Blue summer pendant

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It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. I have been making things, but I have also been doing some rearranging (my time, my room and my photography), so it hasn’t filtered through to the blog yet. The Art Fair went well, so I have been making more jewellery featuring my Spectrum Palettes. Here’s a pendant I made in my Blue colours.

Blue pendant by Cate van Alphen

Summer Pendant by Elena Marunich The design is from a tutorial on the 2017 Polymer Clay Adventure by Elena Marunich. It’s pretty big so it’s quite a statement piece.

Polymer clay pendant by Cate van Alphen

I have been experimenting with different backgrounds in my photos (trying both more texture and pure white product shots). You can see more examples of my experiments on my Patreon post.

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Overground Underground

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I will be taking part in the Art & Craft Fair as part of Ingleton’s Overground Underground festival this year. You will be able to find me at the Ingleton Community Centre on 28th & 29th May 2017. If you are in the area it would be great to see you.

Red earrings by Cate van Alphen

Red Palette earrings by Cate van Alphen

Green earrings by Cate van Alphen

Green Palette earrings by Cate van Alphen

You may have noticed the beautiful pottery I use in my photography. This is made at Ingleton Pottery. The pottery is open year round, but during the festival you will be able to make your own pot (see pg. 14).

I recommend sending the more energetic members of the family off for some Extreme Canyoning so that you can browse in peace. There’s lots more art to see in the area (Lunesdale Arts Trail), and several other outdoor activities (does caving count as outdoors?), so it’s definitely worth a visit.

Easter Egg 2017

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Every year I try to make some (or one) polymer clay easter eggs. I started this one on Good Friday and I finished on Easter Monday.

Polymer clay Easter Egg by Cate van Alphen

Really? It took that much time? It looks pretty simple to me. Yes indeed! But inside there’s a…

Fairy garden egg by Cate van Alphen

…tiny Fairy Garden. The lid is lined with purple velvet and studded with little silver beads to look like the night sky. Irritatingly I had to do this twice because the first time the velvet was too thick and the lid wouldn’t close. Luckily I found out before the glue had fully dried.

The idea was inspired by Lisa Loria’s Fairy Garden Ring tutorial on Polymer Clay Adventure. As you can see I got pretty carried away with the detail.

Fairy garden by Cate van Alphen

Here’s a picture to give some scale. The whole egg is about the size of a hen’s egg.

Fairy Garden by Cate van Alphen

When is a daffodil not a daffodil?

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The Spoonflower competitions this month are floral inspired. Given the time of year, I couldn’t resist doing something with daffodils. I used the colours from my Yellow Palette.

Daffodil fabric design by Cate van Alphen

The first theme is “Paper-Cut Florals” so I tried to keep the shapes simple and graphic. I didn’t think the cut-out look was coming across in the preview, so I did another design using elements of the daffodil design as texture. The idea is that the flowers are cut out from ornamental Japanese paper (chiyogami).

Yellow flower fabric by Cate van Alphen

Again some of the detail is lost in the preview, but it retains the cut-out look. If you like it please vote (open until 11 April 2017).

Yellow flower fabric by Cate van Alphen

Mini quilts

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My fabric designing has been on hold for a little bit while I waited for my test swatches to arrive. I’m planning to do something using my spectrum palettes and I wanted to check the printed colours before I got too invested. While I was waiting I decided to fill some empty frames with mini quilts made from my previous set of swatches.

Mini pink quilt by Cate van Alphen

It’s the first time I’ve done quilting and I found it pretty addictive.

Mini flower quilt by Cate van Alphen

The mount windows are about 9cm x 9cm which is dinky, so they were tolerably quick to make.

Pink flowers on green, mini quilt by Cate van Alphen

I made these last week. Today my fabric swatches arrived, and I’m pleased with them so they are now for sale on Spoonflower.

Tangram fabric

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I’m still busy designing fabrics. This time I made a patchwork pattern for the Spoonflower Tangram competition. I didn’t use all seven of the tangram shapes, but the design was inspired by the theme so I entered it.

Tangram patchwork fabric design by Cate van Alphen

I have some more designs in progress, but the file sizes are getting quite large and my laptop keeps crashing, so it’s slow going.

In the meantime, please pop along and vote for the designs that you like.

