December 2013 archive

Clay Flowers

I recently saw some really realistic and lovely clay flowers and decided I’d play around with trying to make some myself.  It’s clearly a craft that will take time and practice to come even within hailing distance of mastering. So far I’ve finished a grand total of one flower using a light-weight, air dry clay. I have no idea if this is the best clay to use. I wanted to use something light-weight, because I hope to eventually attach the flowers to painted canvases or painted wood, to hang up on the walls for decoration. I figure the lighter the flower, the better that plan will work.

Before starting, I watched some video tutorials produced by YuYi Clay here and here, and read a tutorial by Centsational GirlThe YuYi Clay flowers are colored and quite lovely and realistic, with very thin, shaped petals, and leaves with texture. The person making the flowers uses a lot of tools and cutters. The Centsational Girl flower is pure white, and has a charming modern, contemporary look, with thicker, more free-form petals, and is made just using the artist’s hands and a butter knife.

I had none of the tools shown in the YuYi Clay videos, but I was intrigued by aspects of both designs, so I combined the two methods. I figured that since I’m just getting started and playing around, I can do whatever I want. (My way is really more of an experiment than a method, I must admit.)

First of all, I had decided to try to make a more realistic looking flower, but have it be pure white. Unfortunately, despite having washed my hands before beginning, I handled and played with the clay a lot before finally beginning the actual flower, so it got a few flecks of dirt in it, and leaving it white isn’t going to be the best option. I am going to try to paint it at a later date.

Photo of package of lightweight clay

I chose the same clay used in the Centsational Girl tutorial, mainly because it was easily found and didn’t need to be special ordered, and because it is light-weight and doesn’t need to be baked. I found that even with moistened hands, the clay was a bit sticky, so I decided to use a plastic sheet protector, as depicted by the YuYi Clay videos.

I first made a ball of clay, flattened in, put it in the sheet protector, and tried rolling it into a smooth sheet with a can of soup, which didn’t work very well. So I cut the plastic sheet protector to a smaller size and ran it all through an old pasta maker, which also didn’t work very well, alas, alas.

Photo of rolled out clay

As you can see, things were looking grim. And the clay was getting dirtier and dirtier, despite being inside the sheet protector. (How does dirt manage to do that? It’s most vexing.)

Still, I decided to proceed for two reasona:

1) I am impatient, and,
2) The first go at anything is always a bit rough and imperfect. (Right? I’m surely not alone in this experience… right?)

I used a pin tool I had on hand to roughly cut out tear-drop shaped ‘petals’, removed the excess clay, closed the plastic back over the petals, and used the barrel of the pin tool to roll the outer edges of the petals to a thinner, rougher looking shape.


clay flower petals

I made a small ball of clay, about pea-sized, and then started peeling up the petals, using the smaller ones first, and wrapping the tapered ends around the ball. (I’d have taken photos, but I lack a third hand, sorry.)  I kept adding petals and working my way around the flower. I used the pin tool to carefully separate the petals a little bit and to try to shape some curves and waves into them. This part actually went pretty well, which was encouraging. I finally ended up with the flower below, which is a little out of focus in the photo. (Maybe you could try to think of it as a lovely film effect, used by filmmakers with fabulous actresses of a certain age, rather than simply poor photo skills on my part.) At any rate, ta-da!

white clay flower

I ended up cutting off the bottom of the petals fairly close to flush with the base of the flower, to make it easier to glue to a flat surface later.

I left the flower out all night and it was dry this morning. The clay looks quite nice in white, but, as I said, parts of it are flecked and smudged, so I will end up painting it. It is very light-weight and I think if I glue it to a wood-reinforced corner of one of my painted canvases, it would probably hold up. I think the center of the canvas wouldn’t hold the weight, unless reinforced in some way from behind.

This type of clay is very brittle at the thin edges of the petals, so I think much handling might prove fatal to the flower. (The thickness and texture of the petal ends reminds me of a food that I sadly have not eaten in years: Lay’s Potato Chips. Anyone who has ever had one of these delicious chips will be able to picture what I’m saying.)

