31 July 2010

A Review of July 2010

The main focus of this month has been to get stock ready for my first time at Coatesville Market, which means I have not created many new Art-Brooch designs on canvases. I have tried to finish off pieces that had previously been started, especially making some of my experimental pieces into brooches and also trying out the idea of making sample brooches – both of these will be lower cost items for my stand.

Trial set-up of table display

I have also been working on a new set-up for my table. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, so I only have three screens (instead of five) as shown in the photograph above. It looks over-crowded to me but when I get the other two screens, I can space things out more. I have designed the screens to join together with Velcro strips but I am not sure how secure this will be in practice. At least I can try it out tomorrow and then reconsider the fixing method, if necessary, before adding the other two screens.

30 July 2010

Completing pieces for Coatesville Market

The last two weeks have been spent completing pieces for Coatesville Market. Here are my latest Art-Brooches on canvases.

Silver Flowers

Golden Mask


I am not sure about the one which is un-titled. I like the idea of the golden rods cutting across the square but I think they would be better made from metal (maybe metal clay, which I have not tried - yet?). I have had to make them quite thick, so that the polymer clay is strong enough, but this has lost the delicacy.

The eight designs from one shape have now become nine, as I discovered another one. I am pleased with how they have turned out although I think I will need to use two different sizes of the curved triangular shape, as some have ended up quite small, if I make some more. These sample brooches (see post dated Thursday 15 July 2010) will be sold with a small organza gift pouch.

Sample brooches - nine designs from one shape

More sample brooches

Here are a few more experimental brooches that were not photographed before.

I seem to have accumulated quite a stock of polymer clay brooches and I still have some of my earlier ones, made from Friendly Plastic, as a back-up if I run low.

21 July 2010

Two more Donna Kato books

Here are the details of two more Donna Kato books that I have recently read and reviewed.

I now possess three of Donna's books and greatly admire her skill and perfectionism in the execution of her work. The book on 'millefiori techniques' and the earlier one I got on 'creative surface effects' have greatly inspired me and have set a benchmark for the standard I aspire to reach. 

18 July 2010

Trial new brooch designs

I had a mega session on Saturday, creating the new designs I sketched out the other day. I decided to make one of each of the eight designs, using the same coloured 'focal' piece for them all. For this I made a sheet of mokume gane, using purple, turquoise, green, pearl and translucent polymer clay and some silver metal leaf.  I was really pleased with the way the mokume gane turned out and it was great fun to make.

These are just the faces of the brooches, they will need the backs finishing - and judging by the results of my voting poll so far, I will be using locking pins. As I have made these brooches smaller, I will need to get some smaller pin fastenings (I have a new recommended source from America) but hopefully I will be able to get these completed to take to Coatesville. Although they are more fiddly to make smaller, the brooches look more delicate - and I think more 'valuable'.

Today I decided I had really better concentrate on getting my new screens and certain important things finished for the Coatsville Market. I have also started to paint a few more canvases for a few of my 'in progress' brooches, such as the one below which I think will be called 'Golden Mask'.

I recently bought some templates and included in the pack were four rubber stamps. I wanted to try out this one of the face. It is not the sort of thing I would normally buy (in fact I want to design my own rubber stamps) but I think it looks quite effective. I stamped it on to some striped polymer clay that I had left and layered it over gold metal leaf and gold Premo Sculpey.

17 July 2010

Photo showing fastening pin set into back of brooch

While the voting poll is still running (see previous post) I thought I would show how I am currently attaching the pins to the back of my brooches.

I make and bake the front of the brooch first. Then I add a layer to the back of the brooch. Before baking, I cut out the shape around the fastening pin, so that it fits neatly into the recess. I bake the brooch again with the pin in place. When it has cooled, I pull out the pin and then glue it back in place with a two-part epoxy glue.

Having tried various methods, this is my preferred option for a really neat finish. I think gluing the pin into the recess gives a stronger finish than just gluing onto the surface of the brooch.

15 July 2010

Brooch pin findings - PLEASE VOTE

I have been wearing the 'sample brooch', pictured in the previous post, quite a lot lately and was really disppointed when I lost it. The brooch came off my clothing last weekend, when I was visiting the Dunkleys Craft Show in Tauranga. Luckily someone handed it in so, hopefully, I will eventually get it back. This was partly my fault, as I was wearing it on my left side which is the same side as I carry my shoulder bag. It has however lead me to reconsider the type of fastening pin I should use on my brooches.

