Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! Today is definitely a white Christmas in the Midwest! So far in a day and a half we've got over 12 inches of snow and now it's blowing. The temperatures are in the 20's so at least it's not so cold. That will be following the storm! Nice to be able to stay indoors, I made a big pot of chili for lunch and that should warm us for a few hours.

The quiet afternoon gives me time to reflect back on Clay Carnival and continue my updates of the projects I made there. I can't wait to get started making some of these on my own after the holidays.

These little polymer clay books were used to demonstrate several techniques including an easy image transfer and different methods of binding by instructor Cathy Johnston. They are approximately 1 x 2 inches and can be used as a pendant or a pin. I'm planning on using the technique to make some "music books" for a friend to put in the hands of her caroler statues that have "lost their music" over the years!

The designs we used to transfer were actually printer pages of beautiful postage stamps but any image printed out on your printer on a lightweight paper will work. This group photo of books are some of the instructors samples. She had a Bind All machine which cut the rectangle holes in the baked clay for binding with a pre-fab metal binding: most of the books in the picture are bound this way. If you look at the book on the far left with them image of a woman ,you can see an alternative technique for binding. She has drilled holes into the clay front and back with a hand drill and then use jump rings to bind together the covers and the paper pages.

The picutre to the right with the plant and frog charm is one of my samples that I made in the class. As a pendant or pin, it would appear like these books would flop open all the time! Solution: Cathy has us punch out a small hole on the right (it's under the green tab in the picture) and insert a small magnet (I'm talking1/4 inch) into the book front cover. We then used a small metal brad and wrapped a piece of black twine around it with 2 lose ends that will be secured to the back cover under a piece of black mulberry paper to conceal it. The clay glued over the brad has green Pearl Esscence to give the clay the green sheen. I made 3 additional accent pieces for the book. A small hole was drilled in the lower corner of the back cover to put a jump ring with a charm to further embellish the piece.

The easy image tranfer begins with lightweight paper, (regular printer paper works fine) and a color printer. If your image has words, or definite lefts and rights, be sure to print out your image backwards or as a mirror image so when it transfers it comes out looking correct. After you print your image cut it out. Take your unbaked clay that has been conditioned and rolled out and lay your image print side down on it. Rub firmly with your finger to make sure the paper is stuck to clay. Don't rub so hard that you squish the clay and/or distort the image. Just make sure the paper is touching the clay everywhere. I like to let mine set for a few minutes at this point, but she went on to the next step right away.

With a spray bottle mist the paper with water. Gently rub at the paper with your finger adding water as needed. You will begin to dissolve the paper and the image stays behind on the clay! Keep rubbing until it is smooth and you feel like most of the paper is gone. You'll notice the big change in texture as you do it. Cut clay to desired size and bake.

Here is a sample that Cathy Johston did that I thought was so cute! She's added letters embossed on little pieces of clay as well as a little angel with wire wings glued on over a piece of mulberry paper as an embellishment. She's used a button for the closure keeping with the feel of the design. She's also used a strip of trimmed lightweight paper (probably mulberry paper) as a binding. And then the fun surprise! Instead of putting in paper pages, she's created a little shadow box with polymer clay. The sides are scored to create a page like look when viewed from the side. But when you open it, there are some treasures to help one Dream! I believe this piece had a pin back on it.

The possibilities for these little books are endless. If you are interested in the little magnets you can purchase them on Cathy's website at under shopping.

Under Tools at her website she also shows some creative ways to store your clay tools like the kemper cutter and drill bit holder, a blade safe, and her tool box with waxed line thread to tie pieces for storage inside the top of the box. Very creative!! It was great learning from Cathy and I thank her very much for sharing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Make "Rudy" Garnish for Your Holiday Table!!

Also in the left corner of the picture is a radish mouse. They are fun to make and set around a cheese tray, ....not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

Get radishes with stems attached. Cut off stem leaving a bit as a nose. Slice a thin slice off the bottom so it'll sit. I poked holes for the eyes with a toothpick and inserted cloves for eyes. Make 2 slits behind the eyes to insert radish slice ears. You can anchor them with a toothpick but I wouldn't recommend doing this if there are children who might be inclined to grab a mouse and eat it. You wouldn't want the toothpick stabbing the inside of their mouths.

