Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is Celtic?

The theme for the next Smooshers challenge is Celtic (as chosen by our our wonderful followers) and many guild members have asked "What exactly IS Celtic".  One short definition reads "Celt·ic[kel-tik, sel-] noun
1.a branch of the Indo-European family of languages, including especially Irish, Scots gaelic, Welsh, and Breton, which survive now in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, Wales, and Brittany. Abbreviation:  Celt".  For a more in depth description you can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts.  
Personally, images have always worked better than than written descriptions when it comes to formulating themed creations.  When you do an image search on Google for Celtic one of the first things that pops up are Celtic knot designs.  Generally speaking, Celtic knots represent the repeated crossings of the spiritual and physical paths in our lives and the permanence and continuum of life, love, and faith.
Some of our members have already come up with some lovely jewelry incorporating versions of Celtic knots.  But what if you're looking for something a little different?
One of our members suggested searching Celtic Mythology for something beyond just Celtic knot designs.  One prominent image is the Celtic Green Man.  In Celtic mythology the Green Man is a god of Spring and Summer who disappears and returns year after year enacting themes of death and resurrection and the ebb and flow of life and creativity. This is certainly something artists and crafters can relate to!
Another prominent figure in Celtic mythology is Epona, the Horse Goddess (and one of my favorites).  Sometimes Epona is depicted as a woman, and sometimes as a white mare.  Epona was the protector of horses and other equines and was a goddess of fertility.  Some believe that Epona and her horses were the leaders of the souls in the afterlife ride.  
  And then there are the Celtic fairies, which come a quite an array of sizes, shapes and styles.  Celtic folklore is filled with supernatural creatures, many of which are considered fairies, commonly called faerie or fey folk.  These can include the little people, leprechauns, and banshees.  Modern versions of Celtic fairies abound in the artistic world as well.
I hope this helps clarify the meaning and imagery behind the word "Celtic".  This post is by no means comprehensive, just a tiny sampling of some of the legends, symbols, and mythology connected to the Celts.  I hope this helps spark a bit of inspiration for the Smooshers Celtic Challenge and an appreciation for all things Celtic ;-)


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Featured Smoosher Valeries Stuff

Polymer Clay Smoosher member Valerie, of Valeries Stuff,  says she's been surrounded by books and art supplies her entire life.  She started working with polymer clay about six years ago when she took a bead making class. She truly fell in love with polymer clay when she discovered mica shift. Currently she enjoys working with alcohol inks on polymer clay.  Her shop is just filled with beautiful and unique polymer clay jewelry.  Below is just a small sample of the lovely jewelry you can find at Valeries Stuff.
Valerie makes beautiful bracelets like this beautiful blue, purple and pearl cuff.
blue, purple, and pearl polymer clay mica shift cuff bracelet 
She also creates lovely necklaces like this crescent moon pendant necklace.
Cresent Moon Polymer Clay Pendant 
She has a wide variety of lovely pendants like this one with seven pretty flower buds.
Seven Flower Buds Polymer Clay Pendant 
which would go very nicely with these flower bud earrings
Pink Flower Bud Polymer Clay Earrings 
Be sure to stop in to Valeries Stuff and check out all the wonderful polymer clay jewelry she offers!  You can also find Valerie online on Facebook and http://valeriesstuff.wordpress.com/.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Critter Collection curated by LeslieMariebyDesign

This wonderful collection of polymer clay critters was curated by Smoosher member LeslieMariebyDesign and includes all sort of wonderful animals created by members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild.  To view an item's listing simply click on the picture.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tutorial from CreativeCritters- How to Make Stamped Heart Dangle Earrings

 This tutorial was written by Michelle of CreativeCritters and would make a great project for Valentines Day.  These pretty red heart earrings don't take too long to make and are completely customizable.  Use any color polymer clay that suits your fancy, and experiment with different stamps and Pearl Ex powders to create the perfect earrings to match your taste.

Materials needed:
red polymer clay (I used Premo Red Sparkle)
liquid polymer clay (I use a syringe to apply mine)
red Pearl Ex or Ranger Perfect Pearls powder
stamp of choice (I chose a small peacock stamp and just use the tail)
2 heart shaped cutters, 1 larger, 1 smaller
French wire ear hooks, or your choice of earrings
4 2" eye hooks
4 heart shaped jump rings (you can also use regular round jump rings)
round nose pliers
flat nose pliers
wire cutters

Condition your clay by running it through your pasta machine about 20 times and roll it out on the #3 setting on your pasta machine.  You can also condition the clay by hand and use a roller to flatten the clay if you don't have a pasta machine.  Use the large cutter to cut out 2 hearts. Do the same with the small cutter. These will be the backs of your earrings.

