Spring Collection

My Etsy shop is currently updated to include my new Spring collection pieces.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Feel free to share with friends and family.  My next show is May 21-22, 2016 at the Canton Festival of the Arts, Canton, GA.  Come and see me!




Winter Hiatus

My winter hiatus has come a bit early this year, as I didn’t book any shows for the late fall/Christmas season.  Ah well, my choice and now it is the time for updating my skills, continued learning, and participating more actively within my field.  Specifically for me, that is metal clay art.  A new group has organized that makes me very excited.  It’s called the IMPACT Artist Project and here’s their mission statement:


“IMPACT Artist Project–The International Metal Clay Project Advancing Creativity & Talent is a non-profit Metal Clay arts community building and outreach program.  The mission of IMPACT and its philosophy stems from a generous attitude of giving and sharing which is overtly present in the Metal Clay arts community.  We have a developed a “team-like” program where IMPACT members, guilds, teachers, teaching facilities, and business work in conjunction to advance and strengthen the creativity, talent of its artists, and support healthy thriving businesses within our international Metal Clay community.”

What a great beginning to a form of organization and purpose.  I have often found that within the world of art, there are very few (beyond guilds)  standards, guidelines and professional guidance as one would see in a business setting.  I think that artists are underrepresented because they have no unifying voice.  I am thankful that the metal clay community is attempting to change that for our form of art.

I will continue to make this blog about my journey with metal clay and as a show circuit artist.  I love to share and teach and I hope that I will be more diligent is this task.  If you are a fellow metal clay artist, check out the website for IMPACT at http://www.impactartistproject.org and see how you can contribute or benefit from.

I am busy keeping my Etsy shop full for any Christmas shoppers and am also working on some custom pieces for Christmas gifts.  I love the challenge of custom work and hope that what I do pleases everyone involved.

Also, a task I don’t look forward to during winter hiatus, is the continued research and learning about upcoming shows and to schedule for 2016.  It starts early (as in right now) for many of the spring shows and even some fall and winter shows for 2016.



Mistakes, Art and Learning

Inevitably, working with any media in art you will always make mistakes . . for that matter, we make mistakes whenever we are doing things because we are human.  While some mistakes in my field can be costly (silver clay fired incorrectly, copper didn’t melt, shattered glass in the kiln) it can also be a new direction in the process of the creation.  Just this week, I’ve been trying out some new techniques–adding dichroic glass to my silver work, melding white copper with regular copper and working with sheet metal clay.  So, out of the new techniques I was successful with 2 out of 3.  The melding of the two coppers didn’t go as well as planned.

Both copper clays can be combined and fired simultaneously, which opens up lots of creative ideas.  My shaping and sanding when well, however, I made a rookie mistake–one copper cuff I rolled out too thin–when working with metal clay, it is best to keep your bracelets or cuffs between 5-7 cards thick.  Otherwise, you invite cracks and splits when the firing happens–I lost one of the cuffs due to this very reason.  The second cuff was certainly thick enough however, my design was too deep into the clay and allowed natural cracks after the clay dried which I tried to repair.  Most of the time, I have success by shaping the cuffs before firing.  But, you can also shape the cuff after the firing.  This time I shaped the cuff and discovered that the imprint lines of my design caused cracks.

The good news . . I can still salvage parts of this thicker cuff.  Sawing off the cracks and doing some extra sanding with my dremel will create two new pendents that will display the two types of copper.  Due to my other pieces needing my attention these will wait till later.

Here is another failed attempt at blending coppers.  My mistake here was making the base too thin to support the white copper on top.  While this one didn’t turn into anything, it was still a lesson learned!

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Paste, and more Paste, please

Spring has sprung again and that means time for my yearly collection of blossoms and leaves.  Still waiting on my dogwoods to bloom, but have started on some leaves for earrings.  When working with metal clay paste, you have to be sure your organic materials are strong and the ideal size for jewelry.  My collection every year begins with this one simple rule–collect multiple branches and blossoms and then find the right ones to work with back in the studio.  Of course, I work in volume during Spring for the whole collection of my organic pieces for my shows, so I have to make sure I have plenty of paste.