In one of the pictues below they've taken one slice and notched it for the ears but I like the larger ears created by 2 separate slices.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Biker Mouse? Not Sure where that came from!`

In this claass at Clay Carnival we were given a light bulb like the size of a Christmas tree bulb and supposed to use it for the base of whatever! As I put clay around it I was reminded of a blue mouse knicknack I had as a kid and thought the bulb looked like the shape of a mouse. I'm not sure where along the line it evolved into a biker mouse! But he's a great biker dude, he even has a Mom tatoo in a heart on him arm!! Must be my dad's influence! Everyone asked me if my husband was a biker and I'd reply "no but my 80+ year old dad is!" Way to go daddyo!!!
Some people did fish, another did rose, a fox, it was amamzing the ideas that came.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clay Carnival was FUN!

I enjoyed Clay Carnival and apologize for the dry spell in blogging. Can't believe where the month went! I took 8 half day classes. We set up our "work stations" and left it set up for the 4 days. The teachers then moved from class to class which worked well. We were in a hotel conference room which felt a little strange. When I've taken classes before with Maureen Carlson you are surrounded by oodles and oodles of fantastic creations and the creativity seems to seep through the pores of Maureens studio. It is like you are breathing it in and growing an air of confidence. In the large bleak room I missed that feeling. But I learned a lot and saw many different styles. It was fun to be given the same demonstration and instruction from the teacher and have 14 different things evolve from the students different interpretaions!!

Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg’s Class: “Filigree/Foliage Fusion” was one of my favorite pieces I created. We learned how to make the leaf canes and the flowers and leaves were layered on either side of a metal filigree piece. The crystal in the center is a beautiful Swarovski.

Pictured to the right here is some of the poker chips I collected during the swap party on the final evening. As you can see, what a variety. One lady made fried eggs! Others were intricate canes of millefiori. One of the instructors gave us a "poker chip" with a penny glued to it so we wouldn't go home from clay carnival broke! Some weren't even round.

In Donna Kato's class we made a polka dot spinner bracelet. We wrapped parchmenet paper around a circle cutter that would fit our wrist. We covered it with clay and added one of white edges. While that baked we made our spinner cutting the hole slightly larger so it spins!! She had used the techniques for rings as well. Fanciful!
Watch for more updates and pictures from clay carnival and other things that I am working on.I promise you it won't be a month before you hear from me again. Thanks for viewing!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Poker Chip Swap at Clay Carnival

At next week's Clay Carnival the last night is a "Poker Chip Swap." Everyone who wishes to participate makes some sort of design the size of a poker chip, it doesn't have to be a masterpiece, thank goodness! Pictured below is my chips, I am not very good at millefiori (glad I'll be taking a class about that next week!) but attempted it. After slicing the cane and baking, I stamped and embossed them with gold to bring out the gold flecks in the cane (that you can't see from the photo) So the week after next, I will have a whole bunch of "poker chips" to show you. It will be fun to see all different styles and get some ideas from the participants!!

One of the guest instructors for the Clay Carnival is my mentor and friend, Maureen Carlson. Maureen has been an avid fan of polymer clay since 1979, when her first FIMO wee folk looked back at her and grinned - or so she says. This stuff had life! It was magic! For many years Maureen made one-of-a-kind characters which she sold primarily at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Then Wee Folks Designs was born with the start of teaching videos. Wee Folk Creations became one of the leaders in the rapidly expanding world of polymer clay design. Along the way Maureen began writing craft books of which she's had many published, and some in different languages to be distributed across the world! Her business expanded to specialize in Maureen Carlson designs, which includes how-to books, push molds, stories and several lines of collectible characters, including Pippsywoggins®, Friar Folk™ and Sister Folk™. She teaches classes at many locations and events across the country. Her latest book is Fairies, Gnomes, & Trolls, and I'm excited to say the Mushroom men concept created with the "Dent girls!" made the book! It's availabe at Amazon and pictured to the right.
Maureen's designs are about imagination and whimsy and the joy of recognizing a glint of understanding in the eyes of a wee clay creature. The seeds for this imaginative view of life began on a dairy farm in central Michigan, in the American midwest, where Maureen spent hours wandering the woods and fields and digging in the garden. The soil and sun and green sprouts and falling leaves eventually became the background for many of her stories.

