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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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

Dragon Pendant

Another challenge that inspired me to try out something new!

The team at Art Elements launches a themed challenge every month. I’d thoroughly enjoyed working on a sugar skull keychain inspired by their October theme. This month, it’s a winter themed challenge, and Niky from Art Elements came up with a dragon-inspired theme! And who can resist dragons? 🙂 So I tried my hand at a dragon pendant, and then decided to officially participate in the challenge as well. I’ve been inspired indeed! 😀

Polymer Clay Dragon Pendant

Polymer Clay Dragon Pendant

Thanks to Niky for coming up with this theme. I wouldn’t have tried something like this otherwise. I loved making the pendant — from inspiration to design to execution! Someday, when my claying skills improve, I’ll make some different dragon jewelry that does justice to the sheer awesomeness of this magnificent creature. Until then, this will do. 🙂

I originally had a design in mind for a dragon curled around a large bead, but sculpting a dragon was not something that I was looking forward to, especially so soon after sculpting the sugar skull. I have a mold with some paisley vine-like shapes, and I thought one of them could work as the dragon’s body. I changed my design to suit this dragon shape, molded the clay, and made the tail pointier.

Though I’d thought of adding scales similar to the appliqué flower petals I made for my sugar skull, I didn’t think I’d be able to work much on the dragon’s curly body. So I poked dots on its back instead, and made some ridges on its belly.

I set the dragon on a big flat wooden bead, with a large white glass bead behind the dragon. The setup still looked a bit empty, and I cut off thin strips from a gold-and-brown sheet I’d made, and arranged them behind the dragon.

I covered the back with a layer of dark polymer clay, and bent two wires to form loops that I attached to the back. I then wrapped a strip of brown clay along the circumference, marked ridges on it, and added more of the gold-and-brown strips over it at the top.

I kept the piece aside for a few days — just in case I finished more projects, I could bake them all together. I took it out this week to fiddle a tiny bit with it, the behind-the-dragon strips broke off partially! 😦 I didn’t have the patience to remove all of that area, and risk damaging the dragon as well, so I added a few more strips to the broken area. The new strips didn’t work well with the old ones, and no gentle prods could make them do so. I finally poked dots in them to force them to stay. To keep things consistent, I carefully poked dots in the other similar areas too. It’s not as good as the original, but it’s not bad either… Liquid Polymer Clay would probably have helped here, and it’s now gone up a slot in my to-buy list.

Finally, I made two tiny horns and a tiny eye, and attached them both to the dragon’s head. I wondered if I should try to add anything else (wings), but I couldn’t risk the dragon’s body crumbling like the background did, so I went ahead and baked the piece before anything else could break off. It came out of the oven well. Phew! 🙂


Here’s all the beautiful dragon-inspired jewelry that everyone has made —

Guests

Kathy Lindemer
Kelly Rodgers
Shai Williams
Tammy Adams
… And of course, there’s me! 🙂

AJE Team

Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Diana
Jen
Jenny
Laney
Niky
Susan