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.

Totem-inspired beads

PCA: Totem beads jewelry

PCA: Totem beads jewelry

My version of Mihaela’s course from PCA. As usual, I used materials locally available to me to make these totem beads, so they don’t quite look like hers. πŸ™‚ Mihaela uses quite a few surface treatments to make her colorful beads, whereas I used one treatment – the Perfect Pearls treatment. πŸ˜€

One technique that I have watched in tutorials a few times, and have now finally tried, is the Sutton Slice, and I used it for the patterns on the black bead. I found it wasn’t very easy to slice the clay off cleanly, and had to try quite a few times to get a good enough coverage on the texture sheet that I used. Not too bad for a first attempt, though, and I do like the technique enough that I want to perfect it eventually. I’ll need to try it with even deeper texture sheets next time, and see if that’ll make a difference for the slicing. I think I’ll also need to try out Mokume Gane, just to see if I do better with the slicing there. πŸ™‚

All in good time, though. I’m slowly running out of clay in my stash, but I don’t see fresh stock showing up in any of the stores I usually shop at. I obviously don’t want to buy old clay, since I’ve faced enough hardships with that, so this calls for clay rationing. I think for my future PCA projects, I might combine techniques from more than one course into a single project…

Wire Weaving: Inspired by Calligraphy Pendant

Wire Weaving - Calligraphy Pendant inspired

Wire Weaving – Calligraphy Pendant inspired

I was thinking I’d make my mom some jewelry as a gift for Mother’s Day (today) but she has specific jewelry tastes. I’ve been working so much with polymer clay (notwithstanding short bead weaving runs) that I’d almost forgotten about the weaving wire that I have. So it was time for some wire weaving!

Rather than try something on my own and end up with insufficient wire to finish the project, I thought I’d follow a free tutorial – The Calligraphy Pendant by the amazing Nicole Hanna. (Spoiler: I still ran short of wire in the end. πŸ™‚ )

Of course, my stash doesn’t include the gauges suggested in the tutorial, so I used the ones that I have — 18 and 24. Yes, I’ve learned that they end up really tough on the fingers. That’s one of the reasons I don’t wire-weave too often. πŸ™‚

Well, back to the project. I used an irregularly-shaped glass bead of about the same dimensions suggested in the tutorial. (I just love its color!) I figured the lengths of the base wires from the tutorial should work, but cut slightly longer lengths anyway. Strangely, they turned out really short. I probably needed at least 50% more wire. I don’t understand this huge discrepancy. Since there was no way to ‘fix’ it, I ended up cutting my project short and finishing it early. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not what I wanted. I couldn’t make another one since my fingers were crying for mercy already.

Turns out my mom too thinks it looks good. Now I’m waiting to see when she’ll wear it… πŸ˜‰

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™‚