Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Through The Eyes Of A Child (To Dream...)

Sometimes life keeps throwing you curve balls.
Our recent family curve since August of last year is 7 people have passed away.
A few more are dealing with life changing medical diagnosis (cancer, disease, and such).
It is getting a bit crazy.
But there is hope. There is love. There is laughter...
 And there is imagination...
The drawing above is from my daughter (4 years old).
It is a picture she drew of me. With colored spirals in my hair.
I adore her vision. Her imagination. Her view on life.
The other day my son (2 years old) stopped and laid down in the grass in our front yard,
While we were busy with fixing up some parts of the garden that needed tending.
Mind you, he is not quite graceful as he is only 2, and we at first were unsure at what he was doing.
Dave to Riley: "What's wrong buddy, are you ok?"
Riley to Dave: "Yook Daddy. Yook at the Clouds. Up Dere!"

Made me think more about stopping and looking around a bit more.
I've gotten out of that habit recently - and I'm not thrilled with it.

 My garden has been such a work in progress.
A propagation garden. Trying to grow as many plants as possible, see what makes it garden.
Mostly natives. Mostly with insects and birds in mind.
Also - enough hostsa and day lilies to keep the deer from dead heading all else (not working that well though - but not hurting either).
So I've now planted some cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and two blueberry bushes in hopes of having some fresh food again this year. The deer eat mostly everything - so until we have formal raised beds (next year perhaps?) I'm just throwing some seeds in and seeing what we get.
 And at the garden center, I couldn't pass up on some color and texture in the garden now that my cone flowers are out again for this year's growing season (although there are some growing. I will pull them soon).
These two photos are annual Osteospermum's (African Daisy).
Above is the Zion Copper Amethyst.
Below is the Serenity White Bliss.

And in the studio...
What few hours I've had to spend there recently...
I have been working on glazing bead pairs.
 All of these bead pairs will be photographed first for color and shape.
I've got plans on adding these to my Marsha Neal Studio website shopping cart where anyone can go in and order a specific set of beads.
 There will of course be parameters.
I have to set limits.
Not only for the sake of actually being able to follow through with something like this undertaking,
Because computer applications are based on set parameters.
And to be able to keep my sanity, I must limit what I offer...
 So there will be "general" parameters:
1. Bead size.
2. Bead shape.
3. Bead hole diameter.
4. Bead color.
I am not one for measuring out the size of clay by extruding a coil of clay, measuring lengths, cutting exactly, rolling a perfect shape, and making sure the hole is exactly perfectly round.
That is what machines are for. 
I am not a machine. 
I am a person.
I like going into the studio and rolling out clay, cutting out lengths, making beads in whatever texture and shape suits me at the moment...
Then when it comes to glazing - that is when I need direction limits.
Because without them, I would be lost for hours upon hours (days actually) just glazing away with any color I wanted in lots of quantities... 
Then would run out of beads and have to make more beads, to glaze in more colors...
Wait. That is what I have been doing.
Oh - and I have another glaze shipment arriving today with "more new colors".
Somebody stop me. I'm obsessed!!!

So for now I'm slowly working on beads.
And photographing beads.
And making and glazing more beads...
Then sorting beads into a website shopping cart...

All in amongst all the other things in life.
And hopefully catching a few days here and there to look at things around me and do some cloud watching with the little ones...

So that's what's going on with me.
I'm letting go of all the guilt of not being able to do everything.
Just trying to eek out things here and there.
Riding this wave of life into the shore (still can't quite see the coast line yet - but I know it is there...).

Thank you for continuing to support me and my work.
Don't forget to add your photos or listings by direct URL of the work you are making with any of my clay or silks I sell through my Etsy shop or Website to my "Creations" page of this blog!
I love to see what you are making and will hopefully help you sell some of it too...

Hope you are keeping your head up & looking at some clouds too!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pantone Summer 2012 Color Matching

Every month I write a post for the Beads of Clay Blog for Cone 6 Glazes.
I go into my studio and pull out my glaze notebook, grab some colors (sometimes planned, sometimes on a whim), and get to work...

