Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trash to Treasure: Green polymer clay jewelry


The Philippine Polymer Clay Guild's challenge for July was focused on sustainable, eco-friendly polymer clay projects.  Titled "Trash to Treasure", the July challenge entailed using polymer clay to give junk a new lease on life.

Finding the raw materials (aka: trash) was quite easy.  I am a pack-rat, so I had a ton of material to choose from - old light bulbs, tin cans, even blank bullet cases from my grandfather's old gun closet, haha!

The hard part was deciding what to make of the trash.  I had grand plans!  But the inability to decide left me procrastinating until the night before the deadline.  I almost didn't submit a piece, but I fought the urge to give up and decided to just submit whatever I could come up with, even if it wasn't anywhere near my original plans.  In the end, I spent only two hours conceptualizing and making the project.  Quite disappointed in myself, because we had 3 weeks to prepare.  Sometimes, when I'm stuck in a rut, I'm stuck real deep. Sigh.

I chose a beat-up doorknob hardware - the part that attaches the handle to the door.  It looks heavy, but it's actually made of an aluminum-type material so it's lightweight.


Fresh from my caning spree the week before, I made a new cane, still in a bright and happy colorway.  I decided to wrap the entire thing with clay, then cover it with cane slices.  After baking, I would drill a hole so I could turn it into a big pendant.  I prayed that my oven was in the mood for a drama-free baking session, because I had no room for errors. Good thing Little Miss Oven was kind to me that night, her temperature didn't spike, she didn't discolor the clay, and no cracks or bubbles appeared. Whew.  I slept peacefully.

The next day though, I find out that I couldn't drill a hole into the piece with my pin vise.  I needed to use a power drill, so I texted my brother and asked for help.  But after seeing what I made, he told me I should have drilled the doorknob part before I wrapped it in clay.  It was too late now, the drill could accidentally chip the clay - he didn't want to risk ruining my piece.  Ugh, why didn't I think of that the night before?

I had no choice but to use the piece as a donut pendant, instead of a top-drilled pendant hanging from a beaded chain.  Here's the outcome of poor planning and cramming.

But I am glad to say that all the other entries from my guild-mates were ahhhhmazing!  Very intricate, well-made, and labor-intensive!  Some used the most ingenious materials: toilet paper rolls, old diskettes, broken zippers, even shellfish!  The creativity and ingenuity was inspiring!  Here are a few of my favorites.  Not only are they works of art, but they're all functional!

Jennifer Cruz: old bottle turned into a lantern.
Jhoi Montano: milk can turned into a bag!

Ghie Malig: diskettes turned into a caddy
I saw these in person, and they are even more amazing up close! All the details, the careful craftsmanship, and the successful transformation from junk to functional art - so amazing, I am at a loss for words.

Check out the other entries here!  This challenge goes to show that polymer clay, although a type of plastic, can be truly eco-friendly! I hope our guild's challenge inspires you to try out more sustainable projects!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crazy Canes

Remember that slew of late blog posts I told you about in my last entry?  Here's the first of many!

I went on a crazy caning spree last July.  This is a huge deal for me, since I am not a cane person.  Ironic, because the first few beads I sold were actually cane slices.  Now I no longer work with canes, simply because I am lazy.  Reducing canes can be such a chore!  Plus, few customers appreciate the intricacy of caning, and fewer still are those willing to pay a premium.  So I stopped caning altogether.

If you've been following my work, you'll notice that I stick to projects that are sweet, romantic, or vintage-inspired.  But pumped up by the last guild challenge (amazing cane work in those tiny beads I received in the swap!), and inspired by all the talented ladies in the Philippine Polymer Clay Guild, I was challenged to go outside my comfort zone. 

I decided to give the art of polymer clay millifiore another go.  This time, I won't allow myself to be daunted by the tedious task of cane reduction (is that even the right word?).  I won't think about the commercial value of the project, and focus on just the process itself.

Here are a few of the canes I came up with.  I still couldn't shake off the bright-and-happy colorway I am so used to (I like pastels and bright colors).  But check out that scary-looking red and black cane on the left!  That is so not me!  I shuddered after I made it.  But on hindsight, I actually like it's tribal appeal.

What drives me crazy is how, sometimes, some of the intricate details get lost when you reduce the cane.  I wasn't able to take photos of the larger versions of these, but take a closer look and you'll notice, for instance, that the round pink and white feathered cane on the right is actually the top portion of the triangular cane beside it.  Do note that these are blown-up photos, and the canes are actually the size of a fingernail.  So in real life, you won't notice all the lovely details unless you really stare.

The hubby says this fact actually gives the final product more charm - because the more you look at the finished pieces closely, the more you'll notice all the work that was probably involved in creating it.

So now we're back to the questions I dread the most: how much will I sell these for?  Will people actually buy these?

To test the waters, I made a couple of earrings for a bazaar, and yes, somebody actually bought them!

The ones in the pictures above are still with me though. I still can't decide how I'll string them into necklaces: on a beaded chain, on a cord, on a long link chain?  I'll keep you posted once they're ready.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kokeshi card holders for Sol

My clay and crafty stuff are slowly being tucked away in containers and boxes and closets, and I'm not sure when I'll have the time to bring them out again.  Yes, I am on another polymer clay sabbatical - self-imposed but necessary.

Good thing I have a long backlog of projects unposted since July.  Like these kawaii kokeshi card holders for Sol.

Expect a slew of better-late-than-never posts to come your way in the next few weeks. I'll try to keep myself sane and entertained even without clay.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Artsy Wife and Cabby Crafter

I have a looooong list of stuff to blog about, I just can't find the right time to actually sit down and write.  Things have been very busy around here lately!

To check some items off my list, let me share with you these wonderful, wonderful blog posts about my work and my shop.  Thank you dear bloggers for the love!

I found a link to this blog post in my inbox last June (yes, that's how long this blog backlog is, two months worth of posts unposted! yikes!).  Janice of The Artsy Wife wrote about my work on her June 7 entry and included lots of pictures too! Thank you so much Janice! 

And Michelle of Cabby Crafter, a workshop participant, blogged about her favorite Filipino polymer clay artists, and I am honored to be part of her list!  Thanks Michelle!

Thank you thank you!


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