Folded Beads -Video Tutorials for new and mid-level polymer clay artisans

HelenBreil.RedNecklaceI remember seeing the red & silver necklace shown to the left in a magazine and immediately coveting it. Thinking back, it was my first introduction into what polymer clay could do…and since I can’t find the photocopy I made of the piece, I was happy, happy, happy, to see it appear in a bead-making tutorial video.

Helen Breil is kind enough to share the technique she used to create these beads with  tutorial videos that take you through the entire “folded bead” process. While it’s easy enough for beginning clay artists, mid-level artisans can take it to the next level by incorporating their own panache.

The fact that you can take this simple method of folding clay


and by adding surface effects make an elegant piece like this:


is a great demonstration of the beauty of polymer clay.

Folded Beads Video Part 1

Folded Beads Video Part 2/3

For those who’d like a daily update on the “chameleon clay”, visit The site is hosted by Cynthia Tinapple, who recently combined the work of a myriad of polyclay artists into a coffee-table (and project table) book, “Polymer Clay Global Perspectives: Emerging Ideas and Techniques from 125 International Artists” [pub date 7/30/13; 9780823085903].

Polymer Clay Global Perspectives

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For others who have an interest in polymer clay art – this post is for you

Grandma Moses has always been an inspirational figure to me – a prime example proving that it’s never too late to learn how to do something new. This article is about my learning something new.

I’ve recently started dabbling in the art of polymer clay, taking online classes and reading as many books as I can get my hands on. Yes, polymer clay, the stuff that we might have played with as kids, is a lovely medium for serious artists. New things I’ve learned which can be done with polyclay have been more imaginative than I could ever have dreamed of. A quick web search will bring up scads of pages showing those artists that can take a simple 2-oz block of plastic modeling clay and make beautiful pieces ranging from small jewelry items to large sculptures.

cover image Goodreads

cover image courtesy Goodreads

To see a fantastic assemblage of polymer artists and view their works, the “Masters” series has a great book: Masters: Polymer Clay: Major Works by Leading Artists by Ray Hemachandra (978-1600595844). Some items will make your jaw drop and wonder how they did it, others might just inspire you to try your own hand at making something. Whether it’s the optical illusion pieces from Dan Cormier, Kathleen Dustin’s lifelike botanical purses, or Barbara Spurling’s sculptures, it’s fun to sit and page through the book. I would have liked to list all the artisans I fell in awe of, but there are simply too many favorites from the book to list them all here.

A few of my favorite sites are Polymer Clay Daily, CraftArtEdu (which offers both free and pay-for-play video classes), and a new find, Polymer Clay Web.

Pin by Tracy Spurgin from Metal Clay Gallery

Pin by Tracy Spurgin from Metal Clay Guru website (

One of polymer clay’s counterparts is precious metal clay – actual metal you can work in [basically] the same way as polymer clay (rolling out, stamping, forming). Metal clay comes as either a block (like polyclay) or in a powder form to which you add water. Depending on the type of metal and size of your creation, all you need to create beautiful jewelry pieces once formed is a simple kitchen blowtorch…like Tracey Spurgin’s amazing pin shown at left!

You’re never too old to learn something new, and you never know what new thing that you try will be something you realize you might just have a passion for. So why am I writing about this? Because the new approach to teaching people how to do research is Connected Learning — taking a subject about which you’re passionate and delving into it with an academic approach.

Have you tried anything new that turned out to make you say “I wish I’d known about this sooner!”?

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I read this article and thought, “Yes – THIS makes sense.”

How Netflix Reinvented HR:

I really like Netflix’ approach…here is Harvard Business Review’s “Executive Summary” of the article (my comments in parentheses):

Hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults. Ask workers to rely on logic and common sense instead of formal policies, whether the issue is communication, time off, or expenses. (If you’ve hired well, your employees won’t take advantage of you. If you worry about them taking advantage, maybe it’s your hiring methods that are lacking.)

