January 26, 2015

Rocks...The Hard Way...

Rocks are everywhere. The planet Earth is made of rocks, the solid foundation of life on earth, yet as varied and beautiful as life itself. Rocks are made of elements and minerals, and come in all shapes and colors. Some are plain, some are beautiful, but all are hard and heavy. So why replicate a rock?  To represent a rock through craft is to embrace both the complete randomness of nature and the hard lines of elemental mineral structure. That, and they're much lighter...

There are three major types of rocks (Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous) and aside from the precious gemstones, the Rock Crystal or Quartz types of Rock have the most eye catching pattern and sparkle. This group includes favorites like the Purple Amethyst, Red Carnelian and Rose Quartz as well as all the Agates, Jaspers, and many others. Their transparent and colorful nature is best expressed through the mediums of glass, resin, polymer and soap. 

River rocks also hold a certain appeal in craft. Their smooth, cool exterior and their tumbled beauty is part of the endless flow of water as the rivers wash away the mountain. Their solid and opaque nature lends them interestingly to the opposite mediums of the crystals, as river rocks are often  interpreted through the soft fiber arts as well as the mediums above. 

I created this ETSY Treasury called Rockology to showcase some of the rockcraft of today! Also check out this eBay collection called Mineral Wealth. It features listings with great photos to inspire your own crystal matrix creations!

Soap that looks like crystal formations and geodes can be found in several beautiful ETSY shops!  I love how the layers of colored glycerin soap refracts the light almost like a crystal. Gem Soaps are usually made layered with inclusions, and then molded or cut into a crystal shape. Rockhound Soap makes some great crystal formation and geode soaps. The shop amethystsoap makes an amazingly realistic tumbled Turquoise blend soap, and their Amethyst crystal soaps look just like the real thing! And the mineral, gem and birthstone soaps at AnjoulBliss are so colorful and creative!

Druzy quartz is a popular jewelry making material, but why not make some yourself? Many tutorials involve texture and glitter but this one goes the extra step to make a durable finished product. The DIY Faux Druzy Necklace from Aki at the blog Minted Strawberry

Photo Copyright Minted Strawberry

Rocks can be imitated as a whole, or a formation of rocks can be constructed using existing rocks, with a touch of craftology for the matrix, as I have done here. Here are a few different styles of stud earrings I created this past year from epoxy clay and various crystals (White Quartz Points, Swarovski Chatons in various colors and sizes, tiny glass beads, pyrite chunks) on 6mm silver posts. 

When creating these, try to make the texture as random as possible, using all sides and angles of your chosen texturing tool to mark the epoxy or polymer clay. A light wash of acrylic to finish settles into the cracks and gives a natural patina to the new rock so it looks weathered and aged. Then add a waterproof polymer safe finish to seal everything in. 

Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014
Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2014

To make faux boulders, this cool tutorial by Creativeman on Instructables uses an interior form much like papier mache ~ cardboard, crumpled paper and wire wrapped together to form an irregular shape then coated. This version uses a mix of concrete on the exterior so they can be used outdoors. 
This technique has so many neat possibilities for landscaping! 
Here is another tutorial from theghostess.com that produces more functional rock-like covers for things in the yard. 

Photo Copyright Batchelors Way

Continuing on with home decor, check out this tutorial from Batchelors Way Blog, the DIY Faux Marble Countertop. Using a feather is a classic technique for faux marble designs on all surfaces, even fabric. And the resin coat at the end makes it look shiny & real!

Photo © Amanda Granstrom 2015

I've begun work on a series of jewelry pieces that mimic stone matrix formations, using tiny gemstones and epoxy clay, as above, but with the addition of a layer of electromformed copper from the new E3 Electroforming Kit I got from Sherri Haab Designs. I think it makes the formations look even better, rougher and more natural like stone. More updates on the electroforming adventures next time at the Museum of Craftology! 

Stay Stoned! You Rock!

December 4, 2013

Save The Whales

I have always loved whales. They are more closely related to humans than any other creatures of the sea, and yet they look so different from other mammals. Their bodies elongated, their hands and feet turned to flippers and tails, they are able to swim underwater for great lengths of time, and they are giants: some of the largest animals ever to live on Earth. 

The Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, is my favorite species of whale with its bumpy chin, striped underbelly and a mouth that almost seems to smile. They also have some of the most spectacular behavior of all whales, moving through the water acrobatically and jumping out of it in all different ways. And yet these beautiful animals are persecuted daily, driven almost to extinction through the hunting practices of humans. I dedicate this ETSY Treasury to Save the Whales


Humpbacks are the musicians of the sea, singing complex songs to each other through their noses that can be heard for miles underwater. You can listen to these amazing noises for free at The Whalesong Project where you can also see some great photos of whales in Hawaii. Still, the language of the whales has not been completely deciphered, and we can marvel at the wonder of animals speaking to each other, much like the characters and whales in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. What do you think they are saying?

Support Saving the Whales by Buying this cool calendar on ETSY by Hastings Studio or visiting The Whaleman Foundation site to support Saving the Whales. 

Photo Copyright Hastings Studio

I think that Whales are often depicted in craft mediums because their simple body shape is so appealing. I created this HumpbackWhale from stained glass a number of years ago from an original pattern I drew. Notice the textured clear glass that mimics the grooves in the whale's belly. 

Photo Copyright 2003 Amanda Shero

Humpback Whale Earrings by Lawrence Eichman

I recently bought this great pair of earrings from the Sandy Mountain Festival made by Lawrence Eichman, a local Oregon glassblower who makes some amazing glass animals; mostly sea life but also other creatures like hummingbirds and insects.

Photo Copyright Lawrence Eichman

This DIY Denim Whale Tutorial by Finnish Artist Mevrouw Walvis is so cute! This is a detailed sewing tutorial using recycled jeans fabric, cleverly using both the front and the back of the fabric for matching tones. All the great shapes and little embroidered elements come together to make one neat project! Make one yourself today and please respect her artistry!

Photo Copyright Mevrouw Walvis

Whales are an interesting evolutionary case study; in the PBS series Inside Nature's Giants, large animals who died naturally are dissected and their anatomy is studied to discover the many surprising ways that an animal can be adapted to its environment. A Sperm Whale, not a Humpback Whale, was used in this episode, but many of the facts remain the same. Did you know whales have five fingers, just like humans? 

Whales need our help to survive! Save the Whales!


May 2, 2013

Flight of the Bumble Bee

Bees are so small, yet so powerful. They are the reason we can enjoy fruits, vegetables, and flowers. They feed us with their pollination, and with their delicious honey. And their sting, while small, can overpower a much larger animal. Bees are peaceful, but their peace lies in their strength. Their graphic black and yellow coloring serves to remind us of their power. Humans may have domesticated bees, but our food and our ecosystem depends on the survival of wild bees and their hard work. 
To honor the bees, here is an ETSY Treasury I call Bumble Bee Fly

Fly on by little bumble bee...
Drink the flowers and be at peace...
Fly on by little bumble bee...
Just don't sting me...please...! 

Bumble Bee Bobby Pins: A Tutorial

Using supplies from Beadaholique.com you can make this cute set of bobby pins. Now when someone says "Hey, you have bees in your hair" you'll casually say "Did you know Bumble Bees prefer the color purple?" instead of running around screaming and waving your arms above your head. 

These are made from a pair of Bumble Bee Solid Brass Stampings by Nunn Design and a pair of Gold-plated Bobby Pins with a 10mm pad, glued together with some E6000 glue. As simple as that. Be sure to use enough glue to fill the many back crevices of the stamping to ensure a good hold, but not too much so it leaks out the sides. Let dry overnight and try them on!

Using a different metal blank, the Honey Bee also by Nunn Design, I have added to a Dragonscale Weave Chainmaille Hexagon pendant that I made so it would look more like a Honeycomb. Because these blanks have no holes, I glued a jumpring to the back so it was parallel to the body of the bee, and added it as I worked the Chainmaille weave. 

Crafty Cat Jump Rings 2013

Last fall, a friend and I were stung by bald faced hornets, and I had a reaction to their stings (or bites!). Until then, I never appreciated the full intensity of the flying stinger. Small, yet powerful. Although they are not bees, they too participate in insect colony life. A single individual will sacrifice itself for the good of the hive.

Crafty Cat Jump Rings 2013

"...she likes to call me King Bee, she likes to buzz 'round my tree...i call her honeybee..."
~Lyrics by Tom Petty~