Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kit and Caboodle Shop -- September Feature & Giveaway

It's September and Fall is here. Nature is in full force. Our September featured artist Gayle Dowell lives in the heart of the flint hills prairies of Kansas where she finds most of her inspirations from nature.

Why did you pick your shop name? 
When I first opened my Etsy shop, my two daughters were making and selling jewelry with me. All three of us had different styles and preferences in design when we started, so we named ourselves, Kit and Caboodle Shop, which comes from the phrase, "the whole kit and caboodle" which means a collection of things. It seemed to fit the fact that we were selling a little of everything. What started as a hobby for the three of us to share continued to a business minus the help from my daughters. I'm a one woman business now, but the name stuck so I've kept it. I also sell under my own name, Gayle Dowell, at www.gayledowell.com.

Peppergrass Textured Ring by KitandCaboodleShop

What inspires you?
I'm most inspired by organic textures and shapes. I live in the heart of the flint hills prairies of Kansas where I find most of my inspiration from the grasses and flowers of the prairie. I've heard that many people think that Kansas is flat and boring, but I think that is only true for those who have not taken the time to really stop, stoop down, and look closely at what the prairie is all about. I'm hoping that my prairie grass textured pieces will cause people to realize the wonderful beauty and diversity that this part of the US has to offer. Each prairie grass piece that I make comes with a card stating the name and a photo of the grass or flower that was used to make the textured piece.

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
After my beginning beading phase in jewelry making, I was looking to expand my skills by taking a beginner's class in metalsmithing. From there I decided to incorporate metal clay to give me more design possibilities that could be incorporated with the metalsmithing. Metal clay for me, has become a way to add the textures of the prairie into metal pieces that will last. I've been working with metal clay since about 2010 and have enjoyed the journey.

Mixed Metal Flower Necklace by KitandCaboodleShop

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay? 
I enjoy the flexibility and the unlimited design possibilities that metal clay gives me. Because I love organic textures and shapes, metal clay makes it easy for me to mold and shape pieces that reflect that inspiration, and because I can incorporate it into my metalsmithing, I have even more design opportunities.

Why did you design the giveaway piece? 
What is special about your giveaway piece? My daughter just got married a few days ago and I designed the bridal party jewelry using different grasses for each bridesmaid's pendant and then customizing it with the first initial of each person. I've been wanting to do custom work for some time, making each piece of the prairie a personal experience. I'm giving away a customized prairie grass piece similar to the one shown using the winner's choice of a first initial.

Sterling Silver Personalized Initial Pendant Necklace, Textured with Peppergrass, Prairie Grass from Kansas by KitandCaboodleShop

A lucky winner will win ONE (1) Peppergrass & Prairie Grass Textured Necklace. Here are the rules to enter the MCHs blog giveaway:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment here so we can keep track.
  1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
  2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
  3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
  4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
  5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
  6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
  7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
  8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to http://www.facebook.com/MetalClayHeadsTeam and click Share) = 1 entry
  9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry
The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on September 25th. Good luck!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Winner Announce for our August Giveaway!

The lucky winner is Susan Jolly Lokaj! She will receive the amazing Tree of Life Silver Pendant handmade by Lynn Cobb.


Congrats to Susan. Big thank you to Lynn. Thanks to everyone for your support. We will have another feature + giveaway coming in September, don't forget to come back and enter again!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My inspiration? Creative process? Challenges? Ambitions?

August Featured Artist Lynn Cobb

Welcome to Metal Clay Heads Team Blog Feature and Giveaway! This time we have well-known and talented metal clay artist Lynn Cobb talking about her inspirations, her creative process, her challenges and ambitions on metal clay art. 

My  challenge, overwhelming at times,  is to remain fresh and creative. I feel best about my work when it feels really authentic to me. Something that has welled up from within my psyche.

A question that artists often consider, "Is this original?" raises so many others. Most of us probably agree that since women started painting the walls of the caves at Lascaux over 17,000 years ago (yes, recently, archeologists have determined that the hands pressed on the walls were female) that there have been millions of men and women artists who may have designed just about anything and everything the human mind can imagine. And, so, by calling a piece of art an original design, an artist may be saying that the piece is their own interpretation of a style or representation that most probably has been interpreted by many others over the millennia.

