A (somewhat) daily rambling on the life of a polymer Clay metal clay and Fused Glass artist/teacher/author.

Very soon my blog will move to my website...as soon as it is done that is. This blog will be my Theatrical life of directing The Secret Garden

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jewel Carnival Blog for April

It is Jewel Carnival Time again!
What is my Favorite Technique?

Now, this is a very difficult topic to write about. I have SO MANY techniques that I absolutely love. Really. So instead of blogging on my FAVORITE technique, I will make it the plural.


  • Keum Boo.

  • Impressing stamps.

  • Carving out negative space

  • setting stones

  • Making bails.

Okay and my fondness is not necessarily in the above order. I love Keum Boo because it adds not only a contrasting color of 24 karat gold to the design, but it brings a warmth to the work. Keum boo, simply put, is adding 24 or 23 karat gold FOIL, not leaf, to very hot fine silver. At that point a burnishing tool is rubbed over the gold to marry the metals. When the piece has cooled down the whole work can be burnished again or put into a tumbler with steel shot and a bit of soapy water to burnish the entire jewelry. If the Keum Boo process has been done properly, then the gold will not come off. Tumbling, by the way, is a very good test to make sure the bond is perfect.

I don't just impress commercially purchased stamps into the wet metal clay, I prefer to make my own stamps. I use a Photo Polymer plate to make my own stamps, or I carve into polymer clay, erasers, stamp blanks or I impress Castaldo(tm) molding compound with unusual textures.... such as leaves, rocks or even my grasses. The stamping process gives all of my work a one-of-a-kind essence.

Another technique that is a fav of mine is carving out negative space. The piece above was pierced in the greenware state. The stamp is called Bamboo and I got it from Donna Kato's site. Prairie Craft. I will gaze at the design and then mark the areas to be removed with a Sharpie pen(tm). Then a small drill bit is placed in a pin vise and carefully drilled out. Next I insert a jewelers saw blade through the hole and cut out that marked area. After that I love to file, carve and sand to my heart's content to make the area look perfect.

Setting stones is just a flat-out given. I even wrote a book on a lot of different ways to set stones. Click on my website and you can even see a page. Well, okay, click here to see a sample page.

Making bails is a joy to me because it is so easy. My preference is for a curved hollow addition to the top of my pendants. This is what the neck chain will pass through to hold the pendant. I first started out by pasting many layers of slip over small curved branches and after the kiln process was done, the wood burned out and an unusually textured bail was created. I wrote a tutorial for this technique in the April 2004 issue of Lapidary Journal. But now I use the Makin's Extruder with the Hollow Core Adaptors to push out a looooong hollow tubing. Then I cut them into differing lengths,. Then when dry I sand and burnish them and store them in to an Altoids(tm) tin that is lined. This way I have a bail ready at the moment of inspiration. I have a tutorial in my gem setting book on this process. These adaptors can be purchased on line with a lot of sellers. Just google for merchants.

So, I cannot say I have just one technique that is my fav. I have tons too for polymer clay

This Summer I will be giving a one hour seminar on each of the three days of the Metal Clay World Conference in Chicago. The topic will be Bench Tricks for Metal Clayers. This is going to be a great event with a lot of wonderful presentations, pre-conference workshops and meeting and greeting many artist friends. I will be there the days before for the International Polymer Clay Association's Retreat too.


Go visit our other Jewel Carnival Bloggers below to find their favorite techniques.
Tonya Davidson
Elaine Luther
Angela Baudel-Crispin
Lora Hart
Tamra Gentry
Marco Fleseri

Monday, April 6, 2009

So you want to be in community theater....?

Click on images to enlarge

So, after a lot of my friends 'urged' me to get back into theater.... for therapy.... I auditioned last weekend.

