Apr 17

Do you want to win an original Helenka White Design pendant worth £25? Then read on..

It’s almost Easter as I write this, the sun is shining and I haven’t done a competition in a while. So here it is – a new competition to win this Jugendstil heart pendant.

Jugendstil Heart Pendant - copyright Helen White

Jugendstil Heart Pendant – copyright Helen White

It is big and bold and has been hand-crafted with polymer clay using acrylic paint and Gilder’s paste. After curing it in my little toaster oven I have also varnished it to keep the colours from rubbing off. The heart measures about 8,5 cm in length and is about 6 cm wide (at its widest point). It hangs on a 45 cm silver plated chain which has a silver plated lobster clasp. It normally retails at £25.

I also have a variety of these heart pendants in my shop.

What do you need to do?

If you want to win this pendant all you have to do is subscribe to my mailing list either on the website, or this blog (see side panel) or simply following this link.

Oh and share the competition on your social media :)

If you are already a subscriber you can still win it – but you need to let me know if you want to win it.

The competition deadline is the 1st of June 2014 when I will pick the winner.

Thanks for reading – have a Happy Easter and make sure to leave a comment below and share this post.

Apr 12

Our first Cardiff Polymer Clay group meeting

As you know I design a lot with polymer clay. You might also know from my website that I am a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild. I have been a member for some time, but most activities are unfortunately based in England or Scotland and there is one branch in Wales, but it is too far away.

So I decided to start up a branch for Cardiff and those who live relatively close to Cardiff. It took a while to get people interested and I also started a group on Facebook for this branch. Currently we are only eight members – one is from as far as Bristol, one from Merthyr and one from Newport. We all love working with polymer clay and have different styles. In the FB group we exchange info about techniques and tutorials or share our own creations or work from artists we’ve come across and admire. And we try to meet up for a fun clay day. This is of course easier said than done. For starters my home and work space is too small for more than say two people.  And coming up with a date and time everyone can agree on is also tricky. One of our members Sarah Warden-Smith of “Bezeal” is not only a very experienced jewellery designer, but also runs workshops and has enough space for more than two people. So we decided to meet up at her place. Once the venue was agreed on we had to find a date and time. And due to my health problems and various things that were happening with our members it took about four months to organise our first meeting on the 9th of April. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my batteries and could only take a few photos.

Sarah Warden-Smith - copyright Helen White

Sarah Warden-Smith – copyright Helen White

Our meeting was pretty informal and fun – and we want to keep it that way. I brought lots of unhealthy but yummy food from Lidl, Charlie Maber of “Maisie and Maude” had a healthier approach to what we should have for lunch  – quiches and grapes (thanks Charlie :) .

Cardiff Polymer Clay group meeting - copyright Helen White

Cardiff Polymer Clay group meeting – copyright Helen White

We spent the first hour admiring Sarah’s workshop and massive amount of tools (I do fancy that Paragon kiln). We also cuddled her two dogs Masey and Oscar, and I was smitten with her adorable cat Thor, who is an absolute sweetie.

After lunch it was time to decide what we wanted to work on. I brought some tutorial print outs for everyone to choose from. Sarah chose the zipper cane, Charlie the tiger cane, Joie Parris-Lewis of “DillyMillie” chose the brain cane and I wanted to have a go at Donna Kato’s feather cane – but in different colours.

Sarah Warden-Smith and Charlie Maber - copyright Helen White

Sarah Warden-Smith and Charlie Maber – copyright Helen White

While we were all working on our chosen projects we were having a good chat about our businesses. Sarah turned out to be a fountain of knowledge and experience and it was interesting to hear what she had to say about things like hallmarking, craft fairs and pricing.

Charlie Maber and Joie Parris-Lewis - copyright Helen White

Charlie Maber and Joie Parris-Lewis – copyright Helen White

Time really passes by quickly when you are engrossed in clay work. Charlie picked some pretty colours for her project, but found that the instructions I printed out had bits missing and she was so unhappy with her resulting cane that she decided to use the clay for lots of pretty lentil beads. Joie wanted to know how to make these, so Sarah showed us and explained how to create a perfect lentil shape.

