Thursday, 30 September 2010

Found ... Polymer Clay Part 4 of 4 (Post 18)

Final part of my 1st polymer clay experiences.  This project was made with Cernit Polymer Clay and was so easy to condition - I would definitely recommend it.  I bought my polymer clay and clay extruder from Emma Ralph who is a beadmaker specialising in lampwork, ceramic and polymer clay beads.  A very talented lady who also has her own online store; and, tutorials - well worth a visit to her site.  Mind you, if you want to buy her beads, you'll have to be quick as her lampwork glass beads sell as quickly as they are produced - because they are so beautiful.

Cernit polymer clay has a elasticated feel to it and is really smooth to work with. 

Opal Fruits
I decided to experiment with lentil beads this time.  I used my acrylic block, which was so easy.

After conditioning your clay, roll it into a tube and cut off equal sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and then cut the ball in half.  Then ... take each half and gently roll it with one of the other coloured balls; until it becomes one.

Don't roll any further yet.  You now need to put the clear acrylic block on top of the newly formed mixed ball and roll the block.  For some reason, it will want to roll into a bicone shape.  That's ok, because its twirling the colours together - giving each one its uniqueness.  

If you like the bicone shape, ok - stop there, job done.  If not, still rolling with the acrylic block, apply more pressure.  This starts to flatten the bead, making it into the disk shape, otherwise known as lentil bead.

You now need to make a hole through the bead.  I find it best to make the hole at this stage.  Sometimes I use a cocktail stick, but I came across a lovely little tool in my toolbox - an awl.  This is a small pointy tool with a blade and a wooden handle.  I used the awl as I found I had a firmer anchor to push with.

Make a hole in one end half way through or until you see the point appearing at the other end.  Then turn the bead around and do the same on the other side.  This just avoids having 'dragged' out edges.  

One tip I read somewhere, (goodness knows where?), is if you intend using the bead for a necklace, rather than making the hole in the middle of the bead make it slightly higher.  This prevents the bead from 'flopping' forward and it will lie flatter.  As I knew my beads would be made for a bracelet, I did make the bead central.

Beads were put in the oven at the usual temperature of 130, (use a proper oven thermometer - again available from Emma).  I left them in about an hour with other polymer clay pieces.  Then after being cooled, they need to be sanded down to make them smooth, apply wax or varnish - as you like.  I used just the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest bit of beeswax (renaissance wax would be better, but that's on my shopping list).

I then used silver-plated wire threaded a green silver-lined seed bead and made a basic loop each end of the wire.  I layed out the beads the way that I wanted them to be and linked them together.  I added an s-clasp to finish off.

I called this 'opal fruits' as it reminded me of sweets I used to buy when I was little.  Anyone remember them?  'Opal fruits - made to make your mouth water'.

My research shows that due to EU regulations the name changed to 'starburst' but in 2008, Asda brought the originals back, (without the additives!) for a period of 12 weeks.

Enough reminiscing ... I'm not a 'sweetie' eater these days anyway.

So, the last 4 projects was my taster introduction to polymer clay.  I hope that this has inspired you to 'have a go'.

Now its back to my bead stash, fresh ideas and new designs.

'Keep Watching and I'll Keep Blogging'


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Found ... Polymer Clay Part 3 (Post 17)

New Follower:
Welcome to heritage_indonesia, thank you for joining my blog, when I have 50 followers I will do a 'freebie' piece of jewellery - so keep following!

Part 3
Ok, sorry this is in dribs and drabs but I think if I was to put it all in one blog it would be a bit lengthy - OK, for those of you who just like to look at pictures maybe that wouldn't be a problem?  I do like to waffle a bit as well to hopefully make it a little more interesting!

Apache Awakening

Change of Clay!  Not to my liking though ... this was so hard to condition.  This is created using Fimo Classic.  It was crumbly for ages and at one point I was ready to give up.  

But, then again, I'm not one to give up easily so I persevered whilst also promising myself that I would try something more pliable next time.

Now remembering that this is my 1st introduction to Polymer Clay, I wasn't sure of how much clay to use or what I was going to do with it.  I conditioned green and yellow clay and experimented with mixing the two.

