Image Transfer: Coasters

I’ve not participated in challenges lately due to my creativity having become sluggish, but this month’s theme at Art Elements – Stars by Laney Mead, brought forth some tiny sparks in my right brain. 🙂 By the time I thought of joining, I’d already created some Diwali gel prints using the only stencil in our stash that has some star shapes in it, so I hoped other ideas would appear soon.

I considered various ideas involving beading, wire-weaving, faux soutache with polymer clay, and gel printing, but none clicked. Then, I came across some old printouts of star shaped patterns that I’d thought I’d use for image transfer jewelry using polymer clay. Since I was still woefully short of jewelry ideas, I settled on making a set of coasters instead.

Polymer Clay Coasters using Image Transfer

Don’t see too many stars? That’s because I ran out of prints…

 

The ‘sure’ idea

I wanted colorful bases for my coasters, and instead of spending time and the little energy I had on Skinner blends, I brushed a variety of chalks on plain, unbaked circular clay sheets. (Now that was fun. :)) I transferred the star pattern image onto a sheet of translucent clay, intending to adhere it face-down on a coaster base so I could bake the whole setup and then sand+buff the translucent surface. However, before I could place the translucent sheet on the circle, the sheet just tore apart. Argh, the horror!

Since I’d transferred images onto clay before, I’d been pretty sure that this would work, and now I didn’t have enough copies of the star prints left to form a ‘proper set’ of 4, so I opted to just use a different pattern for each coaster instead.

An alternative

The translucent clay just didn’t want to work with image transfers, so I started looking for alternatives. Liquid polymer clay can be used as a medium for the transfer – but surprisingly, it didn’t produce great results on my unbaked sample bases or baked ones. Then my sis suggested transparent matte gel, and it worked brilliantly! So I applied the gel on my baked coaster bases and stuck the paper on it pattern-side down, and waited for the gel to set completely. I then got the paper soaking wet and gently rubbed it away from the base, leaving the pattern behind.

Finally!

As usual, things just had to work a bit differently on the final pieces than on the samples. 🙂 The ‘gently’ part turned out to be difficult, and I rubbed away the pattern at a few places on two of the coasters. By the time I was on my second piece, I noticed that the pattern would appear pretty vibrant and clear while wet, even if traces of paper showed up everywhere while dry. So for my last two pieces, I decided to just leave all of that stubborn trace paper be, and waited for the pieces to dry fully. Then I poured some resin over the coasters, and voila! Vibrant, patterned coasters, just the way I want. They’re still curing as I write this post, so I haven’t tested them yet; I hope they work well and last a long time.


I was pretty sure I won’t have anything done for this challenge, and even though only one of the patterns has any resemblance to stars, I hope this little something is still better than nothing. Thank you, Laney, for the heavenly theme! I’m looking forward to seeing what the other guests and the Art Elements team have come up with; let’s go blog hopping!

Guests:  Jill Divya Alysen Kathy Tammy Cat Samantha Anita (you’re here) Karin Sarajo Rozantia Kimberly

AE Team: Jen Jenny Niky Laney Claire Cathy Marsha Caroline Susan Lesley

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Swirly Pendant | Art Elements Challenge

I’d thought I would have loads of inspired ideas for the Art Elements ‘Swirl’ theme, but I found myself continually revolving around only one concept – swirled polymer clay lentil beads. However, I couldn’t really think of anything much different from a couple of lentil bead buttons I’d made a long time ago, so it was a no-go. As the month drew to a close, I thought I just won’t participate this time. Then I decided to give mokume gane a try. As usual, it didn’t go so well, but I managed to salvage the project, and it turned into this –

Swirly pendant, polymer clay | Anita

Think this just about qualifies as a participant for the challenge! 😉

I used an embossing folder for the mokume gane texture, with a red clay sheet over a thicker yellow one, so that a patterned yellow shows up on the red when I slice away the raised areas. The slicing didn’t really work so well, so I impressed the same texture again onto the same clay. From this sheet, I cut out a square that would fit into a pendant frame that I own. I then applied red and gold Perfect Pearls on the raised surfaces of the square, and smoothed out its edges.

I filled up the pendant frame with scrap clay – I anyway had leftovers from the slicing and the cutting out of the square – and then set the square over it so it appears somewhat domed. A 20-minute bake completed the pendant.

So that’s my super-quick project for the Art Elements challenge. Today’s the reveal, and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what the other guests and the Art Elements team have created, and I hope you are as well!

Guests: Alison Anita (You are here) Cat Caroline Jill Kathy Karin Kimberly Mischelle Raven Sarajo Susan Tammy

AE Team: Cathy Caroline Claire Jen Jenny & Lesley Laney Marsha Susan

Helical Key Fob

This month’s Art Elements challenge has the theme of Seed Pods, and is hosted by Jen Cameron. When I signed up for the challenge, I didn’t really have any idea of what I would make, but soon after, I was reminded of seed pods from my school days. On our way to school and back, we would come across these helical seed pods strewn all around. I don’t see them anywhere these days, and I still don’t know what kind of trees they were from. I thought it would be awesome if I could represent them.

Research using the vague terms I could think of didn’t turn up anything useful, and anyway, I don’t think I even remember those seed pods that well, so I eventually ditched the research and focused on the artistic. That’s when the Cellini Spiral sprung to mind. I’ve admired the effortless gorgeousness of this stitch but had never worked on it myself. After trying and discarding a few color combinations, I ended up with a viable one – I just love these colors!

Helical Key Fob

The Cellini Spiral stitch itself is easy to learn because it’s essentially a tubular peyote stitch, but the constant color change requires some attention, so it’s probably not TV stitching. 🙂 Mistakes are really easy to undo, though.

Since none of my bead caps seemed to really suit this piece, I ended up using a 16-gauge wire for the finishing. I strung the wire through the length of the helix tube and formed the ends. (This wire was so hard to work with!) I also made a jump ring for some extra swing. Now that’s a key fob I totally adore!

So it looks like this project wasn’t about technique-oriented challenges for me, but it makes up for that with the happiness it brought. Thank you, Jen, for the chance to channel a tiny piece of the past into the present. 🙂


This is a blog hop, so please check out the insanely creative ideas from the other guests and the AE team!

Guests: Tammy Raven Alysen Anita (You are here) Cat Kimberly Rozantia Sarajo Divya Caroline Catherine Kathy Jill Norma
AE Team: Claire Caroline Lesley Niky Laney Susan Marsha Jenny Cathy Jen

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

Tide Pool Pendant | 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 May is Tide Pools, picked by Lesley.

I had zero creativity during most of the first half of the month since I hadn’t been feeling well. But I started feeling better, ideas started swirling around in my mind, and I was even able to experiment with yet another new material for this project. So here we have it, a tide pool pendant using polymer clay, resin and alcohol inks –

Tide Pool Pendant - PolyClay and Resin

I’ve never seen a real tide pool, but there’s no dearth of beautiful tide pool pictures online, so I picked the elements I’d want in my pendant, and sketched the layout.

The pendant frame is a store-bought one, and is about 3cm (1.25″) long, so I had to make the sea creatures pretty small in order to still have space for the water. I hand-sculpted all of the creatures with Premo polymer clay.

The starfish started out as a pliable ball, from which I tweaked out arms. I did most of the shaping using my fingers and larger ball stylus tools. For the texturing, I used smaller ball stylus tools and a toothbrush. I added some chalk-based colors to highlight the textures. I love how this has turned out, and it’s a small inspiration to try out more sculpting (which I feel is not really up my alley.)

The purplish round creature below the starfish was intended to be a sea anemone, but it was a bit too small for my amateur hands to handle, and in the end, I just made a flat circular clay surface, scored it for some texture, and quickly brushed some chalk-based colors over it to add to the texture.

The small, pink, bowl-like creatures are the tops of sea sponges. For these, I used two shades of pink clay, and rolled tiny balls from them. I then used a ball stylus tool to shape the tiny balls into tiny bowls.

I arranged all these creatures on the pendant frame, and baked the setup for 25min.

For the ‘water’, I used ICE Resin, with tiny amounts of blue and green alcohol inks added in for the color. This is my first time working with resin, and I love it! I added the inks after completely mixing the 2 resin parts, and mixed the resin again to help the ink assimilate. After carefully pouring and prodding the resin into various nooks and crannies of the pendant, I also brushed the creatures with some of it to keep them wet and slimy. 😉

The only problems I have with resin are the cleanup (I got some on my clothes 😛 ), and the leftover resin that will need to be discarded since it can’t be stored for later use. Here’s a bonus pendant that I made using the extra resin from the current project, some glitter and a mold – it’s got nothing to do with the challenge, though. 🙂

Resin and Glitter Pendant

I adore both pendants, and love the resin-boost that this project has given me. Thank you, Lesley, for this inspiring theme!


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!

Guests:    Raven       Kelly       Cat       Kathy       Tammy       Alyson       Elaine       Mischelle       Deborah       Anita (you are here)      Jill       Shirlee       Sarajo    •    Melissa

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

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

Art Elements Mar Theme – Nests

I’ve loved following the Component of the Month challenges from the folks at Art Elements, where team members would give away components every month to design with. I’ve seen some gorgeous stuff from the AE team as well as the guests. The only reason that kept me from participating is that historically, I’ve received most international packages of any perceived value after substantial delays (or they’ve gotten lost), so there was no guarantee that I could make something in time for these challenges.

Now, Art Elements has changed its design challenge format to monthly themes that encompass all art mediums, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it! The theme for this month is Nests.

Of course, I thought of a birds nest first, but I wanted to see if I could come up with something different, so it was relegated to Plan B. I went through my bead stash for inspiration, and I thought of a pearl nested inside a clamshell. I spent some time with the idea, but found I wasn’t going anywhere with it.

While I was ruminating, other options that could replace a clamshell were also flitting around my mind – and I settled on the idea of an organic-looking nest for the pearl using polymer clay. Now that could work as a pendant! By now, however, I only had a week to make the piece. (How do I always end up here? 😉 ) To my relief, I managed to find the time to work on it, and this is how it turned out –

Art Elements Challenge - Polymer Clay Pendant with Nested Pearl

The outermost layer, and the upper part of the inner layer, are quite iridescent, but we know that it’s difficult to capture that shine sometimes. 🙂

The nest layers: I conditioned my Fimo clay just enough for it to be pliable but still have jagged edges. From this, I cut two strips – one for the inner layer and one for the outer one. Along the jagged edge of the inner layer, I added some slices from a mokume gane slab that I’d worked on a while back. On the outer surface of the outer layer, I used a texture sheet repeatedly to make quite a few ridges. Then I smoothed out any remaining jaggedness from the edges.

I attached the layers onto a base, shaped them, and baked them. While baking, I used little paper balls to keep the layers from drooping out of shape. This bake was a short one, because I still had to make the back of the pendant.

The back: I first smeared liquid clay on the back. From a length of wire, I made eye loops on both ends for the bails, and placed it on the back, between the top and center. I covered the back with a mildly textured circular sheet of clay. More baking followed, for a standard bake period this time.

Surface treatments: I painted the outer layer with acrylics, and sanded away the paint from the raised surfaces for a distressed effect. I then added more surface treatment using waxes and mousse from Art Alchemy and Nuvo.

Finishing: I placed a large faux pearl bead within the inner nest layer. For now, I’ve strung a stray cord through the bails for the necklace, but I’ll replace it with something else better soon.

Phew, I’m still surprised, and jubilant, that I managed to finish this pendant! 🙂


If you’re curious to find out what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge, go have a peek at their blogs!

Guests:    Alysen    •    Anita (that’s me!)    •    Divya    •    Kathy    •    Kym    •    Mona    •    Rosantia    •    Sarajo    •    Tammy

AE team members:    Caroline    •    Cathy    •    Claire    •    Jenny    •    Laney    •    Leslie    •    Lindsay    •    Marsha    •    Niky