Place one eye hook on each of the larger hearts, as shown in the picture below. Add a little liquid polymer clay over the wires. This helps secure the wire and will also help the top heart adhere to the bottom one. We'll cut the eye pins to the proper length and form a loop at the bottom after they're baked.

For the smaller hearts cut the remaining 2 eye hooks to about 3/4" long and bend the end to form a hook.  Place these on the smaller hearts as shown and cover with a little liquid polymer clay.

Nest roll your remaining red clay out on the #1 (thickest) setting of your pasta machine and use the heart cutters to cut out 2 more large hearts and 2 more small hearts, which will become the front of the earrings.  Lay these on top of the hearts with the eye pins. Gently press the two sides of the hearts together to assure there are no air bubbles. Smooth the edges and refine the shape of the hearts.

Next use your stamp to impress a design on each of the hearts.  Any stamp with nice detail will work.  I just used the tail of the peacock for these hearts.  Spritzing the stamp with water will help to keep it from sticking to the clay.  I always keep a spray bottle handy.  This also works as a release agent for molds (spritz the mold, then press the clay into the mold).  Gently blot off any excess water from your stamped hearts and use your finger to gently rub the red Pearl Ex powder onto the raised surfaces of the design.  If your hearts become slightly squished you can reshape them now.   If excess liquid polymer clay comes out of the seams or the hole for the eye pin just carefully wipe it away.

If you're using Premo polymer clay bake the earrings at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.  If you're using another brand of clay be sure to check the baking directions on the package. An oven thermometer can help make sure your oven is at the proper temperature. After the hearts are cool brush them with two coats of varnish to protect the Pearl Ex powder.  I used Fimo Gloss Varnish for these.  Always make sure your varnish is compatible with polymer clay.  If it's not your piece may never dry completely. Once the varnish has dried (about 20 minutes for the Fimo varnish) you can assemble your earrings.

To assemble your earrings, cut the end of the eye pin on the larger hearts to about 1/4" long and use your round nose pliers to form a loop.  Use the heart shaped jump rings to attach the large hearts to the ear wires and the small hearts to the large ones.  You should end up with something that looks like this. If you can't find heart shaped jump rings (I got mine from Fire Mountain Gems) you can also use regular round jump rings.

And there you go!  Pretty red stamped polymer clay earrings- perfect for Valentines Day! ;-)
~Michelle of CreativeCritters 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Collection from CreativeCritters- Green With Envy

This collection was created by CreativeCritters and filled with gorgeous green items from the talented members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild.  To view an item's listing on ArtFire just click on the picture.

Monday, February 6, 2012

You can now subscribe to the Smooshers blog via email

Recently Lynn, of Desert Rubble, discovered Feedburner and was kind enough to add it to the Smooshers blog. This allows you to receive posts from the Smooshers blog through your email.   All you have to do to subscribe is put your email address in the box on the upper right hand side of the blog where it says Receive Post Via Email and click the confirmation link when you get the confirmation email.  There's no account to sign up for and you'll only receive an email when a new article is posted on the blog.  This will allow you to keep up with all the latest activity within the Polymer Clay Smooshers guild, new tutorials, featured artists, our monthly challenges, and so much more.  I think this is a great way to avoid missing anything from the Smooshers!  And I want to thank Lynn for setting this up for the blog.  She's also added Feedburner to her own blog, so  you don't miss anything new from Desert Rubble.
So subscribe to the Smooshers blog today so you don't miss a thing!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Featured Member Kneaded Things

Smooshers member Bonnie, of Kneaded Things creates a wide variety of colorful and unique items in polymer clay.  Bonnie has always been a creative and crafty person and is intrigued with taking something old and turning it into something new and interesting.  Once she discovered polymer clay it didn't take her long to fall in love with the medium.  Bonnie says "Taking a plain solid color of clay and mixing new shades and tones, making intricate patterns, combining, texturing, the possibilities are endless.. the learning of new techniques fascinating! I look forward each day to discovering and creating something new. If I am not actually in my studio creating I am seeing the possibilities every where I go. Everywhere I turn, everything I see comes with the question of I wonder if I can (filling in the blank)? Followed by hurrying to my studio to try it out."
Just look at some of the wonderful things she's created in clay!
Pink And Mauve Polymer Clay Compact  Mirror 
This beautiful compact was created as an entry for the Smooshers Valentines Challenge.  This would certainly make a special gift!
And then there's her dragons, which each have their own character and personality.
She makes very pretty jewelry as well, like this colorful bracelet and earring set.
Hand sculpted Pink and Yellow  Spring Flowers  Cuff and Earring Set 
And this salt and pepper shaker set covered in flowers would brighten up any meal!
Handmade Spring Flower Salt and Pepper Shakers  
And this is only a small sample of the wonderful creations you'll find at Kneaded Things!  You can also find Bonnie on Facebook, and be sure to follow her blog to keep up her latest creations.