Our local community group, Imagingation Theater!,had auditions for the musical Beauty and the Beast. And to get my self prepared - I hadn't tried out for a show in ??? years, I called on my dear friend and acting/vocal coach, Chrissie Addison. She had directed me in Fiddler... what, almost 30 years ago? All my recent shows with my drama mama's had been pretty much pre-cast, so this was going to be a 'new' adventure. We set up three one hour coaching sessions and she worked me gently but firmly.... " T's & D's at the end of words.... don't wrinkle your brows (when singing the higher notes)....find the purpose of each scene... why are you there?"... Oh I could go on. She gave me a gazillion discs to take home to listen to and practice to.... a lot. Well, I didn't do it a lot because of the redecorating I have been doing to my home. I am having new front and back doors installed as I write. So, I just practiced my audition song and Mrs. Pott's solo ... over and over. Over and over. And I remembered the final consonants, thank you very much.

By she way she is fabulous. I recommend her to all for general vocal and acting classes. She is doing it full time now. Also, she is one of the best directors I've had. She directed us drama mama's in "... A My Name is Always Alice".... go see that one if you get a chance. It is an incredible ensemble show about women...

So, Saturday morning I showed up at 8:45 in the morning for auditions... let me tell you it was a
cattle call. I was number 58 and I think there were over 70 people auditioning. It was freezing in the theater but I immensely enjoyed watching all the nervous Nellie's and Normans up on stage risking it all for the love of trodding the boards. There was a four year old... he was so cute I almost cried. Yours truly didn't get to sing until after 1 pm!!!! And then he didn't let me finish my song...Yikes! The director had me read the part of the Wardrobe a lot and it IS a funny role... We danced and read parts all afternoon and I didn't get home until after 4pm..... Sheesh! What a long day. I was so tired that I ate junk food and fell asleep in front of the TV... several times. I was so zonked that I was thinking about not doing this ... this silly thing called theater. Then, about 8 pm, I went online and read the call call backs... cool! My name was there. "Show up to call-backs at one pm on Sunday." I called Chrissie and we talked for a long time and she pretty much wanted me to sleep on it.

I did. Then my N.Y. friend, Debby Kirkwood wrote me the clincher.... basically she said that it shouldn't really matter what part I got. Just so I was busy during the Holidays next Winter. My dearest friend/therapist, Ellen Mechling agreed. She was more excited about the call backs than I was... Wow!

That was the clincher. I went to Call-Backs with an incredible attitude. That - what would be ... should be. And had so much fun reading the parts. The director, Peter Wolf, (no kidding!) was very inspiring and creative. Made me want to be in the show even more. So we worked our little tushes off for about three hours. Then they had us wait around to about 5pm for the cast list to be posted. Peter wanted to talk to the cast right away... so we stayed and hung out for about an hour.

You can call me Mrs. Potts! Huzzah! She has the lovely song, 'Beauty and the Beast' that is sung as the two young leads dance for the first time. Very romantic.... sigh. This was a very nice thing to take place yesterday. It was the four month anniversary of my sweet Phil's passing. I met another auditioner who lost her husband in December too.... we had some talk time. Click Here is the final cast list.

We have our read through on April 20th and rehearsals start in earnest in July. We were told that we had to be off book at the start of practice. This is going to be a new thing for me. I normally learn my lines best along with the blocking. My movement is the motivation for the lines and the lines are motivation for my movement. But, some actors do push the limit by not getting their lines down, so I can understand why he has this in the schedule.

o, with the Metal Clay World Conference coming up in July in Chicago and rehearsals right after... I am going to be pretty darn busy. Jackie Truty, the head woman, chief, top honcho, president,major inspirer-er at Art Clay World wants us to sing a duet together.... it WOULD be fun to do that at the conference. Hint - hint Jackie. She has done a ton of theater too. We'll see. Double dare you Jackie... lol!

I am going to use this blog to be a little journal of my theater journey. I will try and grab some images during rehearsal and post them. If you would like to get the updates... just sign on to receive the blogs as I write them.

Oh, don't forget to feed the fish and to tell me to 'break a leg'.