Working in a home based studio, I don't have a lot of room for dry material storage (I would rather have a jewelry making area, and not have so much dust in my house from working with bulk dry materials) so I made the decision when setting up shop, that I would use commercial glazes.

Something that I find much pleasure in now that Commercial Cone 6 Glazes are so readily available and have many, many different colors and effects (and safety when properly fired).

The scientific side of my brain loves to try out various color combinations, layering and mixing different glazes to get different effects on various textured surfaces (my pieces).
And watching my little one with these Velvet underglazes - the experimentation of mixing colors is something that is a natural human instinct.

Being part of the bead and fashion industry, it is not only fun to take a look around and see what some of the "trends" are, but it is a little necessary to keep your line of work fresh. 
In this world of bead making - which relates to jewelry making - which relates to fashion...
There is the "Pantone Spring and Fall color palettes" that come out twice a year.

And for someone like me that tends to lean towards earthy tones - having a direction to work in that is outside of my "comfort zone" of colors that I would normally pick is a great way to create work in palettes that other people might be interested in. At the minimum, thinking about something like this is a stepping stone for a lot of potential creativity...

Here is a selection of glaze colors that I quick put into the kiln to see if I could get a decent match (not exact - because every kiln firing can have different results).
Marsha Neal Studio Glaze tests for Pantone Fashion Colors.
A lot of these glazes are glazes I have had for years.
And I have a lot of beads to be glazed in these colors (I keep making earthy, rustic, blue and patina ones because they are my favorite to wear) and will be updating my website with sets that customers can pick out and buy by whatever glaze colors I pick to offer.

So this month, for the Beads of Clay blog, I decided to show some of my glaze tests that work on my clay body that are close - or what I feel "work" for creating in a similar palette of the Spring season's trending color palette.

Hop on over and check it out!

And don't forget about my
Celebrating my birthday (which happens to be today!)
Sale and giveaway end 5/20/12.

And sign up for my email newsletter if you want a heads up for my progress with these new beads in different colors. Also, my Marsha Neal Studio Face Book page, twitter, and Flickr also get photo insights on what is going on with Marsha Neal Studio usually daily.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Birthday Sale Week!!!

It's my Birthday Week!
So I'm having a SALE!!!

I'm turning 37 this Friday (May 18th)!
Nothing special planned (except maybe finally getting to see the Avengers movie this week)!
Maybe a trip to the local creamery for some ice cream with the kids...

Marsha Neal Studio OOAK Stamped Pendant Set in Glacier Glaze

So, RIGHT NOW I'm throwing an impromptu sale in my Etsy shop!

Marsha Neal Studio New Crescent Shaped Pendant Set in Dusty Denim Glaze

All of my clay items in my Etsy shop are marked down 20% off!
The pieces will go back to regular price soon after midnight EST on Sunday, May 20th (2012).

Marsha Neal Studio FaceBook Fan Page

If you "Like" my FaceBook page: Marsha Neal Studio, there is a coupon code there for my awesome friends to use to take an additional 10% off their final order (pre-shipping charges)...
Which includes these silks:
Marsha Neal Studio Silk Knot Bundles and Silk Ribbons!

Help me spread the word, by social media and all that goodness...
Every time you do, and then you comment here on this blog post - between now and Sunday (5/20/12) your comment gets you entered to win a $37 Marsha Neal Studio Etsy shop gift certificate.

And for everyone purchasing stuff through my shop from today 5/14/12 to Sunday 5/20/12,
Every one listing you purchase gets you into a second drawing for a $37 gift certificate from my shop.

So there you have it.
Happy Birthday To Marsha!!!
20% off clay items in my shop.
FaceBookFan coupon code for extra 10% off your purchase.
$37 gift certificate drawing (1 chance per listing purchased)

$37 BONUS Certificate: 
Share socially, then comment here for each time you share (1 comment = 1 chance).

Thank You all for supporting my work!

Oh, and by the way - there is still a drawing going on for if you purchase one of the Silk Knot Bundles from one of the twelve finalist palettes in the Silk Color Palette Challenge - you get a chance at a $50 gift certificate:
Special Listings ~ Click HERE!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Clean Your Holes!!!

