Friday, 29 April 2011

My Japanese and not only craft books

Hello everyone again!

Today I'd like to show you my Japanese craft books I've collected so far. I wanted to do it long time ago but I was keep forgetting about it. Now I had a perfect opportunity because recently I bought a book about foam donuts that I really wanted. Unfortunately it was unavailable for shipping to UK, only to Japan. I was totally gutted but then I got this crazy idea :) I sent a message to the eBay seller I got my previous books from, asking if he would be able to get hold on this book and sell it to me. Just like my mom was always telling me, asking questions doesn't cost anything, the worst that can happen is someone will just say "No" :D How excited I was when I received the positive answer!! I couldn't believe in my luck! :D Now I am proud owner of my dream book about urethane foam donuts!

I won't describe these books, I will only show you photos :) Sometimes is good to just look through nice pictures and not to have to read pointless gibberish :D Last thing I want to add is that included some tutorials from these book so please feel free to make these cute items by yourself. I also would love to see your results! :D Now I will stop talking and I hope you will enjoy them!

So far only five japanese craft books...

Japanese miniatures book
Another cute book about miniatures
Mega sweet tiny hoover tutorial :D

My favourite now :)
What can you make with clay oranges :D

My other non Japanese craft books

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I want to be a Pro! :)

Hello everyone!

I hope you had brilliant Easter! Unfortunately I had to work through almost whole Easter time but I still could find time to work on my fake sweet treats :)

The first thing I'd like to share with you are my new craft market plans. I probably said before that I won't do any markets in the future but recently, and completely randomly, I found new craft market which will be held in my neighbourhood area. I was browsing through Internet for market info on my lunch time and I found this new website with craft days. I called their number straight away and I was told that someone just cancelled their table booking and there is just one place left for the nearest event! I was so happy and I booked it straight away!

The first event is due on Saturday the 21st of May. There also will be two more craft days, in July and November, and I booked tables for these two days too. This is like a dream for me, because it takes about 15 minutes to get there, the event starts at late morning (not like the other one at 7 in the morning!) and it will be strictly craft market, where my last market was full of antiques, stamps etc... and snow! :D

All of this gave me a proper kick in the but to start making new things. I've already bought tons of clay and whip cream. First I've made some fruits as they take the longest to dry.
I really wanted to improve myself in fruits making. Just like the title of this post states, I want to be a Pro :) I honestly try to make the best and the most realistic sweets, especially fruits. They are my goal number one. I finally figure out how to make nice oranges too. These babies on the right will be soon cut into pieces, even if my heart will cry because they look so cool as whole pieces! :D 

I also made new strawberries and I would like to show you my strawberry evolution :)
The one on the far left is one of my first strawberries I made with polymer clay. Then I started using air dry clay and tried to paint these white veins, but it was hard because of the clay texture after drying. The fourth strawberry is made with Grace clay and the one on the right is Sukerukun, and I like it the most :) I still want to improve my techniques and I know that I have lots to learn. But you can easily see that practising and learning pays off and no one is a pro at the beginning :)

I hope you enjoyed this tiny post and please stay tuned for more! I have some interesting things to show you :)
And thank you for visiting my blog!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Lefranc&Bourgeois DECO 3D Fake whip cream

Hey everyone!

I've been shopping on Internet recently and I found new medium which I think could be used as fake whip cream. It's Lefranc & Bourgeois Deco 3D Acrylic Paint. It comes in 120ml tubes in various colours and you buy nozzles for it (four in one pack), which can be attached onto the tube and then you use it just like icing tubes :) First maybe I will show you what it says on the back of the tube:

"Very thick acrylic colour, ready to use, perfect for creating volume. We recommend you use DECO 3D accessories (tips, comb, knives and 3D stencils) for applying the paint to vary your creations. Adheres perfectly to wood, plaster, paper, cardboard and acrylic-painted surfaces. test the adherence beforehand on smooth supports (glass, porcelain, metal). Variable drying time according to the thickness of the application. Wash the equipment in water."

