Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Yesterday was my office Halloween party, my favorite day at work. It is a day that brings back good memories of Halloweens past. Past costumes and past coworkers who have moved on to new horizons. I've stayed in touch with many of them on Facebook so I look forward to seeing their costume ingenuity even if it has to be from a distance.

The ghosts of Halloween past are also fun to explore through family memories. My soon-to-be sister-in-law, Ericia, created this cute picture of  my niece, Jessie, trying on the dress I wore this year. It won't be too long before she fits it. And it wasn't too long ago that she was discovering Halloween.

Hope your ghosts of Halloween past bring you happy memories! If you want to read other stories about the Ghosts of Halloween past visit the SITS blog. It is today's theme.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Devilishly Simple Halloween Card

Emily, Lord of the Underworld
Happy Halloween Devil Cat Card
Directions for this project have been moved to my new site:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carving Time

"I want to carve the face" by Peggers

Monday Pick-Me-Up
Everyone wants to get in on the pumpkin carving action this week! This playful sculpture is the work of Peggy of Peggers Polymer Clay Creations . The ghosts even glow in the dark! Peggy is another talented member of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy.

Do you have any big pumpkin carving plans? I'd love to see some photos. If you feel like sharing, add yours to the Creative Sprinkle flickr pool.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Considering Creativity (Guest Post)

I have a confession to make. 

I can’t draw. 

No seriously, I really can’t. Well, that’s not quite true, I can draw. I can pick up a piece of paper, and a pencil and create something that reasonably resembles a flower-at least, reasonably well enough to satisfy my three year old niece. 

I also cannot design on the computer, nor can I really write all together that well, although I’ve created some passable poetry in the past – good enough to get me a decent grade, at least in High School English.
I sing, but don’t write new music, and I make jewelry but nothing anyone would buy. Oh, and I don’t wear turtlenecks and little horned rimmed glasses….at least, not on a regular basis.

So, why do I consider myself to be creative? Not just creative, but passionately, intensely creative?

One of the funny things about Creativity is that it’s like a muscle. It needs to be flexed. It feels uncomfortable at first. Things that you create come out like half-formed monsters.  You may look at these early attempts like I do, and think that they are absolutely terrible.  If you stop here, just like stopping a workout program, you may decide that you just aren’t Creative. 

Many people do. 

I hear it all the time “Oh, you do such cool things, I’m just not that creative”

But Creativity is there for all of us, barring any damage or illness that impedes the right side of the brain. 

Right now I hear you saying the same thing “Oh, she’s a fine one to talk…I’m just not that Creative.”

Perhaps it would help if I took a minute to define my experience of Creativity. It is not about Creating something that people will buy. It’s not even about Creating something that I particularly like

When I create something, be it a new soap, or a pair of earrings, or a new cheese, or a new poem or written piece, it’s about the act of creation. It’s the act of taking something that wasn’t there before, and willing it into being.

When I am there in that space, I’m focusing solely on the act of creating. I’m not worrying about the bills, or the thing that my mother said last Tuesday, or even my own feelings of insecurity and incompetence.  

Even if it’s something that I’m not physically creating, such as the development of a process or an idea, creativity is what makes me think to reach deep into my toolkit to find the solution to the problem. Creativity is that little niggling voice inside my head that says – what if things were different, what if we had this, said this, or did this. 

And then, creativity is about letting go. 

It’s about letting the words flow onto the page without self-editing (like I’m doing right now). It’s about letting your fingers fall onto the piano keys and not caring whether they hit the “right” notes. It’s about forming that ball of clay or thinking about that new idea and not letting your own internal critic stop the music before it begins. 

That’s right – even creative-types have our own internal critic. You know, that painful little spirit that says “You’re gonna look stupid” or something like “Wow, you really bungled that one.” Sometimes it can be really excruciatingly painfully loud too. 

It’s immensely scary to put something creative out there for public view. It can feel like completely baring your soul, your innermost secrets, to others.  

Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to walk around naked than show your latest work.

People who flex their creative muscle are not immune to this in the least.

