Polymer Clay Adventures – Feathers and Dragons and Tentacle-y-things…

I’ve decided to dive back into the madness that is polymer clay. It’s been fun having a fiddle and a play with the squishy stuff again. I used to enjoy sculpting though it’s been almost two decades since I picked up any sort of clay. As a teenager I used to make cake toppers for my mother’s Christmas cakes and it was something that I always enjoyed in school, but 20 years means that there’s been a huge lapse in the skill set and polymer clay isn’t exactly like working with sugar past or mud clay. Polymer clay has a bit of a rebounding rubbery type texture when sculpting it which takes a little getting use to. Not to mention my fingers are all thumbs and shakiness which makes fine detail somewhat tricky.

I was inspired again by a challenge in the Australian Beading Forum group on Facebook, posted by my friend, the insanely talented Neva of Nifty Creations. What was it? Dungeons and Dragons, of course. Even though I’ve never really played the game except to steal a few ideas for some fantasy fiction I occasionally write, I was all over this.

The chance to make some fantasy themed jewellery? HELL YES! I had been wanting to do something like this for ages and it was just the push that I needed to get started.

The challenge came in the form of the requirement of using two different mediums with which to create a piece that went with the theme. Oh well, nothing like a challenge to inspire new learning! Since I am neither a wire-worker or a clayer, so naturally I decided that those two mediums would be the most fun to use!

And by “fun” I actually mean frustrating swear-word-inducing and almost-marriage-ending tantrums as a result of using…

Anyway…

I knew I needed some practice before I started, and of course I had to buy ALL THE THINGS that go with claying, so I marched on down to Spotlight and bought a week’s wages worth of stuff to add to the collection of bits and pieces that another friend had kindly donated for me to use.

And then I jumped in and started making stuff.

This was the first project I’d done a couple months ago:

Renlish.com - Clay Play - Feathers

Feathery, pearly goodness!

These feathers are based off a tutorial by Mandarin Ducky which you can find here on Youtube and they were lots of fun to make. Unfortunately that same day the manbeast was helping me open a packet of blades (for cutting clay) and ended up gashing the tops of his fingers quite badly. On his painting hand. He still hasn’t forgiven me.

After that successful first step, I wanted to try something a little more sculptural and opportunity came knocking when another friend posted a picture of a polymer clay and dicro cabochon pendant that she’d fallen in love with on Facebook. So I made her one…

Renlish.com - Polymer Clay - Tentacle-y Thing!

A rip-off of someone else’s idea.

I make absolutely no allusions to the fact that I am the original creator of this style of pendant. This is an exact copy (mostly) of the picture I saw on Facebook. I just happened to have the right sort of cabochon and the clay on hand to make it.

So all of that leads us to this, the Dragon Shade.

“The Dragon Shade is a powerful amulet said to be carved from the scale of a slain black shadow dragon. Its jewel holds the spirit of the beast which can be unleashed upon unwary heroes with an arcane spell.

(Which means if you come across anyone wearing this amulet, run. Run far, far away. Run very quickly.)”

Renlish.com - Polymer Clay - Dragon Shade Amulet

As evil as it is pretty.

Technical: Blood, sweat, tears, and many swear words. Also polymer clay sculpting and Viking weave as well as a bit of beaded chain and some coiled and oxidized copper end caps.

All by hand.

I need a freakin’ drink.

Bead Soup Blog Party 2014 – The Big Reveal

Well after a week’s delay, here we have the results of my Bead Soup.

And… It’s not finished!

*hangs head in shame*

At least not finished in the way I’d like it to be, even though I kind of love it the way it is. Alas and alack, I realised too late that I didn’t have the bits I needed to finish it the way I wanted to and due to issues like me being unwell and the cat being crook, it just didn’t come together as planned. However I did stick with my initial design and went for simplicity. Peruzi beads really do speak for themselves and I didn’t want to take away too much attention from them by adding too much in the way of embellishments.

I will definitely be updating this necklace in the coming days so I can show what I REALLY had in mind for it, but for now I’m happy.

My necklace with beads and focal by Peruzi Beads

My necklace with beads and focal by Peruzi Beads

You can find the complete list of participants for the 8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party right here!

You can see the absolutely magnificent job my BSBP partner, Tracy, did with the beads I sent her right here! She’s done an amazing job and made some stunning jewellery with what I sent her.

