The ceramic raku botanical tiles I made over a year ago are finally mounted and hung! (Thanks, Hubby). Some of the flowers are carved and some are appliqued. When I take a raku class again this summer, I may re-do the iris (because the glaze turned out dull) and zinnias (because I don’t like how they’re spaced on the tile).
I still have lamp bases to turn into lamps, globes to finish glazing and hang (in a sort of stationary mobile), and lots of bowls to work on.
And guess what hon? I’ll be selling my ceramics in May at an artisan event. Details to come…
Whenever I start a new knitting project, I head to Wool & Grace to check out their selection of gorgeous wool. I’m like a kid in a candy shop and have to focus! So many colors, so many textures, so many patterns, so many things to create! I wanted to knit this cardigan for a friend and pulled out the pattern, but needed to see if a color felt right for her. The Blue Lagoon Tweed hit the mark. I have 1 1/2 skeins left and may knit a second sweater–this one for me.
I purchased this floral and geometrics needlepoint canvas at Wool & Grace and decided to switch the original colors from pinks and oranges to blues, yellows, green and grey. I finally had it made into a pillow and really like how bright and cheerful it is.
When it comes to Ceramics, it seems I work in sets. Maybe that’s my way of improving upon a technique or maybe it’s because I get into a creative zone and keep going. The past year, I spent a lot of time hand-building different size jewelry/catchall dishes: some made free-form and some using GR Pottery Forms. I re-visited pressing real leaves into clay, but when I used a dark stain called iron oxide to define stems and veins, it bled and smeared. More practice needed.
Carving into clay that’s been brushed with slip is a technique called Sgraffito. Slip is thin colored clay that’s painted on a piece before it’s put into the kiln to be bisque fired. The slip and clay are set aside to dry. “Once the piece is firm enough and the surface is not tacky, a design or pattern can be carved through the slip and into the clay body beneath. Once the design is pulled away by incising, there is a beautiful contrast between the slip and the clay. This contrast is stronger after firing and glazing.” (source: Cindy Couling)
A new semester of Ceramics classes started and I’m trying to get back to the pottery wheel.
Hon, you know what I’m meditating on when I work with my hands?Stories, characters, plots, and words. My mind doesn’t rest!
The Fall semester at the Visual Arts Center of NJ just wrapped up (shout out to Melissa, former co-student and now teacher!), but I’m looking forward to the Winter session when I can continue to play with clay! I love textures and patterns, so I was game to work with lace. I love how these ceramic dishes came out. They can be used for jewelry, soap, candy, catchalls, etc.
In the world of pottery, I also had a good time setting up and selling my ceramics at my synagogue’s Holiday Boutique.
What does it take to create these pretty, lace pieces?
run clay through slab roller to flatten
line up lace and use rolling pin to impress lace into clay
brush black slip over lace, peel lace off carefully, dry wet slip with hair dryer
Guess what hon? Twinkl, an online educational resource for teachers and individuals, reached out and asked to include one of my DIY Kids Crafts on their site! “This children’s craft idea features in Twinkl’sAbsolutely Amazing Autumn Ideas.”
This Autumn Kids Craft: DIY Fall Wreath is evergreen, so I’m re-posting this kids activity from the time I taught “Creative Minds,” an After School Enrichment class at Wyoming Elementary School in Millburn, NJ. The 3rd to 5th graders wrapped burlap around wreath forms, hot glued ends, chose leaves, berries, and fruit, and secured them with coiled wire. They tied ribbon as flourishes and added twine for hanging. Fun!
Here’s what you need and how to make your own.
DIY Fall WreathSupplies
Wreath Form, whatever size you want
Burlap, amount depends on size of wreath form
Coiled Wire, used to secure floral spray before gluing
Wire Cutters, we used two sizes, one to trim floral sprays and one to trim coiled wire
Hot Glue Gun and extra glue sticks for glue gun
Floral Decorations, such as floral sprays (leaves with berries and fruit), colored beads and leaves
Twine, knotted and looped for hanging
Before cutting burlap from roll, loosely wrap around wreath form to check how much is needed. Allow extra to tuck end under. Cut burlap from roll.
Wrap burlap around wreath form. Tuck end under and hot glue. This will be the back of the wreath.
Decide how to arrange decorations. Some may have bendable stems. If so ,wrap around wreath form.
