Meet the Hackers: Boston ComicCon

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It’s Wednesday again, and I’m on my third event in a row. This weekend I will be at Boston ComicCon, in Booth 514. We are traveling today, which for us is a twelve hour drive. We look at travel as an opportunity to see things we rarely have time for. Little attractions, museums, diners and local foods.

Our goal for Boston, besides the show, is some historical site seeing and possibly a whale watching tour.

Boston ComicCon is this weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Boston Convention Center. There are a lot of great guests this year, and an amazing vending and artist alley. I’ll be with New World Collectibles in booth 514, and sculpting live during the show! If you are in the area, come on out and see us!

Where: Boston ComicCon

When: August 10-13

Tampa Bay Comic Con

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Kim with Fantastical Menagerie here, on an average Wednesday. My mother and I are currently staying with family outside of Orlando, waiting for Tampa Bay ComicCon to start. We load in tomorrow, and the show runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. I really love this show. Its pretty large, but everyone is friendly, setup is easy, and my customers in Florida are amazing and supportive.

If you are interesting in attending, they have a great guest list including Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Wallace Shawn, and a ton of voice actors. You can find me in the vending room, just behind the central Artist Alley, in Booth 540. Generally at shows I bring a variety of jewelry, accessories and small sculpture, and at this show I will be sculpting live and accepting commissions.

Using Molds and Texture Sheets

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Its Wednesday again, and after constant storms and rain, the yard is starting to get green again. I am back home after three days at a local event, and working hard on new stock for my upcoming show.

When I am working with clay, two of the most invaluable tools at my disposal are molds and texture sheets. There are some things you simply can’t make on your own, or would take too long, and these are very handy for that. Texture sheets allow you to change the appearance of the polymer clay’s surface. The photos below are pieces I have made with the help of texture sheets and a pastry mold.

They can be plastic, silicone, metal or ceramic. The flexibility of silicone or plastic can be easier to work with, as the clay typically releases quickly from the imprint you make of it. You can buy pre-made sheets and molds, or create your own. I do both. There are some great two part silicone kits that will let you imprint texture or design into them. You can recreate the texture of leather, linen, scales, or even a raised pattern on a rock or a piece of pottery. GF Art Store has great sheets and cutters.

A mold good for polymer clay are mostly from silicone or a soft plastic. a hard mold will not release the clay. I have seen some instructions for baking in heat resistant molds, but I generally change up the piece I am molding enough that the flexible variety are best for my work. From molding pastry shells, dog bones, feathers, shells, or frames for a piece, and even molding doll parts, there are thousands of molds to inspire you. I have found several excellent shops on Etsy with great pre-made silicone molds. The Mold Studio is one.

Another is Sweet Treat Collections. They also carry baking supplies and cutters. If you make any projects with molds or texture sheets, please link to them. I would love to see what everyone comes up with!

Feather Cane Tutorial

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Happy Wednesday everyone! We are firmly in art show and ComicCon season and I’m spending every spare minute sculpting pieces for upcoming shows. This Saturday you can find me at a small local event in Shelby, NC. It’s a great little con with tons of dealers, a Pokémon tournament and a costume contest.

One of the things I like to make are flamingos. I found an excellent tutorial for feather canes by Donna Kato. It’s extremely time consuming, but the results are stunning. Plan to spend between 2-4 hours on this project. You can use any colors, but I went with the suggested pinky-peach blend for my flamingos. The results give you enough for several projects

You can find the tutorial here.

Polymer Clay Tools

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. I wanted to share some of the resources I use to find tools to work with my polymer clay. A lot of us start with the basic tools that can be found at most craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Sometimes you need a more specific tool than what can be found there. In my years of working with clay, I have found some great alternatives for sculpting tools and texture tools.

AmCreatures on Etsy has some nice hand designed tools. They are based in Canada. Their tools are mostly directed at sculpting dolls and faces for puppets, but work well for polymer clay. Some are for sculpting scales, eyes, and tiny detail work. Their prices are very reasonable for custom tools.

If you find that kneading clay fills you with dread, this next tool has great reviews, is simple to use, and does it in seconds. Its called the NeverKnead. Its an expensive investment, but works based on pressure. Instead of spending a great deal of time and pain with clay, try this!

