Wednesday, December 31, 2008


That's right...a FREE TRIAL POM PROJECT! All you have to do is ask...or this case email and I will send you two high res jpegs for you to download. This will give you an idea of what the POM club is all about.
If you've been a member of the POM club in the past, you will notice a slightly different format. The photo's are bigger and most projects will be written in a two page or more format. Each project will be written so that when printed....and at the end of the year - you can bind them together and have a book!
The Member's Only POM blog is set up and I know we'll be sharing lots of ideas and inspiration on it.
Okay....that's all...after trying for about 3 hours to get the links up on my website...I've quit for a while.
Dont forget to email me! I'm going to bed now...when I wake up, it will be a new day AND a NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 29, 2008


I'm so happy to announce the return of the Polymer Clay Project of the Month Club or better known as the POM Club! I just finished photographing the first project in the 2009 series!

There are some changes - good changes from the previous POM club's:

  • Better quality photo's

  • Better image editing - print the projects out and at the end of the year you'll have a book!

  • Access to the POM Club blog for members only

  • Access to downloadable videos four times a year that you can watch over and over again.

All the projects are brand new - never before published at the time they are released to members. Full color step by step photo's. Easy enough for beginners, but techniques to please the seasoned polyclayer! Projects will feature whimiscal fun designs including figurine characters, photo frames, ink pin holders and other gift making ideas.

Here's what you can look forward to:

  • January - Snowmen and penguins
  • February - Love (featuring lovable bears!)
  • March - Going green - (you're going to love this whimsical project)
    April showers - learn how to create realistic fake water adding dimension to your designs
    May - flowers - we'll learn simple millifiore techniques and how these can add WOW to your characters
  • June - Members choice - I'll take ideas from YOU to create what YOU want to see!
  • July - Let's barbeque! Party theme
  • August - Precious pets - this is dedicated to my darling daschund pen on Carol Duvall
  • September - Back to school
  • October - Harvest scarecrows and pumpkin
  • November - Giving thanks....what are you thankful for?
  • December- Gingerbread men and friends

This is the tentative editorial calendar for the 2009 season. It is subject to change based on members choice or requests.

Projects will be released on or about the 5th of the month. Projects are in PDF format and will require an adobe reader. This format is compatable with most computers.

Even if you are new to polymer clay, you can do these projects! I'll teach you how to start simple and get better quick! I know you'll be amazed. Over the past 17 years, I've literally taught thousands to sculpt and create - and yes, these were the same people who told me "I can't do that!".

$40 gets you all this for the entire year, plus all your questions answered...just drop me an email! Think of the POMS as a monthly class, full of lots of information, techniques and ideas. We'll have fun and create lots of exciting things!

Im looking forward to you joining! The first project will be released this Friday!!

Just click on the ADD to Cart button to join! or email me for additional information

Be sure to check back....Im working on the Mixed Media Jewelry club project now!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Penguins and Gingerbread Characters

I've been trying now for a week to get more characters up on eBay and I can't say that I've been all that successful....well...I havent been successful at all! I did manage to create this little penguin character last night.

Much of my work is inspired by my kids. This one happens to be inspired by my son Alex. (Alex is probably going to think his mom lost her marbles when he reads this...but....) When he was a little guy, he was always pushing or pulling something. I remember when he first learned to crawl, he would push the box of wipes around the living room making little motor car noises. To him, everything was a car or motorcycle. He had quite an imagination!

When he got a little older, his Great Grandpa bought him a red tractor to ride. It looked like a little miniature riding lawn mower. His feet would barely touch the pedals, but that never deterred him from getting some rope and tieing up cars and wagons or whatever he could to pull behind him. He was such an adorable little he's a handsome young man who's about to turn 20! Talk about making me feel old!

I love winter, I love sledding and I love family time. While I may not be able to stop Alex from growing up, I can keep those memories alive in my characters.

Where do you get your inspiration?
If you are interested in this little character for your collection, email me and I'll send you an invoice for $17.95 which includes shipping. The penguin is approximately 2" tall and the gingerbread measures about an inch. (I only have one available)
Im working on the projects for the POM Club this week. I'll be posting more information on that during a later post!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weekend with the family! Lots of memories to scrapbook

Im anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby cousin, Julie. my mind Julie or JUJU bee is still a little girl, but in reality she's 30 years old with a husband and kids of her own. And they'll be here for a weekend visit in a few hours.

She was my baby cousin, Im 12 years older and yes if you do the math, you'll know how old I am. It's been two years since I've seen Julie, but before was almost 18 years. We hadn't spoken in EIGHTEEN YEARS!?!!?!?!? It wasn't because of some family feud...we just actually got caught up in life. Our own sad is that? She and I were really close growing up. She was the light of my life - beautiful almond shaped eyes and a smile that melts your heart. I saw her nearly every weekend until she got a little older and moved to California.

