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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Avocado

This week we are making one of my favorite fruits, the avocado. It is really easy once you understand how to do the Skinner Blend technique. If you are unsure about doing the Skinner Blend see my video tutorial here for a complete demonstration on it.

I am exaggerating the colors a bit in my avocado partly so you can see it on camera but also because even in person the colors tend to get lost in this small scale.

For the skin of the avocado (and for the whole ones as well) I used a mixture of equal parts Fimo Leaf Green and Fimo Black.

For the flesh of avocados I used Premo Wasbi and Sculpey III Moss in the Skinner Blend. If you want to go a bit lighter in color feel free to do so.

I also used just a pinch of Fimo Caramel for both the stem of the whole avocados and for the pits of the cut ones.

To make the cut flesh look “wet” I used a simple coat of Future Floor finish. I know the product goes by the Pledge name now but you should still be able to get it. I have been using the bottle I have for many years and have hardly used any of it so it lasts a long time.

Like I said in the video this is going to be a very short blog post, if you have any questions please feel free to ask either here in the comments, in the Youtube comments, or the quickest way to get an answer ask my on Facebook.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Perfume Bottles

I have been debating whether I should do a video on this project or not for a long time. I also wasn't sure if it belonged as a Trash to Treasure or a regular Sunday video. The thing is it is just so darn easy but I do find that even projects that have been around for a long time and are really easy as still fun and informative for my viewers/readers. I decided to go with very inexpensive beads and do this as a Trash to Treasure but you can spend some big bucks on nice beads and make some real treasures if you want to.

I think the biggest thing is to be sure your glue will hold the beads without fogging whatever they are made of. I did try some super glue and like most super glues it fogged the clear plastic beads. The glue I used for the video states on the label it is for use in making jewelry. It did fog one of the little plastic beads but not as badly as the super glue did. In the end just use what you have that will hold. If you are worried about it test on an extra bead. You can always put any that did fog in the back of the display.

The materials list for this project is pretty short: beads, head pins or decorative pins, glue and wire cutters. That is really all you need!

Just have fun and be creative. Lay out your beads and see what goes together. Use the smallest beads for the lids of your bottles (or use decorative pins for the tops)

This project is really just about having fun!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Color Mixing in Polymer Clay

This week I took advantage of my organized polymer clay stash so that we could talk about mixing colors of clay. How many colors of clay do we really need? If you are just starting out you probably won't have a collection of 100 colors to pull from. You can however mix the colors you do have to get a lot more colors. You just have to understand what colors work well with each other and how to make them do what you want them to do.

Have you ever run into the situation where maybe you needed just a bit of say purple clay and didn't have any? Probably what you did was to pick a random package of blue clay and a random package of red clay and combined some of each. Did you get the color you were expecting or did you get something that was kind of muddy with a tinge of brown to it? I go into why this might have happened in the video and once you understand the why you can use this to your advantage.

Think back to grade school when you forgot to wash out your paint brush while painting with the set of watercolor paints that every teacher required us to have. Did you ever forget to rinse out your brush and end up with a muddy mess instead of a pretty picture? Usually by the end of the year my watercolor paints were all different colors of brown not the pretty colors I started out with. This happens with our clay too, unless you happen to have a red that is a true red and not a red that tends toward purple of orange and a blue that is a true blue and not tending towards green or purple you could end up with a dark muddy color. Now if both your blue and your red are tending toward the same direction on the color wheel (purplish red/purplish blue or greenish blue/orangish red) they will play well together too.

We can also use the color wheel to our advantage in making our collection of clay colors go further. If you need to tone down a color add a tiny bit of color opposite of it on the color wheel and you will take the edge off the color and mute it a bit. If you add a color from next to it you can make it brighter (though a little harder to predict the result) Just use tiny bits to add in, you can add more but it is harder to take it away. Be especially careful adding in red, it is a very strong color and tends to “take over” the other colors.

I do get asked on a regular basis what colors I recommend to buy if you are just starting out making polymer clay foods. The first two colors I recommend to buy are white and translucent along with a basic set of chalk pastels, with this you can make so many foods. After that start adding the basic primary and secondary colors. That said if a color really calls to you and you love it (and can afford it) go ahead buy it. If you love it you will find a way to use it. Just try to make sure you have the basics too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Organizing My Polymer Clay

Well, I spent several hours last week organizing my polymer clay. This was in between trying to get some work done outside in the wonderful weather that Oregon had last week. The project took me a few hours (anywhere from 1 to 5) each day- Monday thru Friday. So it was a big job, I am so glad it is done and I am very happy with the result.

Now I can see exactly what colors of clay I have, how much of any given clay I have, I can easily (and quickly) find the clay I need, and I know exactly what the clay will look like when baked. I also think that the system I now have in place will be easy to maintain and keep organized.

I have been going to organize my clay for a long time but I kept putting it off. I always had something better to do. After all I knew it was going to be a major project and I really didn't want to bother with it. However, last weekend I really got frustrated with first off having a some clay bake up in a way I was not expecting and then not being able to really find what I needed to complete my project. So it was time for some major brainstorming to figure out a system to get organized.

Remember I have been working with polymer clay for about 15 or 20 years (maybe longer) and I have a lot of clay. I really hadn't done much in the way of organizing it either. From the beginning for whatever reason I had kept the clays separated by brand and that just wasn't working anymore. Back when I had a dozen or so packages it was fine but now I have a lot more than that. I had a box for Sculpey III, a box for Premo, a box of odds and ends and two full boxes of Fimo. When I wanted to find a color I had to go through all those boxes to see if I had it. Many times it was just easier to get new clay than to have to dig through to look for a block that I needed.

