Summer Horse | Art Elements Challenge

The team at Art Elements has recently started hosting themed monthly challenges, which involve a reveal and blog hop at the end of the month. The theme for April is Horses, picked by Jenny, with the reveal being hosted by Cathy.

At first, I thought “Seahorse!” These creatures have inspired so many artsy pieces (especially jewelry.) Thinking on and off about seahorse projects, I slowly realized I wanted to stretch myself and go for the land-horse, which I find more challenging.

I didn’t delay starting the project as much as I did last month, but it definitely began in the later half of the month. 🙂 My aim was to create a horse head accessory for a tote bag that my sis and I plan to make – the horse would be made of polymer clay, and have a beaded mane. I also wanted to check off at least one item from my make-nine list for the year, and I chose alcohol inks.

Summer Horse - Beaded Polymer Clay Charm

The colors in the project are inspired by the summer here, with blue added in since it’s also been raining recently! That’s some weird and wonderful weather. 🙂

The Claying

I drew an outline of a horse head using rough strokes, traced it multiple times with my pencil, and pressed a sheet of white-with-translucent clay on it to transfer some of the outline onto the clay. On the other side of the sheet, I used a texture sheet to add a pattern I liked. I then cut out the figure roughly following the pencil outline.

Now came the trials with alcohol inks. I added drops of different inks over the textured clay, prodding them so they mix well at the boundaries. When I was satisfied with how the colors looked, I let the ink dry a bit, and dabbed a paper towel spritzed with rubbing alcohol to wipe away some of the ink on the raised surfaces. After the ink dried fully, I applied Perfect Pearls on the raised surfaces.

I added one more clay layer with a simple-textured back to strengthen the piece, and added some color to the back and the edges with chalks. To help with my beading of the mane later, I poked holes 0.3cm apart all along the top of the neck.

Baking time! (I already liked how it looked when it came out of the oven; the Perfect Pearls, however, seemed to have dulled a bit.)

The beading

I added beaded fringes, each 15-18 seed beads long, one fringe per hole, ensuring that overall color theme of each fringe matches the color of the base clay in that area. As I made the fringes, I began attaching them to one another to keep them in place. To steady the top of the fringes, I made a 1-row modified brick stitch edge behind them, along the top edge of the neck.

This is one of those rare times that a project turned out better than I’d hoped for – I totally love this piece! Challenge accomplished, as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

My sis and I have not yet taken a call on exactly how we’ll use this – it’ll either be a short swinging charm, or held in place on the bag. Meanwhile, I feel a little more confident about alcohol inks now, and I can’t wait to use them more!


If you’re curious to see what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge, go have a peek at their blogs! (Some guests don’t have blogs, so AE team member Laney has posted their creations on her blog.)

Guests:    Alysen    •    Anita (that’s me!)    •    Beth    •    Catherine    •    Jill    •    Paulette    •    Raven    •    Sarajo    •    Tammy

AE Team:    Caroline    •    Claire    •    Jen    •    Laney    •    Lesley    •    Marsha    •    Niky    •    Sue

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New Year Gifts

Our group of friends got together for the New Year, and I thought I’d make some small gifts for them. I made them pretty much in the last minute since I wasn’t too well recently, but I’m glad everyone ended up getting something. I’d created a couple of extras just in case, and it was perfect for the couple of unexpected people that turned up. 🙂

Since I made these without much time to spare, I optimized by using the same clay from start to finish. I mixed Black Sculpey Premo, Glittery-Yellow Fimo Effect and Red/Brown Sculpey Soufflé to get the color I wanted. I used a mold for the main ‘shell’, and a color or three of Perfect Pearls to add some glorious shine to it (mostly obscuring the clay’s color 😉 but hey, shiny is the solution when you’re short on time. 😛 ) I poked some holes to add jump rings later.

New Year Gifts - Polymer Clay Earrings

New Year Gifts – Polymer Clay Earrings

For the keychain charms, I placed the shells on rectangular bases of the same clay, and added strips of clay for the borders. I scored the borders with an X-Acto blade for some texture. A quick dash of Perfect Pearls here and there, and a hole for a jump ring, and the items were ready to bake.

New Year Gifts - Polymer Clay Keychain Charm

New Year Gifts – Polymer Clay Keychain Charm

I must admit that even using pre-made jewelry components (the ear wire and the tiny beads at the bottom), the fiddly jump rings and eye loops ate up a lot of time. I also found that I didn’t have keychain rings with me, so I had to attach just the one jump ring.

Turns out my sis and I like the earrings too, so I made a couple more today. 🙂

Hope you have tons of creativity coming your way in the new year as well. Happy New Year!

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! 🙂 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? :)

Dragonfly focal piece

Inspired by the dragonfly art hole that I went down in Pinterest early this month 🙂 I made this polymer clay piece.

Dragonfly focal piece

For this piece, my focus was on trying out blending. And my, is it hard to get it done by hand or what! (I don’t have a clay conditioning machine yet.) I eventually stopped since my hands weren’t too happy with all the rolling, and I had enough of popping tiny air bubbles that would form during the fold-and-roll. I could have continued another day, but I really wanted to make a dragonfly 🙂 so I cut out four wings from one blended sheet. I’d blended blue and brown for the other sheet to use as sky + ground, but it wasn’t thick enough for a strong base. (This is still the brittle Sculpey III.) I decided to use a paper backing for it, and add a frame. The frame didn’t fold well at all over the paper, and I let it be because trying to remove it would either spoil the base sheet or reduce its size.

For the eyes, I rolled two little balls of equal size and positioned them side by side.

For the thicker part of the body, I used another ball rolled to a more oval shape. After positioning it below the eyes, I softly poked it with a sharp needle a few times to give it some texture.

