Beauty in Old Clay

crackle beads old clay 430x323 - Beauty in Old ClayIf you haven’t seen this technique, created about a decade ago by France’s Dominique Franceschi, you really have to try it. Like Monday’s post, this too came out of an accident, one many of us have probably experienced to some degree. It was from dry, crumbling clay, once again ruining our expectations. Well, Dominique took that experience and ran with it and what a beautiful texture arose from playing around with this stuff.

Basically, she extruded some older clay and it cracked all up and down the length of it. Instead of tossing it, she wrapped it around base beads, flattened and smoothed the clay, and ended up with these beautiful, organic looking textures. Wonderful stuff.

Her full technique was shared and translated on Parole de Pâte way back in 2006. But just because it’s an older technique doesn’t mean that it can’t be new or newly played with. Try it out and maybe you’ll even have some pleasantly unexpected outcomes by using it slightly differently such as laying it on a sheet to create surface designs that can be made into jewelry or wrapped around boxes. Or what would these cracked snakes look like and how would you use them if you tried just smoothing out the snakes alone? In any case, it would certainly be fun to play with.

Find the simple steps and a couple of options for these beads on Parole de Pâte here.

Ripple Away

ripple collage 201x450 - Ripple AwayFor an easy but classic set of techniques that you might want to explore, just pick up your ripple blade. Most all of us have one. They come in those beginner pack of polymer blades so they are easy to acquire if you don’t have one. The effects you can create with them go from controlled pattern to random to sculptural texture.

I just pulled out a few that caught my eye today. The top one was posted by Libby Mills back in 2012. She used stacks and played around with manipulation and how to slice them, following instruction she got from Jody Bishel both at a retreat and through a project in the book Polymer Clay: Exploring New Techniques and New Materials. She really had too much fun as you can see on Libby’s blog post from back then.

I could not find attribution for the center image but I didn’t want to skip over the sculptural aspect of this handy blade. Cutting beads and stacked edges with this blade gives us quick and interesting textures. The ripple tends to lend a fun quality as well as the instant tactile quality so it’s not for all pieces but whimsical and graphic pieces might be something to try this on.

This last one was created by Nevenka Sabo some years back. I don’t have a date as the links are broken but you can see well enough what she did. Create a bulls-eye cane with a Skinner blend laid on a white sheet of clay and roll. Cut sideways and you have some wonderful veneers with an interesting patterned center swatch. Click here to get a more detailed view.

There are tons of tutorials online for using the ripple blade so if these tickle your fancy, do try a Google search or spend some time on the many Pinterest boards featuring techniques with this tool and then head off to the studio table with a new infusion of ideas.

Exploration in the New Year

klio1961 pearled stencil 373x1024 - Exploration in the New YearFirst of all …. a very happy New Year and all the best to you this coming year! I am very excited to welcome 2018 and see what it has in store for us all. 2017 was a bit rough for so many of us, personally and globally, within our community and without. Every year has its challenges, of course, but I like to greet the new year with optimism and enthusiasm because it does represent so many new possibilities.

New possibilities may be about looking forward but it can be helpful to look back in order to create new and exciting futures. I’ve dug up a few interesting techniques from the past in order to, hopefully, spark some new ideas and encourage you to find new ways to use older techniques.

Let me tie into some of last week’s subjects. If you didn’t see the post about the silkscreen stencils on Friday, do check that company out. That would provide you with new designs, pre-made or custom, to try a new approach with. Then try a little something different, using multiple colors and controlled placement. I believe that is what Kleio Tsaliki was doing with these gorgeous sheets she created back in 2015.  I am thinking she used stencils and pearlescent paints and, in the top two, taped off sections as she applied colors. Or maybe she is using a stencil sponge to control where the color goes, which would work for the more random placement seen in the bottom sheet.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t know how she did this as the ideas we are guessing at are quite worthy of a bit of exploration regardless. I have found some really cool, unintended effects when I have just been guessing at how other people have done the work. It just pushed me to think of new ways to approach familiar techniques.

A quick click on this link to her Flickr pages will show you the variety of sheets she created. And if you are not into guessing how she did it, she also has a tutorial on this stencil technique available in her Etsy shop.

Going Half Round

Бижутерия своими руками мастер-клаThis week, I have pieces to share with you that have unexpected additions or changes. I think it is fantastic to mix things up, not only in our own world and work, but to step outside the expectations of what we think certain types of pieces should be. For instance, does a bead really have to be round? No, of course not. But should it at least be three-dimensionally symmetrical? Not really.

Katerina Sidorova has taken the round bead and literally reshaped it for this bracelet. The beads here were created by making perfectly round balls, cutting them in half, and adding thick cane slices on top that were carefully smoothed in to blend with the cut halves. The result is an off-balance half-round shape, or you might say it’s a ball half smashed, or you might call it acorn shaped even. What it is, though, is an unusual shape for a bead, which makes the gathering of the beautiful blue details quite intriguing. And really, the idea is pretty simple, but just that change makes us look twice because it does go beyond the expected round form.

Katerina has generously shared how she created these in this tutorial. She is the shop owner at Russia’s online polymer and jewelry supply shop KalinkaPolinka, which is also a great website full of articles, free tutorials, and links to other tutorials to explore.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Consider a form you regularly create and consider how you can change it to make it more interesting or intriguing. Sketch, cut, or sculpt your ideas.


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Original, Dimensional Mokume Texture

Anna Anpilogova diy textureSo, I came across this great little idea that I had seen some time ago but never got around to trying. Although the impression method of creating mokume patterns is pretty accessible with manufactured stamps and texture sheets, it would be a grand thing if we had some options so those standard patterns and stamps aren’t the only ones we see out there. This is one easy way to create a unique pattern—three-dimensional paint!

