Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Faux Turquoise and Silver Chain

I am currently working on some projects that are due in a couple of months, which means that I have time to play, experiment and try out some new and old ideas. Over the years working with clay, I have run across a million “recipes” for different faux stones. I have done several types of stones, including some very pretty opals. All of the techniques and recipes are other people’s interpretation of the way a stone should or should not look. This is not to say that their tutorials and books were not good, they were, but like all tutorials and books, these are the starting point in your craft and not the ending point.

I have purchased a few tutorials over the years, some on Artfire, Etsy and even eBay. Most of these tutorials I have glanced through and put them aside as projects to complete or play with later. We all know how often later comes around.

So, for my latest project, I had to design 10 pairs of new earrings that I wanted to create. I also added a couple chain necklaces to the mix. I poured over my thousands and thousands of bead magazines in search of ideas for simple earrings that I could modify to meet my clay bead needs. As I was thinking about this project, which usually involves days and weeks pondering things, I decided to do some faux work. I looked at all my supplies – you know, all those beads, wire, stringing material, chains and other oddities – and decided I wanted to work in faux turquoise. This is by far one of the easiest stones to replicate in clay, and I had all this great chain that I bought from Elaine of Zoomgraphik. It had been sitting in a box in the closet.

Now it is sitting on my desk.

I started my faux turquoise recipe from scratch. I have not done any faux work in six years, so I was a bit rusty. I did not go looking for any tutorials or any recipe books. Those things are all in Florida; I am not.
I made one batch of faux turquoise and totally forgot what I was doing and threw it away as it was not salvageable.

The next go round, I made sure it was correct.

Here is my mess:


My clay is a mix of teal, ecru and lots and lots of ground pepper. Yes, ground black pepper, or as we clayers like to call it: INCLUSIONS! They are a happy accident most of the time, but this was a true inclusion that I worked through my clay to give it the specks I was going to use as different spots. The trick to inclusions is to keep them from hindering your clay by stopping it from sticking together.

Once I was happy with the texture and color, I chopped the heck out of the wad of clay. I managed to slice open my hand and skin a knuckle. I went to bed. Tools are sharp and in my case, dangerous.


You can see the two “nuggets” that I created for my test earrings. The clay is wadded back together into pieces and then remodeled into the shape that I wanted to see. I planned a pair of earrings that were going to be a three hole bead as seen in the top left hand sketch in the other photo. I created these beads to hold chains.


Here are more beads in single hole and triple hole varieties. They are going to be for both earrings and chain pendants.

This blue is really pretty, but it is not what I am looking for in a color. The beads are darker than what is shown here, but not by much.

I took my baked beads, my bottle of black acrylic paint and a wet paper towel in order to start distressing and aging my beads.

I wanted the black into the cracks and to accent the pepper spots. These beads have not been done yet, as they just came out of the oven.

When I got the beads looking the way that I wanted, I varnished them lightly with minwax. Now, they are ready to be strung on a pair of earrings. This was when the power went out, so I sat in the dark by the window and wrapped up a pair of earrings. They are different than the drawing because once I started on them, I thought of new things to do to them. :)

Here is the pair of earrings that have been completed and distressed to the point I wanted.


I was reading a great blog post from Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs regarding Natural Turquoise vs. All Others

In looking at all the beautiful examples of turquoise she is showing off, I am not sure where my colors fall into the scheme of things, but I am certain I was shooting for Kingman, but ended up in the dyed howlite range. 
There is so much that you can do with polymer clay that I will always be excited and enjoy experimenting when the time allows.


Julie and Blu

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Charmed, I am Sure

It all started when I saw Linda’s (jnldesigns) beautiful pink charm bracelet. It is so feminine and delicate; especially all the filigree work.


I had just finished my own charm bracelet using up some of my stashed lampwork beads and some antique copper chain.

Being in a charming mood, I decided to create a charm bracelet collection for this week’s collection contest on Artfire LInk. I collected the bracelets from the Checked In Today! guild members for this collection.

Since I have been pondering a subject title for my monthly JCUIN blog post, I decided on the charm bracelet.

