Sunday, January 1, 2017

Necklace from a Christmas Ornament? and Wavy-Blade Mokume Gane

Here are the step-by-step instructions for making the beads in this necklace. They were shaped by using a holiday ornament as a mold (seen below). But you might want to create this wavy-blade surface design even if you don't have the ornament. 
I used a combination of Sculpey III and Premo polymer clay for this project. I liked the softness of the Sculpey for how easily it "smooshed" into the geometric recessed areas of this ornament (which I bought on clearance after Christmas at Lowes).

 To make the beads:

Step 1. You can use any colors you like, but I used Yellow, Sweet Potato, Turquoise, and Fuchsia Pearl Sculpey III. Roll 1/4 package of each color to a fairly thin setting on your pasta machine. Stack the colors in random order, as seen below.
Step 2. Cut the stack in half diagonally. 
Step 3. Square each half up to form a rectangular solid, as shown here. 
Step 4. Push the the 2 pieces together and compress them to form roughly a cube.

Step 5. Cut slices from the cube with a small-pattern wavy blade like the Sculpey Super Slicer. This photo shows the approximate thickness of the slices and the pattern that will emerge. 
Step 6. Spray Armor-All Protectant onto a paper towel and rub lightly inside the mold. Press a clay slice, prettier-side-down, into the treated mold and trim off any excess clay.

Step 7. Roll a medium-thick sheet of black Premo! Sculpey and cut a piece slightly larger than your mold. Press it firmly onto the back of the molded piece while it's still in the mold. Use the black base to pull out the colorful molded piece (see below).
Step 8. Trim off the ragged edges of the molded piece for your finished bead (see below).

You can use this wavy-blade mokume gane technique with any simple-shaped mold you have. The heart-shaped bead shown below was made in a candy mold. 

I baked my beads and then drilled them with a drill press. Because none of them were drilled at precisely the same angle, they hang in slightly different directions, giving the necklace a funky modern look that I like.

I'd love to see the projects you make using this tutorial!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to Make the Pendant Shown in "The Polymer Chef" March/April 2016

In the latest "Polymer Chef" column (Polymer CAFE magazine, March/April 2016, p. 57), I presented recipes for the Pantone colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. To show off the colors, I created the necklace shown above. Recently someone asked me for a tutorial explaining how to make this rather unusual pendant. So here's a quick one.

Step 1. Shape scrap clay for the internal structure of the pandant using the  "Caboshapes I" mold from Best Flexible Molds. Then cut a hole above center with a small round cutter.

Next, cover the scrap clay with a thin veneer of the Rose Quartz and Serenity stripes  (or any other color or pattern you might choose).

Step 2. Cut the striped veneer into 2 circles of about 2 and 3 cm. in diameter. Place these rather loosely over the hole, with the stripes on each circle going in different directions for interest. Press a glass marble in the center circle to make the indentation. Next, add three flat-back crystals and oven-cure the pendant. (It's a good idea to use a tiny drop of Sculpey Bake & Bond on the back of each crystal even if it's the "heat set" variety.)

Note: I've used scrap clay in these step-by-step photos, just for convenience, but your pendant and circles will be made from the veneer you choose.


Step 3.  Finally, cover the back of the pendant with a compatible clay color, leaving the hole open (so as not to trap air inside). You can make a channel for stringing by covering the cut-off stem from a cotton swab with clay and attaching it firmly to the uncured backing. After a final oven-curing, remove the cotton swab stem with pliers. Now your pendant is ready to string!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Projects for December's PCTV Design Team Challenge

Little Angel Jewelry Box

This cloth-covered jewelry box was a thrift-store find that took on a new life with the addition of a polymer clay angel and some starry snowflakes. The angel's curly hair as well as her feathery wings were shaped in  Polymer Clay TV's Large Wings silicone mold. Their Snowflakes silicone mold created both the lacy patterns on her gown and the twinkling stars. I used Premo! polymer clay with Perfect Pearls powders to highlight the molded forms. Flat-back AB gems add some sparkle to the halo and the background. Finally, I cured the polymer pieces and adhered them to the box with hot glue.

Snowman Candle Holder

I used more of Polymer Clay TV's flexible silicone molds to upcycle another found item into this festive Snowman Candle Holder. The only embellishment on original candle holder was the "beaded" trim around the circular edges and the two rings at the narrowest point of the stem. It provided a nice blank canvas to show off some polymer holiday magic!

To create the snowmen themselves I tried something new: I packed four colors of Premo! clay into the large snowman mold: white, black, pomegranate, and just a little bit of orange for the carrot nose. I decorated their hats with holly from the same mold set and adhered the glass-bead berries Sculpey Bake & Bond. The scrollwork at the base of the candle consists of black Premo! shaped in the Fleur Fancy mold, highlighted with gold Perfect Pearls, and decorated with more holly.

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Projects for the Polymer Clay TV Design Team

With all the hustle-bustle of the holidays, I've gotten behind on sharing my photos with you. But I couldn't let the year expire without catching up!