If you need sharper straight blades for your clay, especially for cutting canes, Creative Canes Etsy shop sells tissue blades, which are medical grade and extremely sharp. Flexible enough for cutting curved shapes as well. The shop also offers different polymer clay finished cane projects.

Pottery114U sells pottery clay stamps that help with imprinting texture into your polymer clay. They are inexpensive, durable, and versatile.

When searching on your own, include searches for cake decorating, pottery, and other crafts, since tools may work for other mediums.


Hand Painted Umbrellas

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Good morning and happy Wednesday! Here in NC, it’s been raining off and on for almost a week now. While I love a good rainy day, my yard is squishy, my plants are overgrown, and the dogs are bouncing on the walls. Since neither one likes wet grass, I’m having to pry their paws and nails off of the doorframe and toss their furry butts off of the porch. I had to run some errands yesterday, and realized my favorite umbrella is wearing out. I’ve decided to try my hand at embellishing a plain umbrella I have, so I’ve been looking at tutorials on how to do it. I found this one I’m linking to below that looks perfect for a tracing style, as it’s a heat set design. I think a good water color style would work nicely with the directions. It’s on the Instructables website.

If you don’t want to paint your new umbrella yourself, there are a number of lovely ones I have found on Etsy. Cassa Raptor Creations offers this lovely one.

And ArtUmbrella has some stunning designs as well.

Whatever your umbrella style is, I hope you keep dry and happy today!


Displaying your jewelry designs

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Good morning all. This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. My summer season has started with a great bang, and for those of you who also make jewelry, I’m sure you think about how best to display the unique pieces you craft. Whether it is at home or at a show, it can be tricky to come up with ways that show your pieces to their best advantage, and let others know how unique your things are. I’ve found some excellent craftsmen on Etsy that make some excellent displays, ship, and are happy to customize them.

WhatWeMade is based in Arizona, and has some unique designs. Their necklace bust is gorgeous, wooden, and striking with any silver pieces you have.

DalesWoodandMore has a lovely wall unit that would be great for personal collections, or hanging on grid for a nice table display.

If you want to go more metal, BlackIronIndustrial has some unique shelving and bar selections.

I also love this wonderful travel case from Canoa Naturals

It is versatile and pretty. If looking to make your own display, there are a number of tutorials out there to make it a snap for any crafty person!


Summer Sweetness

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My favorite time of year is strawberry season. I live in North Carolina, when they are in season at the end of April through May and the beginning of June. There is nothing I like better than all the yummy things I can make from them. Strawberry pie, shortcake, muffins, Strawberry juice, and jams. There is a farm nearby where I go to pick them by the pound, and bring them home. Some get eaten immediately, some get canned or frozen.

If you like strawberry jam, its one of the easiest recipes to make, and requires very few supplies. My favorite recipe can be found here:

Once you make it, and it sits overnight, its perfect on biscuits, added to the filling of a cake, added to marscapone in some winter crepes, and even on top of goat cheese with some lovely wheat crackers. Its light and summer sweet, and the perfect way to introduce yourself to canning. There are other recipes, including for freezer jam and without pectin, but I rarely have extra freezer room and I find that typical canning methods preserve the jam longer.

If you don’t have a farm nearby, check out your local farmer’s market, Whole Foods or even Food Club. Smell the berries, and check for any bruising or mold. The recipe calls for five cups of crushed berries, which means you will need more whole berries as they condense down. Make it a family event, as children or parents can come and help, and everyone goes home with jam!

Hickory ComicCon

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. This coming weekend, you can find my things at a local show in North Carolina, Hickory ComicCon. It’s June3rd, in Hickory, NC. I and a number of other artists and vendors will be set up at this event at the Hickory Metro and Convention Center from 10-5. You can find the event information here.

They offer a costume contest, comic book grading, and the 501st Legion will be there are well. This show offers an opportunity to stick your toes in and try out a smaller event, and see if you like them. North Carolina offers a number of one day events like this each year, including Shelby ComicCon, Statesville, Greenville, and one in Marion, NC. They offer a relaxed environment, the opportunity to network with other local geeks, and gaming!

I will have my small setup here, but some really cool new designs and pieces.

*Photo taken from Hickory ComicCon’s event page.