I was concentrating on my feather cane for which I picked peacock, pearl, silver and white as colours, so I didn’t quite follow the lentil bead instruction –  I have made some in the past – but they were too big and heavy!

Our canes and beads for the day - copyright Helen White

Our canes and beads for the day – copyright Helen White

Joie created her own version of the brain cane – meaning she didn’t follow the instructions as much, but ended up with the same result. Sarah made the wise decision to stick to small amounts of clay and made a small cane – so hers was quickly finished. And then there was me. Here’s the thing: when I work in groups I tend to be slower. And when I try to learn from instructions it takes me longer to work out what the writer means.  The problem with instructions is  -  most are not written by professional writers, often vital info is missing or you just can’t understand them. So you try to work with the images instead and experiment.

Seeing everyone else getting on with their canes and turning their focus on to lentil beads frustrated me a little as I was still working out how to create the feather bits. Sarah tried her best to explain it to me with Donna’s book, which I have at home. I got there in the end (with a lot of swearing) – but not because I followed the instructions! Which reminds me of my mum (not my swearing!) – she always improvised and experimented with recipes rather than following the instructions to the letter, so I might have inherited that.

I hope I will remember how to create the next feather cane, because – surprise, surprise I really like it. I will use this cane probably for a bangle and a couple of pendants. I don’t want to reduce it for earrings, as reducing it could be tricky and might destroy the shape.

My first feather cane - copyright Helen White

My first feather cane – copyright Helen White

All in all it was a successful and fun first meeting. Everyone came away with new canes and learnt a new technique. We are going to repeat this in summer.

If you are a member of the British Polymer Clay Guild and live in or near Cardiff and want to join our group you can email me via the contact page or check out our group on FB.

I hope you liked reading this post – please don’t hesitate to comment below and share.

 Thanks for reading.

Apr 03

My top tips on how to take jewellery photos – part 2

In last week’s post I shared with you what camera and light sources I use when taking photos of my jewellery. In this week’s post I will talk about what else you need for taking great photos and how I set up my own camera.

A good eye for what makes a great photo

It’s always good to play around with different angles and taking close ups of details such as beads, a signature or an unusual clasp. You might also want to play around with different props. Some people use found objects such as sticks or shells – whatever works for you and looks pleasing to the eye without distracting from your object. I tend to stick to a minimalistic and clean approach, so I use traditional props – mostly white or frosted white busts or acrylic earring stands etc. and my riser – it comes with a frosted white insert and a smooth shiny one and a black frosted/shiny insert. I have to admit I still haven’t quite worked out how best to photograph items with black background and rarely do so –only when I have items with Rose Quartz as you can’t really see the beads against a white backdrop.

Riser with double sided black insert - copyright Helen White

Riser with double sided black insert – copyright Helen White

I recently invested in a black leatherette bust because the velveteen looks fuzzy in photos. I have to experiment with this one and I am toying with the idea of using a greyish gradated backdrop.

 I love my riser as it’s very versatile. I tend to take several photos of my jewellery and upload up to five. I want customers to have a good impression of my pieces – and that includes how it looks on a bust, detailed shots of the items or even the back where appropriate. Sometimes I use the shiny riser which means you can see a reflection of the piece on the surface. I use it for necklaces, bracelets and also for earrings.

Polymyer Clay Pendant from the Dichroic range - copyright Helen White

Polymyer Clay Pendant from the Dichroic range – copyright Helen White

Earrings are notoriously difficult to photograph as they dangle and take a while to stay still – that’s why I tend to take one shot of them on the earring stand and one on the riser.

Polymer clay earrings photographed on the riser. - copyright Helen White

Polymer clay earrings photographed on the riser. – copyright Helen White

 I also take photos in both modes – landscape and portrait. Mainly because some items like bangles and cuffs are better for landscape shots and also in view of using the photos for things like Facebook and Google+ covers and for those landscape photos are better. I also always keep my photos in the original size (which is massive) and the small version. The small version is for the website and social media sites, while the bigger versions are there just in case. For example if a magazine asks for photos you want to have it in a large size, which you can change to the required size. I have not always done this and regretted it as I had to reshoot items. My camera has a function that allows me to resize straight away, but you can easily do it in Photoshop or other editing programs (and with more choice).

