What a show! It was great meeting so many lovely crafters and such a talented bunch too! Under the Crafters' Studio tab on Projects4Crafters.com you'll find a gallery of photos from the show. (I'm sad I didn't get a chance to get photos of everyone as everyone was so friendly.) Yet again we were booked solid for the whole show and with all who managed to book onto the workshops enjoying themselves, the days flew by - there are just never enough hours in the day! It was so much fun I'm looking forward to next year already!
A Time To Sow almost sold out of the Efcolor Tealight Ovens which can only mean that many crafters must have discovered, like me, how much fun cool enamelling can be. There are so many different uses for the enamelled pieces eg jewellery making, scrapbooking, card making etc. And because the powders are baked at such a low temperature they can also be used on other surfaces such as glass, ceramic, chipboard, mdf, wood etc. You can also combine them with other materials such as Jo Sonja Artist Colours, mica powders and Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks. (I'll be adding project sheets for these soon.)
And hello to all the lovely people I met at the NEC the last few days - what a great show this year's Hobbycraft Show turned out to be!
Just like last year we were booked out each day almost before we started the first workshop. If only there were more hours in the day... either that or I need to find a way to clone myself so that I can teach two workshops at the same time! Needless to say after 4 days of raising my voice to be heard above the hubbub of the NEC I've lost it! Still, at least I don't need it to continue crafting and working on the website.
I will be uploading some of the photos I took at the show for everyone to see just as soon as I've figured out how to get them off the new camera. And as soon as my voice returns I'll be setting to work on some craft videos for those of you who would like to see techniques in action!
If you are in Christmas mode already then check out November's Product of the Month. Sorry it's a couple of days late but the internet connect at the hotel was so poor I wasn't able to access the website. I think the beaded wire stars make great decorations for your tree or as festive window dressing. They also make excellent little pressies for friends as they are something that will be used year after year and, being handmade, each time they get them out it will remind them of your friendship.
Don't forget the Anniversary Competition - there's still plenty of time to get your Carol themed card done and sent in - there's a bumper prize for the best card so it's well worth a try! I look forward to seeing your entries!
Congratulations to Paula, our October winner - your Crafty Prize will be winging its way to you very soon!
Don't forget about the Anniversary Competition - see the home page for details if you haven't already spotted it! The prize fund is increasing each week so it's well worth having a go and it's so easy to make an extra card when you're busy making your Christmas cards anyway. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's wonderful entries!
Just wanted to let you all know that the Efcolor Enamelling Workshops at this year's Hobbycraft Show have been confirmed. Sue from Sinotex UK Ltd and I will be running six fun workshops every day 3-6 November at the NEC, Birmingham.
I would advise anyone interested in attending them to come to our stand J03 as soon as they arrive at the show. They were so popular last year that we were booked up each day almost before we started our first workshop. So book early to avoid disappointment!
Time to Sow on stand C21 will have a special show offer on the Efcolor Oven and Starter sets - perfect for Christmas presents, whether for yourself or someone else!
What a hectic couple of weeks! I've been so busy upgrading the studio computer and internet connection that I'm suffering creative withdrawal symptoms. However, it's all over now and hopefully the new system will make it easier and quicker to upload some inspirational projects for you all.
I hope you like August's Product of the Month project sheets - FIMO Soft really is a fabulous product which can be incorporated into so many crafting activities. The Fan Cane Buttons are quick and easy to make whilst The Sumptuous Casket, although relatively easy, is more time consuming.
I used a lovely wooden chest from Efco as a base for the Casket but there's nothing to stop you using an old tin like the one above.
Hope you are enjoying the summer hols although if you're stopping at home in the UK it must be said that the weather could be a little more consistent with the sunshine - I don't know if the hailstorm last Friday was countrywide but... wow... who'd have though it, especially on the 5th August! At least as crafters we can always find something creative to do whilst waiting for the sun to show it's face.
Congratulations to Lauren for being August's Prize draw winner! Your parcel of crafty goodies will be winging its way to you shortly.