For the green/yellow bicones I made two equal sized balls of yellow and green.  Cut them each in half, then gently rolled them together to bind them.  I have heard of beadmaking acrylic tools - but have not invested in them.  It dawned on me though that I had an acrylic square, that I had previously used for putting rubber stampers on and decided to roll the new yellow/green bead with this.

By applying enough pressure the bead shape changed into a bicone bead.  I was so excited that it worked, I took it one step further by mixing the third yellow/green bead more thoroughly.

Unfortunately I hadn't much more 'conditioned' clay left but was aware that you should ALWAYS keep any leftovers because they can be used as 'base' beads for any future cane work - great no waste!

Mmm ... still not knowing what to do with these 3 beads, I thought I should have made them smaller - as I didn't think that I would have enough for even a bracelet and perhaps they were just too big?

Undeterred ... I thought, maybe I could make some spacer beads.  I had bought a clay extruder which I wanted to try out.  So, I set it up and extruded a long triangular tube shape, cut it into small spacer sized beads and made a hole in them.

I find it easier to make holes in the beads as they're created, although you can drill them after.  Remember though, that this will be harder once their baked!

I have to admit, the sanding, and polishing took me ages, as the spacers are so small - my poor fingers were sore afterwards - but like I've said, you can't cut corners and expect good results!

This necklace is made up of my polymer clay bicones, and spacers strung on tiger tail wire and 3 czech crystal beads to emphasise the bicones with a thai silver clasp.

Still to come ... 'Opal Fruits'

'Keep Watching and I'll Keep Blogging'


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Found ... Polymer Clay Part 2 (Post 16)

A very big welcome to my 3 new followers - and to all other 22 followers - thank you for keeping up with my ramblings!

Welcome to: Hazel Ward, Liz Reed and Shauna Roush ... great to have you aboard!

As promised, Part 2 of Found ... Polymer Clay


This is a beautiful pendant that was created using three quite thick layers of polymer clay, with a craft metal wirework twist - embedded into the polymer after I had built the layers.  An additional swirl of purple craft wire adorns the top layer.  

To take away the obvious gleam of the purple, I very gently, kissed the surface with an emery file.  This led to the pendant showing hints of copper, which I particularly liked.

I thought due to the varying colours, which unfortunately my photos don't show!  (Memo to self: must take side view shots!).  I would make a necklace of purple, green and yellow beads to complement the pendant.  

The 3 strands were twisted around each other and the pendant added.

One thing which I have failed to say, not intentionally, may I add ... is that in Part 1 I talked you through conditioning and making the pieces but didn't say that after they are baked you do need to sand the finished product.  I used wet/dry paper, grades 600, 1200, 200

I just gently circled the piece with a damp sandpaper until it felt smooth to the touch.  It is a pain ... but also quite therapeutic and it is these finishing touches which will give your pieces that finishing edge to them.  Making them stand apart as works of art!  So ... no shortcuts, or you'll be sorry!

I chose to polish them also with a smidging of beeswax, (memo to self: must by some renaissance wax!). You only need enough to give it a soft sheen.  

Why Aztec?  Well, I think it reminded me of the chocolate Aztec bars in the '70s, (I know a lot of you may not have even been around then, I'll tell you, you missed a yummy bar of delicious raisin and biscuit and mallow covered in cadbury's chocolate - mmmmmm).  The wrapper was purple and this just brought back the lazy hazy days of the '70s!

Still to come ... 'Opal Fruits' and 'Apache Awakening

'Keep Watching and ... I'll keep Blogging'


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Found ... Polymer Clay Part 1 (Post 15)

For some time I have been interested in working with Polymer Clay, because its a way of expressing your own personality and giving you the opportunity to create individual works of art.  If you've been following my blog, you will know that from time-to-time I tuck away tools of the trade ... a secret hoarder, (ok not so secret to you ... but schhh it is still a secret in this household!).   So, Finally I unleashed the Pasta Machine.

I follow a few fellow jewellerymakers who have recently already taken that first step, and seeing their great work it has made me take that 'first plunge' also.