These are the reasons I scrapbook! There is so much that we just let go by on a day to day basis and before you know it......we look up and 10 years have gone by and we've forgotten all the cute things our kids or grandkids say...or even what things were like when we were kids. I've vowed not to let my kids grow up and not know who they are, who their grandparents are or even their extended family.

With the way things are in the world, we need family more than ever, don't you agree? I hope you will take some time to call someone in your family who you havent talked to in a while. Share some memories - share some laughers....maybe even share some tears....
If you'd like this quickie page I created thru using papers from scrappersguide, just email me.
Im off to visit and make more memories!
Next week, I'll share more details about the POM club! So email me if you are interested in joining!

Friday, December 19, 2008


I'm very pleased to be bringing back the PROJECT OF THE MONTH clubs! After a two year break, I really miss it and from all the emails I've received you've missed it too!!
There will be two clubs to choose from. I will have a Clay Character club featuring all your favorite monthly themed characters, some projects will feature functionality and great for gift giving! In January I'll be featuring Snowmen, February's theme will be love and March will be "going green!"just to name a few! Full step by step photos and access to a private blog which will be the monthly newsletter and tips for completing the projects. All projects will arrive to you via PDF format allowing you to download it easily! Also special video downloads at 4 times a year.
The second club I will have is Mixed Media Jewelry: This category will feature jewelry projects from all different medias not just clay and not neccessarily clay. You'll explore metals, Friendly plastic, fibers and just all kinds of things from organic to whimsey. Yep...special how to video's here too!
Each club will be available for $40.00 per year - that's only $4 per month. Save $5 per club membership when you subscribe to both for $70.00.
All the projects will be fresh and new - never released projects that you can only get on the POM club.
There's excitement ahead!!!! I look forward to you joining!'s my latest Snowman character....
I had hoped to get more characters done this week, but Ive been buried designing metal jewelry for project sheets and CHA (which is coming in a month!)
Instead of listing this little snowman and teddy bear on ebay......I'd like to give you all the first chance. $19.95 which includes shipping. First email gets the goodies!! This is a Mariah's Collection original and I will sign it. Oh..and by the way...he stands about 2" high. Lots of detail.
Email me and I'll send an invoice thru paypal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Metal Jewelry on a COLD WINTRY DAY!

Warm Winter Wishes!!!! BRRRRRRrrrrrrr it's cold outside! Here's a little snippit of what we woke up to here in Missouri this morning! I think the ice crystals are beautiful - however I wish they were on some jewelry or scrapbook pages instead of my back porch!

Well......all I can say it that its a good excuse to get all warm and cozy and creative in the studio. Metal Jewelry is HOT HOT HOT!!! I seem to be on a whirlwind making it. Just like me - I go in crazes...there's just so much I want to explore.!

I'm very happy with this look. It's very unique and very designer chic! I wore it last night on Date night and some lady at the restaurant took it all over restaurant showing it! That made my night! off to create more, but check back tomorrow - I'll be announcing the comeback of something special!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Did you take the Creative Challenge???

A few days ago I posted a challenge..... a challenge to go outside your creative box to see beyond the materials you are using and use them for something else. I also challenged everyone who enjoys sculpting characters to get a picture and break the character down into basic shapes and just TRY to create your interpretation of it.

Amazingly many of you took me up on the offer!!

Missy K. took me up on the challenge and sent me this picture and email:

Thank you!! He's all because of you! After you told me the best thing to do was jump right in and try making stuff I grabbed my sculpey 3 clay and while my DH was playing Spyro decided to try to make his head from a pic on the case. I didn't expect it to come out so cute...figured after that he needed a body so then it was on...LOL!! The shading is from airbrushing & antiquing him. I made a sword,shield and I am going to make a helmut and base,then add a plaque/banner thing that says something like " time for my after dinner nap" since he looks sleepy...LOL!! In your opinion do you think he might sell if I wanted to try to list him on e-bay?

Look at the detail she added to this character! Doesn't he come to life? I love his sleepy him lots of personality. And....she sculpted this from a picture from one of her husbands video games! She went beyond her comfort zone and just tried! I am a true believer that once you get the concept of my Six Simple Shape technique your characters will also come to life and you will be able to create anything. It makes the difference from a character just sitting there lifeless to one that envokes emotions and feelings! I think Missy did an amazing job! YOU GO GIRL!

So...TAG YOUR IT!!! Show me what YOU can do!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Arranging Silk Flowers Book! It's Arrived

It's just past noon and I've been sitting here typing instructions now for about four hours. My brain is mush! So......I'm taking a break to blog! Most of my books have been polymer clay related, but I'm branching out.

How long has it been since someone special has given you a bouquet of flowers? That long huh??? (BUM!) Well...if it's been THAT long...quit waiting...give yourself some deserve it!

