Paisley Lizard’s 2017 Year in Review

before and after craft room

This is a before/during and after of the craft room in my new place. Things were stacked in boxes for too long, as often happens when trying to decide where to put them.

Here we are at the end of another year and I’m rounding up the highlights of my creative journey for 2017.  One of the biggest things that happened to me in 2017 wasn’t exactly creative, but it had a huge impact on my creative output.  I moved mid-year, and misplaced my creative mojo in the process.  As a result, I didn’t get around to making as many new things as I had planned, and I also neglected my blog more than a bit.

But I’m not here to dwell on things I didn’t do.  After all, there’s a whole new year to fill with creativity.  Before I get to my goals for 2018, here’s a quick refresher of the things I designed in 2017.

First there were dragons.  For the Art Elements winter challenge, I sculpted three treasure boxes with dragons on the lids.  I’m gaining more confidence in my sculpting, or maybe I should say, I’m feeling less intimidated by sculpting.  I had so much fun with these and after the challenge I made a fourth dragon box: a do-over of the purple one.  I also made two larger versions of the black dragon box as a custom order.  They are being used as urns.

collage of four trinket boxes with dragons on the lids

These four dragons are sculpted from polymer clay over craft paper boxes. I may revisit these designs, in different colors and themes.

Next were earrings inspired by Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year: Greenery.  For this monthly We’re All Ears challenge, I used a silk screen technique to create the leafy patterns on polymer clay discs.  Silk screening on polymer clay has lots of possibilities, and I have a modest collection of designs I have yet to try.

collage of two pair of earrings with swatch of Pantone Greenery

The color of my green earrings isn’t an exact match for the Pantone color, and that’s okay. They were just supposed to be inspired by it.

I created more polymer clay earrings for the “patchwork” themed We’re All Ears challenge.  I initially was going for a bargello effect, but things didn’t go according to plan.  What I ended up with still had a quilt fabric effect.

collage of five pair of patchwork earrings

After piecing together strips of clay, not unlike pieces of a quilt, I used shape cutters to create the earring dangles. I kept the overall earring designs simple, which is always a challenge for me.

The final monthly earring design challenge that I was able to participate in was the We’re All Ears owl theme.  Because I was making whimsical owls, I took liberties with the colors of the focals I sculpted from polymer clay.  I haven’t yet added these cuties to my Etsy shop because I got sidetracked by the packing, moving, and unpacking not long after completing them.  One of the first things on my 2018 to-do list is a photo-shoot to get them listed for sale.

collage of five pair of owl dangle earrings

Again, I struggled to keep these owl earring designs simple. No matter how hard I tried, I could not resist adding beads and dangles.

During the chaos of moving, I lost my jewelry pliers.  I decided to splurge and upgrade to a sturdier set with more ergonomic handles.  I went with Lindstrom and am overall quite pleased with the feel of the pliers as I work.  However, I hit a snag with their round-nosed pliers.  They are very well made, but because of the way the jaws are constructed, I cannot grip thin wire well enough to make good loops.  After speaking to a very helpful distributor, I ended up returning the round nose (I kept the chain nose, flat nose, and cutters).  And then, magically, I found my old pliers.  In a box I swear I looked in more than once.

collage of round nose pliers and wire loops

After some trial and error, I found a replacement for my trusty old round-nose pliers, lost in the move. And now I have two complete sets of jewelry pliers.

I didn’t participate in as many of the monthly design challenges/blog hops as I would have liked.  Those themed challenges are fun ways to stretch.  Another fun way to stretch your creative skills is to have a friend request a custom order for a crib mobile.  Not only did I have an opportunity to turn her ideas into a piece of home decor, I learned how to use wire as an armature for polymer clay.  And I learned that taking photos of glow-in-the-dark things is complicated.

collage of leaf mobile design process from sketch to final design

One of my favorite parts of this mobile is the birch branches from which all the leaves hang. They are polymer clay, but unless you get very close, they look like real wood.  The mobile has a glow-in-the-dark moon and stars in addition to the colorful leaves.

Apropos of no design challenge, I decided to try making a fairy house jar.  I’ve seen dozens of variations of these.  And I happen to have a small stash of glass jars.   I decided to make a house for a desert fairy.  Naturally, desert fairies would make their houses in cacti.  I made two versions.  The first one was sort of a prototype, as I worked out the logistics.  Version two improved on the prototype, and I feel like a third attempt is imminent.  There was no blog post about this particular creative adventure, but I did share photos on my Facebook page.

collage of cactus fairy jar houses

These two fairy houses in the shape of barrel cacti are polymer clay sculpted around baby food jars. A small battery-powered candle can be used to light them from within or they can be used to store trinkets.

Purely by coincidence, I closed out my blog year with a design challenge from the same place I began.  The Art Elements ornament challenge gave me an opportunity to revisit my whimsical fish ornament sculpting.

Six fish ornaments hanging on string

These brightly colored fish, with their bright colors and pouty lips, are one of the most fun things I’ve made with polymer clay.

That is the end of my creative journey for 2017.  It was not as productive as some previous years, but I’m not feeling guilty about that.  I’m feeling renewed energy to do more in 2018.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I have goals.  Some of my goals for 2018 are to blog more often (hopefully at least once a month), make more fairy house jars (because they’re so much fun), and try new polymer clay techniques.  I hope you’ll join me here to see what happens.

And I wish you all the very best for 2018.