'Colour Me New'

The clay that I have used is called Fimo.  Its quite a science to work out what to go for.  I finally settled on two types: Cernit and Fimo Classic.

I got a few colours of each and for my 'Colour Me New' project I used Cernit in Green, Black and Yellow.

Cernit has a translucent look to it and is used for dolls because of its porcelain look.  

Before you can work with Polymer Clay, (PC) from now on!  You have to condition it.  That just means warming it and making it very pliable so that it is easier to work with and does not have any 'dry spots' which would cause it to crack.  Aha ... this is where the pasta machine came into its own.  Needless to say, once you use the pasta machine for PC you can NOT use it for food!!!!  

After rolling the clay in my palm, I then flattened it a bit and started feeding it through the pasta machine.  It didn't take long and I made some thin sheets of PC in black, green and yellow and put to one side.

I'd read about a technique known as Mokume Gane which I liked the idea of.  Its basically layers of PC in different colours which you then use any object to create a impression with and with a sharp blade you shave away layers leaving a very pretty design - you hope!  

I made 3 green sheets and 3 yellow sheets and 2 black sheets.  I then alternated them one on top of the other; using an acrylic roller I gently pressed the sheets together.  I then raided my other half's garage and found some quirky shapes, in the guise of screws and washers and a couple of bottle tops.  

I made random shapes on to the PC and then using a sharp blade, (they call a tissue blade), I slowly and carefully peeled off a few layers and wow ... I was left with an amazingly brightly coloured clay.  At this stage, I still hadn't worked out what to do with it ... but I fell in love with the colour and thought what an unusual pendant this would make, especially with the raggedy edges.  So I folded the clay back on itself around a cocktail stick and ... 'Colour Me New' arrived.

I baked it in the oven at 130 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, alongside a donut ring and coin shapes and some very little dark green spacer beads I'd made.  It was afterwards when I thought the coins would make lovely little delicate earrings - I think it works well, what about you?

It is safe to use your oven, but you MUST invest in a proper oven thermometer as you really don't want to set the place on fire!  Just wipe the oven out when you finish.  I worked with the windows and doors open - quick exit?  No, I wasn't sure whether there would be any fumes.  Actually, there wasn't - you could hardly smell anything.

And ... there we have it my 1st Polymer Clay project.  Any questions, send me your comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Still to come ... three more projects!
  • Aztec
  • Opal Fruits and,
  • Apache Awakening

Remember - I welcome your comments, successful blogging I think should be a two-way process.  Look forward to hearing from you!

'Keep Watching and I'll Keep Blogging' ... Part 2 to follow soon


Yippee! New Followers ... (Post 14)

Thanks everybody - I now have 22 followers and I've decided that when my followers reach a total of 50 I will celebrate by running my first 'give away'.   

I've added a link on the righthandside of the blog, for you to Share The News of my blog with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  

Ahem ... not sure what that means, but its got to be good - right?  

If anybody wants to explain that in more detail to me, perhaps you'd like to post a comment.  Thanks!  

Hopefully by promoting the Facebook/Twitter link more people will sign up and follow me?  

Two New Followers
I'd like to welcome TripleMoonStar, an amazing talented jewellerymaker - not only does she make beautiful silver and beaded jewellery, she also makes her own lampwork beads.  Reading her blog, she has only recently achieved this, which to be honest is remarkable!  Well done TripleMoonStar, your an inspiration for sure ...
Next a very big welcome to CarolineACleary, a good friend with a great personality, and an open and honest outlook on life.  Thanks Caroline, hope you enjoy the blogs!  Blogging is new to Caroline, but I believe you will soon get bitten by the bug and it wouldn't at all surprise me to see your own blog up and running over the coming months ...

Ok, I did have some comments on my Ring blog, for which I'm grateful.  Divided views, some of you liked the Copper ring, (me too!!) and two others went for the Ships Ahoy.  Thanks to Lalitha who sent me nice comments on this ring - unfortunately I have not posted it due to the 'spam' elementWhilst I love your feedback folks, I would ask that you don't try and push 'hidden links' to advertising.

I'm doing my best to keep my blog ad-free ... please do the same - many thanks!

About to launch into my Polymer Clay post ... coming up next - honest!