Soutache Earrings

A PCA-inspired project that I truly loved researching and working on — Polymer Clay Soutache earrings!

Before I registered for PCA, I had no idea what soutache is. I might actually have pinned soutache jewelry onto my macramΓ© board, for all I know. But after some wandering around the Internet with a purpose, I ended up loving soutache! I think it creates beautiful and elegant pieces. Maybe at some point in my life, I’ll create jewelry using actual soutache. But until then, there’s Jana Murinova’s course on PCA for imitating the technique using polymer clay. πŸ™‚

Imitation Soutache Earrings with Polymer Clay

Imitation Soutache Earrings with Polymer Clay

I chose a color palette that I normally don’t choose, because they were in my old clay stash. I’ve been trying to finish off this stash so I can use more of the new clay that I bought recently. However, the hard-to-condition clay wasn’t really suited for this project — it kept breaking while I worked with it, and I had to attach it again so the breaks aren’t visible, and try to continue where I left off. I did manage to make both earrings resemble each other and look good, but all my eyes can notice are the numerous points where the clay is smooshed due to reattaching. In hindsight, I could’ve just abandoned this after a point, and started with some new clay, but obviously, I didn’t. Anyway, with some good, ‘conditionable’ clay, I’m pretty sure the pieces would end up neater and just gorgeous!

I used faux half pearl beads (those flat-backed, hemispherical ones) as focal pieces and embellishments for my earrings, and would you know, the bubblegum colorway of the clay started to look more elegant! πŸ™‚ Also, the seed beads, I feel, certainly add to the daintiness. When I started the bake, I just never gave a thought to whether the pearl beads might be affected, and surely enough, they were. They’d melted slightly, but more importantly, their sheeny finish was no more — it’s like they’d aged 15 years. I ended up painting these beads with some metallic pearl white acrylic, because they wouldn’t come off the earrings with gentle pries. (So now I know I’m good at setting components in clay. πŸ˜› )Β  In the future, I really must remember to take them off before baking, and reattach them later with some E6000.

Well, that’s that, and I can’t wait to wear these!

Do you like the look of soutache jewelry? If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of this technique till now, go ahead and look up some pictures — you might end up loving it!

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Shadowbox Shrine

Oops, I almost forgot to make something from my PCA course this month. And when I did start work on a project, I accidentally cracked my version #1 when it came out of the oven. I could almost feel this month pass by without a PCA project, but I managed to make a version #2. And I’m delighted with it!

Shadowbox Shrine

Shadowbox Shrine

This mixed media project by Darlene Madden is a shadowbox shrine, and I think it really highlights textures and layers. Darlene uses various media in her project, whereas I used mostly chalks and Perfect Pearls. None of the pictures I clicked do any justice to the splendid shine that comes from the Perfect Pearls. 😦

I sculpted the key by hand, and for its wings, I used a template to cut out a heart shape, cut it vertically into two halves, and cut slits in them to form the ‘feathers’. I die-cut the lace ornament on top-left from paper, and applied metallic paints over it. I like the bling and weirdness it adds to an otherwise serious piece! πŸ™‚

I also love the mystery that the shadow adds to the object in the center — it would be rather boring otherwise. I think I like shadowboxes. How about you — are you a fan of them?

Opposite Earrings

Another PCA-inspired project this time — an earring pair with the stripes in one running in a direction opposite to the other.

Opposite embellished earrings

The course that inspired me is Embellished veneer cabochons by Debbie Crothers. Debbie teaches how to make cabochons by applying multiple veneers, created using various techniques, onto a surface. A key component in her veneers — silkscreens — is still elusive in my local market, so I decided to work without silkscreens. I made some new veneers, and also reused leftover ones from other projects. I also made some stud earrings to attach the dangles to. I love the studs too. πŸ™‚

I finally used some techniques that I’d been wanting to for a while —

I applied gold foil onto my clay. I rubbed the foil backing with my fingers, and the transfer was decent. Maybe it’ll be better with some quick waves of a heat gun? I’ll need to try that out sometime.

I also used liquid clay on the surface for some glossy shine! I have to consciously stop myself from abusing this technique. πŸ™‚

I had some plans to fill up the zigzagging line in the middle, but in the end, I decided to scrap them. I’m pretty happy with this pair.

Another Notebook Cover

Whoo! My first ‘combination’ project from the PCA courses — another notebook cover, which isn’t remotely similar to the first one I made.

