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A Valentine for my Spun Cotton students!  Step by step instructions for this mixed media ornament are posted on the class site.

A Valentine for my Spun Cotton students! Step by step instructions for this mixed media ornament are posted on the class site.

Wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day!

Spun Cotton Class members should stop in at the class member only site to get step by step instructions for this mixed media Valentine ornament ❤

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What do you do if you are a spun cotton artist and your son is getting married???  Make a spun cotton cake topper of course!

This photo was taken after midnight, the day before the wedding. Obviously I was running right down to the wire in getting this done. The flash washed out a lot of details, but no time to take more photos – we had a wedding to put together!

Not the best photos, but I think they will give you some ideas.  Since I had to alter the bride’s wedding dress, I did have scraps of the actual dress to use when costuming the bride figure.  The clothing on the cake topper couple matches that of the real life bride and groom, right down to the bride’s elbow length black lace gloves!  Unfortunately I did not know that my new daughter-in-law was going to wear her hair up until a few days before the wedding(a smart decision on her part because the wedding day was HOT), and by then it was too late to change her tiny counterpart’s hairdo 🙂

If the cake photos are making you feel like you need to rush to your kitchen and bake, you can check out the recipes I used by visiting my blog Paula Walton’s 18th Century Home Journal.

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If you are a class member of my Spun Cotton Ornament class make sure you head on over to the Class Member only Ning site today or tomorrow for one last look at the five instructional videos.  I splurged and added two months of video capability to the class site as my Christmas present to everyone and now we are down to the last two days!!!

There are three videos on constructing a basic spun cotton ornament and two on how to costume your figures in crepe paper and cotton batting clothing.

I hope you have all enjoyed your Christmas present 🙂

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Merry Christmas to all of my spun cotton ornament students!  As my present to you all this year, I have purchased two months of video capability for the class site and posted three instructional videos; Making a Human Wire Armature, Basic Spun Cotton Instructions, and Another Method For Spinning Cotton and How to Fix Trouble Spots.  These are a great refresher for those of you who have taken a “live” class from me here at my studio or at the Brookfield Craft Center, and a chance to see spinning in action for all of you who have taken my Class by Mail.

Pop in at the class site soon!  The videos are only available for viewing through February 5th, 2012.  While you are at the Ning site, be sure to take advantage of the newly added directions for making a reproduction of the antique spun cotton boy in this previous post.

If you are one of my students  who has not already signed up for the class member only site, I strongly urge you to do so.  You are missing out on lots of great information and best of all it’s entirely free for all class members.

Email me at paula@asweetremembrance.com if you are a student who needs an invitation to the class site.  Be sure to include the approximate date that you took/purchased the class so that it will be easier for me to look you up in my records.  Also for those who have already signed-up for the Ning site but can’t remember how to get there, I am happy to send you a reminder 🙂

If you haven’t taken my class yet, this is a great time to do so!  Click here to visit my website A Sweet Remembrance, where you can purchase my Class by Mail. There is still time to receive your class before Christmas if you buy it in the next few days.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity to watch the video instructions (which will be unavailable after 2/5/12).

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Tips For Using Push Molds

Today’s helpful hints are all about using push molds.  I’ve been thinking about push molds quite a bit lately, mostly because I’ve been busy making a lot of them. 🙂  So thank you to everyone who has ordered a set of my newly introduced molds, this posting is for you.

It is possible to make push molds from any polymer clay, although some clays are better suited to it than others.  Push molds can also be made from various other mold making materials such as rubber and plaster, however these are much more difficult and time-consuming, so we will be ignoring these other methods today (and possibly in the future as well 🙂 ).

My current favorite clay for making molds is Sculpey Super Elasticlay MoldMaker and Polymer Clay Conditioner.  Eight ounces of this clay sells for around $10 – $11.  I generally try to buy it on sale.

