Aug 20

Want to win this beautiful polymer clay pendant and earring set by Helenka White Design? Then read on..

My business Helenka White Design is turning 4 in September and to celebrate I am giving away this pretty pendant and earring set worth £19.

Macaw polymer clay pendant and earring set - copyright Helen White

Macaw polymer clay pendant and earring set – copyright Helen White

It is made with red, blue and black polymer clay using the marbling effect. The colours in this set remind me of Macaws. After baking in the oven I have varnished the pendant and earrings. The pendant hangs on an 18 inch (45cm) silver plated chain and closes with a flat silver plated lobster clasp. It measures about 1.5 inches.

Macaw polymer clay pendant - copyright Helen White

Macaw polymer clay pendant – copyright Helen White

The earrings measure about 1 inch and hang on surgical steel ear wires.

Macaw Polymer Clay Earrings - copyright Helen White

Macaw Polymer Clay Earrings – copyright Helen White

Macaw polymer clay pendant - detail - copyright Helen White

Macaw polymer clay pendant – detail – copyright Helen White

To win this set all you got to do is:

  1. Subscribe to my newsletter here.
  2. Comment underneath this blog post.
  3. Share the competition on social media of your choice.

If you already are a subscriber you can still win this set, but need to comment underneath and share.

Please note this competition is only open for entrants from the UK and aged 18 and over.

The deadline for the competition is the 1st of October when the winner will be drawn.

Good luck everyone :)

 

 

 

Aug 05

My favourite cat books – Part 1: “The Cats of Moon Cottage” series by Marilyn Edwards

It won’t come as a surprise to you that I read a lot of books about cats. Some are non-fiction, the majority is autobiographical. I don’t actually know how it started, but I think I just got some as presents and some I bought myself. So I thought I would share with you the books that I have enjoyed reading in this little series.

The Moon Cottage series with Bobby in the background. Copyright Helen White

The Moon Cottage series with Bobby in the background. Copyright Helen White

First up I want to share with you Marilyn Edwards’ “The Cats of Moon Cottage” series. It consists of four books and is her autobiographical account of life with her cats. My husband bought me the first two “The Cats of Moon Cottage” and “More Cat Tales from Moon Cottage” as a paperback and once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading the first book. I won’t give too much away.

The paperback version of the two first books of the Moon Cottage series. Photo copyright Helen White

The paperback version of the two first books of the Moon Cottage series. Photo copyright Helen White

After I finished these two books I contacted Marilyn to tell her how much I enjoyed them and that I would love to interview her for the German cat magazine “Geliebte Katze” for which I have written several pieces (I also told her of course about our Bobby). To my surprise not only did she write back very quickly, but sent me signed copies of the whole series! The first book has actually been translated into German and published in Germany, but despite my own efforts to write about Marilyn and her work for the magazine it didn’t get commissioned.

The Moon Cottage series by Marilyn Edwards. Copyright of photo Helen White

The Moon Cottage series by Marilyn Edwards. Copyright of photo Helen White

The third book is titled “The Cats of Hutton Roof” and the final book “The Coach House Cats”.

One of the four signed copies of the Moon Cottage series by Marilyn Edwards. Photo copyright Helen White

One of the four signed copies of the Moon Cottage series by Marilyn Edwards. Photo copyright Helen White

Marilyn has a wonderful eye for detail and you can easily picture her life with the cats. If you are a cat owner you will recognise the typical cat behaviours, the difficulties you face when moving house and also empathise when bad things happen to the cats (and yes you will cry if you are a softie like me). Furthermore, the stories of her cats Otto, Septi, Titus, Pushkin, Fannie and Gilly are beautifully illustrated by Peter Warner, who sadly died in 2007.

If you love reading cat stories – especially real life stories you won’t be disappointed with this series.

You can find more information about Marilyn and her books on her website here.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget you can comment below and subscribe to my blog by clicking here.

Jul 16

New on the website: Feather pendants and bangles.

I haven’t posted for a while due to the fact that we were on a short holiday In Menorca. We stayed in Cala Galdana in a fab hotel called Audax which I can highly recommend. I will post more about our holiday as soon as I have sorted through all our photos!
Before the holiday I finished off some new items all made with this and a second feather cane I created a while ago.