 Time & Patience

Yes, you need both – you can’t rush these things. I tend to wait until I have enough items to photograph and photograph them in one session – mainly because setting it all up is a lot of hassle and I don’t want to do it every time a new product is finished. If I have say 12 items or so to photograph it takes me at least two hours – and that’s before uploading them and then choosing the good ones. I always take way more than I will use in the end. This is because I rather have lots to choose from then ending up missing a good shot and then assembling the tent and lights again!

Choosing the best shots and editing them takes at least two hours.

I am not very au fait with editing programs and stick to the minimum – resizing if necessary, rotating and cropping. No retouching. What you see is what you get.

This is why often my customers tell me that my items look even better in real life – and that makes me happy.

 Camera settings I use

This is the set up I use and learnt from the instructions which came with my EZ cube. First I turn off all lights and also close our blinds so I will only rely on the lights which came with the tent. The reason for this is simple – you don’t want to mix your light sources.

If you want to use your tripod do so.

 I then set the wheel of my camera to AV – which stands for Aperture Priority and set it to the highest Aperture in my case this is 8 (it will be different for each camera so check out your camera and familiarise yourself with its settings first). I also make sure the lens is clean.

Aperture Priority - copyright Helen White

Aperture Priority – copyright Helen White

Next thing I set is the Custom White Balance – I do this by going to this section on my camera, point the camera to the back of the cube which I use as my reference white. For a gradated or coloured backdrop you would set the reference white first before placing the backdrop – however I have not used a non-white backdrop yet.

White Balancing - copyright Helen White

White Balancing – copyright Helen White

And then I adjust the Exposure Compensation to +1 1/3 – however I tend to vary this depending on the item I photograph.

Exposure Compensation - copyright Helen White

Exposure Compensation – copyright Helen White

Some items require you to go one higher or lower.  This is also why I end up with way more photos, because I play around with this setting – you can easily over or under expose and you can see the results best on the computer – so I take extra shots.

And these are the basic settings. For close ups I use the macro setting and move the camera close to the object. My camera even has a super macro.

When taking the photo it’s important that you see the green square in your view finder – if it’s yellow the item on the photo will look blurry. Make sure to press your shutter half way down until the green square shows up – you might have to adjust your Exposure Compensation if it shows up yellow. Without taking off your finger press the shutter once your object is in focus. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to get the focus right. When I take shots of the whole bust for example I forget that I use the zoom and when I then want to take the close up shot my camera “complains” and shows me the yellow square. I then turn the camera off and on again and set it to the macro – and hey presto the green square appears.

Necklace with Swarovski Cyrstals and a lamp work heart pendant - copyright Helen White

Necklace with Swarovski Cyrstals and a lamp work heart pendant – copyright Helen White

Taking photos doesn’t have to be super difficult, but it takes time, patience, a good eye and the willingness to experiment and learn. Sometimes I check over the photos on my website and decide to reshoot photos – I want them to look as good possible. And I know that I can still improve on my photography.

 I hope my article has given you a bit of an insight on how I take photos and maybe you could take away some ideas for your own photography. Oh and if you want to know how I watermark my images after editing – I use this program

I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment below and share this post if you like it.

Thanks for reading.

 

Mar 28

My top tips on how to take jewellery photos – part 1

People often ask me “How do you take photos of your jewellery? Is it difficult?” No, it’s not difficult, but it requires effort and the willingness to learn. So in today’s post I want to share with you how I take my photos.

Owl Pendant in Polymer Clay - copyright Helen White

Owl Pendant in Polymer Clay – copyright Helen White

I often see business pages on Facebook selling their products with extremely fuzzy photos – not only fuzzy, but often they look cluttered, have a busy background, the product hasn’t been arranged in an appealing manner and you only get one view of the product. I don’t know about you – but that really doesn’t entice me to buy anything from these pages – it just looks unprofessional and I am not sure I can trust that the products these people sell are any good. I suspect the page owners just use their smart phone and point and shoot and hope something sells.