The traditional charm bracelet consists of memories wired to a chain that is worn around the wrist. My charm bracelet was started when I was 9 or 10 and consists of charms that were given to me as momentous events in my life happened. They were also a part of my gifts from family as I was growing up. I have horses, horse shoes, mustard seed, my dad’s baby ring, graduation, sweet 16, state charms from states I visited, hearts and all types of other symbols of growing up.

The history of they charm bracelet may surround the warding off of evil. Amulets and other trinkets were used to protect the wearer. 75,000 years ago African shells were part of the first charm bracelets found. The Germans carved mammoth tusks into decorative charms over 30,000 years ago. Christians wore fish charms to identify themselves to other Christians during the Roman Empire. The Egyptians used them to identify themselves to the gods they worshipped. Around 600 BC, Persian women were wearing charm bracelets.

They became quite the trend once Queen Victoria started wearing them. She made it fashionable for the upper class of England to wear a charm bracelet. It was a symbol of nobility. She gave them as gifts and she popularized the creation of charms to symbolize events in one’s life. When Prince Albert died, she created a mourning charm with a locket of his hair. She also popularized small portrait charms.

Tiffany set the charm bracelet in motion. They hung a simple heart from a chain and called it a charm bracelet. This bracelet is the symbol of Tiffany today, and it was the start of the modern trend.

The Great Depression brought us platinum and diamonds to the charm bracelet. Liz Taylor and Joan Crawford made the charm bracelet very popular in the 50s and 60s.

Once again, we are seeing a resurgence of the traditional charm bracelet made popular by The Pirates of the Caribbean. The Bradford Exchange showcased a charm bracelet with the Black Pearl along with photos of Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp. Good enough for me!

We also have the Pandora bracelet and Italian charms.

The charm of these bracelets is not lost on the designers of the Jewelry Creators Unite in Numbers (JCUIN) guild members as they use the charm as the main interest point of these creations.


Flip Flop Pearl Bracelet


Red Hot Golden Charm Bracelet - N054


Green Leaf and Gold Chain Charm Bracelet with Toggle Clasp


Rose Pink Crystal Rose Quartz Charm Dangle Cha Cha Bracelet Handmade


Gold Silver Heart Charms Swarovski Crystal Silver Chain Bracelet


Vintage Typewriter Key Charm Bracelet Brass Brown


Bracelet, charm, goldtone links,purple beads,look of glass,



Butterfly Carved Bone Bracelet, Green Crystals, Amethyst, Flower Charm


While not considered a charm bracelet, this latest trend shows another use for charms.


Enameled Embossed Brass and Shell "Winos" Wine Glass Charms


I trust these bracelets will all charm you with their whimsical and creative energy.

Enjoy the history of the charm bracelet and stop by any one of these studios and enjoy the rest of their creativity.

Julie and Blu


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Orange You Glad It’s Over?

At the end of all great events, there are usually fireworks in reds, oranges, greens and blues. Bright flames of fire shoot into the sky and explode the night with bright lights. Orange is an exciting color. It is not as hot as red and not as cool as yellow. It is in between and dances in the moonlight on a harvest night.

It is the color of extroverts and the unconventional.

It means danger or hot. It brings about the feeling of nostalgia in the autumn and amusement at the sight of a carved pumpkin.

The word orange was first introduced as a color in the 1500s. Until then, it was referred as yellow-red.
Again, those crazy ancients were the first to use orange on their walls. They used a pigment derived from realgar, which is a arsenic sulfide mineral known as ruby sulfur. It comes from volcanic activity and sulfur mines. It can also be found in Yellowstone National Park, which means I have a photo of it somewhere. It provides arsenic to the world. Those who know about Yellowstone will know that arsenic is responsible for the death of many bison and elk that graze on the land year round.

Orange is the color of the early Protestant thanks to the involvement of the House of Orange in the French Wars of Religion. Irish Protestants were known as Orangemen. The New York flag has an orange stripe to honor the Dutch who settled New York.

