Sugar skull

While I was on a random Internet ‘walk’, looking up stuff I’m interested in, and occasionally stumbling upon other interesting stuff, I came across an art bead challenge on Art Elements. The challenge showcased sugar skull lampwork beads made by Jen Cameron from the Art Elements team, and select designers would use the beads in their pieces.

I wasn’t going to participate in the challenge since I have miles to go before I reach there, but the sugar skull beads caught my attention. Sugar skulls are made for Day of the Dead celebrations, and though I’ve never come across a sugar skull, I thought I could try my hand at making one with Polymer Clay. I’ve only been making discs and cylinders so far, and I wanted to try some mild sculpting. And while I’m at it, I wanted to practice some new Polymer Clay stuff, and sugar skulls have a lot of decorative components in them so it’d be the perfect opportunity to try a couple of new techniques.

I started on the skull in the middle of this month. I used various shades of pink since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. But I got sidetracked, and could only finish it today. 😦 Well, it’s still October today, and better late than never.

Polymer clay sugar skull

Polymer clay sugar skull

This skull is not a bead; it’s open and hollow on the back. And it involved a lot of sculpting — most of it ensuring that the skull’s shape is symmetrical. Also, as you can see, I’m pretty bad at using paints for drawing — I can only ‘draw’ dots well 😉 but hey, let’s not stray from how I fared at learning Polymer Clay stuff!

I made a rose to fix over one eye socket, and I can’t believe how easy it is to make one. Flatten clay bits for petals, and stick them one over another in layers until the flower is as big as you want it.

And then, I went through some appliqué videos, and made the flower petals around the other eye socket with tiny clay balls and a flat clay tool.

The piece fell down a couple of times (oops, butterfingers!) and petals got squished, and I used a razor blade and pushed up and reshaped as much of the squished bits as I could. It doesn’t look half bad even with all the touch-ups! 😉

What I couldn’t fix was some glitter that got stuck to the piece while I stored it in a ziploc. Obviously, that bag held something else earlier. The glitter doesn’t spoil the piece, though, so I just let it be.

When I decided I didn’t want to try out any more techniques on this piece, I poked a hole at the top to run a cord through, baked the piece, drew some decorative dots and curves, and applied a layer of mod podge for some shine.

Overall, I’m pretty chuffed with this piece! Other than the sculpting, a lot of the claying was making tiny components, and I’m pleasantly surprised with all the tiny parts I was able to create. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll sculpt more anytime soon though. There’s just too much shaping and going over the same surface a million times and wiping little dents and fingerprints. 😛 I’ll definitely work on the two techniques that I used for the flowers, though — I like those.

My mom suggested using this skull for a keychain… Ooh, now that would be cool — if I end up using the keychain, it’s going to be a complete departure from my paper bead bunch keychain! 🙂 I should probably close up the skull in that case. What do you think?

Update

I made the skull into a keychain without closing the back. Using the cord loop already on the skull as carrier cords, I made macramé square knots using a newly-cut length of cord. When the knotted length got closer to the top, I made half-hitch knots along the top loop so it becomes sturdier. And as easy as that, I have a keychain! (I replaced my paper bead bunch keychain with this one. 🙂 )

Sugar skull keychain

Hearts bracelet

I made this macramé bracelet using yarn left from my autumn leaf lace top project.

Hearts bracelet

Hearts bracelet

I started out with two cords folded in half, which I made into reverse lark’s head knots around a jump ring pair. I started making symmetrical double half hitch knots from center to sides — I crossed the central cords and used them as carriers to knot the remaining. (This cross-and-knot is what the bracelet rows are mainly made of.)

I added two more cords in the next two rows, while I slowly started to incline the carrier cords more and more, so the two sides eventually made an inverted heart-like ‘/\’.

I continued making outward-moving double half hitch knots. After a few rows, I threaded a metal bead through the two central cords. (I really need more small beads that can fit a macramé cord through them. It’s so difficult to find them where I live — either they’re only wide enough for thin wires, or they’re huge beads.) I knotted the same inverted heart around the bead, leaving the worker cords lax around the bead. Rinse and repeat — a fixed number of plain inverted heart rows, followed by one around a bead.

