Silver Clay

Ask almost any mom if she would like a silver fingerprint of her child, and almost without fail the answer will be “Yes!” In fact, it’s probably going to be “YES” even before you finish asking the question. 

Several years ago, we brought into the studio a system for making silver pendants out of a substance that is called, for simplicity’s sake, “silver clay”. What that means is that powdered silver is combined with a smooth clay-like substance, allowing us to mold the clay in molds. The molds give the silver the size, shape and back-side texture, allowing us to impress a fingerprint on the other side. The result – something to treasure!
We have different style molds – hearts, circles, squares, rectangles, teardrops and ovals – with different backside textures available. These include a smooth back, a leaf pattern, a swirl pattern, a square pattern, a hammered metal look, and stars. 

All are available in small, medium and large sizes. The sizes are kind of like quarter, nickel and dime – not exactly, but the large molds are all 7 gram molds, the mediums are 3.5 grams and the smalls are 1.75. This works with the clay, which is sold in 7 gram packs. You can do however many charms you can do and have them add up to seven! There are also molds available with an initial on the back – these are medium sized and we can do two from one pack of clay. We can also put a small initial next to each fingerprint, so you can tell who is who. 

Because we have a limited number of people working at the shop who know how to make silver fingerprint charms, we do require an appointment. You can buy your clay HERE so that you know you have a pack waiting for you. When you request your time, you will get a confirmation that the time you have requested works, or we will figure out a time that works for everyone.

At the time of your appointment, you will select your molds. After the clay is rolled out, we’ll get the impressions, and that’s it! 

It doesn’t take long. The clay has to dry and then be fired in the kiln, and after it is fired there is an oxidation left on the silver that has to be polished off. It is usually ready in 3-5 days. 

Silver Clay

Video how to: Texture technique 

I’m not gonna lie – I love painting on paper and then putting it on pottery. I love how interesting the final result is, how not perfectly perfect each item turns out, and how messy I get. 

I also love the state of Alabama, and how beautiful it is. I decided to do a tree design inside the state – well, you can see!


This is painted on a fun item – it’s an oversized bottle cap. 

Here’s how we made it – hope you can see how fun this is!

And the finished piece!


Now here is a more detailed video of how we do the texture technique. You can listen to me blather on while I paint! 


Or you can see it on our YouTube page​​ https://youtu.be/vX_xjwtk4-o

Now, I say at the end of this that I am (a) not tech savvy and (2) I’ll be back to show the unveiling. Wellll… the first part of that made the second part not possible. But! Here are the pictures of the mug after I took the paper off. 


I went back and added more color to the places where it didn’t take, and added some dark purple to give it the cosmic sky look I wanted. 


I love how it turned out! Like so many darkly-painted items, it looks much better in person than it does in pictures. You’ll have to check it out the next time you are in the shop. 

I hope you will come try the paper texture technique with me soon!

Video how to: Texture technique 

Featured Technique: Texture


Have you ever wanted to paint something that didn’t look exactly like it had been painted? Or wondered how someone got “all that” going on? It might have been using the Texture technique – this technique is so much fun, and one of my favorites.

Basically, “Texture” (or as I sometimes call it, paper texture) is when you don’t apply paint directly to the pottery, but instead paint onto paper or bubble wrap and apply the paper to the piece. It gives a totally different look, and can’t really be predicted.

It. Is. Awesome.

It’s also pretty messy and a little weird, because you have to think backwards a little bit. The first thing you put down is the “top” of the painted area. This is fun for layering fish in front of and behind seaweed, for instance, or the sky behind the sun. But you start by putting the sun down first, then the sky. 


This is a technique that has been around a while, but recently I went to Pottery Camp and was reminded of how much potential it has. I think it is something that kids can do, something adults have fun with – basically, when I was deciding to feature my first technique, it was an easy choice.

So…. WHY is it so cool? Partly because you don’t know what it is going to look like, until it is finished. That’s always fun. And even if you’ve done it several times, it’s still fun when you pull the paper off and go WOW!!!


When my friend Nancy and I were painting these samples, we learned it is MUCH easier to find color paper rather than white paper to make sure you’ve pulled all the paper off. We highly recommend it!

It’s also a little bit easier to put paint down in the area. When we did the Earth plate, it was a group effort so I did a quick color wash to show where needed to be blue(ish) versus green(ish). But we also start with a quick wash of at least white – paint likes to stick to other paint. 


And you can mix it up! The heart and rim are with paper, the middle area is with bubble wrap. Another fun thing with bubble wrap! Who knew!

We hope you’ll come try the Texture technique!

Featured Technique: Texture

Always Making Changes

I opened this store almost 18 years ago, and there have been very few things that haven’t changed in that time. We’ve taken walls down, changed what crafts we offer, and tried to always think of the next fun thing our customers would like to do.

 
A few weeks ago, I went to “Pottery Camp” in New Orleans. I go to these events to learn about new products, projects and techniques, and over the years we’ve learned amazing things. This year, I learned how to better organize and present what you can do at Do*It*Yourself Crafts.