Silver flower statement ring with gold accent by Lynn Cobb

My flower necklaces and rings are a good example of this. They are certainly not the first flowers created in metal and worn to adorn the body. And, yet for me, they felt very authentic in that they were a culmination of my use of simple leaves as design elements, my admiration of Georgia O'Keeffe and Judy Chicago as strong women artists and my own feminist sensibility.

Those flowers came together after I had accumulated a dozen or so leaves using metal clay paste. Just playing with them, unfired, I realized that I could make them into flowers. Oh, that all designing could be so organic!  Frequently, I find myself with an idea, and having a pen and paper at hand, I will often either just make a note or a very rough sketch so that I remember. At the bench, later, I may begin to build on that idea.

Taking an idea  into a solid piece of jewelry leads me to think about how to execute it. This inevitably brings me to the work of others, and how I want to emulate the skills that I admire in others' work.
  • I see the production work of very successful metal clay artists and business women and men, and I admire their ability to see their creations as a job, a way to make a good living working with their hands and to be able to make more creative pieces during "off time."
  • I see the work of others who make exquisite classic designs, fine jewelry, by anyone's standards. I admire their perfection in fabrication and stone setting.
  • I see the work of still others, driven by culture, and other iconic symbols, to develop complex pieces from their own drawings, but that bring together those deep psychic connections that many find relevant.

These are just a few of the skills that I want to bring to my work, in equal parts:  Marketability, Perfection, Meaningfulness. And, add these:  beautiful, unusual, cost-effective, humorous, personal, prolific, dynamic...and a hundred other adjectives that I would like to apply to my work.  Such a mountain I have placed in front of myself!

Tribal shield silver necklace with purple and yellow enamel by Lynn Cobb

All of this brings me to today. STUCK! I am still jotting down ideas and sketches, but being drawn to the bench to execute those ideas is currently alluding me. I hope to pull all of this together, make an exciting piece, enter it in Saul Bell, or send it off for publication, but not sure of when, what, or how that inspiration will return.

I do enjoy using natural elements, leaves, shells, plants...molding them, sometimes adding stones, gold or enamel. These are not pieces that I consider particularly creative, but, they can be pretty, and others do seem to like them. And, I use abstract textures from my own polymer carvings to mold the clay. The immediacy of metal clay makes these kinds of pieces fairly easy to make and they aren't too costly.

One of the best things about metal clay is its universally accessible process. Although I love the silver the most, and it is expensive, it requires few tools to get started, keeping it available for many to try. It drew me in, and, like many, I didn't have a ton of money to invest in major equipment in order to begin. I was able to add tools, a kiln, more tools, oh, and more tools, and some more, over the years and I believe many of us who love metal clay have found this to be one of its greatest equalizers...we are able to make beautiful metal jewelry, sometimes from the very first day.

Tree of life pendant by Lynn Cobb

Which, brings me to my giveaway piece. This is a simple pendant, and, it is a copy of  the very first piece that I ever made! (It is a little thicker...that first one was not very evenly rolled. And, the patina is more interesting, took awhile to learn that variations in temperature and additions of salt and ammonia could ramp up the colors.)  The design is my own, a carving that I made in polymer clay and have executed in polymer both with texture and using mica shift, and in silver.  While trying to figure out a tag to use on etsy, I came up with "tree of life" which seems to fit it, although, this one is more wintery, having lost its leaves. And, it has a bit of feminine symbology as well. Over the years, it has been one of my most popular designs. I hope you like it.

So here are the rules to enter the MCHs blog giveaway:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment here so we can keep track.


  1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
  2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
  3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
  4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
  5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
  6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
  7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
  8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to http://www.facebook.com/MetalClayHeadTeam and click Share) = 1 entry
  9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry

The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on August 28th. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Artist Carrie Michael Feature + Blog Giveaway Result is here!

And the winner is ...

Barbara!!!!!

Congrats to Barbara! She won the Copper English style ocarina pendant with an included purple sapphire beautifully handmade by Carrie Michael.


Big thanks to Carrie who devoted her precious time for the interview and giveaway. Thank you for your support and time to read the blog feature and to enter the giveaway. Please stay tuned on our next blog feature!

