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™‚

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.

Wire weaving experiment

I ordered new wire-wrapping wire recently, and with this wire and an 18 gauge one I already have with me, I attempted my first wire weaving.Wire weaving pendant

The weaving was fun while I was coiling it near the pearl, but got pretty difficult as I neared the top. I’ll probably need to go a gauge or two thinner in the future, but I’ll reserve that judgment until I finish another weaving test run. Maybe I just need practice, and this will not be an issue.

With this weave, it was also difficult to keep the coils pinched together — they just kept loosening up, just a little though. Another indicator to practice more. πŸ™‚

I was in a different headspace while cutting the wire, and ended up cutting a really small length of wire, hehe… Since I was just practicing and didn’t know how the piece would turn out, I decided to go ahead with that length. When it ran out, I continued with new wire added in. You can see that ugliness near the weave beside the pearl. I’ll need to snip it and adjust it so it won’t be visible much, but I’ll leave it for another day. (Laziness wins today! πŸ˜› )

I had hammered the ends of the thicker wire before I started, and after finishing the weaving, I hammered the top a bit too. I like the texture it creates.

Overall, for my first attempt at wrapping wire, I consider this a success! πŸ™‚ I’ll try out a different weave next time to see how I fare.

Bright Summer Jewelry

My next project from PCA 2017. The tutorial itself involves creating a pendant with canes and gradients. The pendant looks awesome, but if I do make one, I’m doubtful if I (or my sis) would wear it, because it is a tad large for our liking. I really liked the shapes and colors in the piece, though, so I thought I’d make tinier versions from parts of the project. And here’s the result.

Bright Summer Jewelry

Bright Summer Jewelry

Love these tiny things!

Trying to use a gradient for the spheres in these little pieces would not even show the gradient colors much, so instead, I just used glass beads for them.

Shaping the crescents was a bit tricky, but the results are not too shabby. After my last project, I’d thought of trying out sanding for my next project, but the curves in the tiny crescents made it kinda difficult, and I ended up not sanding. I did buff the pieces for quite a while, although I admit it doesn’t make much difference without the sanding preceding it. πŸ™‚ Next project, hopefully…

Crocheted Polymer Clay Jewelry

My first project in the PCA art retreat. And my first batch of improvisations to compensate for lack of supplies where I live. πŸ˜‰

Crocheted Polymer Clay Jewelry

Crocheted Polymer Clay Jewelry

This project uses the invisible spool knitting technique of wire crochet to embellish organic polymer clay beads with a delicate wire mesh, creating teardrop-shaped earrings and pendant. The wire crochet technique is used to create a fine necklace as well.

I could make the beads without much hassle. (Thanks to my sis for lending me her supplies to add the shine on them.) However, I can’t find the fine wire needed for the project here. So I used what I could lay my hands on — a thicker gauge wire.

Now, this wire does not really hold its shape while I work on it, so I couldn’t use the invisible spool knitting technique. I did regular crochet instead, which makes for a thicker mesh.

The wire mesh is also not the least bit delicate — if anything, it’s strong and yet springy πŸ™‚ — but I wanted to work with it instead of trying to force it to be something it wasn’t, so I made the pieces look more traditional Indian instead of modern, by adding more wire-crocheted accompaniments for the earrings. Instead of making a fine necklace, I made a tube that a cord (or a seed-bead necklace) can be strung into.

And I also made a tiny piece that I added as a charm to an old scrunchy bracelet that I’d made. πŸ™‚

So many improvisations! Love the results! ❀ ❀

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