Earlier this year I went to England to work on my latest book Arranging Silk Flowers. I'm glad to announce that it's arrived. And it is UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS!! No...Im not bragging about my work....Im actually bragging about my photographers and stylists work. The images in this book and the way the book was put together is just gorgeous. This is one of those books you could display on your coffee table in your formal living room.

The concept behind the book is to create the look of fresh flowers, quickly, easily and economically. The designs in the book range from traditional to contemporary decor. Have you priced flower arrangements? Some of them are hundred's of dollars! Seriously....I had no idea until I started researching the book! But you can create these looks for alot lot less...and you'll have them to enjoy forever!

You know me...Im always trying to find a way to create the look for next to nothing. I believe the designs in this book inspire you and show you that you don't have to spend a million dollars to look a million dollars.

Thanks for letting me share. If you are interested in your signed copy, email me. They are $19.95 plus $5.00 priority shipping.

A special thanks to Cindy Richards, Liz Dean of Cico books - you did an amazing job! Geoff Dann and Emma Mitchell for stunning photography! Rose Hammick for beautiful styling. Thanks to my amazing editor Marie Clayton and I can't fail to mention a HUGE thanks to Lou and Christy at Martins Floral in Springfield, Missouri for helping me in my selection of flowers!

My name might be on the cover, but this book is really a great team effort! Thanks everyone!

Now....back to the instructions!

(photo's (c) 2008 Cico Books,)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Simulate the look of dichroic easily with Friendly Plastic

Aren't these pendants fun??? Here's the lastest that I've been working on. Simulating the look of dichroic glass without the fuss. These pendants combine Friendly Plastic to simulate the glass and ArtEmboss Pewter to simulate the look of silver. Instructions will soon be available on the AMACO website and I'll be happy to provide the link when that happens. Just wanted to give all of you a preview of what's to come!

For less than $20 you can create a variety of these pendants and bracelets.

There is a jewelry studio in Eureka Springs, Arkansas called McGee's I believe. He creates some of the most amazing original bezels and jewelry I have ever seen. I first saw his work when I was a teen ager. Several times during the year, my Mom and friends would go there for the day. Our first stop was Katie's tea room and then we went shopping. Eureka Springs is full of art and eclectic shops and among my favorite was McGee's Jewelry. I loved his combination of silver and gold. Full of filagree and no two were ever alike. Sadly, I never purchased any of his work and Im not even sure if the store is still there on Spring Street, but none the less his work inspired me and to this day I love swirls and swoops and coils and all kinds of filagree.

This bracelet incorporates some of that inspiration and friendly plastic along with a little bit of soldering. (let me tell ya....soldering can get addictive!)

And there's even a little bit of bling....a girl's just gotta have her bling! I better get to writing these instructions so you can play along.......

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's the thought that counts! Handmade gifts are the best!!!

Just today I received this email from Theresa M. one of my readers about the challenge I offered a couple of days ago.

I read your blog about challenging us to use what we have and become creative as well as trying to sculpt with the basic shapes to copy a picture. I haven't tried that yet but with times being so tough, I haven't had a lot of money for gifts or just to be crafty. I do a lot of the yahoo groups one of which is an Artist Trading Card group. One of the swaps was about our interpretation (did I spell that right?) of Father Christmas. I used some left over felt and jewels to make a sord of fuzzy Santa Clause.

I think many share the same view as Theresa, TIMES ARE TOUGH!!! But Theresa took the challenge and made something from materials she already had on hand. In times like these, crafts seem to take on more meaning and people look to them as a means to have something to do and save money. It's generally when the moneys a little tight, that I get the most creative and force myself to use what I already have. I don't dare step foot in a craft store -thats just torture!

Every year my dear Mother In Law make all of us girls a little something. Sometimes it's kitchen magnets, sometimes its pillows, this year it was a snowman decorated kitchen towel. Im sure that she didn't spend much money to make it....but what's most important is that she made it herself. It's the thought that counts and I LOVE IT!

So who cares that you dont spend gagillions on a gift..... I would much rather get something handmade by someone special - wouldn't you? That's PRICELESS!

Now....quit reading this and go dig out your stuff and make something!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today's a better day! More snowfriends on ebay!

Yes, it's true - the dog ate my cord. Fortunately the dog survived and unfortunately $80 later I have a new power cord and Im up and running full speed ahead.

Dana's coming home today from his dear hunt in Iowa. A successful year for my hunting husband. We have a total of 5 deer and this weekend will mark our 4th annual burger makin days where the whole family gets involved in Family Food Crafts. We'll put up around a hundred pounds of burger, some of which will become breakfast sausage, italian sausage, brats and more.

I FINALLY have finished 5 new items that I have up on ebay along with many items that I've listed for 99 cents or less. No it's not a typo...and there's no reserve...I just desperately need to clean out the studio of things Ive either never used or havent used in a long while. The auctions go up at 6pm central depending on your location it may take a while to view.
As always...thanks for viewing the auctions...happy bidding.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Pink Elephants..... about yesterday's post

Im sure you are going "Say WHAT"? It's a case of I know what I mean....but no one else does. Sometimes..I don't explain myself very clearly.