November 2015 Projects

Autumn Acorn Basket

This cute little round basket found me at the Nassau Humane Society's Second Chance resale shop. I really liked the seeds and stems worked into the weave. So I wanted to embellish it in some way that would highlight the rustic, natural appearance. The leaves are made of bronze-colored Premo! clay and shaped with Polymer Clay TV's Curved Leaf plunger cutters. I accented them with pearlescent acrylic paints and wired them onto the basket, adding a few beads here and there. The acorn caps are black polymer, covered with gold metallic leaf and embossed with PCTV's  Round Detailed Floral rubber stamps. The large beads that make up the body of the acorns are carved bone beads that have been stashed away in my cupboard for years, waiting for just this project.

Falling Leaves Necklace

For this pendant, I incorporated some painted, crackled edge components I had made several years ago.  The leaves were shaped with the Falling Leaves silicone mold and embellished with metallic paint and flat-back crystals. The bail is part of a repurposed clip-on earring. To make the stylized gingko leaf beads, I stenciled green clay with copper paint using Punchinella sequin-waste stencils, cut them out, and impressed the veins with a dental tool. To complete the necklace, I raided my stash of various metal and stone beads.

I really enjoy these challenges! Using the Polymer Clay TV tools and supplies adds to the fun and points me in the right direction. Come back tomorrow to see December's projects: an upcycled duo of thrift-store finds--a candle holder and a jewelry box.

Round Floral Detailed Rubber Stamps

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team  

Here are the Halloween-themed projects I've made with the cool tools that Polymer Clay TV shared with the design team this month. There was an amazing variety of molds, cutters, and even a die-cut hutch shrine kit!

I really had fun with the easy-to-assemble Bat-Wing Halloween Hutch Shrine Kit. It's intended to display artist trading cards, but mine showcases a Halloween vignette featuring a jack-o-lantern made from one of PCTV's molds and some related objects I've collected. I covered the Masonite surfaces with scrap-booking paper and gold paint.

Skeletons in the Closet

The grouping at the left was made using three of PCTV's molds. I then cut the pieces, fitted them together, and added a single backing and bail to create a unique pendant. Two more ghosts add an extra BOO! factor to the finished beaded necklace, shown below. The flowers on the skull and on the hutch were made with the same mini-cutters used in last month's projects.

I've really been enjoying wearing this necklace. It draws a lot of attention!

 Check back here soon to see November's projects, which will feature some beautiful fall leaves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Polymer Clay Adventure 2016 

Register Now!

I'm excited to be teaching in the yearlong online retreat, Polymer Clay Adventure 2016. Last year's painting workshop was a lot of fun for me and seemed to be popular with the participants.

This year, I'll be showing everyone how to make an all-polymer hollow vessel using a raw potato as an armature. Sounds "Polymer Chef-y," doesn't it? I'll show you how to make the two different shapes shown here and how to create the surface treatment, which I call the "bubble stripe."

If vessels aren't your thing, you might still enjoy learning the bubble stripe to use in jewelry projects.

Register today and you may be eligible to win a goody bag from the organizers of the retreat. For all of the information--including a teacher-and-project list, testimonials from 2015 students, and much more--click here:

I look forward to chatting with you on the Polymer Clay Adventure forums next year!

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Projects from the Polymer Clay TV Design Team  

Projects for September 

Last month Polymer Clay TV provided Design Team members with some great tools: a large wing mold, a Fleur fancy mold, mini-flower cutters, and butterfly and bloom two-part molds. I had a lot of fun experimenting with them, and I improvised a couple of tools of my own to provide added dimension to the two-sided molds. Best of all,  I found some new ways to use blu-tack!

(For lots more ways to use blu-tack in your projects, see the post for September 2, 2014.)

You can go from here:
To here:
It's simple! Attach cone bead end caps to a ceramic tile with blu-tack. Then use this as a baking rack for flowers made with Polymer Clay TV's two-part mold:

I molded the flowers, added contrasting yellow centers, and then added a green disk to the bottom to help keep the cone bead from poking through when the clay softened in the oven. The disk also adds height to the floral arrangement on the covered tin, shown below.

This tin makes use of the two-sided flower mold and the Fleur Fancy Mold from Polymer Clay TV.  I textured the entire tin (before adding embellishments) with a copper mesh pot scrubber. The pale blue flowers were accented with sapphire-colored alcohol ink before curing and a black marker afterward. Perfect Pearls mica powder was applied to the ornate scroll-work before baking.

To add dimension and variety to butterflies made with the two-part mold, I folded index cards in half and positioned them like little pup-tents on a ceramic tile, using blu-tack (of course). I laid the molded butterflies over the fold in the cards for baking. The butterflies were solid white clay, but the mold created raised areas on both sides that were very easy to color with a black paint marker.

To create the flowers on this wreath, I used Polymer Clay TV's mini-flower cutters in three sizes, stacked the pieces, and embedded a black glass bead in the center with Sculpey Bake & Bond.

 There's nothing better than new tools! Unless it's figuring out how to use them in new ways to make your projects reflect your own personality and vision.