How to Juggle Clay Beads through Social Media, Shows and Classes

Being a beadmaker makes me feel at times that I should also be a juggler.

Porcelain and Stoneware Spiral Beads

Porcelain and Stoneware Spiral Beads

As I work on new beads and objects, I am also prepping for shows, online sales and some classes.

New Marsha Neal Studio FaceBook Group

New Marsha Neal Studio FaceBook Group

I’ve started a new FaceBook Group called Marsha Neal Studio Group Share. The direction being that there is a place for me & interested customers/friends to bounce ideas off of each other. I will be showing off new items, maybe selling items here and there, and asking for customers to post items that they have made with Marsha Neal Studio objects.

FaceBook Group Handmade Component Bazaar May 11 & 12, 2016

FaceBook Group Handmade Component Bazaar May 11 & 12, 2016

May 10 & 11, 2016 I am going to be a featured selling artist on Handmade Components Bazaar through Facebook.

May 21, 2016 I will be working at Sarafina Art House for their Sprung event, and teaching a braided bead bracelet Make & Take at 3pm.

2016 Bellefonte Arts Festival

On May 21, 2016 the Bellefonte Arts Festival is happening in North Wilmington, DE. I have my work in a case inside of the Bellefonte Arts Gallery if you want to check out my work along with enjoying the many artists, food, and music the festival is having.

The Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, WI is going to be so much fun. It is always great to see so many friends (customers and vendors).

Food week in Milwaukee is always delightful!

Food week in Milwaukee is always delightful!

I cannot wait to get some cheese curds and a cold beer! This is usually my first stop off of the airplane. Seriously!

Milwaukee beer and cheese curds!

Milwaukee beer and cheese curds!

You can find Nikki (Thornburg Bead Studio) and myself splitting corner booth #608 at the Convention Center.

Thornburg Bead Studio and Marsha Neal Studio Booth #608

Thornburg Bead Studio and Marsha Neal Studio Booth #608

And this year, you can get into the show for FREE!!! Here is the pass you will need to bring with you when you register:

Free B&B Show Admission June 2016

Free B&B Show Admission June 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 night from 9-11pm is the Special Midnight Madness Sale in the Hyatt.

Midnight Madness at the Hyatt

Midnight Madness at the Hyatt

Thursday June 9, 2016 4-8pm Preview shopping for registered attendees.

Friday June 10 – Sunday June 12, 2016 is public open Vendor Marketplace which you can use the above coupon for.

I am wondering how am I ever to get through this juggling act without dropping any of the balls. Somehow it happens and before you know it, the fall season will be knocking on our door…

Art Jewelry Elements Blog “Component of the Month” for April 2016

Every month Art Jewelry Elements blog contributors participate together to make something with one of the artists “Component of the Month”.

April 2016 was this handmade Amulet by my friend Jenny Davies-Reazor.

 Jenny and I were at Bead Fest April right next to each other, so when I saw she had a few of these available, I just had to have one!

 I have been a bit obsessed with small hanging vessels for a couple of years now and have graduated to getting a “Now That’s a Jig” for making some really interesting wire forms to suspend pieces with.

 I knew that I wanted this piece of Jenny’s to be out where I could see it every day.

I just LOVE the spirals and swirls. It is like being taken into swirls and spirals of water by a rocky coast – just falling deep into the meditation that it brings to mind.

 I used Dark Anodized Steel Wire (sealed with some Renaissance Wax to keep it from rusting) and made this decided upon steel form. I then cut a long length of the 20ga wire to attach the amulet.

 This is what it looks like finished and ready to use.

 I am a collector of seed pods and dried garden blooms. So I added some to the amulet to hold some of the memories of those seasons now passed – time spent exploring the garden with my little kids.

And for now, it graces my working area of my bench along with another swirl steel holder waiting for another vessel to join it.

Please make sure to stop by the Art Jewelry Elements blog hop to see what these other wonderful artists have created with their Jenny Davies-Reazor Amulet:

Guests: 

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio (you are here)

Alison of Alison Adorns

Jess of The Copper Cat

AJE Team: 

Bead Fest Spring 2016 Philadelphia

Friday, April 8 through Sunday, April 10, 2016 you can find a lot of handmade jewelry supplies, tools and classes, including a lot of newly made beads from my studio.

Porcelain Spiral Beads

Porcelain Spiral Beads

Marsha Neal Studio Headpins

Porcelain and Stoneware Headpins

Marsha Neal Studio Porcelain Beads

Porcelain Beads ready for pairing.

Marsha Neal Studio Stoneware Beads

Stoneware Beads ready for pairing.

