Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Bead Tutorial

Last week I wrote about making beads from some of my old, hard clay.  I mentioned the same technique could probably be done using old canes.  I hadn't tried it but figured it could be done the same way. So.......I decided to give it a try. It just so happens that I have been holding onto some ugly, brittle canes. Just when you think something is unusable....think again!

I started off the same as before, chopping up my cane with my clay blade until I had a pile of small pieces.

Since this clay was really, really dry I drizzled some liquid clay over it and mixed it all up. This is the point where things took a turn.

I was planning on painting my pieces, like previous, but I just wasn't sure it would work with this now sticky pile of clay. So.....I picked up a small amount and smooshed it together. I rolled it into a fat log and started twisting. This made the colors spiral. I flattened it out and ran it through the pasta machine. This gave me a nicely lined sheet of clay. Next, I folded the sheet in half and ran it through the pasta machine again. This started blending the lines into each other. I kept repeating this procedure until I liked the look of it.
Then....what do I do next? Hmmmm..... I remembered I had made some beads once before by wrapping a veneer around a core of scrap clay so I decided to do that! I rolled a ball of clay to use as the center of the bead, cut a strip of the lined sheet just slightly wider and wrapped it around, cutting it where the ends met up. 

Now, here's what you end up with.

Just gently pinch the ends together and slowly work the clay closed.

Then roll the bead in your hands to finish joining it all together.

The next thing I did was to add some texturing to the beads. Why? Because I absolutely hate sanding. I love the look and feel of a perfectly sanded and polished piece of polymer clay but I dread the work it takes! I especially hate sanding and polishing small round beads! Do you know how many times they get dropped???? So, I took the lazy way and added some texture to these beads by rolling them in salt and this is what I got. The only thing left to do was to pierce a hole through it. One down, several more to go.

Here's what I ended up with. Twenty rustic looking beads, all with their own unique colors. I think they look like old, distressed beads that have just been dug up at an archaeological site. (I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little.) Or maybe tiny planets, complete with craters! (I never wanted to be an astronaut.)

So there you have it. Yet another way to use up old dry clay!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Polymer Clay Bead Tutorial

Just the other day I came across a blog post on Art Jewelry Elements about making beads using old, hard clay and it gave me an idea.  I have a container of old clay that I thought was unusable but had just never brought myself to throw away. So, what did I have to lose?

* Note, I didn't follow the instructions exactly as Rebekah gave in her tutorial.  Like I said, her technique gave me an idea of my own to try. This is what I did.

I picked out some colors that I thought would look good together; royal blue, purple, yellow, orange and dusty pink.  I don't have a clay dedicated food processor as suggested in the original post so I used my clay blade to chop it all up into small chunks, mixing the colors all together. (All of this clay had been previously conditioned)

Next, I added some white acrylic paint and mixed it all up, covering all the pieces.  I set them aside for a few minutes to dry.

Once the paint was dry, I picked up small amounts of clay and pressed it firmly together. I formed my beads into small cubes by pushing it against my work surface on all sides. After I was pleased with the shape, I pierced a small hole through the bead using a needle.

Then they went into the oven for an hour. I wasn't sure of the brand of clay, Premo or Fimo, it may have been a combination of both. Since both of these brands have different curing temps and times, I decided to bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. I tented the beads with a piece of foil to prevent burning.

Once the beads cooled, I wet sanded them with a very course grit sandpaper.  After I had removed all the paint I could, I switched to a finer course paper. This is the result. Some of the white paint remained in between the different pieces of clay, resulting in a mosaic look.

If you work with polymer and have a stash of old, hard clay then why not give this (or one of Rebekah's techniques)  a try for yourself? You could even use old canes that have become dry and brittle. The results just may surprise you!