Thursday, February 28, 2013

REVEAL: Art Jewelry Elements: February Component of the Month

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the winning recipients of AJE's February component of the Month!

This month's component was created by the talented Francesca Watson. 

Francesca describes her component:
" They are hand-cut copper discs, about 1" across and lightly domed. Each one has been layered with multiple brilliant colors and heated to create an organic mottled look - these remind me a little of the colors of certain shells when you pick them up wet out of the waves. Each one has been accented with three tiny fine silver "pebbles," hand set into the enamel when it is hot. A single hole at the top of the disc is ready for your jump ring or bail."

Using the beautiful teal in her piece as the basis for my color palette I created this bracelet with her component as my focal. I surrounded it with some other coordinating enamelled pieces which were made by my friend Sonya Stille. I attached all these enamelled beauties to a chain and then shadowed the chain with another string of small iridescent and gunmetal beads. I love the whole palette. *


*  after looking at the photos  I noticed - one side is all green and the other blue. I am going to go and fix that so it is more balanced in color.

I was so honored to be chosen to take part in this challenge - thanks AJE and Francesca!

Be sure to visit all of the participants for this challenge:

Participating AJE Contributors:
Jenny Davies-Reazor -
Susan Kennedy -
Linda Landig -
Francesca Watson -

Guest Designers:
Sandi Volpe -


Monday, February 18, 2013

My New Baby!

Remember back in October I told you all about my bad case of Kiln Envy? Well guess what I received as a Christmas gift from my friend, Marlene Cupo?

Uh, yeahA KILN!

Unbelievable gift, right?!
A KILN! It’s a Tabletop Rapid Fire kiln to be exact. Isn’t she pretty? It sits right on my counter and plugs into a normal kitchen outlet.  The inside chamber is just right for firing small pieces for jewelry making!

I had a larger kiln many years ago,  until it drowned in a basement flood. It was an old 1960’s kiln I got for free on Craigslist. It was a manual kiln with a cone sitter. With this type you had to turn the dial , low-medium-high (sorta like a crockpot), and let it fire until it was hot enough to bend a little cone. Once the cone bent it would trigger a switch which turned the kiln off. Kind of archaic but it did the job. I used to use the kiln to make the usual ceramic pieces (cups, bowls, etc) but I also made my own small tiles and shapes to use in my mosaic work.
Here is an example of one of my picture frames. 
I also worked on a really cool project with some elementary school children. We made a mural for their school with their mascot, the Gansevoort Gator.

Most of the mural was made up of small ceramic pieces which the kids made over a couple weeks. It is on display in the school lobby. If you’d like to see a little video about the project CLICK below


Another really fun one was the project I did with children from Upstate Cerebral Palsy. I was a teaching artist under a grant from Central NY Arts Council. The children made little depictions of themselves out of clay which were then combined into a large piece which was close to 6 feet tall. Here are some photos of the finished piece and the work in progress. It is displayed in their Rome, NY site.

You probably know I work in polymer clay but truth be told - I really love the ceramic pieces! I love the weight, the clinky noise when they move against each other and I LOVE the glazes! Back when I had my old kiln I didn’t even know there was a market for ceramic components for jewelry making, maybe there wasn’t one back then. BUT there definitely is one now!
I really wanted to try my hand at making ceramic pieces… SO, you can just imagine HOW happy I was when I opened that package Marlene sent me?! I felt like an absolute princess! A VERY spoiled one at that!   

Of course I didn’t have any clay on hand so I had to order it. I tracked stalked that shipment from the minute I placed the order. When it arrived I wasted NO time in getting to work. Unfortunately working with ceramic clay is a sloooow process. You have to let the pieces dry thoroughly before firing (or they could go BOOM!). Then the firing process is about 7 hours (depending on temperature at which you fire)…AND then you have to leave the kiln to cool overnight to prevent thermal shock!

BUT, the wait is well worth it. When you get to finally open that kiln door, well, its just like Christmas morning! (I know you've heard others say the same thing, it's the best way to describe it). 

Here is a picture of my first batch still in the wet clay stage.

And here are the pieces after firing! GORG, right?
Glaze makes all the difference.Here is a comparison: before and AFTER the glaze has done its thing. It goes in all dull and comes out shiny and in vivid color!!