Feather Cane - copyright Helen White

Feather Cane – copyright Helen White

And I had a go at making bangles using aluminium blanks as a base. I originally made three with the feather cane, but wasn’t happy with how the other two turned out. I still have some of the cane left and will make some more bangles when it’s cool. Heat and humidity is just bad news for working with polymer clay and makes it a right old battle (that’s why I wasn’t happy with the other two bangles which came out slightly deformed).

Feather Cane Bangle - copyright Helen White

Feather Cane Bangle – copyright Helen White

I have no idea how and if you can reduce a feather cane – so I just kept the size and used it also for pendants. These are quite long, but I like them. I hope you like them too.

Feather Cane Pendant - copyright Helen White

Feather Cane Pendant – copyright Helen White

Feather Cane Pendant 2 - copyright Helen White

Feather Cane Pendant 2 – copyright Helen White

I also found a reptile sheet I made a while ago to use with my first figurine – which is a gecko (I haven’t sanded it yet and not sure I will) and used it for a set of bangles and one round pendant.

Polymer Clay Gecko - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Gecko – copyright Helen White

The bangles needed several bakes in my toaster oven before I sanded and polished them.
I hope you like these new additions to my website.

Polymer Clay Reptile Bangle - copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Reptile Bangle – copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Reptile Print Pendant copyright Helen White

Polymer Clay Reptile Print Pendant copyright Helen White

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment on or share this post.

Jun 18

Walking our cat – videos

I have written about how we walk our Bobby a few times on this blog, but have only been able to share images with you. I have finally uploaded some footage of our walks with Bobby in the forest filme a week or so ago. Unfortunately walking her in the forest is very much weather dependent, so if it’s warm but not boiling and she’s happy enough to drive we can do this.

Hope you like these two films.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or share this post. Next time it’s going to be a longer post. Promised.

Thanks for reading and watching.

Jun 14

Mogglebox or how our cat developed a serious telly addiction.

I have been quite busy working on bangles and feather pendants, so today’s post is short and sweet.
If you have a cat, you surely can relate to this. Since “Springwatch” on BBC2 started three weeks ago (and has unfortunately finished this week), our cat has developed a serious telly addiction. She not only watched it when it was on, but also pawed at the telly when she saw birds,  looked behind the telly and got generally very excited. She also watched the live footage in the morning with my husband and of course in the evening.

Our Bobby watching Springwatch. - copyright Helen White

Our Bobby watching Springwatch. – copyright Helen White

And when the telly was not on she sat in front of it and looked at us with a sad face (not difficult for her, after all she’s a cat) – sometimes meowing and demanding that we switch it on for her!

When Springwatch was not on we had to get inventive – and switched to YouTube. It’s full of tons of cute stuff to watch. There’s one channel in particular we all like called “Vice” and they have a section called “The Cute Show”.

Last week she got excited when “The Secret Life of Cats” was broadcast on ITV, narrated by the wonderful Martin Clunes. The documentary was great and even the ads were full of cats.

I actually recorded it, which was a good idea because I kept filming our moggie watching her own “Mogglebox” as my husband joked. So I couldn’t pay as much attention to the programme. She was fairly indifferent when “The Big Bang Theory” was on, watched the news and a bit of tennis and loved Adam Hills. We have yet to find out if she’s into football.
Since we discovered her telly addiction we just kept filming her and I have decided to share some of these films with you. I have to apologise for some of the noise from the lens. I used my photo camera for these videos as my camcorder is now so old that it’s too much hassle to use – it still works with tapes, which you then have to upload to the computer before editing. We still haven’t edited our old kitten videos including our wedding video – our wedding was seven years ago!

I am sure with practice my videos will improve and my aim is to create some videos which give you an insight into how I work. So those of you who follow this blog and my jewellery business – let me know below what you would like to see.

Thanks for reading.

Jun 03

And the winner is….

In April this year I posted a competition where you could win this hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind Jugendstil pendant.

Jugendstil Heart Pendant - copyright Helen White

Jugendstil Heart Pendant – copyright Helen White

The deadline was Sunday the 1st of June and in total I had 41 entries. I have now chosen the winner – with a little help from Bobby. As cats are not designed to draw a piece of paper out of a hat I had to bribe her with some Felix treats (though she is currently on a diet!).

