Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SWD - Oh No! I Burned my Clay. Can this piece be saved?

In the last video series I created a tassel pendant.  The ones you see are not my first attempts.  I originally planned a bright, summery pendant with bright yellow, orange and purple.  Almost a retro look.  Unfortunately, because the clay covering is relatively thin, I burned and scorched the clay.  The result was a sad, dark mess.  The piece was destined for the trash but really, with the time I put into creating it, and the fact that I liked the shape, I decided to see what I could do to save it.  So, I used bronze, heavy body paint, I antiqued it and added a bunch of Swarovski crystals for some bling. Added a gold tassel, and I'm happy with the result.  So, see what you can do to save those not so perfect pieces.  Here's the video on the process. Have you ever burned a piece?  What did you do?  Let me know in the comments.  Hope you enjoy the video.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

#lovesummerart SWD Polymer Clay Tassel Pendant Tutorial

There’s something exciting happening in the YouTube art community.  Over 250 YouTube art/craft/how to channels have formed a community!  Thanks to Cinammon Cooney (theartsherpa), Clive Powell (clive5art), Sigrid Soto (secretsoto) and Ginger Cook (gingercooklive) for getting the group started.  This should be a fun collaboration and a supportive group.  I hope you visit the Facebook page to connect with the content creators participating.

My entry is a series of three videos on how to make a polymer clay tassel pendant.  I’ll show you how to create the pendant, make the tassel and do finishing work so you have a wearable work of art.  I hope you enjoy my entry and use the #lovesummerart (same hash tag on Facebook) to see of all of the unique and interesting videos showcased by these talented artists.   See below the videos for the tools and materials list.

Here are the tools and materials for my project.

Drill or needle tool
Craft knife
Clay blade
Pasta machine or roller
Texture plate
Old credit card, hotel card key or several pieces of card stock
Double sided tape
Jewelry pliers - Round and flat nose

Polymer clay – navy (cobalt + black)
Thread for tassel – Artiste nylon thread #2, crochet thread or other
Pen barrel (optional), you could make your own from polymer clay
Viva D├ęcor Inka Gold or pearlescent powder
Wire – 20 ga
Jump ring 6mm
Necklace finding – can be rope or chain
Bead cap (optional)
White glue or Fray Check (optional) - the thread will fray or unravel with wear, use one of these to stop the fray unless you like the look, apply a little bit to the end of each cord, separate and let dry

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Featured on Totally Tutorials - Custom Jewelry Display Stands


I submitted my tutorial for custom jewelry display stands to the Totally Tutorials site and they published it on April 20!  Check out their site for great tutorials of all sorts.

Friday, April 17, 2015

SWD Interview: Lyn Parker Gil of LynzCraftz

Hi everyone, thanks for joining me today as I interview a fellow artist and YouTuber, Lyn of LynzCraftz.  I started following Lyn’s YouTube channel in the past year and have greatly enjoyed her polymer clay tutorials.  With over 5,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, Lyn is plenty busy creating and sharing.  Hi, Lyn, welcome to Sweet Willow Designs.
Would introduce yourself, tell us a little about yourself and your interests outside of your work as an artist.
Married 30 yrs to my high school sweetheart... mother & grandmother, I've been a crafter since I can remember. My mother, a crafter herself, enrolled me in my first art lessons at 6yrs old (she didn't realize it was an oil painting class no less). I've been lost in the creative ocean ever since.

I believe inspiration can come from almost anywhere...so I am an observer of life constantly looking for that inspirational moment. Whether from the Oak forest that surrounds our home or from my time traveling work desk or maybe even a history documentary my inspiration is as widespread as my imagination. I hope you will see something that catches your eye or maybe even your imagination...inspiration is everywhere!  


You’re an accomplished polymer clay artist.  How did you get started with polymer clay?

I first picked up polymer clay about 20 years ago, some Super Sculpey but I only fiddled around with it. Then about 10 years ago I began sculpting some heads for some of my cloth dolls but again I only made a few. Then I began sculpting Mermaids & Fairies, which I still enjoy but switched to jewelry shortly thereafter.


Do you work in any other mediums besides polymer clay?

Yes, I enjoy Mixed Media, Altered Art, Sewing, Cloth Dolls,Painting, Drawing & Resin...I have to try it all!

Lyn, you have close to 350 videos on YouTube.  How did you get started and how long have you been creating videos?

I’ve been watching YouTube videos since 2011 & while watching one day I decided to give one of the projects a try. I was encouraged by friends & family to show what I had done but I really didn’t like the sound of my own voice. I just created a slide show type video at first. When I became comfortable with it I went to actually speaking in the video & the rest is history.

