Texture, Color, Patterning, Composition- Putting it All Together

I recently purchased Nevenka Balunovik’s Nambi technique tutorial and it really was the final push, in this year of artistic pushes, out of my lockdown on coloring and patterning.

As I suspect many artists are, I am in a constant state of pushing myself deeper into an art portal where the constant feeding of new ideas is given free reign.

Just let it fly! Forget about going too far – forget about ruining something – forget about wasting time – forget about it’s not your usual this or that. Allow the “forget about” zone to take hold of your hand and go forth my friend. You won’t regret and besides most mistakes can be unmade, no?

For those seeking a creative push, I suggest looking into the Nambi technique, Tracy Verdugo’s free classes on YouTube on abstract art, Create Along free videos on slabs and veneers, Virtual Art Box blog and composition tools, magazines like Somerset Studio, and Polymer Week Society.com.

Poly Clay Pieces – Redo’s – Cause why not?

Occasionally I like to inventory finished pieces and decide if any experiments are needed. I often love things I create in the moment and then maybe months later or even next day wonder what was I thinking and how can I fix it. The fixing part is fascinating because sometimes, after the fix is in, I find myself asking the same question some time later. So then I embark on another round of redo. I confess there are pieces I have redone into the trash, but not many. I am a true believer that most pieces can be saved. Here are is my latest round of redos. For this first redo, the picture on the right is the current state of the piece.

The original idea for the collar was inspired by a Jessama tutorial on leaf imprinting and there actually is a first picture not in the above collage (see below). So this collar underwent a record 4 redos. I loved the leaf imprints, but the design I initially chose felt too segmented to me. I wanted more of a flow to it so I added in autumn colors that included overpainting over the leaf imprints so they blended more with the whole piece. I later added the pendant and darkened the edges and the overall piece with a paint wash. In the final piece, above right, I decided to lighten things by removing the brown edging, painting in some confetti like pops of floral color, and changing pendants to better fit the flow of the necklace. I like the cleaner, brighter look.

In the redos below, the pictures on the right are the redos. I decided I wanted richer color and more contrast. I used pan pastels and acrylic paints to redo the pieces. I like the moon scapey look of the piece on bottom right much better than the ocean blue piece on the left. I believe the richer colors added depth to the textures. The brown flower collar actually has more depth than I captured in this picture, as there are variations and tiny pops of color throughout the piece. Darkening the collar itself while adding rich color to the flower creates the contrast that enhance the lines and curves in the focal piece.

As the holidays are nearing I got to thinking how I could liven up some pieces I created for a faux solder look tutorial. I used a combination of pan pastels and acrylic paints on this redo. The altered pieces are on the left. I decided on a festive holiday look for these pieces using confetti pops of color, and on two of them, pops of white “snow.”

In the picture below, the redo is on the left. This piece just felt drab to me. I didn’t like the lavender and gray green pearls anymore so I painted over them to create colorful flowers. I also added magenta/pink/orange tones to the stenciled flower in the upper left corner and shaded the leaves and darkened the flower stem on the flower bunch. I like it a lot better, though I feel it needs more work. Perhaps it will reappear in another blog. lol

Deep set poly clay bezels and Archival Inks Oh My!

I like putting things in polymer clay beads. That includes beads, crystals, metal items, found items, fiber, paper. The trick is how to make sure they stay secured. I also like experimenting with surface treatments and one of my faves is archival inks which come in ink pad form. They are so non-messy and that is big, big on my list. In Volume 4 of Passion for Polymer magazine, I provide the detailed step by step instructions I use to create a deep set bezel and apply archival inks. Here are some additional pictures using bezel setting processes and archival inks.

Capturing ceramic, wood, diachroic glass, metal, gemstones, and czech glass
Capuring fiber, crystals, glass dome beads
Caputring metal, domed glass, czech glass
Check out Volume 4 of Passion for Polymer Mag.
The beads I make in Passion for Polymer Magazine
A Necklace I made from a similar set
Another necklace – focal made using deep bead capture technique and archival inks.
The round beads used a different capture technique that isn’t deep set. The earrings on the let are a combo of archival ink and stenciling
This is the issue the article is in. It shows as volume 3 on website but on magazine itself, it is shown as volume 4. Get it here. https://createalong.com/pages/passion-for-polymer-magazine

Making Masks or How to start an Obsession

This is the entire collection…so far!!!

I am taking a class in a couple weeks with master cane artist Carol Simmons. I thought I would get back into some cane making to freshen up before class. My mistake was pulling out my current canes and spotting a mask push mold I hadn’t used in ages.

I convinced myself I would just make a mask and get it over with. If you are a bead maker, you know that’s how we con ourselves. Just one more this, one more that.

The first mask I made is the one on the bottom and then 3 more of the smaller ones. Then, I remembered I had another island mask mold and well, my experiments just took off. I pulled out the mica powders, the pan pastels, the Genesis heat set artist oils, the inka gold metallic paints, the sharpee coloring pens, crystals, gold glitter, gold leaf, watercolors.