If floral sprays, berries or other decor have long, unbendable stems, cut off with large wire cutter.
Using coiled wire, secure smaller decor such as leaves and berries to wreath form. Secure to wreath form by criss-crossing wire until decor is secured. Twist wire in back and tuck ends under.
Secure floral spray with wire and hot glue. Hot glue leaves so they cover wire and lay flat.
Hot glue colored beads and individual leaves.
Tie ribbon and glue if needed.
Find top of the wreath. Create a hanging loop with twine.
Summer means Raku workshops! Peter Syak, one of my wonderful Ceramics instructors, teaches Raku out of his carriage house/studio. I always learn a ton, meet new students, and have a meditative time working on new projects. This summer I learned how to make a large coil pot, building it up with flat strips of clay. As soon as its smokey scent abates, I’ll bring my vase inside and add some tall decorative branches.
My niece got married in our backyard this past Saturday, so this week is Wedding Week–pics of the beautiful event!
You know what happens when I get an idea in my head? It swirls around, taking up space and not letting go, until I write, do, or make the thing! This goes for story ideas, preschool crafts, store displays, party favors and so much more. Maybe this is why I feel compelled to take on multiple projects–the only way to stop the swirling and get a good night’s sleep is to act on the ideas. Call is creativity overload!
My niece didn’t ask, but chocolate wedding favors got in my head, so I bought molds, melties and favor bags and got to work. And how nice was this? I called my favorite source for molds, cookie cutters, melties and sprinkles and the like, Sweet n Fancy Emporium in Cranford, NJ, to check that they had the molds I wanted in stock. I was running late but the new owner, Amanda, had a hunch I was still on my way and waited for me before she closed! So-umm-sweet!
DIY chocolate favors are so easy. Here are the steps:
Melt chocolate melties or chips in the microwave, first on 50% power for 30 seconds and then full power for 15 second intervals, stirring in between. Chocolate is ready when it’s shiny and liquidy.
The Storystorm challenge is to create 30 story ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.
You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas. Your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass. Eventually, you will have a list of ideas to flesh out into concepts, premises and manuscripts in the coming year.
On this blog, daily posts by authors, illustrators, editors and other publishing professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories.
This year, STORYSTORM inspired me to start a new journal in which I’m collecting ideas. Some may turn into stories and some may not, but one of the takeaways from this year’s authors and illustrators is to see where your creativity takes you. I’m up for the challenge!
I create with clay, yarn, fabric and, of course, ingredients. I imagine worlds with words.
Here’s another take on Shrinky Dinks crafts. Supplies and steps for these horse key chains are the same as the fashion key chains. I taught After School Enrichment classes for several years, and often had repeat students so, though projects may have used similar mediums and supplies, I varied content. Some kids traced patterns from scrapbooking paper while others made up their own designs. They used jump rings to attach pieces and Wikki Stix to create manes. Horses are just the start; templates for any animal can be created.
Shrinky Dinks Animal Key Chains
Shrinky Dinks or a similar material. Want to make your own shrink-it sheets? Click here to see how.
template for animal
patterned wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, magazine cutouts, or patterns to trace
Draw an animal and parts on a piece of paper and add small circles where the pieces will join. Add a small circle to the place where the key ring will later be attached. (On the horse, the key ring hangs from the middle of the back.) Trace outline of body and body parts on Shrinky Dinks sheets. All tracing and coloring should be on “rough” side of SD sheets.
Using colored pencils, color patterns and designs and add animal’s facial features.
Punch holes where small circles are drawn. Be careful to leave space between holes and edges so edges don’t split.
Cut out animal parts.
Follow Shrinky Dinks instructions to bake cut-outs.
After baking, gently flatten pieces that curl up.
Join pieces using jump rings.
Create manes or fur with yarn or Wikki Stix. Feed Wikki Stix through holes and twist to secure. OR feed yarn through holes and knot and trim.
Find the opening where the key ring is to be attached and feed a jump ring through that hole. Attach the key ring to that jump ring.
Tip:Shrinky Dinks shrink A LOT! Keep this in mind and trace a template large enough that when parts are baked and shrink, the key chain isn’t the size of a peanut! Please keep this in mind when drawing circles that will be punched out. You don’t want the holes to be so small, a jump ring won’t fit.