How do you decide what to make and how do you come up with your beautiful designs?

I get inspiration from almost everywhere...movies, old photos, old magazines & even vintage master jewelry artists. My mind is rarely quiet & I often work out my designs in my sleep...well that few moments before sleep anyway.

How much time do you spend creating each week and what’s your typical day like?

I’m up almost every day at 6AM & in my studio by 7-7:30 when my Hubby leaves for work. I take a break for lunch but other than that I’m in my studio till 5:30 & sometimes longer. My studio is also my office though so I also run my shop from there.I try to take Friday’s off for chores & down time.

What is your workspace/studio like?

My studio is in one of the spare rooms, a 14x14. It’s full to the brim with all my supplies for clay & mixed media. I have a separate room for my sewing. I have one wall that I call my “Wall of Inspiration” where I have pieces I’ve created that are special to me. It’s not really decorated in any way other than a few piece made by friends.
What are your favorite tools?

I’ve said this before...my hands are my favorite tool. I can do more with them than any other tool. But if I had to choose an actual tool I’d have to say my metal knitting needle & my Color Shaper(silicone rubber tipped tool).
I know you have an Etsy shop.  How long have you been selling your creations and how did you get started?

It was just a year ago in November when I finally open my Etsy shop. I definitely waited much too long...I should have listened to my Hubby & done it before then. You have to be at a place in your life where you feel comfortable with your art. It also helps to get everything together like your packaging, business cards( I enclose one in every purchase), etc.

Do you have any advice for artists wanting to get started with YouTube or selling their work?

Start slow. Know yourself & what your style is...if you like a certain type of art & find yourself drawn to it...do it! You’ll always be more creative in a style you enjoy. For instance I don’t do caning...it’s just not something I’m interested in. I’m more into grungy metal & natural textures. If you know your own style & like it...more than likely someone else will too.
Lyn, wow.  Thanks so much for joining me today.  Great advice to the artists wanting to sell their work or create videos. I’ve had a great time getting to know you better. How can my readers find you on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.?
I’d love to have your readers stop by and say hi.  Here’s how to find me.
Blog:          http://lynzcraftz.blogspot.com/
Google+:   https://plus.google.com/108220717082799436253/posts
Etsy:          https://www.etsy.com/shop/LynzCraftz
Thanks again Lyn.  I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Lyn of LynzCraftz.  Leave a comment below if you’d like to see more interviews, have a question or want to leave your thoughts on this interview.  As always, thanks for joining me in my studio.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make Your Own Custom Jewelry Display Stands

Here's a quick, easy and inexpensive project to make your own necklace and earring display stands.  I needed a way to take my jewelry pieces to workshops and to use as props for photos and wanted a custom look so I designed these unique jewelry stands.  I love the way they look and how easily you can customize with paint or scrapbook paper.  Using scrapbook paper gives endless options for color and pattern.  Make sure the pattern you choose doesn't compete with your jewelry!

Here's the link to my YouTube video for this project.  There's a bonus in the video to adapt this to an earring stand and a gallery of finished display stands.  The materials and tools are listed after the video.  Hope you enjoy.  Don't forget to subscribe, like or comment if you enjoyed this video and want to see more.  Thanks for joining me in my studio!

Blue acrylic paint and vintage look scrapbook paper.

Burnt Umber acrylic paint and wood grain patterned scrapbook paper.

Gold acrylic paint and patterned scrapbook paper.

Here's the stand adapted for earrings.  Great way to display all those wonderful earrings.

·   Balsa shapes – oval (2.8” x 4.3”), rectangle (3.5” x 4.5”)
·   Doll head/knob – 1-1/4”
Acrylic paint
Paint brush or sponge brush
Sandpaper (I used 240 grit)
Craft knife
Paper towels
Wood or strong craft glue
Sealer (optional to add sheen and protect surface - I used Mod Podge)
Binder clip

Optional Decoupage
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge or other decoupage medium
Applicator – paint brush or sponge brush

Craft knife
Scissors (optional if decoupaging)

Drill (optional if making earring stand) can be electric or hand with small drill bit just large enough to accommodate earring findings

Friday, March 20, 2015

Build A Line Challenge from B'Sue Boutiques, Maria Clark of Sweet Willow Designs, Part 3 - The Final Reveal!

Welcome to Part 3 of the B’Sue Build a Line Challenge hosted by Brenda Sue Lansdowne of B’Sue Boutiques. The essence of the challenge was to create a jewelry line based on an original concept using B'Sue components.  The challenge was to develop a cohesive line based on a unique theme with a minimum of five pieces. 

