Posted on 27 Comments

Clayathon recap


I am home. Yay!

I had a great time, claying it up at the ‘thon as usual, but I am glad to be home. We moved to a new hotel this year, and while the work room was much improved over previous years (so spacious!) the hotel itself was on the creepy side. Apart from the ornate lobby, the place was pretty rundown. The heat in my room stopped working last night (it was 16 degrees outside!) and so I slept under three blankets, and I kept on my socks and my heavy wool sweater. Frigidity was a theme in that hotel. Just crossing the lobby from the elevators to the work room made me feel like a human icicle. I took a hot shower this morning, just to thaw myself out!

So it’s especially nice to be back home, sitting here in the family room next to a crackling fire, under the blankie of love.  The kids are doing homework and the husband is working on his magazine.  It’s all so cozy.  Warm.  Much appreciated.

Eamonn just asked me sweetly for some hot chocolate. How can I refuse? Must take a quick break.

Ok, hot chocolate duly made, and some Zen Tea for me. Now, what was I saying?

Oh, yes! Clayathon.  Less-than-stellar hotel aside, it was a great time as always. I wish I could have stayed another day, because I think I still have a few projects in me wanting to get out.  Here’s what I did manage to accomplish, if you’re curious:


First was the crochet hooks some of you ordered.  I particularly love this batch above my previous ones, because they are so shiny!  (Oooooh shiny!)  I sanded them as I always do, but this weekend I had access to a buffing machine, and I took advantage of it.


Next I worked on using up some of the leftover pieces I have been accumulating from all of the hook-making over the last several months.  I put several strips of the different patterns from the same color family together into one big sheet, and used the sheet to cover what I like to call these “crazy quilt pens.”

The rightmost 13 pens were done that way.  Then I took a break to make some new canes in a new color family (see below). I covered the leftmost four pens with the new canes, and then did 2 more crazy quilt pens with the new scraps I generated.

These aren’t finished yet.  They still need to be sanded and buffed. Maybe I’ll get to that mind-numbing job someday…


These are those new canes I  mentioned.  The one on the left is my usual Triangle design, and the rest of them are just kaleidoscopic experiments with what I had left of the colors I used for the triangles.  In a very uncharacteristic move, I just winged-it with the kaleidoscope canes, and probably couldn’t repeat them if I tried.

(Ok, I’ll be honest, I do remember exactly what I did to make these canes, but it’s only been a day and a half. I promise you, I won’t have a clue within a week.)


Late in the day yesterday, I switched from caning to do a little mokume gane. My mother-in-law had asked me to make her some replacement “stones” for a decorative object that had lost some of its pieces.  These came out just as I had envisioned.  Unfortunately, I envisioned the wrong colors.  Duh.  So, I will have to try again with greener blues and yellower browns.


My last project was this quickie.  Terri gave me a few channel bracelet blanks, which I filled with leftover pattern strips.  I was so thrilled to get these brass blanks, because they are perfect companions to the skinny mixed-metal bangles Neil gave me for Christmas this year.  It’s great to be able to add a little color to the stack, I think.


So that’s it! And once again I am consumed with the urge to get a buffing wheel for myself.  I mean, would you look at those shiny hooks?  No way can I get that look by hand.  I need to find an inexpensive bench grinder with a muslin wheel. Any tips from any of you who have one?

Let’s chat about this so I can put off my return to Real Life(TM) for a little while longer, k?


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Posted on 27 Comments

27 thoughts on “Clayathon recap


    This is a tutorial to make a bit for a dremel to make a portable polish wheel for clay. Dremels are awesome for many uses and probably less expensive than getting a bench polisher.

    1. Neil got me a dremel many years ago, and I have occasionally used it for buffing. I find that it’s harder to have a gentle touch with it, though. Maybe it would be better if I made my own wheel like in that tutorial. Thanks for the link!

      1. Hi Lisa, It helps if you put your Dremel in a vise. That way you can get that gentle touch you’re talking about. I also like to make my own buffing wheels with craft felt, but I like to make them about an 1 1/2 inches thick so that there is more buffing surface. No need to get a bench buffer this way.

  2. Hey Lis,

    Go to Home Depot, or Lowes or your local hardware store. Pick up an in expensive bench grinder and take off the grinding wheels and replace them with larger wheels like in Desires’ tute.