Mandala fabric

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I have been busy clearing the project scraps from my polymer clay work boards (I couldn’t bring myself to simply mush it all into mud). So I’ve made a few beads, odds and ends and cabochons but no finished items yet.

I have just entered another fabric design in this week’s Spoonflower competition. I actually started the image a few years ago, but it fit the theme (Mandalas) perfectly, so I just needed to make some tiny tweaks for it to be ready.

Mandala fabric design by Cate van Alphen

Voting is open until 14th March 2017. I’d really appreciate it if you’d vote for my design (there are other pretties to see too). 🙂

Before I forget

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I made another pair of forget-me-not earrings that I kept aside for a separate blog. And here’s why…

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

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I have made a Patreon page. It’s a site for creators to find sponsors in order to spend more energy on creating and less time worrying about how to pay the bills. As part of making my page I clarified some goals for myself: I want to use more art beads (made by other artists) and I want to make more tutorials.

I planned for the earrings above to incorporate both goals. I’ve got the art beads: I made the ivory coloured floral disks from polymer clay and the blue ceramic beads are by Jenny Gholson-Morris. But the tutorial part: not so much.

Making a video tutorial is proving more time-consuming than anticipated – I’m struggling to get footage that is in shot and in focus. Oh, right! This is why I set up the Patreon page in the first place – because at the moment I haven’t got much time for figuring this out. So until I can make a full tutorial, here’s a little tip.

Faux concrete cabochon by Cate van Alphen

Faux concrete cabochon by Cate van Alphen

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I made this cabochon as a way to use up the scraps from making carved beads. The muse wanted a matt concrete effect. My logical brain tells me this is to contrast with the shiny fragments. I wanted something more interesting so I drew in some scrolls and dots. I thought it still needed some subtle pep so I mixed green iridescent mica powder with a drop of water to paint into the dents. This caused the water (and mica) to puddle in the indentations and not all over the surface of the piece. I did the same thing for the petals of the flowers on the earrings.

I used Perfect Pearls for this technique as it has a built-in resin and I painted it onto uncured polymer clay. It didn’t seem to stick as well when painted onto baked clay.

By the way, if you would like to sponsor me, you can start from $1 a month and change your mind any time you like.

 

I remembered forget-me-nots

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I remembered to make some forget-me-not jewellery for the window display at Craftworkshop. I made a flower cane inspired by Ivy Niles’s class on Polymer Clay Adventure.

Flower cane by Cate van Alphen

I made the background using transparent clay so that I could add the flowers to different coloured backgrounds. It worked pretty well on the plain blue polymer clay.

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

However it did cause a mica shift effect on pearl clay which is more visible from certain angles. It was a bit unexpected but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad as it gives the flowers a little halo.

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

Forget-me-not earrings by Cate van Alphen

Unlike this…

Ugly bookmark

This bookmark was one of the first things I made back in 2009 and I’ve been avoiding translucent clay ever since! Putting aside the confused design of flowers and stars together, there’s a long list of things I did wrong here. I cut my cane slices too thick and then squished the sheet through the pasta machine to try and flatten it, so everything got distorted. I don’t think the plaquing was entirely my fault (beyond the thick slices) but more to do with the fact that I used pre-formula-change Fimo. I used Pardo for my new forget-me-not cane. Anyway it’s quite encouraging to look back at old work and think: “Yuck, I can do better!”.

Polymer Clay Adventure 2017

I also made a pair of faux soutache earrings inspired by Jana Murinova’s tutorial (again on Polymer Clay Adventure).

Faux soutache earrings by Cate van Alphen

Faux soutache earrings by Cate van Alphen

New vessel – Interconnectedness

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Here is my latest vessel. I made it as a birthday gift, so I had to wait before showing it on my blog. It’s a large glass jar covered with mixed media, decorated with polymer clay, intended to be used for storing pens.

Vessel by Cate van Alphen

Interconnectedness by Cate van Alphen

I don’t always have a title for my work, but while I was making this the phrase “the interconnectedness of all things” kept repeating in my head. I wasn’t even watching Dirk Gently at the time.

White poppy detail by Cate van Alphen

I’ve included a few of my white poppies in the design. And the pink flowers are just for prettiness (and to add a some colour).

Vessel detail by Cate van Alphen