The majority of my customers order online. They rely on my honest and accurate description and more importantly on my photos to get a good idea on what my jewellery looks like. And this is why I use a neutral background (a white vinyl canvass and a white riser) and take plenty of shots of my items at different angles. With my polymer clay designs I also show the back of my items – because some of them have a lovely texture and my signature in form of a cane piece or engraved. My photos are not retouched – the only thing I do in Photoshop is I crop them to size (and if necessary rotate them). This is why you might see a finger print on the clay.

I don’t claim to be a great photographer at all – I have taught myself from instructions and am still learning and also eyeing up new tools like an overhead light and a gradated background.

Anyway, there are four things you need when photographing your products.

  1. A decent camera
  2. Lots of light
  3. A good eye for what makes a great photo
  4. Time & Patience

 A decent camera

Ideally you have a DSLR camera, however these don’t come cheap and these days you can get non DSLR cameras which work just fine. When my old Canon Powershot A75 died (it produced pink stripes) I had to get a new camera quickly. The people from the Table Top Studio, where we got my light tent from, helped me finding the right camera for my budget. To take good shots of your products your camera needs to have a good macro for close ups, you also need Custom White Balance, Exposure Compensation and Aperture Priority (on the little wheel it’s AV). Not all cameras have all  these functions – our Ixus 800IS for example has no Aperture Priority.

My camera - copyright Helen White

My camera – copyright Helen White

We ended up buying the Canon Power Shot SX20 IS (it’s about four years old so it might have been replaced by a newer model by now). It’s a great camera with a brilliant macro. I can also make small videos with it and it also has a 20x Zoom – so it’s a good all-rounder. And it comes also with an Image Stabilizer and has 12.1 Mega Pixels. The image stabilizer is useful because I never use my tripod – mainly because I tend to get very close to my objects for detailed shots using the macro and with this camera it’s best to take it in your hand. It’s fairly heavy and I have quite a steady hand. However, some cameras might work slightly different and you want to use a tripod with it.

Lots of light

Ideally you can make use of lots of sun and shoot your items in daylight. Unfortunately I live in cloudy and rainy Cardiff – the sun is rarely out and when it is I find it tricky to avoid harsh shadows. The next best thing is a light tent and at least two daylight lamps. You can find cheap light tent and light sets on eBay or you can make one yourself. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet – here’s a link to one of them – and here.

My light tent - copyright Helen White

My light tent – copyright Helen White

My husband bought me the EZ Cube Kit 20. It came with a 20”x20” cube, a smaller 12”x12” cube, instructions, technical support for a year, and instructional DVD and two 30W 5000K High CRI Trumpet Top Daylight Balanced Compact Fluorescent Bulbs fitted on table top stands (you can get larger ones) It’s not cheap, but it was a Christmas present (I usually ask for tools for my business). He bought it from the Table Top Studio and I can highly recommend them, because their customer service is great. They helped me with several questions and advised me which camera to buy as mentioned above.

Riser with shiny and frosted surface - copyright Helen White

Riser with shiny and frosted surface – copyright Helen White

I also invested in a riser with different inserts, a brush to keep the riser and busts dust free and a white vinyl background sweep to keep the background neutral.

Tent with riser, brush and props. copyright Helen White

Tent with riser, brush and props. copyright Helen White

And this is it for part one – please check out the second part next week,where I show you what camera settings I use and go into detail with points 3 and 4.

Thanks for reading – and please leave a comment or /and share the post on your social media.

Mar 20

An apology and some new polymer clay designs.

First of all, apologies to those of you who follow and enjoy reading my blog. I just noticed the last post was uploaded a month ago! This is due to ongoing excruciating pain in my left shoulder (and occasionally also in my right “mouse” shoulder). With pain like this it’s incredibly difficult to sit in front of the computer and type long posts, edit images, create new items or even promote my wares on social media.

 I am currently having physiotherapy for the pain. Months ago I was diagnosed with Bursitis i.e. inflammation of the bursa in the left shoulder joint and also hypermobility of the shoulder. This is all not easy to treat (last week I a had steroid injection which immobilised my left arm completely – it was pretty horrendous) and it took a long time to get it diagnosed in the first place. So now I have to learn to remind myself five times a day to do my exercises, pace myself and not overdo things – something I find really hard. When you run your own business nobody is doing the work for you and when you can’t work, well then it’s just tough. When I can’t get my work done I get very stressed and worry – which is kind of counterproductive when you want to get well.