Just in case you need a reminder, this is what I sent Tracy:

Renlish.com - Bead Soup Blog Party 2014

Bead set, connector and toggle by Peruzi, Swarovski crystals in Fire Opal and Padparadscha, and a strand of purple toned Czech crystas=ls.

Bead Soup Blog Party, 2014 – The Soup Reveal!

I’ve been meaning to post about this for the last week but life’s been a bit…

meh

Meh. Just meh.

… for a while.

But on the bright side life…

Bright Side of Life

Yes. I totally went there.

I signed up for Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Blog Party for 2014. This year is a little different – because of Lori’s poor health she decided that there would be only one day to sign up and one single creation reveal day so there is going to be one massive blog hop coming up in a few weeks. No sweat for me! Loved it last year.

This year I’ve been partnered up with fellow Aussie, Tracy Stillman from Bead Trilogy. Tracy does some pretty nifty work with seedies and we have a favourite bead creator in common, that being Natalie of the wonderful Peruzi who makes the most amazing ceramic and stoneware focals and bead sets. She’s a favourite Australia-wide for those with a leaning into the eclectic style. Tracy features a lot of Natalie’s work so it just made sense that we were both drawn to Peruzi when creating our soups.

This was the soup that I sent Tracy:

Renlish.com - Bead Soup Blog Party 2014

Bead set, connector and toggle by Peruzi, Swarovski crystals in Fire Opal and Padparadscha, and a strand of purple toned Czech crystas=ls.

I went for colour with this year’s soup and picked all the stuff that I loved but wouldn’t necessarily use myself (I’m a blues and greens and neutrals sort of girl). I’ve had the swaros forever but when I realised that they matched the Peruzi beads so perfectly I had to throw them in as well.

Not to be outdone, Tracy sent me a great Peruzi package of her own:

Renlish.com - Bead Soup Blog Party 2014

Peruzi beads and focal.

Yay! Neutrals! I love these. I have no idea what to do with them, I might have to pull out some of my other Peruzis and make one big Peruzi extravaganza. I’m not used to working with such large focals at all so it will be interesting! Fortunately I have some beautiful leather coming from my pal, Annette Piper and I think I’ll continue the neutral colour pallet with some pearls… the only thing that’s throwing me is the gold clasp! I don’t do gold!

But hey, last year I said I didn’t do copper and look what happened.

Hehe. Stay tuned for the reveal on May 3rd.

White noise and pretty jewels.

Honestly, I feel so much better when I am able to create something. Whether it’s a necklace or editing a photograph or doodling on a page. Much of the time when I don’t have a job to do, my thoughts lead me down dangerous, slightly morbid paths. I have a fairly extreme imagination when I am depressed and sometimes it gets the better of me. It’s why whenever I feel bored I start to feel incredibly unsettled. I start thinking about Things™ and I don’t particularly like thinking about Things™. Doing these little crafty bits gives me a focus and allows me to create a beautiful white noise that consists of nothing but pure concentration on the task at hand. And usually by the end I have something nice to show for it.

Anyway, that’s just a long-assed way of explaining that I MADE SOMETHING this weekend.

Renlish.com - Green Orchid

Renlish.com - Green Orchid

And just for shits and giggles, this is something I started throwing together today… and it’s literally still in its “thrown together” state, because that’s how I roll, yo.

Renlish.com - Serene WIP

And I don’t think I ever showed it on the blog but I had my first go at bead embroidery a little while back and the results turned out pretty nice, if you ask me:

Renlish.com - Red Earth

Renlish.com - Red Earth

To be honest, I think my seed bead curiosity has been sated with this first and probably last piece (at least for a while) but I love how it turned out and the stone is pretty fabulous.

And lastly, I’ve signed up again for the Pretty Things Blog Bead Soup Blog Party for 2014! 2013 was lots of fun and my partner for that hop turned out to be a lovely, sweet lady who I got along with very well so I thought I’d put my hand up for the challenge. Can’t wait to see what I get. I’ve already arranged my “blog soup” for my prospective partner.

I love it when a plan comes together… in a steampunkish kind of way.

Be warned, this is somewhat long-winded.

But since when have I ever been short-winded?

Back in July, one of my good friends surprised me with a request to be her best girl at her wedding.

She said “Steampunk!”

I said, “Hells YEAH!”

