Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Floral Swirls

As you've seen in recent posts, I've been playing with circles and wavy shapes.  It's fun exploring something a bit different - or at least different for me.  Earlier this week, I taught a workshop on a petal cane made from bull's eye wedges.  I loved what the students in the class developed, and came home with a new cane of my own.  What to do with it?  Somehow, the ideas of petals and wavy shapes merged, and I came up with these floral swirls.   I made the swirling vines out of Kato clay to give the pieces a strong and flexible base.  The flower petals are made of custom-mixed Premo! colors.

Once I had the floral swirls assembled and baked, I knew they needed something special in the centers.  I had planned on using pearls or crystals, but they just didn't "do the trick."  Looking through my stash, I discovered I had these tiny micro-beads, so decided to give them a try.  I think they work perfectly. I've strung these pendants on simple chains, through they would look good on wire or even a thin ribbon.   Light and airy, I think they're perfect for spring and summer wear.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Polymer Soutache ~ My Way

More experiments.  This time, I'm creating my own version of soutache, polymer style.  Soutache is a narrow, flat, decorative braid usually used in drapery or clothing for trimming and embroidery. It is also sometimes used to conceal a seam.   If you noticed the "Black Circles with Pearls" necklace I posted on April 18th, you'll see there is just a beginning of some narrow, flat ribbon effects in between the circles. The polymer "ribbon" was a design element that added interest and helped meld the circles together.  I liked the effect, so of course had to see where else I might take this concept.

I started with black and white extruded ribbons and wound them around a variety of beads, crystals and pearls.  The result was this little pendant on the right. I liked the way the black and white polymer ribbons seemed to "change places" as I wound them around the various beads.  Using a soft polymer allowed me to press the beads and pearls into the clay before baking, and this seemed to make a solid little piece.

Then I decided to try something more horizontal. This teal and turquoise piece sits nicely along the base of the neck and the rounded edges of the polymer ribbon and the bends in the shape make it lie comfortably.  It may have been the design or just the fact that I'm still experimenting,  but I found that it was harder to press all of the little embellishment pieces into the clay than it was in the black and white piece.  I used epoxy on the small white freshwater pearls after baking to be sure they all stayed in.

Finally, I decided to see what polymer soutache might look like around a focal bead.  I have some porcelain pendant beads I formed and hand painted, and it seemed that they might make nice center pieces for some soutache.  As with my first pieces, it just seemed like the ribbon sections needed additional embellishments added.  I have several more porcelain beads, so will most likely give this a try with more of them.  I expect I'll be doing more experiments with this concept , with and without focals, and I'll be sure to share here.