I got my clay shipment on January 22nd and have done a firing every day since! I am working on ways of increasing the amount of pieces I can get in one load. Because it is a tabletop model it's chamber is small.   All the shelves and other equipment sold online, like glaze stilts and bead racks,  are too large. So what’s a girl to do? Make my own right? I have fashioned my own little stilts out of wire which I insert into the fiber shelf that came with the kiln:

I just finished a bead rack I created to fit.  It will allow me to fire my beads so that they don’t roll around, if glazed pieces were to touch during firing they fuse together. Don't want that! I am hoping MY bead rack design will solve that.
Well that's all for now, I really have to go now, it's time to play in the clay…more to come, stay tuned!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Polymer Clay Artist: MARLENE CUPO of Amazing Designs


Real Name? Marlene Cupo

Location? Longwood, FL (just north of Orlando)

Marital Status or Relationship? Married, 44 years & counting!

Children? We have 5 grown children (3 boys and 2 girls) who have given my husband and me, 9 beautiful grandchildren (4 boys, and 5 girls). If you count both, it’s a tie. Wonder by whom and when the tie might be broken?

Pets? Two dogs, Princess (named by our oldest grandson), a cocker spaniel, who believes she has as much right as anybody to be on the sofa, and Pepper (rescue dog), a black labradoodle, who has become my husband’s shadow.

Other hobbies or interests? Is there anything other than Beads? Yes, well I do have an orchid garden of about 40 plants, that deserve more attention than what I give them, but they just keep presenting me with gorgeous blooms. I also enjoy photography, but am definitely in the amateur category. Then, of course, there is that closet full of half finished needle crafts which might get done if I beat Methuselah’s record.


SHELLEY: What do you do with beads? (Weaving, stringing, lampworking, polymer, etc.)

MARLENE: I work primarily with polymer clay. It is an amazing medium that can mimic so many other stones, looks or techniques. When I am creating a piece of jewelry, I often use gemstones, crystals, metal components and art beads from the many talented artists out there, to enhance the design.



SHELLEY: How would you describe your role in the beading world?

MARLENE: I create. I love simplicity in design and my pieces usually fall in the category of “every-day wear” but have enjoyed making more challenging pieces for the many Blog Hops I have entered. I have recently started teaching classes, and love sharing what I have learned with others just starting out with polymer clay.

SHELLEY: How long have you been working with beads?

MARLENE: Polymer Clay, just a few years, although I have had the “creative gene” all my life, for which I credit to my beloved mother. Do you remember crepe paper? She could make anything with it, and more than one bridal or baby shower had her work as a centerpiece. When I was a young teenager, I found a long defunct jewelry company that sold pre-made components and “jewels” you could glue into them. That aforementioned lady would smile and say Thank You, when presented with one, but have since come to realize she was just doing what a mother does.

SHELLEY: What is your style? And what attracts you to this style?

MARLENE: I don’t think I have any particular style. Just when I think I have settled into one, something new catches my eye, and again, thanks to the versatility of polymer clay, I am off trying it. Some of the latest things I have made incorporate symmetry, and then asymmetry, metal work, wire wrapping, and the use of fibers and silks, along with my beads.

SHELLEY: What are your favorite metals to use?

MARLENE: Right now I am in love with copper. The shades and hues of it complement so many different colors. For wire wrapping I like to use silver, as it is so malleable. I suppose gold would be too, but since I don’t own a mine at this time ….

SHELLEY: What is your favorite stringing medium to use?
MARLENE: Soft Flex Beading Wire, 49 strand, which is so flexible and drapes so softly in necklaces. It is also nylon coated, so there is no worry of it damaging any of the beads.

 SHELLEY: What is your favorite color palette?

MARLENE: I find myself drawn to the colors of the ocean and forests (blue and green). Autumn also has an amazing and endless array of possibilities. 

SHELLEY: Your technique(s)?

MARLENE: Smooshing clay (that is an actual word). Once it has come out of the pasta machine, as a Skinner Blend, a mica infused sheet, or shapes that are placed one on top of each other, the things that can be done with it are endless, whether a lentil bead, a stamped and antiqued pendant, applied alcohol inks or patina, a Mokume Gane sheet, a millifiori cane or hand shaped flowers, to name just a few.
SHELLEY: What else would you like to try your hand at?

MARLENE: Well, I have no desire to learn anything that would cause my home to burn down, such as lampwork. I can tend to be clumsy. Seed Bead work fascinates me, but I know I don’t have the patience for it. Sculpture is something I have wanted to expand into but my few attempts, until now, are in the hands of my son.

SHELLEY: Other artist/designer(s) you admire? Any special reason why?

MARLENE: You ask this question of everyone you interview, and I understand their reluctance to name others, for fear of leaving someone out. There are SO MANY fantastically talented artists out there. To name just three, I would have to say, Lea Avorch, the lampwork artist extraordinary, has to be on my list. There is also a sweet lady in AZ, Lupe Meter, who floors me every time I see another of her Southwestern themed creations. Cindy Lietz is a great polymer clay artist, who shares her love of it, and knowledge with so many on her video site.