Round Polymer Clay Pendant -copyright Helen White

Round Polymer Clay Pendant -copyright Helen White

 In order to change the way I work I have bought a shorter keyboard without the numeric bit on the right – this means the space for the mouse is closer to the keyboard and you don’t overstretch the mouse arm when using it. I have also invested in a vertical mouse – you grip it like a joystick which means you don’t twist your arm as much as you do with the unnatural mouse position.

Vertical mouse

Vertical mouse

I thought it would take ages to get used to it, but it’s actually really easy and intuitive to use. I hope this will help me in the long run.

If you suffer from RSI you might consider changing your work set up too.

Polymer Cat Pendant - copyright Helen White

Polymer Cat Pendant – copyright Helen White

So now that this long explanation is out of the way I want to share the first new items I finally managed to upload. I still have loads to sand and polish. As the sanding is currently causing me a lot of pain I haven’t been able to finish the rest off – I will have to do them in batches.

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant  - gold, silver and pearl - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant – gold, silver and pearl – copyright Helen White

These pendants are all made with one of my favourite techniques – Mokume Gane – but this time with a twist – instead of creating a square block I rolled the stacked clay sheets and used a ripple blade.

Ripple blade

Ripple blade

The effect is quite stunning – the thinner the clay sheets the finer the pattern gets. I love the results. In some of my pendants I have also used Fimo’s Glow-in-the-dark clay. The effect is amazing – you just charge the piece up with a torch or lamp, and it really glows slightly greenish in the dark. Unfortunately I don’t know how to photograph this effect -so you have to trust my words.

Pendant - Glow in the dark - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant – Glow in the dark – copyright Helen White

 I hope you like my new designs. I will hopefully be able to add more to the website soon.

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant - black and silvr - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant – black and silvr – copyright Helen White

Thanks for reading my blog – please leave a comment if you like and share with your friends. You can also subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant - Peacock, purplle and silver - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Heart Pendant – Peacock, purplle and silver – copyright Helen White

Feb 18

Tools I work with: the humble pasta machine

Today I wanted to share with you, as part of a series, an insight into the tools I am using for my creations. The first tool I would like to show you is my pasta machine.

I have never made pasta in my life and this one is a high quality Atlas machine – made in Italy, well the Italians invented pasta so surely their machines are the best on the market. I bought this machine a few years ago, and it hasn’t let me down yet. It has nine thickness settings and is very sturdy.

 If you are not familiar with polymer clay I have to explain what this is useful for. Most clay when it comes out of the packet is pretty hard and needs to soften so you can actually work with it. Different brands have different a softness. I have found Premo to be the easiest to condition, Fimo Classic the hardest.I haven’t worked with Kato clay yet, but heard that it’s even harder to condition.

Acrylic roller for conditioning clay - copyright Helen White

Acrylic roller for conditioning clay – copyright Helen White

There are different ways to condition clay, you can cut it into manageable slices or pieces and use a small roller and your warm hands, but the best way is to roll your clay through the pasta machine several times. It saves you a lot of time and is less strenuous. A pasta machine gives you different thicknesses of sheets when rolled through, which is important for different designs and techniques.

My Atlas pasta machine with a bit of Premo clay - copyright Helen White

My Atlas pasta machine with a bit of Premo clay – copyright Helen White

You can even buy a motor for the machine – something that’s on my wish list. It would also be nice if someone could come up with a self-cleaning machine, because cleaning a pasta machine is really tricky and time consuming. Fimo is notorious for sticking to the rollers. I tend to clean my machine with a skewer – to get the bits out which are trapped inside – and lots of baby wipes to wipe the rollers with. When using Fimo I often clean in between colours and tend to organise my work so that I start with light colours first to avoid colour contamination. Although I have found instructions for taking the machine apart for cleaning I haven’t tried this yet. I worry too much that I can’t get it back together again!

This year I bought a second pasta machine as a spare one. It was a very cheap one from “Jewellery Maker” and buying it was a big mistake. It is flimsy and the first sheets came out dirty. It has not much of a grip. You really get what you pay for. I am using this only for “dirty” clay where colour contamination doesn’t matter. I use dirty clay, also called mud, as cores for my designs.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. Please leave a comment if you like, and share it.

