DIY Buffing Wheel Results

I used the little slices from my earlier mokume gane attempt to make a veneer, and sat down for a session of testing my buffing wheel with pieces made from the veneer.

Attempt #1

I made a hollow earring pair. Then I buffed and I buffed and I buffed for what seemed like ages, and… there’s only the tiniest bit of sheen. What the…?! It’s supposed to buff up more quickly than that! I’ve even used the same tee shirt that I use for hand buffing, so the only change is the addition of the tool. Could it be the clay piece that’s the problem?

Buffing difference

So I hand-buffed the other earring, and there’s zero sheen on it. The only other time this happened to me was when I tried to buff a Sculpey III piece and discovered that it likes to stay matte regardless of how long you buff. Don’t tell me I used Sculpey III for the colors in my mokume gane! (I know for a fact that the white is Premo.)

Attempt #2

I do really want to use the mokume gane slices before they dry up and become difficult to use — I had old veneers tear on me on more than one occasion when I tried to work with them. So I sparingly added the mokume gane slices over more Premo white than earlier, and tried buffing again. This time, I made three similar cabs to use up the mokume gane sheet. These are not hollow, though — they have a Sculpey Original base. I baked, sanded and buffed them, and the sheen is much better on these!

Buffing - sheen with more Premo!

Miscellaneous

As for the hollow earrings from my first attempt, I applied a thin layer of Kato liquid clay and waved a heat gun over them for a quick sheen.

Hollow Mokume Gane Earrings

I also ended up making other (mostly stud) earrings from the remaining tiny mokume gane slices.

Miscellaneous Mokume Gane Earrings

I still have a thick sheet of the mokume gane block left, and I need to figure out soon how to use it up. In the worst case, I’ll make a Natasha bead from it.

What Next?

For my next buffing trial, I’ll make some ‘fully Premo’ pieces and try for a higher gloss, and I’m guessing the results would be better. πŸ™‚ If they do turn out better, I’ll want to buy a lighter tool since the drill I’m using is pretty heavy to hold over extended periods of time, even when it’s partially supported on a table top.

Advertisements

Finishing and Machines (and a DIY)

If there’s one thing that makes a project go from good to great, it’s the finishing. Not that all the processes preceding it are unimportant, but if one has worked really hard on everything but the finishing, don’t you think they’re limiting the potential of the project? πŸ™‚

Having said that, the processes involved in finishing polymer clay — sanding and buffing — are pretty taxing on the arms if you do them by hand. And if you’ve made multiple pieces, then phew, finishing them definitely requires multiple sessions, probably split over days. And as a result (for me, at least) — Mod Podge finishing starts looking more attractive πŸ˜‰ and I don’t really like that.

Mechanized tools!

So I decided to invest in mechanized tools. Earlier this year, I placed an order for a Poly-fast sanding tool, since sanding requires multiple passes with successively finer grits, and speeding up this process would result in quicker finishing. Unfortunately, the package had no tracking associated, and I ended up never getting it. Interacting with government agencies in India usually does not produce results, and this time was no exception — I have no idea where the package is. Talking to the Poly-fast team didn’t help much either — I don’t think either of us are at fault, but it still hurts to spend on stuff that you never receive. 😦

I do have a drill at home that is not used extensively, and I thought I’d try using it for my needs. DIY project on the horizon!

DIY Buffing Wheel

After some thought, I decided that if I had to choose one, then my buffing needs mechanization more than my sanding does. So far, my hand-buffing has only achieved mild sheens, not glossy shines. While some projects look better with a sheen, some look beautiful with a gloss. And while liquid clay + heat gun is a possible alternative (I used it for my Opposite earrings), it would still be thrilling to get glossier results just from buffing. Also, my local stores don’t carry Kato clear liquid clay that is required for the excellent gloss.

DIY Buffing Wheel

So I made a buffing wheel from Desiree’s how-to; I ended up using the technique that she shared from another artist. (The other artist is also named Anita, so that’s a bonus. πŸ˜› ) I used squares from the same old tee shirt that I use for hand-buffing.

Next — Tests

I only gave the mechanism a sample trial to check that the wheel doesn’t fly away or come apart while in use, and it seems to whirl away fine, even at high speeds. Fingers crossed that it gives me good gloss! I’ll jot down the results when I run some tests.

