Button beads for… beading!

Yippee! The beading gods have finally heard my prayers. My local stores now sell Preciosa seed beads, so I don’t have to order uniformly sized beads from overseas. <Dances a little jig.> So I now have beading needles, beading thread, aaaand… beads! I’m all set to practice some beading. Peyote stitch, get ready to be conquered!

Antiqued polymer clay flower / button beads

I made these button beads from polymer clay, thinking I’ll work some beading around them whenever I’m done learning a few beading stitches. I used a mold for these beads, and used acrylic paints for antiquing. The mold impressions are deep at the edges, and there’s a whole lot of paint there that I just couldn’t get rid of, but I’m not bothered much. After all, they’ll all be obscured by the beading. πŸ™‚

Hope against hope that I get to working more on these soon. I’m chugging along on a knitting project right now, though. I’m on the edging for one sleeve, and then I’ll only have one sleeve left so I’m pretty eager to finish that too. Hmm, I think I can aim for beading practice only next week.

Am I too greedy to hope that Miyuki seed beads become available locally too? πŸ™‚

Foray into clay

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about my jewelry making supplies, or lack thereof. I’ve mostly been interested in trying out wire jewelry so far, but I’ve not been able to find thicker-gauge soft wire — essential for cool jewelry πŸ˜‰ — where I live. The only other option is ordering from stores outside my country, and I’m not ready to undergo the hassle of international shipping every N months, and all that waiting for the package to clear Indian customs, with no way of tracking its whereabouts. πŸ™‚

So I decided to look for other types of jewelry-making that I could try out, and this time my choice would be based not only on my interest, but also on easy availability of essential supplies.

Enter Polymer Clay.

My sis already has a sample pack of 20 mostly-earthy-and-pastel colors with her that she’d bought from a domestic company, and she’d made an awesome bowl and some cool coasters with it a long time ago. I, being in my wire-jewelry world, hadn’t given much thought to polymer clay then. But when we talked about my supply issue, and she mentioned polymer clay, I was like “Why haven’t I looked at this yet?” Because I’d definitely seen some cool polymer clay stuff on Pinterest.

So I went through some basic polymer clay videos on YouTube, appropriated my sister’s polymer clay supply (muahaha!) and made these dangle earrings.

First polymer clay dangles

I rolled some gray clay into a sheet, and cut out two rectangles. I stamped some circles on the lower half of the rectangles. I then hand-rolled some white clay into a rope, and gently set the rope on the rectangles, above the stamped area. I poked a hole at the top of each rectangle to let a jump ring through later. I baked the pieces at the recommended temperature.

After the pieces came out of the oven, I applied some prussian blue acrylic paint on the stamped halves of the rectangles, and quickly wiped it off lightly so the paint still stays in the etched areas. Some paint remained on the unetched surface as well, but I do like that it turned out that way. I let the paint dry.

I then applied a couple of layers of Mod Podge to the pieces, inserted jump rings and added earring findings. Done!

Needless to say, I’m happy and excited about my foray into polymer clay, and I’m buying some tools when my basics get better. (Yes, tools do seem to be available in India. Hurrah for that!) I’m hoping it’ll be a rewarding hobby.

Valet tray

I’d been thinking of making a small tray that would hold not only my car keys, but also arbitrary jewelry items like the hair clips that I regularly use, or small accessories (like said clips, earrings, bracelets…) that I’d pick out for wearing the next day. So I recently made one using papier mΓ’chΓ©. Technically, this one’s a bowl and not a tray, but who cares, right? πŸ˜›

Valet tray / bowl I didn’t click pictures while I was making it 😦 so I’ll just verbally recount the important steps. I first selected a plastic bowl as the base to use in shaping the tray. I then prepared a flour-based glue. For the paper, I tore up newspapers randomly. Hand-torn is preferred (instead of clean-cut) because it helps the pieces form a more seamless surface.

Then came the construction of the tray — this took a while because the paper pieces need to be stuck in multiple layers, and every layer has to dry out before the next layer can be worked on. For the first layer, I spread some paper glue on the base surface and stuck a paper piece on it, brushing some glue on it. Then another piece followed by a coating of glue, then another piece and so on. When the layer was done, I set it outside for air-drying. Another layer followed, then another, until the structure was strong enough to independently hold its shape — that is, without the plastic bowl base — while I work on the next layer over it.

At this point, I removed the plastic bowl; it came off pretty easily after the first few nudges at its rim. More layers followed, both on the inner surface and the outer, until the tray was thick enough. I finally made the rim neater (but still kinda uneven — I liked how the uneven rim looked) by adding folded strips over it. That was the paper base done.

I then borrowed my sister’s gesso to prime the bowl for painting. After letting the gesso-coated tray dry, I painted it a rough, uneven gradient of yellow, orange and red acrylic colors. Finally went a couple of coatings of Mod Podge to give it a nice finish.

Valet tray / bowl I totally love this tray ❀ and it’s been in regular use for a while. I’m now looking for an excuse to make another that we can use! πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

Meshy envelope earrings

I love the colors on these earrings, and the texture. ❀ What gave them this texture, you ask? If you read the title of this post, you already know πŸ™‚ — a paper envelope lined on the inside with a loose thread mesh!

Meshy envelope earrings

Meshy envelope earrings

The envelope had arrived by post. I don’t really remember what was in it, but I remember feeling impatient while reading its contents because I wanted to use the envelope, highlighting its texture. πŸ˜€ And I’m not disappointed at all with the result.

How I made them

I cut an approximately 6cm x 9cm piece out of the envelope, placed it mesh-side up, and colored the surface yellow and maroon. You can also see lots of orange there that resulted from the blending of those two colors. Isn’t it beautiful?

A word of caution here — you might not want to use watercolors for this, just in case the threads get detached from the paper due to the water. Or if you do want to use watercolors, you could experiment on a small sample of the envelope first…

Anyway, after the surface was thoroughly dry, I cut out 3cm x 3cm squares out of it. I then rolled them up into cylinders, starting with one corner and rolling it in. Choosing to roll in a corner instead of an edge gives the cylinder a more interesting shape at the edges! πŸ˜‰

Meshy envelope earrings - closeupOf course, I applied a very small amount of glue at the outermost corner to make the structure hold. After the glue dried, I applied a whole lot of varnish, layer after layer after layer, waiting between applications to let the latest layer dry. I did this until the threads from the meshes appeared softer.

I then made them into earrings by threading wires into the cylinders, making large eye loops at both ends. I added the cylinders to earring findings, 3 per earring. To make them hang more freely, I also added jump rings to 2 cylinders (per earring) before attaching them to the findings.

What do you think of these?