Studio Wednesday


In the time I have between my physical therapy treatment and my favorite tv show “LOST”, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been working on this week.

With the limited range of motion in my frozen right shoulder, I haven’t been able to do a creative activity that I absolutely love: mixing colors in polymer clay. Cranking the pasta machine is torture on my shoulder. I solved that problem by treating myself to a motor and foot pedal for my P.M. What a difference! This has opened up a whole new world for me.

I love my new motor.

My first color mixing project was to mix up some muted neutral colors for a cane I wanted to try out from the new Donna Kato book I picked up from the library. It’s called “The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiore Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework”.


There’s a lot of cool cane ideas in this great book. Now that I’ve returned it to the library, I’m even considering adding it to my library permanently. The cane slices above were created with a rolled Skinner Blend plug, wrapped and squished and rearranged. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into creating canes because I like a more organic look to my work instead of geometric precision. That being said, there are some fun organic cane patterns to play with.


I had some fun with the cane ends I sliced off and rolled around. Here’s a scrap cane that ended up looking like crescent moons from another world.


Ever since I received a small piece of plexiglas in a goody bag from the first Klay Karma retreat 4 years ago, I love making swirly lentil beads with cane scraps. The larger one with the cane slice bail will be used as a pendant in a necklace. The smaller one could be used for a freeform bracelet. That would be fun to incorporate some polymer clay beads in my freeform work.


I thought that I’d do something different for the swirly pendant necklace. Using a very thin gauge black wire and some bronze colored size 11 seed beads, I made several lengths of chain stitch. The wire was a bit tricky to work with at first because there is no “give” as there is with fiber. It takes time to figure out how much wire to wrap around your crochet hook to allow you to be able to pull the wire through the loop. I found that working looser rather than tighter is best.


I made some more chain stitch lengths using bronze wire and black seed beads.

This weekend I’ll work on putting my necklace together.

“Once there were two color kittens with green eyes, Brush and Hush. They liked to mix and make colors by splashing one color into another. They had buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets of color to splash around with., Out of these colors they would make all the colors in the world.”

~from “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown


11 comments on “Studio Wednesday

  1. Acey says:

    Karen I’m so pleased to read that you’ve found a workable solution that gives you more creative range of motion. Everything pictured here is exquisite. I wonder how I could have overlooked The Color Kittens. Think I may have to find myself a copy …

  2. artandtea says:

    Thanks Acey! The Color Kittens is a wonderful book, my absolute favorite from my childhood. Enjoy!

  3. judysheart says:

    You blow me away, Karen… I love the swirly beads.. so fun to see what you get from caning even when you don’t expect it… and the chain stitch lengths… well… amazing. I’m glad you can still be creative with the pain you have to deal with and I hope the PM motor keeps you going. After all, what would we do without your beautiful creativity. Well, we won’t go there…

  4. artandtea says:

    Thank you, dear Judy. Amazingly, I’m actually more organized with my creative time on this new full-time schedule. The artist in me likes a more structured schedule it seems. 🙂

  5. Arline says:

    Love what you are doing with the PC, Karen. So glad you found something to help counteract the shoulder problem. Where did you find the motor? I plan to incorporate more PC in my bead embroidery this year. It’s lightweight and you can mix an infinite number of colors. Lots of fun playing with it too.

  6. artandtea says:

    Thanks Arline! I’ll e-mail you privately with that info.

  7. Awesome work with the polymer clay, Karen! I own that book by Donna Kato but have had precious little time to do anything with it. But you have inspired me to do it soon!!!

    Kathy V in NM

  8. summeralyssa says:

    Amazing work! I have Kato’s Surface Techniques polyclay book but haven’t done much with it yet. I especially love the moon canes; so awesome that they were scrap, hehe! Good luck with the physical therapy; I’m glad you’re not letting your shoulder slow you down:)

  9. artandtea says:

    Thanks so much Kathy, I’m glad to have inspired you!

    Thanks summeralyssa! Have fun with Donna’s book when you have the chance!

  10. acrawley63 says:

    Hi Karen,

    Had to check out the lentil bead after you described it on Sunday. Lentils are a great bead form and a nice way to use cane ends. I enjoyed your color choices. I want to try that same cane from Donna’s new book. I’m not big on making canes myself but Donna makes them look so easy and so colorful that I may have to give it a go.

    Lovely work, as always!


  11. artandtea says:

    Thanks so much, dear Amy!

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