The goddess of fruitfulness was clothed in orange. Monet used orange as an introduction into the Impressionist movement when he painted Impression Sunrise. The color orange next to azure was a bright and popular combination in many impression paintings. Toulouse Lautrec used orange as an expression of happiness and amusement. Van Gogh was the orange master. He applied orange to many of his paintings to imply drama, which is evident in Starry, Starry Night.

Orange is highly visible making it great for road cones, life preservers and clown wigs. Blue simply adores orange and is at home next to it.

Orange is found in tigers, poppies and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Orange is the color of transformation in Confucianism. It is illumination in Buddhism. It is worn by holy ones in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Orange is warm and happy. It is cheerful and light-hearted. It is mentally strengthening and helps to maintain balance after an emotional upheaval.

It is optimistic and energetic. It is spontaneous and positive.

Enthusiastic and ready for adventure, orange is a powerful color to use when you want to draw attention to something or someone. Extroverted and uninhibited, orange yells for everyone to jump into the pool no matter what you are wearing. It also stimulates conversation and social interaction. It even stimulates the appetite and is not a good color for dieters to have their kitchen walls painted. It does give the wearer the freedom to be themselves.

Anyone who is feeling stuck in a rut would do well to add something orange to their atmosphere as it is a transforming color that will stimulate the person to activity and creativity. This power color is dynamic no matter how it is displayed and these talented designers knew just what to do with the color orange in their designs.


Colorful Crystal Cluster Skull Earrings Coral Day of the Dead Handmade


Orange Carnelian,Orange Rainbow Agate,Botswana Agate Gemstone Earrings


"Koi Pond" Mixed Agate and Carnelian Gemstone Necklace 18.5"


Pop can earrings - recycled aluminum can orange


Bracelet and Earrings of Carnelian Handmade Beads Large Central Gem


Orange Mix Crackled Tree of Life Necklace Silver and Copper Silk Cord


Small Red and Yellow Coreopsis Silk Floral Arrangement


Magnesite, Coral and Silver Foil Wire Wrapped Cuff Bracelet


Mardi Gras Mirror in Unique Orange, Red, and Purple Dots and Holes. Polymer Clay Art Wall Hanging.


Rainbow Stripe Dichroic Glass Pendant Necklace, Fused Glass Jewelry


Orange Flower Earrings with Blue Flowers and Swarovski Crystals Poly

Colorful Lace Scrabble Style Pendant


Handmade Large Orange Rose Cocktail Ring - Upcycled - Tangarine - Pumpkin


Rainbow Skull Candy Confetti 50" Long Howlite Turquoise Necklace


Tangerine Tango Magnesite and Wood Bead Boho Wrapped Bracelet


Orange Rose on vintage bas relief Birthday Postcard flocked Rose

Gottschalk Dreyfuss & Davis Seattle RPO cancel 1913


Variegated Candy Colored Butterfly Stitch Cloth


Bone Sun Pendant Jade Handmade Necklace Swarovski OOAK Beaded Jewelry

Dark Teal Lampwork Beads Apricot Dots Glossy Transparent Beads


Burnt Orange Hand knit Infinity Scarf


Vulcan's Forge Red and Silver Dichroic Fused Glass Handcrafted Pendant


Bright bold multicolored necklace Kazuri Africa clay seed bead


Strawberry Quartz Carnelian Nugget Necklace with Star Burst Pendant


Agate Drusy Bead Embroidered Gemstone Crystal Necklace Copper Black

With all these oranges to choose from, there should be NO ONE in your life who is having a bad day. It is not too late to shop for mom. While the gift may not arrive on time for Mother’s Day, you can always show her a photo of the gift that is intended for her. I will bet that if you ask any of these artists, they may be happy to help you with gift shipping. If you want to see more from these great artists, come see their studios by heading over to Mother’s Day Countdown Week 12.

Mom said to buy her something from these great designers who know how to use the color orange!

Now, orange you glad we made it through 12 weeks?

Julie and Blu
Yellowstone arsenic if anyone is interested from my personal photo album taken at Mammoth Springs
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