I can't stress enough how important it is to clean your bead holes!
If you are a bead maker, this should be one step that you don't overlook because it makes your bead look as if it is not of high quality work, even if it is.
Marsha Neal Studio Porcelain Beads with holes in need of cleaning.

If you are a bead user, you know how frustrating it is to have paid for a great handmade bead (or commercially made ones too), only to have it arrive with sharp edges in the hole or glaze partially blocking the hole.

Depending on your skill level as a bead maker or collector, and the materials you are working with - you might be able to fix that situation.
Marsha Neal Studio Cone 5 Glaze Firing Arrangement
Since I like having the option of being able to glaze piece however I want (covered in glaze, specific areas glazed, etc) I also must accept that I might lose pieces to the hook it is being fired on (the glaze can run into the hole and fuse the hook into the pendant hole).

Marsha Neal Studio homemade Nichrome wire hook for suspending work.
As a bead maker, I prefer to fix any glaze hole imperfections before it arrives in the hands of my customer.

I don't want that piece they receive to be anything less than my best work.
Yes - I am a quality control freak. 
I adore well crafted, artfully interesting, handmade work.
 And I want my work to be held up to those same craftsmanship standards.
Marsha Neal Studio Porcelain Pendant - Hole before cleaning.
I don't want that piece they receive to be anything less than my best work.
Yes - I am a quality control freak. 
I adore well crafted, artfully interesting, handmade work.
 And I want my work to be held up to those same craftsmanship standards.

So for my ceramic beads, pendants, and buttons, I use a pointed diamond drill bit, cordless Dremel tool, bucket of water, towel, and protective eye goggles or glasses (flying bits of glass are not fun to have removed from your eye). 
And please remember to be smart when using water and electricity.
You don't want to electrocute yourself.

First, look at the hole to see where it needs cleaning.
Wet the bead by dipping it into the bowl, hold it tight (the rotary motion of the drill can make it fly out of your hand), turn on the drill, insert drill bit into hole, and clean the hole. 
I usually wet it again to rinse it, and do a visual check then a careful quick finger check to see if I got all the sharp or rough spots, dry with towel.

There is another reason for having tools like this on hand.
If you have a piece, and the bead hole is not quite large enough, you can make the hole larger.

The above buttons are going to be really cool closures on some leather bracelets - like these:

But the holes aren't quite large enough to fit the 2mm leather through it.
So put your hand up and smack your forehead if you are me, and have a duh moment.
If I can clean out bead holes to remove excess glaze (and it makes the bead hole larger - so you have to be careful to not go overboard with the drilling) - you can make these button holes larger for your friends!!!
So working with the same process above, enlarge these holes and make these older buttons usable for this project. Amazing! 
These buttons automatically get a new life outside of a small baggie on a shelf...

So now when you receive a piece and the hole is not perfect for what you need it for,
you have a bit more information to be able to determine if drilling the hole out will help you.

PS - if you are looking for any handmade buttons, check out this Beads of Clay Blog Post!
Want some of mine? Marsha Neal Studio Etsy is where to shop...

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Silk Combo Packs

Today I spent a lot of time photographing silks for my Etsy Shop Silk Update (now completed).

I thought it was time for a change for some of my silk photos...

And tonight made this collage with some of the New Silk Combo packs.
The Silk combo packs are 20 silks (10 ~ 2mm, 5 ~ Silky, 5 ~ Fairy).
And you can pick any of these 6 color palettes!

I have a thing for color and texture.
And I love creating silk knot bundles...
And for those people that love to create with various types of silks, but don't have the time to pick out individual colors - these palettes are pretty helpful.

And of course - there are a ton of projects, challenges and blog hops that inspire me to pick color palettes out, like this month's Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge:
Brandi Hussey's ABS Color Palette Inspiration based on Maurice Utrillo's painting.  
Marsha Neal Studio 2mm Silk Cord Set (Palette #187)
And you can see (& purchase) special palettes that some of my friends picked out:
Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge

When it comes down to it, it can be overwhelming to pick out colors and styles while staying within a budget (trust me - I know - I started ordering these silks by a couple hundred, and now I order them by the thousands - talk about addicted...).

