Kaleidoscopic Earrings

Sometimes, an idea strikes you, and regardless of whether you know how to execute it or not, it persists. That’s just what happened this month when a concept for a pair of earrings popped into my mind, which would work for not one but two challenges! I didn’t know if it would work out, but I did know I had to try. So these are the earrings I made using polymer clay, and they’re mostly true to how I envisioned them in my mind. That means happy times!

Kaleidoscopic Polymer Clay Earrings | Anita

This project also marks my attempting canes after a long hiatus from when I tested the caning waters. I used simple colors and simple patterns for the cane – nothing too ambitious until I get better at it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The cane turned out pretty usable, but there’s some distortion from the reduction, and I’ll need to figure out how to avoid that. The slicing also resulted in some distortion, and I learned later that I should let it cool well before I start slicing. (Lesson to remember for the future.)

As for the making of the beads – I tried out a different hollow bead concept since I knew I was going to use cane slices on the bead. I covered large, metallic beads in brown-black Premo clay – also ensuring that I poked holes in the clay to match the ones in the underlying beads. I baked the beads, and then sliced them into hemispheres so I could remove the metallic beads. I then used some liquid Sculpey to adhere the halves back together, also sticking the cane slices in a kaleidoscopic pattern along the join using more liquid clay. Another round of baking, and the beads were done!

Well not fully done, of course. I wanted to glaze them, and tried out some Vintaj Glaze for the first time. I loved it when I initially applied it, but after a day or two, I find that it’s a bit sticky, so I guess it’s not viable.

Anyway, continuing with the earrings – now I only had to add in other beads into the mix. I used beads and headpins to make simple embellishments revolving around the color scheme of the focal beads, put them all together, and voila! we have super-lightweight earrings.


With these earrings, I’m participating in these challenges –

  • Art Bead Scene Studio’s June monthly challenge, which features an oil painting, Les Ibis, by Jean Metzinger. Jean’s role in Cubism inspired me to go with the cane-based concept, and the colors and the nature theme definitely contributed.

ABS Challenge June 2018 Inspiration

  • Earrings Everyday’s We’re All Ears challenge, which features Kaleidoscopes as the inspiration for June. And who hasn’t been mesmerized by those? ๐Ÿ™‚ I used mirroring of cane slices for the pattern on the beads, inspired by those in kaleidoscopes. I’m also pretty excited since it’s my first time participating in this challenge! ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a blog hop, so do check out the entries from other participants by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.

    We're All Ears Challenge June InspirationPowered by Linky Tools
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More Mokume-Gane

Continuing with my trials and experiments, I thought of givingย mokume-gane another go, making sure I don’t accidentally use Sculpey III like last time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also thought I’d work in some foil with the clay.

I layered sheets of green and black Premo clay, interspersed with a couple of sheets of silver foil, and pressed down a grid stamp on them. This is one of the deeper-etching stamps we own, but I still didn’t find it deep enough to produce a viable ‘mokume look’ after a slice or two. However, trying to stamp more after slicing only results in the layers getting smooshed and thinned down more and more, so after a while, the effect is dominated by busy layers, and the pattern is barely visible. Well, this is definitely not what I want!

Hollow Pendant in Polymer Clay using Mokume-gane

I made a hollow pendant from the ‘more effect-showing’ slices, and a hollow cabochon from the slices that looked busier. I covered both pieces with translucent clay to aid in sanding and buffing. The pendant accidentally got flung during my sanding efforts, and its bail shattered, but no worries, I can use it as a cabochon now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hollow Cabochon in Polymer Clay using Mokume-gane

As you can see, there is a whole lot of plaquing — those pesky bubble-like entities — on both pieces, so much that it obscures the mokume-gane pattern. From my research of this plaquing effect, these are not air bubbles, and they mostly occur in translucent clay. (Or maybe they can just be seen better in the translucent clay…) And unfortunately, no one really knows what causes this. This unintentional effect is fine for the items that I made this time, but what about times when I don’t want the bubbly look? There are baking processes that people have suggested to reduce the plaquing effect — like increasing the temperature gradually — and yet, they’re apparently not foolproof. I have a feeling it’s got something to do with the age of the translucent clay, andย  sadly, only old clay stock is available in my country. ๐Ÿ˜›

Back to mokume-gane — I’d want to work more on the technique to get better at it, but each practice session results in many mokume gane veneers, and I don’t really think I can keep coming up with uses for them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Any ideas to help me out?