I just got back from the Kent County Show and what a great show it was - despite the horrendous weather! I met lots of lovely people and introduced many to the wonders of enamelling with Efco's Efcolor powders. Check ou the Crafter's Gallery to see some of the creations of the visitors who made it to the Kent Pavilion. I think it's safe to say that fun was had by all inspite of the thunderstorms and downpours.
And for those of you who are based in the Rochester area, Francis Iles have asked me to teach an Efcolor Enamelling workshop later this year - I will let you know the date as soon as one has been arranged.
One very interesting development that came out of the show was when a lovely lady asked if you could combine mica powders with the Efcolor powders. It's something I'd not tried myself but didn't see why they shouldn't work - so, in between trying to catch up on emals etc. I just had to give it a go. And here are the results.
The octagonal pendant was coated with black Efcolor powder and baked. Then mica powders were dropped on. A cocktail stick was used to create a spirograph-like pattern before it was covered with a layer of clear transparent Efcolor powder and rebaked. Where there were small mounds of mica powder the clear transparent Efcolor seemed to have 'rolled' back and off the powder, leaving it exposed. Applying more transparent Efcolor powder didn't make much difference until the mica powder was spread around a little with a cocktail stick.
The butterfly pendant was coated with black Efcolor powder and baked. Then mica powders were brushed on making sure there were no lumps. A cocktail stick was used to create a pattern in the powder before a thin layer of clear transparent Efcolor powder was applied and it was rebaked.
The dragonfly pendant was coated with black Efcolor powder and baked. Mica powders were mixed with clear transparent Efcolor powder and then a spatula was used to pick up the mixes and drop them on the blank, covering the black layer. It was then rebaked.
As you can see you can create some spectacular results - so thank you lovely lady for your suggestion!
Having tried the mica powders I thought it would be worth just checking whether the Jo Sonja Iridescent Colours would work with the Efcolor powders as well as they do with polymer clay, and guess what....
Like the other samples this one was enamelled with black Efcolor powder. Then a thin coat of Jo Sonja Iridescent acrylics was applied to the surface and allowed to dry. It was covered with a thin layer of clear transparent Efcolor powder and rebaked.
The photos don't really do all the samples justice so if you have the JS Iridescents or mica powders then have a go at combining them with the Efcolor powders yourselves. If you send in photos of your creations I'll add them to the Crafter's Gallery.
If you've never tried Pébéo's Vitrea 160 Glass Paints then it's worth
checking them out. They are great for decorating a variety of surfaces
including cards, ceramics and, of course, glass. You can use them in
conjunction with the outliners to keep the colours separate and give a
traditional stained glass effect or mix it up a little as in the Vitrea
Fusion Card. If painting a heat-resistant surface you can bake the
decorated item, once dry, to make it dishwasher proof.
Don't forget, if you've got photos of any glass painted project, do send them in to our Crafter's Gallery (email@example.com) as I'm sure everyone would like to see them!
I have been amazed at the number of crafters I have met over the last few months who seem to be finishing off their headpins and eyepins the hard way! So many of you appear to have been taught to cut the wire short before curling it round at the top of your beads. I don't know about you, but I generally find that the shorter the wire, the harder it is to curl it around at all, let alone neatly and consistently which is exactly what you want when creating earrings!
So, I have just uploaded a Technique Guide to show you all the easiest way I find to not only curl the wire around into a ring but also to make the rings consistently the same size and shape. By leaving the wire long and only cutting once you have curled it around gives you more leverage and control. If you're into beading please do give it a go and let me know what you think! Alternatively, if you have discovered an even better way then add a comment to this blog entry to share it with everyone else.
Please don't forget to send in photos of all your wonderful creations as we need them for the Crafter's Gallery. We'll also be setting up a Crafter's Forum so that you can chat with like-minded people and may be even help each other out with any crafty conundrums!
Hope you all had a Happy Easter and haven't made yourselves too sick on all the yummy chocolate!
Eleonora posed a very good question via the contact form and I thought I'd share it with everyone:
"I would like to know what is the main difference between Efcolor and the high temperature firing enamels, apart from the temperature that is. I guess my main concern is the quality of the final product because if they were exactly the same nobody would bother with a kiln."