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

I came across this herringbone bracelet video by Jennifer Biedermann recently, and since I wanted to try out Herringbone stitch anyway, I just *had* to make this!

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

I don’t have 15/0 beads that would match any of the 11/0 beads that I thought were suitable for this project, so I scrapped the 15/0’s. Also, I decided to make the buds a bit organic, using the local ‘non-uniform’ beads available where I live. For the main body, I used Preciosa 11/0 metallic green beads. It says green on the label but they’re multi-hued, as the picture shows.

The flower buds in mine don’t line up, and I think that contributes to the organic nature of the buds. My only gripe here is that the twisty nature of the rounds obscures the ‘herringbone’ness of the stitch. πŸ™‚ It’s a tiny little minor gripe, though, because I’m pretty happy with this project.

I’d thought of finishing the project with a button and loop clasp, but had postponed looking for a suitable button. (I think you know where this is going.) Well, I didn’t find any round one that would work. I could finish differently, but I really, really wanted to try out a button and loop one. And I wanted to try it right then. So I picked the best matching bead (though it’s a faceted cylindrical bead) and decided to just go with it. I do like how the finishing turned out, though I can’t help imagining how it’d look with a round bead. I’ll probably make a clay bead the next time I can’t find a matching bead, and toughen up and accept the delay in the creation of the bracelet. πŸ˜‰

Do you prefer a particular kind of finishing for bracelets? Or does it depend on your project, or maybe your mood? πŸ™‚

Soutache Earrings

A PCA-inspired project that I truly loved researching and working on — Polymer Clay Soutache earrings!

Before I registered for PCA, I had no idea what soutache is. I might actually have pinned soutache jewelry onto my macramΓ© board, for all I know. But after some wandering around the Internet with a purpose, I ended up loving soutache! I think it creates beautiful and elegant pieces. Maybe at some point in my life, I’ll create jewelry using actual soutache. But until then, there’s Jana Murinova’s course on PCA for imitating the technique using polymer clay. πŸ™‚

Imitation Soutache Earrings with Polymer Clay

Imitation Soutache Earrings with Polymer Clay

I chose a color palette that I normally don’t choose, because they were in my old clay stash. I’ve been trying to finish off this stash so I can use more of the new clay that I bought recently. However, the hard-to-condition clay wasn’t really suited for this project — it kept breaking while I worked with it, and I had to attach it again so the breaks aren’t visible, and try to continue where I left off. I did manage to make both earrings resemble each other and look good, but all my eyes can notice are the numerous points where the clay is smooshed due to reattaching. In hindsight, I could’ve just abandoned this after a point, and started with some new clay, but obviously, I didn’t. Anyway, with some good, ‘conditionable’ clay, I’m pretty sure the pieces would end up neater and just gorgeous!

I used faux half pearl beads (those flat-backed, hemispherical ones) as focal pieces and embellishments for my earrings, and would you know, the bubblegum colorway of the clay started to look more elegant! πŸ™‚ Also, the seed beads, I feel, certainly add to the daintiness. When I started the bake, I just never gave a thought to whether the pearl beads might be affected, and surely enough, they were. They’d melted slightly, but more importantly, their sheeny finish was no more — it’s like they’d aged 15 years. I ended up painting these beads with some metallic pearl white acrylic, because they wouldn’t come off the earrings with gentle pries. (So now I know I’m good at setting components in clay. πŸ˜› )Β  In the future, I really must remember to take them off before baking, and reattach them later with some E6000.

Well, that’s that, and I can’t wait to wear these!

Do you like the look of soutache jewelry? If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of this technique till now, go ahead and look up some pictures — you might end up loving it!

Embossing Experiments

It’s been ages since my sis has been using embossing in her cardmaking, and I only recently decided to try it out on clay.

For this trial, I placed a stencil over my clay and sprinkled embossing powder over the stencil. The basic premise — applying some heat melts the powder, and when it cools, it turns into a solid, embossed layer. While baking, I placed the pieces over a glass bulb to dome them a bit, to see how the embossing powder holds while melting. I didn’t realize my foil tent ended up touching the glass bulb’s top, removing some powder from two of my layers! Good thing these are test pieces, huh? πŸ˜‰

Embossing experiments#1: Apply embossing powder, wave a heat gun over it until it sets. Bake the piece later. (I didn’t realize this much powder was too much powder, hehe…) This pre-embossing seems superfluous, since the baking would emboss it anyway. However, I wanted to see if it affects the pattern when it melts again, and makes it look different from the other pieces. It doesn’t, which is good. (So re-baking an embossed piece is a go!)

