ABS Challenge – Feb – Star Lovers | Beads

The folks at Art Bead Scene Studio feature awesome artwork every month, and challenge their readers to create art beads, and art-bead-incorporating jewelry, inspired by the artwork. February’s inspiration is a piece, Star Lovers, by Warwick Goble.

ABS Challenge Feb 2018 -- inspiration

This month has been a bit hectic for me, which I feel is because the number of things to do remain the same but there are fewer days to do them in. So I decided to split this challenge into a bead submission first, and then a jewelry submission using the beads from the first submission.

I totally loved the flowing elements in this illustration — the birds, the lady’s dress, even the stars, all flow and swirl and float, adding to the dreamlike feel of the picture. Since Goble was an illustrator, my immediate thought was to draw something myself. On a good day, I can manage okay on paper, but on clay, not really. So I opted for the next best thing — image transfer. It counts as drawing if I transfer a digital image that I created, right? 😉 In order to make similar beads, I made my digital image have tiled patterns comprising of flowing, swirling little items.

ABS Challenge Feb 2018 -- Swirly Polymer Clay Beads using Image Transfer

I used blue and gray Sculpey Premo polymer clay to make the beads. For the image transfer, I cut out and used different sizes from the tiles in my printed-out image. I then brushed pink and orange chalk pigment on the beads for a salmon color. (It still looks mostly pink because the orange somehow wasn’t stronger than it was.) I also lightly added some yellow, which mostly manifests as green. I then adhered the beads to thicker bases. The center of the beads is empty, and it looked a bit like a ghost town compared to the busy surroundings, so inspired by the stars in the picture, I added some glitter there and spread it slightly.

Post-bake, I drilled holes in the beads, and secured the glitter by applying some liquid polymer clay over the beads and waving a heat gun over them until the clay set. And that’s our beads, all ready to be made into jewelry!


ABS Challenge – Jan – Spring

The folks at Art Bead Scene Studio have been featuring awesome artwork every month, and challenging their readers to create jewelry inspired by the artwork — the only rule being that at least one art bead is used. I’ve been a lurker so far, observing the artwork, and admiring the Perfect Pairing showcases where ABS features a jewelry piece.

This time, I’ve decided to participate. Sometimes, a good challenge is what’s needed to get those creative juices flowing, isn’t it?

ABS Challenge Jan 2018 -- inspiration

January’s inspiration is an Art Nouveau piece, Spring, by Frances MacDonald. The first thing I noticed was that it featured Ultraviolet, the Pantone color of 2018. Then, the graceful forms of the women, the symmetry — these caught my eye.

At first, I thought of making a set of earrings and pendant that would also work for an upcoming wedding that I’ll attend. But the more I tried to make it work, the more it didn’t. Finally, since we anyway decided to use some jewelry that we already own, I was free to just let creativity guide me.

ABS Challenge Jan 2018 -- Polymer Clay beads

I made a Skinner blend from polymer clay in violet and green, the Pantone colors of this year and last year. (A nod to Janus and duality and all that. 😉 ) I used it as the veneer for a long bead that reminded me of the elongated form of the women. I’d use this bead in a pendant. To add some interest to the bead, I stamped a pattern on it with silver Perfect Pearls. Since there was a bit too much scrap clay left, I stamped the same pattern on it too, and rolled two smaller beads from it paper-bead style. These would work for earrings.

After baking the beads, my plan of beading with the main bead didn’t really work, so I switched to wire. Symmetry in wire is hard for me, and I eventually ended up ditching the symmetry aspect; the beads are symmetrical enough! 😉 Instead, I opted to be inspired by the element of waviness in the picture, and set the wire in wavy, interlocking shapes all around the bead. For the smaller beads, I didn’t interlock the wire, just made it spiral around them. As accessories to the clay beads, I added potato beads, also encased in wire.

ABS Challenge Jan 2018 -- Wire-Encased Polymer Clay Jewelry

I must admit I had no idea this is how the pieces would turn out until I actually made them, and the results are a pleasant surprise. Thank you, ABS, for a super-creative month-end!