Tell the truth about performance. Scrap formal reviews in favor of informal conversations. Offer generous severance rather than holding on to workers whose skills no longer fit your needs. (Natural conversations will bring out the truth more than stilted, programmed “checkoff” box attributes. Also, I’ve worked in enough places to see that often, those employees that aren’t fully-formed adults are treated the same and promoted the same as those who do act properly and professionally: how is THAT good for morale?)

Managers must build great teams. This is their most important task. Don’t rate them on whether they are good mentors or fill out paperwork on time.

Leaders own the job of creating the company culture. You’ve got to actually model and encourage the behavior you talk up.

Talent managers should think like businesspeople and innovators first, and like HR people last. Forget throwing parties and handing out T-shirts; make sure every employee understands what the company needs most and exactly what’s meant by “high performance.”

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Intriguing teen suspense novella: “Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters” by Gail Giles

Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles; published Sept 1, 2004; pb 9780689866241, hb 9780756942908.

If you’re looking for a quick-read psychological thriller or maybe a title to give a non-avid reader that’s exciting enough to perhaps make them seek out books a little more often, Gail Giles’ Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters is that book.

 DGDWL tells us the story of black sheep Sunny Reynolds, a sullen and troubled teen with a non-functioning depressed mother (who always reminds Sunny about how her sister was a golden child that could do everything well, unlike Sunny) and an uninvolved alcoholic father.  At the beginning of this story, Sunny finds a small yellow envelope in the mailbox from her sister Jazz. The writing looks like Jazz’ but how can that be, since Jazmine died in an apartment fire several months ago?

The person who claims to be “Jazz” begs forgiveness for not contacting the family sooner and tells them she’s coming home. While her mother and father are, of course, over-the-moon on Jazz’ arrival day, Sunny is at first apprehensive, since the “golden child” Jazmine was actually very cruel and manipulative toward Sunny. Jazz seems to have changed her ways and is being kind, so maybe things are going to be okay. As time progresses, however, Sunny becomes suspicious – this girls seems to resemble her sister, and seems to know some family secrets, but Jazz doesn’t quite seem to be Jazz, and the kind façade begins falling away when Sunny starts questioning her.

This story just begs you to keep turning the pages to find out what’s really going on as Sunny and her father (who also realizes this person isn’t really Jazz) investigate: if it’s not Jazz, who is this person who’s pretending to be her sister…and why?

Recommended for grades 9+.

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Eight chapters in and really enjoying Jenna Elizabeth Johnson’s “Faelorehn”

Faelorehn – Book One of the Otherworld Trilogy

by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson; pub date April 21, 2012; 9781475192087.

cover image "Faelorehn"

image courtesy Goodreads

I’m eight chapters in to Faelorehn and Ms. Johnson has done a great job in creating characters I like + creating a mystery that I can’t wait to see solved. Why was the protagonist, 17 y.o. Meghan Elam, found wondering around LA on Halloween night as a toddler? Why are people uncomfortable when they look into her eyes — which change color, depending on the weather? What connection does she have with the homeless guy seen around campus whom the snotty popular kids have rudely named “Hobo Joe”? Why do hellhounds come after her on her seventeenth birthday? What significance does that white dog have that she sees in a recurring dream? I’m looking forward to finding out.

In addition to Meghan, her adoptive family and her group of friends, all “outcasts” like Meghan are also well-fleshed out, and the scenery/location is also nicely described.

Worth a read if you’re into fantasy 🙂

And a big thanks to Net Galley for offering this book.

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Great Jewelry Book for Teens: “Hardware: Jewelry from a Toolbox”

Hardware: Jewelry from a Toolbox by Hannah Rogge; pub date 5/1/2006; 9781584794806.

cover image of Hardware: Jewelry from a toolbox

image courtesy Goodreads

Jewelry-making components can get pretty pricey, so how can you make attractive items for little cost? Or maybe funds aren’t short, but you want to learn how to look at everyday items with an artist’s eye to make pieces that grab someone’s attention. Or maybe you’re not an aspiring jewelry maker at all, but you are interested in finding books that can offer some great ideas for Passive Programming in libraries.