I will be at this show representing my business Marsha Neal Studio, LLC and I can be found at Artisan Table #520.

Marsha Neal Studio Bracelet Kit Samples

Marsha Neal Studio Bracelet Kit Samples

Marsha Neal Studio Beaded Bracelet Kit

Marsha Neal Studio Beaded Bracelet Kit

If you are planning on stopping by, here is a discount coupon pass for you to use. If you register online, please use Marsha Neal Studio (Artist Table #520) as your Referring Exhibitor as they keep track and do some drawings for advertising for the business that gets the most referrals. Use Code BFSPEP16 at BeadFest.com to register in advance for your $5 weekend pass.

Copy and print this image for your $5 weekend Bead Fest 2016 Spring Pass.

Copy and print this image for your $5 weekend Bead Fest 2016 Spring Pass.

I will also have some wet and needle felting items for sale (and my ceramic needle holders too).

Marsha Neal Studio Wool Vessels

Wet Felted Wool Vessels (waiting for your bead embellishments).

Needle Felted Creatures (Sarafina Style)

Needle Felted Creatures (SarafinaFiberArt Style)

If you are not able to make the show, you can always shop online in my Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop!

How To Make Ceramic Spoons

I have been absent from my ceramics studio for long periods of time in the last couple of years. In some ways I just needed a change. I needed a bit of grounding inside my head and to do that I needed to get out of my creative space and go work for someone else a bit. But now I am coming around again – looking at things with fresh eyes and ideas for where I think I am heading with my business.

First up is my need to make some ceramic spoons. I looked up a lot of stuff on Pinterest and Etsy to see not only what people are making in clay, but also in other materials such as wood (I love the thought of carving wood – getting those nice peels and curls coming off). There are some great things out there and I wanted to see from my own sense of feel and use – how to design some of these spoons.

Basic Spoon Shaped Templates

Basic Spoon Shaped Templates

Three of the designs I drew out are meant to be spoons, one is more like a tea bag holder or spoon rest (still not settled on that completely).

Cutting out basic spoon shape.

Cutting out basic spoon shape.

I rolled my paperboard onto a clay slab and cut out the spoon shape.

Adding another slab for the bottom layer of the press mold.

Adding another slab for the bottom layer of the press mold.

I then added another layer of clay to give the spoon a bottom (I have since made another series of slab molds which have yet to be fired and tested).

Cleaning up the press mold.

Cleaning up the press mold.

As these press molds set up, I went in and rounded out the edges and made sure there were no undercuts.

Bisque kiln done and press molds ready to use.

Bisque kiln done and press molds ready to use.

At the “that is as good as these get, I need to STOP touching them” phase, the press molds were dried flat (slowly) then bisque fired to Cone 04.

First ceramic spoon prototype tests out of the press mold.

First ceramic spoon prototype tests out of the press mold.

To make the actual spoons, I tried two techniques: soft slab pressed into mold and coil pressed into mold. Both worked ok, so it is really what is going to work best for me. I then used some of my handmade bisque stamps to press in the designs into the top of the spoon (just imagine the possibilities!!!).

First tests out of the press mold. Going to see how the glazes look on these.

First tests out of the press mold. Going to see how the glazes look on these.

The newer molds I made will allow for a slightly thicker spoon that has a bit more allowance for a curvy area at the end. And I need to figure out how to keep track of having my designs stay a bit more centered.

Snow covered trees outside the studio.

Snow covered trees outside the studio.

And all of this is happening in the warmth of the studio while outside it looks like a winter wonderland.

I’ll be posting photos on Instagram and my Marsha Neal Studio FB page as I am working on these. If you want to know when they might be available, sign up to get my newsletter.

Delaware Fun A Day 2016 Progress

Delaware Fun A Day is a great project that I have now participated in for two years.

I love that it is a way to light a fire under ones creative tush to make something every day for the month (this year it is January 2016 – 31 days = 31 items made). I decided to work from where I have been recently in my transition between working with ceramic clay in bead and jewelry making and learning about wool dying and blending of colors through my part-time work at the Sarafina Art House.

Not to mention all of the cool artists that are participating! You get to expand your creative artist group by participating in events like this!

I should have been blogging about this all along, but my MarshaNealStudio Instagram seems to be my preferred instant sharing these days (blog posts require way more work). So here is where this adventure started: at work back in October 2015.

Locks are wetted down then added to pots of colored water to dye them.

Locks are wetted down then added to pots of colored water to dye them.

After the curls and locks are colored, they have to be dried to store them.

After the curls and locks are colored, they have to be dried to store them.

