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? :)

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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’.

Macramé ornament

I was in the mood for macramé recently, and sat down to make something. I had all this remnant yarn lying around from my past knitting projects, and thought I would use a couple of them for this.

Macramé  ornament

I first made a wire-based yoke from my 18-gauge copper wire. Since I didn’t really have anything planned, I just cut about 50cm of yarn (I think it was that long… The more I wonder, the more I’m unsure) — 8 pieces of each color. I started with reverse lark’s head knots on the yoke. Then I just… went with the flow with double half hitch knots. The yoke made for oblique macramé lines, so I quickly straightened them out. When the lines got horizontal, I realized I want some beads in there, so out came some metallic beads. I really need to buy more beads with larger holes for macramé — the beads I have are either too big or are meant for smaller cords / wires.

Anyway, I started keeping cord pairs from the side free so I can thread in the beads eventually. When there were only only two cord pairs remaining in the center, I started incorporating the beads. I also began to re-add cord pairs from the sides into the knotting. My cords were getting used up now, so it was time to also think about the finishing, and I began leaving out cord pairs from the center as the knotting moved outwards. Here’s where I noticed that my tension has improved much, but there are still areas that I need to work on.

When all the knotting was done, I made a long fringe by folding the piece in half along the vertical axis and roughly hacking off the cords diagonally. I finally secured the carrier cord with some glue.

For an impromptu project, I feel it’s turned out quite well! 🙂

Paper bead bunch keychain

Yay, paper beads are back in my jewelry-making!

Paper bead bunch keychainI spent some time recently making paper beads. I used some junk-mail paper for these. I didn’t really have any sizes in mind, I just wanted to make two sets of beads — one set smaller than the other.

I cut rectangles from the paper, 4 of the same dimensions, and 2 of smaller dimensions. I folded each rectangle diagonally and cut it along the diagonal, giving me 8 large and 4 small right-angled triangles. I rolled them up into simple tapered beads, applying glue at regular intervals to keep the rolls snug.

When the bead bases were made, I painted gradients of acrylic colors onto them. Mod podge followed when the paint dried. The beads were now ready!

I then strung these paper beads and various seed beads through head pins, making eye loops at the top of the headpins. These formed individual units of the bead-bunch.

Finally, for the trunk of the bunch that extends into a chain, I joined small jump rings. While I was adding each link, I also added the bead-bunch units, larger ones at the beginning / bottom. That went — open jump ring, insert it into the topmost jump ring of the chain-in-progress, insert bead-bunch unit #1 from one end of the open jump ring, insert bead-bunch unit #2 from the other end of the open jump ring, close jump ring, repeat.

I just love this keychain! It’s so fun-looking and so light! Needless to say, I’ve already swapped out the earlier chain in my car keys for this one. 🙂