistency: “white is always dryer” “black is always harder to work with” etc … and while I have had my fair share of dry whites and hard to condition blacks, but I have also had many WONDERFULLY consistent clays straight out of the wrapping, in both these colours. So in my experience it is less about which colour and more about which batch. After seeing all that they do in the factories with air conditioners and so on, they work VERY hard to get the clay consistent across the board, and this applies to all brands, but some just come out softer than others. AND, don’t forget that some that come out of the packaging “perfect” can be clays that become too sticky to work with the more that they are worked… so there is a VERY fine line that the manufacturers need to work with!

I have also opened packs of clay that are 6 or 7 years old and been just fine (it’s amazing what you find when you clean out the dark corners of studio cupboards! …. and nothing should be wasted right?!!), … ย and others that are fresh and new and still need a ton of extra conditioning to get them going… so what does one do when a pack of clay is too hard or crumbly?? I am not talking about clays that need that little extra conditioning before they are right, I am talking about the stuff that just keeps crumbling and refuses to be conditioned!

One way is to use clay softener. I am not very good at this. Yes I have tried it and yes it works a treat, but problem A: is that one has to be very careful of using too much and it going mushy …. which of course you don’t realise until it is too late!! And B: is that to do it best you need to put it in a zip lock bag over night to absorb at it’s own pace, and this takes both time and patience, both of which I forgot to stand in line for when God was handing them out!!! So what is a quicker, easier way??

Translucent clay!! The first reason that this stuff is great is that it is USUALLY (but not always) more on the softer side of usual clay, and secondly, it doesn’t change the original colour. Of course if you use a TON then it can lighten it somewhat, but mostly it just makes the colour you are mixing it with go further.

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1. I started by conditioning half a block of translucent clay which took 2 seconds because it is so nice and soft ๐Ÿ™‚ then I rolled it on one of the thinner settings, cut it in half, and broke off bits to cover any holes so that I had a full sheet of translucent clay, and laid it under the machine ready to catch all the crumbles of white clay. I then cut the white clay into 3 thin slices and ran one of them through the roller on the widest setting. The crumbles fell through and landed in a pile on the bed of translucent clay ๐Ÿ™‚

2. I gently removed the whole thing being careful not to drop anything, and spread the white clay over the whole piece of translucent so that spread it out evenly (I will do this another day using a colour other than white sorry!!)

3. I then covered the whole thing with the second half of the translucent clay and squashed it down. By now all the crumbles of white are embedded in translucent clay and so won’t fall all over the place as we proceed. You will still have a few bits who get away but for the most part this keeps them all contained ๐Ÿ™‚

4. I then ran the whole thing through the machine as I normally would to condition, and eventually had a consistent clean white block of fairly soft clay.

I then repeated the process with the second third of white clay, using the conditioned translucent/white mix as the base, and then when that was worked through I put the last of the three parts of white crumbly clay through. I ended up with a whole block of white and half a block of translucent mixed, making it one and a half blocks of pure white ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course if I had some white clay that was very soft I could have used that instead of the translucent, and earlier in the week I needed some skin tones and so used a soft terracotta as the base and added the crumbled white to it and it worked just as well. So this worka for mixing colours as much as it works for simply making more of one colour!

In the end I had all the white I needed to make this dove for an upcoming class, and here it is baking with some red embellishments that I made the day before!

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Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

jenn

 

Packages Packages!!!

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Everyone loves packages right!! Whether in the post, delivered by hand, or arriving in the mail! Well we have been getting lots of packages lately … all three kinds actually … so thank you to my VERY kind package deliverers! (We will ignore the fact that we spent a small fortune in order to get said packages hehe, but packages we have!!!) We have been receiving our metal clays from the US, and our polymer clays and liquid clays and glazes and powders from Filani here in South Africa, and unpacking, sorting, filing and paying is fun at first, but when all you want to do is play with it, it gets a bit tiring after a while! Also we don’t want to be using up the stock for our students and customers, so there has been much to do and still a few packages to come but we are getting there…

I said that I would share with you some of the new things that Filani have come up with and the biggest one for me is that they are now packaging their clay in two sets of thin sheets instead of as one block like everyone else! This will sound a little “whatever” if you don’t use clay much, but whoever thought that clay should come in blocks obviously doesn’t EVER have to condition it!! Filani clay has always come in thinner blocks compared to other brands, which we LOVE, but now that they have halved that thickness again, meaning that the package comes in two “slices” you peel off a layer and get straight to the conditioning!! I LOVE IT!!!

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The roses I threw in for colour ๐Ÿ™‚ … (and because they are from my son for Mother’s day!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ )…. but today I played with this translucent clay from Filani and opening the pack and it already being in two thin layers was SUCH a pleasure! I peeled one off and was already ahead of where I would normally be!! … AND was conditioning without even using a blade yet! I LOVE it (can you tell?)

I have also being trying to make a couple of sets of sample boards for us, so am making little buttons in both a light and dark clay to show how all the finishes come up… I still have a way to go and can’t finish it until all the last colours arrive which will hopefully be this week. I also of course did some other playing around which one needs to do when one is working and a tangent calls ๐Ÿ™‚

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