Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blue Bird of Happiness

A tutorial of sorts, this post shows the making of 15 charms for a swap with the theme Spring. Sixteen were made, just in case something went horribly wrong at some point in production.

After deciding to make  charms featuring  birds and their houses, the next decision was whether to form the charms from Paperclay or Apoxie clay. Paperclay is significantly lighter, but I worried about durability. Banging around on a bracelet or necklace with other charms demands a certain level of toughness. These charms are relatively small so the weight of Apoxie clay is minimized.

I was first introduced to the product  Apoxie clay by Elizabeth McGrath and it is generally part of the supply list in any Micheal deMeng class. Apoxie Clay is a permanent, self-hardening synthetic clay that combines the features of sculpting clay and two part epoxies. A link to the manufacturer is included below.

In the first step hooks were shaped to be ready for insertion into clay once shapes were constructed. The part that would be inserted into the clay was hammered flat to make it thinner and easier to insert,

After making a small cardboard template of the birdhouse in order to keep the size uniform, I mixed two golf ball sized lumps of part A and Part B Apoxie clay. After a thorough mixing and kneading, the clay was rolled flat with a rolling pin that is only used for craft applications. The clay was cut cookie style with a knife.

The clay from around the edges was collected and divided into 16 small balls that were hand shaped into vaguely bird-like forms. Birds were attached to the houses. Hooks were inserted. Charms were hung to dry and harden.

Next comes paint, another decision. The variously shaped birds are sorted. Shapes are very different with some birds shaped like wrens, some like robins and others like gulls. Painting them according to body style seems like the route to go until the time line comes into consideration, a deadline looms.

Bluebirds, they will all become bluebirds!They will be bluebirds of happiness even if some look more blue ducks of happiness.

Paint goes on in layers.

Shiny black nail polish is used to create the round, shiny little bird eyes.

Some of the details are put on with a brush, others with Sharpie pen.

Lastly, two coats of varnish should enhance the charm durability. If the clock had not been madly ticking toward deadline there may have been a third coat. I dipped and hung the charms to dry. A shiny varnish was selected to mimic glass or porcelain which is a kinesthetic or sensory match to the weight of the charm.

Charms were packaged up pretty, with a vintage postcard and some ribbon.

Of course you could create charms of any shape or theme using Apoxie clay. It is available in many sized containers and has a shelf life of about 3 years. There will be more items made in this material shortly as my 3 pounds is slouching toward the end of shelf life.


Sunday, May 12, 2013


Perhaps I am in my cardboard phase. The last two swaps I did with the yahoo journaling group- Creative Art Journaling were made from cardboard.

This group is small, with 19 members currently and was founded at the beginning this year. There are different prompts each month. In April the challenge was entitled  * Surprise Party *  and we were to choose your own theme.

I choose to play with the concept of moving parts, hence the label  kinetic.
On the upper right, a matchbox is set into a cut made into the layers of cardboard and a bead was wired in place to serve as a drawer pull. The box opens and closes. A small plastic dog is the  *surprise* found when you open the drawer. This photo shows the open position.

Three small balls roll back and forth in the lower slot. Balls are lightweight, made with Paperclay so they do not wear out their cardboard run. One is blue and the other two are white.The window is made from a sheet of mica.

The word  kinetic  is set on a slant to be more dynamic than would the word in the more normal horizontal position. My admiration for the artist Joseph Cornell and his influence on my constructions are evident in this piece.

It was a fun piece to but complex piece to make. I hope Danita in Campbell River, B.C. Canada likes her page. She was my swap partner for April.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flaming Parrots - A Type of Tulip

Parrot tulips are flamboyant with a capital letter F. They are large and have petals that can be curly, twisted or fringed. Vibrantly colored, many varieties have two or more colors. My favorite variety, the Flaming Parrot is bright yellow with red flames and a bit of green veining.

Procrastinator that I am, my go to mail order sources often have already sold their stock of bulbs by the time I am ready to order. Not last fall,  I ordered and planted those tulip bulbs in a timely fashion and now reap the reward.

Parrot tulips are mid- to late season bloomers. They were developed from mutations within the Triumph class, hence the large flower size and strong stems. The parrots mix nicely with the pansies we can plant in the fall here in the south.

Despite the warnings to plant them in a protected spot, the parrots have actually fared rather well, standing up to the multiple rains we have had in this unusually wet spring.

And the season is progressing, a tree peony is in bloom and the iris will be in their glory very soon. Take a walk and see what is blooming in your neighborhood.