From DIY

Making what you might otherwise buy, usually for a lot less money and often with what’s lying around the house

Spray Finishes for Papier Maché Clay: The Sequel

Krylon Crystal Clear - satin spray finish
Krylon Crystal Clear – satin spray finish

Well, I finally got around to trying out the last hopeful contestant that I had around the house, in the search for a clear spray finish for my papier maché bowls.

I tried out Krylon’s “Crystal Clear” finish, using the same kind of coverage as I had in the previous experiment.

The results were disappointing, to say the least. I had thought the polyurethane and Rustoleum sprays were yellow. This was slightly more yellow than the Rustoleum, and not much less so than the polyurethane.

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Inspiration And Recycling Ideas From Fairy Gardens and Gnome Homes

Fairy garden with mushrooms purple flowers and stick fence
Fairy garden with mushrooms, purple flowers and stick fence

I love botanical gardens. I love miniatures. I love recycling materials. And I love creative uses for found objects.

So when I found out from a friend (who also loves miniatures and gardens) that there would be a fairy garden exhibit in the local Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, (more photos there) how could I resist? Thanks for being on the lookout, Cindy.

In the intro photo, notice the campfire, using bark with an orange lining made to look like flames. In the middle ground, there's a bowl made from an acorn cap. And of course, the moss. I want to lie down on it!

There were dozens of fairy homes and other environments, made of everything from bark, pine cones and moss (another fave) to fabric, beads, paper and twigs.

The builders also had so many unusual ways of creating a homey atmosphere for the fairies.

Someone even made dresses for them and hung them on branches all around a twig ball.

The ambience was made even better by the number of small kids wearing fairy attire. Adorable!

Several sections of this filled up in no time, since it was school vacation week, but it was still worth the trip.

There was a scavenger hunt, looking for items in and around the fairy environments, that everyone could join. My 10 yr. old partner in fairy garden love and tiny home creation, Alana, took part in it and we all joined in the hunt.

The center had an activity called Make a Gnome Home, encouraging kids to use whatever the staff (I assume) found around the greenhouses.

Between the gorgeous, varied and mature plantings throughout the greenhouses and the use of materials, there's plenty of inspiration for artwork and jewelry making - from shapes to palettes to material ideas.

The new series of polymer clay earrings in the ChirpHop Studio Etsy shop had its beginnings in the idea of Spring, fairy gardens and fairy-sized plants.

Stay tuned for Part 2, with more photos. There were just too many interesting houses to pass any up.

Fairy drops - pink and green
Fairy drops - pink and green polymer clay and small crackled marbles

 

Papier Maché Clay – Testing “Clear” Spray Finishes

Papier maché clay testers for "clear" spray finishes
Papier maché clay testers for “clear” spray finishes

There have been shelves full of decorative papier maché clay bowls just waiting for the weather to be warm enough to spray a finish on them. The time has finally come!

To make sure any finish worked well before I use it on the bowl that I’ve put time and effort into, some testing seemed like a reasonable idea.

The spray finishes were some I already had from other projects and wanted to make sure wouldn’t do something funky to the surface, like discolor it or react strangely (bubbles, stickiness, etc.)

I also have a few bowls with a white painted surface, so I wanted to make sure they’d stay white.

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Black Papier Maché Clay Experiment

Black papier maché clay mixture
Black papier maché clay mixture

I’ve been waiting for the weather to be warm and dry to seal my papier maché clay bowls and put them in the ChirpHop Studio Etsy shop. It’s been either warm or dry, but not both.

In the meantime, the notion of changing the color of the clay got into my head. If it was built into the bowl material, rather than applied to the surface, I could save some steps. Applying paint also sometimes has a “fake” look, almost like the bowl is made of molded plastic.

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Translucent Polymer Clay Hollow Bead Experiments – Part 4: Translucent Liquid Sculpey

Cornstarch and baking soda beads covered with Translucent Liquid Sculpey
Cornstarch and baking soda beads covered with Translucent Liquid Sculpey

Sad to say, the photo above is the best one to come out of the session where I tried to create translucent hollow beads with Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS).

I had read (where exactly escapes me now) about a polymer clay artist getting better translucent effects by painting liquid Sculpey. There wasn’t any further information than that, so out come all of the supplies.

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Translucent Polymer Clay Hollow Bead Experiments – Part 3: Return of the Cornstarch

Cornstarch and baking soda bead cores for polymer clay
Cornstarch and baking soda bead cores for polymer clay

After crossing paper off the list as a useful hollow bead core material, and realizing there was a crucial piece missing from an option I had come across earlier, it was time to take a second look at cornstarch as a contender.

I found a recipe for the traditional cornstarch and baking soda “play clay” of childhood. I remembered it as being heavy and cracking a lot when trying to make Christmas ornaments years ago. With any luck, neither of those factors should be an issue for this purpose.

What I’m looking for in my dream bead core is the ability to dissolve quickly and easily, so the bead won’t take forever to transform from filled to hollow.

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Translucent Polymer Clay Hollow Bead Experiments – Part 1: Core Materials

Dried papier maché clay and paper pulp patched with it (some sanded)
Dried paper, papier maché clay and paper pulp patched with it (some sanded)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fascinated with some of the jewelry I’ve seen online that uses translucent polymer clay, especially when it looks like sea glass or glass glass.

After a lot of poking around for answers to how people like Kathrin Neumaier, Barbara Fernald  and other clay artists, like those featured on The Blue Bottle Tree blog create their pieces, I had some idea of what to do, but was still a bit fuzzy about how to create the effects I was after. There were hints here and there, but nothing that really gave me the complete picture.

There were plenty of tutorials available for a price, but I had no way of knowing whether they would tell me what I wanted to know.

It was time to set up the la-bOr-a-tory (mwah, ha, ha!) and try some experiments.

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Happy Accident – A Recycled Storage Case for DIY Alcohol Inks

Alcohol ink storage from recycled floppy disk case
Alcohol ink storage from recycled floppy disk cases

Sometimes it pays to clean out your closet, even if you’re avoiding something you should be doing instead (preparing tax info).

So, I’m pretty sure what possessed me to do my more-or-less annual computer/office supply closet purge and reorganization. If it hadn’t happened just after I made the alcohol inks from Sharpies, this idea would probably never have occurred to me.

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Using Alcohol Inks to Color Translucent Polymer Clay

Polymer clay test beads colored with alcohol inks
Polymer clay test beads colored with alcohol inks

The reason I made all of those alcohol inks from Sharpies was to color translucent polymer clay. Now it’s time to put them to work.

I had no idea how much ink to use in proportion to the clay, other than hints online that it didn’t take very much at all. The translucent clay was also new to me and I wasn’t sure how translucent it would get. So…it was time to call on my inner mad scientist.

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