More Mokume-Gane

Continuing with my trials and experiments, I thought of giving mokume-gane another go, making sure I don’t accidentally use Sculpey III like last time. 🙂 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. 😉

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, and  sadly, only old clay stock is available in my country. 😛

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. 🙂 Any ideas to help me out?

New Year Gifts

Our group of friends got together for the New Year, and I thought I’d make some small gifts for them. I made them pretty much in the last minute since I wasn’t too well recently, but I’m glad everyone ended up getting something. I’d created a couple of extras just in case, and it was perfect for the couple of unexpected people that turned up. 🙂

Since I made these without much time to spare, I optimized by using the same clay from start to finish. I mixed Black Sculpey Premo, Glittery-Yellow Fimo Effect and Red/Brown Sculpey Soufflé to get the color I wanted. I used a mold for the main ‘shell’, and a color or three of Perfect Pearls to add some glorious shine to it (mostly obscuring the clay’s color 😉 but hey, shiny is the solution when you’re short on time. 😛 ) I poked some holes to add jump rings later.

New Year Gifts - Polymer Clay Earrings

New Year Gifts – Polymer Clay Earrings

For the keychain charms, I placed the shells on rectangular bases of the same clay, and added strips of clay for the borders. I scored the borders with an X-Acto blade for some texture. A quick dash of Perfect Pearls here and there, and a hole for a jump ring, and the items were ready to bake.

New Year Gifts - Polymer Clay Keychain Charm

New Year Gifts – Polymer Clay Keychain Charm

I must admit that even using pre-made jewelry components (the ear wire and the tiny beads at the bottom), the fiddly jump rings and eye loops ate up a lot of time. I also found that I didn’t have keychain rings with me, so I had to attach just the one jump ring.

Turns out my sis and I like the earrings too, so I made a couple more today. 🙂

Hope you have tons of creativity coming your way in the new year as well. Happy New Year!

DIY Buffing Wheel Results

I used the little slices from my earlier mokume gane attempt to make a veneer, and sat down for a session of testing my buffing wheel with pieces made from the veneer.

Attempt #1

I made a hollow earring pair. Then I buffed and I buffed and I buffed for what seemed like ages, and… there’s only the tiniest bit of sheen. What the…?! It’s supposed to buff up more quickly than that! I’ve even used the same tee shirt that I use for hand buffing, so the only change is the addition of the tool. Could it be the clay piece that’s the problem?

Buffing difference

So I hand-buffed the other earring, and there’s zero sheen on it. The only other time this happened to me was when I tried to buff a Sculpey III piece and discovered that it likes to stay matte regardless of how long you buff. Don’t tell me I used Sculpey III for the colors in my mokume gane! (I know for a fact that the white is Premo.)

Attempt #2

I do really want to use the mokume gane slices before they dry up and become difficult to use — I had old veneers tear on me on more than one occasion when I tried to work with them. So I sparingly added the mokume gane slices over more Premo white than earlier, and tried buffing again. This time, I made three similar cabs to use up the mokume gane sheet. These are not hollow, though — they have a Sculpey Original base. I baked, sanded and buffed them, and the sheen is much better on these!

Buffing - sheen with more Premo!


As for the hollow earrings from my first attempt, I applied a thin layer of Kato liquid clay and waved a heat gun over them for a quick sheen.

Hollow Mokume Gane Earrings

I also ended up making other (mostly stud) earrings from the remaining tiny mokume gane slices.

Miscellaneous Mokume Gane Earrings

I still have a thick sheet of the mokume gane block left, and I need to figure out soon how to use it up. In the worst case, I’ll make a Natasha bead from it.

What Next?

For my next buffing trial, I’ll make some ‘fully Premo’ pieces and try for a higher gloss, and I’m guessing the results would be better. 🙂 If they do turn out better, I’ll want to buy a lighter tool since the drill I’m using is pretty heavy to hold over extended periods of time, even when it’s partially supported on a table top.

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

Hmm, this was actually supposed to be a sea life vase, if I’d fully followed the PCA course taught by Marlene Brady. As I’ve come to discover, extensive sculpting is not really my favorite. And as I’ve known for the longest time, extensive repetition is not something that interests me either. Unfortunately, this project combines the two. I felt tired just watching all the repetitive sculpting that Marlene does 😛 and decided to make a really sparse version of her vase, just to help me learn about working with translucent clay on glass.