For the thin part of the body, I used an extruder. I think I needed to condition the clay much, much more than I had, because I had to press super-hard to extrude it. I did get enough out for the body, though, so I just got the remaining clay out of the extruder. I made the end of the body a bit thicker by folding that end a bit and softening the fold.

After baking, the paper base did get a bit distorted, and the clay with it. I think the solution would be to partial-bake multiple times — once for the base, with something heavy on the base to force it to be flat, then arrange the dragonfly on the base and bake it again. I’ll have to try this way the next time I make something like this. (Or use foil instead of paper.)

I attached a hollow polymer clay cylinder to the back so a cord can be piped through. I’m not sure if I’ll use this piece as a pendant, but it’ll probably do for a focal piece on a tote bag or clutch. For that, I might have to add another pipe to the back so it can be secured better.

Sugar skull

While I was on a random Internet ‘walk’, looking up stuff I’m interested in, and occasionally stumbling upon other interesting stuff, I came across an art bead challenge on Art Elements. The challenge showcased sugar skull lampwork beads made by Jen Cameron from the Art Elements team, and select designers would use the beads in their pieces.

I wasn’t going to participate in the challenge since I have miles to go before I reach there, but the sugar skull beads caught my attention. Sugar skulls are made for Day of the Dead celebrations, and though I’ve never come across a sugar skull, I thought I could try my hand at making one with Polymer Clay. I’ve only been making discs and cylinders so far, and I wanted to try some mild sculpting. And while I’m at it, I wanted to practice some new Polymer Clay stuff, and sugar skulls have a lot of decorative components in them so it’d be the perfect opportunity to try a couple of new techniques.

I started on the skull in the middle of this month. I used various shades of pink since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. But I got sidetracked, and could only finish it today. 😦 Well, it’s still October today, and better late than never.

Polymer clay sugar skull

Polymer clay sugar skull

This skull is not a bead; it’s open and hollow on the back. And it involved a lot of sculpting — most of it ensuring that the skull’s shape is symmetrical. Also, as you can see, I’m pretty bad at using paints for drawing — I can only ‘draw’ dots well 😉 but hey, let’s not stray from how I fared at learning Polymer Clay stuff!

I made a rose to fix over one eye socket, and I can’t believe how easy it is to make one. Flatten clay bits for petals, and stick them one over another in layers until the flower is as big as you want it.

And then, I went through some appliqué videos, and made the flower petals around the other eye socket with tiny clay balls and a flat clay tool.

The piece fell down a couple of times (oops, butterfingers!) and petals got squished, and I used a razor blade and pushed up and reshaped as much of the squished bits as I could. It doesn’t look half bad even with all the touch-ups! 😉

What I couldn’t fix was some glitter that got stuck to the piece while I stored it in a ziploc. Obviously, that bag held something else earlier. The glitter doesn’t spoil the piece, though, so I just let it be.

When I decided I didn’t want to try out any more techniques on this piece, I poked a hole at the top to run a cord through, baked the piece, drew some decorative dots and curves, and applied a layer of mod podge for some shine.

Overall, I’m pretty chuffed with this piece! Other than the sculpting, a lot of the claying was making tiny components, and I’m pleasantly surprised with all the tiny parts I was able to create. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll sculpt more anytime soon though. There’s just too much shaping and going over the same surface a million times and wiping little dents and fingerprints. 😛 I’ll definitely work on the two techniques that I used for the flowers, though — I like those.

My mom suggested using this skull for a keychain… Ooh, now that would be cool — if I end up using the keychain, it’s going to be a complete departure from my paper bead bunch keychain! 🙂 I should probably close up the skull in that case. What do you think?

Update

I made the skull into a keychain without closing the back. Using the cord loop already on the skull as carrier cords, I made macramé square knots using a newly-cut length of cord. When the knotted length got closer to the top, I made half-hitch knots along the top loop so it becomes sturdier. And as easy as that, I have a keychain! (I replaced my paper bead bunch keychain with this one. 🙂 )

Sugar skull keychain

(My first) Stitch markers

Hopping through my favorite knitting blogs — and even on new ones that I’d discover — I’d come across occasional mentions of bead-based stitch markers, with pictures of the cute ornaments. Seeing that I love both yarn and beads, I don’t know why it took me so long to make some of my own. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re not removable? But I’ve even used rings made of scrap yarn for marking, so that’s not it. Well, whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter now because I made a few stitch markers!

Stitch markers

These are real simple ones that just involve stringing combinations of glass beads and seed beads through head pins, making an eye loop and adding a jump ring. That’s all a stitch marker needs, right? Here‘s one of them doing its thing with a shawl that I knit for my mom. I don’t know if I’ll make more anytime soon, but I saw quite a collection of markers in a blog post by Bethany (Orange Swan), and most of these markers don’t have a jump ring in them, so I’m gonna try my hand at least a few.

When I showed these to my sis, she was mildly disappointed that they weren’t earrings like she’d first thought, so I went ahead and made some earrings to match. Happy, Sis? 😀

Stitch marker earrings

Macramé owl

Macramé owl

There was this macramé ornament that I made, and I thought that I could hang it in my car, but it turned out to be a bit large for that. It’s also been a while since I made any jewelry stuff. So I decided to make another macramé owl that could turn out to better fit my car. I used the same little bit of scrap yarn that I used for that earlier owl, and almost the same beads — the green ones as earlier for the eyes, but a different, disc-shaped bead for the beak. I also followed mostly the same directions as I did earlier, deviating to cover up a couple of mistakes from simultaneous TV watching. 🙂 I probably should have stopped a row or two before I eventually did, because the owl looks slightly elongated… I still like it, though, and will see how it fits in my car. 🙂 I especially like that it looks kinda scatterbrained because of the yarn strands in the ‘horn’.