Stitch Marker Case | Art Elements Challenge

The team at Art Elements hosts themed monthly challenges, which involve a reveal and blog hop at the end of the month. The theme for June is Sunflowers, picked by Sue.

I read the theme announcement, and recalled this small, cubic container that I’ve appropriated for storing my stitch markers. I’ve always wanted to decorate it using polymer clay – nothing elaborate, just a background layer and a button each in the middle of its visible faces. I imagined sunflowers as the buttons, and decided to go ahead. For a project that I wanted to make for so long, I ran into quite a lot of unexpected turns, and the results were not what I expected. I’m still wondering if I can make some modifications, so this project is still a WIP.

Polymer Clay Stitch Marker Case

Possible next step: mute the background a bit so it doesn’t overwhelm the sunflower buttons

I started out with the background, deciding to play with alcohol inks again. I drizzled some inks on a long strip of white Premo! clay (this goes around the body of the case), and spritzed it with alcohol, both when wet, and after a while when it dried up a bit. The pattern didn’t quite turn out like I expected it would, but I decided to use the strip. I followed the same process with a square sheet of clay for the lid.

For the sunflowers, I wanted to use different yellow clays from my stash. I used a mold to make flowers with each of the yellows, vertically sliced each flower into 5 roughly equally-wide pieces, then swapped pieces between different flowers. Now each flower has stripes of slightly varying yellows, and I like this look. (The flowers look a bit wan now on the bright background. In hindsight, I should’ve lightened the background – maybe by covering it with a layer of white-tinted-translucent clay? But well…)

Meanwhile, I realized too late that the case is not all metal like I’d somehow always thought it was. (Weird how we sometimes don’t notice things right in front of us.) Only the lid is metal, and the rest of the body is plastic – unbakeable, sigh. Should I try a different material? I didn’t really want to. I remembered reading about some polymer clay artists getting around this problem, making their plastic container bases withstand the baking by filling them up with water to the brim. (I should’ve tested this out before I covered it with clay, but well… :))

* I finally found the water tip, demonstrated (with pictures) by Garie Sim.

I put things together, covering the case with the background sheets, and adhering the flowers using a bit of liquid clay. The flowers still fell down or slid down a bit though, so I used a heat gun to bake them slightly and keep them in place. I burned one of the flowers in the process, but then thought “why not?” and burned the rest in a controlled manner. I’d originally thought of antiquing to highlight the texture of the flowers, but this works too!

Then came the baking, with the case filled to the brim with water. I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious and uncertain since my first ever polyclay bake. I’m happy to report that the water-filling tip was a great one! The case is completely undamaged, and the clay still fits the case well.

All things considered, I’m amazed that this project was at least this successful – there were way too many go-with-the-flow moments with this one – and as always, I definitely learned something new. Thank you, Sue, for the inspiration that finally got me working on this long overdue item from my list! I hope I finish it to my satisfaction soon.


Since this is a blog hop, I hope you check out what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge!
Guests: AlysenAnita (you are here) • CatDivyaJillKathyLindaLindaMischelleNormaRavenSarajoTammy
AE Team: CarolineCathyClaireJennyLaneyLesleySue

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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! 🙂

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?

Another Notebook Cover

Whoo! My first ‘combination’ project from the PCA courses — another notebook cover, which isn’t remotely similar to the first one I made.

Notebook cover, from multiple PCA courses

I used Sculpey Terracotta clay for the cover’s base, Sculpey III and Fimo Effects for the components, and a whole lot of TLS to bind things together. I’ve used learnings from all these courses —

  • Notebook cover fundamentals from Anke Humpert’s course — the most difficult part here was getting a uniform base layer, since the layer’s bigger than my pasta machine. 🙂
  • Inlay pattern from Suzanne Ivester’s course — this was the one that took the longest time. Also, the non-uniform depth of the stamping at the very edges — I need to figure out a way to handle this. I tried using a paper layer between the clay and the stamp’s edges to prevent it from pressing too much into the clay, but that didn’t help much at all.
  • Succulents from Cindi McGee’s course — I wish I had chalk pastels for subtle shading. I tried paints and it didn’t look so great. Perfect Pearls it is, then!
  • Flower shaping and mosaics from Christi Friesen’s course — I used Perfect Pearls for the shine. I have other ideas for gold leaves / foils, and hopefully they’ll turn out good.
  • Stripey borders from Lisa Pavelka’s course — Of course, the Terracotta clay turned out to be too smooshy to retain the uniformity of layers while cutting, but that does contribute to the organic look, I think?

I’d originally thought of only 2, or 3, projects to combine, but as I kept working on this one, I just kept adding stuff. Good thing I stopped eventually, huh? 🙂

I hope this cover lasts, and doesn’t get damaged while handling. I’ve kept even the raised elements close to the ground, so to speak, so there’s less danger of them getting chipped, but one isn’t usually very careful when using a notebook, right?

New Clay

It’s been a while since I made something from clay, and thanks to a friend who was willing to haul back my order from their short visit to the US, I now have newly-bought clay to work with!