After a while, I had reached bracelet size, but I guess I had grossly miscalculated the length of cords required, and I had so much of it left. Not enough for another bracelet, though. So I decided to make this piece longer. I can wind the piece around itself, chain a different short piece to its ends, and turn it into a double-loop bracelet. Or I can just add a long-enough chain and turn it into a fancy necklace. There are just so many possibilities, aren’t there? 🙂

I finished the piece by imitating reverse lark’s head knots around another jump ring pair and securing the ends before I snipped them off.

Macramé owl

Macramé owl

There was this macramé ornament that I made, and I thought that I could hang it in my car, but it turned out to be a bit large for that. It’s also been a while since I made any jewelry stuff. So I decided to make another macramé owl that could turn out to better fit my car. I used the same little bit of scrap yarn that I used for that earlier owl, and almost the same beads — the green ones as earlier for the eyes, but a different, disc-shaped bead for the beak. I also followed mostly the same directions as I did earlier, deviating to cover up a couple of mistakes from simultaneous TV watching. 🙂 I probably should have stopped a row or two before I eventually did, because the owl looks slightly elongated… I still like it, though, and will see how it fits in my car. 🙂 I especially like that it looks kinda scatterbrained because of the yarn strands in the ‘horn’.

Macramé ornament

I was in the mood for macramé recently, and sat down to make something. I had all this remnant yarn lying around from my past knitting projects, and thought I would use a couple of them for this.

Macramé  ornament

I first made a wire-based yoke from my 18-gauge copper wire. Since I didn’t really have anything planned, I just cut about 50cm of yarn (I think it was that long… The more I wonder, the more I’m unsure) — 8 pieces of each color. I started with reverse lark’s head knots on the yoke. Then I just… went with the flow with double half hitch knots. The yoke made for oblique macramé lines, so I quickly straightened them out. When the lines got horizontal, I realized I want some beads in there, so out came some metallic beads. I really need to buy more beads with larger holes for macramé — the beads I have are either too big or are meant for smaller cords / wires.

Anyway, I started keeping cord pairs from the side free so I can thread in the beads eventually. When there were only only two cord pairs remaining in the center, I started incorporating the beads. I also began to re-add cord pairs from the sides into the knotting. My cords were getting used up now, so it was time to also think about the finishing, and I began leaving out cord pairs from the center as the knotting moved outwards. Here’s where I noticed that my tension has improved much, but there are still areas that I need to work on.

When all the knotting was done, I made a long fringe by folding the piece in half along the vertical axis and roughly hacking off the cords diagonally. I finally secured the carrier cord with some glue.

For an impromptu project, I feel it’s turned out quite well! 🙂

Macramé charm

A long time ago, when I was about to travel abroad, I made some simple tassel tags to attach to my bags. When I rediscovered macramé, though, simple tassels just wouldn’t do anymore, would they? I started being on the lookout for things to attach tag charms to so I can make said charms using macramé. 😀

Macrame Tag CharmThis is one such charm. I didn’t really have any shape in mind when I made it, I just double-half-hitch-knotted away. When it was done and I showed it to my sister, I thought it looked like a fish, and she thought it resembled a squid. 🙂

For this charm, I started out with one strand of color A attached at its center to a jump ring using a reverse lark’s head knot. Then I added a new strand of a different color — using the new strand as a horizontal anchor, I made double half-hitch knots from the already-attached strands. 4 more strands followed in a similar fashion, color A always alternating with random other colors. By now, the piece was sufficiently wide. (You may choose fewer or more strands as you prefer.)

I then began knotting double-hitch knots in a laterally symmetrical manner, that is, using the two center strands as anchors towards the edges, or using the two edge strands as anchors towards the center; all strands on each side make double half-hitch knots along their anchor. I first knotted towards the edges, then towards the center, and then on, always towards the edges. (I made sure the center strands were crossed every time, so there’s no long gaping hole along the middle.)

