Friday, March 12, 2010

When the Muse Malfunctions, et al.

I thought this was a good time to photo demonstrate another project gone awry. I have a different project that is due ahead of this one (.. so sorry just doesn't want to get done.  tomorrow, i promise) and have been working on them simultaneously, but what has happened here is typical of the creative process I go thru.  sometimes.  The bird banners i recently completed went pretty easy.  My initial idea was too complicated, so i quickly came up with a less engineered solution and they were completed quickly.  This particular project just kept fighting me and did not want to get focused.
OK.  here it is. I am participating in an Alice in Wonderland Swap.  Fun, right? I purchased a vintage postage stamp and thought it would be cool to mount on something with resin.  real simple.   but the stamp was too big for scrabble tiles, and with the picture reduced -  the detail was all lost.  So I had some little wood squares and thought i would cut them down a tad and paint them.  yeah right.  But first i had to rework the image...take out all the extra background detail and lighten the cat and outline his mouth, and put a lot of white in it so it didn't blend into a big black blob.

I had to make 26 of these babies.  the wood tiles did not exactly cut easily....and then they had to be sanded and the corners rounded...and then painted....let alone images on both sides and resin.  Nope.  after sanding one i decided to go to plan two.
Plan two:  i have all these cute copper frames.  I will cut the image into an oval, patina the copper, then add the image and resin.  How easy is that?  Then I just drill a hole and add a jump ring...hey, maybe i'll even put some "alice" words on the back!

so i put green and blue patina solution on them frame....but it turns out the frames AREN'T copper - only copper plated....and they immediately rust.  i quickly neutralize the frames in baking soda and decide to use them rusty...a grunge look.  Then i have to cut out 26 ovals, because i don't have a punch the correct size....which is really hard to do accurately so they fit well and do not look sloppy.  I do this.  Then I seal both sides of the paper with PYMII.  I glue the pics into the frames.  I mix up the resin and pour it.  I come back to look at them the next day.

oh my!  the paper has absorbed the resin and darkened and the image is hard to see...i should have used mod podge!....and on top of that, the frame is continuing to rust and corrode and is flaking apart.  MUCHO UGLY!
These pics look much better than the real charms do.  They would not hold a varnish on the frames...they promptly went into the trash after leaving rust crumb residue all over my work table.
As luck would have it, we had to be in town this day, so I went to the hardware/hobby store to look for some ideas and came home with some sparkly red fimo clay.
Plan #3.  I decided to make polymer clay black and red twisted frames....after trying a mold that was impossible to pop out level....
I guess i wasn't in a clay mood, cuz these all turned out looking like kindergarten rejects.
Plan #4.   At last I make some solid frames with a tiny heart  that are acceptable and uniform.  I aged the frames with a bit of black acylic paint.  The original image in blue and yellow looked awful against the red clay.  So I made the image just black and red.....and i put a second image on the back.  
I attached the images with poly glaze...which I discovered does not self although it is glossy, it is not as even as i would have liked....and the poly glaze cannot be left on its own, it then has to be sealed!  (and don't dare rebake it - it bubbles and gets sticky.  trust me, i KNOW.)
Here they are drying.  ('s me who's DYING...i'm sick  bored tired of this project)
It took a long time to dry....then i had to coat them with Future to seal the glaze so it won't cloud up later...what a pain......and they have a very fakey shine....  I should have just used resin.  sigh.
the back
the front
I was going to put black micro beads along the edges - but enough is enough.
I did make a little red die charm to go with them, and a card to mount them on.
 "Alice in Wonderland" charms are born....  but they sure came into this world kicking and screaming.
I had a bunch of red clay left over.  Like i said before, it has these red glittery sparkles in it, which i really loved.  So i decided to make some bird beads.  Now this clay for some reason really exudes the red dye.  i had to wear gloves, it was so messy. 
Because i have not liked the artificial glazes (...duh.  see above)  for putting a shine on polymer clay, i decided to try to polish them the correct way - sanding and buffing.  First the lazy mans way.  Put the baked beads in the tumbler with tiny river rock for 8 hours.  This worked ok, but they were not shiny, really.  smooth, but not shiny.  I used my muslin buff on my dremel on them too, still a bit shiny, but not glassy glossy.
So I got out various grades of sandpaper, 400, 800, 1000, 1500 grit.....and i sanded each bead lightly thru each grade under water.   Oddly, some of the sparkles turned the water was i guess some of the red color on the glitter was coming off   (melting off?)  ok. now for the "pièce de résistance"!
I took the beads to the ELECTRIC buffer...ya know, a cheapy $39 harbor freight grinding wheel...(i have a 3  inch $2 muslin buff pad screwed onto it.)
actually, as long as you tie your hair back and don't wear anything with strings to get caught in the wheel, this baby is pretty safe.  I had it on low (3000rpm's) which was still too fast for me....but that is the lowest it goes........You use only the lower one third of the wheel... this way, when your piece gets thrown across the room and ricochets off your wall it will project DOWN and not get stuck in your eye..... and yes, it will happen  (the wheel will throw it part, not the stuck in the eye part)
.....lord knows where all those flying birds and tiny eggs i lost are now! LOL. 
....BUT - if your fingers touch the buffing wheel while it's grinding - it doesn't even hurt at all!
YAHOO it's a miracle!  Sanding and then ELECTRIC GRINDER BUFFING  makes the beads glossy shiny.
really really glossy shiny......and no varathane.  or future.  or poly glaze.  or any other type of varnish.
i am very pleased.  You just have to be careful you don't press too hard and lose definition (like the birds beaks or the owls ears disappearing)

