I’m not quiet, I’m busy!

I’ve been pretty quiet here lately, but not because I’ve stopped working on McLaren Crafts – quite the opposite!

I’ve been spending a LOT of time making new things for the Etsy store. In fact, I’ve been spending so much time making things, I haven’t even had time to photograph and list them!

I’ll list the items and update the galleries soon (gosh, April was a productive month!) – so if you come back in a few days, you’ll see new mini pendants (including a number of gorgeous “Spoilers!” pendants I am VERY proud of) and my new “Circle of seasons” series of brooches and pendants.

And next up will be MORE pendants and brooches, as well as some figurines and magnets.

Gallery updated (again)

I’m still very excited about having sent my Etsy store live – and it’s been a bit of a mad scramble making sure everything else is up to date as well.

So I’m very happy to say that the Gallery pages have been completely updated for April 2012 (thus far, anyway – I have a few more ideas cooking!).

You can find the lovely little toadstool pendants…

Mini toadstool pendant with gold eye loop and jump-ring against ivy - number 2

the inlaid heart pendants…

Heart-shaped pendant in dusk-rose pink with darker pink design embedded and silver leaf-bail against ivy

and my beloved autumnal designs with a brand new look!

Small round autumnal silhouette series pendant - ivory branches and leaves inlaid into green base with silver bail, against red-brick and ivy

Large round autumnal silhouette series pendant with ivory fox inlaid into copper-coloured base and gold leaf-bail, on red-brick and ivy

We have lift-off!

I am proud, thrilled, excited, [insert choice of hyperbolic verb here] to announce that the McLaren Crafts Etsy store has now launched!

Where you can purchase all sorts of pretty things, such as:

Mini toadstool pendant with silver eye loop and jump-ring against ivy - number 2

Or you can buy:

Heart-shaped pendant in dusk-rose pink with darker pink design embedded and silver leaf-bail against ivy

Not to mention the autumnal magnet sets, and a whole bunch of autumnal pendants!

And the fun is just starting! Next up come figurines, more pendants, brooches, magnets, coasters…

My head is buzzing with designs for cats, teapots, ladybugs, bees, TARDISes and TARDIS-shaped notebook pendants (I love a challenge), LEGO minifigures (like I said, a challenge) and so much more!

Best yet – is there something you’d like me to make? Send an email to mclarencrafts@gmail.com, or contact me through the Etsy store, send me pictures that represent what you’d like me to make, and we’ll figure something out!

(Bear in mind, I won’t make anything that is an exact replica of a licensed or copyrighted image/sculpture/etc, unless you can prove that you’re the owner of the license or copyright. I don’t want to get sued, that’d spoil all the fun.)

Gallery – all pics have been put up!

The galleries are now completely updated, with a few last photos added to the 2009 or earlier gallery, and all photos added to the 2011 gallery.

Mind you, looking at how long those pages have become, I’m tempted to try and make pages dedicated to each project, with thumbnails on the gallery pages…

Oh well, websites are meant to evolve!

The other thing I’ve really noticed is how plain or poor quality some of the photos are. I really need to invest in a decent digital camera, and start playing with composition shots to show off the things I make better. I’ve got some lovely things I can use as background props, I just need to work out the best way to compose these shots. And get a decent camera to take them with, instead of just using my phone…

Gallery – autumnal silhouettes

Autumn has just begun here in Melbourne. Along with spring, it’s my favourite season of the year.

I love early autumn especially, with its cool crispness to the air, calm sunny days and – best of all, for me – an end to the summer heat.

Of course, here in Melbourne we have a lot of native evergreen trees, so we don’t get quite the same spectacular range of colours as in Europe and North America. But there are a few deciduous transplants here and there, so there are patches around the city where the foliage turns lovely shades of yellow, orange and red.

Those colours inspired the ‘autumnal creatures’ set:

Silhouette tiles, autumnal creatures set, clockwise from top: ivory owl on gold, ivory leaf on green, ivory fox on copper red, ivory squirrel on bronze

This is a set of magnets measuring about 4cm square – you can see the full description and photo range in the March 2012 gallery.

I loved the colours so much (and made so much of the custom colour-blend for the backgrounds) that I couldn’t resist making another set, ‘autumnal cats’:

Silhouette tiles, autumnal cats set, clockwise from top left: prowling cat against gold, playing cat against green, sitting cat against maple red, stretching cat against coppery bronze

I particularly love the marbling effect in the ivory clay. I created it by mixing translucent clay through the ivory base in swirls, before rolling the clay flat so I could trace and cut out the shapes.

These will be for sale once the Etsy store goes live, as well as the same designs in brooches and pendants – I may even go nuts and try the silhouettes on different coloured backgrounds!

Speaking of going crazy, I now want to develop colour schemes and creature sets for winter, spring and summer as well!

Materials – the right tools for the job

I mentioned tools in my last materials post. They’re an essential part of my ability to create the things I do, and I wouldn’t be able to make anything without them.

In no particular order, my tools are:

  • marble chopping board
  • marble rolling pin
  • tracing fabric
  • rubber-tipped clay-shaping tools
  • basic stainless steel dissection kit
  • my own two hands

The marble chopping board is the perfect surface to work on for polymer clay craft.

My marble chopping board, used as my work-surface

Quite apart from how beautiful it is, I love this board because it provides a lovely smooth surface to work on. Clay doesn’t stick to it, I can cut using the sharpest knives without damaging the surface, and it’s so easy to keep clean.

Likewise, my marble rolling pin is another essential tool.

My marble rolling pin

Like the chopping board, it is smooth, doesn’t stick to the clay, and is really easy to keep clean. Also like the chopping board, I think it’s really beautiful.

I bought the chopping board years ago, but only found the rolling pin early last year. They look like they could have been made as a set, which I am ridiculously pleased by.

I use the tracing fabric to create stencils for things like my silhouette tiles.

Three silhouette tile stencils, with ruler to show scale

I use a glue-free interface fabric. It’s light and flexible, meaning I can trace designs onto the fabric, and then use the fabric to indent the designs into the clay, but it’s also fairly sturdy, meaning I can use the stencil multiple times – ideal for repeat designs!

I bought the rubber-tipped shaping tools at a local art supply store Dean’s Art, as part of a set of eight. The other five tools are much bigger, though, designed for large ceramic projects.

Rubber-tipped tools sitting on top of closed dissection-kit case.

I’ve found these tools useful for smoothing clay when a fingertip or metal tool won’t quite do. The flexible tips mean that I can easily adjust pressure, indentation and smoothness.

But my most beloved tools (apart from my hands, of course, couldn’t do much without them!) are my dissection kit!

My dissection kit; from left to right: two needle-tipped picks, scalpel, elbow-tipped pick, two pairs of scissors, craft knife, two pairs of tweezers, spare scalpel blade

I first had the brainwave to use a dissection kit years ago, while I was still at Uni and making a couple of figurines for some friends of mine. I needed to make curly hair for one of them, and stole borrowed my dad’s handheld steel garlic crusher. While hunting for another tool, I found his old dissection kit, from his own Uni days, buried in a bottom drawer. I pulled it out, cleaned off the dust (all the blood was long gone, I checked) and found, to my delight, that it was the perfect set of tools for fine detail work.

So I stole borrowed the kit, too. When Dad eventually reclaimed it, I bought my own from a university bookstore, and have been happily using it ever since.

Ironically enough, even though my immediate association with dissection kits is the cutting up of frogs, rats and mice, I’ve not once made one of those. If I ever do, it will certainly be an odd symbolism, to use these tools to put together something they would normally pull apart!