Monday, 24 October 2016

My first wood signage

I am going to be selling my polymer clay creations at Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird for the first time on November 19-29, 2016 at Everett Community College, Everett, WA, so in between making things to offer, I was trying to come up with ways to stage my booth.

One of the things I definitely need is a signage. At first I thought I'd order one, get it all nice and professionally done but research told me that it could be pricey... and I did not really want to add more expenses to this venture. So my research turned into a how to make one.

We have some leftover wood from a previous project, so I gathered a few of those and started to gage how big I want the sign to be. I settled on two planks, about a half a foot long each in three layers. I was hesitant at first that mere wood glue would do the trick but good, ol' hubby assured me it was fine. So after choosing the sides with the grain I wanted to show, I started gluing in between the planks. After that, I took some shims and used those in pairs: one pair on the left, another pair on the middle and yet another on the right to be the backing, weighed them down with books and left them to dry till the next day. Hub sawed off the extras after they were all set.

There were so many color combinations to choose from. I could go with wood stain on white, wood stain on orange. White on black. Gray on white. Orange on Black. Orange on white. White on Orange. Black on Orange. 

So to check, I made a small color tests on a couple of shims. Hmmm... nope... I like it but not that much. I still prefer the natural wood look. 

So I decided to stain the wood. It's been rainy, and the big storm of the century was supposed to have whirled through that weekend, which, thankfully, it did not. So I left the stain to dry in front of the heater for a day. While waiting for it to dry, I looked up ways of aging the wood and I saw Reality Daydream's video (see it here). She colored the wood first then stained it. I really liked how it looked so I decided it's not too late, I can color over my stain and then stain it again. 

I chose blue, black, yellow and an off white color and just went randomly with it, no premixing or anything. 

After it dried, I sanded it by hand then applied another coat of stain. It was perfect! I love, love, love how it turned out! Look at those colors. And the second coat of stain just made it look darker and richer. 

With all the colors and that rich wood stain, I decided to just go classic white. So up next was painting the name on. Using a yellow pastel pencil, which was what I had on hand, I wrote in my loose, informal script. 

And here it is:

I am going to go over the text again, bulk it up in some areas and make some of those rounded areas more rounded. Also, I'm currently debating whether I want it to have a crackle paint effect but I'm not decided yet. Overall, I like how it looks. I think it's going to be a good first signage. What do you think?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird November 19-20

Come November 19-20, 2016 I will be at the Everett Community College in Everett, WA for Oddmall: Holiday Emporium of the Weird! Come and check it out! I'm busy building stock now. If you need anything before then, please go to or directly to my Etsy Shop at

For directions to the Everett Community College, Everett, WA, pls click here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Crabby Granny is a Grand Champion!

As promised, This is Crabby Granny in her full glory. She's feeling quite cold so she has her shawl wrapped around her shoulders.

Here she is trying to remember the proportions of that healing tonic.

I think she's about to get up...

She has a very nifty yet simple belt. It's made of jute and she can hang just about anything there while she's scouring the woods! One of her staples is a small jar filled with dried herbs. It's her magic potion, a cure-all. And by jolly, it does cure all! She also ties dried branches and other finds by her belt. It keeps her hands free when she's out collecting.

Her shoes are really old and worn out by now. She can really get mud stuck all over it specially when she goes out during a terrifying storm. She says there are mushrooms that grow only during lightning flashes and pounds of thunder, and melt with the first ray of the sun. So she has no choice but collect them while the storm is raging.

A few days ago, after sitting down and writing in her book (I talked about Crabby Granny's book here), Crabby Granny decided to go to Puyallup and hang out at the WA State Fair. She took her rocking chair and cane with her so she was serious about staying there for a while. Must be the flora...

Crabby Granny's cane is made of dark wood. She sculpted a bird's head at the top.

She also made this rocking chair from the branches of a 100-year old tree.
The picked up the felled branches after a big storm.

"Whaddya want?" Granny said.
This morning, she sent me this picture. Seems, she's accomplished more than collecting herbs over there at the WA State Fair.

So that's Crabby Granny for you! I'll get more pictures of her at The Fair when I go visit!

(It's actually Betty M, the NWPCG president who sent me the sms photo about Crabby Granny's ribbons at the WA State Fair - much thanks Betty!)

