Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miss Fugly Yarn, Meet Mr. Kool-Aid

Last year around this time, I bought a bag of wool yarn at Goodwill for $2.50.  It was quarantined to the green house where I figured the temperature extremes would kill any wool moths.  Of course I forgot about it and found it when we cleaned the greenhouse out in spring. 

At it has been sitting in a corner with a pile of my junk since then.  There are 4 different colors of yarn and 3 of them are/were ugly with a capital "UGH".  Here are two of them - a much too bright obnoxious red and a nasty, nasty green.

Bet you are wondering why are their Kool-Aid packets in this picture.  In the world of ugly wool yarn, Kool-Aid makes everything better! 

Kool-Aid will dye protein fibers such as wool, alpaca, etc.  These animal based fibers need an acid type dye and Kool-aid has ascorbic and citric acids.  Note, this won't work with cotton or acrylic.

First I  washed and rinsed the yarn.  I washed it mainly because it was a thrift store buy.  If it had been new yarn, I would have just soaked it in tepid water.

I added water and a package of black cherry Kool-Aid to my pan here.  I also added a glug of vinegar just to make sure.  Then I added the fugly green yarn and turned on the heat!

It didn't take very long, before the water was clear and the yarn absorbed all the dye! Err, Kool-aid.

I didn't let the water boil and I did not stir the yarn.  I also waited till the yarn was cool enough to handle and before rinsed it in warm water.  I was pleased that I didn't end up with a felted mess.

Here are the green yarn and red yarn after being overdyed with the Kool-aid. The green was over-dyed with black cherry and the red was over-dyed with grape.
Here is all the yarn I bought at Goodwill.

The yarn in the front right of the picture, was the only one of the three I liked and didn't dye.  I washed it, and what a pain!  It bled really bad.  I added vinegar a couple of times.  Then with the last rinse, I added a huge glug of vinegar.  And it finally stopped bleading color.  But now it smells like pickles. . .

The yarn on the left started out as an ugly beige.  I added two packages of lemonade, two of black cherry and one of grape.  Took it out, decided it needed more.  I over-dyed it with two more packages of black cherry.

Oh yeah, this was way too much fun! And so easy!  I bought some food coloring today to try out as well.  I have some Lion brand fisherman's wool and some Knitpicks blank yarn I want to dye.

I have been wanting to try this for a long time.  There was an article in Knitty  about Kool-aid dyeing a few years ago.  Ever since I saw that article, I've been wanting to try it.  There are also several  YouTube videos on dyeing yarn with Kool-aid and food coloring. (Oh boy, YouTube is a dangerous place, can you say "spinning wheel").

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bracelet Fail

Yesterday I was sitting at the Master Food Preservers' Booth at the fair, when the bracelet I was wearing broke.  It was strung with elastic beading cord (don't remember the brand).  I made a couple of bracelets to wear and test to see how the elastic cord holds up.  And well, this is a big fail!  

I'm glad I was test wearing before just jumping into selling elastic bracelets.  Selling something like this and having it fall apart would plainly suck!  I'm not sure what I did wrong.  I tied a square knot and added a touch of glue.

I have one that I was ready to finish off, but now I'm going to have to figure something else to do with it.

I'm bummed about it.  I really like the continuous look with no clasp.  And they are comfy and fun to wear. 

Not sure if I didn't tie it correctly or didn't glue properly, but, well, dang.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Polymer Clay Smooshers and Watermelon

Summer is slowly winding down. One of my favorite things about summer is the fruit!  I'm hoping someday that my backyard will yield an abundance of fruit.

Currently, I'm waiting (impatiently I might add) for my itty-bitty watermelons to become nice size watermelons and ripen.  Before the onset of cold weather would be good!  In previous years I haven't had much luck with that.  They end up getting blasted by frost.  I may just have to hit up the local fruit stand this week.

In the mean time, here are some juicy colored polymer clay items from a few of my fellow Polymer Clay Smooshers.  

The colors in this Candy Swirl Pendant by 2 Good Claymates remind me of a sweet juicy watermelon!
Candy Swirl Pendant by 2 Good Claymates
The wonderful color combination in this Copper Mica Shift and Klimt Cane Necklace by Creative Art Center,  reminds me of a nice juicy slice of watermelon!

Copper Mica Shift and Klimt Cane Necklace by Creative Art

Such wonderful colors in this Bright Polymer Clay Cuff Bracelet by Valerie's Stuff   I can just imagine a hot summer day eating a nice cold and juicy watermelon.

Bright Polymer Clay Cuff Bracelet by Valerie's Stuff

Oh, and speaking of Polymer Clay Smooshers, you might want check out the blog. The "3rd annual Masquerade Clay Ball" is coming up. It is a polymer clay challenge that is open to everyone.  Go check it out if you think you might be interested.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Necklaces and Earrings; Autumn Challenge for Smooshers

It's kind of been one of those weeks. Been doing a lot of running around and not getting anything done!  

However, today I didn't have to go anywhere and I locked myself in my room and got a few things accomplished.  I finished two necklaces and three pairs of earrings.  I also have a bracelet and key chain almost done.  But I had to stop so I could deal with those pesky dishes in the sink and cook dinner.

