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

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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

PolyClay Appliqué, and Beaded Bezels

The folks at Art Bead Scene Studio feature awesome artwork every month, and challenge their readers to create art beads, and art-bead-incorporating jewelry, inspired by the artwork. March’s inspiration is a piece, Red Water Lily of Southern India, by Marianne North.

ABS Challenge Mar 2018 - Inspiration

Now here’s a piece of art that captured me in more ways than one. A beautiful, colorful nature scene; set in Southern India from where I hail; painted by a respected female biologist and botanical artist. That’s just too much inspiration! 😉

I allowed a few days for my initial excitement to settle down, and chose the colors, the flowers, and the Indian-ness to work with. I decided to make a large Polymer Clay bead with flowers created using the appliqué technique, and depending on how it turned out, use it with some beadwork.

The flowers and dragonflies in the picture capture our attention, but it would be a dull scene without the reedy background. So I made my background have a texture akin to reeds, using a texture plate. I brushed some chalks and Perfect Pearls over it for accent.

ABS Challenge Mar 2018 - Polymer Clay Appliqué Pendant with Beaded Bezel

I then crafted some layered flowers using the appliqué technique. Wow, it’s been a while since I’d tried it, but I love how it turned out! It also becomes better with practice. Can you tell which my first flower is and which my last one is? 😉 I added some reddish Perfect Pearls to accentuate the flowers as well. As expected, it doesn’t show up much in the pictures I clicked. (I only managed to capture the background shine with some difficulty.)

I baked the bead, and felt it would look good as a small pendant with a beaded bezel around it. I made the bezel using right angle weave this time, rather than peyote stitch which I’d usually go for. I used 8/0 beads for the bezel. Of course, I had to fill in the gaps in the stitch with smaller (11/0) beads.

The bezel looked a little too ‘strict’ and un-fun, so I risked adding a branched fringe aligned with the flower bunch. I also added another outer layer of independent right angle weave stitches for a funner touch. 🙂 I love the traditional/modern vibe that it gives out. Keeping with the theme, instead of adding a traditional necklace, I opted for a metallic-silver bead sideways to double as the bail, and a matching chain. Love the result! ❤

How do you like my attempt? And how does the picture inspire your art?

Kumihimo’s Back!

I haven’t had an opportunity to test my buffing wheel further, but I did get some time to work on Kumihimo. I haven’t tried Kumihimo ever since I bought uniform Preciosa beads, so it was exciting to work on. And do uniform beads in bead-work make all the difference, or what! (Just look at my previous Kumihimo projects with non-uniform beads…)

I haven’t played with Kumihimo much to understand it and design my own patterns. And that’s something that I’m looking forward to doing, now that I have uniform beads in my stash! (I’m more a fan of Kumihimo beading than Kumihimo braids, but I was inspired by the patterns in Deidhre’s braids when I came across her blog.) So well, since I haven’t figured out Kumihimo yet, I made a bracelet based on the Elegant beaded kumihimo bracelet by Christina of CSLdesigns — she makes awesome pieces and teaches so well!

Kumihimo Bracelet

Kumihimo Bracelet

To fit the size of the larger beads I have, I used a smaller number of seed beads than Christina did. (I used a red-brown combination, not a single color.) I also went about it the way I do — top-right to bottom right, bottom-left to top-left, one quarter turn anticlockwise. And of course, I made the bead-stringing modifications that her video suggested for my Kumihimo method. Hmm, however, the bracelet doesn’t look anything like hers. And as usual, I like it regardless! 😉

In keeping with my recent focus on finishing my clay pieces well, I put in more effort than usual into finishing this bracelet too. When I finished the weaving, I burned the nylon cords together over a flame to seal the end. (It turned out neater than I expected, yay!) To cover the ends, I used our latest purchase of narrower bead caps since they suited the bracelet better. I also made tinier double eye loops instead of larger single ones, and connected them with a small, thick jump ring. It took a while to make the double loops, but it was worth it — I love the finishing.

I’ll look for (or make) a nice little charm to attach to the jump ring, but the bracelet works for me even otherwise. It slides on and off without having to undo or reattach anything, so that’s a huge plus when I’m in a hurry! 🙂

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

I came across this herringbone bracelet video by Jennifer Biedermann recently, and since I wanted to try out Herringbone stitch anyway, I just *had* to make this!

