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!

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. 🙂
  • 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? 🙂

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?

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…

Natasha Beads

I know Natasha beads involve slicing, and Sculpey III is probably not the best clay to use when it comes to slicing. But I had this Sculpey III cane of green, brown and white that I’d made when I started claying, and I haven’t really been able to find a use for it, so I decided to just ‘destroy’ it. And what’s a more satisfactory way to destroy clay than to make Natasha beads from it! 🙂 Even if the beads might not turn out fully symmetrical, because not only is Sculpey III so soft and pliable, but it’s already really, really hot here these days…

Natasha beadsI first thought of making keychain charms from the cuboidal Natasha beads, and they didn’t have to be super-perfect. In fact, I had to cool the clay multiple times in the refrigerator to be able to slice it without squishing it. (It’s still a bit squished, though :) but like I said, I didn’t need the pieces to be perfect.) I attached eye pins before baking, securing the pins by bending them slightly before inserting into the beads.

Natasha bead keychain charmsI sanded and buffed the beads so they’re smooth. (Sculpey III doesn’t ever end up with a shine.) When I showed them to my folks, they thought they’d make great earrings. So my sis picked two beads that are more similar than the others (at least in size — these beads never turn out the same!) and I ended up making an earring pair and two keychain charms!

Natasha bead earringsThey’re pretty easy to make, especially if you use clay harder than Sculpey III. Do you think you’ll make some? :)