I have to tell you that going in five pieces seemed like a piece of cake.  Five isn't so many after all. Like several of the other artists participating in the challenge, I had to overcome creative blocks and being overwhelmed with too many ideas and nowhere to start.  Here are the components I started with.  You can imagine how necessary it was to settle on a few elements.

Thankfully the inspiration of the group, particularly the local Denver group, helped me overcome these roadblocks and I completed my five pieces.  I'm pleased with the results.
My concept was to use polymer clay to create faux soutache combined with brass elements from B'Sue Boutiques.  Soutache is a traditional fiber arts technique that uses colorful braided cords to make intricate and fluid jewelry designs.  I’ve interpreted the soutache in polymer clay which offers endless options for color and design.  My five pieces include two bracelets, a pendant and two pairs of earrings.

In this first set I used an ornate brass frame and flowers with deep merlot, pink and blush polymer clay custom mixed colors accented with glass pearls.  This set includes a pendant with a 27" chain and earrings with the brass flowers which I cut down and used as accents.

Experimenting with a two tone effect on the brass gave an interesting twist to the design.  The raw brass frame was colored with Gilders Paste in silver.  All of these pieces were sealed to preserve the patina and highlight the clay.

I tend to design in a free form manner with little sketching up front which adds an element of surprise but can be difficult to reproduce.  In the future, I'll try sketching in advance.

The second set used the same brass ornate frame and flowers to keep the line cohesive but in this interpretation I used vintage style silver buttons and metallic cuffs that I made myself from faux leather trim.  The set includes two bracelets and a pair of earrings.

I really liked the way these turned out, the use of the buttons adds interest and design and the faux leather gives a nice glow to the brass and enhances the overall look.  To me this has a Southwestern look with the turquoise, gold and purple clay (hard to see the purple, kind of reads black).

There's a lot more to building a line than just designing pieces of jewelry.  Pricing, branding, watching trends, tiers, selling, inventory management, taking pictures and all the business management tasks that go into a jewelry business have to be mastered for ultimate success.  The class was exceptional in that each of these issues were addressed and participants had an opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts, challenges and strategies.  This was a great learning and sharing experience.

I met two of my goals for the year which was to participate in more challenges and to stretch creatively.  Goals I didn't know I had were to find a community of artists with similar goals and to share, share, share and to make more use of social media.  These goals, while not initially identified by me, were brought to light during this challenge.  That's a great side benefit!  Finally, I challenged myself to try something new and learn new skills.  What a great experience!

You will be amazed at how unique each of the participating artists are and how they went about realizing their vision.  Each had struggles and successes which they share in their blog posts.  The energy and effort each put into the challenge will be revealed as they showcase their lines.  Thanks to Brenda Sue who mentored the class.  It's clear how much of a commitment this was for her and how much energy and passion she put into the process.  A big thanks to her and all the artists!

Please take a look at the other fantastic artists participating in the challenge by visiting their blogs below.

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques

Marcia Tuzzolino

Jann Tague

Judy King

Linzi Alford

Cynthia Wainscott

Carole Carlson

Lynn Stinten

Marica Zammit

Catherine Shattuck

Michaele Collie

Mary Craig

Lee Koopman

Erin Whitacre

Monica Casady

Leila West

Cindy Peterson

Leila Belcher

Gloria Allen

Pamela Anger

Tammy Adams

Lynda O'Mara

Elizabeth Hildreth

Dana Hickey

Janet Calardo

Maria Clark

Lori Beekman

Jennifer Kroeger

Amy Jorgensen

Robin Reed

Ingrid Anderson

Louise O'Shields

Susan Killam

Mary Katherine Deis

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman

Kristy Le

Jan Peters

Mitzie Crider

Gina Hockett

Linda Anderson

Alexandra Sefton

Melida Boman

Teresa Shurter

Melissa Latimer

Renee Hong

Nadine Edris

Lori Meyer

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Denise Lussier Poirier

Renee Allen

Autumn Adams

Elizabeth Owens

Kat BarronMiller

Sandra Ballard

Coral Law

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Featured on The Daily Polymer Arts Blog - Thank You!

Thanks to The Daily Polymer Arts Blog for featuring my leaf pendant colored with Pan Pastels, Prismacolor colored pencils and embossing powder.  Using these materials is a great way to add color and texture to polymer clay.  I'll be doing an upcoming tutorial on using these techniques that I hope you enjoy.  Stay tuned for more!  Thanks again Polymer Arts for the feature in the blog.  Here's the link to the original article.  and to a previous post with other examples of using colored pencils on polymer clay.