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

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! 😀

Beaded bracelet

I’m back to using paper beads! I didn’t make new ones for this bracelet that I cobbled together, instead I reused some beads from a set that I’d made years ago. They’d been a part of some jewelry piece for a long time, but have been back in my stash for a while now.

Beaded bracelet

Beaded bracelet

I just love the shocking pink on the paper beads! It goes really well with the black and white. To make the rest of the bracelet look compatible, I used white, black / hematite and red seed beads.

To start with, I cut 4 lengths of about 20cm (8″) flexible copper wire. I crimped one end of the bunch, and strung seed beads through two of the wires. (Using all four wires for beading was overkill, but using just two wires made the structure not strong enough.) After around 1/5 of the wires was threaded, I added a paper bead, passing all four wires through it. More seed beads and paper beads followed. Finally, I crimped the other end of the wires and snipped off the extra. A small jump ring through both crimp tubes was enough to make the bracelet slide on and off my hand without requiring a clasp.

Beaded braceletNow I’m back to pondering about what I can do with the rest of the paper bead set…

Wavy pearl dangle earrings

Wavy pearl dangle earrings

Wavy pearl dangle earrings

It’s been quite a while since I bought a wire jig. (It’s very sad that they don’t seem to be available in Bangalore.) I hadn’t used it at all, so I decided it’s time for a practice project using the jig. With an idea that was completely different from how it turned out eventually, I arranged a few pegs on the jig in a zigzag shape. I bent my wire around the pegs, but even after a couple of tries with different pieces of wire, the results weren’t as I’d intended. The two pieces of wire looked similar to each other, though, so I thought I’d make a pair of earrings from them.

Wavy pearl earringsGoing through my stash, I came across a couple of large white pearl beads that had a pinkish sheen, and thought I’d add them to the end of the now-wavy wire. The ends weren’t so long that the pearl could be strung and an eye loop could be made while retaining the wavy shape, so I decided to just leave the end of the wire inside the bead. The wire is anyway hard enough to not lose its shape once strung, and the earrings aren’t going to be used very heavily or roughly, so I needn’t worry about them falling apart.

As for the wire jig, I’m going to keep practicing!

Long oval metal dangles

Long-oval metal dangles

Long-oval metal dangles

So I had a couple of long metal oval beads with me for a looong time now, which I’d wanted to turn into earrings. They would probably look good by themselves, but I wasn’t satisfied with just that, and decided to add some wire and beads to them.

Black wire was my preferred choice because of the contrast with the golden metal. I’d also planned to string some seed beads on the wire, and got to work testing how they look. After checking quite a few contrasting colors for seed beads and remaining unconvinced, I decided to go with the pink ones since they don’t stand out too much and overshadow the metal, but are still distinct from the golden and black colors around them.

Long-oval metal danglesOriginally, I’d wanted the wire to just run once diagonally across each oval, but found that it doesn’t really stay put, so I added the criss-crossing.

These earrings just look so different from my usual jewelry. Hurrah for experimenting!