In 1999, the Carlsons opened Maureen Carlson's Center for Creative Arts, in Jordan, Minnesota, just 35 miles southwest of Minneapolis. In this small town setting, perched on the edge of a small meandering creek, students and retreat participants have opportunities to learn, to share and to explore their creative interests.
She also does Clay Storytelling which is incredible to experirence. Imagine a room full of curious listeners sitting in a semi-circle around a costumed story teller. She is saying:"Reach into your back pocket and pull out your Imagination Hat. Stretch it until it fits. Put it on. Now, together, let's look into this pile of clay ... and meet ... and make ... a Storyclay® character ..." And so begins a Storyclay® Telling. Though no two Storyclay® Tellings are exactly alike, there are some similarities.
Next I'll tell you a bit more of my personal view of this incredible women and the impact she's made on my life!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My First Polymer Clay piece!

Once again, my mom was the reason for all of this whimsy you're reading!! One weekend visiting my folks in SD, mh mom showed me this awesome polymer clay book she had gotten written by a woman artist she watched occasionally on the Carol Duvall show. As I looked at the information about the author I realized she lived about 30 min south of me! When we looked at her website we realized she had a studio and had classes. That's all it took. My sister and mom and I decided to head down to Jordan and Mushroom Men were the first on the agenda.

This was the first time Maureen had done the mushroom men. She had made large mushrooms but the first time for adding the faces. What fun!! After a torrential rain storm were we ended up in the dirt and rock basement, we fastly became several rounds of "illullulatajuichum" cementeded the friendship or at least the relationship! She would never be rid of us now!!!! Years later when I am at the center I run into people who remembering the singing family. Not that we can sing! But we can certainlyh ave fun! Next I'll share with you about my incredible mentor Maureen Carlson. It's late so I can't go on. But I can't wait~~~~~

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spooktacular Menu!!

The neighbor girls and I prepared a "spook"tacular dinner Saturday night! Here's our menu:

First Course: Eyeballs and Lips

Main Course: Monster Stew with Simmering Brains

Vampire Repellent

Werewolf Guts

Spicy Larvae

Dessert: Spiders on a Web

Beverages: Moon Juice

Dracula's Nightly Harvest

Witches Brew
Sounds yummy, huh??!! The girls are so creative coming up with the names.
Here's what we really had, round pear slices topped with kiwi slices, apple wedges with peanut butter and mini-marshmallows in between, chicken & dumplings, garlic bread, pickled beets, & zinger pickles. Dessert was chocolate brownie torte with chocolate filling and we made a white spider web with white chocolate and made spiders from black licorice and chocolate.
We have so much cooking together, and then we invite their folks to join us. They love setting the table and making placecards, creating centerpieces and serving th meal. I'm hopeful I'm creating some awesome entertainers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Halloween Treats!! BOO!

October means Halloween isn't far behind. Looking for some goulish treats! I made radish eyeballs one year for a party. I peeled them leaving "blood viens" of the radish. I used a coring tool and scooped a hollow out of the top. I added a bit of cream cheese "paste" and glued the olives into the sockets!!! Don't be scared! Just eat your veggies!

I used my apple wedger to cut the candy corn shapes from the sugar cookie cough. I dipped the ends in white chocolate that I had color to. I have made them tinting the cookie dough orange and then dipping them in white and dark chocolate. Fun little cookie treat!