#2: Apply embossing powder, bake the piece. Heat from the oven sets the clay. There was still too much embossing powder there, but barring that fact, it turned out fairly okay.

#3: Same as #2, but before removing the stencil, use a roller to further set the powder in the clay. Again, I don’t know if I started getting better, or if the rolling really helped define the amount and shape of the powdered parts so they end up containing just enough powder. Some individual powder grains must still have dispersed over the surface, though — they are seen as tiny dots over the surface. I need to figure out how they got there.

#4: Apply embossing powder post-bake, after heating the clay a bit with a heat gun. (Or maybe immediately after the bake while the clay is still hot.) Then use a heat gun to set it. I kinda knew this wouldn’t really fly — the powder just blew away from the force of the heat gun blast. πŸ˜€ A better way to do this would be to use sticky ink over the clay surface to ‘hold on’ to the embossing powder, like my sis does for her cards.

Soon after I tested this out, I came across a recent video by Ludmila Bakulina, where she’s demonstrated one way of using embossing powders on clay! (I totally love her videos and have learned a lot from her.) She’s used the powder in the recesses of a textured clay sheet, and it’s easier to just use sticky tape to remove those unwanted particles dispersed over the surface. That’s not the case in my stencil-based method, so it looks like tinkering with method #3 and improving it is the way forward for me. Maybe I’ll use a brush to further minimize the amount of powder on the surface before I remove the stencil.

Being able to use embossing with my clay opens up so many possibilities! I’m looking at our stencil stash with renewed interest now. πŸ˜‰

Shadowbox Shrine

Oops, I almost forgot to make something from my PCA course this month. And when I did start work on a project, I accidentally cracked my version #1 when it came out of the oven. I could almost feel this month pass by without a PCA project, but I managed to make a version #2. And I’m delighted with it!

Shadowbox Shrine

Shadowbox Shrine

This mixed media project by Darlene Madden is a shadowbox shrine, and I think it really highlights textures and layers. Darlene uses various media in her project, whereas I used mostly chalks and Perfect Pearls. None of the pictures I clicked do any justice to the splendid shine that comes from the Perfect Pearls. 😦

I sculpted the key by hand, and for its wings, I used a template to cut out a heart shape, cut it vertically into two halves, and cut slits in them to form the ‘feathers’. I die-cut the lace ornament on top-left from paper, and applied metallic paints over it. I like the bling and weirdness it adds to an otherwise serious piece! πŸ™‚

I also love the mystery that the shadow adds to the object in the center — it would be rather boring otherwise. I think I like shadowboxes. How about you — are you a fan of them?

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

I used tubular Chenille stitch for this bracelet. (Sara Spoltore has a detailed video tutorial for this stitch.) The finished pattern in mine looks different from hers because of the bead types that I used — a small change in size or type makes for quite a change, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚ The beads that I used here are Preciosa 11/0 gold seed beads, and Japanese 11/0 haematite seed beads. (Wish I knew what type of Japanese beads these are — I bought them before I was into beading, and it just says ‘Japanese 11/0’ on the label.)

I’d started this bracelet intending for it to be an open one, though I admit I hadn’t thought of the finishing. Then, I discovered that the rope was turning out stretchy and elastic, and I decided to make the bracelet a closed one. I’d like to think I’ve improved at joining two ends of a rope as seamlessly as I possibly can, and I’m pleased with the join in this project. (I just try to maintain the look of the pattern in the join too, as best as I can.) However, I did end up twisting the rope by 1 stitch while joining, so the pattern lines form not circles but a mΓΆebius! No harm done, though. πŸ˜‰

Also, I now add at least two overhand knots when I weave in tails, so I can sleep peacefully knowing that the piece is secure. πŸ™‚

Because of the design change from open to closed, the bracelet started to look kinda plain, and I thought I’d make a focal beaded bead around it. I’d just finished watching the Interlace Beaded Bead video by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry, so I used that here, using the same haematite 11/0’s from my bracelet, and some small pearl beads that seemed to fit the pattern. I finished the edges of the bead with the gold 11/0’s.

I love how this bracelet turned out, and I totally love slipping it on and off my wrist! πŸ˜€ How about you — do you change your design often after you start working on a project?