It’s not necessarily about silencing your inner critic. Many of us have tried to do that for a long time and completely and utterly failed. 

For me, it’s about realizing that regardless of whether I create or not, whether I sing or not, whether I perform or not – sooner or later I’m going to look like an idiot anyway. I’m going to sound like an idiot sooner or later, and say the wrong thing, or fail in some way and I’m okay with that.

So flex your creative muscle. Make something small. Make something you’re not proud of – it’s okay. Jump out of the airplane and land on the big squishy mat of failure. It’s really okay. Make something else. Sing a different tune. Play a different instrument. Every single thing that you do that is different than the ordinary thing to do flexes that muscle. 

And you’ll get better. 

I promise.

And then you can tell the story of how you became Creative.

Guest Author, Bevin Hernandez
 About the author: Bevin is a self-described Geek Girl, Project Manager, Mom of 3, and Farmette Lover. I met Bevin when she was working at Penn State as an interactive project manager who was attempting to herd geeks, creative-types, and suits. Now she is on a new path where she attempts to herd goats, chickens, and her boys. 

She's always up for a chat on Twitter, or you can find out about her farm exploits at Fruit Tart Caprines.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Double Trouble

Monday Pick-Me-Up
Happy Monday everyone! I have an amazingly busy week ahead so I am going to have keep today's pick-me-up brief. My baby Benjamin finds himself quite at home climbing on the furniture. I captured this shot when he was curled up on our coffee table. He is such a cutie!

A Sneak Peak for Wednesday
If you are at all curious about why half-formed monsters are a good thing, stay tuned for Wednesday's post. It is a wonderful piece of prose written by my friend and former Penn State colleague Bevin Hernandez. It is also the first guest post on my blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Room for Improvement


Our styles evolve. Thank god!

When Tazim Damji invited me to participate in her home decor event as a guest blogger, I started to flip through my photo albums to try to come up with an idea for a project to share.

Looking at the old home photos was kind of like looking at my high school yearbook. Wow, I made a lot of interesting decisions!

My first instinct was to shred the bad photos, and forget that I ever thought these rooms looked good. Instead I went the other way and opened up my album to the public.

Every creative step we take leads us on a journey. Those early steps are far from perfect, but they are oh so necessary if we want to grow.

I invite you to hop over to my guest post "Embarrassing Decorating Moments" to have a good laugh at my early stabs at "style."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Penn State Pride

Monday Pick-Me-Up
These furry little guys greet me every morning when I arrive at work. My husband gave them to me as little pick-me-ups over the years.

When you live in Penn State's Happy Valley, you find that the weekend football score can impact people's Monday happiness meter. I'm not a big football fan, but I am a Penn Stater (both an alumni and an employee), so I do find myself smiling at a good win.

This weekend was our homecoming, but unfortunately the score didn't bring any smiles. But win or lose, our mascot makes me smile!

What mascot makes you smile?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Being Homey Home Decor Event

The Art of Great Dining Room Design

Being Homey Decor and Interior Design Event

Tazim of is hosting a fun blog event around the theme of home decor. She is planning posts on decorating seasonally, affordable art, design books, decor through the ages, and an introduction to handmade home products. You can also expect lots of pictures and some giveaways, as well.

If you check out the schedule below, you'll see that I'm one of the featured guests.  This is your one and only chance to see photos of my most embarrassing decorating moments.  Come and be horrified!

You can even win door prizes by commenting on the featured posts. You’ll have until October 24th at midnight to comment on featured posts to win. Every other day there will be a bigger giveaway item to be won – comment on that specific post to enter. So stop by to show me and the other guests some love!

