Polymer Clay Love

The long weekend has been a crafting staycation for me, mostly with me getting back to polymer clay.  I have amassed enough clay to keep me kneading and conditioning for quite a bit, so I went back to work on unfinished projects.  I also started to collate the work I had done so far, and much of them will evolve into something new cooking up in my head.

I found molds I had created but which I had not used to mold clay with, and a striking ornate brass stamping of a lion head I have had for a while came to life in clay.
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I am a novice at this but I find it very rewarding with minimal frustration because you can turn it into whatever it is you might want it to be.  It can be fanciful and candy colored, or almost like faux metal or faux stone.  I have enjoyed working with it and creating things to wear that make people stop and wonder what the necklace or earrings are made of.  

I find great inspiration from Cynthia Tinnaple’s Polymer Clay Daily where artisans from all over the world are featured.  Just browsing the short blurbs and the gorgeous pictures are enough to get me thinking about how I want to work with my polyclay.  So many possibilities!

While I work mainly with gemstones and glass beads for my etsy shop, I have pieces which have incorporated handmade cabochons I fashioned from my own molds.  I find that polymer clay cabochons are actually more elegant and have a more subtle color range than the regular resin cabochons that are in the market.  I’ve bought one or two and made molds, but my best tool is a set of carved opal cabochons that I got as a gift from my late mother-in-law.  They were loose cabochons meant to be a set of three, but the intricacy and uniqueness of the carving was what made them standout.  I see them as peonies.

I have worked with both pour on (liquid) molds and the more common mold putty.  I can’t say I like one more than the other because I’ve found that one can be better depending on what type of mold you’re making.  For intricately designed originals with lots of crevices and detail, the pourbob mold is more suitable as you will see in the end product below.
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The pink and lavender cabs, I will use as is, but the beige ones will rendered with a hint of gold patina using gilders paste later.

Below you will find my raw polymer clay lion head cabochons fashioned from the brass stamping on the picture on the left.  I actually did two versions of this with two different clays.  The harder in consistency went under the brass stamping itself, and the softer beige one went into a putty mold I cast off of the stamping.  
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The brass stamping wasn’t all that expensive but was hollow and unwieldy to work with, needing attaching to a cloth or plastic base.  So I thought I’d try to create a solid cabochon instead of a hollow form, and experimented with a subtler patina that wouldn’t make the head too loud a part of a piece I had in mind.  Here you can see what I mean when I put the real brass with the faux metal polymer clay lion head.  It isn’t quite as shiny, but you can pass it off as metallic.

This second I worked on is more of a cost and weight work around.  I fell in love with the original casting the minute I saw it but the price was a bit of a splurge for a finding.  The slots were too big and uneven a size for me to find actual cabochons for, so I knew right there and then I’d have to make the cabochons myself.  The piece was also rather heavy and I worried that further embellishing it would make it too heavy on the neck.  

This one is a work in progress as I purposely left out the bail on the original piece, and I am thinking of creating a solid backing for the pendant to have the bail cling to.  But below you will see the original rendering, and the golden tint it took on after an application of gilders paste.

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Rendered this way, I can fill in the setting with my choice of metallic polymer clay, or do that and add gemstones or other embellishments around the cross form to create a larger statement piece.  It’s just trickier to get all the rope details around the frame, but the finished setting in polyclay worked quite well and turned out as I had expected it to.

I’m going to save the before and after of the flower cabochons I tinted into a dark gold hue for later when I have them set into Earrings.  

I just found a shoebox full of other polymer clay bead experiments which I need to turn into something workable.  That’s another post altogether.  I am also working with doing another form of polymer clay Earrings but I’m still thinking about how I can render it well.  Back to my polymer clay I go..

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Polymer Clay: Hand-molded Beads

Someone had passed on a beautiful vase of flowers which included lavander and pink roses in the mix to me just before memorial day weekend, and I was hoping to try and create rose petal covered polymer clay beads.  The plan was to create hand molded beads from left over polymer clay and then “wrap” them with the rose petals which I was hoping to coat with resin as a sealant.  Ambitious, indeed, and sadly, it didn’t work.

I ended up with quite a bunch of handmolded beads which I had made by pressing together two halves from a silicone rubber mold.  If you look closely, the edges are not perfect although the face is smooth and the shape came out rather well.  I pressed the two faces onto a gold eyepin to embed a bead hole and then “smoothed” the edges together with my fingertips to “seal” the two faces together.

Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 1Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 2Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 3

I then created a polymer clay coating over it using earth tone colored clay.  These are by no means perfectly round and are obviously handmade, but it will enable you to create your polymer clay beads without resorting to creating cane-related designs.  I baked the beads over the weekend and have come up with quite a batch and will be creating a piece out of it before the week is out.

Waves Polymer Clay bead 2

Please bear in mind that I’m experimenting here.  The colors I chose were: Jewelry Gold, Pottery (Terra Cotta), Antique Gold, Brown and Copper.  I also balanced out two matte or solid colors (Pottery and Brown) with three pearlescent colors with a shimmer (Jewelry Gold, Antique Gold and Copper).

Waves Polymer Clay bead 1

I used two regular shapes, puff round and puff oval, and experimented with this swiss cross bead which was a little tricky to “coat” because the corners were blunted by the polymer clay coating. (Lesson learned.)

My original plan is to coat this with resin, but I am thinking now that the matte texture of the baked polymer clay looks good as is.  I’m trying to weigh the pros and the cons.

Over the weekend, too, I created some square canes with leftover polymer clay, still using this same design.  More on that later.