Textures and Molds

Now that I have new clay, I went through my paltry stash of textures and molds, and wondered if the items in it work for the techniques that I see in jewelry tutorials and courses. I’ll not be ordering internationally any time soon because of the recent tax restructuring we’ve had here, and it looks like my orders will become more expensive than they already are right now, and burn larger holes in my non-existent women’s jeans pockets. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The texture sheets with me are mostly the flowers-and-leaves variety — not really meant for jewelry. There are one or two patterned ones too, which I thought I could use. These are good for applying post-texture surface treatments like Perfect Pearls, but since they’re not that deep, they’re not really suited for much else. I used one of them for making earrings (picture below), and that was as deep a texture as I could get. I couldn’t do much else with it, so ended up adding a border and some Perfect Pearls. As for the other texture sheet, I’d used it to try out my first Sutton Slice recently, and it was hard, hard work — I’d wanted texture sheets with more depth even then. ๐Ÿ™‚

Earrings - texture tryout

Earrings – texture tryout

As for the molds, again, most are flowers and such, and a few gear ones that I can probably use for Steampunk jewelry. There were a couple of small ones that I used a while ago to make button beads, which I then used for some beaded jewelry. No larger ones that I could use, though. I finally used a vintage art decor mold to see if it’d work as a pendant, and made a hollow pendant (picture below.) Not too bad, but not too good either. Also, this too depends on the shiny stuff, because trying to use a patterned sheet etc. with this mold will distort the design. I reused a Perfect Pearls bedecked flower that I’d created from a mold for an earlier notebook cover project. This flower can make some nice tiny stud earrings, right?

Pendant - mold tryout

Pendant – mold tryout

Well, at least while I tried these experiments, I realized that I’ve now gotten pretty good with Skinner blends. ๐Ÿ˜€ I like the green-to-yellow gradient here. I’m also getting the hang of making hollow beads / pendants, so that’s good.

Later, my sister mentioned that the mold I used was one of her purchases, and then we ended up going through her card-making stash of stamps, which I’d somehow thought was only comprised of flowers and critters. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of the stamps might work for a few polymer clay techniques (hopefully.) There’s also some foils that we bought recently, so I’m looking forward to more experiments!

Image Transfers and Hollow Bead Weaving

I squeezed in my second PCA-inspired project for the month just before this very hectic month ended. And I’m thrilled to bits with it!

Beaded Pendant with Image-transferred Hollow PolyClay Bead

Beaded Pendant with Image-transferred Hollow PolyClay Bead

The course by Syndee Holt is all about image transfers, monoprinting, and coloring using alcohol pens. The image transfers were pretty frustrating in the beginning — they’d turn out patchy and indistinct. I spent quite some time and effort on repeated variations of my attempts, only to have to wipe away the transfer each time. Of course, there’d still be some residue, which would pollute my clay, tsk! Eventually, I ended up looking around for what others have done about it, and I finally, finally achieved a beautifully solid print. I just love it! (I want to go try one more right now, as I’m typing here. I can see the beginnings of an addiction forming! ๐Ÿ˜› )

I’m not buying alcohol pens right now, but I did try some monoprinting. Not very successful there. It could be that my local products are different, and the techniques demonstrated don’t work without modifications to work with these products.

Well, so I just had a image-transferred sheet of clay with me, and nothing to beautify it, so I carefully made my very first hollow bead from the sheet. Of course, I don’t have a cutter of this shape — it’s a composite shape that I made using two different cutters. I made the bead hollow by puffing out the cut shape, and slowly, carefully adhering it to a base. It’s a bit cumbersome, but it’s also more conducive to forming different shapes from a limited quantity of cutters and stencils. This particular bead’s a bit rough around the edges, but that was okay since I was going to do some nice bead weaving around it. ๐Ÿ™‚

The bead weaving is completely Peyote stitch. I used the uniform beads that I bought recently (sizes 8 and 15), and some limited stock of uniform beads (size 11) that I’ve been preserving for the time when I can actually work with them like this. I’m not sure what I’ll do when my size 11 beads run out; hopefully, my local stores will start carrying uniform size 11 beads too. <Fingers crossed>

So, think you wanna try any of the techniques I’ve mentioned?