The Whimsical Blog

As many of you would know, I recently exhibited at the Melbourne Bead Expo here in Victoria. Thank you to those of you who came past the stand and visited. It was lovely to see some 'old' faces and to also put new faces to names!

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Last weekend was the weekend of the Lilydale Annual Spring Show.  Each year I try to enter a few pieces into their juried exhibition and this year was no exception.  This year I entered into the Advanced Beadwork category.  I decided to move away from polymer clay as this medium is not very well understood at this event (I need to do some more educating in this area!!).  Because of this, I thought it was the perfect time to challenge myself and make a few jewellery pieces from materials that I don't usually use or haven't used for some time.

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These past few weeks have been super busy with quite a few shipments of stock arriving.  I am busily preparing for the next few months when I will be teaching at various locations - Amya Beads, Funky Lulas and Chicky Babes Beads. We will also be having a stand again at the Melbourne Bead Expo in November so I've been collecting stock for that too - I feel like a squirrel, hoarding things away for the winter!!

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Yesterday morning we held a chainmaille workshop at the studio. Students were to create a bracelet with Japanese 12 in 2 weave. This is one of my favourite chainmaille weaves as it has quite a bit of weight to it (with approx. 400 rings) and looks very classy when finished with a beautiful clasp.

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As I wrote about previously, I particpated in the COPPRClay workshop which was run here at the studio last month. Because I don't have a kiln.....(yet!)...all our pieces, including mine, were taken by Lara to be fired in her kiln.  I came home the other day to a package which contained our beautiful copper treasures. They didn't look like much straight out of the kiln - quite dirty in fact - but once I'd finished brushing, sanding, burnishing and polishing, my clasp looked beautiful. Because I was so pleased with it, I thought I'd share it with you!

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This week I have been creating a few canes....including another butterfly. I thought I would share some photos of the process with you. I took these at various stages throughout the cane making process.

Butterfly canes are something I haven't had much experience in creating. I've only ever made one or two.  When I decided to create this new butterfly cane, I looked back through my collection of butterfly photos, pictures of canes etc. The cane I created wasn't a copy of any of these things but rather inspired by all of these elements. I think this is the best way to create pieces. Rather than follow a tutorial right down to the last detail or copy a photo, it is much more satisfying to be inspired by these things and then create your own individual pieces.

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Many people have asked me for a basic guide to working with polymer clay and more importantly, how to get started with polymer clay. I wrote this small information tutorial in 2009 and although it has had many upgrades over the years, and I still give it to all my beginner students in workshops.

You can download this instantly by clicking the link below however if you would like this emailed to you please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Last Saturday, 1st August, I hosted a COPPRclay workshop taught by Lara LeReveur. COPPRclay was released in 2009 and is made up of pure copper, water and non-toxic binding materials. The binding materials vaporise during the kiln-firing process leaving you with a solid copper piece with a density over 95% that of cast copper.  COPPRclay has a pleasant consistency, is forgiving to hand at the leather hard stage, fires consistently well and has a large shrinkage rate (approx. 30%) which makes for good details of texture.

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Last weekend (20th June), I taught another beginner's polymer clay workshop at Amya Beads .  We have now held 2 beginner's workshops at Amya Beads and both have been a great success.

Whilst it is great teaching more advanced workshops, I do have a soft spot for beginner's. People say to me, 'Don't you find it boring to be teaching so many beginner workshops?'.  My answer is always the same... 'No way!'.  There is nothing quite like teaching newbies. The anticipation as they walk in the door, the horror on their faces as they wonder how they're ever going to be able to work with this new medium, the look of excitement and satisfaction when they've created their very own beads. Priceless! 

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Business-wise, the last few months, actually most of this year, have been a whirlwind for me.  Everything seems to be happening at once. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way - this is what I've been aiming towards for 4 years - however every time another day goes by without me spending any time at my workstation 'creating', I feel a little sad too.

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