I am planning on ordering some of the YuYi Clay and seeing how it is to work with. Maybe trying to assemble some cutters and other tools, as well. And I’m planning on trying for some more flowers with this same clay, made in a heavier thickness, more like the Centsational Girl flower. I’ll try to take (focused) photos and post them when I finish.

If anyone with some experience in this type of craft has any suggestions, I’d be most pleased to read them in the comments!

Putting Paint to Canvas

photo of painted canvases on dresserWhile I was painting my daughter’s room, I ended up with quite a few little sample size pots of paint in various colors. I was casting about for what to do with them, when I realized that I had three pre-primed, 12″ x 12″ canvases. So I chose one of the purple colors I liked best, bought two more samples in colors that I thought would look great against a purple wall, and painted the canvases using one of the Purdy 2″ paint brushes I had for painting the trim in the bedroom.

My plan was to glue photos chosen by my daughter onto the painted canvases and hang them in her room as cheap, pretty, fun artwork.

Well, my daughter didn’t care for that idea, but it’s my gain, because I really like how they turned out and how they look against the celery green walls in my bedroom. Right now, they are set up on a table in my bedroom and look bright and cheerful, if a bit unfinished.

I am thinking about what I could do with them, and might still go with my original idea of using them as picture “frames,” but I’m also investigating attaching objects to them.  For example, I think the little netsuke man in the photo would look nice framed in the purple square. This might very well be too heavy for canvas, so I’m mulling things over. A piece of wood to back up the canvas, perhaps? Giving up the idea of attaching something so heavy… perhaps.

The colors are all from Benjamin Moore in Eggshell finish:

  1. Blue Orchid (2069-50), which is a really lovely blue-purple color
  2. Dalila (319), a cheerful sunshine yellow
  3. Coral Essence (2007-40), essentially,well, coral pink


One Scarf Down

I had big holiday plans to knit hats, scarves, and gloves for eveyone for gifts! Everyone!

I bought yarn, I got patterns. And, so far, I’ve managed to knit precisely one scarf. Heh. I think my dreams were bigger than my reality. And of course in my imaginary reality, I have a lot more time for fun stuff… and far less work and fewer chores.

I grabbed two skeins some bright, spring green yarn, called Nature’s Choice Organic in “Pistachio” by Lion Brand. Please forgive the photos… I couldn’t get the color to read properly. It looks very muddy and olive, but trust me… actually bright spring green. It shows much better on the Lion Brand website.

photo of green skein of yarn

I looked around for a quick, easy pattern that would still have some interest and settled on this pattern, which was graciously provided free of charge by Yarn Harlot.

The yard I had was kind of nubby and textured, although quite soft, and I tried it out US size 8 needles, which resulted in a pleasant width. I just cast on and knitted according to the pattern until both skeins were used up, which was approximately 200 yards of yarn, I believe.

I debated adding a row or two of crochet to each end, or even some tassles, but in the end liked the scarf just as it was. I hope you can get a feel for the pattern in the photo below:

photo of a knitted green scarf

Quick Tip: Quieting the Evening Mind

I don’t know if I’m the only person who has this happen, but most nights I will go to bed very tired and sleepy, but the minute my head hits the pillow, my brain kicks into high gear thinking about zillions of things I need to get done.

One of the best tips I ever received was to keep a pad of paper and a pen in the drawer of my nightstand, so that when this happens, I can sit up and write down a short (or often long) list of all the things occupying my brain. It seems to get them out of the brain and then it’s much easier to fall asleep.

BH&G January 2014 Issue

magazine cover I’m just back from a trip, and was happy to find some fun mail upon my return. Better Homes and Gardens has come out with its January 2014 issue, dedicated to organizing. Naturally, no surprise, my favorite issue of the year so far. Ha. Lots of good advice and links back to more on the BH&G site. :   )

Ding Dong the Pink is Gone

I am so relieved to be finished with re-painting the bedroom from Benjamin Moore’s Fuschia Kiss… an incredibly deep and vivid pink, to Benjamin Moor’s French Lilac (soothing pale purple) with an accent wall of BM Crocus… just a bit deeper purple. No longer will everyone who enters this room appear pink. No longer will a shimmering pink haze reflect out into the hallway. Ah!

BEFORE Barbie pink paint color AFTER purple1