One of the completed necklaces is for the Smooshers' autumn challenge. 

The beads are wrapped with copper wire and connected with jump rings. I haven't done any wire work in a while, so my hands and fingers are a little sore. 

Everything I completed today involved working with wire:

The necklace on the left is a non-polymer clay necklace.  The beads are unakite and jasper with Swarovski crystals for accent.  All wire wrapped with copper.  The three pair of earrings on the right are polymer clay and copper wire.

I really would like to do more wire work, especially with silver.  But at $42.00 or so an ounce,  I just can't afford to work with it very much.  But, maybe I'll do some more copper work. I like it a lot for fall.  But, then again I like copper a lot for anything!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Finished Mokume Gane Cabochons and Beads

Here are three finished mokume gane cabochons.  I did some pretty aggressive sanding on them with some 320 grit sand paper.  I have never sanded quite so aggressive as I did with this batch, and it really helped in getting a nice smooth surface.

I then worked my way down to 1000 grit.  I originally buffed a couple of them with my Dremel for a shiny finish.  And I didn't like it - I prefer the satin finish.  So, I resanded with 1000 grit and buffed with a soft cloth.

And here are some finished beads as well.  I'm working on some coordinating beads in solid colors with mica powder highlights.  My plan is to make an autumn themed necklace for the current Polymer Clay Smooshers challenge.

I probably won't get anything done tomorrow - I'm judging at the county fair! It's part of the Master Food Preservers Program I am involved in through the WSU extension.  I will be judging home dried foods.

I'm also working the Master Food Preservers booth three days next week.  So I may not get this necklace finished until later in the week, or maybe next week sometime.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sand, Smooshers and Things Sparkly

As the last days of summer are winding down, my thoughts take me back to the  sunshine, ocean breezes, and warm sandy beaches from my younger days in Southern California.  Many wonderful items from fellow members of the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild on ArtFire remind me of summer days spent at the beach.

This Golden Sunburst from Dana's Jewelery feels so much like the shimmering California sun!
Golden Sunburst from Dana's Jewelery  

And what beach day would be complete with out a search for seashells and starfish? I never really found any starfish, but I love this Lucky Starfish by Gem's PC Creations!

Lucky Starfish by Gem's PC Creations
 Sutton pin with Crystals by Fesser Arts is reminisant of footprints in the sand.
Sutton pin with Crystals by Fesser Arts

And a fiery sunset completes the day.   I've seen a few California sunsets in the colors of this Gold, Red and Black Swirled Pendant by Dream Weaver's Designs

Gold red and black swirled pendant by Dream Weaver's Designs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ArtFire Collection - Guild "Shops With Less Than (10) Sales

Here is a fun and colorful collection I created showcasing work from my fellow guild-mates and myself.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Polymer Clay Mokume Gane, Yet Another Attempt

Once again, I'm attempting Mokume Gane with polymer clay.  Mokume Gane is actually a Japanese metal working technique that emulates wood grain.

I was going to use Christmas colors, but I couldn't get my head around that.  So I started with some autumn colors instead.
I'm using premo for this attempt and it is pretty mushy.  I want to try Kato poly clay next to see how it compares for this technique. It's a much firmer clay and a bear to condition.

I created a stack by layering sheets of the autumn colors.  I rolled the stack, cut it in half, stacked and rolled again.  And did that a few times.  I then squared (more or less) the stack.

I love using the trimmings for beads!  Typically when I try this technique, I end up with great beads.  The pendants, not so good. . .

Okay so some of those beads aren't perfectly shaped. These things happen.

Here I've taken slices from the stack and am working on a mokume gane sheet.  I'm hoping to use the sheet to make some nice shiny cabochons and pendants.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working on my ArtFire Shop

I have been spend a lot more time working on my ArtFire shop.  Over the weekend, several new changes that the ArtFire folks have been working on went live.  I finally got to update my banner and my avatar.  I think my shop looks better, but I'm still not thrilled with the avatar. But, I'm going to live with it for now. 

My original goal was to get 100 items in my shop.  I'm sitting at 80.  The last few months of allowing frustration to get the better of me has not helped my shop (or sales). 

But, I'm back on track!  I'm slowly reworking my descriptions.  And making notes of pictures I need to retake.  I now realize that working and re-working listings is just part of maintaining my shop.

And speaking of reworking, I have a few items themselves that could stand some "upgrading".  I redid a necklace a couple of days ago that I haven't yet listed.  I had created it last spring from some polymer clay disks:

The picture doesn't look as bad as the real thing did.  That green cord was harsh! Really, really harsh! I can't believe I used that green! What was I thinking!  Well, I redid it with brown cord and it looks loads better:

It's much softer color-wise and blends in instead of smacking you in the face.  I do like in-your-face color, but in this instance is wasn't working. 

I've have a few now listings in my shop and I hope to get more things listed in the next day or two.  I also plan to finally get some small abstracts listed as well.  I'm still working on the photographs of the paintings.  I may try scanning the ones that will fit on the scanner bed to see how that works. (Dreading the shuffle things around, cord trip hazard, scanner tap dance.)

Well, I had better get to work, hadn't I!