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Recently I have come across problems with my rock tumbler.  I have been running it longer then I ever have when tumbling polymer clay.  (Usually with a batch of clay I will take 36 hours to tumble it through three grits of sand paper and buffing.)  The last two weeks I have been polishings sea shells that I found in Maine.  I have done two grits, both being used for over 1 week.  The poor tumbler got a work out.

The first problem was with the original belt breaking.  The tumbler is a two barrel Chicago Electric.  The belts have a history of breaking.  I replaced that with a sewing machine belt of the same size.

The second problem happened when that belt over heated.  It got brittle and then started to shred.  To help with the over heating issues, we simply took the cover off of the motor compratment.  I will be putting mesh over it to keep things from falling into to motor.  So far it seems to be doing okay.  I am about to polish the shells which will leave the machine running for another week.

So far my test batch of sea shells have gone through two grits of polishing material in the rock tumbler.  I am about to put them in with the polishing stuff.

I really like how they are turning out.  I have some that look like the polished shells that you find in jewelry.  I also have some that still of the purple outer color that I really like.  That part does not have the shine that the inner shell does.  I am hoping that the polishing gives it a shine was well.

The comes the harder part!  Figuring out what to do with the shells.  Do I turn them in to barrettes on their own or do I add them to other stuff?  I think that I will end up doing all of the above!  I have ideas of working the shell pieces into clay as accents, maybe as turtle shells.  I, also am thinking of wire wrapping the shells with sea glass pieces.  Then of crouse, if I have larger shells that will mount well on barrette backs, I will do that too.  So many ideas!

These are two words that go very well together.  One of the many things that I love about polymer clay is that even your practice pieces can look good.  Another is that even the mistakes can make pretty pieces.

A lot of my barrettes are actually practice pieces that I fall in love with.  Many of my beads are “mistakes” or things that have failed (like when I first started to make canes.)

A great piece of advice is simply to play with the clay.  Some people feel that when we say that we play in clay, we are not being serious artists.  I feel that playing is simply enjoying the clay.  As an artist (I consider myself one) it is great to enjoy the act and art of creating.  It is totally fun and should be!

So, I will go off to my room and PLAY!

I have been enjoying making barrettes out of all the floral canes that I recently got.  I wanted to do something different though.

I reduced my most recent butterfly canes and added them to a barrette.  I am very please with how it turned out.

floralbarrette.jpg

I am going to figure out how to other critters, like dragonflies, bees and who knows what else.  I like the added dimension that the butterfly creates.

In the forums at http://cs.artjewelrymag.com/artcs/forums/ we have started doing monthly challenges.  (Actually, we have been doing this for a couple of months but they just updated the forums so everything is new.)  This months challenges was yellow and black (using those colors on a project).  How we used them was left up to the artist.  The whole idea was to get us to try something new.

yb-butterflies.jpg  I decided to use six different yellows and create a butterfly cane.  Actually it is two canes that I then combine to make butterflies.  These two lovelies are on a barrette.

yellowandblack-beads.jpg  Of course, I have ends of the canes to create beads from.  Here are two larger focal beads that I made.  I do like them.

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