Jessica Ford - Featured   5 Basic Tips from my Home to YoursOctober 10, 2010
Tazim DamjiAffordable ArtOctober 10, 2010
Door prize - Cinnamon Haven Pumpkin Pie EarringsOctober 10, 2010
Elysabeth TeekoInterior Decorating – Natural Vs. AcquiredOctober 11, 2010
Giveaway & Review - Toilettree Fogless MirrorOctober 11, 2010
Stil Novo Design - FeaturedReclaimed Wine Barrel Products Behind the Scenes October 12, 2010
Door prize - greeting card from studioahimsaOctober 12, 2010
Tazim DamjiRecommended Design BooksOctober 13, 2010
Giveaway - Welcome Sign from Cripplecreek WoodworkOctober 13, 2010
Tazim DamjiQuick Home Decor Fix – Add a Seasonal ThrowOctober 14, 2010
Marie Young - FeaturedEmbarrassing Decorating MomentsOctober 14, 2010
Door Prize - Soap HolderOctober 14, 2010
Tazim DamjiAvoiding Anonymous SpaceOctober 15, 2010
Giveaway: Allworth Press Green Interior Design 3 books!October 15, 2010
Terese Grove- FeaturedCreating Home Tour Part 1October 16, 2010
Door Prize - Greeting CardOctober 16, 2010
Terese GroveCreating Home Tour Part 2October 17, 2010
Bronwyn SimonsArtisan Handmade Tile October 17, 2010
Giveaway - Pook Thy CoastersOctober 17, 2010
Kylie Challenor - FeaturedHome Tour IntroOctober 18, 2010
Kylie ChallenorHome Tour Living RoomOctober 18, 2010
Door Prize - Cinnamon Haven NecklaceOctober 18, 2010
Kylie ChallenorHome Tour: BedroomOctober 19, 2010
Giveaway: So Rad PrintsOctober 19, 2010
Amanda T. Fall Interior Decoration IdeasOctober 19, 2010
Greg West - FeaturedMedia DesignOctober 20, 2010
Door Prize - Greeting CardOctober 20, 2010
Kylie ChallenorHome Tour: OfficeOctober 20, 2010
Kylie ChallenorHome Tour: KitchenOctober 21, 2010
Jessica FordPaint Your Own RainbowOctober 21, 2010
Giveaway - Ceramic Necklace Earthborne ArtOctober 21, 2010
Katherine GordonArt collecting for the homeOctober 22, 2010
Kylie ChallenorHome Tour: BathroomOctober 22, 2010
Tazim Damji - FeaturedNon-Toxic SpacesOctober 22, 2010
Door Prize - Greeting CardOctober 22, 2010
Tazim DamjiReview Apartment BookOctober 23, 2010
Giveaway - Box from Gilstrap DesignOctober 23, 2010
Greg West - FeaturedDecor Through the AgesOctober 24, 2010
Door Prize - Greeting CardOctober 24, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Make a Polymer Clay Puking Pumpkin

This polymer clay puking pumpkin is one of those projects that can be super simple, or you can add as much detail as you want to make a really intricate pumpkin.

Supply List
  • polymer clay (I like Fimo)
  • Perfect Pearls powders
  • stamp with a grape leaf on it
  • small craft knife
  • needle-pointed sculpting tool
Creating the Pumpkin's Features
Creating the Pumpkin's Features
Start by creating a round or oblong pumpkin shape from a ball of orange clay. Use a needle-pointed tool to add features to your pumpkin starting with the eyes nose and mouth. Then "draw" on lines.  Or, instead of cutting out features, you could opt to add pieces of clay in contrasting colors, or paint on features after the piece is baked.

If you want your pumpkin to have a little sparkle, brush orange-toned pearl powder on top of the clay. If you are adding features made of clay, add the orange pearl to the featureless pumpkin so you don't stain the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Creating the Stem

Creating the Stem
Take a small amount of clay and roll it into a tube. Then begin to shape the tube into a stem. Use the needle-pointed tool to draw lines onto the stem. Twist the finished stem to add some dimension. Brush lightly with pearl powder before pressing the stem into the pumpkin.

Creating the Leaf
Creating the Leaf
For the leaf, roll out a piece of green clay and press a grape leaf stamp into the clay. Cut the leaf-shape out with a craft knife. Pinch the leaf tips gently with your fingers to shape. Then use the needle-pointed tool to add more dimension. Brush with pearl powder.

Creating the Innards
Creating the Innards
Take some of your orange clay and add white to it to create a lighter shade. Roll the clay into thin strings and stream them from the mouth. The thin strands are prone to breakage, so if your piece is going to get touched a lot, make sure the strings are supported by each other. Use the needle-pointed tool to push the strings into the mouth.

