Stitch Marker Case | Art Elements Challenge

The team at Art Elements hosts themed monthly challenges, which involve a reveal and blog hop at the end of the month. The theme for June is Sunflowers, picked by Sue.

I read the theme announcement, and recalled this small, cubic container that I’ve appropriated for storing my stitch markers. I’ve always wanted to decorate it using polymer clay – nothing elaborate, just a background layer and a button each in the middle of its visible faces. I imagined sunflowers as the buttons, and decided to go ahead. For a project that I wanted to make for so long, I ran into quite a lot of unexpected turns, and the results were not what I expected. I’m still wondering if I can make some modifications, so this project is still a WIP.

Polymer Clay Stitch Marker Case

Possible next step: mute the background a bit so it doesn’t overwhelm the sunflower buttons

I started out with the background, deciding to play with alcohol inks again. I drizzled some inks on a long strip of white Premo! clay (this goes around the body of the case), and spritzed it with alcohol, both when wet, and after a while when it dried up a bit. The pattern didn’t quite turn out like I expected it would, but I decided to use the strip. I followed the same process with a square sheet of clay for the lid.

For the sunflowers, I wanted to use different yellow clays from my stash. I used a mold to make flowers with each of the yellows, vertically sliced each flower into 5 roughly equally-wide pieces, then swapped pieces between different flowers. Now each flower has stripes of slightly varying yellows, and I like this look. (The flowers look a bit wan now on the bright background. In hindsight, I should’ve lightened the background – maybe by covering it with a layer of white-tinted-translucent clay? But well…)

Meanwhile, I realized too late that the case is not all metal like I’d somehow always thought it was. (Weird how we sometimes don’t notice things right in front of us.) Only the lid is metal, and the rest of the body is plastic – unbakeable, sigh. Should I try a different material? I didn’t really want to. I remembered reading about some polymer clay artists getting around this problem, making their plastic container bases withstand the baking by filling them up with water to the brim. (I should’ve tested this out before I covered it with clay, but well… :))

* I finally found the water tip, demonstrated (with pictures) by Garie Sim.

I put things together, covering the case with the background sheets, and adhering the flowers using a bit of liquid clay. The flowers still fell down or slid down a bit though, so I used a heat gun to bake them slightly and keep them in place. I burned one of the flowers in the process, but then thought “why not?” and burned the rest in a controlled manner. I’d originally thought of antiquing to highlight the texture of the flowers, but this works too!

Then came the baking, with the case filled to the brim with water. I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious and uncertain since my first ever polyclay bake. I’m happy to report that the water-filling tip was a great one! The case is completely undamaged, and the clay still fits the case well.

All things considered, I’m amazed that this project was at least this successful – there were way too many go-with-the-flow moments with this one – and as always, I definitely learned something new. Thank you, Sue, for the inspiration that finally got me working on this long overdue item from my list! I hope I finish it to my satisfaction soon.


Since this is a blog hop, I hope you check out what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge!
Guests: AlysenAnita (you are here) • CatDivyaJillKathyLindaLindaMischelleNormaRavenSarajoTammy
AE Team: CarolineCathyClaireJennyLaneyLesleySue

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Peekaboo Pendant | ABS Challenge

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. May’s inspiration is a piece, Primavera, by Sandro Botticelli.

ABS Challenge May 2018 Inspiration

This month, so far, has not been very good for me health-wise, and I was contemplating not making any jewelry and not participating in challenges, since there were (a) zero ideas popping up in my head and (b) I didn’t know if I’d be physically up to making anything. And yesterday, just like that, something clicked, and a concept that I’d wanted to try out for a while came together with some color choices and ideas that might just work for this challenge. (Probably.) I was feeling better, too, so with some breaks, I just might manage it. (And obviously, I did. 😉 )

The polymer clay pendant that I made has multiple components, each of which required some quick individual baking before they all came together. It can be worn right side up or upside down (so there are really two right sides 😉 ), which is an added bonus that I hadn’t anticipated!

PolyClay Peekaboo Pendant - ABS Challenge May 2018

Right side up…

PolyClay Peekaboo Pendant - ABS Challenge May 2018

And now the other side 🙂

The inside – a bead

The inside is a flat bead whose color contrasts with the outside. The color was originally a coral red from some scrap pieces that I has lying around, which I changed by using chalks. To make this bead, I used a clay sheet from 3rd thickest setting on my pasta machine. I stamped a texture on it, cut it out to a rough triangular shape, and then brushed in various chalks on it. Next was a quick bake of 15min. After baking, I lightly sanded the piece to make the colors work better with the texture.

The outside – a dome

The outside is a curved, hole-filled dome. I used a black clay sheet, again from 3rd largest thickness on my pasta machine. I don’t own small graduated cutters, so I improvised. I used successively larger sizes of ball stylus tools to shape and enlarge ‘pits’, scraping out excess clay from the pits from time to time. This works fine as long as care is taken to not accidentally tear the sheet while working on the pits. (I had to restart a couple of times.)

Once done, I cut out a larger triangle following the shape of the earlier bead. I then stamped wavy patterns on the sheet with gold Perfect Pearls. I shaped this piece on a curved surface and baked for another 15min.

The back, with a bail

On a clay sheet from 2nd thickest setting on my pasta machine, I stamped a random texture, and cut the sheet following the contour of the outside dome.

For the bail, I first cut a length of 16-gauge wire, curved it, and bent it at the top and bottom so that the bent sections can serve as anchors. I poked a hole each near the top and the bottom of the clay sheet (to correspond to the start of the bends on the curved section of the bail wire.) I then inserted the wire so the curved section is on the textured side of the sheet, and the bent sections sit on the other (inner) side. I baked this for 15min.

The assembly

I set the pieces in place, adhering them to one another using TLS. For the edge, I used a strip of clay of 3rd smallest thickness on my machine. I then baked the assembly for 25min.


If I try this concept again, I’d like to make the edge strip lie neater by ensuring that the dome component has no holes near the edges. Also, I’ll probably need to ensure a better fit of the edges of individual components by carving those edges after the quick bakes.

So that’s the pendant! It might seem like a lot of baking, but the results seem worth it, don’t they?

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!

Miscellaneous

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.