Instead of a large vase, I used a little jar. Of course, the jar is not tinted like Marlene’s is, so I added ‘artistic tinting’ using runny streams of acrylic paints on the inside of the jar. It looked good, and I can tell you I was tempted to call it a day with just that. 😀 However, I moved on to the sculpting.

I don’t own a sea life mold, and don’t plan to buy one in the near future either, so I dropped the turtles and fish from my version. However, the rest of it is the repetitive bit, so I changed my scenery to a fantasy one, with flower-like and weed-like objects floating here and there, so that I don’t have to make too many of them. 😉

Fantasy Scenery on Glass

I don’t own colored translucent clay either — I have some plain translucent clay, and it was still in its pack. I mixed small chunks of ‘regular’ Premo clay to color it. Good thing I’m of the ‘add-in-small-quantities’ type, because I learned that a tiny, tiny amount of colored clay is enough to tint the transparent one. (In my next coloring experiment, I’ll use tiny, tiny amounts of alcohol inks!)

So after a lot 😉 of sculpting, I baked the piece, and as you can see, it looks great with light streaming through it! The clay sticks well to the glass, too, although I’ve not tried destructive things like peeling or scratching it away…


Ever since I discovered that Sculpey III is brittle and not really suited for most of the polymer clay work I’m interested in, I’d thought of buying sampler packs of other clays. I finally ordered some of Premo!, Premo! Accents and Soufflé.

The package arrived, and I eagerly sat down to play with the clay. To my disappointment, I found that it was ancient stock, and I just couldn’t condition the clay at all. When my hands finally started aching from all the pressing and rolling (I haven’t bought a conditioning machine yet), I began looking for what other people do to make old clay ‘like new.’ Apparently, most people throw away the clay if it’s this bad. Well, I spent a lot of money on mine, and throwing it away isn’t an option. What else you got, The Internet? Some suggestions popped up about adding mineral oil or baby oil to the clay. Okay, I could do that.

It worked! Really well, in fact. I still don’t know how the oil-conditioned clay will behave over months (or years), but for now, it’s made me happy I decided to try out these new clays. I was apprehensive about the post-bake quality, but the finished products are sooo sturdy. I made two earrings and a buckle.

The earrings

To start with, I twirled two snakes of silver and black around each other, folded the new rope to and fro into a roughly rectangular shape and rolled it flat. I wanted to test making two sets of earrings, one thinner than the other.

Premo! experiment - Thick earrings

Premo! experiment – Thick earrings

For the thicker earrings, I used a rectangular cutter and cut out two pieces. I continued to roll the remaining clay into a thinner sheet, and then cut out a circle using another cutter. (I haven’t used this circle yet.) I used a larger circular cutter on the remaining clay, and then cut the resulting shape into two equal earring pieces.

Premo! experiment - Thin, curved earrings

Premo! experiment – Thin, curved earrings

There was still some clay left, and I rolled it up into a snake, and used it for lining the edges of all four pieces. I then poked holes in the pieces for inserting jump rings later.

While baking, I kept the thinner piece bent over some folded card, so its surface is curved.

Results: The thicker one is sturdy, and the thinner one is slightly rubbery when I try to bend it, but pretty sturdy too. It didn’t chip or break when I tested it. (Reminded me of the time my experimental Sculpey III piece snapped.) Of course, I didn’t try my hardest to break it — after all, what earring goes through such hardships? 😛

The buckle

Premo! experiment - Buckle

Premo! experiment – Buckle

I used a mold for the torus base. Then, I decided to mix things up, and cut out uneven strips from an old Sculpey III sheet of brown (from the dragonfly project.) I first laid out thicker strips on the base, and then I rolled thinner strips around it. Finally, I firmly attached a decent-sized solid cylinder, made from the same clay as the base, for the buckle’s support.

Result: This piece is born to be a buckle — look at how it’s holding a belt in place! ❤

So overall, I like Premo!, as long as I find newer stock. (Because conditioning old clay is not fun.)