Monday, June 16, 2014

It Feels Like Magic Every Time! June Featured Artist Carrie Michael

Our featured artist of June is Carrie Michael from Kalamazoo, MI. Carrie has extensive creative experience with polymer clay and has perfecting her skills on metal clay since 2012. Her work is whimsical and dreamy! Carrie is giving away a copper metal clay english style ocarina pendant to a lucky reader. Read on to learn how to enter the giveaway and win a piece of her amazing art!

Why did you pick your shop name Carrie Michael?
I picked my own name so that it was easy to find me!

When did you first become interested in Metal Clay? How long have you been designing jewelry using Metal Clay?
Metal Clay called to me the first time I heard of it, but I didn’t have the available funds to work with it at the time. I sold polymer clay jewelry until I built up enough profit to buy my own kiln and fine silver supplies. Metal Clay has been a part of my life since June of 2012, and I am amazed every time a piece of “clay” goes into the kiln and comes out solid metal, it feels like magic every time, I adore it!




Fairy fine silver ear cuff holding amethyst cubic zirconia DTPD by Carrie Michael

Would you tell us your creative process?
For my detailed pieces I normally start by making a digital drawing. Once I am happy with it, I scale the drawing down to size, print it, and trace the drawing onto dry metal clay. After carving, detailing and engraving, I finish the piece in the kiln. Burnish, tumble, polish, and then make a mold so that more of the same design can be completed faster to keep prices affordable! The entire process for the giveaway piece is too long to answer here, but there is a tutorial on my blog: carriemichael.blogspot.com/2014/06/metal-clay-ocarina-tutorial.html

What inspires you?
The beauty and magic of our natural world.
Copper english style ocarina pendant with an included purple sapphire by Carrie Michael

Why did you design the giveaway piece? What is special about your giveaway piece?
Logging in to etsy to read the Metal Clay Heads Team blog, I noticed other recommended groups to join. One of them was for handmade ocarinas. I didn’t join the group, but it got me thinking, I bet I could do that out of metal! My husband is an ocarina player, and a nice sturdy ocarina that he couldn’t drop and break would be a welcome gift. It took quite a bit of trial and error as well as research online to figure out how to make one from metal clay, but I think I have a process that works well. My husband helps me tune them to make sure that they function properly as a musical instrument in addition to being a piece of jewelry. My notes on construction are on my blog so that other metal clay artists can make their own if they wish.

I decided to give away a copper ocarina pendant because it is a unique item that can’t be found anywhere else. This one is the 5th that I made, and since I was still perfecting my design there will never be another exactly like it! It has both copper and white copper (*contains nickel) on the front, and an included purple sapphire for fun.

What are the major challenges when creating metal clay jewelry?
In relation to this piece specifically, metal clay can’t be worked in the same way as ceramic clay, which is traditionally used for making ocarinas. That makes it extra difficult to get the voicing carved and lined up properly, as well as to get the tuning right. Concert tuning would be a nightmare, so this piece is simply “in tune with itself.”

Fairy Dragon fine silver pendant or charm with purple sapphire DTPD by Carrie Michael

What do you enjoy most about working in Metal Clay?
Permanence and sparkle! Every medium has it’s benefits, but a finished metal clay piece should last for generations. It brings me great joy to know that my silver pieces will continue to glitter long after I am gone.

What is your greatest ambition as a Metal Clay artist?
To quit my day job and spend every day making art for people to enjoy!

What is the biggest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?
Making complex detailed pieces and then moving to the next step without doing a test sample first, sometimes leading to irreparable harm to days worth of work. I do this in every media I ever use. Learning the hard way to do test samples is something that has taken years to sink in.


So here are the rules to enter the MCHs blog giveaway:

Every person is eligible to enter the blog giveaway with up to FOUR (4) entries. How can you get an entry? You can do any of the following and then let us know that by leaving a comment here so we can keep track.


  1. Follow our blog = 1 entry
  2. Check out featured artist and post favorite piece on the blog = 1 entry
  3. Heart featured artist’s shop = 1 entry
  4. Follow featured artist on Facebook = 1 entry
  5. Make a purchase = 2 entries
  6. Refer a friend = 1 entry
  7. Tweet about the giveaway using key word metalclayheads = 1 entry
  8. Share the Metal Clay Heads blog giveaway link on FB (Go to http://www.facebook.com/MetalClayHeadTeam and click Share) = 1 entry
  9. If you voted and commented on our last challenge = 1 entry

The giveaway will run for two weeks. We will announce the winner on July 1st. Good luck!