It’s All About the Bolo for My Family

We have a soft spot in our family for bolo ties. My Uncle used to make us metal sculpture versions.  My dad and I used to mount rocks we polished for bolos.

When my brother mentioned that on one of the cruises they went on that “gentlemen had to wear ties” for two dinners and he hated ties, I decided to make him bolos.  You can read the post here:


Bolos give me so many options for wearing – the focal piece can be centered wherever I wish – up high, down lower and then I have the ends to add even more clay or metal fun!

My bolos are often made out of scrap sheets of clay that I push into the Sculpey cab mold after back-filling with more scrap.  Depending on the age of the focal sheet, I will often get a crack in it from the pressure of the mold, so I started back-filling with a contrasting color and saying “I meant to do that!” when I removed it from the mold and saw the cracks.

Those beads at the bottom are solid metal and add just the right touch of weight to the ends.  I use the standard silver bolo backs glued to the back of the focal piece.

I used the scrap left over from cutting out the pieces for the focal beads to create the clay pieces for the end ( I call these the “swing pieces”).  This was inspired by one of my 3×3 images of a street grate.

Most of the cording is the 3 mm nylon cording from Fire Mountain.  Sometimes I use multiple strands of a smaller cording.




Both of these bolos were created with scraps from color mixes!

This one is my current favorite bolo, created with textured, foiled and embossing powdered clay. I dug through my Antique Copper finding drawers for the end pieces. (thereby justifying my hoarding of every little bead and bauble I come across).The  bottom swing pieces tie back to the companion pendant I made.

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More Clay Color Play – Practical Application

I decided to do some practical color application and play shape and color.

Latte as base neutral
Top Panels: Cornflower/Latte 1:1 and Cherry Pie/Latte/Cornflower 1:3:1 

First, imagine my surprise when I mixed Cornflower and Latte and got what looks like Bluestone! It has a tiny bit more saturation than Bluestone. The Cherry Pie/Latte mix was a little washed out (but I kinda wish I had run with it just to see), so I added a bit of Cornflower to it and created a kind of deep purple color that contained BOTH the Cornflower and Latte. The Latte circle in the image on the left ties the colors in well.

The image on the right has the same color mixed top pieces, but I used a circle of straight Cherry Pie. So the top two panels share both Latte and Cornflower, but only the right side shares the Cherry Pie. But for some reason I find this combination really intriguing – the Cornflower panel on the left really stands out.

Then I decided to try my colors from NCT this week (because I’m obsessed with them).

Cinnamon as base neutral. Top panels are Guava/Cinnamon 2:1 (with paint spatter) and Canary/Cinnamon 2:1 (with silkscreen).

The image on the left is backed with a Cinnamon circle. This is my favorite, I *think*. It looks warmer and richer to me?

The image on the right is backed with a Grape/Cinnamon 2:1 mix that I also tried to match in both the paint spatter and the silkscreen. (I also added a spatter that was similar to the Canary/Cinnamon mix). I like it as well! But it doesn’t seem as cohesive as the left side to me.

So now I have to solve my dilemma here and pick one set of each of these colors and glue them together if I want to have anything from this exercise to wear! I think I’m going to go with BOTH of the right sides. What would you pick?

xoxo, syn

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Using the Color Bridge

There are lots of color theories and formulas out there.  But what if you have, say a new shirt and you want to make necklace to go with it?  And maybe the shirt is a solid color or maybe 2 colors.  How do you develop a palette to show it off?

I’ve been going through my stack of home improvement magazines that I’ve amassed and I stumbled across a one page item from a designer talking about picking colors for a room. Basically, you have one key item for that room and that is your focus color, then you have an accent color, 2 neutrals and a “bridge” color that should be a mix of the primary and one of the neutrals.  I looked at MY living room and I have an avocado green velvet couch – my key.  Then I have a (6 ft high) red velvet chair (my accent) and my walls are 3 different colors of grey.  My “bridge” color is my blue/green/grey carpet. Well, my little brain went “Huh! This will work for clay!”

So I sat down, got out my NCT round cutter and went to work with my beloved Souffle clay.  Working outside my normal palette was a must, so I chose Souffle Raspberry for my Key color and Souffle Cornflower as the Accent color.

Now I needed two neutrals, so I decided that I would pick a warm Neutral (Latte) and a cool Neutral (Concrete).


