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

Simple/Elaborate | ABS Challenge

The folks at Art Bead Scene Studio have extended their July challenge into August, and as a result, there’s no August picture. However, a while ago, they’d published their intended set of pictures for the whole year. Since I’m already done with July, I thought I’d try my hand at August from that earlier set, though I have no idea of the painting’s history. (That would have been an interesting read.)

ABS Challenge Aug 2018 Inspiration

August’s picture is of a woman bedecked with jewelry. What caught my eye was how each component in the adornments was pretty simple, but all put together, the effect is that of showy elaborateness. Now that’s a good idea to work on!

I didn’t want to go too simple, though, so for my beads, I thought of trying out a polymer clay technique that’s still a bit of a challenge to me – the Sutton Slice. The basic premise is to (a) press well-conditioned clay onto a texture sheet, (b) slice away all the clay that is not in the recesses of the sheet so you’re left with a clay pattern in the recesses, (c) press a clay sheet of a different color onto this clay so that the clay pattern sticks to this sheet, (d) admire your textured pattern. The process went much better this time – at least the slicing did – which I’m incredibly happy about. It did take me a while, though.

Simple/Elaborate earrings | Anita

I flattened the texture just a little bit, and made barrel beads with this sheet. The pattern cracked (as expected) while I curved the sheet to form the beads, and that gives a weathered effect.

After baking the beads, I applied a couple of layers of Vintaj Glaze onto them. When I’d experimented with this glaze last time, it’d turned a bit tacky, but that didn’t seem to be the case this time. Maybe it’s because I applied thinner layers now and waited a longer time between layers? More experiments are needed for this one.

For the earrings, I’d thought of using a couple of glass beads that I own, but they didn’t fit the clay beads. After a lot of trial and error, I zeroed in on some metal components, including wire. Just some tweaks to the components – bead caps facing outward vs. inward makes a lot of difference, and so does the addition of a basic spiral of wire – did justice to my idea of simple contributing to elaborate.

That’s it! How do you like the earrings?

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

Inspired by Iced Tea | We’re All Ears Challenge

The folks at Earrings Everyday host a themed monthly challenge – We’re All Ears – with a reveal and blog hop on the third Friday of the month. For July, we get to be inspired by our favorite summer drink! Doesn’t that sound like fun! 🙂

It’s pretty difficult to think of a summer drink when it’s rainy and chilly here in Bangalore 😉 but while I sipped hot tea one cold afternoon, its sister, the iced tea, came to mind. What’s not to like about a refreshing drink that readily accepts different flavors being blended in, and still maintains its inherent ‘tea-ness’ underneath!

I thought I could use the dregs from my tea for a pair of paper-based earrings… (Let the creativity flow!) And this was the result –

Iced Tea Paper Earrings | Anita

The pattern

I spread the dregs on a piece of paper, then quickly removed them. I then reduced the amount of dregs, then re-spread them again on the paper for a longer while, and removed them again. I repeated the reduce + re-spread + remove process a couple more times to get a pattern of smaller, darker brown specks over larger, lighter brown ones.

The beads

I cut out long right angled triangle paper strips, and made conical paper beads by rolling the strips around a thin piece of wire, using glue on the paper during the rolling to ensure the beads don’t unravel. These form the bead bases.

I then cut a couple of squarish shapes from the tea-patterned paper, ensuring that they are slightly larger than the length of the paper beads. I draped each square over a paper bead, retaining the same conical shape – but looser, like a slightly oversized dress – and made them stay put that way using glue.

I used a couple of layers of Mod Podge for some gloss, which I then reduced by lightly rubbing the beads with some fine sandpaper. Then I squished the base of these tea-patterned cones a bit, and twisted them. Ah now that’s a look I like!

The assembly

For each earring, I strung a dark brown bead through a long gold-colored head pin, then added the paper bead, and made an eye hole at the top, to which I attached an earring finding. For more interest, I added tiny pre-wired black loreal seed beads to a jump ring and attached it to the earring finding.

Yeah! I totally love this earring pair – simple, light and pretty. 🙂


This is a blog hop, so please check out what the other participants have made by heading over to the reveal at Earrings Everyday.

Inspired Art Deco Earrings

The folks at Art Bead Scene Studio feature beautiful artwork every month, and invite their readers to create art beads, and art-bead-incorporating jewelry, inspired by this artwork. July’s inspiration is Art forms in Nature, Plate 85, Ascidiae, by Ernst Haeckel.
ABS Challenge July 2018 Inspiration

Haeckel’s work was interesting indeed, and what blew me away was his incredibly stylized representations of animals – instant inspiration, indeed! Some stamps from my stash quickly came to mind, and in the end, I picked a filigree motif stamp to create art deco style earrings.

Sea-Inspired Art Deco Earrings | Anita

I mixed blue-green polymer clay since the beautiful sea creatures in the picture were inspiring as well. The beads themselves are simple stamped beads, with chalks and Perfect Pearls added in on some areas to accentuate the motif. I baked the beads on a curved surface to dome them slightly. During the bake, one of the beads chipped – I have no idea how – and later, I had to stick it back on using TLS and rebake the beads. All’s well in the end, though.

I debated about adding some gloss, or even a subtle shine, to the beads, but nothing really felt right, so finally, I just left them as is. The rest of the process involved incorporating some glass beads on wire to turn the clay beads into earrings.

So that’s my quick, inspired earring pair!

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