Now i want to get some finer grits so I can sand them to 12000 and get them to look like lampwork glass beads.  I read that if you mix translucent clay into your clay, you can really get that sort of look....
Now on to something else.   I purchased some bone suckers at halloween last year because i just loved the miniature arms and legs sticking out of them.  I had no idea what had become of them, but when I followed an ant trail in my shop - lo and behold - there they were.  I took them to the  sink and took off their wrappers and soaked them over night in water.
(yeah I know, pretty groady sink)
Voila!   Here they are.  There are only left arms and left legs.  not sure what i'll do with them, but they are cute.


Marilyn Rock said...

WOW Connie! Amazing stuff - lots of work and I do like your results. Love those little birds! xxoo

Joanne Huffman said...

Oh my goodness! I feel like I was at your side for all this. The Alice pieces look wonderful. I always love your presentation cards. Your birds and eggs are wonderful. I never heard of bone suckers, but I know you'll do something very cool with your left arms and legs.

Fran said...

I could completely feel your stress at each step in this process. Woo girl! You have sticktoitiveness if i've ever seen it!

ShellyRaeWood said...

Honey I feel your pain. I am also in the Alice CHarm swap and am currently on version #2 of my charms. ARgh!! Just wanted you to know you were NOT alone!! :)

jan said...

I can so relate to your wayward project(s). I often go through the "A-B-C-D" plans too. Can't wait to see what you do with those left arm and leg sucker sticks but I know it will be really cool!

inventivesoul said...

I LOVED reading this post!!!
What fun!
It's good to try *1* experiment rather than losing a whole batch! But I actually enjoyed seeing all of the rusty bezels!
Your bird banners are VERY cool too!!!

I am adding you to the charm day link roll for 2010.
Thank you for joining!!!

Have fun in FL!!!
(((What are you working on? TV or film?)))

jackie said...

oh dear connie - i have really missed keeping up with your blog! how i enjoyed (and empathized) as you described your journey of charm making and bird-bead polishing! you do such awesome art and i applaud you for your patience! i just love the aiw charms and the shiny bird bead!


Love your resin charms ... really I love them all and I am amazed that someone would put those bones in a sucker would think someone would choke on them :)) so glad you soaked them and I am sure you will do something amazing with them now! Can't wait to see!
Inka :)