Anna Anpilogova shows us an example of a pattern she created using glass liner paint. Her simple explanation for this easy but dramatic DIY texture sheet can be found on her Flickr page:

You need some transparent film and liner for glass/ceramics. Just put the film over the desired pattern and trace it with the liner. Let dry, and then repeat tracing one or two times to increase the depth of the texture. Works well for mokume gane technique, just don’t forget to sprinkle it with water before applying to clay, as it tends to stick.

Some paints you can try would include Pebeo’s Outliner, Jacquard’s Luminere 3D, DecoArts 3D Enamels or even some heavy-body acrylic paints and borrowing a narrow tip applicator from something else or putting it in a squeeze bottle.

Anna is a big texture artist. If you are looking for a texture inspiration, take a look at her collection of work on her Flickr photostream and LiveJournal pages.


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A Magnetic Connection

C4aOne of the tougher decisions I had to make when putting together the Summer 2015 issue was to cut part of what Helen Breil sent for her wonderful “Magnetic Design” technique tutorial. The article primarily focuses on the creation of pieces with interchangeable magnetic focal points using rare earth magnets, but she also generously added a few additional instructions, including how to create magnetic brooch clasps that work double-duty as a pendant bail, as well as being the basis for multi-pin pieces that can be set on clothing in different configurations. She had also included an easy option for creating a magnetic front closure, but she had sent so much great information that we simply couldn’t fit it all in. So here is a concise collage of the magnetic front clasp she created for us, and the photos that let you see how it is put together.

The quick run down is that you use cylindrical rare earth magnets, drill holes on each half of the clasp, ensuring the magnet positions will line up your two halves exactly where you want them to come together. Create holes just large enough to snugly fit the magnets and deep enough for them to sit flush with the edge of the clasp. (You can insert the magnet into the hole to see if fits and use another magnet to pull it out of the hole when it does go in flush as needed.) Apply cyanoacrylate gel glue to the magnets and place them back into the hole. Ensure the magnets are set in the ‘right’ direction–since magnets are directional, you don’t want them glued in leaving only ends that oppose each other, so snap the magnets together as they should be and apply the cyanoacrylate gel glue to one end, pressing it into its hole, and then grasp that side of the pendant, add glue to the still exposed magnet end and push it into the open hole. Release the magnets by sliding them apart and let the glue set. That’s it!

Helen is a wealth of information and fabulous ideas, not to mention a creator of many wonderful clay-centric products. Be sure to check out her website for her tutorials, books, silkscreens, and texture sheets, as well as take a peek or two at her Flickr photostream for more great ideas. And get your copy of the summer issue of The Polymer Arts for Helen’s entire brilliant article.


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Creating Constellations

caprilliciousI am neck deep in some last minute tweaks for the next issue, so I’m giving you an assignment while my brain is otherwise occupied. Well, not an assignment, but it looks like a fun little tutorial to try out in a spare moment.

If you tried out the pastels tutorial in the Spring issue, then you already have what you need to try pastels in a different way. This tutorial is about dusting the pastels onto pieces. It was created by Neena of Caprilicious JewelleryI like the scattered texture and her bold colors. Although the tutorial starts out with just flat disks, I thought this simple bite into those disks that created a moon shape along with the bright green dangles was a nice touch; it has contrast and movement and is just fun. Nothing wrong with fun. I’m looking forward to having some time to do a little something fun later this week after the issue is safely and squarely in those printing machines.

See the tutorial on Neena’s website here and don’t forget to push the idea after you try it out. Try completely different forms like round or tube beads, work it into part of another piece, mix it with other surface treatments … just have fun exploring. You never know what will pop up.


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Graphical Pattern Play

103316258Well, has this week’s cool patterns got you hankering to try a some new dramatic patterns yourself? Here, I found a great online tutorial that uses the drama of graphical black patterns edged by white to pump up the color and pattern of scrap canes. It’s a beautifully simple technique brought to us by Pinklily of France. I decided to show you just the resultant sheets here and hope you’ll go see what can be made from them on her blog post. Because the options are too fun to miss I thought you might just get curious and click through.

The instructions on here are in French and can’t be copied into Google translate, but I think the images are pretty self-explanatory. Although she uses canes for the background, you could really use any kind of pattern from marbling to leftover mokume to Stroppel canes. You could even keep it simple with a solid or Skinner blend background. The general effect will be the same.

Pinklily is pretty generous with her tutorials on her blog, so if you like this, take some time to wander about and see what other fund stuff she might have for you.

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Repeat a Space


I thought I’d look for some tutorials for you to play with this weekend that would accommodate some play with repetition. In that search, I found this simple, but charming, polymer bead spacer  tutorial. We really didn’t talk about the repetition of strung beads, but I figured that would be a pretty obvious use of repetition. However, there are many ways to add variation to a string of beads. Different colors, sizes, shapes and textures is one way. Adding interesting spacers is another fantastic way.

Now, here is where I could use some help. I can find this tutorial on many a Pinterest board and numerous sites that gather tutorials, but I cannot pinpoint the author. And yes, there’s text on there but it does not seem to the English alphabet, so I’m at a loss. And with this tutorial so widely spread on English and non-English sites alike, it seems this person should get a little more obvious credit. So, if anyone has a clue, I’d love to hear from you. You can comment or reply to your email version of the blog post, and I’ll get it.

Here is where I originally found this tutorial if anyone wants to try to sleuth it out:

In the meantime, how about making creative spacers this weekend?  That could be a particularly fun, little project, especially for you snow bound folks!

Update: Thanks to Anna Anpilogova, we have our mystery solved.

The tutorial is by a Russian clayer Anna Mashkova. “Here is the link to original post in her blog …” Thank you to both Annas!


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