Hat full of entries - copyright Helen White

Hat full of entries – copyright Helen White

 

Getting Bobby to choose the winnter - copyright Helen White

Getting Bobby to choose the winnter – copyright Helen White

 

After a bit of rummaging around we got there in the end. Yeah :)

Bobby choosing the winning entry - with a little help of some cat treats thrown into the hat - copyright Helen White

Bobby choosing the winning entry – with a little help of some cat treats thrown into the hat – copyright Helen White

Bobby looking for a winner - copyright Helen White

Bobby looking for a winner – copyright Helen White

And the winner is: Irene Mason

Bobby with winning entry - copyright Helen White

Bobby with winning entry – copyright Helen White

Bobby with her cat treats - she's so easy to bribe:) - copyright Hele White

Bobby with her cat treats – she’s so easy to bribe:) – copyright Hele White

Winning entry as chosen by Bobby - copyright Helen White

Winning entry as chosen by Bobby – copyright Helen White

I have contacted Irene, who was very happy about the news and the package is now on its way to her.

Bobby with the wrapped pendant box - copyright Helen White

Bobby with the wrapped pendant box – copyright Helen White

I would like to thank everyone who entered this competition, commented and shared it and subscribed to my newsletter.  Please stay subscribed  – I sometimes offer exclusive discounts and inform you of my latest makes and blog posts (and on average only send it out once a month so not to clog up your inbox. Not everyone follows me on Facebook and Facebook is also very selective with the posts it shows.

I also plan another giveaway later in the year. Oh and if you are interested in buying one of my big heart (or even small heart) pendants – you can find them all here.

Thanks for reading. And please feel free to leave a comment below if you want to.

 

 

 

May 28

Tools I use: Micromesh for sanding

In today’s post I am sharing with you how I sand my polymer clay jewellery using Micro Mesh sanding sheets.

Polymer Clay when baked can look a bit dull and there are two ways to make it shine a little (or a lot). One way is to use varnish – which is sold in gloss, satin or matte. I use varnish mostly when I work with mica powders, inks, metal leaves or foils and Gilder’s paste as all these need to be sealed in to prevent them from rubbing off on clothes. Varnishing isn’t straight forward though – you need decent brushes and patience to get it right and the right varnish – it needs to be water based and you have to use several layers. The result though can look very pretty as you can see with my dichroic range.

The other method is reserved for all designs made just with polymer clay. To achieve a subtle sheen or even a full on glossy sheen the main prep work lies in an awful lot of sanding. Admittedly this is not my favourite part of the process, because it takes ages!

You start out with a 400 wet and dry paper (or even lower such as 240 grit) to get rid of any marks (finger prints) and scratches. I try my best to prevent these in the making stage, but sometimes they sneak in or I only notice them after they are baked. And then I go through up to 9 grits of Micromesh sheets – these are very fine sanding sheets going from 1500 grit, 1800 grit, 2400 grit, 3200 grit, 3600 grit, 4000 grit, 6000 grit, 8000 grit and 12000 grit. Sometimes I leave a few grits out. I dip my clay item in soapy water and gently rub it with the sheet so not to add scratches. Then I wipe it dry and check before moving on to the next grit. I often do this job in front of the telly as it can be a bit boring.

Micromesh for sanding polymer clay - copyight Helen White

Micromesh for sanding polymer clay – copyight Helen White

Micromesh - copyright Helen White

Micromesh back – copyright Helen White

Recently I had to ask my husband to help out, because due to my ongoing shoulder problems I can’t do much sanding as it aggravates my shoulder.So this set,which I will soon add to the website, has been sanded by Mr White.

Pendants sanded with lots of Micromesh - by my husband. Copyright Helen White

Pendants sanded with lots of Micromesh – by my husband. Copyright Helen White

After the sanding is completed the clay pieces are noticeable smoother. For optimal shine though they need to get polished.  Either by hand using an old piece of denim or microfiber cloth used for cleaning or better – using my trusted Dremel with a soft cotton buffing wheel. When polishing I use Renaissance Wax – this not only protects the piece, but enhances the shine.

