Jarita's Creations

A little about me and my creative adventures. Here I will share both my successes and not-so-successes. I will share the lessons learned and accomplishments made. I look forward to feedback, helpful advice, and making new friends!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Continuing Kiln Successes (& some not-so-successes)

Well, I never finished sharing about my last firing and Friday, I opened the kiln to more wonderful treasures! I am very pleased with the direction that my work is going right now.

To begin with, I have completely finished 2 of those necklaces that I have been working on forever. I still don't have them listed on etsy yet, but I'll add them soon. I really like the way this pendant worked into the necklace. I utilized Delica seed beads and wove the strands through the artbead and created a lovely branching effect that works really well with the overall piece.

I finally finished the triangular pendant into a sweet necklace also. The peachy-pink tones worked perfectly with this beadwork necklace that I made. The spiral effect in the necklace also compliments the twisted coils of clay in the pendant. I really love the finished piece!
The last firing included lots of ornaments and beads with some new finishes. This firing I continued the effects that I liked and expanded the tests for additional possibilities. Some of the tests were great, some, though, not-so-great. Once again, there is so much to talk about, that I probably won't get it all shared, but will share what I can.

First of all, I talked about the tendency for my favorite green underglaze to burn out...so, I tried some experiments on little beads. The first oak leaf was finished with dark green underglaze and sbred slip. The green burned out, as was expected. I have a nice bead in shades of very olive and a reddish brown. Nice, but not what I want all the time. The next little bead shows the same underglaze by itself. Very pretty summertime color, but I'm still looking for more options. The next bead was hard to photograph well, but on it, I applied a different underglaze, Amaco hunter green, and brushed just a touch of the sbred slip on it. Beautiful! No color washout and nice late-summer/early-fall tones! The last bead shows that same underglaze by itself, where I think it exhibits a touch more blue undertones. I think it's workable, but I also think the original dark green has its uses provided I don't mix it with iron. Very interesting experiments that have really broadened my color palette as each shade will have its time to shine.

The next series had some good results too, but also some bad results. I definitely like this ornament, but the results were not what I was hoping for. I applied sbred slip and then the dark green underglaze on the leaves only. I then applied a glossy glaze on the leaves hoping it would protect the green from burnout, but it didn't. I also applied a little copper carb/rutile mix over the top 3 leaves (that's why they still show some green). I honestly like the results. I love the way the dark veins show through the minty green leaves. Nice depth and detail. I even like the way the background leaves lack the green color. It looks like shadows and highlights. Nice contrast.

The next ornament in this series of tests had my favorite dark green underglaze, a dark brown underglaze, and a buttercup mason stain. Then I glazed the whole thing. Umm, no good. I do not like the results at all. This one will go in the shatter pile. I applied the glaze a little too thickly, but I think the main problem actually was with the cooling of the kiln. I slowcooled really well and that allows crystals to develop within the glaze. Depending on the exact glaze, sometimes the glaze turns a softer matte tone, sometimes large flower-like crystals develop, and other times it does as it did here. Partly due to the heavy application, it developed a heavy frosty appearance that obscured details. Not to my liking.

This ornament has the same underglazes applied, but I did not apply any glaze, just fired it dry. I really like it like this. It's hard to tell in the pic, but the frame is done in the dark brown underglaze and I used the buttercup mason stain on the vine. Although there is only a subtle difference, I like the way it adds just a touch of depth and color.

I did a similar experiment as the ornaments above with these two pendants, except my contrasting color was a cobalt/frit mixture. You can still see the frosting effect and a little loss of detail on the glazed pendant, but because the application wasn't quite as thick, the final effect is a little better. I still like the unglazed pendant better, but I can work with the glazed one too. It's nice and different. I probably won't be using this glaze on a slow cool on small items anymore.

For now, I just want to share one more item. I really love this ornament! It is one of my favorite pieces from this firing. I have applied a combination of succesful effects to create an overall beautiful ornament. I applied sbred slip (and washed back) all over. Then I carefully applied the cobalt/frit mixture to the ribbon and bow. Next, I glazed the leaves and applied copper carb/rutile mix to them. The results include lovely accented veins showing through the minty green leaves. Also, the ribbon and bow exhibit the soft-glaze effect that I have mentioned in previous blogs caused from the frit reaching the melting point and becoming glaze-like.

