Beaded earrings for a set

I made companion earrings to wear with my beaded pendant — the image-transfer one. While I was looking up stitches to use, I ran into a tutorial by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry for exactly the design I had in mind! That’s the second time this month I’m running into ready-to-use recipes for stuff that I want to make. (The first one was for my latest knitting project.)

Beaded earrings using CRAW

Beaded earrings using CRAW

For these earrings, I used the size-8 green beads and smaller size-15 brown beads that I’d used for the pendant. I made 12 units of Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW) with the larger beads, and embellished them with the smaller beads — one small bead between two large ones on the inner curves of the cubes, and two small beads in a similar fashion on the outer curves.

CRAW was not difficult to understand at all — not all difficult. I mean, it’s way too easy to imagine constructing a cube — first a floor, then walls, then ceiling. The execution of the first unit, though, was a different matter. Invariably, while I pulled the thread through the beads, I would lose my grip on the tiny setup that I created thus far, and then, it would be extremely difficult to bring the orientation back to where I was, and figure out which bead to go into next. I would just turn and turn the connected beads in my hand, all the while scratching my head. I tried to use the stop bead as reference, but it didn’t work for me. I even tried Jill Wiseman’s ‘taco’ style of construction, but with similar confusions.

After a couple of failed starts, I solved the problem by threading my stop bead into position at the center of the reinforced first square. That helped provide a ‘proper’ reference point for me. It was smooth sailing from then on.

When I was done constructing the drops, I threaded a couple of faux pearl beads into head pins, and attached each pearl-duo to a piece. I made eye loops at the top, and added ear wires to complete the earrings.

Image Transfers and Hollow Bead Weaving

I squeezed in my second PCA-inspired project for the month just before this very hectic month ended. And I’m thrilled to bits with it!

Beaded Pendant with Image-transferred Hollow PolyClay Bead

Beaded Pendant with Image-transferred Hollow PolyClay Bead

The course by Syndee Holt is all about image transfers, monoprinting, and coloring using alcohol pens. The image transfers were pretty frustrating in the beginning — they’d turn out patchy and indistinct. I spent quite some time and effort on repeated variations of my attempts, only to have to wipe away the transfer each time. Of course, there’d still be some residue, which would pollute my clay, tsk! Eventually, I ended up looking around for what others have done about it, and I finally, finally achieved a beautifully solid print. I just love it! (I want to go try one more right now, as I’m typing here. I can see the beginnings of an addiction forming! πŸ˜› )

I’m not buying alcohol pens right now, but I did try some monoprinting. Not very successful there. It could be that my local products are different, and the techniques demonstrated don’t work without modifications to work with these products.

Well, so I just had a image-transferred sheet of clay with me, and nothing to beautify it, so I carefully made my very first hollow bead from the sheet. Of course, I don’t have a cutter of this shape — it’s a composite shape that I made using two different cutters. I made the bead hollow by puffing out the cut shape, and slowly, carefully adhering it to a base. It’s a bit cumbersome, but it’s also more conducive to forming different shapes from a limited quantity of cutters and stencils. This particular bead’s a bit rough around the edges, but that was okay since I was going to do some nice bead weaving around it. πŸ™‚

The bead weaving is completely Peyote stitch. I used the uniform beads that I bought recently (sizes 8 and 15), and some limited stock of uniform beads (size 11) that I’ve been preserving for the time when I can actually work with them like this. I’m not sure what I’ll do when my size 11 beads run out; hopefully, my local stores will start carrying uniform size 11 beads too. <Fingers crossed>

So, think you wanna try any of the techniques I’ve mentioned?

Peyote Stitch Tube

Before I get started my next PCA project, I thought I’d practice some peyote stitching with the beads currently in my stash. (Yeah, the not-so-uniform beads.) And I ended up making a small tube that I can thread a rope necklace or thick chain through.

Peyote necklace tube

This is not tubular peyote, it’s flat peyote whose top and bottom edges I joined when I decided that the sheet was large enough. I actually used three colors of beads here, though the difference in two of the colors is so small that they appear to be the same. Not that it takes away anything from the overall look at all. πŸ™‚ The sheet has one row of stitches per color, so it’s a 3-row repeat pattern.