I talked with my good friend and very talented designer friend Jen today on the phone....we had a good laugh about yesterdays blog. See...the point of my blog post yesterday was look beyond the materials you use for creating and use those for something other than what it's really purposed for. (you know like the ball necklace chain to create the letter "E" or the hands of a clock to spell out another letter..." I got probably got it, but Jen just thought she was supposed to stare at the picture until little pink elephants popped out. Sorry I dissappointed her,(or case you were expecting to see something pop out) but we did have a good laugh and we did share some great ideas on what we are currently working on.

Its amazing, we live 14 hours apart and over the last few months, became somewhat disconnected with each other when life and family and summer got in the way...seems like whenever a few weeks goes by and we call or email to catch up - our minds are working on the same concepts. Scarey Scarey thought - for her that is...for me it's brilliant because she is a brilliant out of the box designer. We're both coming up with new ways to use Friendly plastic to create the effect dichroic and lampwork glass beads. When the idea is perfected...I'll share it on a tutorial.

Well...anyways...enough of my rambling sum it up in a nutshell....think basic shapes. Okay..done with that story....Im tired....

It's been an interesting day.....the dog ate my power cord to the computer, so it died........(seriously)
but I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of ebay items and who knows what else?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do you see what I SEE? Training your eye to view shapes

In going thru my stack of old craft and scrapbooking magazines, I ran across this picture. It's from the October 2004 issue of Memory Makers magazine. I thought it would make an excellent topic for todays blog. Do you see what I see?

Looking at the picture you might just say...."BIG DEAL - It's an alphabet" and you'd be right... BUT........look a little closer and you will realize that the alphabets are not ordinary....they are made with objects and materials that are suited for something other than creating a letter. So...when you are looking at your stash of craft you look beyond their stated purpose for something unique? If so, your work will stand out among the rest.

You can translate this concept to just about any form of art...but I'd like to focus right now on how this concept can help you when sculpting characters. I designed my "Six Simple Shape" technique with this concept in mind. Using the six simple shapes in various sizes and putting them together-blending the seam away you will create complex shapes. It's a matter of how you train your eye to see the basic shapes or look beyond the box.

Many of my readers are very adept at creating characters from books or project sheets with instruction as to the size and shape to make each piece of the character. But could you create a character simply by looking at a picture? How would you begin? Well...the answer is....SEE WHAT I SEE. Dont look at the complete character - break it up into parts. (arm, hand, leg, foot, body, face, hair-each individual piece of hair etc...) Now examine and identify each basic shape of the part. As for proportion, my philosphy is...if it looks to big IT IS....and if it looks to small, IT IS. Character creating is whimsical anyways, so dont frustrate yourself with perfection, just give it a whirl and try....I challenge you....

Challenge yourself to create something by looking at a picture. Maybe its a picture of a snowman from a catalogue or some other type of character from a greeting card. Become adept at this and I think your characters will take on new life and you will see tremendous advancement in your work.
When you've mastered that.....come back for more. I'll have a new challenge for you.
Im back to working on more characters for ebay................

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Copper Cuff Bracelets - Metal Jewelry 101

On a personal note......I suddenly realized that I am not a cool kid any longer when I was playing guitar hero last night with my kids and found out that they know all the words to songs that I've never heard of....nor can understand the lyrics too..... who would have thought you could clink metal together until it sounds like nails down a chalkboard and sell it as music? By the way...I stink at Guitar Hero.....But you know....... my kids think I rock as a "cool mom".

Okay....back to the blog. I have had this lingering idea in my brain for a couple of days now. It started out as one way...but after a couple of days of complete failures or should I say...happy and not so happy mistakes...I was able to make those flops into flopportunities - FINALLY! Ever happen to you?

I love the look of bold jewelry....I mean why create something you can't see....or that hides behind your hair right???? Plus I wanted something simple! Easy to create and not cost alot of money...yet look designer-y - Know what I mean? So viola, here's a couple of cuff bracelets I've made using Copper ArtEmboss, Copper rods and some silver coated craft wire. Im quite pleased with the look. It's artzy yet not FAR OUT! Metal jewelry doesn't have to be hard, cost a lot of money or require a degree in metal smithing. It can be whatever you make of it. It's your Bob Ross says....Put a tree there if you want to....

You can get more easy metal jewelry ideas in my book Metal Jewelry 101. (These bracelets are not in there...but, they will soon be released with instructions.....) Full of quick easy and economical ideas to create metal jewelry and incorporate some of the things you already have maybe lying around patiently in your studio to be used.
If youre interested in the Metal Jewelry book...just email me.

So golly jeepers.....get that stuff out of your studio drawers and create!

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Winter Friends on Ebay!