Efcolor powders are resin based whereas traditional enamelling uses glass powders, hence the need for a kiln and high temperature firing. As such, Efcolor enamelled objects will not be quite as hard wearing as glass enamelled ones. I ahve some traditionally enamelled pieces I created over 20 years ago that are still fine although, that said, they can still 'chip' and loose embedded items (one of mine has).
I have found that Efcolor powders work perfectly well for jewellery and embellishments etc. If you have something that is likely to get a lot of hard wear you will find that some Efcolor powders are stronger than others. For examples, I ahve a phone charm (Project: EN/0005) that has seen a lot of daily wear over the last six months or so. The copper glitter heart is still as perfect as the day I made it but the red transparent heart is showing some wear at the edges as well as a couple of fine cracks on close inspection. Whether traditional or Efcolor powders are used enamel, when cool, is brittle by nature and so needs a strong backing to protect it. Copper metal blanks are perfect for this purpose as they also conduct heat well.
The Efcolo range makes it possible for many more people, including youngsters, to try their hand at enamelling without having to make a huge financial investment. With the tealight oven it also means you can do it anywhere. However, I would recommend that anyone who wants to get seriously involved in enamelling, especially in combination with silver-smithing or precious metal clay, consider investing in the traditional glass enamel powders and a kiln. Efco also do a small range of kilns as well as the glass powders, tools etc. so contact your local Efco stockist if you are interested as they should be able to order them for you.
If you're not sure what system to invest in then it's worth starting with the Efcolor powders to see how you get on. This way you won't have a huge financial outlay at the start. The principles of enamelling are the same whether you are using Efcolor powders or traditional enamel powders. The only difference when working with them is that the glass powders need firing at the higher temperature and the glass chips and rods melt properly when embedded in the powders. When using glass chips and rods with Efcolor powders they don't melt but get 'locked' into the enamel in the same way that the metal jewellery does. The other benefit of using the low melt Efcolor powders is that you can combine them with other elements such as Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks, Swarovski gems, chipboard, fabrics and fibres, all of which will not be damaged by heating at 150ªC. You don't even need to invest in the tealight oven as an ordinary domestic oven will do when using Efcolor powders although I definitely think it's worth its less than £20 price tag if you want to give enamelling a real go. If you then find that you are getting more serious about enamelling, you can invest in the traditional powders and kiln etc. knowing you will not be wasting money.
I hope this helps anyone who is still unsure of the difference between Efcolor enamelling and traditional enamelling. If you have any questions don't hesitate to drop me a line.
Hope you are all well and enjoying the sunshine we've been experiencing in the UK during the last week. I had a great day at Flutterby Crafts teaching a lovely bunch of ladies how to make a Fimo bullseye cane and decorate beads as well as another session on the fabulous Efcolor enamelling. If you're interested in Fimo jewellery then I've recently uploaded a few projects and technique guides to get you started... and there'll be more to come soon!
One very good question that I've received via the 'contact us' page came from Debbie who asked if it was possible to use a stone polisher for polishing Fimo beads. As there may be more of you out there who are wondering the same thing I thought it worth mentioning here in the blog. And the answer is yes, you can use a stone polishing tumbler to polish and buff up your Fimo beads! Instead of using grit as you would to polish stones you need to use either wet and dry sandpaper or small, rounded, smooth but not polished, river rocks. If purchasing from a garden centre or builder's merchant here in the UK you need to be looking for pebbles or gravel from which you can pick out smooth pebbles that are no larger than 10mm and that are not jagged or cracked. If using wet and dry sandpaper either line your tumbler with it or cut it up into small pieces and don't forget to put some water in. If you want to buff your beads further then cut up small pieces of white denim or acrylic fleece and tumble that with your beads - this time without any water. If using a rubber barrel (not plastic) you may need to line it with a double thickness of denim to prevent discolouration of your beads.