It just so happened that I had emptied out some notebooks that held some of those sheets that are made to hold baseball cards a few weeks ago. I knew I would find a use for those sheets so I kept them. Thank goodness I did because they were the perfect answer for this project.

I also had a package of white cardstock that I really didn't like working with. It just has a strange surface on it and didn't really work for what I bought it for so it was sitting here taking up space too.

I measured the spaces in the plastic sheets and found that cards cut 2 ½” by 3 ¾” (or thereabouts) fit just fine. This also gave me plenty of area to write the information I needed on each card: brand, color and space for 3 swatches.

I used Bake and Bond to adhere the clay to the cards but any liquid polymer clay would work. I baked the cards at 250 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes. Everything seems to be cured just fine at this temperature and time.

I then slipped the cards into the plastic sheets dedicating one (or two) sheets to each color group. In the video you can easily see how I divided them up. For me this made the most sense but you might find a different system works better for you.

Now onto the packages of clay themselves. I set up 7 plastic shoe boxes for the clay. They are divided as follows: 1) translucent & whites, 2) Browns & tans, 3) oranges & yellows, 4) Blacks, grays, & metals, 5), pinks & reds, 6) greens, and 7) blues & purples. Inside of each of these boxes are plastic ziplock type sandwich bags each containing a single color (brand) of clay. In other words there is a bag for Premo White, one for Fimo white, one for Sculpey III white, etc. That way I can easily find each color as I need it.

You may be wondering why what may seem like repeats of colors. After all do I really need that many types of white clay? Well, probably not but I do use all of them depending on what I am making and the effect I want. Some of those whites are warmer (more yellow) some cooler (more blue) some are softer some firmer (useful depending on what I am making) some mix better with TLS than others. So I can justify having most of those packages.

Now I did make a few surprising discoveries. One being that I own 8 packages (or partial packages) of Fimo Caramel clay. That is one that I use a lot and tend to stock up on when clay is on sale. I also seem to never be able to find in the bin of clay the way I had them before. Now they are all together in one bag so I can get them used up (someday)

Another discovery I made was that some of the clay I bought when I was first starting to do clay is still just as good as it was the day I purchased it. We are talking some of those packages being 15, 20 or maybe more years old. I also found some of what I will classify as middle aged clay that was not good anymore. I do know that the major clay brands made some changes to their formulas a number of years back and I have a feeling that had something to do with the ones that were not any good any longer. I think they were probably some of the clay that came out when the changes were first being made. The clays did change a few times to get their formulas working the way they wanted.

In the video I also showed my scrap clay bag, this is where I put the little bits of leftover clay from projects, miss-mixed colors etc. I use this clay to make a lot things mostly when I am making a blank to make a mold from or to try a technique out, to figure out how big to make something, etc. My scrap clay bag was almost empty before I started this project it now weighs a pound and a half! I ended up putting a lot of clay in there that was loose in my old boxes either because it was no longer labeled (so I wasn't sure what it was) or because it had become dirty floating around loose in the boxes.

In the video I also touched on being careful how you open the package of clay. This is pretty obvious to me now but when I first started working with clay it wasn't. Just check the package to see where the clay manufacturer has put the label with the clay name (or number) Premo and Sculpey III are usually labeled on the top edge while Fimo is usually on the lower part of the back of the package. Try to preserve that part of the label, it will make your life easier in the future. Trust me, it will.

So how much clay do I have, 99 different colors and I have no idea how many total blocks (I don't think I want to know that or how much money I have spent on it over the years)

So I hope this was helpful for you. I do highly recommend that you organize your clay before you get any where near as much clay as I have. It will be so much easier if you start early and stay organized from the start.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Easter Bunny Cake

This week I am sharing a project I have been meaning to share for a couple of years, I kept forgetting until too late for Easter each time. This year I remembered in time!!

The main thing I want you to take from this project is the method I use to get the look of coconut on the cake. It is a very useful technique and although there are other ways to replicate coconut in miniature this is my favorite mainly because it is so easy. The product is (or at least should be) easy to get at any store that sells paint and wallpaper supplies, you may even already have some if you have done any re-modeling of your real size home. Its real use is to either prepare your walls for wallpaper or to glue the wallpaper to the walls. We ignore that use entirely for our project. We take advantage of the texture and just glue it down to look like flaked coconut. It really is that easy, just glue it down and your are done.

I am pretty sure that I have been able to color the little flakes in the past but I just couldn't get that to work out for me this time. Hence the reason I just painted the coconut after the glue dried for covering the base. It works just fine to do it this way just be sure to not use much paint, it is really more of a dry brush than painting for this step. If any of you do know how to color the little flakes please share it with us so we will all know.

Since this has been a really long and hectic week I am going to close this now, hopefully next week I will have more time to get done the things I want to do. (like writing a longer blog post)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Casserole

This week for Trash to Treasure Thursday I show you a really simple casserole dish. I use an Axle/Push Nut (3/8” size) as the dish. I came up with this idea many years ago for a swap I was in and have used them several times since. I think they can look really good depending on what you use as filling. For the video I did take the easy way out and just used some simple white clay and made something that kind-of looks like potatoes. If I was really making the scalloped potatoes I would probably have added some translucent to the white and used good clay but for the video I wanted to show that all that isn't really necessary. You can do this as simple as I did and it will function just fine. Use your imagination for what to fill the dish with, there as so many different casseroles in real life that I bet you can come up with something really unique from things you have on hand.

I don't bake the dish simply because it is made of plastic, I pre-bake everything and then assemble it with glue.

Have fun with the project and be sure to post your pictures on the Joanne's Minis Facebook wall we all love to see what everyone is working on.