Studio Musings

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Play Dates at the Studio

Pouring concrete cabs - don't look like much at this stage, do they?
I've been playing around with ideas for summer classes for weeks now.  (Yes, I'm slow!) The problem: I wanted something lighter and more playful than a standard workshop lineup.  So I came up with the idea of a series of evening 'play dates' in the studio, each with it's own theme, but that build on eachother into something bigger.

For a while now I've been meaning to make some new focals for my beadwork using concrete and resin.  And I decided that would be my theme.

First up - Concrete Cabs on Thursday, June 30th.  We're talking small batches of concrete, mixed in clear plastic drinking cups with all sorts of interesting inclusions possible.  If you keep the mix fairly dry, you don't need to build walls to contain it.  Blue painters' tape holds my focal items in place and with a little luck prevents concrete from sneaking underneath.  You can also draw guides on the tape.  

Concrete tinted with procion dyes
I tinted the concrete with old procion dye mixtures - two different blacks, navy, scarlet, golden yellow, fuchsia and turquoise.  The colors look rather pastel when grouped as they are at right.  That's okay - its rather like adding gesso to a canvas, simply a base layer of color from which to work. 

Potential concrete focals, some with resin topcoat
Follow-up and Resin, Thursday July 7th.
The following Thursday, we'll be finishing up the concrete work - sanding, adding additional color with acrylics and rub n buff, and playing with resin.

If you attended the earlier session, resin can be used to 'butter' the concrete to deepen and enrich the colors, add a sense of depth and impart a high gloss finish.

Resin cab with embedded design
Or you can use resin by itself, embedding beads and other found objects or painted papers and drawings to create unique focals, like the cabochon featured at right.  I used the cab in my December Art Bead Scene challenge piece, Hunting Fae

Bead Rings - Tuesday, July 12
These fun bead rings (see more here) are quick to make, fun to wear, and a great introduction to right angle weave.  They are also great practise before setting out to capture a cabochon with right angle weave, since they use many of the same techniques.

Fair warning though - they are addictive to make and all your friends will want one!

Play Date Times
The three above are all evenings, starting at 7:00pm and running until 9:00pm or until I run out of steam, whichever is later at my studio just south of downtown Seattle. 

Focal - concrete cabochon with resin
Capturing Cabochons, Sunday August 7th
This is going to take longer than an evening, so carefully scheduling around Mariners' games and Sounders' games and concerts at Qwest field (the tricky part of neighboring two stadiums), I set the date for the first Sunday in August.

Bring your own cabochon, or cabochon shaped object, (or purchase one of mine) and I'll show you how to capture it with a mixture of right angle weave and peyote.  This will be an all day workshop. 

The evening play dates will be free, though donations are welcome to help cover materials costs.  And I'll be updating my website in the next day or so with this information and supply lists and such.  I will be charging for the capturing the cabochon class - just haven't quite figured out what yet.  Pricing is always so difficult!

June 23 update:  I  have now updated the calendar at and added separate class pages for each of the above.   Phew!  I forget just how much work that is.  I'll be adding more pics in the next couple of days, but I'm done for today. 

So, if you happen to be in the area and would like to stop by, drop me a line!  I'll send you the addy, directions and supply lists.


  1. Wow Karen, those look like such fun classes! Wish I was closer. So, here's a question: is there a way to create a hole in resin, so it could be a pendant? Having never worked with it, I don't have a clue. Like maybe embed a grommet or short piece of tube? Anyway, I'll be looking forward to seeing pics from the classes!

  2. Shirley - I wish you were closer too!

    With resin - there are several ways you could create a hole. You could certainly embed wire or tube into the resin. It might be a little tricky if you wanted it to come out of the edge since resin does require a corral of some sort and the wire would have to stick through the corral.

    If you desired a larger hole, you could try raw polymer clay. That's what I did with two of the concrete pieces in the top picture (second column from the left - the bright red is raw poly clay). You can then remove it once the resin is set, but before it's fully cured. I find the resin is semi-flexible the next day and can be handled more easily - you could also drill through it at this stage. Once it's fully cured, I think it might be too brittle for drilling.

    I'll make a note to play with several possibilities and take pictures to share!