2014 Art Charm Swap


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I’ve signed up for Jen Cameron’s Art Charm Swap. Sign ups close today, so be quick if you’d like to join in and help support Beads of Courage.

Love, art charm 2013

In exchange for sending in 11 charms, you’ll receive 10 art charms back (one of them your own), and the last one goes to auction to raise money for Beads of Courage.

Mixing colour scales


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I love colour, but sometimes it’s daunting knowing where to start, so I have a little box of baked polymer clay tiles. This allows me to collect up a few colours and see how they look together. I scratch in the colour mix recipe before it’s baked so that there is nothing to interfere with the colour of the tile (e.g. if it was written on in pen afterward).

Yes, as a child I spent hours arranging crayons in a box!

box of polymer clay colour tiles

Box of colour tiles

These baked colour swatches also give me a place to start when I need to mix a new colour. Before going through Maggie Maggio’s colour tutorials I used to mix colours ad hoc, but now I have made some colour scales that are more systematic.

colour scale red, blue, yellow

I used Fimo Classic colours Carmine, Blue and Yellow for the above scale. (Of course I’ll need to start again now for the new Fimo Professional.)

The top row is the pure colour, and the lower row is 50% colour and 50% white. I have added 10% white to all the yellow before any other mixing (see my earlier post for details why).

blue to yellow colour scale

As you can see I work in percentages rather than the usual 2 parts blue to 3 parts yellow etc. This allows me to more easily calculate the quantities to mix based on how much of the final colour I want. I will endevour to share with you the secret weapon I use for this in another post shortly.

Patchwork, dangles and spangles


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Here are some of my latest earrings…

These earrings feature a pair of my handmade polymer clay patchwork beads.

Patchwork bead earrings by Cate van Alphen

Patchwork earrings by Cate van Alphen

These are extra long earrings with sliced kaleidoscope cane beads.

Long earrings by Cate van Alphen

Long earrings by Cate van Alphen

These earrings have crystal spangles, just to rhyme with dangles. :)

Crystal earrings by Cate van Alphen

Crystal earrings by Cate van Alphen

And because every day needs more sparkle.

September Sheep


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I have been making some more polymer clay faux cross stitch sheepiness for Sheepfest. Well, when you’ve spent a whole weekend making a cane, you simply have to!

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep bag charm by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep bag charm by Cate van Alphen

I also made some matching pendants, but I forgot to photograph them before I took them to the Craftworkshop.

Baaa-ye for now.

Rustic stack beads


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I was inspired by Sonya Girodon’s necklace Skeleton Coast to make beads by stacking layers of polymer clay.

"Skeleton Coast"

I was quite pleased with my efforts at the time but unfortunately now that I look at them in comparison to hers they look horribly juvenile. Or maybe it’s just because I’m having an “everything I do is horrible” day? :(

Gradient stack earrings by Cate van Alphen

Gradient stack bead earrings by Cate van Alphen

Polymer clay earrings by Cate van Alphen

Earrings with dangle by Cate van Alphen

Anyway check out Sonya’s work, she even shares a tutorial for making beads similar to the focal ones in the necklace.

Fimo Professional


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A little while ago I tried the new Fimo Professional clay. I got the True Colours pack which included a great colour mixing chart which I imagine is going to end up dog-eared with use.

Spectrum beads by Cate van Alphen

Wow! The colours are fantastic!

The clay was wonderfully easy to condition, although I did wonder if it would be a bit mushy for cane work. We were enjoying some amazingly* warm weather at the time. Or perhaps it was because the clay was fresher? Either way it didn’t particularly matter for these beads as I was going for a blended tie-dye effect.  And I loved the colours so much I decided I didn’t really care.

I didn’t manage to figure out the reusable packaging and ended up with the same torn, flappy mess as before. However I have since found a video which should help ;)

Spectrum beads by Cate van Alphen

Did I mention I really loved the colours?

* This is English summer after all.

ABS July Challenge – Little Mermaid’s Necklace


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This month’s ABS inspiration painting is “The Little Mermaid” by Edmund Dulac. The problem that I had was that I knew exactly what I wanted to make…

The Little Mermaid painting

The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac
Pencil, pen, black ink and watercolour with scratching out on paper, 30.8 x 25.2 cm

I wanted to use my polymer clay “Oceanic Artefact” pendant, on an organic ruffled ribbon, ENCRUSTED with shells and pearls, perhaps with a hidden vial of magic liquid.

hollow bronze polymer clay pendant

The problem was that it took me 3 weeks to get into town to buy the ribbon I needed… and then I couldn’t find my shell beads… but I couldn’t think of another design because I KNEW what I wanted to make! When I finally did get the ribbon, it didn’t ruffle like I wanted so I sewed up the edge with pale blue seed beads. Then it wasn’t as organic as I wanted, and the blue was too dark since now it was double. So I put some white glass beads inside the ribbon and by that time it didn’t really go with the pendant anymore.

blue ribbon necklace

Instead I used my little faux mother of pearl Amphora bead (which was going to have been the supporting hidden vial of liquid) as the focal.

mermaid necklace

The resulting necklace is quite pretty and sea foamy, but it is a bit more Disney Princess than I was aiming for. What I had in mind was a much more complex coral reef complete with sharp rocks and stinging anemones as a reminder of the pain in the original story. But now the time is up.

sea foam necklace

I suppose disappointment is also part of the story.


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