Well, it wasn’t an actual steampunk wedding as such, it was more of an east-meets-west-carnival-type thing. Our bride, a lovely Russian girl (complete with that accent that seems to make any level-headed male melt into a puddle of goo), was planning on being a Russian gypsy. Her husband-to-be was a dapper English gentleman sort…

It really has the hallmarks of a typical romance novel, eh?

So we were set for an awesome February, late 1800s New Orleans-esque Steampunky type wedding carnival.

Except for one little hitch.

The bride was pregnant and would already be a mum come March 2014. So clearly there was suddenly way less time for everything because this wedding needed to happen before the “little monster” hatched into the world.

Due to a plethora of other reasons, a lot of thinking about the wedding after this point was put on hold but a couple months out we finally got our crap together and went on a shopping trip to find some inspiration and some clothes for me to wear. Unlucky on that day, I started to worry. Where in hell would I get a costume worthy of a wedding? A little under two months out from the day, I didn’t have time to order from my favourite online steampunk shops.

At a loss, I looked through my cupboards to see if there was something that I could fashion into some sort of a costume.

Unfortunately due to the fact that I am several sizes smaller than I used to be, most of the clothes I remembered having which would have been helpful for steampunkery had already gone to “good will” at least 18 months before. Alas and alack, all I found was a grotty old skirt (that was too big for me) which I had meant to put on ebay ages ago.

It was clearly not enough on it’s own but I figured I could do something with it. Maybe. After a bit more fiddling around and looking up steampunk reference picture after steampunk reference picture, I figured out that I could build the costume in layers – and I think that really is the key to good steampunk fashion. It’s all in the layers.

Kinda like dressing for Melbourne weather.

So using the skirt as a jumping point, I started searching for corsets (because corsets go with steampunk like tomato sauce goes with meat pies) and found this “sleeved” number at Angels and Divas who provided very good customer service, I might add, when I asked them a question about sizing.

So then we had this:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Ignore the mess behind me! And yes, my bra is stripy.

A little more tavern wench than steampunk at this point, I know. But the ideas were forming! Unfortunately they were forming in ways that I had no idea how to recreate.

So… at a loss, I went to the Stitches and Craft Show here in Melbourne and bought a most excellent book called “Steampunk Your Wardrobe”:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Steampunk Your Wardrobe, by Calista Taylor

The projects in the book centre around re-purposing old clothes and basic stitchery to create steampunk fashion, it’s bare-bones stuff but it was what I needed to cobble together the rest of my ideas to form my outfit. I knew I wanted a shirt to go beneath the corset and an underskirt so that I could bustle up the brown skirt into some sort of Victorian-esque masterpiece.

The only real problem was that I really don’t sew. Really. I don’t own a sewing machine and my hand-stitching doesn’t go beyond darning socks and stitching buttons back on.

So who ya gunna call?

MUM!

Yes, mum to the rescue!

Mum was awesome and calmly suggested that we go to Spotlight (the Aussie version of shops like Joanne’s and Michael’s, except sucky by comparison) and look at patterns and see if we can come up with any new ideas for the outfit. In the end, we picked out a couple of Simplicity patterns:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Simplicity pattern – 4046 Misses Costumes. The pattern is actually a dress, however we cut it off at the waist as it was going under the corset I was wearing.

…and…

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Simplicity 5006 Misses Costumes, Misses Lingerie

A warning about the above patterns – if you’re new to the whole sewing bizznizz, do find someone with a little experience to help you decipher the pattern instructions. They are not very clear and for a complete newbie they may be mind-boggling – unless you’re a natural adept at sewing in which case I’ll shut up and let you figure it out.

ANYWAY…

For the underskirt we chose a basic black satin and added some lace around the edging and for the shirt I chose a lovely warm beige (as white would have been too stark) lace material with a matching cotton to line the bodice. Following the instructions from my new book, mum and I bustled my brown skirt into the aforementioned Victorian-esque masterpiece and then made the underskirt and shirt based on the patterns we bought.

Of course, while all of this stitching fun was going on, I went looking for accessories.

Because what is steampunk without a hat, AMIRITE?

Well, I found one.

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Beautiful steampunk mini top hat by Corinne of ChikiBird.

I died. Well, not really, but after a week of staring at this thing, I bought it. Couldn’t help myself. Corinne makes the most sublime fascinator hats and mico mini hats. The level of detail in them is exquisite and I totally recommend her. I had my hat arrive from the States to Melbourne within days. Sadly on the day of the wedding my hair simply would not cooperate and I could not wear it, so it stayed hidden away but I definitely look forward to the chance to use it when I play dress-ups again!