This paint is matt after drying but it can be varnished or over painted. I bought "whip cream white" and "marshmallow green" colour :)
Here you can see how easily the nozzle is attached to the tube. Just screw it onto the tube and use it! It doesn't say on the label what maximum thickness is recommended so I'm not sure how would it dry if applied in very thick layer.
I've done a little test and used classic star nozzle and white paint, only because I didn't want to waste too much, as this paint is not that cheap :D

Here you can see how this paint looks like after more than one day. It's matt and not shiny. It still hasn't dried underneath. It kept nice shape and it didn't flatten.

I'm not sure what to think about this medium. It's quite adorable that it's available in many different colours so you don't have to mix it. It's also really convenient that you can easily attach nozzles to the tube and you don't have to mess around with piping bags, which sometimes can be messy :D (or not the bags, but me.... :P ). I'd say this 3D paint could be good for small items, but I'm not sure if I would risk using it on larger things like jars etc. I think I will make some more research about it and let you all know how it will go :) So far I'm quite excited about it although I don't think I will swap my beloved modelling paste for this new 3D paint :D

I wonder what you think about it? :)

Thank for looking!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Beginners help: Varnish or not to varnish? This is the question.

Creating clay sweets is adorable hobby but it also involves activities that are not so popular and many people try to avoid them for many reasons. One of them is varnishing and some of deco sweets artists don't use varnish in their work, sometimes because they like matt finish of their creations, or simply because they don't want to spend extra money to keep their costs down.
I've been asked couple of times if varnishing is necessary, or if I could leave items I made not varnished, because my customer liked the matt finish. My answer is always: "Varnish, varnish, varnish!" And yes, literally three times! :D

Varnishing has much more advantages than disadvantages. Most people think that it involves extra work, much higher costs and most of the times different look of finished projects. Yes, these are the minuses of varnishing but in my opinion they are not that important and for me personally these factors don't affect me much. Here are the most important reasons why clay creations should be varnished:

  • Most of clays are not waterproof and therefore they need to be sealed. Personally I don't know varnishes or clay sealants that would make clay, especially air dry clay, 100% waterproof, but varnishing will minimize humid/wet weather effects or accidental liquid spills on your clay creations.
  • Varnishing protects paint coatings that are applied on clay surface. It is really important when "baking", meaning shading your clay cookies, biscuits or pastries etc. Even after drying, acrylic paint or powdered pastels, can be washed off from clay (not all of the paint, but significant amount of it). I've tried it before when I made mistake and didn't like my "baked" finish :) And varnishing comes in hand here. It seals and covers your paint and protects it from being removed. The one thing you need to remember is to varnish your creations after paint has dried completely, otherwise you might smudge it and it doesn't look nice.
  • Varnishing protects your clay creations from dirt and dust, and also it makes easier to clean it. It works not only with air dry clay but also to polymer clay. You may think that polymer clay is rock hard and almost 100% waterproof, and therefore it doesn't need to be varnished. But from my personal experience I can tell you that it's not true. I made a necklace for myself some time ago, didn't varnish polymer clay it was made from, and I wore it couple of times. After some time I noticed that clay beads got dirty from my make up and I tried to wipe it off with wet cloth. Well it didn't work. Somehow dirt got into clay and it was almost impossible to remove it.
I personally varnish all of my clay sweets, usually two to three times, depending which type or brand of varnish I use. I have collected quite a few bottles of different varnish brands since I started making clay sweets and here I would like to show them to you. I will also try to shortly review them for you. These are not the only varnishes available on the market, I know that there are many more and brands vary in different countries too.

What is says on the back:
"Water-based, free of phthalates, dries in transparent form, touch dry after 20 min., fully dry after 24 hours. Wash brush with water thoroughly after use. protect against frost and heat. Application note: the surface to which the varnish will be applied must be dry, clean and free of grease and fat. Not suitable for children under three years. Risk of suffocation due to swallowing/inhaling."

Fimo Gloss Varnish is the only type of varnish available from Steadtler company. Shame that they don't produce matt or satin version :( Just like it says on the jar, it's water based varnish and it's perfect for polymer clay and also for air dry clay. The varnish itself looks like milky water, it's not really thick and it's really easy to apply on clay.
It comes in 35ml (1.18 fl oz) jar, which in UK costs around £3.