Monday, 5 September 2016

Crabby Granny's book of herbs

When I started this project, there was only two things I knew for sure: I wanted to make an old woman with a cane. She was going to be either an old witch or an old female elf. With my family's vote, she became a witch. As I browsed through pictures of old women, I gradually leaned towards a picture of an old woman who did not seem too happy with the world.

And from there, her full character started forming in my mind. She lives in a remote but very cold village. She's a traditional witch in a semi-modern era, who discovers natural cures around her and she wants to pass this knowledge down. So one thing that's very important to her is her book of herbs.

This is a big leather book – well, big for her size – is where she records the kinds of plants, their properties, when to harvest them, where to find them, how to prepare the potions and what ailments they cure. It's a work in progress. She discovers new ways of preserving the roots and herbs every time.

To make her book, I took out some handmade paper and cut them to size. I folded the paper and cut them by tearing them apart to give the edges a rough look. After scoring it some more, I stitched them together with brown thread. When I had four sets, I covered the edges of the sewn pages with brown paper.

Check out my uneven stitches!

After the glue dried, I took the end pages on both sides and glued those to the leather cover. I wanted it to look simple and home made, so no fancy folding or decorative scoring on the leather. I only scored lines across the spine of the leather to keep it in shape. 

After everything was bound together, I started to age the paper with coffee. Which is a mistake, I found out a few minutes later. I should have aged the paper before binding them! As you can imagine, the liquid watered down the glue and detached a couple of sets of pages. So I had to be really patient and re-attach each set after the coffee dried off. Good thing the individual pages were held together with thread, at least those didn't fall apart!

Once the binding and ageing was complete, I drew on the pages, and tried to make them as small as I can, with what I hope are still legible writing.

I also gave the leather cover a very good beating: scratched it, pulled it and poured different liquids on it (which I should also have done before binding paper and leather together - oh well, these are great lessons for my next book). After some time, it had the decency to look properly old and aged. But looking at it, I felt something was still missing. So I got my thingamajig out and drew this small tree on the cover. I think that made Crabby Granny happy. It captured her book of herbs perfectly!

The last detail I added was given by Mother Nature. While out on a walk, catching Pokemons, I found a tiny feather on the pavement. It was the perfect size for Granny's hand. So as soon as I got back home, I made a small pocket for it at the back. Granny wants her tools in convenient places, this helps her find her quill easily if she needs to jot something down.

Up next, more on Crabby Granny's details. This is just the first instalment. To check out details of this art doll and her WA State Fair ribbons, please click here.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

My Old Man wins two ribbons

I entered My Old Man at the Evergreen Fair (Monroe, WA) competitions under Sculptures, Fine Arts section and today, I found out that he got two ribbons, First Place and Special Award! Pretty cool!

Seems like everybody won awards but it is still super cool that he has a nice big ribbon to affirm his awesomeness. My Old Man was created last year during the Wendy and Toby Froud workshop in Portland, during a very difficult time in my life. He is very special to me. So I am very happy and proud that others can see how special he is.

If you want to see him, he is still on display at the Evergreen Fair, Building 500 till September 5, 2016. He is in a glass case in the middle of the middle room.

If you want to read My Old Man's story, please click here.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Saturday inspiration: Lucy

Today started out researching how to do a skinner blend. And in my mind's vague plans, possibly a simple cane after. Skinner blends and simple canes are probably two of the first things polymer clayers (or clayers as enthusiasts of this medium often refer to themselves... urm, ourselves), learn early. I didn't. I zoomed in on sculpting rather than canes so it took all these time for me to start looking into how to do a proper skinner blend. And of course, got promptly sidetracked.

See, I've been noticing this brand Lucy Clay Tools but have not really been paying much attention to it because they look like serious and expensive equipment. The first tool I may have noticed was a cane slicer. So not really paying any heed to the image, I clicked the link and watched the videos on skinner blends. The demo was done by a very young looking, blond, blue-eye girl. I can't understand what she's saying but it's easy enough to understand what she's doing and how she's achieving the effects she's showing viewers. The more I watched, the more I got curious. Her name as it turns out is Lucy Struncova and she's from the Czech Republic.

Nope, no connection clicked at that that time so I read on. She was born in 1998 so I was right to think she is very young! In her bio, she wrote that it was around 2011 (she was only 13 if my usually faulty math is correct) when she became very serious with polymer clay. 13! Imagine that.

