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?

Beadwork!

I finally sat down and finished the beaded jewelry set that I was working on! And I’m pretty thrilled with the result!

Beadwork Jewelry

Beadwork Jewelry

These are essentially beaded bezels around the polymer clay button beads that I made a while back. I used Peyote stitch for the bezel, of course. I started this at around the same time that I made the Peyote stitch tube, so the beads are still the non-uniform ones. I love how the pieces have turned out, though. Making the loops and connections was pretty fun too — especially when I got the ones on the central piece of the necklace correct with just a bit of planning ahead. πŸ™‚

Now that my stash has uniform beads, and more importantly, since I’m more confident in my beading skills, I can’t wait to make my next beading project. I’m afraid I’ll feel the need for size 15 beads soon, and they’re not available locally. (I used size 11 in the current pieces, and had to stitch differently in the innermost row because the beads were too big.)

Natasha beads

I know Natasha beads involve slicing, and Sculpey III is probably not the best clay to use when it comes to slicing. But I had this Sculpey III cane of green, brown and white that I’d made when I started claying, and I haven’t really been able to find a use for it, so I decided to just ‘destroy’ it. And what’s a more satisfactory way to destroy clay than to make Natasha beads from it! πŸ™‚ Even if the beads might not turn out fully symmetrical, because not only is Sculpey III so soft and pliable, but it’s already really, really hot here these days…

Natasha beadsI first thought of making keychain charms from the cuboidal Natasha beads, and they didn’t have to be super-perfect. In fact, I had to cool the clay multiple times in the refrigerator to be able to slice it without squishing it. (It’s still a bit squished, though :) but like I said, I didn’t need the pieces to be perfect.) I attached eye pins before baking, securing the pins by bending them slightly before inserting into the beads.

Natasha bead keychain charmsI sanded and buffed the beads so they’re smooth. (Sculpey III doesn’t ever end up with a shine.) When I showed them to my folks, they thought they’d make great earrings. So my sis picked two beads that are more similar than the others (at least in size — these beads never turn out the same!) and I ended up making an earring pair and two keychain charms!

Natasha bead earringsThey’re pretty easy to make, especially if you use clay harder than Sculpey III. Do you think you’ll make some? :)

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.