The last thing I needed was a belt – as all steampunk costumes need some sort of utility belt. Unfortunately there was simply not enough time (two days out from the wedding at this point) to fashion a proper utility belt with pouches and such, so I bought a cheap brown belt from KMart and attached all manner of brass chains and huge charms bought from Kays Artycles to it, with the finishing touch being a cheap set of goggles that the manbeast bought for his costume but didn’t use in the end.

A pair of fishnet stockings and some awesome new Bennetts “Jia” Boots later, we had our costume!

Ta-dah!

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

The finished product! With a parasol!
Photograph by Lisa Otteraa.

A little bit wenchy, a little bit piratey, a little bit steampunky!

And just so you can see the awesomeness that is the skirt and my boots:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

The gypsy bride herself and her steampunk best girl.

Sunday Review – Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Welcome to another Sunday Review – the blog posts where I spruik my mates’ businesses!

Last week we had gears and cogs, this week we have refined elegance.

Annette Piper has long been an acquaintance and inspiration of mine. Having met her through the Aussie Beading Forum, I’d watched her show creation after beautiful creation using the most beautiful gemstones I’d ever seen. We’re both attracted to natural and colourful pretties. Annette’s style is simple, her work really lets the gems do all the talking. There’s no fluffy bits or anything that takes the focus away from the main attraction of her work.

Not only is she a brilliant jewellery designer, but, as the the name suggests, she’s a qualified aficionado of beautiful gems. The girl knows her stuff.

Annette teams her beads up with sterling silver or gold wire and findings, making gorgeous classic pieces that will stand the test of time, regardless of the current trends.

You can catch Annette at various markets in New South Wales (Australia) and she also sells online via her luscious website and on Facebook. For up-to-date details on her market endeavours, make sure you like her page! She’ll actually be at the Willow Markets in the Hunter Valley region TODAY (if you happen to be reading this early enough).

Here’s a select few of my favourite pieces:
(Click on images to zoom in!)

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Nuggets of turquoise lusciousness.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Striking green – brilliant for Summer and Spring

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Crazy colour!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Baroque pearls.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Oh the drippy, gemmie gorgeousness.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

This one is all class.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Lovely crystal quartz.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Seriously, this needs no fancy embellishment. LOOKITTHEGREEN!

All photographs property of Annette Piper, Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery.

Pretty Things: Bead Hoarder Blog Hop

I just need to take a photo!
Please consider this a place holder!

ACK!

Cripes. Time just got away from me. Here is my finished Bead Hoarder Blog Hop piece for Lori Andersen’s Pretty Things, Bead Hoarder Blog Hop!

I’d kept these beads since my sister’s wedding – I’d actually made the jewellery for the occasion but since, well, I am me, I ordered way too many of them. So they’ve been sitting in my stash waiting 18 months to be used. I have much older things but those will have to keep waiting a little bit longer.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my piece!

Renlish.com: Pretty Things, Bead Hoarder Blog Hop

It’s a terrible photograph, I’m sorry!

Pintester Movement v.2: The Hairpins of Ugly

So when Sonja from The Pintester once again shouted out that she was having ANOTHER movement… (hurr hurr)… I signed up right off the bat. The first one I did – The Pigs In Mud Cake – was loads of fun and I thought I could do the same again with something different.

But! New rules. We had to try a Pintest that The Pintester had already pintested.

Get it?

Got it?

Good.

So I scrolled through the blog and decided I would do something crafty again since I am not the craftiest and like a challenge and I found the pintest for Button Bobby Pins. Sonja got the idea from a Pinterest pin via A Homemaker’s Journal.

I immediately remembered I had hairpins (aka bobby pins) in my bathroom and I had a container of “vintage” (aka crappy plastic) buttons somewhere in my craft supply which I had been saving for another project which has been taking it’s sweet time coming to fruition.

So… here’s what I did…

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Ye olde jar of buttons and tube of old hair pins.

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

A slightly better view of ye olde buttons and pins. Those pins are meant for blonde hair. I am yet to meet a blonde person with that colour hair.