 
Last week, we started the transformation to being a “Technique Based Studio”. What this means to you is that we’ve grouped the projects together to show you 24 amazing ways you can paint pottery. We have clear instructions for you to follow, and the supplies you need for each project together.
 
We are so excited about these changes! I’m excited to show you how many fun things you can do with pottery, and we’re already seeing customers try things they had never done before. 

Always Making Changes

Wine Glass Painting, Wine Drinking, and running the Wine 10K!

Believe it or not, the whole reason I started Do It Yourself Crafts – way back in 1999 – was because I wanted to paint wine glasses. I’ll tell this whole story another time, but we’re excited to announce that wine glass painting is BACK at DIYC!

And I’m really excited to say that one of the first people to paint wine glasses was Joey Longoria, and he didn’t just paint any ol’ wine glasses – but the glasses that the winners of the Wine 10K will sip from. The Wine 10K is a road race that goes through the heart of Homewood. It’s going to be held March 11, and there is still time to sign up! You can find more information at https://runsignup.com/Race/AL/Homewood/BirminghamWine10K


Glass painting is super easy, but slightly different from painting on pottery or on canvas. First, you can see through the glass (obvious, I know, but sometimes you have to say the obvious), so you have to think about what’s going on the other side. Also, it’s SLICK! There isn’t a whole lot of *grip* to glass, so sometimes it takes a minute to get used to it.

We have a wide variety of colors, and glasses are $16 each. These go home with you the day you make them, and you finish them in the oven at home. (Super easy – put the glass in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 300 degrees and your timer to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and let it cool down to room temperature before taking out.)

While Joey was painting, I bombarded him with questions – because I really like getting a chance to find out about my customers and what they love. He’s been coming in for years with his daughter, so we’ve talked about all sorts of things.


DIYC: How did the Wine 10K come into being?

Joey: The National Center for Sports Safety was looking for a way to market and promote our brand and tell people about what we do. In the process, we also wanted to do something sports related since that’s our industry and what we do. We knew we wanted to do a race, but like everything we do, we wanted it to be unique, fun, and well executed. Next, we know runners LOVE mimosas and through an already existing partnership with International Wines, the name Wine 10K was born. We are the only net downhill certified course in Birmingham

What changes are you expecting this year from the inaugural run last year?

More runners! Currently, we are well over last year’s totals in every aspect and will be close to doubling last year’s race entries. Secondly, having Rio Olympic medalist Emma Coburn coming in to run will be something no other race in this area has ever done before. We have also added finisher medals this year. Some seriously cool bling. The finisher medal is a custom designed stainless steel functional wine stopper medal. Last, we have added prize money for the winners this year which has attracted an incredibly fast field for the race. One thing we are not changing is the GREAT post-race party that everyone enjoyed last year serving up mimosas, wine, Trim Tab beer, Revelator Coffee, and the super popular grilled cheese station from Lululemon and the breakfast burrito tent by Homewood Gourmet!
 
What is your running background?

We need another blog for this. Kidding. Sort of. I started running with my mom in Hobbs, New Mexico when I was 6 years old and started running competitively when we moved to Houston, Texas when I was 8 years old through junior Olympics when I was 8 and competed through high school. We traveled all over the country competing at state meets and national meets. Through high school, my events were the 110 hurdles, 300/400 meter hurdles, javelin, and multi-event discipline and at one point held age-group Texas state records in all four. I didn’t start running beyond a 10k until 2012. The 2012 Magic City half marathon was my first half and since then I have completed 12. I have also completed 5 marathons, most recently, the Houston marathon back in January. Depending on what I’m training for, I run anywhere from 35-65 miles per week

Tell me about the foundation.

The National Center for Sports Safety was founded in 2001 by Dr. Larry Lemak of Lemak Health. His vision and our mission are quite simple: To educate the youth sports community, making the field of play safer for our youth athletes. Primarily, we do this though our coaches education class called PREPARE, which is an all-sports comprehensive education for all coaches, parents and care-givers that was developed by a delegation of athletic professionals spearheaded by Dr. Lemak in 2003, here in Birmingham. The content is reviewed and updated every two years and is currently reaches 48 states and is a mandatory certification among high school coaches in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. You can learn for about the history and what you can do to make sure your child is safer on the playing field by visiting http://www.sportssafety.org


I know that you are an artist, and you’ve had amazing opportunities with your art. Tell me about what you have going on next.

That’s a great question! I started collaborating with local photographer Ginnard Archibald a few years ago and that partnership has been amazing. We do photography and paint mixed media that has been well received both locally and nationally. In the meantime, I have been contacted by the arts council in Szekesfehervar, Hungary for a solo exhibit toward the end of summer, 2017. If that happens, I’ll be very busy for a few months!