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

Twisted Herringbone Bud Bracelet

I don’t have 15/0 beads that would match any of the 11/0 beads that I thought were suitable for this project, so I scrapped the 15/0’s. Also, I decided to make the buds a bit organic, using the local ‘non-uniform’ beads available where I live. For the main body, I used Preciosa 11/0 metallic green beads. It says green on the label but they’re multi-hued, as the picture shows.

The flower buds in mine don’t line up, and I think that contributes to the organic nature of the buds. My only gripe here is that the twisty nature of the rounds obscures the ‘herringbone’ness of the stitch. 🙂 It’s a tiny little minor gripe, though, because I’m pretty happy with this project.

I’d thought of finishing the project with a button and loop clasp, but had postponed looking for a suitable button. (I think you know where this is going.) Well, I didn’t find any round one that would work. I could finish differently, but I really, really wanted to try out a button and loop one. And I wanted to try it right then. So I picked the best matching bead (though it’s a faceted cylindrical bead) and decided to just go with it. I do like how the finishing turned out, though I can’t help imagining how it’d look with a round bead. I’ll probably make a clay bead the next time I can’t find a matching bead, and toughen up and accept the delay in the creation of the bracelet. 😉

Do you prefer a particular kind of finishing for bracelets? Or does it depend on your project, or maybe your mood? 🙂

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

Chenille Bracelet with Beaded Bead

I used tubular Chenille stitch for this bracelet. (Sara Spoltore has a detailed video tutorial for this stitch.) The finished pattern in mine looks different from hers because of the bead types that I used — a small change in size or type makes for quite a change, doesn’t it? 🙂 The beads that I used here are Preciosa 11/0 gold seed beads, and Japanese 11/0 haematite seed beads. (Wish I knew what type of Japanese beads these are — I bought them before I was into beading, and it just says ‘Japanese 11/0’ on the label.)

I’d started this bracelet intending for it to be an open one, though I admit I hadn’t thought of the finishing. Then, I discovered that the rope was turning out stretchy and elastic, and I decided to make the bracelet a closed one. I’d like to think I’ve improved at joining two ends of a rope as seamlessly as I possibly can, and I’m pleased with the join in this project. (I just try to maintain the look of the pattern in the join too, as best as I can.) However, I did end up twisting the rope by 1 stitch while joining, so the pattern lines form not circles but a möebius! No harm done, though. 😉

Also, I now add at least two overhand knots when I weave in tails, so I can sleep peacefully knowing that the piece is secure. 🙂

Because of the design change from open to closed, the bracelet started to look kinda plain, and I thought I’d make a focal beaded bead around it. I’d just finished watching the Interlace Beaded Bead video by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry, so I used that here, using the same haematite 11/0’s from my bracelet, and some small pearl beads that seemed to fit the pattern. I finished the edges of the bead with the gold 11/0’s.

I love how this bracelet turned out, and I totally love slipping it on and off my wrist! 😀 How about you — do you change your design often after you start working on a project?

Beaded Earrings for a Set

I made companion earrings to wear with my beaded pendant — the image-transfer one. While I was looking up stitches to use, I ran into a tutorial by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry for exactly the design I had in mind! That’s the second time this month I’m running into ready-to-use recipes for stuff that I want to make. (The first one was for my latest knitting project.)

Beaded earrings using CRAW

Beaded earrings using CRAW

For these earrings, I used the size-8 green beads and smaller size-15 brown beads that I’d used for the pendant. I made 12 units of Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW) with the larger beads, and embellished them with the smaller beads — one small bead between two large ones on the inner curves of the cubes, and two small beads in a similar fashion on the outer curves.

CRAW was not difficult to understand at all — not all difficult. I mean, it’s way too easy to imagine constructing a cube — first a floor, then walls, then ceiling. The execution of the first unit, though, was a different matter. Invariably, while I pulled the thread through the beads, I would lose my grip on the tiny setup that I created thus far, and then, it would be extremely difficult to bring the orientation back to where I was, and figure out which bead to go into next. I would just turn and turn the connected beads in my hand, all the while scratching my head. I tried to use the stop bead as reference, but it didn’t work for me. I even tried Jill Wiseman’s ‘taco’ style of construction, but with similar confusions.

After a couple of failed starts, I solved the problem by threading my stop bead into position at the center of the reinforced first square. That helped provide a ‘proper’ reference point for me. It was smooth sailing from then on.

When I was done constructing the drops, I threaded a couple of faux pearl beads into head pins, and attached each pearl-duo to a piece. I made eye loops at the top, and added ear wires to complete the earrings.