Overall, this firing had some nice pieces. I lost a few more to the over-frosty effect from slow cooling and lost a beautiful large tray from bits of kiln wash falling into the glaze. I love some of the other pieces that I have run out of time to share, but will be listing them on my etsy site within the next week or two.
Also, as a side note, I have joined the Homefront Team on Etsy and created a nice treasury featuring some of the sellers.
I hope you enjoy browsing through them as I did when I created the treasury. These are all talented individuals that have some connection to the military. I love the bracelet by CandJjewelry. She incorporated a button from the Army uniform. So cute!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Working in the Right Direction

On last Thursday, I had one of the most successful^6 firings ever! I had loaded the kiln with a lot of little stuff and just a few medium pieces. There were a lot of new designs and new finishes. I was so excited that I listed many of the new pieces on etsy just as fast as I could. Here, though, I want to share a little about some of the other pieces and also some of the techniques that I used. (This will either be one very long blog, a couple of not-quite-so-long ones, or I won't get everything shared... or some combination thereof.)

I have been working for some time on some jewelry ideas. My first batch of pendants didn't result in very many coordinating with the necklaces that I had made. I needed bolder colors. I was a little more successful this time.

This is one of my favorites and will be a (typically, late) birthday present to my dear friend Jeannette. I am thrilled with the results! I began this one with an impression from part of a stamp. I have a small handheld extruder that I used to create the very smooth vine-coil. I work with these tiny extrusions with damp hands because they dry out very easily. I also wedge a little extra moisture into the clay so it is very soft which allows me to create very supple curls and vines. I designed the vine to act as a bail for attaching to a necklace and added some of those babydoll ficus leaves that I've been enjoying lately. After bisquing, I applied a strong mix of cobalt carb with frit 3134 and washed it back a little . A little dark green underglaze added color to the leaves. I actually didn't apply any glaze, but apparently I exceeded the melting point for the frit because it added a lovely light glaze. This little beauty was fired to 2190`F in an electric kiln, with a slow rise the last 200` and a 20 minute hold at the top plus a controlled downfiring to 1400` resulting in a soft ^7 (the ^7 cone's tip was just barely touching the shelf).

I've chosen this necklace to place my pendant on. This is one of the ones that I created in Rhode Island. I love the alternating herringbone stitch sections with the netting stitch sections. The cobalt blue (lapis azuli gemstone) intermediary beads work well with the ceramic pendant and the chocolate cherry seed beads create a nice, warm contrast. I am also very pleased with the toggle and loop closure. I love the way I stitched the netting over the gemstone bead. I originally had in mind a totally different art-bead idea when I created the necklace, but when I placed this pendant next to this necklace, they looked right. I really hope Jeannette likes it and finds an occasion to wear it.

Although I was looking for bolder colors, I am also pleased with this fall tone pendant, although I am unsure exactly why it turned the colors that it did. I created this piece using coils from the handheld extruder again, extra soft clay, moist hands, etc. and added the tiny oak leaves. After bisquing, I applied a mason stain (buttercup yellow) mixed with frit 3134 to the whole piece and washed it back. Then I applied a dark green underglaze to the leaves only. This is the part that I'm confused about. I think there's a chemical reaction between the mason stain and the underglaze. I think the mason stain is iron-based (to get the yellow and also because when I combine this underglaze with other iron-based underglazes the same thing happens), the green color burned out leaving a nice iron-brown.

When I combine this same underglaze with a blue (cobalt?) based mason stain, the green (copper?) of the underglaze doesn't burn out. Due to the fact that I don't understand the why, I must simply accept and remember the results and apply my finishes accordingly. I would like to find a green that I can combine with the yellow mason stain at some point, so I'll keep working on it...

Anyway, back to the pendant and the necklace that I will be incorporating it into. The gold and reddish brown tones look wonderful with this necklace: The pendant is designed to have the necklace woven through the braided portion. I could even add a small briolette if I wanted to (and may in future pieces), but this one I will simply work with the seed beads.

I have so many more great results that I want to share, but, hopefully, I will share them in another post. I have some ornaments that I want to add beads to, another necklace that is more complicated, some lovely sleepy-sepia tone ornaments that I will add some reed handles to, and a few other things.

Plus, I am still working in the direction of pendants and ornaments. I always have ongoing ideas that combine working theories and add new adaptations. I think I need to get back to work, but I look forward to sharing more later.

You can also visit my etsy shop (http://www.jaritascreations.etsy.com/ ) to view the ornaments and pendants that I have already listed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Free Gift Tags!!!

It's early this morning, but I impatiently waited for the kiln to get cool enough to pull out some of the gift tags so I could take pics. Even then, I had to handle them with tongs and a potholder because they were too hot too handle at first, but I've got the pics of the finished item!!!