I currently have three different types. When I first started making brooches (from Friendly Plastic), I used the standard type of locking pin. I found these rather fiddly, particularly when trying to fasten on clothing that you are wearing. They also seem quite thin and I am not sure how much use they will tolerate (the very first one I used broke, so maybe this is why I am rather cautious).

Since making my brooches from polymer clay, I have been using a different type of brooch fastening pin, which does not have a locking mechanism, the pin just tucks under a curved metal shield. This style is quite neat and easier to use. I have been quite happy with it until last weekend, when I lost the brooch. Now I am thinking of going back to using a locking mechanism type of brooch fastener.

I also have some heavy duty brooch fasteners, with a locking mechanism, which I have never used. They look really well made, very durable and the actual turning part of the locking mechanism is not as fiddly as the cheaper ones. The only problem is that the actual pin is of a much thick diameter. It would be alright on a coat or loose-knit material but would make quite large holes on fine fabrics such as a blouse.

If I make brooches to order, the client can choose their preferred type of fastener but for ready made brooches, I need to make a decision. I really do not know which way to go with this issue - and I need to make a decison before I make any more. Please let me know what you think by voting, see top of right hand column.

Creative doodles

This was my first 'sample' brooch, made a little while ago. It incorporates my first cabochon made with the Cabezel Jewellery Mould, rolled silver metal leaf on polymer clay and plain polymer clay. I want to make some more of these brooches, using samples of the different surface and decorative techniques I practice, as I learn. I will sell these brooches on their own (without being mounted on a canvas) as a lower cost item because they will essentially be made from my off-cuts and trial pieces.

Thinking it would be a good idea to try and make some more of these in time for the Coatesville Market, I recently started on this task. Although I used quite different colours and textures, I felt that I needed to work on some other simple designs for variety.

Yesterday, I did some creative doodling. Using the same curved triagular shape, I managed to come up with eight different designs - and most of these can be flipped the other way for even more variety.

I think I should keep the original little cardboard template, that I used to create that first 'sample brooch', as it may become part of my 'signature series'. Normally I would spend ages designing a template shape, measuring angles, lengths, etc but as that first brooch was really an experiment, I just quickly sketched out the shape that came out of my head. It seems to work and I like it, so I will stick with it - spontaneous creativity is probably better than it being over-designed.

12 July 2010

www.art-brooches.co.nz - a new website for my Art-Brooches

You may have noticed that the 'Art-Brooch Gallery' tab that used to be along the top on this site has disappeared. This is because I have now created a new website, purely for my finished Art-Brooches. You can view it here.

05 July 2010

Coatesville Market secured

I am thrilled to have secured a spot at the next Coatesville Market, on Sunday 1 August. I am hoping this will become a regular sales venue for me - the market is held on the first Sunday of each month.

04 July 2010

DNA Market, Coatesville Market and NZ Jewellery Show

I have not had any time this weekend for making but I have been busy. Saturday afternoon I did the Designers 'n ' Artists Market at Mt Albert, Auckland, selling off my old Friendly Plastic brooches.

DNA Market

 On Sunday morning, I visited Coatsville Market again, with some samples of my polymer clay Art-Brooches in my bag. This time the organiser was there, so I was able to show her my work and ask to be considered for an indoor space, on a regular basis. I need to ring her one evening, to discuss this further.

Then on Sunday afternoon I visited the NZ Jewellery Show. I was interested to see what contemporary brooches were being made by other jewellery designers and whether this event would be suitable for my Art-Brooches. As I expected, my brooches on their canvases would be too large for the jewellery cases but it was an interesting show to visit. Also, by complete surprise, I managed to meet with Susan Smith - an Auckland jeweller who uses polymer clay.

02 July 2010

Opening night of 'Emerge' exhibition

My panel at the exhibition

The above photograph of my panel, at the exhibtion was taken on a mobile phone, as I forgot to take my proper camera. I am exhibiting one large painting and eight Art-Brooches, all selected because they relate to the theme 'Emerge'.

I am very pleased to have sold three of my Art-Brooches at the opening night. I am also glad that the brooch I donated to the charity auction was sold, as many of the auction items did not sell. The auctioneer gave me some great publicity for my Art-Brooches. All in all it was a very enjoyable and successful evening.

The charity auction - photo courtesy of Sophia Elise

Art-Brooch donated to the charity auction

01 July 2010

A momentous decision

Today I have made a momentous decision. I was updating my ‘artist’s profile’ and have changed my description from ‘mixed media artist’ to ‘polymer clay artist’, as a demonstration of my commitment to working with this medium.