Art Elements Mar Theme – Nests

I’ve loved following the Component of the Month challenges from the folks at Art Elements, where team members would give away components every month to design with. I’ve seen some gorgeous stuff from the AE team as well as the guests. The only reason that kept me from participating is that historically, I’ve received most international packages of any perceived value after substantial delays (or they’ve gotten lost), so there was no guarantee that I could make something in time for these challenges.

Now, Art Elements has changed its design challenge format to monthly themes that encompass all art mediums, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it! The theme for this month is Nests.

Of course, I thought of a birds nest first, but I wanted to see if I could come up with something different, so it was relegated to Plan B. I went through my bead stash for inspiration, and I thought of a pearl nested inside a clamshell. I spent some time with the idea, but found I wasn’t going anywhere with it.

While I was ruminating, other options that could replace a clamshell were also flitting around my mind – and I settled on the idea of an organic-looking nest for the pearl using polymer clay. Now that could work as a pendant! By now, however, I only had a week to make the piece. (How do I always end up here? 😉 ) To my relief, I managed to find the time to work on it, and this is how it turned out –

Art Elements Challenge - Polymer Clay Pendant with Nested Pearl

The outermost layer, and the upper part of the inner layer, are quite iridescent, but we know that it’s difficult to capture that shine sometimes. 🙂

The nest layers: I conditioned my Fimo clay just enough for it to be pliable but still have jagged edges. From this, I cut two strips – one for the inner layer and one for the outer one. Along the jagged edge of the inner layer, I added some slices from a mokume gane slab that I’d worked on a while back. On the outer surface of the outer layer, I used a texture sheet repeatedly to make quite a few ridges. Then I smoothed out any remaining jaggedness from the edges.

I attached the layers onto a base, shaped them, and baked them. While baking, I used little paper balls to keep the layers from drooping out of shape. This bake was a short one, because I still had to make the back of the pendant.

The back: I first smeared liquid clay on the back. From a length of wire, I made eye loops on both ends for the bails, and placed it on the back, between the top and center. I covered the back with a mildly textured circular sheet of clay. More baking followed, for a standard bake period this time.

Surface treatments: I painted the outer layer with acrylics, and sanded away the paint from the raised surfaces for a distressed effect. I then added more surface treatment using waxes and mousse from Art Alchemy and Nuvo.

Finishing: I placed a large faux pearl bead within the inner nest layer. For now, I’ve strung a stray cord through the bails for the necklace, but I’ll replace it with something else better soon.

Phew, I’m still surprised, and jubilant, that I managed to finish this pendant! 🙂

If you’re curious to find out what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge, go have a peek at their blogs!

Guests:    Alysen    •    Anita (that’s me!)    •    Divya    •    Kathy    •    Kym    •    Mona    •    Rosantia    •    Sarajo    •    Tammy

AE team members:    Caroline    •    Cathy    •    Claire    •    Jenny    •    Laney    •    Leslie    •    Lindsay    •    Marsha    •    Niky


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 macramé 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. 🙂

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! 🙂 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. 😛 )  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!

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?

Wire Weave Bangle

Time for a wire weaving project!

I made a wire-weave bangle last week, with a pearl bead duo forming the focal element.

Wire weave bangle

Wire weave bangle

Or it could be a wire-weave tiara, if you ask my favorite model, Penguin. 😉

Wire weave tiara?

For this bangle, I used three 16-gauge base wires and a 24-gauge weaving wire, both in a gold color. (Yup, I still use the thick wires that I ordered a long time ago.) I cut the base wires just a tiny bit longer than the intended circumference of the finished bracelet, because I wanted to add some small focal element in the end to actually finish it.

I kept my weaving wire uncut, since I’m still not good at estimating the length of wire I might need. I’d thought of measuring the wire as I unwind more and more of it, but somewhere along the way, I lost track. (This is what happens if you watch movies while working on projects! 🙂 )

I left a margin of about 2-3cm (1″) when I started to weave. The pattern is an uncomplicated one — loop twice around bottom two base wires, loop twice around top two, repeat. The weaving itself was fun, since I also had the aforementioned movie-watching to accompany it. When I reached the end, I left the same margin as the beginning. At each end, I curled the middle base wire into loops, and bent its companion wires around it. That was the difficult part — since these are 16-gauge wires, it’s pretty difficult to make minute adjustments with them, and it was impossible to not nick the wires.

I then gradually curved the entire strip into an open bangle. To close it, I strung two pearl beads onto a length of wire, added eye loops at both ends of the wire and attached it to the loops of the bracelet.

I’m pretty happy with this bangle. 🙂 My next bangle will have a new weave, of course, but I’ll also make at least one more of this one, maybe with a different color of weaving wire, since both my sis and my mom like it!

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.

Pearl dangle earrings

I’d made a pair of wavy pearl dangle earrings a while ago, but noticed I wasn’t wearing them much. So I decided to give them a quick makeover. I twisted the waves into rings (still squiggly ones though) around the pearls. Heh, I really didn’t want to waste that wire even if it was slightly dented from my earlier bad handling. 😛

Pearl dangle earrings

Surprisingly, this small change makes the earrings cuter and more appealing to me. I’ve already worn them twice!

Background: My valet tray. Embellishment: Fringe from my macramé ornament. Looks like my DIY items are wonderful props! 😀

Torus necklace

Remember the Torus pendant that I’d made a while ago? There are more of those metallic-silver tori in my stash — three, to be precise — and I’d really wanted to use them for something. Earrings were my persistent initial thought, but these tori are too big for earrings. I know my wrists are small for a bracelet with a torus focal piece, and I didn’t want to make another pendant. So I decided they would all go together in one necklace. Of course, they needed something else to add to the look, and what better company than some jumbo pearl beads from my stash! 🙂

Torus necklace

Torus necklace

I’d also recently bought some bead caps online, and they turned out larger than I expected. (This is a problem with Indian online retail — there aren’t enough details provided to trust that a purchase would work out well, and sometimes, the return processes turn out to be painful.) I decided to keep them just in case I bought large beads that would fit. For my jumbo pearl beads, these were the only bead caps suitable, albeit slightly oversized. So, well, I used them.

I cut wire lengths for the pearl beads, threaded each wire through a pearl between two bead caps, and made eye loops on both ends. I didn’t fully close the eye loops yet.

I then cut longish lengths of the wire (around 15cm). I wrapped two wires per torus, each one around roughly-opposite points on the torus. The wrapping itself is a simple one, with one end of the wire turned into an outward-facing eye loop, and the other end turned into a spiral that lies on the torus itself. I connected the pearl bead eye loops to the eye loops on the tori, and shut all eye loops.

To finish the necklace, I attached the ends of a silver-colored chain to the end pearl beads. This just might be a statement piece for me. 😛