These gift tags are so sweet! I honestly love them! I think they are the perfect "thank you" for selecting pretties from my etsy shop. In case you haven't heard yet, this is the deal...I am participating in a Christmas in July promotion on Etsy and the Etsymudteam. My "special" was up to me to choose. I spent some time and brainstorming (there's a blog entry on that) and came up with the idea to give a free ceramic gift tag to any purchase totaling $15 or more. Yes, that's right! FREE CERAMIC GIFT TAG!!!

These cuties measure about 2.5" by 1.75". They are a lovely shade of forest green. I have fired them to ^6 (about 2190` F), but left them unglazed which allows them to be written on using a Sharpie-type marker. I impressed each tag with leaves, some are grape leaves, maple leaves, tiny oak leaves, or ornamental yew (for that holiday look). If someone prefers a specific leaf impression, please let me know and I will try to accomodate, but if all the ones made with that leaf have already gone out, I'll let you know.

I also pulled a couple of my new beads out of the kiln already. I will write another blog on them over the next couple of days, but here's a sneak peek at a few:

Well, I've got to get moving on listing all my new items in my etsy shop! I have so much to share! You can visit my shop at http://www.jaritascreations.com/

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Merry Christmas in July!

My perspective on Christmas has fluctuated throughout my life. I have always believed in the true reason for the season and assure that I remember Him even in the little details like spelling Christmas starting with "Christ" and never spelling it as Xmas. I understand wishing people "Happy Holidays" to recognize that the entire season includes Christmas and other holidays too, but I usually wish people "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" to recognize my personal emphasis on Christmas. These things have remained throughout my life; it's more my activities, how I react, and the more complex perspectives that have changed. When I was a young adult and the kids were little, I didn't really think about Christmas until sometime in November and then it all hit me at once with lots of excitement and fun activites. It was a busy, hyper, oft-confusing and overwhelming season. When I had the flower shop, I planned for Christmas months in advance, but never for myself. Christmas became a time when I tried to create a mood, to build upon people's love for each other, and to share in others' celebrations. It was a time when I became almost completely unaware of myself and any personal recognition of the holiday season. Then, as my children reached young adulthood, Christmas almost became lost in other activities. Last year, we didn't even set up a tree. Christmas dinner was not too grand. There were only a few presents, although we did go after-Christmas shopping. There were just too many other things going on.

This year, I began thinking of Christmas way before July even. I think that's more how I want it to be. I like thinking about the positive feelings inspired by Christmas throughout the entire year. It's partly that thought process and perspective that inspires my current line of ornaments. My themes are life and love, which, to me, are important throughout the year and highly emphasized during the holidays.
My heart ornaments are a perfect example of the emphasis on love, but even here I also focused on life by including the tiny little leaves. These ornaments will truly display lovingly around the holiday time, but what I really like about them is that they can also be displayed throughout the year for multiple purposes. They would hang nicely in the kitchen on that skinny section of wall where most people hang their potholders, or in the bedroom in that small space next to the closet. They would be adorable decorating a wedding or even a baby present. And wouldn't it be cute to hang one on a suction cup hook at the office? These precious ornaments can serve to remind us of love and life throughout the year and at Christmastime.

My "Tree of Life" ornament obviously celebrates life, but it also celebrates my love for nature, my appreciation of the gifts that we have all around us. It, too, can be displayed along those little places where we could use a little positive influence, a little reminder of the holiday season throughout the year without looking so much like we simply forgot to pack up last year's ornaments.

My little birdhouse ornaments epitomize all that I have already shared here. The love of life and the joy of sharing it throughout the year, while being able to comfortably and attractively display the positive sentiments of the holiday season and maintaining a suitable decor all year long.

To me, Christmas-in-July is not just a time for early preparations for the holiday season, but also a time to stop and think about all the warm and loving feelings that Christmas brings into our lives. This is the season to refresh those feelings and feel good about ourselves and those we love!
I have enjoyed reflecting upon Christmas as I have prepared for a Christmas in July promotion being held throughout Etsy, the Etsy Mud Team, and within my shop. Many other members of the EtsyMudTeam have also been working to help you prepare for a joyous and festive holiday season. To view the entire list of participating members, please visit the MudTeam website at http://www.etsymudteam.craft-sense.com/ . Or if you choose to visit the Etsy main website ( http://www.etsy.com/ ), you can search for "christmasinjuly" to see lots and lots of neat, handcrafted Christmas items.