Next I needed that Bridge color, so I mixed the warm neutral, Latte 1:1 with the Primary color, Raspberry. (I can’t imagine trying to pick a paint color as a bridge!)

So let’s line up all the colors in this palette. There is our Primary, Warm Neutral, Cool Neutral, (warm) Bridge, and  Accent.


Primary, Warm Neutral, Cool Neutral, Bridge and Accent colors

I decided to do a little geometric tile to see if the Raspberry would stay the focal point. So first I used the warm Neutral and the warm Bridge color with the Primary and Accent. Yep! that Raspberry circle pops! I included the cool Neutral as a small accent color.

So what about using the Cool Neutral, Concrete to create the Bridge color? Even touching that Cornflower line, the Raspberry still pops.

Let’s see them both together with the palette warm on the left and cool on the right:

Then I figured, “Hey, let’s reverse the colors and make the Cornflower the Primary and the Raspberry the Accent”.  Look what color pops NOW…

So then I had to try a less bold Primary color like Souffle Pumpkin.  The Pumpkin is  a little  too  close  to  the  warm  neutral  for  me,but  it  still  pops.

And, of course, the reverse

I got tired of the backgrounds, so I swapped the warm Bridge color in to the background and made the warm Neutral one of the line accents. Wow! It’s my favorite..

So, give this a try next time you are setting a color palette!

xoxo, syn


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Sculpey Amber Translucent Coming SOON!

I’ve always loved  amber – hey, I’m a Leo and a redhead – so of course I love a stone the color of the sun and/or fire.  Through the years, I’ve always mixed my own clouded amber, which was a true labor of love. I had mixed it with the older Sculpey colored translucents, as well as just Translucent with alcohol inks.

For this piece, I even made my own bead caps with Premo Silver and Gold and my trusty Etch n’ Pearls.

See how the amber has a slight shimmer?  That’s the Premo Gold in it.  Just a dash…

I also experimented with alcohol inks mixed into the translucent clays.  I was wire wrapping at the time..






And I added other colors in as well to created these oooollld extruded bracelets (still a project on

So the new Premo Amber Translucent is a TWO THUMBS UP for me!  First, I no longer have to mix and Second, I NO LONGER HAVE TO MIX and well, it’s just gorgeous.  The color bakes to what the unbaked looks like – although it tends to look brighter in thinner pieces (that are TRULY translucent).  A quick wash of a Citadel brown (Contrast Snakebite Leather) or a Citadel Agrax Earthshade is perfect for an antiqued look. You can see in the photo below how much it bakes to the unbaked color.

I’ve been playing with cold fushion to make my own metal bezels.  Here is the one I made with the new amber.  I get so many comments when I wear this necklace and most people do NOT believe that this is not really amber.

And just this week I got into my stash of metal findings.  How easy is it to make a little patty of Amber and press a finding into it to create MAGIC!  Oh, I love Stupid Simple!

If you want to know more about real amber (and all your favorite jewels) check out Victoria Finlay’s book, Jewels – a Secret History on Amazon.  One of my books that I can read over and over.  Each chapter is like a short story.  And SOMEONE needs to make a movie of the chapter on pearls. (These findings are from Filigree & Me)

xoxo, syn

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The Adventure Begins in 2020!

YAY! I’m baaaack!   After a taking a last year off from the Polymer Clay Adventure, I’m BACK in 2020!   I missed my fellow PCAers in our private online community and I wanted to hang out again with you all.

If you don’t know about the PCA – it’s a year long virtual polymer clay retreat – with new tutorials released throughout the year that you can watch and play along at your own pace throughout the year.  PLUS, that wonderful online community that provides a  moderated forum for polymer clay enthusiasts from all over the world.  Can you imagine getting over 20 tutorials for $99?

Plus anyone who joins in the first week (before Oct 26th) is automatically in the running for a free PCA goodie bag (and those are AWESOME).

You can  get more information and join by clicking on my affiliate link right here: and join myself, Aoife Smyth Murphy, Barbara McGuire, Jan Montarse, Lisa Renner and many more (23 teachers to be exact) for a true polymer clay adventure next year!


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Layer Sets with Liquid Clays

Did you know that if you add a thin layer of Liquid Sculpey to a sheet of raw clay and let it set a day or two that the LS will absorb into the sheeted clay and be dry on the surface? And the sheeted clay will be super supple!  Its really fun if you use the metallics or Primary colors to add a new dimension to your work.  You can even create patterns in the LS before you allow it to set up.


Once the LS is dry to the surface, you can run it back through the pasta machine (if you want to), you can silkscreen on it, transfer to it, add pastels and mica powders, stamp it, everything you would do to a normal sheet of clay. I particularly  like  to  add  the  metallic  LS  colors  to  my  sheets.



Of course I love to add my transfers over the top of the set layers!

ALSO, if you have a sheet of kind of dry clay, you can add a SMALL amount of Clear LS with your finger to the sheet, fold it with the LS to the inside of the fold and continue through the pasta machine.  The clay will become much more workable in 2 or 3 more passes through the machine!  This is a “wet” technique.  Why not try it with a metallic or primary color as well for a totally different look?  Just remember a little goes a long way and you don’t want to make a mess on your pasta machine with too much!

So here are some silkscreens and transfers.  The colorful hearts are the Primary colors dropped onto the Premo Accents White Gold Glitter.  Then I rubbed the surface with a sheet of deli paper to smear them slightly before I let them set up for a couple of days.

Of course all of these have a layer of Clear LS on the surface.  I cured them with a PRE HEATED dual speed heat gun.  I also add a little Sculpey Clay Softener to the well mixed LS to help apply a thin layer.


So what happens when I grab a piece of scrap that I twisted and rolled into stripes and add a Layer Set of Gold LS to it?  Well, of course I had to transfer my beloved Scribble artwork to it.  It just so happened that this bracelet blank had rolled off the pile o’ stuff behind me and settled under my work table a couple of days ago.  Once I got the sheet done, I was like, “hmmm, bracelet?”  I remembered that this bracelet blank was “filed” under my table, so I grabbed it and voila!  I love the sparkle of the gold through the colors.  And of course, I love my two Souffle bracelets I always wear (even in the pool 3x a week).  I have to argue with people that they are NOT leather… lol



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First Thoughts on Citadel Contrast

UPDATE 7/21/19

I know I just wrote this, but I forgot to mention that apparently the Contrast Colours “don’t play well with water” – even though you clean up with water.  They make a Contrast Medium that you can add to dilute the intensity of the colors.  I tried a little as a top coat and I *think* it made the clay a little sticky.  It may be like their other matte medium works on clay, but their gloss (Ardcoat) stays sticky..  More tests!  Where is Ginger????

Sooo, I was SUPPOSED to do the work for this blog post yesterday, but right in the middle of my testing setups, I got the call from my Locals to go eat street tacos and drink beers.  Yah, so THAT won…I did manage to take one photo before I left and I finished the rest of my experiments this morning.

First lesson – WEAR GLOVES!  I did this yesterday without gloves and I had lovely brown, yellow and dark blue finger tips (including my large bandage on my thumb – hedgetrimmer got me).

These are the colors that I used for my test pieces. The names are pronounceable, but still rather colorful.  Left to right: Snakebite Leather, Terradon Turquoise, Hazdreg Yellow, Basilicanom Grey


The Contrast Colours are designed to be painted onto the base coated plastic or metal tabletop model and allow the colors to flow to create shading. My son, my painting expert, tells me that they are heavy pigment glaze.  Yes, it WILL find every crack and crevice, but I found that by painting it onto the textured surface, letting it set a moment (dependent on ambient temp/humidity in your workplace), then wiping the top surface with my GLOVED finger really helps.  Note that I have a baby wipe in my hand to wipe the glove on.







First rounds were with the Snakebite Leather on Premo Accents Grey Granite, Souffle White and Premo Accents Gold


Next was the Hazdreg Yellow on Premo Accents Grey Granite, Souffle White and Premo Accents Gold


My current Favorite: Terradon Turquoise


I only did a couple with the Basilicanom Grey because it’s so BASIC


Then I did some pieces with Pan Pastel, Pearl Ex and Gold Lumiere with the Snakebite Leather because I had noted on another piece that the Contrast had “grabbed” the powders.  Top left – Just Premo Accents Copper, Top right: Spring Green Pearl Ex, Bottom Left: Gold Lumiere and bottom right: Dark Green Pan Pastel.  The Contrast did lift some of the Pan Pastel when I rubbed it with my glove, but in a SUPER COOL way (look at the large leaf). The texture here is from the new Sculpey Nature texture sheets.


Okay, here are the pieces I did yesterday with the Souffle Mandarin and  Basilicanom Grey (texture is from one of the new Sculpey Geometric Texture sheets._

  And for those of you who want to know what my “studio setup” is for my photographs.  It is a white poster board on my work chair and I pull my work light over.  It’s all about EXPOSURE.  I adjust my exposure on my CAMERA PHONE to compensate for the white background.

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seaweed-30Hey you guys!  I made a little video of how I make the kelp (seaweed).


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I’m All About My Hats

If  ya see  me,  I usually  have  a hat  on.  Not  only  do  they  help  protect  my  redhead  skin,  but  they  often  let  me  show  off  a little  bit  of  clay!

My hat bands are often decorated with those extra clay bits that are too good to toss, but redundant for my jewelry.

I’ve been thinking that I needed to catalog all these hats and, since June Gloom is upon us, I had a perfect soft light day to photograph them!

So here is syn’s hat stash.. many have project links (mostly to Sculpey)

My first two bands on my favorite Brixton wool hats (they seriously feel like wearing your favorite robe). The top grey band is strap leather, dyed with Pinata inks. The clay is leftover clay from a NCT mix and created with what I call Meisha Mash.


The blue grey Brixton has what I call Watercolor Waves


I use small velcro dots to hold my bands to the hat!


My sunhat has some of my ribbon crimp clay pieces created in a Claire Maunsell style. This is Igloo Souffle.






I like to shop the accessory areas for small belts on sale. Then I just cut it to size and poke a hole for the buckle!  These are my version of mokume gane created in Souffle Bluestone, Poppy Seed and Igloo.



A straw hat I got in a hat store on the Olympic Peninsula.  The band and feathers were perfect for one of my SynsPins extra pendants. OF course this is Souffle and Etch n’ Pearls!





Another felt hat with an extra pendant piece glued over the hatband.





My latest band.  I had two pendants finished, so one is now attached to my new hat covering the bow knot. When I shape the pendants on a small bowl, the curve is perfect to cover the bow on my hats!


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Play Day – Coiled Bowls

I posted this Instagram photo yesterday from my Clay Play Day (getting happily dirty in my garage) and my friend, Brandon Leggitt, asked me for a tutorial on it. So here you go Brandon!

First, I’m using Bath Bomb Molds 


Then I extruded Premo Accents Copper clay (my clay crush in Dec/Jan – now it’s Souffle Cinnamon).  How do I extrude my clay? I use the Makins Green extruder, Cynthia Tinapples adaptor, a mini cordless drill (USB powered! $25 at Home Depot. TSA/USPS approved. I pack the extruder and dies in the original box with the drill and check it in my tool bag).  This drill is more powerful than my big drill and holds charge FOREVER..

So once I have the extruded clay, I just kind of do the Hostess Cupcake squiggle all over the bowl. YES, there are small holes, no I don’t think about perfection. (DUH!) Just tuck clay ends into the loops as you work.

Once I have the bowl covered to my satisfaction, I press it lightly onto my worksurface to slightly flatten the bottom and bake it.

When it has cooled (yeah no, I don’t wait.  I let it get KINDA cooled), gently peel it off the bowl.

Select your paint color – I use the cheapest acrylic craft paint I can find.  Many of you will recognize this as my go-to CraftSmart Ocean Breeze. I don’t use Gloss, I try to find Matte. Then wash the entire inside surface, using a smallish brush to get into the nooks and crannies.

Quickly wipe the paint off with a baby wipe.  Find the cleanest areas on the wipe and wipe it a LOT. Repeat on the outside. IF you are like me – put it back into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes to dry the paint.  Otherwise, sit back and wait….


You happen to have Weathering Powders.  I dry brushed some Green weathering powder onto the damp paint in the bottom of the bowl on the left.  That larger bowl in the back?



Graphite clay, terra cotta colored paint and rust weathering powder. Sanded slightly after backing to bring out more of the graphite.

Now the Hero Shots..

NO! I’m not sealing these….

No Brandon, can I go back and play??

xoxo, syn

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