SHELLEY: Where do you want to be in 5 years from now?

MARLENE: Besides breathing? On a Disney Cruise with hubby, our five kids, and all the grandchildren.

SHELLEY: What’s your favorite quote or saying?

MARLENE: The same one I had in my nursing school yearbook: "Thou crossest desert lands of barren years, to reach the moment of fulfillment "- Togare

SHELLEY: Any advice you'd give to new artists who are just beginning in your medium?
MARLENE: Learn, work at and with it. Experiment. Ask questions. Keep trying; realize there are no mistakes with polymer clay, that can’t be fixed. Above all: Have fun!

SHELLEY: What is your favorite blog that you like to follow?

MARLENE: Why yours, of course!  (READER: Insert YOUR name here!)

SHELLEY: What has been your favorite Blog Hop or Challenge?

MARLENE: I would have to say Lori Anderson’s Cup of Soup Challenge, which I was fortunate to back into. It challenged me to go above and beyond, to come up to the level it deserved.


Quirky questions often give us a better understanding of the real person behind the artist, so here goes…

 SHELLEY: If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?

MARLENE: The biggest state of the art research center, that the scientists and researchers who worked in it had the best opportunity to find cures.

SHELLEY: As a child what was your favorite cartoon or TV show? Why?

MARLENE: We did not have a TV until I was about 12 years old; by then it was American Bandstand, daily, right after school.

SHELLEY: Favorite toy as a child? Why?

MARLENE: Actually I had two. That naked doll (who didn’t have one of those) but with all kinds of bandages and band-aids, I could pilfer when mom wasn’t looking. Guess that was a forecast of my future nursing career. The other was a book entitled “365 Bedtime Stories” for obvious reasons. I cried when the coverless, torn and stained pages had to be thrown away.

SHELLEY: Favorite subject in school? Why?

MARLENE: Mathematics, it came naturally to me. The sciences were great too, which I have come to find out are linked to anyone with a mathematical mind.

SHELLEY: What was your favorite YEAR of your life thus far? Why?

MARLENE: I couldn’t begin to give you an answer to this one. They have all been memorable, even if not that “favorable”, because they have all led me to where I am now. As content as I can be.

SHELLEY: Anything you’d like to add, Marlene?

"Many people consider me an enigma. I have been privileged to care for the sick and dying, and also love a good joke, or pulling a prank on someone. I can be serious and silly all at the same time. I am often misunderstood, especially by my kids, but that does not bother me. I know who I am, because I made me this way. "
I know you too Marlene. You try your best to be a toughy but you have a heart of gold, you aren't fooling me Sister!  XXOO


Contact Info:

Amazing Designs

Blog -

Shop -

E-mail -

Telephone - 407-389-3042

Sunday, February 3, 2013

AJE Earring Challenge: Week 4

8352036706_fe7ff1ef21_m Starting out right in 2013. I signed myself up to take part in the ART JEWELRY ELEMENT’s 2013 Earring Challenge. Something to get me creating with results I can see right away!

To meet the challenge we need to make ONE pair of earrings per week. Rules state that each pair must include at least one artisan component, such as a handmade charm or bead. The artisan components may be made by another artist or myself. Every two weeks we post a link to our designs and make sure to give the artist credit for their component.

Week 4 ::

" Bronze Aztec" Earrings by TORI SOPHIA
Available in my Etsy Shop
Featuring polymer clay beads by ME!
Shelley Graham Turner of

Take a peek at my other handmade bead listings in my Etsy shop.

Tune in on February 20th for more!
In the meantime stop on over to Art Jewelry Elements and admire even more fantastic earring designs!


AJE Earring Challenge: Week 3

8352036706_fe7ff1ef21_m Starting out right in 2013. I signed myself up to take part in  the ART JEWELRY ELEMENT’s 2013 Earring Challenge. Something to get me creating with results I can see right away!

To meet the challenge we need to make ONE pair of earrings per week. Rules state that each pair must include at least one artisan component, such as a handmade charm or bead. The artisan components may be made by another artist or myself. Every two weeks we post a link to our designs and make sure to give the artist credit for their component.

Week 3 ::
Featuring polymer clay beads by Lennis Carrier of Windbent. 

available in my Etsy Shop


Take a peek at her handmade polymer clay bead listings in her Etsy shop.


Tune in on February 20th for more!
In the meantime stop on over to Art Jewelry Elements and admire even more fantastic earring designs!

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