As for beading progress — the tension in my stitching has improved as I’ve practiced, and I’ve gained more confidence in how much I can tug at the thread to make the beads settle well. I’ve even started working on some nice peyote bezels for the polymer clay button beads that I made earlier. But more on that in another post, since I haven’t gotten to work much on them, and I’m eager to meet my self-imposed quota of PCA projects for this month. πŸ™‚

Button beads for… beading!

Yippee! The beading gods have finally heard my prayers. My local stores now sell Preciosa seed beads, so I don’t have to order uniformly sized beads from overseas. <Dances a little jig.> So I now have beading needles, beading thread, aaaand… beads! I’m all set to practice some beading. Peyote stitch, get ready to be conquered!

Antiqued polymer clay flower / button beads

I made these button beads from polymer clay, thinking I’ll work some beading around them whenever I’m done learning a few beading stitches. I used a mold for these beads, and used acrylic paints for antiquing. The mold impressions are deep at the edges, and there’s a whole lot of paint there that I just couldn’t get rid of, but I’m not bothered much. After all, they’ll all be obscured by the beading. πŸ™‚

Hope against hope that I get to working more on these soon. I’m chugging along on a knitting project right now, though. I’m on the edging for one sleeve, and then I’ll only have one sleeve left so I’m pretty eager to finish that too. Hmm, I think I can aim for beading practice only next week.

Am I too greedy to hope that Miyuki seed beads become available locally too? πŸ™‚

Carved beads jewelry

My next project in PCA 2017 is inspired by the Night Out Necklace from Shannon.

Carved beads jewelry - PCA 2017

Carved beads jewelry – PCA 2017. Perfect Pearls shine! ❀

Shannon’s necklace involves hand carving beads. I have great self-awareness when it comes to my knife skills — I know that I’m bad with knives and constantly afraid I’ll slice my thumb off πŸ˜› — so bead carving was going to be a challenge for me. (Gulp!) Not one that I’d shy away from, although I wouldn’t make as many beads as Shannon did. Partly because, you know, too much knife time, and partly because I’d like my jewelry better in a slightly different design.

Making the beads was fun, and even more fun was applying Perfect Pearls on them. Ooh, the shine! The combinations! I used Berry Twist with a hint of Perfect Bronze. (Or was it Perfect Copper? I knew I should’ve jotted down the colors right then.)

I’ll admit the carving was strangely therapeutic, and I’m relieved my thumb is still intact πŸ˜€ but I’ll need a lot (and I mean a whole lot) more practice to make those slices neater. More practice, and more experience to figure out the science behind when they slice off easily and when they don’t. The edges of the focal bead (the cuboidal one) were much easier for me to work on. Maybe it’s the angle of the surface? Was it just that I’d gotten more comfortable by the time I picked up this bead? I’ll need to know more, and boy am I gonna do more carving! πŸ™‚

Back to the jewelry. Another first for me was using a drill bit to make a hole at the bottom of the focal bead, where the tassel is attached. A bold move, considering that it’s the focal! πŸ˜‰ It went well though, and I love how neat the hole looks. I’m officially sold on post-bake holes.

I made tassels from leftover Nako Comfort Stretch yarn, and picked a variety of bead caps, and attached them to the main focal bead and the two spherical beads. Since there’s only one hole for the tassel on the focal bead, and that support is not sturdy enough, I used E6000 adhesive to make it stick and stay there better. Next time, I’ll bake the bead with the wire already in it.

Lastly, I attached the earwires to the earrings, and some bead caps and eye loops to the pendant. That’s it!

Heart earrings

Okay, it’s Valentine’s day again. I’m not a fan of special days that are invariably associated with many expectations of gifts and much pressure to have a great day. πŸ˜› Anyway, here are a pair of heart earrings that I made. Not with this day in mind, they just seemed the easiest stencil to use from a Sculpey template that I bought recently. Until I found that working with them was actually kinda difficult. But I persevered, and well, here they are:

Heart earrings from polymer clay

Heart earrings from polymer clay

For the base, I used dark chocolate colored Premo clay with a reddish tinge, which also has red and silver glitter in it. It needed some hand conditioning along with machine conditioning, because too much machine conditioning can eventually push quite a bit of the glitter to the edges.