I believe that one of the reasons I love creating characters is imagining what their personality would be like if they were really real. If a moose could really ice would he feel when he fell down on his bum? Remember the cartoon characters like those on looney toons when they would fall little birdies would swim around their head? I think this moose is imagining penguins spinning around his head.

Remember was the skunk on Bambi that had that shy little look to his eye? This is the expression I've tried to capture with this little gingerbread.
And who can resist the sweet innocence of a soft fluffy teddy bear. This little girl is only about an inch tall, but is delicately accented with tiny rosebuds. The clay is sculpted to resemble fur - making her soft and cuddly....
You can check out these and my other auctions by clicking here.
Thanks for taking the time to look and if you have any them to me!

Happy Claying!

Just an update....

I have had several people who have had trouble with the buy now button for the POM Club special. The button works for me, but all I can think of is maybe it's not compatible with all browsers...who knows?

In any event, please email me and I will send you an invoice thru paypal to make the transaction smooth and stress free.

Thanks for everyone who's taken a look at my ebay auctions and to all the bidders. I will have more to put up later today.

Happy Creating!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snowmen, Gingerbread, Penguins and more on Ebay

It feels sooooooooooo good to get back into character design again!!!! I love to create snowmen and snowfriends. I think it's just because they just make me smile. I mean who can frown or be grumpy looking at a snowman?

I have such a huge collection of snowmen, that this time of year my mom calls my house "the snowmen house"....

I have these little guys up on ebay if you care to take a look and own your very own Mariah's Collection figurine.

Click here to check out my auctions

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Let's celebrate winter shall we? I know it's a little early....but no time like the present to create adorable snowfolk, penguins and all your favorite winter friends.

In celebration of winter, Im offering my POM club CD for half price - so regularly $79 now just $39.99. There are over 75 projects on the cd in pdf format. Great ideas for gift making!

This offer is only good on my blog - just click on the buy now button.

To view a listing of the projects offered click here

Happy Claying!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back in the Saddle....... Happy Winter Crafting

Happy Fall..... Happy Winter everyone! Can you believe Thanksgiving has come and gone AGAIN?

Thanks for being patient with the blog as I took my 5 month break! But Im back at it again. We enjoyed a wonderful summer as a family - lots of swimming and hanging out at the pool. Lots of fun trips to Branson, treasure hunts in the back yard with jewelry from the dollar jewelry store, Music shows (which by the way - If you travel to Branson you must go see SIX - They're awesome!) and in general just a great time with the family that I haven't had in years.

In October, hubby and I celebrated our 5th year wedding anniversary with a trip to Myrtle Beach, NC. We spent the week in a condo and went deep sea fishing nearly every day. It was so much fun! Then on the last day we saw the House of Blues advertising Kellie Pickler in concert. What a great show and a great way to wind up a fanstastic and memorable couples week!

Im back in the design mode. I've been papercrafting like crazy. Mariah and I are staring a custom wedding invitation business and I'm digging out and selling stuff on ebay - so check out my auctions which I'll be posting later tonight (mostly stamps and craft supplies) along with all my new books and just miscellaneous stuff! My ebay id is Mariah-doll.

Im back in the saddle, so email me! I look forward to sharing crafty ideas with you and inspiring you to create great art with your friends and family!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Thanks to everyone who responded with interest in purchasing my latest book.
To make it easier for everyone, I've added the "buy" button below. I'm so excited to announce it's HERE!!!

$12.99 postage paid

This book features ways to create metal jewelry from copper, aluminum and pewter metals. (sorry no precious metal clay projects included).
Use the techniques highlighted to jumpstart your creativity. Fast, Fun and Easy projects for beginners too!
Email me if you have questions

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just an update

Hello Everyone,

I know I've been quiet for a while....this is just to say the Peterson Family is doing great. I've decided to step back for a while and enjoy the summer with the family. We've been spending weekends in Branson at the "club" as the girls call it. I haven't had this opportunity in years and Im having a great time.

Im not "gone" just will only be back to update for brief visits.

I do want to say that the Metal Jewelery 101 book is now available for $12.99. Email me for details on purchasing it. Thanks and have a fun summer

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Metal Jewelry book soon to be released

Its just about here - Here's a sneak preview! METAL JEWELRY 101! Like you, Im anxiously awaiting the book too! I can tell you that many of the projects featured in the book are QUICK and easy to one hour quick!!! Quick and inexpensive is right up my alley! Email me and I'll reserve you a copy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Internet problems!! UUGGGHHH

If you've been wondering why I've been so quiet lately, well........I have no internet. Had a storm last week and it's still Im hogging a computer at a resort in Branson just to tell you that.

I haven't forgotten any of you...and promise to be back just as soon as possible....

SEND EMAIL....I can at least get email on my phone....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Polymer Clay Work surfaces

My last tip talked about ways to store your clay, this tip will give you some ideas for suitable worksurfaces.