Some people use their stone tumbler for polishing a lot of beads. I haven’t tried this yet though. Instead of the steel shot you use when polishing precious metals you would add  lots of small pieces of sandpaper in different grits to the polishing barrel. And then you leave the tumbler on for up to a day for each grit and it does the job for you. I am not sure I will try this, mainly because it takes an awful long time.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post – let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

May 14

The story behind this Rose Quartz necklace commission

I love working on commissions – I relish the challenge of finding out what the customer has in mind and working with the customer. So in today’s post I want to share with you how I created this necklace.

Rose Quartz necklace - copyright Helen White

Rose Quartz necklace – copyright Helen White

The customer, Erica, emailed me that she wanted a rose quartz pendant and emailed me a link to one of my own products.

She said she liked the necklace but wanted it with smaller beads and only one main focal. So had a look at my bead stash and took a photo of these two pendants (arrow and a big nugget).

Rose Quartz nugget and arrow pendant - copyright Helen White

Rose Quartz nugget and arrow pendant – copyright Helen White

I also suggested using a pretty Art Deco style pendant like in this necklace. I really like this one.

Jade necklace - copyright Helen White

Jade necklace – copyright Helen White

She emailed back and said she wanted the nugget as a focal. Next I had to ask her how she wanted the focal to sit on the necklace – horizontal or vertical. Again I sent her an example of a necklace I made you can see here.

Swarovski necklace with lamp work heart pendant - copyright Helen White

Swarovski necklace with lamp work heart pendant – copyright Helen White

She wanted it in the vertical style. I also wanted to know if she would like Swarovski crystals and Czech fire polished beads.

Yes, she was happy with the suggestions. Armed with all this info I started creating the focal first and then playing around with the beads on the board until I was happy enough to send her another image – this time of both focal and beads on the board.

Beads layed out on bead board - copyright Helen White

Beads layed out on bead board – copyright Helen White

Detail - bead board 2 - copyright Helen White

Detail – bead board 2 – copyright Helen White

Rose Quartz nugget pendant with fire polished Czech beads and Rose Quarz beads - copyright Helen White

Rose Quartz nugget pendant with fire polished Czech beads and Rose Quarz beads – copyright Helen White

She was happy with both. I expected she might want things re-arranged, so I was pleased with her reply. Next I emailed her a choice of clasps.

Lobster clasp and toggle clasps - copyright Helen White

Lobster clasp and toggle clasps – copyright Helen White

Toggle clasps - copyright Helen White

Toggle clasps – copyright Helen White

She wanted me to use two lobster clasps, as she finds this much easier to open and close. These lobster clasps are 14mm so big and easy enough to open. It’s an interesting solution to a common problem.

Clasps Erica-style - copyright Helen White

Clasps Erica-style – copyright Helen White

Finally I went to work and finished the necklace. Again I sent her photos to make sure she was happy with the result before sending her the invoice.

Erica's necklace - copyright Helen White

Erica’s necklace – copyright Helen White

Detail of finished necklace - copyright Helen White

Detail of finished necklace – copyright Helen White

Next I asked her if she had any special instructions to put on the package.

I sent it international tracked and signed as Erica lives in Germany. And because of last year’s experience with my sister’s package not being delivered in Germany I wrote a big fat note on the package : Bitte Karte hinterlegen falls Kunde nicht da.(Please leave card if customer is not in.)

 A week later I got another email from Erica thanking me for this “gorgeous necklace” and she wrote me this lovely testimonial:

 “When I contacted Helen to commission a rose quartz necklace, I had something very specific in mind. Within just about an hour of sending my request, I got an enthusiastic response from Helen chock full of images and suggestions for how she could turn my ideas into a great piece of jewellery. Helen worked tirelessly and meticulously to craft and tweak the necklace design until it was exactly what I wanted. When it arrived, it was beautifully packaged and replete with a personal note from Helen. If you want something unique, beautiful and made with lots of love, Helenka White Designs is the place to go.”

It made my day – because I love a happy customer.

I hope this gives you a bit of an insight of how I work on commissioned pieces.

Let me know what you think in the comment box below. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

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.

This competition has now closed and the winner will be announced in the next blog 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.

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