Cutting out the hearts was the easy part. My knife did slide too much in the clay because I’d conditioned the clay so well that it was like butter I was clumsy, but I managed to smooth over those nicks later. I cut out a slice from a pinkish colorway cane that I’d made quite a while ago, and laid it on a part of one heart. After many attempts at making the heart puffy, and ending up with as many bad bruises on the clay, I decided that puffing can wait for a shape with all smooth edges, and that I’d stop trying it with a heart with a sharp angle at its top. (On second thought, the bruising was also probably because the cane was Sculpey III, which is super-soft.)

So I went back to the drawing board. I cut pieces from the cane-embellished heart, leaving out the unrepairable bruised areas. I made another heart, arranged the cane pieces on the new heart pair, and flattened them. In the middle of each, I embedded some seed beads. I laid the hearts on a curved surface and baked them. (Yup, a consolation for not making the hearts puffy.)

After baking, some seed beads fell off on their own, and I pried the rest off. I like how they’ve left traces of their insides on the clay, like they’re not truly gone. πŸ˜‰

Then, it was time to try out my first ever sanding. I used coarser (400) to finer (2000) grits and wet-sanded for a while, and buffed the pieces for some more time. Yes! A sheen, finally! (The cane was Sculpey III, and it apparently doesn’t like to turn shiny. Always something new to learn, and that’s what makes it fun for me.) I might eventually buy a machine for sanding and buffing, but for now, I’ll just rely on my arms.

To finish the pair, I connected them to ear wires with jump rings as usual.

Dragon Pendant

Another challenge that inspired me to try out something new!

The team at Art Elements launches a themed challenge every month. I’d thoroughly enjoyed working on a sugar skull keychain inspired by their October theme. This month, it’s a winter themed challenge, and Niky from Art Elements came up with a dragon-inspired theme! And who can resist dragons? πŸ™‚ So I tried my hand at a dragon pendant, and then decided to officially participate in the challenge as well. I’ve been inspired indeed! πŸ˜€

Polymer Clay Dragon Pendant

Polymer Clay Dragon Pendant

Thanks to Niky for coming up with this theme. I wouldn’t have tried something like this otherwise. I loved making the pendant — from inspiration to design to execution! Someday, when my claying skills improve, I’ll make some different dragon jewelry that does justice to the sheer awesomeness of this magnificent creature. Until then, this will do. πŸ™‚

I originally had a design in mind for a dragon curled around a large bead, but sculpting a dragon was not something that I was looking forward to, especially so soon after sculpting the sugar skull. I have a mold with some paisley vine-like shapes, and I thought one of them could work as the dragon’s body. I changed my design to suit this dragon shape, molded the clay, and made the tail pointier.

Though I’d thought of adding scales similar to the appliquΓ© flower petals I made for my sugar skull, I didn’t think I’d be able to work much on the dragon’s curly body. So I poked dots on its back instead, and made some ridges on its belly.

I set the dragon on a big flat wooden bead, with a large white glass bead behind the dragon. The setup still looked a bit empty, and I cut off thin strips from a gold-and-brown sheet I’d made, and arranged them behind the dragon.

I covered the back with a layer of dark polymer clay, and bent two wires to form loops that I attached to the back. I then wrapped a strip of brown clay along the circumference, marked ridges on it, and added more of the gold-and-brown strips over it at the top.

I kept the piece aside for a few days — just in case I finished more projects, I could bake them all together. I took it out this week to fiddle a tiny bit with it, the behind-the-dragon strips broke off partially! 😦 I didn’t have the patience to remove all of that area, and risk damaging the dragon as well, so I added a few more strips to the broken area. The new strips didn’t work well with the old ones, and no gentle prods could make them do so. I finally poked dots in them to force them to stay. To keep things consistent, I carefully poked dots in the other similar areas too. It’s not as good as the original, but it’s not bad either… Liquid Polymer Clay would probably have helped here, and it’s now gone up a slot in my to-buy list.

Finally, I made two tiny horns and a tiny eye, and attached them both to the dragon’s head. I wondered if I should try to add anything else (wings), but I couldn’t risk the dragon’s body crumbling like the background did, so I went ahead and baked the piece before anything else could break off. It came out of the oven well. Phew! πŸ™‚


Here’s all the beautiful dragon-inspired jewelry that everyone has made —

Guests

Kathy Lindemer
Kelly Rodgers
Shai Williams
Tammy Adams
… And of course, there’s me! πŸ™‚

AJE Team

Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Diana
Jen
Jenny
Laney
Niky
Susan