I just love it...
Love having all these colors and textures in hand to help you with your next project!
I'm starting to accept that I am a components person.
And I am totally ok with that.
I really enjoy working with people and making things for their creations...

Another thing I love - hanging out with my kids:

For a few hours at the end of the day today, after picking up my little ones from school, then my sister, we headed out on our annual excursion to the Wilmington Flower market for some kiddy rides, carnival food, live music, and lots of cool artwork by local vendors.
It is one of those things that we can look back and see how much they have grown from year to year.
Next year, Chloe will be big enough to get on rides all by herself.
RJ - another two probably...

Where does the time go?

Enjoy the new palettes over on my Etsy shop!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Three Giveaway Winners May 10!!!

I was holding three drawings, each for a $25 gift certificate to use in my Etsy shop.
And I've got three winners!!!

First Drawing for $25 gift certificate is one that only my Newsletter customers knew about.
(Want to get in on that kind of stuff? Sign Up HERE)
They had a special coupon code for a discount and to get them entered into their drawing.
Which was this item:
Chocolate Stoneware Clay Butterfly with Glacier Glaze

The Second Drawing for a $25 gift certificate from my Etsy Shop was from customers that used the BOCFFAW coupon code that was posted on my blog to get 10% off their order through Midnight May 9, 2012.
Which was this item:
Porcelain Pendant, Flower Design, in OOAK Washed Out Purple Blue Glaze

The Third Drawing for a $25 gift certificate to my Etsy shop is from all the comments left on the original Etsy Shop Update and Giveaway Post.

These awesome group of people helped me promote my work through all kinds of social media outlets, and I really appreciate it! 
Thank you all for liking my work enough to want to share it and get a chance at winning so you can add items to your collection!
The commenter picked left this comment:

So CONGRATS to the three winners for the gift certificates!

Thank You all for continuing to support my artwork!

I'm off to go photograph some of these as long as the sun stays out...
They will be showing up in my Etsy shop in my Silks section.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bohemian Inspired Jewelry Book - The Silk Ribbons!

Have you seen all the hype about this new book:
Not only is it full of fun projects that fit my fashion style, I'm personally really excited because I was asked to contribute some info on the care of Silk Ribbon (page 11 in the book) that I sell through my Marsha Neal Studio website and Etsy shop.

I couldn't wait to get a copy in my hand, so I had to download a pdf copy!

And now that I've got a copy in hand, I can see just how many of the projects that have the Silk Painting Is Fun (Ute hand paints these silks, but sells in bulk) silks that I've been selling with my ceramic beads and pendants since I first met her back in early 2005.

Here are the three types of Ute's silks I carry:
2mm silk cord
Fairy Ribbon
Silky Ribbons
Sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to pick out individual color strands and let's not even talk about color resolution and how different colors look on your monitor, so I offer silks in 10-strand "Silk Knot Bundles" which are pre-selected color palette bundles of 2mm, Fairy or Silky Silk Ribbons to make it easier to buy and still feel inspired and not overwhelmed by choices.

The color palette in the three photos above were inspired by the 2011 Fall Pantone Fashion Colors.

One project in the Bohemian Inspired Jewelry Book that uses almost a full 2mm Silk Knot Bundle
is Lorelei's "Ocean Love" project.
(10) 2mm Silks for Bohemian Inspired Jewelry Book Project: Ocean Love
She came up with this "Ocean Love Silk Cord Set" herself.

From the Beads of Clay Blog, a photo of it:

You could use this palette to make the project in the book, or pick another color palette that is pre-selected, or - make up your own palette (for a similar effect to the project in the book, pick 2 of each of 5 colors for 10 silks total).
Use her project for inspiration to fuel your creativity!

I'll be updating my blog here with lots more palettes for projects related to this inspirational book!
I can't wait to get into my jewelry studio and start playing with all these materials I've got at my disposal.
I promise to keep some for those of you that want to order some for your projects too!

Like working with silks?
Love picking out color palettes?
Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge