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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There’s ALWAYS Options

I had an assignment the other day for a specific design.  I was pretty excited because I had been thinking about doing some work with this type design.  My brain was firing instantly – “2 colors? just circles? circles and balls?” and on and on.  Then I saw the phrase, “please no options.” Ohhh, this person knows me well!

I tend to work in trilogies.  If I like something, I need to have 3 of them.  Like this shirt? But it in 3 colors.  Like this design? Do it in 3 ways.  This little voice in my head (probably coming from my right hand that ALWAYS has the most harebrained ideas) said, “ohhhh, theres ALWAYS options..”

I completed the assignment and sent it off and came home of the Fed Ex store right to the clay table.  For three solid days (3 again?)  I was working.  As soon as one was almost complete, two others were in my head.

First day, I started with a Creative Map

I started with circles and began my rule set – only Sculpey circle cutters, only Souffle.  That

The cover shot I took for Polymer Cafe of my cutter bracelets

black straw I got by drinking a blood orange margarita (oh, the sacrifices we artists make!).  It was the perfect diameter to use for the center holes.

I thought I would stop after the circles, but then I remembered my cutter bracelets and the game was on.  ANY Sculpey cutter was now in play!

I stopped at seven different designs, but I’ve got at least 2 more in my head- 3 sets of 3 – perfect!

I think it’s good to do this type of work.   No fancy patterns, no fancy surface treatments – just shape and design.  It’s both exciting and relaxing at the same time. It’s like creating your very own jigsaw puzzles – except of course, these you can wear when you get them put together!

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A New Creative Map!

Map #5 was “drawn” yesterday..

I made these blue pieces in an excellent Jana Roberts Benson class at Fandango last May and promptly lost them in the chaos of my worktable.  I was forced to clean the table so I could work in something larger than 4 square inches of dirty tile and I found them – about 5 inches from the work surface.  It WAS that MESSY..

Anyway, I had made what I call a “left turn” in the class and started playing on my own with the “what ifs”.  I was so intrigued with the little pieces I cured them, brought them home for further study and lost them in the table chaos.

So, yesterday I sat down to play with the possibilities I saw in them.  First, I moved to my favorite green color palette and my favorite Melanie Muir template shape.





They didn’t really get me excited, so I decided to change up the color palette to reds, which is not a normal palette for me. I changed my shapes as well.  I like the heart shape here and I like the gold dots I added after curing.





I had a piece of scrap left and randomly started folding it until I saw a rough heart shape and completed the shape.  Of course, I can’t recreate it, but I really like it!






When I started to clean up, I found this pile of thin pieces I had off to make some slices smaller so I added them to a backing sheet and used the heart cutter that was handy. I was so intrigued by these colors and textures that I sliced up the remaining portions of the sheets and used my favorite shape again. After curing, I even added more texture by randomly adding gloss glaze to some of the threads. I really kind of like these!


So here is the whole map:


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Oh boy! More Toys!

By now you all know that my very favorite stamp is the 2207J

Well, Linda Prais from found it’s siblings!  You all know Linda – she is the one who made 7 of my transfers into silkscreens.

I grabbed these stamps from her and I’m already in love with the first two I’ve used!

The Esponge 2428J (sibling from another mother, since it isn’t a 22xx series..)  is a stamp I’ve had before and loved (gotta clean those stamp drawers) since it’s non-directional and has both deep and light textures to it.

The Birch Forest 2277J does appear to be directional, but when I stamped it on some marbleized scrap from my August NCT, that pattern took on a funky 60s sort of vibe to me (that I adored of course!)

Both stamps are as large as the 2207J, which works just fine for both small jewelry and larger items like journal covers.


As you can see, the textures are deep and nicely defined.  And they seem to play nicely with each other, when I combined both textures for these pendants below. I added Aztec Gold and Copper highlights to the 2277J stamped clay and Citadel Coelia Greenshade to the 2428J Gold clay.

I can’t wait to try the other two siblings she has posted on her website as well, but I know these two are going into regular use with my beloved 2207J.

xoxo, syn

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The Mother of Invention: A New Creative Map

Sometimes I  sit down at my clay table with a specific goal in mind, but no idea really how I’m going to do it.  Then I document each and every step of the design process to create what I call my Creative Maps – or how I get from here to there..

This time I wanted to see if I could adapt Mr. Jan Montarse’s Easy Back so it could be used not just for pendants, but for broaches as well.  I had thought of and rejected at least 15 different ideas, but once I had a piece in hand, it was so obvious to me!

mapASo this Creative map is in 3 parts. First, the actual adaptation (the JanSyn back?) click the picture to make it bigger!   I was consolidating some transfer art folders into one folder on my cloud and I came across some images I hadn’t played with yet.  Perfect for my trials right?  I also wanted to play with my new Melanie Muir template I got at ES2.


This idea worked!  the shape of the circle helps to lock the pin back into place. So now this piece can be worn either as a pendant (through the top holes) or a pin (using either one of the top holes and one of the smaller holes).  My early prototypes (you will see later) only had one smaller hole, but since I couldn’t be bothered with deciding which way the pin would sit from the back, I put 2 holes.


I found this old image of grasses and thought it would be perfect for another idea I had percolating.  I had decided that my Sculpey New Color Tuesdays for August would be about the blues.  I don’t normally use blue clays, so it was time..

Now since I knew from my coloring that the blue/teal pens shift to lovely greens on gold clays, I decided to add a little bit of gold to this Skinner blend of Souffle Sea Glass and Robin Egg by adding a very thin layer of Premo! 18K Gold over the entire blend before starting it.  This didn’t have to be a perfect Judith Skinner blend of the colors, so I just overlapped the two colors. It worked!  My blues shifted to rich, warm teals!  And you can see that this original prototype (with only one broach hole at the bottom) is sporting both the pendant cording and the pin- I may even wear the pendant with the pin in place since we don’t have much call for wearing clothing heavy enough to support a broach.  The pendant pieces were baked on a large metal bowl to give just a gentle curve to them, while the back is baked on the smallest mound on the Sculpey Hollow Bead Maker that it will fit.


But I wasn’t done!  I did my NCT August Blues mixes and used the scraps from that as just marbled clay to create some more pendants.  I even added some more oldie-but-goodie transfer patterns to the mix, this time experimenting with mixing the patterns and colors.

And finally, I had a bolo tie mount that I had been thinking about, so I started the prototype for it as well.

A totally fun day!

Click here for the PDF of all 3 maps: Map binder

Click here for the PDF of the grass transfer: SP 45-2 combo

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The Advantages of a Disadvantage

synsgraphicsSo most of you know that I’m currently sporting a non-walking cast and using a knee scooter (2).  Looking at the advantages of being a little less moveable, I have been wanting to create some more transfer patterns of my own (vs purchased clipart) for awhile, so I spent an afternoon creating several patterns. These graphic designs were created in Photoshop, while the floral design below was hand drawn, scanned into Photoshop, cleaned up and some small dots added to the artwork.

Then I spent a couple of days trying to get the nerve up to ask one of my neighbors to drive me to Kinkos so I could print them on their toner-based copier so I could transfer them. I thoroughly enjoyed basking in their glow on my living room table for an hour while I cut them apart.

My current knee scooter is designed for outdoors and is too large to navigate the narrow (hoarder style) paths in my studio, but I do have a smaller, lighter scooter (designed for little old ladies) that I found that I could pretty much navigate in the studio.  So between the rolling office chair and the scooter, I spent a productive day in the studio yesterday! I finished 15 pendants and earring sets, using the new patterns and my favorite stamp.

stamp and gellismFirst the favorite stamp part. This is a marriage of my stamp and a gelli plate on Sculpey Souffle. If you don’t know about my stamp:

Now some of the pendants with the new designs (left one is much nicer than this photo) (Premo! Accents Metallics and Glitter Metallics):








And finally, one of my new floral artwork designs (much prettier than the photo):

And yes, Fandangoers and Euro Synergy 2 class people, these patterns will be used in class.  There will be tutorials coming out on Beads, Baubles & Jewels and another popular tutorial site in several months. In the meantime, I’m still teaching it!

syns flowerssm


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2207J My Most Favorite Stamp EVER

syn stamp 1sm step 10
2207J!!! It’s baaaack!!!!  In case you didn’t know, 2207J is my most favorite stamp EVER.  It’s my GoTo background stamp for the last 15 years at least. I just love the large size of it and the non-directional patterning. I can literally close my eyes and open a project file and find a photo with this stamp. My 2207J lives in a place of honor on my worktable.  When Judikins removed it from their website, I went into mourning for years and refused to have it travel with me anymore, just in case I lost it.

WELL GUESS WHAT!!!  I had the opportunity to speak to Judi from Judikins at CHA this year and I told her about my stamp.  She asked me if I knew the stock number by heart and I was so excited I yelled “2207J” like an old blue haired lady would yell Bingo!

I even called my son who was at home and asked him to go out and double check my stamp because I was so excited, I didn’t want to screw it up.  He just asked, “Is it in the usual spot?”  I didn’t have to tell him which stamp (there are literally at least 4 cabinets full of stamps), but he KNEW.  He sent me the photo of the stock number and I told Judi that it was indeed 2207J.  She said the magic words, “It’s not discontinued, it can be ordered from us.”

ocean jar final closeI immediately begged and pleaded with Lee Kellogg of Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps/StampaFe to order it for me.  She already knew about my history with this stamp.

GUESS WHAT I GOT IN THE MAIL TODAY FROM LEE???  A brand spanking new 2207J with a note that she now has several in stock!  Get on this clayers… I’m sure you have a place of honor to put it! (probably not on the website yet)  or email

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