While you can always go the easier route and impress your organics into the clay itself, I find that using the actual organic in the process brings a nicer depth to the piece.  It does require patience and diligence to paste the 20+ layers of metal clay paste but the end results are worth it.

Because of the cost of the silver clay, I have learned to reclaim all my shavings, bits of clay that have hardened and pieces that just didn’t work for me before I fired them.  I keep an ongoing collection of my dust and powder from sanding pieces before firing. That’s some valuable silver in all that dust.  Keep it in a dry, air tight container so that you don’t collect dust and junk flying around our air.  When you have enough (I usually use about 6 oz or more of collected material) then you are ready to begin making the paste.  I always buy the ready made paste for each season and then I keep all the jars to use for my reclaimed paste.  Here’s the process:

Gather together the following tools:

Mortar and Pestle (for grinding and mixing), pallet blade, water, PasteMaker by Sherri Haub, Glycerin, by Cool Tools, empty jars for storing paste, mixing bowl with airtight lid (I use the Glad ware bowls) and your reclaimed dust!IMG_1829 (2)IMG_1830 (2)

Your material will look like this when you start–lumps and broken clay pieces.IMG_1831IMG_1832

Keep grinding to reduce your material to powder or small particles.  Use a razor blade to help break down the small pieces into even finer pieces.


Once you’ve achieved a fine powder, put in mixing bowl and add several drops of the PasteMaker as well as the Glycerin.  You can certainly use water (distilled) as well, but I find the glycerin makes the paste very smooth.IMG_1836


Keep adding the glycerin, the PasteMaker and/or water to keep developing the powder into clay.  Use lots of motion with your mixing and keep cutting into the paste with your blade.



The mixture will eventually look like this–really work this with your blade–then you’ll see the paste getting better and better!  At this point, develop the paste to the consistency you want to work with–thinner or thicker–all based on the organic you are pasting to make this decision.



Once you’ve worked the paste to your chosen consistency–simply place the paste into your empty containers.  I don’t clean them at all–I just scrape out the leftovers to my powder mix and reclaim it all!

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As you can see from the pictures below, I had several types of organic to work with. And plenty of paste to go around. Have fun and feel free to experiment as you now have more material to work with that you already purchased!IMG_1816IMG_1818 (2)

The Art of Edutainment!

I just returned from the North Georgia mountains as the visiting artist for the weekend at Unicoi State Park & Lodge in Helen, Georgia.  One of the reasons I love being an artist is for times like this.  I am the only artist on site and I am able to demonstrate my enamel bead making for anyone who wants to watch.  Once I turn on the torch it seems to attract many eyes, especially those of children.  The flame dances across the copper tubing and while I apply layer and layer of glass, the whirling colors begin to show and the bead becomes alive.  After I turn off the torch, I explain what is happening to the bead as how the colors will continue to change as they cool.  I love what I do and I love to share my art with every one.  Bead upon bead was added to my small box to show and tell to others what I was doing there in the main lobby of the lodge.  I also have the opportunity to show off my current collection in the enamels, the metals and stones.  I am a gallery, a teacher, a sales person and an artist.