New clay

Of course, I’m still sticking to my plan of combining salient learnings from more than one PCA project into a single project. It’s fun trying to imagine which projects might work well together! I hope I manage to make something this month.

I’ve also been looking at some beading stitches to decide which one works well for a jewelry set I have in mind. I hope that materializes this month too! 🙂

Jewelry Box

Since I barely managed to finish my quota of last month’s PCA courses, I decided to start early this time. 😀

Jewelry box - after

Jewelry box

Jewelry box - before

Jewelry box (before)
Image used from the online store’s website since I forgot to click a picture before I started. 😀

Teresa’s course is about beautifying a wooden jewelry box using painting, silkscreening, decoupage and resin. Amongst all PCA projects I’ve worked on so far, the lack of materials where I live is most evident in this one.

For the painting — the acrylics that are available here are kinda tacky, and they dry quickly to a rubbery texture; I find they’re unsuitable for a large variety of ‘advanced’ projects that interest my sis or me. Silkscreens are not available locally at all, and as for the resin, I was going to buy it only if I could come up with a layer that’s worth the gloss. So I set to work on the project with whatever I could use. (I was actually surprised I could find a jewelry box to work on. 🙂 )

I had to first flip the lid of the box inside out, since it originally had a flat outside and an inset on the inside. However, the reverse is what works for this project.

I managed to paint the box fine — a red-brown base layer, and then some white and brown lightly distressed texture over it. I toyed around with the idea of an image transfer onto the surfaces. (Looks like my latest project is still on my mind! 🙂 ) But I’m still not sure that the transfer will turn out 100% alright. If it turns out patchy, that’ll be the end of this box, since I won’t be able to cleanly wipe the ink away. Instead, I tried using a texture stamp to imprint some nice patterns on the box, but it turned out pretty bad. In the end, I just used the texture stamp on a sheet of clay, and lightly ‘antiqued’ it with white paint post-bake. I also added a clay border to the inset since the textured sheet didn’t really warrant using resin. I finished with a thin layer of Mod podge instead.

My project is nowhere like Teresa’s, but I still like it since it turned out perfect to store our antique jewelry. 🙂 My sis wants to decorate it even more, and I can’t wait to see how she’ll enhance it!

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Hmm, this was actually supposed to be a sea life vase, if I’d fully followed the PCA course taught by Marlene Brady. As I’ve come to discover, extensive sculpting is not really my favorite. And as I’ve known for the longest time, extensive repetition is not something that interests me either. Unfortunately, this project combines the two. I felt tired just watching all the repetitive sculpting that Marlene does 😛 and decided to make a really sparse version of her vase, just to help me learn about working with translucent clay on glass.

Instead of a large vase, I used a little jar. Of course, the jar is not tinted like Marlene’s is, so I added ‘artistic tinting’ using runny streams of acrylic paints on the inside of the jar. It looked good, and I can tell you I was tempted to call it a day with just that. 😀 However, I moved on to the sculpting.

I don’t own a sea life mold, and don’t plan to buy one in the near future either, so I dropped the turtles and fish from my version. However, the rest of it is the repetitive bit, so I changed my scenery to a fantasy one, with flower-like and weed-like objects floating here and there, so that I don’t have to make too many of them. 😉

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

I don’t own colored translucent clay either — I have some plain translucent clay, and it was still in its pack. I mixed small chunks of ‘regular’ Premo clay to color it. Good thing I’m of the ‘add-in-small-quantities’ type, because I learned that a tiny, tiny amount of colored clay is enough to tint the transparent one. (In my next coloring experiment, I’ll use tiny, tiny amounts of alcohol inks!)

So after a lot 😉 of sculpting, I baked the piece, and as you can see, it looks great with light streaming through it! The clay sticks well to the glass, too, although I’ve not tried destructive things like peeling or scratching it away…

Miniature Fairy Garden

Before I saw Lisa’s Fairy Garden Ring video on PCA, I’d not really given much thought to these whimsical creations. Lisa’s course resulted in a whirlwind Pinterest tour of fairy gardens, and it’s quite delightful to look at all those miniatures. 🙂

Miniature Fairy Garden - PCA 2017

Miniature Fairy Garden

For my version of the project, I omitted the ‘ring’ and made only a fairy garden. After all, I don’t fancy wearing a ring that has protruding sections that are in danger of getting chipped or broken. 🙂 This garden is about 2cm across and 2.5cm tall.

I have worked on a sugar skull keychain before, and that involved working with tiny parts, which turned out to be a lot of fun. It turned out that working on a fairy garden is also a lot of fun, and for the same reason. Sculpting tiny landscapes with tinier details is involving and relaxing.

I made the base in a plastic cap so it won’t get squished while I’m working on the surface details. But then, I wouldn’t want the cap to melt in the oven during the bake. (Duh!) So I had to remove the cap later and give some texture to the sides. Thinking back on it, I should just bake a textured base first, and then start work on the surface. That would involve some liquid clay for gluing, of course. Or maybe the plastic cap way isn’t too bad, since it wasn’t much effort to remove the piece and texture it.

I added some mod podge layers for the final gloss, and now the piece is on my desk, and I love looking at it! ❤