    I have a manufactured cotton wheel on one side and a hand made one – graduated like a cone – on the other side. My buffer has a nifty lil lamp attached to it. I buff inside a large box – holds the dust and fly-aways (beads, etc) in one place, so you aren’t getting knee bruises from all that crawling around on the floor looking for the latest piece that’s flown out of your hands. I find that using the lower half of the wheel works best.

    Good luck!

    1. I like the box tip. When I used the buffer at the clayathon this weekend, I flung a couple of buttons right at poor DocSarah before I gave up and waited for the room to be empty before trying again 😉

      The clayathon buffer had a lamp, too. I think that would come in handy in my dark house. Thanks for all of the tips!

  3. I found the dremel could easily gouge rather than shine. The bench grinder from Lowes is not much different in price. I have buffing wheels on both sides instead of the scary grinding stone on one. I actually had a Foredom that I gave away. I liked the Lowes buffer better. Only advantage of the expensive Foredom was the size/portability The bench grinder needs a home. ( and not facing the tv…..)

    1. I hadn’t really thought about the portability issue. I have to give that some thought, since I am not sure I will have a dedicated space for it. I may have to make some space. And I agree about the dremel. I’ve gouged things plenty, which is one of the reasons I rarely use it.

      1. Do you have any space in your cellar? Not like you need much…. even space on a self??

        1. I was thinking of the cellar, too. I can probably shove something out of the way 🙂

  4. You sure do beautiful work. Someday I’d love to learn that. I’m into making bangles (with beads) so I especially love those!

    1. Thank you! I like the bangles, too. I wish I had more of those blanks.

  5. I have a very old bench grinder that I bought at a junk store that has one grinding wheel replaced with a polishing wheel. I also have a smaller version in the house that I use polishing wheels on. The indoor one has a flex shaft too that I can use with my homemade dremel polishing wheels. The small one came from Harbor Freight ( I wouldn’t be without at least one of these. 🙂

    1. I knew I should have visited the Harbor Freight near the clayathon… (there isn’t one near me)

  6. I got a inexpensive variable speed craftsman grinder (love their warranty)that has a light on it. I removed the grinder wheels that came with it and added the 6 inch buffer pads you can get. Once they were on I spun it up to high speed and then used a flat head screwdriver to help “defluff” it and spread the muslin sheets out. Now I can get a shine from heckeroo with it. Sometimes I even add MicroGloss liquid polishing agent to my piece and then buff. sweet!

    1. Thanks for the screwdriver tip. I hadn’t thought of craftsman before. I’ll have to add Sears to my list of places to check out.

  7. Another inexpensive work-around is to get a corded drill (new or used). Buy a buffing wheel with a mandrel that will fit like a drill bit does. Put it into a clamp-on vise and voila, a buffing machine. You will still want to do the box thing, and be sure to wear your safety glasses!

    1. Oh, that’s an interesting idea!

  8. I love all those colours including your ‘mistakes ‘ for your mother-in-law. Any chance you will make and sell some bangles? Glad you had such a lovely time, though sad the hotel was so grotty.

    1. I would love to make and sell some bangles, but those two blanks were given to me by a friend and I don’t have any more. If I can find an affordable source, I’ll consider making more. They really are a great project because they give me a chance to use up some of the extra strips that are leftover from other projects.

  9. Lisa, last night Sherman told us about your post and everything you made. Wow! But when he got to the part about stting by the fire under a blanket, a collective sigh went up as we anticipated going to sleep in our meat lockers that night.

    1. Oh, how funny! I hope the hotel wasn’t too, too bad last night. I have to admit to being so happy when I settled into my own warm bed!

  10. I love all of your crochet hooks! The colors a so vibrant and fun. Makes me want to learn how to crochet right now…XoXo

  11. It was so good to see you at Clayathon! After seeing all your posts from past times, I was thrilled to be able to go this year.
    My first buffer was (er… is) a bench grinder from ACE Hardware. It worked well, but I got a Foredom because it takes up much less space. As for Kathi’s screwdriver tip, I actually use a butter knife to groom the wheels – works pretty well.
    Don’t know if it’s the best price around, but Metalliferous has brass channel bangle blanks.

  12. […] Clarke recapped her adventures at Clayathon. I’m always jealous when folks talk about clay conventions because I haven’t had the […]

  13. I luv these hooks!!!! It’s a very creative way to spice up your hooks

    1. Thanks, Ashley! I enjoy making them – and using them!

  14. […] When it happened: January, MLK Weekend Where it was: Some terrible hotel that no longer exists My recap: Clayathon recap […]

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