What it says on the back:
"Stir thoroughly before use. DO NOT SHAKE.When applied to cured clay, let dry 30 minutes between coats. When applied to uncured clay, allow glaze to dry completely and then bake at 130C (275F for US Customers) for 30 minutes. Easy to clean-up with water."

My first Scupley varnish was the satin version, as Fimo doesn't produce matt varnish for polymer clay. Then I bought gloss version as I couldn't get hold on Fimo gloss :) I can't say that it's my favourite varnish because I don't like the fact that I have to stir it before very use. The varnish is milky and in cream colour and you have to stir it before using, as it kind of separates leaving thick layer on the bottom of the bottle (I don't know why...) I also noticed that it "foams" when applied on rough surfaces and it leaves foamy bubbles which have to be smoothed out with brush, so this is that annoying thing for me as it makes my work time much longer.
Sculpey doesn't produce air dry clay like Fimo, so I don't know if they recommend using this varnish on air dry clay, but I've used it and it does the same job as Fimo.
The bottles come in 59ml (2 fl oz) size.

What is says on the back:
"Enhances depth of colour and increases transparency, gloss and flow. May be used as a final, non-removable varnish for acrylic paintings. Mix with any acrylic colour or apply over finished painting. Can thin by adding up to 25% water. Always test first for best results. Use for glazing, as a fixative, collage adhesive, varnish, binder or transfer medium."

This is one of my favourites as I use it for many other little things, not only for varnishing. It may be bit more expensive that previously mentioned varnishes, but it comes in bigger bottle and it has many uses, therefore I think it's worth to spend a bit more money on it. The varnish itself is thicker than Fimo and Sculpey and as a liquid it's not transparent, but milky white. It dries clear. The only bad thing about it is that it's not suitable for polymer clay. I've learned my lesson and now I know that after drying on polymer clay it becomes a bit sticky. Not much but you can feel it when touching it and I think that can attract dust and it may be harder to clean from dirt. It works perfectly fine on air dry clay, although it does change the appearance of items made with air dry clay. For example, I noticed that when used on ice cream scoops, it kind of "melted". smoothed the bottom fluffy ice cream edges. It does look nice but still it's a bit different that at the beginning. I think it's because this medium is thicker and it fills the tiny holes and gaps on the clay surface, and then it dries sealing it, so please keep that in mind if you decide to use it.
The varnish comes in 118ml bottle.

What it says on the back:
"Gedeo Gloss Varnish protects the decors. Highly transparent once dry. It preserves the shine and brightness of colours. It is easily applied on any clean dry surface. Preferably use a flat brush with soft fibres. Cleaner-thinner: water."

It doesn't say on the bottle, but I believe it's a water based varnished, as it can be cleaned with water :) It is almost transparent when liquid and it dries to a high gloss. The varnish itself is thick, like lacquer type.

It comes in 75ml (2.54 fl oz) bottle.

What it says on the back:
"Outdoor is a versatile product which can be used for gluing and varnishing pictures (for example serviettes) on various backgrounds. Apply Outdoor to the required surface and stick the picture onto the adhesive while still wet. Leave to dry for four hours at room temperature and then varnish carefully. Outdoor is transparent when dry. Varnish twice for optimal protection outdoors. Clean brushes with soap and water after use. Weatherproof. Small parts, risk of swallowing."

This is the most expensive varnish I've bough so far, although it comes in larger jar than previously mentioned varnishes. It is much thicker and white, and it looks a bit like a PVA glue. It works well but it has the same disadvantage as Liquitex medium, filling the tiny gaps on the clay surface.
It comes in 250ml jar.

What is says on the back:
"Component seal to waterproof ceramics, modeled bowls and pitchers, vases with hairline cracks, terracotta receptacles. Clay sealant contains menthollate and, therefore penetrates objects and seals them waterproof. Rinse out object with clay seal, let dry for approx 6-8 hours and it's ready for use again."