My all time favorite - the ceramic tile! Pick these up at Home Depot, Lowes or DIY. In fact pick up about a dozen at a time in various sizes. Great to use if you are creating characters because you can work directly on the tile and it can go right into the oven. This prevents distortion and icky marks on your characters. I have them in sizes ranging from 6 x 6 inches up to 12 x 12. Just make sure they are the smooth glazed and non textured

Another favorite and a general worksurface that I use in the studio is a glass cutting board. These are larger and cost about $8 at a department store. While these dont go into the oven, the glass surface allows for easy clean up of the huge mess I seem to create whenever Im working.

Formica is another good choice. It cleans up easy. At the Carol Duvall Show we used to work on formica to demonstrate on. You can often pick up sink cut outs at the lumber yard for next to nothing. (This is the formica that is left from the countertop once the sink hole has been cut to size). Then again you can always be fancy shmancy and have one custom made for you.

What are your favorites?

A few no-no' wood surfaces unless you like to strip the varnish and refinish your furniture and no plastic cutting boards...they stick and ICK on the mess.

Send me your ideas!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Answering Readers Questions - Leaving clay unwrapped

I received this enquiry from Mary Lou asking about leaving clay unwrapped on a work surface. I think she asks a very important question:

Hi Linda,

I have a question. I have left clay on my desk for a couples of days. What is your advice on doing such a thing. The clay is expose to air for a lenght of time and I have went back to working with it. From a professional what advice can you give. I have only started working with polymer just recently.

Thank you in advance.Mary Lou

My response:

Hello Mary Lou,

Thank you for your question. Generally clay is not harmed by leaving it exposed to air. What does harm clay and make it unfit to work with is leaving it near a heat source, such as near a heating element (radiator or heat duct or in a hot car on a summer day) or exposed to direct sunlight. It is heat that begins the curing process and if exposed to heat to long, it does dry out the clay, makes it brittle and ruins it. If you want to leave it on your work surface, I would simply wrap my clay in some plastic wrap or place it inside a zip-lock bag to protect it from dust particles and other things that are attracted to the clay.

Also, please be aware that clay can damage a worksurface such as wood. As a gentle word of caution, and yes I do speak from experience, do not let raw clay be exposed to wood, styrofoam or certain plastics as they will corrode them.

Again, thanks to Mary for asking the questions! I hope it's useful information to everyone. I think the next blog, I'll talk about worksurfaces. What do you use?

Feel free to send me your questions or comments to post.

Also....if you are planning to enter April's Spring Challenge, get your entries to me - there is still time!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ideas for Storing Polymer Clay - Tips & Techniques

Im back at home now, just trying to get settled back in. It's funny but it's like you have to come home from a vacation to rest! We really packed ALOT in those 4 days with Gill.

So here's the plan.......After some much much needed yardwork to do today (before it storms) Im jumping back into polymer clay. First I want to cane some projects featuring inspiration from Moorcroft pottery....did you have a look? Then next, Im designing projects for the POM club, which I'll be re-intoducing. Im considering making the POM club a monthly video to download so that it will be much more like a class....but honestly...first things first.

If you are new to polymer clay.....or if you've been an addict for quite sometime, you may just wonder how I store my Im sharing a tip that I've found helpful over the years.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is - What's the best way to store polymer clay?

I guess that depends on how much clay you have. You can store individual colors in zip lock baggies tucked away in a shoe box in a dark closet away from the heat duct.

Baggies are a great way to store many colors of clay. I knew of a lady that used a shoe caddy that was hung over the door to tuck her clay away by color rows - one row for greens, another for yellows and so on.

I prefer to have an organizer box filled with colors that I've opened and those that I use quite frequently. This generally stays on my work table - or just behind it. I also store large quantities of clay in glad disposable storage containers, stacked according to color and put away in a cabinet. This works well for me because I mix alot of "faux stone" colors at once and then have it available when I need to make a quick project or I just feel like making beads..... (the organizer box is a great way to store pieces of canes that you frequently use also)

When looking for containers to store clay, look underneath at the recycle triangle. If the number "5" is in the center of the triangle you can be confident that this type of plastic is compatible with clay. (Thank you Nuchi for this tip!)

Do not store your clay in hard plastic containers - these are generally clear, or in styrofoam cups or containers. Your clay will eat right thru and create a big ole mess - trust me on this one! Learn from my experience. Also make sure your clay is stores in a cool dry place. Heat will affect your clay - generally age won't.

I hope this little tidbit helps. If you have a tid bit to share, click on the comment link or email me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Don't forget Aprils Clay Challenge

There's still time to enter the clay challenge for April.

The theme is Spring and it must in some way, some how have polymer clay on it.

The winner receives a free copy of POLYPENS!

So what are you waiting for??????

Monday, April 21, 2008

Last play day in England - We visit the City of Chester

Hollister, Missouri is a small town that I grew up in famous for it's Downing street and buildings that must have been inspired by the city of Chester. Chester is a rather upscale area, rich with restaurants, up-scale shopping and lots of beauty.