 

 

 

Feb 10

New items for my landscape range

Today’s post is a rather short one. I just wanted to share my latest designs with you.

Pendant made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Pendant made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

These ones are also from my landscape range. They are made with what we clayers refer as scrap clay – i.e. left over clay from canes which are not as clean and usable as the proper canes or clean colours.

Pendant made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Pendant made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

In this case it was scrap clay from my dichroic range. I rolled it only a couple of times through the pasta machine to see how the colours merge. I really liked the colour combinations and they reminded me of abstract landscapes.

Pendant made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Pendant made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

So I chose the best ones to turn into pendants. This time I wanted to try a different pendant type and quite like these eye shaped ones.

Pendant made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Pendant made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

As they all had flecks of silver/gold leaf I had to varnish them several times to seal these in.

Pendant made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Pendant made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

I also made two rings with adjustable ring bands.

Ring made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Ring made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

 

Ring made with polymer clay - copyright Helen White

Ring made with polymer clay – copyright Helen White

I hope you like these. Please leave a comment below if you like.

Thanks for reading. :)

Jan 28

My 5 top blogs

As someone who reads a lot I also follow other people’s blogs. I only follow or subscribe to a few blogs, but these are the blogs I like reading for various reasons. And today I want to share these blogs with you. In no particular order – here are my favourite blogs:

  1. Zero to blogger by British social media expert Sarah Arrow. Her blog is the go-to blog for aspiring and existing bloggers. It is full of useful advice and Sarah is extremely generous with her knowledge. As a subscriber you get free bonuses to download and she updates her blog frequently. I don’t always read her updates straight away, but file her emails for when I find the time. I always learn something new to improve or change on my own blog and have found it very useful. I came across Sarah’s blog when I bought her Kindle book “Zero to Social Media” (written with Warren Cass) and ended up friending her on FB. Sarah also founded “Birds on the blog” a blog I also follow. It is aimed at business women and also allows guest posts. Something I hopefully get around to writing.
  2. Jewelery Making Journal – by American jewelry designer Rena Klingenberg. I have followed this blog since I started my jewellery design business and also have most of her e-books on selling and marketing jewellery. Rena’s blog is a great source for jewellery designers and people who simply love wearing jewellery. Rena is very generous with advice and also starts interesting discussions plus her blog has also a great community. Designers are welcome to post questions and their own designs and often get support and help by other designers. Well worth a visit. Which reminds me – I should contribute another of my own designs to the blog.
  3. Love Meow I know, I know – I have mentioned this blog before in another post about my favourite cat websites, but I really love this one. If you love cats this is bound to cheer you up and make you go “aww”. I often share their posts on my Facebook page as most of my likers love cats and they have so many heart-warming stories on there like this one about an alpaca who grew up with cats or this one about a cat who was born with backwards legs or this one about Morrison’s own store cat Brutus So if you’re having a bad day – check out this blog – it’ll put a smile on your face.
  4. Gateway Women by journalist Jody Day. I first came across Jody Day a few years ago via an article she had written for “The Guardian” about what it means to childless by circumstance. It resonated with me and I eventually joined her private Gateway Women community. Joining this community had helped me to cope with my own situation. The women are a huge support – I had many heartfelt replies when I had to deal with my miscarriage last year. I even managed to meet with some women where I live. Gateway Women is an important community and Jody’s blog posts deal with all aspects of childlessness. Her own positive example shows that women can have a meaningful life without children. She created an interesting Pinterest board of role models who had/have no children – check it out, you will be surprised by some of the amazing ladies featured.If only there was a similar community for men, but then maybe they just are not as affected by the issue or simply don’t like to talk about it.
  5. The Blue Bottle Tree by polymer clay artist Ginger Davis Allman. As someone who loves working with polymer clay I also follow other artists. Ginger Davis Allman is a very talented lady,who not only creates stunning jewellery, but also sells tutorials. I came across her blog .. well she introduced herself to me on my Facebook page. So she likes my page which is nice to know. I follow her blog, because Ginger is very generous with her experience as a clay artist and the blog is full of useful advice and some free tutorials like for example this oneShe also tests tools and new materials. For a clayer this blog is a valuable resource. Though some of the stuff she tests and writes about is not available in the UK, because Ginger lives in the USA. Below you can find my first attempt at making my own tool handles using the Natasha bead method as described in this post.
I made these following one of Ginger's tutorials. These still need sanding. copyright Helen White

I made these following one of Ginger’s tutorials. These still need sanding. copyright Helen White

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and might find some of these links interesting or useful. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

 

Jan 22

It’s all about you – Do you follow fashion trends?