I had big expectations about this product as it promised to make clay items waterproof. I tried it on strawberry pieces made with Fimo air dry clay. I didn't rinse them in this clay sealant, but brush it onto them like normal varnish. The results were confusing. It did make clay strawberries waterproof. I kept them in water for log time (it was hard because the were floating on the surface!) but this sealant has changed the clay colour. This sealant is a bit yellowish and because it soaks into clay, it also changes its colour. I was really disappointed because I couldn't use it on modelling paste either, because it changed from white to cream :( Therefore this sealant has no use for me at the moment. It might be good for cookies or donuts, as they are in yellow shades anyway, bu it definitely is not good for white and bright items.
The varnish comes in 250ml bottle.

I hope this long review has helped some of you when deciding to varnish your creations or not. I strongly recommend varnishing even if you want to keep this matt finish as ou can find different finishes of varnish products which allows you to change or keep the same look of your creations.

Thank you for reading all of this and if you have any questions, then don't hesitate to ask :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fun with polyurethane foam

Hey everyone!

I've seen people making donuts and cakes from urethane foam on Japanese blogs and I too wanted to try this new medium. I've searched for it on Internet but I could find urethane foam only in USA or Japan, and they were too expensive for me. So I tried to find a substitute and I was wondering if there is any difference between urethane and polyurethane foam, which is available here in UK. Apparently there is not much difference between these two and so I bought soft polyurethane foam first. Here are photos from my first experiment:
The left ones are just foam, made with 2:1 ratio. As you can see they have lots on bubbles and they don't look right. I've tried couple of times and then I decided to change ratio to 1:1 as it said on the instruction that it is possible to make the foam harder by adding changing the ratio. I also added a bit of acrylic paint to it. As you can see on the right it was a failed experiment :) The foam was really hard but the amount of bubbles increased. The foam itself became more sticky and when I took it out of the silicone moulds I noticed that they were covered in foam leftovers. I decided to switch to plastic mould as I thought that I destroyed my precious silicone moulds (after I realized that I had to wait a bit and the foam leftovers were easily pealed off from silicone :)

You can easily see the difference between ones that were made with silicone and plastic moulds. Polyurethane shapes are smoother and bubbles are "closed" when made with plastic moulds, where foam made with silicone mould is rather "textured" and bubbles are open, just like on a sponge.

I also noticed that it was hard to control amount of bubbles that were created. Every shape was different and they looked like foamed jellies. I got a bit disappointed and did some more research. I've decided to buy urethane foam directly from Japan and then I noticed the ratio used in Japanese foam, which was 2,5 : 1. and then I thought that I've seen similar ratio 2,4 :1 which was used in medium flexible polyurethane foam, and I bought this one instead of Japanese version. Here are results:
Just foam without acrylic paint. I didn't mix enough so it didn't raise much.

And here is second attempt with added acrylic paint As you can see it raised perfectly and the amount of air bubbles is just right :)

Here is close up where you can see the perfect texture and bubbliness :D The foam is still flexible almost the same as the soft version. The raised bit has fallen down just a after a while, but not much. The upper top was shiny and smooth, ant the bottom one that was in contact with silicone, was matt and textured. I haven't tried this medium flexible foam with plastic moulds yet, as I'm waiting for proper donut shapes :) But I'm sure that it will produce smooth finish on both sides.

I also tried to "bake" them with sponge and acrylic paint, just like you shade normal air dry clay cookies.  The top photo shows cakes made with soft urethane foam and the right one is shaded and also varnished :) Yes I think you can varnish polyurethane foam, and I even think that it is necessary to secure acrylic paint on the surface. The foam itself is water poof but the acrylic paint could be washed off and so varnishing in my opinion is the only solution. There might be other ways but I don't know them yet :D The bottom picture shows cakes made with medium soft polyurethane foam. Top ones are with mixed acrylic paint and they look the best, I think.

I'm really happy that I've finally got my perfect foam and I can't wait to start making donuts and cakes :D 
I hope you enjoyed this post about my experiments and thank you for visiting my blog! :)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sugar free wedding cakes

I'm back! :)

I haven't write much here recently and I would like to explain why. I always wanted this place to be full of fun and cute little things, but recently I totally didn't feel like having fun. I know, I moan too much... Moaning is even written in my name, as my real name is Monika and I sometimes refer to myself as "Moanika" ^o^ But getting back to subject... As I said I felt weird recently. I was really depressed and I wanted to cry so many times without any particular reasons, or these reasons were not adequate to my unusual reactions. I honestly didn't know what was going on with me. I didn't feel like I want to do anything and the worst thing was that I had so many ideas for new items, but my brain and body didn't want to let me make them.