I have always hand sanded my Fimo with wet and dry sandpaper as I don't own a stone tumbler and it is accepted as the best way to achieve the finest finish. (Always use it wet as that way the fine polymer clay dust is trapped in the water and you don't breath it in.) However, it does take quite a lot of time to achieve a superb shine - I tend to do it whilst watching tv as not only is it is time consuming but also thoroughly boring! I generally tend to start with a 360 micron and end with an 800 micron. For extra gloss you can then coat it with a layer of Staedtler's Gloss Lacquer - if sanded smooth before application I find you can't tell that it is coated in lacquer, all you see is an extra sheen. Also if you are happy using the lacquer you don't need to be quite so fussy with the sanding.
However, if you don't want to waste any time on sanding and polishing then a stone tumbler is the way to go - just leave it working for a few hours and let it do the work for you. Do bear in mind that it can be anything up to 6 hours for the first stage after which you will need to remove the rougher stones leaving only the really smooth ones for another 4-5 hours to achieve a truly polished look.
What a busy month February was! As usual the NEC hosted Stitches, the UK's largest craft trade show. I spent a couple of days going round the entire show and there are some lovely new products and ranges coming out this year. I caught up with a friend from Scotland who has recently launched an Art business up there and we're hoping to collaborate on a few crafty ideas soon! I've also been busy talking with various manufacturers about their new craft products. So watch this space... I hope to get some of those lovely products onto the website over the coming months!
March's Product of the Month projects sheets are now available, and if you've never used Colourcraft's Brush® Sprays and Crystal Colours before, I strongly advise you to download them to give you inspiration on where to start. They are such highly pigmented colours you can create some truly lovely effects with them. Whether you're a card maker or scrapbooker I'm sure you'll find a use for them.
I've been having such fun with Colourcraft's Brusho® range I thought you might like to see extra pics of what you can do with them.
These scrapbook pages have had sprays & powders applied and then left to dry.
Some of them were then cut up and used as decorative backgrounds for some quick and easy photo cards.
I use kitchen roll to blot pages or mop up excess colour. I leave it on one side to dry and then lay it on a piece of old cloth with parchment paper over the top to iron it flat. This I also use as backgrounds on cards because you can get some really amazing effects!
I also love working with Colourcraft's Brusho® on Tyvek - you can create some wonderful pieces whether you heat them or just leave them as they are.
You can also cut out shapes before you heat it, as I've done below. Alternatively you can leave it as a basic shape such as a square for a card background.
If you do decide to have a go, don't forget you need to protect you work surface and hands etc with plastic and gloves as they are such intense colours they can even dye wood! (Which is handy if you are interested in making children's wooden toys!) If you are concerned about any colour coming off your work when finished don't forget you can spray with fixative (as you would when using chalks) or alternatively use varnish. For scrapbooking projects make sure you use an acid-free varnish.
I hope, whatever you do, you have fun being creative!
Hope you all had a very Happy Christmas and managed to avoid the usual winter bugs that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment.
If you are a card maker or scrapbooker you may not have heard of this month's featured product. I would strongly advise anyone who is looking for something a little different or new to check out the Jo Sonja Texture Paste. It's a great product which can be used on card or 'beyond the page' projects.
A few tips for working with texture paste are:
1. You can thicken it by just adding a little baby powder.
2. If using a tube with a nozzle rather than a tub it is a good idea to either pop it in a glass of hot water or roll it between you hands to warm and soften it slightly. This will make it easier to pipe.
3. You can use a wet paint brush to shape and mould it for 3-D effects.
4. To make life easier when mixing paint and texture paste, rather than using a traditional paint palette, you can use old cat/dog food trays or, if you don't have a pet but drink coffee you can use the individual coffee filter lids because then you can just throw them away when you're done.
Hopefully Tracy from Suffolk will have received her bumper box of crafty goodies from the December Mailing List Prize Draw by now.
Don't forget, if you want to be in with a chance to win our January Prize (a pot of Texture Paste as well as a set of Jo Sonja Paints) and haven't already joined our mailing list you have until 10 January to do so.
All that's left to say is I wish you all a very Happy Crafty New Year!