Below is a home situated on the picturesque river Dee...

And here's the neighbors house, quite "lovely" don't you agree??? I could definately live here...

Here is the view out your windows overlooking the river Dee.... (notice the white foot bridge you'll see that a little later...)
As with anywhere in England...bring money....lots and lots of money especially if you are American and when the dollar is week....

This is a snapshot of the menu from the Cafe we ate at. The food was divine ( I had butternut squash and goat cheese lasagne...mouthwatering) But just check out the price of a burger will ya??? That's 9 and a half pounds which translates into $19.00 for an 8oz burger folks......yikesey pikesey! But I can at least put this on my list of fancy restaurants I've gotten to eat at.

Apparently someone was not to happy with this city ordinance..........or maybe the sign liked watching the taxi cabs and cars zoom thru the streets???

This is the clock in the center of the city. When you see the Eiffel tower, you obviously think of France or when you see Big Bend you think of London...wellll....same thing here...if you see this clock (built in 1897) you think of Chester...okay maybe you didn't before this picture, but now you will..

Oh yes, and we mussnt forget dressing up for afternoon tea, with our afternoon tea hats....
And here is afternoon tea at the Blue Moon Cafe. By now, after being in the UK for over a week, the "hot" tea is starting to grow on me...but the "cold" milk...sorry Gill, just can' t do it.

In case you are a creative person needing a job in a bead shop....there's one for you. The only thing disappointing about this bead shop is that they need much more live samples for inspiration. Other than that, it's quite lovely.

Okay, so this takes the cake for Mega churches. We have several Mega Churches in Missouri and one in particular not too far from my house.

Because these buildings are so old, many of them contain stained glass or architecture of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH which many know now as the Divine Name 'Jehovah'. I am quite interested in biblical archaeology and Gill and I decided to go inside to see if the church had any reminiscence of the divine name which has been taken out of modern day languages and Bibles.

After you enter the door a gentleman directs you down a long hall way and interestingly the first thing that you come to at the end of it is what resembles a "box office" situated inside the gift shop and the cafe. Admission to the church for viewing was $10 US. Seeing this, I felt as Jesus did at John 2:16. This is the situation where Jesus was near Jerusalem around the time of the passover. When he went to the temple he found those selling sheep, cattle and other items of merchandise. This outraged Jesus and he shouted "stop making the house of my Father a house of merchandise". Seeing this with my own eyes, made that verse come to life and I could only imagine the indignation that he must have felt.

And with that thought, we did not view the church, instead we left, but unlike Jesus, we did not turn over any tables...

Tonight, it's dinner at the "chip shop", known for it's fantastic Fish and Chips. I've gotten quite a tour and quite a language lesson too as so many of the british english words have different meanings.

Tomorrow its back on the train for my journey home. It's been a fantastic time with Gill and her husband John! Loved every minute of it, but now I am ready to go home.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stoke on Trent, England – Rich in Pottery History

Stoke-on-Trent is considered to be the home of the pottery industry in the United Kingdom and is commonly known as The Potteries.

Driving around Stoke-on-Trent and Handley you notice the bottle kilns pipes; remains from a City that was the mecca of the pottery industry. (see the picture below) Until I visited I never really thought much about English pottery. I have collected several pieces of it, but didn’t really realize the amount of workmanship involved or how it affected the livelihoods of the families who relied on this industry to make a living. I can only say that I have a new sense of appreciation of this art and the families whose lives it touched.

These pipes are now historically protected and can not be removed. At one time hundreds of bottle kilns could be seen over the countryside, now only a handfull remain.

Inside an old bottle kiln

Many of the factories are no longer in production, in fact just a handful remain. One of the most renown pottery factories is located in Handley, known as Moorcroft pottery. It is some of the most exquisite and expensive pottery that I have ever had the pleasure of feasting my eyes upon. You must visit this factory if you ever get to Stoke. You will be treated to EyeCandy Heaven.

Unfortuantely, because of the workmanship involved and the art of creating the piece, we were not allowed to take photographs thru our hour long tour of the factory. But do check out the Moorcroft website because there are short videos of each process that I describe. All in all there are 14 different processes that the pottery has to take before it is finished.

Originally the pottery was hand thrown on a wheel, but because of it’s popularity, it is now slip cast.

Moorcroft employs three designers which are responsible for the design not only of the pottery itself but for the decoration. Each design is carefully laid out to fit the piece which it will decorate perfectly. A water color painting is also made of the design for reference to the painters.

If a designer has a new idea for a piece, a sketch of the design is drawn and given to the mold maker. The mold maker will then make a profile of the design and cast it into a hard plaster type material. Eventually thru 6 different processes a mold is made. From that original mold, the casting mold is made which will make up to 30 pieces.