This is something I am learning to do through SarafinaFiberArt and these are my first attempts at dying what I call “Zombie Locks” because they are cut short, a bit discolored, and contain some bits of vegetable matter and some other things from the barn yard. My goal was to make some needle felted zombie ornaments for my sister for Christmas, and all of the other locks I had were just too pretty and nice. I needed something that looked like it belonged on a decomposing corpse. These are a bit too pretty too, but when there was some matted v.m. or beetle parts – it was like a bonus!

Fast forward to December & time to sign up for Fun A Day 2016. I decided I wanted to make some wet felted “vessels” of some sort. Was not quite sure if I was going to make various shapes and colors, but I wanted to try it out then find my focus.

Foam shapes cut out to experiment with wet felting with resists to make hollow forms.

Foam shapes cut out to experiment with wet felting with resists to make hollow forms.

Results from wet felting first try with various fibers and shapes. Not so great, but there is potential!

Results from wet felting first try with various fibers and shapes. Not so great, but there is potential!

I decided that I liked the triangle form and that they would easily be hung, just as I do with my ceramic vessels – with a wire wrapped handle. So I set off to figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

To figure out the color palette, I decided to pull out my Zombie locks, then start mixing Merino wool from Sarafina to see what colors I could get.

To figure out the color palette, I decided to pull out my Zombie locks, then start mixing Merino wool from Sarafina to see what colors I could get.

Here is a photo of me using the Sarafina Hand Carders and pulling the merino across to blend it. It is an arm workout!

Here is a photo of me using the Sarafina Hand Carders and pulling the merino across to blend it. It is an arm workout when making over 50 colors!

Custom blended merino wool colors. I just love this part!

Custom blended merino wool colors. I just love this part!

As I worked on the custom blends I was also taking time to match up the Zombie locks with the custom blended Merino.

As I worked on the custom blends I was also taking time to match up the Zombie locks with the custom blended Merino.

As this process lasted all of January, my cat Peeves was quite insistent that she got to be in the middle of it at times. I love those curls too Peeves!

As this process lasted all of January, my cat Peeves was quite insistent that she got to be in the middle of it at times. I love those curls too Peeves!

Once the color palettes were sorted, it was time to begin to work on the 31 objects for the Fun A Day opening (if you have not guessed – the 31 objects are representational of 31 days of being creative. There are days into weeks where all that was done was blending colors. My work is about the process as much as making the work.

Laying out the Merino and beginning to wet felt the cones over a foam triangle.

Laying out the Merino and beginning to wet felt the cones over a foam triangle.

The locks were added when layering the merino and the entire piece was rolled and wet felted.

The locks were added when layering the merino and the entire piece was rolled and wet felted.

After the felting process was done, and the resist and soap gotten rid of, it was time to stuff them and let them dry to keep their opened form.

After the felting process was done, and the resist and soap gotten rid of, it was time to stuff them and let them dry to keep their opened form.

I worked in batches making and drying these pieces (more like 50 pieces as it is quite addictive).

I worked in batches making and drying these pieces (more like 50 pieces by the end of the month as it is quite addictive).

One of the last stages of this process was creating the hanging wire. These were created on my "Now That's A Jig" and hammered flat to hold its form.

One of the last stages of this process was creating the hanging wire. These were created on my “Now That’s A Jig” and hammered flat to hold its form.

And with that a new item is created and put into the world. They are far from being done with potential. I can completely see these being adorned with seed beads, fiber embroidery, more layers of felt. But for this project, this is where I feel I can stop. That they are finished and I have accomplished my goals of spending a bit of every day in January making a bit of art. Perfecting the colors and process to the best of my knowledge and skill set a this point in my life.

Show info:

Delaware Fun A Day 2016 will ONLY be on display from 5-9pm on Friday, February 5, 2016 at the DCCA in Wilmington, DE. 200 South Madison Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. Check out the Social Media posts: #DEFunADay or #DelawareFunADay to see current and past entries.

 

If you are interested in learning about wool, I highly recommend visiting SarafinaFiberArt.com and learning about sculptural needle felting, wet felting, 2D Wet and Needle felting through the many videos and workshops Sara provides. Then come and visit the shop in person or order supplies online if Elkton, MD is a bit too far for you to drive. You can even find some of my Marsha Neal Studio work in the Sarafina Art House Gallery and through the Artists link on their website.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read up about this process and enjoying art!

You can find my work through my Marsha Neal Studio Etsy shop and at some point, when I get organized better, my website!

marshanealstudio

marshanealstudio

Ceramic Artist. Garden and Nature Enthusiast.

View Full Profile →