Notebook cover, from multiple PCA courses

I used Sculpey Terracotta clay for the cover’s base, Sculpey III and Fimo Effects for the components, and a whole lot of TLS to bind things together. I’ve used learnings from all these courses —

  • Notebook cover fundamentals from Anke Humpert’s course — the most difficult part here was getting a uniform base layer, since the layer’s bigger than my pasta machine. πŸ™‚
  • Inlay pattern from Suzanne Ivester’s course — this was the one that took the longest time. Also, the non-uniform depth of the stamping at the very edges — I need to figure out a way to handle this. I tried using a paper layer between the clay and the stamp’s edges to prevent it from pressing too much into the clay, but that didn’t help much at all.
  • Succulents from Cindi McGee’s course — I wish I had chalk pastels for subtle shading. I tried paints and it didn’t look so great. Perfect Pearls it is, then!
  • Flower shaping and mosaics from Christi Friesen’s course — I used Perfect Pearls for the shine. I have other ideas for gold leaves / foils, and hopefully they’ll turn out good.
  • Stripey borders from Lisa Pavelka’s course — Of course, the Terracotta clay turned out to be too smooshy to retain the uniformity of layers while cutting, but that does contribute to the organic look, I think?

I’d originally thought of only 2, or 3, projects to combine, but as I kept working on this one, I just kept adding stuff. Good thing I stopped eventually, huh? πŸ™‚

I hope this cover lasts, and doesn’t get damaged while handling. I’ve kept even the raised elements close to the ground, so to speak, so there’s less danger of them getting chipped, but one isn’t usually very careful when using a notebook, right?

Totem-Inspired Beads

PCA: Totem beads jewelry

PCA: Totem beads jewelry

My version of Mihaela’s course from PCA. As usual, I used materials locally available to me to make these totem beads, so they don’t quite look like hers. πŸ™‚ Mihaela uses quite a few surface treatments to make her colorful beads, whereas I used one treatment – the Perfect Pearls treatment. πŸ˜€

One technique that I have watched in tutorials a few times, and have now finally tried, is the Sutton Slice, and I used it for the patterns on the black bead. I found it wasn’t very easy to slice the clay off cleanly, and had to try quite a few times to get a good enough coverage on the texture sheet that I used. Not too bad for a first attempt, though, and I do like the technique enough that I want to perfect it eventually. I’ll need to try it with even deeper texture sheets next time, and see if that’ll make a difference for the slicing. I think I’ll also need to try out Mokume Gane, just to see if I do better with the slicing there. πŸ™‚

All in good time, though. I’m slowly running out of clay in my stash, but I don’t see fresh stock showing up in any of the stores I usually shop at. I obviously don’t want to buy old clay, since I’ve faced enough hardships with that, so this calls for clay rationing. I think for my future PCA projects, I might combine techniques from more than one course into a single project…

Jewelry Box

Since I barely managed to finish my quota of last month’s PCA courses, I decided to start early this time. πŸ˜€

Jewelry box - after

Jewelry box

Jewelry box - before

Jewelry box (before)
Image used from the online store’s website since I forgot to click a picture before I started. πŸ˜€

Teresa’s course is about beautifying a wooden jewelry box using painting, silkscreening, decoupage and resin. Amongst all PCA projects I’ve worked on so far, the lack of materials where I live is most evident in this one.

For the painting — the acrylics that are available here are kinda tacky, and they dry quickly to a rubbery texture; I find they’re unsuitable for a large variety of ‘advanced’ projects that interest my sis or me. Silkscreens are not available locally at all, and as for the resin, I was going to buy it only if I could come up with a layer that’s worth the gloss. So I set to work on the project with whatever I could use. (I was actually surprised I could find a jewelry box to work on. πŸ™‚ )

I had to first flip the lid of the box inside out, since it originally had a flat outside and an inset on the inside. However, the reverse is what works for this project.

I managed to paint the box fine — a red-brown base layer, and then some white and brown lightly distressed texture over it. I toyed around with the idea of an image transfer onto the surfaces. (Looks like my latest project is still on my mind! πŸ™‚ ) But I’m still not sure that the transfer will turn out 100% alright. If it turns out patchy, that’ll be the end of this box, since I won’t be able to cleanly wipe the ink away. Instead, I tried using a texture stamp to imprint some nice patterns on the box, but it turned out pretty bad. In the end, I just used the texture stamp on a sheet of clay, and lightly ‘antiqued’ it with white paint post-bake. I also added a clay border to the inset since the textured sheet didn’t really warrant using resin. I finished with a thin layer of Mod podge instead.

My project is nowhere like Teresa’s, but I still like it since it turned out perfect to store our antique jewelry. πŸ™‚ My sis wants to decorate it even more, and I can’t wait to see how she’ll enhance it!

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! πŸ˜› )

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. πŸ™‚

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?