Next he mold is given to the “turner”. The Turner pours the slip into the mold, where the slip begins to dry from the outside in. When the desired thickness has been obtained, the extra slip is poured out, the pottery is removed from the mold and allowed to dry further. Then it is put on a lathe and the fine detailed shape of the pot is turned out using very simple metal tools, made by the turner himself. This process was fascinating to me – he made it look so easy! Obviously it is quite a skill because it requires a 7 year apprentice to work in this area.

When the piece has been refined, it is then sponged down to remove any marks left in turning. This person is also responsible for the stamping of the piece with the Stoke –On-Trent stamp as well as the year of production. The piece is then allowed to dry and then given to the “slip liners”.

As you examine each piece of Moorcroft pottery, it appears to be enameled with raised designs. This raised design is created in the slip lining process.

A design is traced onto a piece of plastic sheeting with old time ink and pen. Markings are put onto the design to ensure proper placement. Once the design has been traced onto the plastic, it is then aligned on the pottery and rubbed on, similar to what you would do when using a scrapbooking rub on. It is very important that the artists who are working with the pottery at this stage are very careful since they are still working on raw clay that has not been fired to bisque. The intricate designs in this pottery will literally make your eyes cross!

Using a small bag with a very fine point tip, the slip liners draw the design. It can take as little as a few hours or several days to complete one piece! Each designer signs his/her work. It takes around 18 months to learn this job.

After this process, it is handed over to the painters who use metallic based paints to paint the colors into the design. They mix the paint with a lot of water and as you can imagine, they drop the water inside the raised designs. Since the pottery is very porous, it soaks up the water quite quickly. As many as ten layers of color may be applied to any design. This process is also quite tedious. When finished the painters also paint their mark on the bottom. An 18 month apprentice is required here as well.

It is now ready to be fired, which is done overnight in electric kilns. After the piece has been cooled, it is then dipped into the glaze, allowed to dry and then is checked for any pinholes which are filled before the final firing. This is the firing that applies the enamel like glass finish.

When you see just how labor intensive each piece is, how many artisans have worked long hours to bring just one piece to life, you realize why this pottery is so incredibly expensive. It’s also quite a big deal to own a piece of this artwork. (I do not – yet) A small vase (that’s…vaaaaahz) around 2” tall – very ornately decorated will cost around 180 pounds – which translates to around $360 dollars. I saw lamps and other vases that were over 6,000 pounds (double that for dollars)
I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it – ever. I found this pottery incredibly inspiring for my polymer clay work. It really makes me want to go home and cane. Great inspiration for focal beads don’t you agree?
Also located nearby is Denby Pottery, while not as detailed in design, this pottery serves a more functional purpose. You can purchase this pottery directly from the factory and you can save a little "poundage" too if you don't mind purchasing slightly imperfect seconds.
Below is a picture of some more pottery that I found inspiring. I love the black and white design of this pottery. I can imagine simulating this effect by carving polymer clay beads that have a white core and a black case.

I particulary love the folk art designs of this pottery.
That concludes our virtual tour for the day, hope you enjoyed. You can always take your own virtual tour by "googling" key words such as Stoke On Trent, The Potteries, MooreCroft and Denby. Isn't the internet great? Travel the world from your "Settie" or as American's say " Couch". Hope you have a lovely journey.

Next on the tour, a day in the City of Chester. Don't miss this, there's some beautiful scenery!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Derbyshire Country - A tour thru Bolsover Castle

Castles of Kings and Queens and Lords are spread all over England. Today we toured the Castle in Bolsover located in Darbyshire County, known as the Bolsover Castle from the mid 16th century. Below you can see the entire grounds. On the left is the ruins of the big castle and on the right (the tall building) is the Little Castle that the Lord would stay on the weekend.
Gill and I in front of the Little Castle
This is the doorway leading to the riding stables. Gill demonstrated for us how a horse might be ridden inside.....she's funny!
The kitchen below would serve up to 300 guests at a in this kitchen might be a challenge...
The view was spectacular. Obviously the Castle sits on top of a mountain overlooking the kingdom. I should mention, this castle had no moat.
Gill and I on the steps to the entrance of the Little Castle. The view above is looking out from the front of the castle to the left. This picture is looking to the right.
Entrance to the Little Castle. I have no idea how many rooms there were inside, but they seemed endless. There is no furniture in this castle. These are mostly just the ruins. As you'll see later, the walls inside are quite ornate
This is a picture of one of the bed chambers. Note the designs on the ceiling and walls. There were no windows in the castle so obviously most rooms had ornate fireplaces to keep warm. This fireplace is carved marble.
The arches above contained paintings such as this....
This is a view of the ceiling from the closet that is located just off the bed chamber. Closets were different back then. In this case they were quiet places where the Lady of this house would write her poetry.
Looking outside the castle to the kingdom

One of the most amazing experiences so far in this trip. I have so many more pictures of this castle but obviously do not have space for all of them.
Tomorrow is a tour of Moorcraft Pottery in Stoke-On-Trent known for it's pottery industry.

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