Like so many businesses in Homewood, we’re super proud of this event! If you are a runner, this course is so fun – and is as flat as something in Birmingham can be. If you are running, we’ll be cheering you on, and toasting you afterwards!

Wine Glass Painting, Wine Drinking, and running the Wine 10K!

Glass Fusing – Now Easier Than Ever!

Announcing the new way to select glass! When you come in, we have all of our glass varieties ready for you to take to any table. You’ll work with nippers to get exactly what you need for your project. 

You can still score and cut glass, but we’re going to make it easier to get started and create. It won’t take any longer to start you on a glass project than it does to paint pottery!

We still have a selection of noodles, stringers and frit (glass glitter), and I’m still buying all the pretty colors of glass we all love. How can I not?


This *is* glass, and glass can cut. We have bandaids. Kids aged 6-10 need “dedicated adult involvement” to work with cutting glass – it’s mainly a hand-strength issue for using the tile nippers. Kids older – and adults, obviously, can do all sorts of fun stuff. We don’t recommend glass for friends under age 6, but I defer to parents for this.


The first firing of glass is the fusing firing, and leaves the glass flat. We can shape it into bowls or plates with a second firing called a slump firing.


If you are interested in WHY we made these changes, it’s because in the past, if you wanted to do glass you’d be presented with a LOT of choices. Glass in bins that were sorted by color, and by size. Plus stringers, noodles and frit. It could be overwhelming, and I think many customers didn’t pick glass for this reason. I also think my staff would get overwhelmed with showing you HOW glass worked.

So one day three weeks ago, I was sitting at a red light and had this idea. You know how those ideas are – you have to really consider if it will work, and this one seems to be.


Now, all the glass is together ready for you choose what you need.

We’ve had it set up for three weeks, and we’re seeing more and more customers try glass fusing, and it is so much easier on everyone.


Some more back-story on glass:
It’s been around a LONG time, but only about 12 years ago did people start to use kilns traditionally used for ceramics to fire glass. Glass kilns are usually heated from the lid, while ceramic kilns are heated from the side, and it wasn’t until someone started playing around did they realize you could use side-elements to fuse glass.

DIYC brought in glass about 11 years ago. We started out offering it for classes, and eventually it became a part of our walk-in options for the store.

This past year, we had a scare: in the spring, the company who makes all the glass we use announced they were going out of business. Oh no! What were we going to do? It was a summer of not knowing, and we were so happy when it was announced that another company would continue to manufacture the glass we use.


(One of the things about glass, is that you can’t use just any old glass. As glass heats, it expands and contracts, and you have to make sure it is expanding and contracting at a regulated rate. This is called the Coefficient of Expansion, or COE. And you can only use ONE COE at a time. Imagine if you mixed Coke and Pepsi, and the result was an explosion. That’s what happens with different COEs, which is why we couldn’t just go by any glass we wanted.)

So, this is where we are: glass is staying, and we’ve made it easier than ever. 

Glass Fusing – Now Easier Than Ever!

Story Sunday: Sometimes Pottery Breaks

I planned to share something different today, but then this morning a coffee mug broke in my house. 


A coffee mug my son painted when he was almost six. 

One of my favorite mugs. 

Sometimes, pottery breaks. 

If you’ve been in my store with kids, you know we have a “one finger touch rule – you can touch gently with one finger, but don’t pick things up or push things over.” And I mean it when I tell parents that I have more things in my world to worry about than broken pottery. It can’t even make it on the list. And if something does break, I don’t worry about it – accidents happen and I will say that’s why they call them “accidents”, and not “on purposes.”  (This was said to me many, many times while growing up.)

Because, sometimes pottery breaks. 

So last night, while I was still at Christmas Village, Henry made himself hot chocolate. And the mug was still on the coffee table this morning when the little cat Tito went on her morning crazed cat run around the house. And she knocked the mug off the table onto the floor. 

Sometimes, pottery breaks. 

Michael and Henry both said instantly “maybe it didn’t break” but I know that sound better than they do. And I’m not going to lie: it was the sound of my heart breaking, too. Because at that moment I really, really cared about the mug getting broken. 

If he has just put it in the kitchen when he was finished (I’ve asked again and again), if Michael had, if I had – but it was still there. If he had picked another mug. If Tito hadn’t been running right there. If if if. 

I don’t want to get mad when these thing happen, because I don’t want him to think things matter more than people. But I was mad and sad and human, so I was. I counted to ten and acted more calm than I was, because I could see that my son, my little boy, was on the verge of feeling a lot worse about what happened than he should. 

Sometimes, pottery breaks.  

It is just a mug, and I can glue the piece back and put it on a shelf and keep the art. I can look at it and remember tha little boy who still had curls on his head who painted his Santa but didn’t want to color it in. Who asked for Legos and Power Rangers that year. Who still curls up in my lap like he did then, even if his legs take up a whole lot more room than they used to. 

It is just a mug, yet so much more. And I am sad that it is broken, but sometimes pottery breaks. 

Story Sunday: Sometimes Pottery Breaks