Finishing Options
You can keep your pumpkin 3-dimensional, or you can cut of the back as shown above to make it into a pin or a magnet. Bake the piece according to the package directions on the clay.

Here are some examples of projects that I've done using this technique.

Barfing Pumpkin Wine Stopper for sale at Young Creative

AC Moore FB Logo Contest Entry

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chubby Gecko and a Chance to Win

Monday Pick-Me Up: Chubby Gecko by Wired Orchid

Chubby Gecko, created by Lorraine of Wired Orchid, is an entry in the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy Challenge.  The theme given to the artists this month was “Southwestern.”

Here is how Lorraine’s describes her entry:
“For this challenge, I had envisioned the bright pottery and colors that you might see in a southwest city like Sante Fe. Geckos are the Indian symbol "Sign of Desert," (and I imagine there are several of these critters in the southwest) so I thought a gecko would be a good fit for the challenge. The scrolls and flower petals are canes that were individually placed on the gecko's lime colored body.”

Vote and Win Prizes
Hopefully this colorful little guy made your Monday happy, but if seeing him wasn’t quite enough, I have a little something extra. Vote and win prizes. Go to the challenge page and select your 3 favorite entries. Then you will be entered to win a fabulous polymer clay prize. Voting closes on Oct. 7.

Here are all the fabulous entries.

 1) Southwestern Shard Vessel by MichelesArtJewelry

Michele's description of her entry: This vessel measures approximately 5x7, is created entirely of polymer clay with slabs and canes, edges are torn, clay textured and antiqued.

2) Spirit Dancer Pendant by BeeTreeByMe

Mary Ellen's description of her entry: I thought a long while about the various things which seemed to represent the Southwest to me. I kept being being drawn to the strong spiritual quality of the landscape, cultures and traditions. The Southwest always makes me feel a very deep connection to the earth. I have tried to portray my feelings with my personal interpretation of a Hopi Kachina.

3) Treasure Box by PatiBannister

Pati's description of her entry: Treasure box, all polymer clay, turquoise coin embellishment; burnt umber glaze, wax polished

4) Wee Houses Necklace by ArrowdaleArtStudio

Cindy's description of her entry: For this piece I wanted to get back to my wee houses - and these are the "wee-est" I've done! I also wanted to capture the colors I remember from my trips to the southwest - the pinky browns in so many shades, and the deep surprising red.

5) Southwestern Dancer Pendant by ClayCenter

Berit's description of her entry: I was experimenting with the Natasha or Rohrschach technique for this piece. It was a nice surprise how it turned out.

6) Chubby Gecko by WiredOrchid

Lorraine's description of her entry: For this challenge, I had envisioned the bright pottery and colors that you might see in a southwest city like Sante Fe. Geckos are the Indian symbol "Sign of Desert," (and I imagine there are several of these critters in the southwest) so I thought a gecko would be a good fit for the challenge. The scrolls and flower petals are canes that were individually placed on the gecko's lime colored body.

7) Faux Carved Bone Necklace by RiverValleyDesign

Christi's description of her entry: I have always been attracted to the rustic look of carved bone. I made this as an inspiration for a PCAGOE challenge, and turned it into a tutorial, too! The pendant and beads are mixed with tigers eye and jasper beads, a nice "southwestern" addition.

8) Faux Turquoise and Malachite Necklace by 11BoldStreet

Susan's description of her entry: This necklace of faux turquoise and malachite may seem too obvious a choice as an entry, but it truly has it's roots in the southwest. I took my adult niece to visit a friend in Tempe, Arizona. She (my niece) wanted a chunky turquoise necklace, but didn't want to pay the price. I came home and made a big batch of Tory Hughes' turquoise recipe, then surprised her with a necklace for Christmas. This neckpiece is made from some of the remaining nuggets, plus a faux malachite donut and sterling wire.

9) Necklace Southwestern Style by CraftsByCAG

Carolla's description of her entry: All the beads are from Polymer Clay except the silver ones, the toggle clasp, and the silver charm on the pendant.

