Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rainy Day Tutorial Play

A rainy day can be one of the best times to try out a polymer tutorial.  Since it's been pouring outside, I decided to give one a try. I had seen Eugena Topina's version of polymer cloisonne, and decided to see how she achieves her effects.  If you like the occasional tutorial, you might really enjoy visiting Eugena's website:  She has a wide variety of tutorials that are clear and easy to follow. Since this cloisonne effect is a tutorial she sells, I can't share the technique.  However, I can share my finished products. Perhaps they'll tempt you to visit Eugena's website and see what else she has developed.

These first two pieces, the teal and gold above and the orange and gold to the right, are pendants.  I used Magic Gloss to provide the final protective finish.

The last piece is larger and will work well as a pin.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's a Wrap!

During this time of year, I like to try making something new, and then see what type of response I get from shoppers. Bracelets are one item I make frequently, but most of the time I use a brass cuff or brass bangle with a channel to help hold in the polymer.  People seem to like them, but there are always those who find the brass forms don't fit.  I thought it would be fun to try making bracelets that are more "one-size-fits-all."
Enter memory wire.  Using this wire, I would be able to make bracelets that wrapped around the wrist, and would therefore be adjustable.

I haven't used memory wire before, and found the instructions that came with the wire to be helpful.  I also checked out YouTube and discovered I needed to purchase an appropriate cutter. Memory wire is tough and doesn't cut with regular wire cutters. Now I have a new tool!

I conditioned clay in sets of complimentary colors and then started rolling slender clay tubes.  Some tubes were solid colors, some were skinner blends and I also made lots of stripe tubes.

It was fun to watch the stripes twist as I rolled the tubes. I found it most helpful to use a very thin knitting needle for the core, and I pinched the ends of the clay so it stayed close to the knitting needle as I rolled by hand.  When the tube was the size I was looking for, I used a flat piece of acrylic to smooth the tubes.  I cut off the ends of the tubes, slid them off the needle, put a simple bend in each tube, and set them in the oven to bake. After baking, I used a sharp blade to cut the polymer tubes into varying lengths.  It's helpful to cut while the polymer is still warm.  I also made some flat round disks to intersperse between the tubes. Assembling the pieces on the wire was fun. I discovered I needed to make the cuts on the end of the tubes at a slight slant to help compensate for the curve of the memory wire.  It also took a time or two to determine order of the pieces and the final size I needed for each piece.
The photos here show 3 memory wire wrap-around bracelets.  The turquoise and purple bracelet includes some sections with translucent overlay.  I like the interest the round shapes add.  They're a nice contrast to the striped sections.

One final aspect to consider when using memory wire for wrap-around bracelets is how to finish the ends.  The ideas I considered included end caps, making wire loops, and adding some sort of end bead.  I liked the way end beads looked the best, so used an epoxy glue to fasten both the last polymer disk beads and the crystal or metal beads to both ends of the memory wire.  Voila!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My First Barrettes

For some reason, I've never tried making polymer barrettes.  A while ago, I found some really nice barrette bases made in France, and purchased a few, with the intention of giving barrettes a try.  Actually, it was several months ago, and I finally decided to just do it.

Here are my first barrettes, just in time for the holiday show at the gallery.

The polymer is attached to the barrette base via strips of polymer on the back side.  The barrette bases have spaces at both ends and in the middle that make for perfect connection points.

As you can probably tell, the leaves come from leaf canes I made, while the flower petals are extruded canes from my combo extruder.

These next three barrettes aren't really flowers, but they do have a floral feel.  The largest petal "burst" - in deep blues and greens - sports petals made from one of my spider mum canes.  It's amazing how extruding changes a design, while still maintaining its essence.