Eventually, when the piece got long enough, I began increasing the thickness of the anchor cord by adding a just-knotted strand to the existing anchor, which would together form the anchor for the next knot. This also had the effect of bringing all the strands together towards the center as a bunch, which I could then collectively bind tight in a series of square knots. I finally snipped the ‘tail’ or ‘tentacles’ (depending on which animal you think it looks like) to a compatible length.

I’d like the tag to be easily removable so I just knotted a longish double-strand around the jump ring (Remember I used it to start the piece?)

Ta da!

Macrame Tag Charm

Wavy macramé bracelet

I’m so excited to write about this wavy bracelet I made! Considering that I’m just beginning to peep outside my square-knots macramé world and have just started learning new knots, I’m very happy with how this one turned out.

Wavy macramé bracelet

Wavy macramé bracelet

Well, this isn’t my brain child, though. I followed this neat video tutorial by Macramé School. There are no audio instructions, but none are needed. The steps are pretty easy and intuitive, consisting only of double half hitch knots. After making the first couple of waves, I was watching movies while I merrily worked my way through the whole length! 😉

How I made it (or how I deviated from the instructions)

I used 4 strands of about 75″ (185-190 cm) of light brownish woolen yarn with some shiny fibers embedded. (This is stuff left over from a knitting project of mine.) I made lark’s head knots over a large yellow jump ring, such that 8 equal lengths of yarn were hanging down. That made one end of the bracelet. I then started following the instructions from the video to make the waves, using reddish-brown glass beads for embellishment. The glass beads would give some weight to the product.

When the bracelet was about 6.5″ (17cm) long — also, at which time a couple of my yarns almost ran out 😛 — I gathered the yarns and ran them through another jump ring. I made a tight knot and snipped off the extra yarn. To secure the end and keep the edges of the yarn from fraying, I applied glue over the edges.

The last piece of the bracelet was the hook clasp, which I made myself. I cut about 2.5″ (6cm) of hard 22 gauge yellow wire, and marked its center. Then, holding the center tight with my round nose pliers, I used my chain nose pliers to bend the wire. I then used my round nose pliers again to hold the double-wired ‘stalk’ of the piece at about 2/3rd of its length from the open end, and bent it using my chain nose pliers. That made the hook. I used my round nose pliers to curl up the free ends, facing away from the hook. Before closing the curls, I inserted the jump ring of my bracelet into them.

Wavy macramé bracelet There, that’s the bracelet, ready!

While I knotted, I could see that some yarns were getting used up faster than the others, and I swapped those with their neighbors from time to time. The swapping’s not very noticeable in the end product, though. I’m sure that when I practice and learn enough, I’ll know how to accommodate for that right in the beginning.

Wavy macramé bracelet Seeing that the knots are not half as bad as how I’d thought they’d turn out, I think I’m ready for some solid creative macramé projects of my own! 😀

Brown beaded macramé bracelet. With a button!

Macrame Bracelet

Macrame Bracelet

It’s been a long, long time since I used Macramé to make things, so I thought I’d make a beaded bracelet. I had some strong cotton yarn lying around from an old knitting project that I could use for my cords. As for beads to add, my stash had these round, brown wooden beads with splashes of green and blue, and they were perfect for this project.

The bracelet would be about 7″ long, so I cut a 16″ cord for the filler cord, and about 25″ for the working cord. Folding the filler cord, I strung 10 beads in it and knotted the ends of the cord together to prevent the beads from falling off. Securing the top part of the folded cord (where the ‘loop’ appears), I made simple alternating square knots using the working cord. I started knotting about 3/4″ from the filler cord’s top, made 4 square knots, pulled up one bead along the filler cord, and made the next square knot by wrapping the working cords along the side of the bead. Then 4 knots again and pull up another bead, and then again…

The bracelet was almost 7″ by the time the last bead was used, and I made 4 more square knots. I then borrowed a translucent violet button from my sister’s stash. I fastened this button by stringing both working cords through it and tying up the working cords and filler cords below the button. Finally, I snipped off the extra yarn from the cords.

Here’s how the bracelet looks on my hand (ta-da!) —

Macrame Bracelet