Spiders and mummies, oh no!! Not to fear it is only frosting gumdrops and sprinkles! Meringue cookies work great for pumpkins and ghosts! I just brushed them with corn syrup and spinkled with orange sugar and you can add a stem. Make your own colored sugar in any shade you want!! Add food color to a jar with sugar in it, put the lid on and shake! Open and let dry. One Christmas the neighbor girls and I made a bunch of different colors of sugar and put them in small jars like sand art for Christmas gifts! Useful and inexpensive!!

These are actually bloody fingers! Now you know why the "meringue cookie ghost" is screaming! These were fun to make. I used blanched almonds for the nails and add a bit of food coloring blood. Okay, you didn't really believe me they were real...did you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fairy Tree

People have been asking about my Fairy Tree that is pictured on my blogsite. It's made from a different type of clay than I usually use. I generally use polymer clay that is baked to harden. I'll be sharing pieces of this in upcoming weeks. For this I used Apoxie Sculpt that is a clay that air drys. An advantage of Apoxie is that you can make pieces bigger than you would be able to fit into an oven to cure.

Apoxie® products are used around the world by sculptors, restorers, miniaturists, hobbyists, crafters, repair persons, and students. The are used in museums, schools, motion picture studios, aquariums, and theme parks. They self-hardening synthetic clays that combine the features and benefits of clay with those of epoxies.. Work time is about 2-3 hours and 24 hours to cure. The instructor said her husband had used some of hers to fix the fender on his car!

To make the tree I started with a solid wood base that I drilled holes at random. I inserted heavy gauge wire into the holes for the roots of the tree and brought them together for the trunk and then on up for the limbs. I wrapped the armature in foil. This piece above is not mine but shows you the wire armature wrapped in foil.

The Apoxie is two parts that you take equal parts from the tubs and mix together before sculpting. The leaves are cut from flexible wire mesh and attached to the ends of the limbs. After the clay is applied I used actual leaves to press the vein marks into the leaves. The pebbles lining the path are real and the sand/dirt was swept from the street! Apoxie is available in different colors. I used gray and will paint it with acrylic paints.

Here is the tree painted before highlighted and antiquing. I added sea glass I had gotten in Maine (the blue). I made clay flowers for the garden and threaded more sea glass and found tinkets to hang from the tree.

I antiqued it with dark brown and added gold highlights. Can you tell I have fun doing this!!

This is a close up of the door. Yes, pigs fly!

I will definitly make more of these, probably on a smaller scale. If you are interested in one, please don't hesitate to contact me. I love doing custom work. We can even personalize it using found trinkets that fit you or someone dear to you. Gardening tools for the gardener, kitchen tools for the cook, even Scandinavian trinkets for the Swedes! This picture is of the backside. To see the front, scroll to the bottom of my blog!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Parkway Art Festival

see a slide show of my rocks at!

The day of the Art Festival was beautiful! We got to sit and look at this beautiful tree all day! Unfortunately the traffic was light. I had a great day visiting with my friends Evie, Julie & Cohl. I got lots of positive feedback from browsers about all of my things that I had made. They especially liked the rock houses! I also had embellished journals and beaded bookmarks I enjoyed the experience!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm excited for tomorrow!!!

I know I've been quiet this week because I've furiously working as a little house rock factory!! I am so pleased at how they turned out. I'm also selling beaded bookmarks and paper embellished journals at the art festival tomorrow. The car's all packed and now I just hope I can sleep tonight! I'll fill you in on Sunday with my results!

Monday, September 7, 2009

These Houses Rock!

(Or at least I think they do! ) When I find a rock I have to set it on all it's different sides until something jumps out at me and I can see the house or building. Bumps might become a bush or a tree and a jagged edge becomes the perfect chimney or a walkway.... My mom got me started painting rocks, she does animals and flowers but the weekend I was at her house, we tried doing some houses. At first I used some wood putty to build up a step or add a particula feature. After doing that on a couple of rocks I liked the idea of leaving the rock in its pure state and no longer add any artificial enhancements.

I do custom rocks as well but that takes a bit more time to find the perfect rock. The 2nd picture is the back of my neighbors house. I've even included the 3 girls in the window and their dog Zoey! I have a friend that grew up working in her dad's grocery store so I've done a grocery store for her and a school for a friend whose husband is a teacher.
I hope you enjoy my rocks as much as I enjoy creating them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yummy Salad!