I have a week off at the moment and I had so many plans, and two days have passed so far and I haven't started anything yet. Yesterday I finally understand what is going on with me. I realized that I'm not crazy nor I'm not going through early (very early!!!) menopause (ha! I'm only joking!) I've done some research on Internet and I understood that my mood swings and feeling sad was caused by my diet. Yes everyone, diet! I've stopped eating vegetables and swap them for massive amounts of sugary snacks. My job didn't help either, as I have free access to ice creams, biscuits and hot chocolate. Well I don't drink hot chocolate, but I LOVE ice creams :) This rubbish diet had an influence on my behaviour. When I had sweet treats I felt fine, but just about hour or more after eating them, I was starting to feel down and sluggish. I lost interest in things that I used to like (crafting!) and I cried a lot, and I mean A LOT (sometimes even in the middle of work!).

Now, I don't try to make you guys feel sorry for me. Naah. I want to explain why I wasn't here for so long and why I didn't show you anything new. I wanted to write about so much but when I was finally sitting in front of my computer, I just couldn't start. And I didn't want to say here how bad I felt blah blah blah, because I want this blog to be happy :) There is too much sadness around and I want this little place to bring me and you smile :)

So what is my solution to my problems? NO SUGAR for me :) Yep! I'm going on sugar free diet. Well kind of. You see, the worst sugar on earth is this white horrible processed crystal thing, and this is not real sugar, because of the whole long process of making it white. If you want to eat more natural sugar, then you should buy brown, unprocessed, preferably organic sugar or sweeteners, but not all of them, try to choose natural ones. I've tried many and I can say that Xylitol is the best for me :) I use all the time with my coffee because I just can't drink coffee without sugar :D

Finishing my long (and maybe a bit boring) story I would like to show you two wedding cake photo holders I made long time ago. They are sold already but I never had a chance to post them here. I took these photos just before my market day so the quality may not be perfect. And let's say that these cakes are sugar free! :D

As you already noticed, I've changed design of my blog. I'm a Libra and naturally I can't make decisions, and choosing theme for my blog is one of these horribly difficult decisions :) And it's like choosing clothes, different for every day :) So you might be experiencing many more changes in my blog in the future.

Also I've finally installed Disqus gadget here, so everyone would be able to "reply" to comments. I wanted to have this feature for long time, but first I had to switch to original Blogger theme and then paste some codes into template, and I'm really bad at coding etc :) I hope you will like this new feature and I would be interested what you think about it. I also apologize for "deleting" your avatar pictures from comments. I don't know how to bring them back :(

Thank you for reading all of this! I do appreaciate it :D
And thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Take away charms & I Phone case for my friend

Hey everyone!

It's been a while since my last post about anything new I made :) I think I'm not organized much recently and I get distracted easily by so many things...

Just before Christmas, I promised my friend to make her I Phone deco case and guess what? I made it just recently... That's how bad I am! :( My only excuse is that I was short on cash and I couldn't order anything from Sophie&Toffe before. And yes, all the deco on this case is from this shop. I didn't make them by myself only because she saw the pink case I've made for my other friend for secret Santa gift and she loved the deco on it :)

I also finally finished new stock for the cafe I work at. I decided to make more complicated items and this time I went for typical cafe food :) I made these mini cute cheeseburgers, breakfast toasts, cupcakes, Victoria sponge cake slices, and of course, hot chocolates with cream, as they were the most popular items sold.

I'm quite happy with bacon slices. They were experimental at first, but they turned out well and they were really easy to make :)

The hot chocolates are not finished yet, they need to be hang on the chain and mini cookies will also be added to it.

I hope you enjoyed this short post and I hope I will come back soon with more of my sweets! :)

Thank you for visiting my blog! ^__^