Friday, 22 July 2011

Adventure #7: Makin' Do

Have I mentioned that I love working with polymer clay?! Here's another reason: you don't need a truckload of fancy equipment to create really beautiful items, you can often 'make do' with tools you have lying around the house.

That doesn't necessarily mean you spend any less money on this craft. It just means those aisles and sections perhaps little heeded before clay took over your life, like kitchenware, are now a wonderland before your very eyes. They are filled with intrigue and the allure of possibility!

I have commandeered so many things from the kitchen or kitchen aisles since starting this little journey: bamboo and metal skewers, oven and cake trays, a collander, egg rings, cookie cutters, my pasta machine, oven timer, the corn flour (!), foil and baking paper

Image 1 below is makin' do at its best! The tutorial for these wicked looking beads is in Carol Blackburn's book Making Polymer Clay Beads. In the tutorial she uses a clay extruder tool to make the snakes. In the absence of an extruder, I just rolled the snakes of clay from a skinner blend by hand and applied these to the beads. Sure, it was probably a lot more fiddly than if I had an extruder and my snakes are nowhere near perfect, but I think it adds some charm! I made this bracelet for my awesome honours student, Marcela, for her 21st birthday.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Adventure #6: Totally Organic

Aussiepolyclayers is a great online forum which brings together polymer clay artists from around Australia and beyond. They bounce ideas and advice off each other and have a very friendly, helpful and active member base.
They often have member challenges and for the months of June and July, Zarina has hosted a challenge with the theme "Organics". What better way to find inspiration and motivation to create outside the box, than to apply a theme suggested by someone else and have a timeline to work to!
So my head has been full of organics all week and I've been busily drawing out design ideas and thinking of the many ways this theme could be interpreted. I thought it would be cool to make earrings in the shape of a tree, but who would really want to wear a couple of trees dangling from their ears?!

What about a pair of earrings with leaves seemingly falling down them - that could look pretty and very organic :) So I set about working out how to make a cool looking leaf out of clay. Molds? Cookie-cutters? Canes? While I was mulling over my options, my eyes fell upon a gorgeous L'Occitane soap my mum gave me when she visited in May (Image 1). I just love the shape of this soap and it smells mmm-mmm-yum! So I decided to make my leaves in the shape of this soap with little clay leaves falling down.

Image 1: L'Inspiration

To make the clay grainy, I added gold powder and worked it into the clay. I cut the leaf shape with a zigzag blade and impressed a veined craft leaf into the surface of each side of the leaf. I brushed the surface with more gold powder, then baked. I applied a finishing coat of Kato liquid clay. The small leaves were cut out manually from a thin sheet of clay and then impressed with the craft leaf as well. You can check out my challenge entry here (my forum name is Bestie) and make sure you have a stroll through the whole post to have a look at other clayers' amazing work and different interpretations on the theme 'Organics.'                                                     

While still thinking 'organically,' I started playing with form, making a squiggly slug of a bead (Image 2) and then, without knowing what I did, I made my favourite-thing-in-the-world-right-now (Image 3). It's a fake rock-like thing. I made it using the principles in Donna Kato's 'Translucent Overlay Beads' tutorial in her The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques book. I used two translucent stripey canes and a translucent cane over a dark blue pearl base. For the backing, I used black clay mixed with pearl, which gave this really nice gunmetal colour. After baking, I hand sanded the 'rock' to a smooth finish.

Image 2: Sluggish bead
Image 3: My beautiful feathery-smooth rock

Now, why I love this thing so much, I'm not sure. I think it's the feel of it. Or the look of it. Or some combo of the two. Perhaps it's really just the whole vibe of the thing ;) but I love my rock and I don't care who knows it!

Adventure #5: The Necklace

Making a necklace for my gorgeous mum has sparked the crazy-obsessive-hobby-girl to come out in me! Ever since I began trying to craft a necklace from polymer clay beads, I've been a lil bit obsessed - reading forums, tutorials, buying books and spending way too much money on supplies and tools. I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted it to look pro and I wanted mum to feel proud to wear it around.

I finished that necklace for my mum a few weeks ago...but I realised I had yet to include a piccy of the thing that sparked all this craziness! So here it is:

Image 1: The Necklace!

Handmade polymer clay beads strung on tigertail with a sterling silver toggle clasp and Swarovski crystal round spacers. I think mum liked it :D

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Adventure #4: The Buzz

I'm talking this week about the buzz. You know the one, nothing can beat that feeling you get when you walk out of the house wearing one of your own creations. You exude confidence because you know you're unique, inwardly and outwardly.

This morning, I made these earrings using my own polymer clay beads (I call these my passionfruit beads, the pattern was a complete accident but I reckon it resembles passionfruit!), golden seed beads, some copper wire and gold-plated ear wires (Image 1). I wore them to work and I felt great all day...yep, I felt the buzz!

Image 1: Passionfruit copper wire earrings

Image 2: Kaleidoscope bead earrings
 I made this second pair (Image 2) earlier in the week. It feels pretty nice for a measly ol' scientist to be getting about in these totally unique accessories!