Whichever your take, Rhode Island School of Design grad Hannah Rogge provides the answer in her “Hardware” book and shows you how to raid a toolbox or visit your local ACE store and make that awesome accessory to complete your look. Organized into chapters that correspond to various components — washers, rope, metal connectors, nuts, and vinyl/plastic/rubber — each project guides you from start to finish accompanied by plenty of images to help ensure success. Whether it’s a really cool Zinc Fender Washer Belt or a two-tone bracelet using just six 2″ closed S-hooks + 24-gauge copper wire, you’re sure to find something that will not only be easy to make, but will also look chic – and you know there aren’t going to be a lot of other people wearing it! (And it’s not going to totally deplete your checking account!)

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Making it on the 4th Floor | Chattanooga Public Library

Want to get really excited about ‘Maker Spaces’ in libraries? Read about what the Chattanooga Public Library has done with heretofore storage space. I can’t wait to implement some of their ideas into my next job.Not as large in scope, of course, since few places have 14,000 sq. ft. of spare room! — but seeing what they’ve done is a great way to get my own creative thoughts about connected learning flowing.

Making it on the 4th Floor | Chattanooga Public Library.

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K-12 Resource Guide: Resources by Content Area

K-12 Resource Guide: Resources by Content Area.

Awesome resource list provided by UW Educational Outreach for those working with youth (children & teens) in the Puget Sound region.

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Erin Jade Lange’s “Butter” – a realistic fiction book that won’t let you look away

Butter by Erin Jade Lange; published 9/4/12; ISBN 9781599907802

cover from Erin Jade Lange's book, Butter

image courtesy Goodreads

“Butter” is a 423-lb. high school junior who loves listening to jazz, loves playing the saxophone, and is in love with fellow high school student, the beautiful Anna, with whom he IM’s every night (although she doesn’t know it’s him).

After one incident too many at school (and running into a fellow “fat camp” attendee who has lost weight doesn’t help his attitude), Butter decides to throw down a challenge: since no one wants him around, he’s going to eat himself to death on New Year’s Eve on a private webcast. The opening paragraph is his Declaration:

You think I eat a lot now? That’s nothing. Tune in December 31st, when I will stream a live webcast of my last meal. I can’t take another year in this fat suit, but I can end this year with a bang. If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch…as I eat myself to death.   – Butter

Instead of showing concern, his classmates egg him on, offering ideas of foods he should eat and taking side-bets on the final menu while also inviting him to sit at the in-crowd table. With this newfound popularity, Butter begins re-thinking he New Year’s Eve promise, because now he has friends to hang out with, even if they are kind of jerks. But then what? Will they hate him for “wimping out” and he’ll again be an ignored nobody? Does he really want to go through with it? How will his parents react?

The story of how he got his name is heartbreakingly awful, and it’s what makes this book such a powerful anti-bullying treatise. Because of the intensity of some of the passages, recommended for grades 9+.

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What is Connected Learning?

What is Connected Learning | Connected Learning.

I was fortunate enough to attend a CAYAS training (CAYAS is WA state’s youth services special interest group) on “Connected Training on Nov 1st.

Although Connected Learning is applicable to all ages, the session I attended – OMG! Maker spaces, hacking, connected learning, social media, Twitter  was geared mostly towards teens and led by an amazing author and library advocate, Linda Braun. (Her book, “Risky Business: Taking and Managing Risks in Library Services for Teens” was one of the books I read to prepare for my Teen Librarian position this past May.)

If I had to reduce it to a single blurb, Connected Learning = Hands-on, Learner-focused learning, where the librarian/educator is a partner with the learner, not “the sage” who teaches, but someone who helps them explore and connects them with others. The workshop was inspiring and has made me beyond excited to get out there an connect with teens and adults with this new mode for imparting knowledge. I cannot wait until I have the chance to connect with community members and figure out how we can all network to provide excellent educational opportunities.

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