Swirly Pendant | Art Elements Challenge

I’d thought I would have loads of inspired ideas for the Art Elements ‘Swirl’ theme, but I found myself continually revolving around only one concept – swirled polymer clay lentil beads. However, I couldn’t really think of anything much different from a couple of lentil bead buttons I’d made a long time ago, so it was a no-go. As the month drew to a close, I thought I just won’t participate this time. Then I decided to give mokume gane a try. As usual, it didn’t go so well, but I managed to salvage the project, and it turned into this –

Swirly pendant, polymer clay | Anita

Think this just about qualifies as a participant for the challenge! 😉

I used an embossing folder for the mokume gane texture, with a red clay sheet over a thicker yellow one, so that a patterned yellow shows up on the red when I slice away the raised areas. The slicing didn’t really work so well, so I impressed the same texture again onto the same clay. From this sheet, I cut out a square that would fit into a pendant frame that I own. I then applied red and gold Perfect Pearls on the raised surfaces of the square, and smoothed out its edges.

I filled up the pendant frame with scrap clay – I anyway had leftovers from the slicing and the cutting out of the square – and then set the square over it so it appears somewhat domed. A 20-minute bake completed the pendant.

So that’s my super-quick project for the Art Elements challenge. Today’s the reveal, and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what the other guests and the Art Elements team have created, and I hope you are as well!

Guests: Alison Anita (You are here) Cat Caroline Jill Kathy Karin Kimberly Mischelle Raven Sarajo Susan Tammy

AE Team: Cathy Caroline Claire Jen Jenny & Lesley Laney Marsha Susan

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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!

Clay buttons

Button 1

Polymer clay button For this button, I started off by making a partially-done swirly lentil bead. I then rolled a thin strand of dark green clay, cut it into 6 equal pieces, and arranged them on the bead by gently pressing them onto it. I then continued to swirl the bead until the green strands, in the center, merged a bit with the green of the main bead. I then poked holes before I baked it.

I like how the strands are very distinct at the edges of the button, and grow less distinct as they near the center.


Button 2

Polymer clay button For this button, I used a cane that I made. I started off by making a marbled medallion from cream and brown colors. (And realized how easy marbling is! ;) ) I then cut two slices from the cane, and arranged them on the medallion for a more or less organic look. I rolled and pressed the medallion enough to make the cane surfaces lie at the same level as the medallion. I then poked holes before I baked it.

As for this button, the look is what wins me over!


These buttons are so much fun to make — and so many possibilities, too — that at this rate, I think we’re gonna end up with too many buttons and too few items to use them in. What can I say, one can never have too many buttons, right? 😉

Swirly lentil bead… button

So I made a decent cane.

I didn’t own decent claying tools though, and found that slicing across the cane with a razor blade makes the cross-section pretty distorted and untidy. And that means I went and ordered a flexible blade, a roller (again, I was finding my makeshift roller inadequate), cutters and silicone molds. That’s right, I’m beginning to get serious about polymer clay. 😉

Well, I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for the tools to arrive. I decided to practice making a swirly lentil bead since that doesn’t require many tools. So I rolled a ball of green clay, and got to work practicing the swirling hand movements.

When I became comfortable with the hand movements, I decided to add some actual swirl to the bead. I cut slices from the cane that I’d made — and yes, they got distorted and untidy — and placed them on the lower half of the bead, and continued swirling it. After a while, it turned into this.

Swirly lentil bead button

Swirly lentil bead button

I’d made it slightly big, thinking I’ll make it into a pendant. I thought of some ideas for the pendant, which included a macramé addition, and I pierced three holes near the top for that. I baked it, and set about adding the macramé section. Sadly, it didn’t work out, and I undid all the knots.

After a lot of thinking and looking around for a different jewelry use for the pendant, and not finding any, I thought it could be a button instead — a decorative button though, due to the weird positioning of the holes on it.

In fact, I don’t think any of the clays in my sample clay pack will become jewelry, mostly because the limited number of colors in it don’t work for my clothes or those of my sis. I’m thinking that all my practicing with this sample pack might result in buttons — ones with normal placement of holes, of course. No worries though, sis and I have lots of uses for buttons in our tote bags, purses and cushion covers. One can never have enough buttons! 😉