10) Just Hanging Around Pencil Cup by AshPaints

Arlene's description of her entry: This friendly gecko is just hanging around on the garden wall enjoying the southwestern sunshine. This pencil cup started out as piece of 3 inch pvc plumbing pipe, then patches of "brick" was added. "Stucco" was layered over, leaving portions of the brick exposed where the stucco on this garden wall has begun to peel off. Colorful kaleidoscope tiles add a burst of color and finishes out the look of an aged adobe wall. The gecko just climbed right up and made himself at home!

11) Southwestern Kokopelli Inlaid Handmade Box by PolymerClayCreations

Angela's description of her entry: This box is 100% polymer clay. I first made the 3 1/2" by 3 1/4" box by forming a base box over a cardboard form. Then I made a turquoise and coral cane to look like an indian blanket and covered the box. Then I cut out and inlaid the tee pees and kokopelli by hand.

12) Boots Cake Topper by Polyclarific

Amanda's description of her entry: These stand around 2.5 inches tall. Being an Aussie I'm not that familiar with the theme but I thought this fitted in nicely.

13) Sunface Kachina Necklace by RenGalSA

Deb's description of her entry: Beautiful Sunface Kachina Pendant (about 2") with millefiori feathers, jellyroll and patterned accents complimented with a necklace of faux turquoise rounds, red jellyroll cane beads, barrel beads covered with feather patterns and 4 millefiori feather drops. All polymer except for the silver beads and clasp. SO MUCH FUN!

14) Zuni Corn Maiden Necklace by SCDiva

Lynda's description of her entry: I am a South Carolinian and I love my state, but if I had the chance to live anywhere else, it would be the American Southwest. Everything about the region, the history and rich culture; the bold, vibrant color palette and ruggedness of the landscape, just fascinate me, as does the legend of the Native American Zuni Corn Maiden and started collecting corn maiden fetish beads. For my challenge entry, I wanted to recreate one in polymer and also incorporate my favorite colors of the Southwest: Turquoise, tomato red, mustard yellow, and aubergine. I created the Corn Maiden pendant, the Faux Bone Capped Navajo Blanket Beads, and the Faux Turquoise toggle clasp with its corn-shaped bar from polymer clay. I added dyed Magnesite "purple turquoise" rounds and "harvest turquoise" disc heishi beads and fluted copper spacer beads to complete the look.

15) Southwestern Tissue Box by HiGirls

Lisa's description of her entry: Polymer clay over wooden base. I used a mosaic technique to create the blanket or quilt pattern, textured with burlap, made molds to create the "conchos" -silvered with mica powder.

16) Southwestern Look Faux Leather Tin by ThePleasantPheasant

Jackie's description of her entry: This 2.5-inch diameter by 1-inch high covered tin was my second attempt at faux leather using the tutorial from 11BOLDStreet. The tutorial is fantastic and I'll be using it for many more beautiful faux leather creations in the future.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Puking Pumpkin graces AC Moore FB page

winner of  1st ever 'The Common Thread' logo competition

This fab e-mail message landed in my inbox yesterday.

Thanks again for participating Marie….you may want to take a look at our Facebook page because you’re the winner!!
We appreciate all the hard work you put into creating your Logo entry and being an active member of The Common Thread. We were delighted to see our Fans put their hard work into creating something for our page and we’re proud to have your entry as our Profile Picture for the entire month of October.  
Congratulations and enjoy seeing your work up on our page!
Thanks again,
Rachael Ginter & The A.C. Moore Team
About the project
I hand-sculpted the puking pumpkin from polymer clay and brushed on pearl powder before baking to give it some sparkle. The innards are made by mixing the orange clay with some white to lighten it. Then I rolled thin strings and placed them as squiggles coming out of the pumpkin's mouth.

The leaves are made from clay that I stamped with a grape leaf stamp and cut out with an Exacto knife. Please visit the AC Moore page to see the finished pumpkin in its natural Facebook environment.

Make your own
I'll post detailed instructions with step-by-step photos next week so you make your own.


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