Today’s post is all about you – my readers. I want to hear from you.

I want to know from you:

  • Do you follow fashion trends?
  • Do you read fashion magazines?
  • What makes you buy a particular piece of jewellery?
  • Is it because it’s trendy?
  • Do you buy jewellery based on colour?
  • Do you only buy one-of-a kind?
  • Do you go mainly for personalisation? By this I mean – you want names on your pieces?
  • Do you buy jewellery only of one colour or particular stone?

I am asking all these questions, because I want to get to know my readers and customers better and also because Pantone has brought out their latest colour of the year. You can find their “Radiant Orchid” and fashion report here.

It’s a colour that can also be created by mixing  polymer clays – though I haven’t tried it yet, but I have added to my to-do list.

I have to confess – I don’t follow trends or fads much. I rarely go shopping for clothes, when I do I check out what kind of jewellery the High Street offers, just to see what’s trendy and what people are supposed to buy.

Instead I follow my own creative instinct. Inspiration comes from all sorts of different sources. Animals and nature is an obvious one.

Polymer clay purple heart pendant with cat key - copyright Helen White

Polymer clay purple heart pendant with cat key – copyright Helen White

But sometimes I look at my bead stash and when the mood strikes me I combine beads I like and think would work well together. I also find CD covers inspirational, books and magazines.

At the moment I work with a new Fimo colour I bought last year and want to test – mainly because it’s “glow in the dark” and I am just curious to see what the end result will look like. And in the process I teach myself new caning techniques. For those of you who don’t know what a cane is – below is a photo – it’s simply a composite of different colours of clay which form a pretty pattern and can be sliced and used for various pieces.

Polymer clay can - copyright Helen White

Polymer clay can – copyright Helen White

Learning a new technique is definitely something that inspires my creations. Last year I added brooches to my stock, this year I want to make polymer clay bangles. I have also purchased two tutorials by two amazing polymer clay artists whose books I have and whose work I admire – Donna Kato and Bettina Welker. So I will learn from these and put my own spin on the designs. Another source of inspiration for my work is simply a new tool. Learning how to use a new tool often goes hand in hand with a new technique. And last Christmas my husband bought me a new tool I am very excited about as it will allow me to design my own texture stamps and plates. I will write more about this in another post.

Back to my initial questions – It would be awesome to read from you. So please comment below and share with me what kind of jewellery you buy and what makes you buy it.

Thanks for reading. And if you enjoy my blog – make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and share it.

Jan 16

Why I have stopped accepting guest posts.

Last year I started something I have come to regret. I thought it would be great to give other bloggers the opportunity to guest post on my blog. So I set up an extra page, explained what I was looking for and waited for response.

I got inundated with requests. Unfortunately 99% of these were inappropriate. Some was simply spam, some from big companies (I wanted to attract bloggers not big businesses), some clearly hadn’t bothered reading the guidelines and some were simply time wasters – people who didn’t have the courtesy to respond to my replies. It simply took up too much of my time and I was also fretting over my own replies as I don’t want to appear rude.

I am an editor and writer at UK Handmade and oversee a team of writers for the MEET section and this takes up a chunk of my precious time. However this is something I know is worth doing and it benefits a lot of people. If you haven’t heard of it yet please go and visit the website, you will find lots of fab designers on there.

My blog is attached to my business Helenka White Design and as such my posts have to bear that in mind and focus on my target readers.

I will still blog about cats, animal welfare issues and animal charities, but my own business will get more of my attention this year. I am also in the process of starting a new business and therefore simply haven’t got the time to accommodate guest post requests. I hope you understand.

Thanks for reading.

Polymer clay Steampunk clock pendant - copyright Helen White

Polymer clay Steampunk clock pendant – copyright Helen White

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