If you have a Joann Fabrics near you, they carry it.  So get your name on their mailing list and they will send you flyers with coupons of 40 – 50 % off of one non-sale item every month, which you can use to buy Sculpey Moldmaker.  Those coupons are also great when you need to buy batting.  A single cut of fabric, or in this case batting, counts as one item, that means you get the discount on however many yards of batting you buy.  I usually buy ten yards at a time, so the savings really adds up.

Now back to push molds.

Sculpey Moldmaker claims to remain flexible after baking, which it is for a limited period of time.  I have noticed that after a year or two the molds do stiffen.   This makes getting molded clay out of the molds more difficult, but it does not make the molds unusable.

The instructions on the back of the Moldmaker package tell you to mist your mold with water, then mold the clay and release.  They are suggesting the use of water as a mold release.  The only problem with this is that water will cause Sculpey to have little white marks in it after it is baked.  If this happens to you, you can salvage your molded face by priming it with gesso and then painting it with either acrylic or oil paints.  Obviously this is a lot more work!

A better mold release is powder.  Sculpey suggests that you dust your originals with cornstarch or talcum powder before using them to make molds.  I find that if you brush the insides of your push molds with a bit of face powder (that’s right, I’m talking about make-up) before you push in the clay it makes it easier to unmold.  The reason for using make-up is the color.  If a bit of the powder should remain on your finished face mask it will be unnoticeable.

Now that we’ve talked about how to get the clay out of the molds, let’s discuss the clay itself.  I prefer using Super Sculpey for Caucasian face masks.  If I am making  Black face masks, I use Sculpey II.  In either case I find that a dryer, firmer clay works better than one that is too fresh and soft.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that the consistency of Sculpey varies quite a bit.   If your clay is too soft it will be difficult to unmold without stretching the face out of shape.  You can over come this problem to a certain degree (pun intended) by refrigerating the clay before and after you push it into the mold.  You will need to work quickly so that the clay doesn’t warm and soften in your hands.  It will still be more difficult to remove the chilled clay from the mold, but it will be better than if the soft, fresh clay was at room temperature.

The best way to bake your polymer clay is in a polymer clay oven, which is something that looks a whole lot like a toaster oven.  The reason for using a special oven is not because your regular oven won’t work.  It is to keep harmful fumes and residue out of the oven that you use for cooking.   If you do use your cooking oven for baking Sculpey, scrub the inside of the oven down thoroughly with a mixture of baking soda and water, then wipe clean with additional water before you use the oven for food.  Sounds like a whole lot of work and bother, doesn’t it?

If you just can’t get excited about scrubbing your oven, then you can place your polymer clay inside one of those special oven bags that are made for cooking chicken, turkeys and roasts.  The bags are kind of expensive, but they will save you cleaning time.  This is a tip that will come in especially handy if you need to bake a large Sculpey  item that just will not fit inside of a tiny polymer clay oven.

Another safety precaution is that you should never use any baking dishes that you use with polymer clay for cooking food.  This applies to pasta machines too.  If you use a pasta machine to condition your clay, don’t use it to make lasagna noodles for dinner!

The general rule of thumb for baking polymer clay is 275 degrees for 15 minutes for every 1/4 inch of thickness.  This translates to 1/2 hour for a 1/2 inch thick piece of clay, etc.  Face molds should be thin to keep from weighing down your ornaments, so they will usually take only 10 or 15 minutes to bake.

Using push molds is fun and easy!  If your clay doesn’t unmold well the first time, just squish it together and try again.

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Buttons!

I love buttons, especially vintage buttons!  If you are familiar with the ornaments that I make, you will know that I often use antique and vintage buttons to embellish the costumes that my ornaments are dressed in.  I’m also very fond of glass glitter.  I mean really, what’s not to love about something so shiny and sparkly, that comes in lots of luscious colors?

So what happens if you mix the two together???  This is what happens…

What also happens is that you get glue and glitter stuck all over your fingers!  This is not a clean, tidy project, but if you are looking for a little extra WOW!, you may want to  consider glittering some buttons of your own.

