Monday, May 16, 2011

Steampunk Claytraptions!

 I began this sample during my demo and added to it during the workshop.

A few weeks ago I held a Steampunk Claytraption workshop for local teens at the library. To my surprise we had a full house that included a significant group of guys. These kids were well versed in Steampunk and came ready to create.

An empty watch case and strap became the perfect frame for a teen creation.

For those who aren't hip to the term Steampunk, it's a science fiction movement that came into prominence during the 1980s. Steampunk is set in 19th century Victorian Britain where steam power was still widely used. Steampunk creations often feature futuristic innovations as perceived by period fashion, architecture, and culture.

Melissa caught me in action conditioning the clay.

To get them started I shared a quick demo in conditioning polymer clay in their hands. Once it was pliable I showed them how easy it was to insert the hardware directly into the clay. I brought a generous of selection of silver copper bronze and black polymer clay to complement the metal.

Fabulous vintage clock work pieces, we limited each participant to just two so we would have enough for the group.

Our wonderful teen librarian was able to secure a generous donation of vintage clock gears and parts. I scoured my studio and turned up a plethora of scrapbooking embellishments; small hinges, rivets, brads, charms, and metal alphabet letters. I also grabbed a selection of chain, silver, bronze and gold wire, along with several pairs of wire cutters. The last step was to hit up my husband Jon's hardware supplies for small screws.

 My dentist offered me sterilized dental tools for jewelry making. The kids loved working with them, they were instrumental in setting small wires and engraving patterns.

The teens created freely, using whatever combination of materials they desired. The only restriction was the two vintage piece limit.

 I was thrilled with the incredible variety of the projects. Even with a similar heart theme these two pieces are distinctively different. One is flying on shards of metal and wire whereas the other floating on cloud like wings.

I circulated the room to check that the Claytraptions were strong enough to survive the baking required to cure the polymer. Thin sections of clay are apt to break.  I also made sure all the embedded metal pieces were securely anchored in place.

If time permitted they would have all gladly stayed and created additional Claytraptions. We quickly decided to repeat the workshop this summer. In an amazing coincidence Jon came home from work that night with a bag full of watch parts from the repair shop down the street from his office. I can't wait to see what they'll create next time.

  I love the use of the hinge and chain on this pair of golden wings.

Make it here, take it there: crafts with Heidi Boyd
If you're entering middle school this fall (6th grade) join the creativity!
3:30pm Friday afternoons through the month of July.

6/24 Mexican Paper Flowers, 7/1 Indian Anklets, 7/8 Parisian Mirror Frames, 7/15 Steampunk Claytraptions, 7/22 Chinese Lanterns, 7/22 Japanese Folded Books, 8/5 Thai String Dolls.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Quilt Market Butterflies

It's a treat to be able to share a current design project on my blog. Most of what I work on needs to be kept under wraps before it appears in books and magazines. I was delighted to make these butterflies for National Nonwovens Quilt Market booth. They manufacture gorgeous wool felts and roving products. The company supplies me with a selection of their product for my publishing work. I was especially grateful to have an array of their felt on hand while I worked through the designs for my newest book Stitched Whimsy, a playful pairing of felt and fabric (October 2011 North Light books).

They choose a butterfly theme for their trade booth and asked me to make a pair. Once I pulled out my butterfly guide and stack of felt, I couldn't stop at two. I expanded the project to four distinctly different butterflies in order to better showcase their product.

To make the pattern I simply folded a sheet of paper in half and then used the guide to draw half a butterfly wing.  I cut the wing shape out of both layers of paper. Once unfolded I had a symmetrical paper pattern for the first layer of felt. I continued using the folded paper technique to make two to four additional smaller patterns for the overlays.

I stacked and pinned the wing layers together. In some cases I snipped holes or cut triangular darts into the overlays to reveal the color underneath. I machine stitched the layers together, creating a decorative network of freestyle seams.

The butterfly bodies began with a twisted chenille stem armature that I wrapped in wool roving. I needle felted all sides of the body to insure the roving was tightly anchored in place. The final step was to hand stitch the back of the body to the finished wings. If you're in Salt Lake City for the show be sure to stop by the booth and check out my warm woolen butterflies from Maine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flower Crowns for May Day!

Happiness is watching children joyously dancing around the May pole. A symbolic ritual that chases away cold winter winds and welcomes springs blooming flowers and trees. As the mom of a kindergartner this was our first time celebrating May day at our local elementary school.

The children were divided into two groups; the youngest simply skipped around the pole, the older children looped and wove the ribbons.

We had a few after school rehearsals to practiced lining up skipping and dancing around the pole. During one of the practices I realized they needed someone to make thirty seven crowns. I quickly volunteered and set off to raid the spring garland display at JoAnn's Fabric store.

Stacks of twisted crowns filling my family room couch. These are the easy crowns made from the lightweight garland.

I was unable to find enough of one kind of garland so my method for making the crowns adjusted with the available materials. Lightweight berry garlands could simply be cut in half and wound into two separate crowns.

Heavy weight wire cutters and pliers were necessary to cut the wire vines apart. You can see the flower sprays that were pulled out of the garland at the top of the frame.

The other garland consisted of a heavy brown vine and lighter green stems. I had to pull this garland completely apart. I used wire cutters to clip the heavy vines and twisted them circles that were slightly too small for my head. I wrapped the loose sprays to the vine with lightweight plastic coated Fun Wire (Toner). the green wires of two floral sprays could also be twisted together to make a single crown. It took more work but I was able to get five crowns out of each these garlands.

Simply hold the berries to the vine in one hand while the other hand wraps the wire.

I brought the garlands into one of the last practices and shamelessly asked for help from other moms to cut and loop three folded ribbon lengths around each crown.

Finished crowns on the school bleachers.

The evening was a great community building event. Money was raised by May basket raffle tickets, and light refreshments sales. Koi fish were also sold to in honor of children's day and to raise money for Japanese Tsunami relief.

Celia and her dance partner leaving the May pole.

It's wonderful to be able to help with something that comes easily to me. It also makes me smile to know that  each of the dancers took home their flower crowns as a keepsake from the dance.
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