Yeah, I was in a frenzy state. It was like having a bag of Kettle salt and pepper chips and claiming I would eat just a handful. Usually, I roll the bag up, clip it, and put it away. And I still end up eating the whole bag in one day.

That about describes my poly clay habits too. Except I don’t usually put things away. Instead I work my table until there is about an inch of space left for me to work. Then, I scrape stuff away with my blade to create another inch. And when I have about 5 inches of scrap and tools scattered here and there and I can’t find a damn thing and bits of clay are getting on my pieces, THEN I clean up. Sound familiar? ha ha.

Here’s some more pictures of the collection.

Faux Paint Pouring – The Non-Messy Way

I probably spend almost as much time looking at video tutorials as I do making poly clay beads and jewelry.  That’s a lot of time.  Sometimes I just listen in the background as each new video comes up but sometimes I am looking for something specific. 

I was looking for a way to paint pour on poly clay but the material for that is pretty sparse.  The next best thing is looking at how paint artists paint pour and adapting it.  In doing this, I came across a video to create fractals using acrylic paints and inks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZy4kGqoJq8) .  I also remembered that Jessama tutorials had a fractal video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtbcijQbQgo).

I watched both of them and didn’t have exactly the same materials they used so was not able to create fractals but it got me thinking about how to use acrylic paints and alcohol inks with different sizes of a ball stylus. 

What you will need:

-Small, medium, and large ball stylus tools

-Golden or any fluid acrylic white or light colored paint (I used Golden’s titan buff color)

– Scrap or raw clay rolled to thickest setting

– Three alcohol inks (I used ranger’s Butterscotch, Wild Plum, and Bottle)

-Popsicle sticks, credit card, or something to spread paint.

-Painter palette or small cups or aluminum foil pockets to pour small amounts of the inks into

– Spray bottle with water

-Spray bottle with 99% isopropyl alcohol

-Index card or card stock or tile

-Paper towels


1.  Roll scrap clay into sheet at thickest setting, place on tile or index card, and squeeze acrylic paint onto sheeted scrap clay. You want to put enough to cover it (see pictures below).

2.  Administer one spray of water onto your clay sheet to thin out the paint.  It should be thin but not overly runny. Add more paint if needed to get a fluid but not runny consistency.

3.  Use Popsicle stick to spread paint until entire scrap piece is covered.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly even and there can be bubbles.

4.  Pour, one at a time, a small amount of each ink into a separate compartment of the painter palette and spritz each with a full spray of isopropyl alcohol.

5.  Begin to decorate your painted scrap clay using the various ball stylus tools.  Dip one into an alcohol ink and gently touch it onto the painted scrap clay. You don’t need to press in. You want to do this while the paint is wet.

 6.  Continue using the various ball stylus tools in this way until the entire sheet is covered. 

Step 1 – Painting raw clay with light acrylic paint.

Step 2.  After I spritzed this with water , it looked too wet to me so I added a bit more paint.

Step 3. This is what mine looked like before I started adding the alcohol inks. 

Step 4. This is what the alcohol inks looked like before I spritzed them once with the Ispropoyl Alcohol.

Steps 5 and 6 follow. Designing the painted clay with the ball stylus tools.

The photo above was my final faux paint pour product.


-Allow painted and inked scrap clay to dry to the touch before adding any additional surface treatments and/or cutting and baking. It will generally be dry within an hour or less. Eyeball it before touching it. If you see any wet or shiny spots, wait until they are dry.

-If you touch the piece before it’s dry and the skin comes off, no problem. Just redip ball stylus in ink and redo that spot. If the paint has dried, add drop of water to it before adding ink.

-gently spritz areas with water if the white paint begins to dry before the paint is completely covered. 

-If you want to lighten an area or otherwise alter it, gently spritz with isopropyl alcohol. But be careful not to overdo it. I would recommend soaking a Q tip with isopropyl alcohol and trying that or using a small dropper to avoid washing out the color completely. Another option is to wet the tip of a soft paint brush and just touch it to the area.

-If you want to deepen the color, redip and touch the same spot a few times until you are satisfied.  You can create a ripple effect doing this. Experiment using different ball stylus sizes.

-To create a color within a color, dip a ball stylus of a different color inside the first color.

-I sometimes wipe the stylus in between each dip on a paper towel, but if you don’t, it will just muddy the color some which might be a nice variation here and there. 

– Make sure you overlap some inks and step back occasionally to see if design is pleasing. I prefer to not leave too much of the original paint showing.

-Try to have a color that clearly looks dominant and then colors to complement it as well as lighter and darker contrast areas for most pleasing look.

-Try swirling the stylus to create curvy lines. Do this gently.

-You can try other tools, such as a tootpick, needle tool, or the back of a paint brush to see what happens.

-Try pearlized acrylic paints for a shimmering result.

Experiment! Have fun! Would be awesome if you posted some of your results and tips in the comments section.

Pictures of pieces from this paint pour.

January 2019 ABS Challenge – Mother Nature Light and Dark

I love challenges.  They get my juices going, sometimes in surprising directions.  I had been working with more tribal color beads and styles when I saw Heather Power’s lovely illustrations depicting woman draped in necklace garlands of leaves, and butterflies and flowers.

 To say I was enchanted is putting it mildly.  It inspired me to think of a new skinner blend (for me), mixing shades of burgandy and gold to create rich earthy colors which I then used to create a large focal flower.

I wanted the flower to be more than a normal centerpiece.  I wanted it to draw the eye through the necklace which got me thinking of creating my own version of a garland.  I blended some poly clay greens to create leaves but, after baking, felt they still were not dark enough so I used alcohol inks to add gradation.

The leaves and flower sit on a base that is dark bronzy gold blending into a deep deep brown black.  I finished it with an organic flower toggle clasp.

Here tis.

Next, I began work on creating a similar necklace in the lighter palette.  I opted for a beachier island color variation than the illustration posted and I wanted at least one critter in this necklace.  The skinner blend I created was using peacock blue and various greens I blended together and mixed in white to get a lighter shade.  To get a really light shade, after I skinner blended the colors, I added a really thin sheet of white over the blended colors and ran that through the blender a few times.  Did that once more to get the lighter brighter beachy color I wanted.  
 I think the dragonflies of Key West decided they should be the critter because a swarm of them flew right by my ear the day before I started this piece.  I never had that happen before!  To appease the dragonfly gods, I added one dragonfly to this piece.  It’s sitting on a pod with a water hole in the middle.  At least that is what I envision – why not? 
 Lastly, I created an organic toggle clasp to tie the piece togther.   To tone the colors down a bit and give the piece a more weathered look, I antiqued most of the beads with a bronze metallic paint.  

This is a similar necklace I created but did not submit.
Here are Heather’s wonderful illustrations alongside my necklaces.
 And here is the link to the Monthly Challenge Page where you can check out other artist’s work and enter yourself!  There are still a few days left.  Get to it!!!  

Push It! Face Molds and Mica and other pretty things

I had the face mold sitting in my drawer for some time now.  I never felt ready for it.  It might have been I was working a lot in bright colors and it just didn’t go with the palettes. 

Two nights ago, just for the hell of it, I mixed almost equal portions of Premo gold and Premo black and came up with a wonderful metallic bronze color.  I needed something cool to do with it.  Out came the face mold.  I thought at first I would just make a cabachon and use it in a bead embroidery project.

But, I have no discipline.  I decided to make beads with the left over clay and then I just couldn’t let it sit there, or worse yet, put it in a drawer for later use, or even worse, sell it!  I figured I could always make another but you know there is no guarantee it would be as cool.

Once I committed, I was all in.  Here is the result.

Stacking necklaces

There’s stacked bracelets.  Why not stacked necklaces?  I had made three fringy fabric necklaces before I got the idea about stacking them.  I was digging the whole elizabethan look of it.  Not to be confused with a clown collar although I don’t find much difference other than the less dignified sound of it.  ha ha.

Here is my stacked collar necklace.  Below that are the 3 individual necklaces.

Etsy mini — You CAN still Add it to your website or blog -Here’s How

Since I opened my new shop Dancing Jewelry Poet, I went through all the machinations of setting up the shop and then tried to add it to my blog.  The only problem was I didn’t see anything on the etsy site that addressed how to do it.  There used to be an “etsy mini” icon you could just click on to get the java script.  No more.

In my hunt to learn if I just couldn’t find it or if it was no longer possible, I am happy to report I found a way to do it.  Here’s how:

Here’s the javascript you need to use.  Where I have it highlighted, you need to replace that number with YOUR etsy shop ID number.

Here is the link to the instructions for finding your etsy shop number:
If you are adding to blogger, go to design/layout.  Click add gadget and scroll/select HTML/Javascript.   A box will come up allowing you to add a title and paste the javascript.
  I was able to add both my shops to my blog.  See on right hand side.  

Jewelry displays are my best friends

I confess that sometimes I spend days scouring the web looking for jewelry displays and display ideas.  I love all the various options and the DIY items people create out of seemingly endless materials – cardboard, wood, resin, paper, found items, items from dumpster diving.  

I have had some far out displays in my time including driftwood I picked up from a friend.  My biggest supplier of displays nowadays is Nile Corporation.  I just have found them to be less expensive and I love the linen display choices they have that fit varying budgets.  

I got a mannequin head I named Bella from ebay and I especially love her.  she’s sophisticated but not overly snobbish. She does, after all, have a small nick on her nose from a bad fall a couple seasons ago.  I am not sure if I could paint her but I might consider it one day as she is showing a tiny bit of age.

I also recently acquired a dress form I wanted for longer and/or larger pieces.  Great for pictures and shows.  I got that from Supply Store Warehouse and I got a peg board from the same place.  

Then there are the assortment of bust sizes.  The linen ones are from Nile Corporation.  The wood one is from etsy.  I got plain wood ones and painted them. The mini busts are from etsy here.

And the hand I got from etsy I believe.  

  Earring Racks I got on etsy here.

Cuff rack I got here.  She appears to be out of the one I got.
That’s about all for today.

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