Step 1. Use a small paint brush to brush Sobo, Elmer’s, or similar white glue on one side of a white button.  Make sure you cover the entire surface, but don’t use more glue than you really need.

Step 2. Place the wet, glue covered button on a piece of wax paper or a paper plate.

Step 3. Immediately sprinkle the button with the glass glitter of your choice.

Step 4. After the glue dries on the first side of your button, flip it over, brush with additional glue, return the button to the wax paper, sprinkle with more glitter.  Let dry.

Step 5. Glue your newly glittered button on to your spun cotton ornament.

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yellow-sc-izzypink-sc-izzy

This is an ornament that I posted several months ago on my other blog, Izannah Walker Journal. Thinking about project ideas for both blogs just led naturally to the idea for this project – one that combines both an Izannah Walker doll and a spun cotton ornament. I’ve worked in a couple of new embellishment ideas that I hope all of you spun cotton artists will find interesting.

Basic instructions and material lists for making spun cotton ornaments are provided in my regular in-person and by-mail classes. You are welcome to use the instructions below for your own personal use, but please do not use them for any commercial purposes. This means that you can’t sell items made with these instructions, patterns containing them, use them in teaching a class, or for any other money-making reason. You can however make as many as you want for yourself or to give away to your fortunate family and friends, if you can bear to part with your new ornaments.

  1. Cut a 9-½ inch long piece of wire for your body armature (which you will bend in half).Cut a 4-1/4 inch piece wire for the arms.Assemble the armature and proceed to make a standard spun cotton figure.I lightly sprayed mine with tea, as per the instructions given in class.
  2. Take a clear photograph of the face and shoulders of an Izannah Walker doll.Resize the image so that the face measures approximately 7/8 of an inch high. Print the re-sized image either in color or sepia on white card stock.Make sure you use the highest quality print setting available. Carefully cut out around the face and shoulder plate so that you have the equivalent of a lithographed paper scrap. Alternate ideas are to draw or paint your doll’s head, or to use the photograph of any young child, either old or new, that you would like. Sepia-toned prints may be hand-colored in the eyes, lips and checks.
  3. painting-sc-izzy2If you plan to hang your ornament, run a short length of floss, ribbon, or string through the top of the head. I used waxed twine. See class instructions for details.
  4. Mix brown acrylic paint with water in equal parts. My color choice was burnt umber. Paint the back of your figure’s head. Next paint on classic Izannah boots. Let dry.
  5. izzy-petticoatsCut white crepe paper 1-½ x 8 inches to form a petticoat. Glue in place.
  6. Cut colored crepe paper 1-¾ x 9 inches for skirt. Cut out bodice, sleeve and waistband pieces using the pattern given here, for the yellow dress, as a guide. Dress pieces for the pink dress mimic those in my Izannah Walker Doll Clothes Pattern. You may need to make adjustments to fit your figure as you go along.gluing-ribbons1painting-crepe-paper
  7. For trim like the yellow dress shown here, glue thin bands of 1/8 inch wide black ribbon along the lower edges of the skirt and sleeves. Let the glue dry completely before attaching the clothing to your Izannah ornament.
  8. If you prefer the all-over print like that in the pink dress, gather together three paint brushes with the same size handles, and rubber band them tightly together so that the ends of the handles form a triangle of dots. Dip the ends of the handles in undiluted acrylic paint, wipe the excess off on a paper towel, and then use the tips of the handle like a stamp to create an evenly-spaced pattern on the crepe paper for your dress. I suggest practicing first before you work on the actual dress pieces. Let the paint dry thoroughly before attaching the clothing to your Izannah ornament.
  9. Glue clothing to ornament per instructions given in class.
  10. If you would like, you may embellish the back of the dress bodice with tiny vintage buttons.
  11. Sign and date your ornament. Hang her somewhere that makes you smile.Enjoy!

If glue and paper aren’t your mediums of choice, these ornaments are for sale on my website, Paula Walton’s A Sweet Remembrance.

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