In contrast, I was already 36 when I discovered polymer clay. And for the longest time, I could not identify what got me into it or which shop I bought my first pack of polymer clay from. I went through my blog to find my earliest post and found that it was back in the middle of 2012 which also clearly showed that my interest has always been in sculpting dolls. Extrapolating from my own writings, I probably discovered polymer clay when I researched how to make a custom wall clock. I ended up using air dry clay for my wall clock but I could easily see myself buying a pack of Sculpey original (terracotta) with the air dry clay then just leaving it lying around the flat to be tried later. Make sense to me, because in my logic air dry would be way easier to try out than something that needs baking!

And despite my love for the art, my subsequent practice has been really spotty due to a number of reasons. It's only in these last few months that I've been able to regularly create again.

Anyway... what's my point? My point is, I am super amazed and impressed with Lucy. A year after she became serious with polymer clay, she's already conducting classes to teach other people, and attending workshops for her to learn too. By 2013, she and her dad are making their own tools and marketing them under the name Lucy Clay Tools (LC Tools). By 2014 she has published and successfully sold her own book. She's in art school now and probably life has taken her in different directions but boy, such accomplishments at such a very young age. She's only slightly older than my eldest nephew!

I am by no means endorsing her tools -- I have never seen them in person or had the opportunity to try them but I am amazed and in awe of people like her and I believe it should be celebrated. Not to sound too cheesy, but you go girl!

Oh and I do endorse her videos! They are very informative and very easy to follow despite the language barrier. Here's the one I watched on skinner blends.

This is the Pinterest post that led me to Lucy's website. If you want to add it too: it's Skinner blends

Where's my skinner blends? Ummm... did I tell you about the time...

Friday, 3 June 2016

Cleaning Pasta Machines & the Bottles of Hope Challenge

Have I mentioned that I joined the Northwest Polymer Clay Guild (NWPCG) early in the year? So many things are flying through my head, it's hard to catch a thread of thought. I actually looked up the Guild even before I got to the USA. Involving myself more in the art of polymer clay was one of my goals.

US - the land of plentiful polymer clay supply and mentors! Yebaaa! Unfortunately, life happens and there are many roadblocks to these goals so it wasn't until late last year that I was actually able to attend a meeting as a visitor. And I think it was January when I was finally able to sign up as a member. So far, I've been enjoying the monthly meetings, learning a lot and enjoying conversations with fellow artists! 

Only last meeting, a fellow member Maria Brown of Blonde Crow Studio walked us through how to clean our pasta machines which was a phenomenal experience! I was a cop-out though -- I was taking pictures for the newsletter (which by the way, I started editing and designing June 2016 issue onwards) -- so my machine was left untouched. Seeing everybody untangle the mess that is a broken-apart-pasta-machine can be a bit scary but I'm sure I'll get there one of these days.

Taking it apart and putting it back
together again: oh joy!

One of the Guild projects, which I've come to know is relatively new to the group too, is the Bottles of Hope Challenge (BOH). Our participation was brought on by the initiative of current NWPCG president Betty Mehlhoff and the decorated bottles will be given to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, WA. So cool! But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, a little about BOH first. Here's the official description from the site:
Bottles of Hope are small glass bottles covered with polymer clay and given to cancer patients. They symbolize a wish and a hope for health. 
This project was started in 1999 by a Rhode Island cancer survivor and has spread internationally. Bottles are made by artists, students, survivors, seniors and many more who volunteer their time and love.
The official BOH Guild competition was held during NWPCG Clay Camp 2016 which I was not able to attend (Life!) and awards were handed out  then but the BOH project is ongoing and members (or even non-members! Anybody who wants to share some hope and joy are welcome to participate, just check out the links for details) can still decorate and donate bottles at any time.

The Guild was given a box of sterilized vials from the hospital, so I grabbed a handful and started my own collection which I'll be giving to Betty soon. Here are some of them:

I quite like how this mini fairy cottage turned out!
This is my fave so far, I call him Master Elvish Funji.

So here we have Mr Elf, Toothless and a heart capped bottle.
The heart is hallow, been experimenting on hallow clay creations.

It's really fun working on these little things and it warms the heart to know that they may make a cancer patient happy and filled with hope. I know my Dad would have gotten a kick if he received one of these.