Many will disagree about demonstrating your art at a show or otherwise.  Once you make your pieces, some would say, then you should use the time to sell your work and talk about it.  While this may be fine for most folks who set hard-core goals for their sales, I certainly believe that there is room for more than that.  Some artists believe that you are the  “edutainment”  for the crowds of potential buyers for free.  As a teacher myself, I don’t see it that way.  I prefer to see it as a way to connect to potential customers about your work.  I know no one can repeat the kind of work I do, therefore I am not concerned about copycats.  However, I do want to share my gift and having a heart for learning, why not?  Certain shows are not an appropriate venue for demonstrating artists.  However, other shows or solo visits have advantages that you can’t use in the bigger shows.  You have time to talk and expand on your work with your demonstration.  You get to relate to something that customer is sharing and try to fit their need or desire with your work.  Even just getting the many comments of “how beautiful!”, “lovely”, or “I wish I had the money to buy your pieces” are part of an important process of feedback for your work.  For me, I work alone in all aspects of my design and fabrication.  It is great to get out to a show and hear that people “get” your work or how much they appreciate it.  Feedback is critical for anything you produce and as an artist, there is a part of you that is in every piece you make–of course, you want the warm fuzzies!

I often hear (especially in my art category), “did you MAKE this?” with an incredulous look on their faces.  Often, I just smile and start my usual dialogue of what I do and how I do it.  At a demonstration, the action certainly speaks for you.  Watching me complete a bead within 5-7 minutes and to see instant results of the raw bead, they really “get” my art!  And, I find they appreciate it even more.

Aside from the benefits of demonstrating my work, I have to admit that I also love the fact that I can produce enough beads in just one day’s demonstration for my next collection of enamel jewelry.  Not a bad trade-off to actually work and show off what you do AND be productive for your next season of shows.  Works for me!  I am blessed enough to be able to demonstrate my bead making two more times this summer–at the Butternut Creek Festival in Blairsville (July) and another gig at the Unicoi Lodge in Helen (August).  Maybe you can drop by and learn some art and we can talk and relate in a leisurely way.  Sounds like a great way to spend a hot summer day!

picking up enamels

I made 43 beads during this demonstration!


Springtime Beauty

I often find many of my organic pieces in the spring when they are fresh and new. It is best to work the clay into a paste that matches or is supported by the actual item you want to make. This process takes time, patience and practice! It is almost intuitive when you have to decide just how many layers a piece will take.  Dogwoods are one of my favorite flowers to work with.  This year, instead of picking just one or two larger ones, I went earlier and picked about 9 really strong “baby” ones.  I find that using distilled water and glycerin will thin down the paste really well–but you have to keep it mixed thoroughly.  Also, in these slow economic times, I save all my silver “sawdust” and make paste out it.  This last batch made up about 6 oz which saved me over $180 in supply!  But, it took time and patience to get the consistency right and the paste smooth.  Also, be sure to have the right brushes to really apply the paste in all the nooks and crannies of an organic piece.


This shows you the current collection of dogwoods I am working on.  I paste one to two layers each time I’m in the studio.  You can speed up the drying process by putting on a cup warmer and then paste again.  How many layers?  Well, until you feel that it will be strong enough during firing!  That’s the art part, not the scientific answer.


Here are my lenten roses from our new yard that I thought I would try.  Much larger and the first couple of layers of paste didn’t take well–but I pressed on and kept working it and after you get about 4-5 layers of dried paste, it becomes easier to bulk it up.

I’m still working on these pieces but here is one of the roses that I finished for the last show . . .


I hand torch the organic pieces to control the amount of time and burn and also do some flattening in the process to make sure the finished piece doesn’t have sharp curves or edges–also filing after firing helps in this area.  I don’t drill a hole until it is tumbled after firing to harden the actual metal.  With this rose, I oxidized with coffee and liver of sulfate!  Awesome midnight colors came to surface with a light polish and paired with a black steel hammered chain.

If the organic makes it to the show looking like this . . . well . . springtime beauty is well worth the wait in my opinion!

Welcome to my world of art and jewelry!


I plan to share with those that are interesting about my process and journey as an artist and how I love to design and create interesting and one-of-a-kind pieces.  My goal is to bring joy in all my work and to share what I learn and pass that knowledge on.  I hope you will enjoy being a part of this journey and thanks for being interested!  By the way, this is one of my pieces from last year which proved to me that I simply cannot sketch my designs–my work is very organic and I’ve learned how to keep it that way.  More about my processes in future posts!