I made this easy salad for dinner the other night. I sliced pickled beets and topped them with some thin slices of sweet onion. I cut an orange in half and segmented it with my grapefruit knife and added orange pieces. I squeed the rest of the orange over the beets, onions, & oranges and topped it all with toasted pecans. Yummy. It's definitely going to be something I make again. Maybe you'd like to try it too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fairy Names

I was hosting a sleepover for my neighbor girls several years ago. We watched the musical "Cats" After going to bed for story telling and giggles before we went to sleep, one of the girls mentioned the segment from "Cats" where they explain how they have multiple names, the names that people give them and their own personal names. We decided that we could have 2 names and so set out to determine what our fairy names were. After brainstorming E. decided her fairy name was "Doodles" --which fits quite perfectly! "Sapphire became H. fairy name --again suitable. Then game the hard one, my fairy name. After countless suggestions and tons of laughter, on of them exclaimed, "I've got it!" And Lunatic Lily was christened as my fairy name!!!
I'm not sure how my interest in fairies began. At some point a psychic person told me that I had a "fairy" protector rather than an "angel" watching over me. I was a believer before that but that just cemented it for me.
Oh, yes, the life and times of Lunatic Lily!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hey guys! I just got a couple of books you might be interested in. The first one is "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman. He describes the ratios of ingredients for doughs, batters, sauces and custard. Once you know the ratios it becomes a threshold to thousands of variations. It teaches how the fundamentals of the kitchen: water, flour, butter and oils, milk and cream, and eggs work together. Change the ratio and bread dough becomes pasta dough, cakes become muffins become popovers become crepes. Once you understand the ratio the fun begins as you add ingredients and flavors to the basic recipe.

The second book starts where the last one leaves off. "Ratio" is the basic fundamental and then "the Flavor Bible" begins. This is a collaberation between Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It lhas about every ingredient you can think of arranged alphabetically followed by an extensive list of compatible flavors. It's kind of like a potion book. If Hogwart's was a culinary school, this would be there textbook! They've interviewed some of America's most imaginative chefs and included their comments.

My opinion is these are great addition to anyone's culinary library. Rather than give you "recipes," both are launch pads for your creativity!
Bon Apetit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My grand opening!!

Watch out! Here I come stumbling my way into techno world.
I am an artist of whimsy of all the senses.

whim·sy whim·sey (hwĭm'zē, wĭm'-) also n., pl. -sies also -seys.
An odd or fanciful idea; a whim; a quaint or fanciful quality; a fanciful or fantastic creation in writing or art; the trait of acting more from whim or caprice than from reason or judgment.

As I look at the world around me, I have determined that my artistic endeavors are all over the place. I am unable (or don't want to ) limit myself to one medium. Through brainstorming with a friend (Thanks Scottie:) I came to the realization that my interests appealed to all the senses.
sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste:
  • culinary arts is a big part of my life. I love food, I love to taste food, I love to try new foods. I love to create food, the only part of food I don't like is cleaning up afterwards! I feel that good cooking is an art.
  • fairies are one of my whimisical loves. I love reading fairy books, I love creating fairy sculputures. I love the feel of the polymer clay in my hands as I work it and feel it go from a resistant hard block into a pliable moldable creation from my imagination. I love to watch as clay come to life in my hands sharing their messages with the world.
  • taking thread and fabric and creating an item of texture is another passion. I let my imagination and intuition dictate the results of my felting and sewing. Sometimes I make wearable art and other times, other times just a fanciful object.
  • another passion of texture leads to paper arts. Cuting, folding, turning, embellishing...
  • I continually amaze & amuse myself as I turn a rock over and over in my hands and visualize the dwelling that it is going to become. The rock through it's shapes and corners and bumps speaks to me and my paintbrush begins creating. I wonder who lives there and many times feel these are my houses for the fairies!

These are some of my passions and loves I am excited to share you bits and pieces of my whimisical art through these musings.

Take care, Julie