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Flash forward – I’ve already glued these together. The original instructions say to sew buttons onto the hair pins but mine had shanks that I had to cut off and file down. As you can see, I had some mishap with the glue on one… :(

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Here’s the thing. I am not a patient person… so not only did I borrow the manbeast’s super glue for the project but also his accelerator. One quick spray of this stuff on glue sets that shit hard immediately. It also works rather well on nail polish but I am not telling him why there’s suddenly hardly any left in the can. Ahem.

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

So this is where I started to get all artsy with the pin. I can’t do this shit and not put my own spin on it. So I grabbed some extra stuff like wire and beads and pearls… and… well…

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

… this started happening…

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

… and this…

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

… and then I decided to go for broke and add some ugly!

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

And this is what I finished up with. It looks particularly ugly here but in the hair it actually looks ok. It does. I swear!

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

The collection so far! But I wanted MOAR!

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

I grabbed a packet of teeny-tiny watch parts I’d bought and glues some to a washer, like this…

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Oops – not a hairpin! The manbeast and I share a craft table and he had this guy out waiting for the next lick of paint. Inneecute? (Cute in a bitey-rip-you-apart way.)

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Steampunky goodness! This was a little cameo button which I fell in love with. Again, I had to cut and file the shank away before I glued it on.

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

Ta-dah! The finished product and possibly my first ever steampunk ANYTHING.

Renlish.com - The Pintester Movement V2. Button Bobby Pins

All of the bobby pins. Take a bow.

Nailed it.

(The steampunk hairpin has already been claimed.)

The Pintester Movement – “Pigs in Mud”

Ok… so I did the Pintesting thing.

For the uninitiated, “pintesting” is actually attempting one or more of the bajillions of things you’ve “pinned” on your Pinterest boards.

These are my Pinterest boards. As you can see, the craft and cookery ones are choccers full of stuff I would like to try.

Anyway, in the spirit of Sonja, “The Pintester‘s”, Pintester Movement*, I joined in by doing this cake which, like a lot of people who’ve seen the original picture all over the web, I’ve been obsessing over.

(*Link will work as of 30th May… or 1st June Aussie time.)

I mean… come on. It’s pigs. In mud. How hard could it be? I’ve always been pretty good at this food crafty stuff. I used to occasionally make marzipan figures for cakes many, many years ago – so maybe I had a little head-start with this one which may or may not be in the true spirit of pintesting, but ANYHOO…

The Night Before.

When I decided to do this, I posted up on my Facebook wall that I wanted to make a cake. Because I don’t really want to put back on too many of the 50kg (~100lb) that I’ve lost over the past couple of years, I also asked if there was anyone local who wanted said cake. Of course the response I received was expected. Naturally lots of people wanted cake. Fortunately I had a friend who’s daughter was turning six five on Tuesday (28th May) so it was perfect for her birthday and I felt a sense of good-deed-ism for inadvertently doing this for a special occasion.

Unfortunately this meant that I HAD to get the cake done well before the Pintester Movement deadline of May 30. EEEEEEEEP! I actually had to get it done to deliver the next day! I say again; EEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

So I ran (drove) to the shops and bought everything (most things) that I needed to make the cake.

So the whole process started by looking like this:

Renlish.com - Pigs in Mud Cake, Pintester Movement

Cream and chocolate in a bowl to make ganache.

And I’d already made my first mistake.

See, the recipe called for 300ml cream to 600gm chocolate.

Which stupid blonde made a 1:1 version involving 600ml cream and 600gm chocolate?

Oh yeah. Me.

So whilst I had ganache, it was very runny and I knew that even leaving it sit overnight, it would still be too runny to use on the cake.

So I sent the manbeast out to buy more chocolate. Which he did. And I ended up with a shit-ton of chocolate ganachey goodness as a result because I added another 600gm of chocolate to the bowl. That’s nearly 2kg (4.4lb) of ganache, people!!!!

Next on the agenda was preparing the fondant for making the pigs. I knew I wouldn’t have time for mixing it up the next day so I grabbed some food colouring and went to work massaging the stuff into lovely pinkness.

Insert an inappropriate comment filled with sexual innuendo here.

Renlish.com - Pigs in Mud Cake, Pintester Movement

Don’t judge me. It was 11pm and what would you do if you were faced with something that was pliable and pink?

Semi-Serious Tip: To get the perfect “piggy” pink, add some apricot colouring to the mix. It tones down the pink and makes it slightly more realistically fleshy coloured.

And then I went to bed.

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