Polymer clay challenge week 16 – focal

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So my grand plans for a fancy start to green have been slightly postponed because I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time painting skirting boards in our new (200-year-old) house.

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

I managed to make these two hollow focal beads because I had the blank cores ready to be decorated. So all I did was extrude a snake and mash it together to form a cane. They have a velvety matt texture with a dusting of green iridescent mica powder. No sanding, see?

Hollow beads by Cate van Alphen

Hollow beads by Cate van Alphen

The beads are pretty chunky and make a noise when you shake them. I was experimenting with making a rain bead (a mini rain stick that is round) which is why I had the blanks on hand. The sound is ok but not like rain. I think a length of tube is required to make the right sound.

Betty Botter read a blog and took a better photo

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It was quite a struggle to take photos of my glow-in-the-dark earrings because I had to use the manual settings on my camera. Fumbling around in the dark is not the best time to try to figure out ISO and aperture. So after uploading my photos on Friday I did a bit of research. I have been doing more with the manual settings and I think I’ve seen a huge improvement in my photos!

Earrings by Cate van Alphen

Earrings by Cate van Alphen

For some reason I had always thought that if the wibbly camera icon showed on the camera screen it meant there wasn’t enough light to take a decent photo. I knew higher ISO was for low lighting, so I’d up the ISO till the icon went away. It turns out this has the side effect of making the picture grainy. In the pictures above they have the same aperture, but the one on the left is ISO 400 and the one on the right (taken in worse light) is ISO 100. I think the second one looks cleaner.

Glow in the dark earrings by Cate van Alphen

Glow in the dark earrings by Cate van Alphen

It wasn’t completely dark when I started taking the glow-in-the-dark pictures, and although it was too dark for me to see the background, at the slower shutter speeds the camera could. So it turns out that instead of increasing the ISO for lower light, I just needed to use a tripod and a slower shutter speed! Doh!

I took some new pictures of a necklace I made back in 2010 using beads made from the same glow-in-the-dark cane as the earrings.

Glow in the dark beads

BEFORE

Glow-in-the-dark necklace by Cate van Alphen

AFTER

Woah! You can literally spot the difference. From now on ISO 100 is my friend :)

You can find this necklace in my Etsy shop. I thought it might make a nice companion for the earrings.

Another Oddment necklace

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I had so much fun making my Oddment necklace, I made another one in slightly different colours. This necklace includes polymer clay beads made by Rebekah Payne which I won back at the start of 2014. Can you spot them?

Bronze Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

Bronze and Gold Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

I also included polymer clay beads that I made myself, glass lampwork beads and filigree metal beads which I reclaimed from jewellery that I found in the charity shop.

Oddment beads by Cate van Alphen

Oddment beads by Cate van Alphen

Here are a few more photos since the necklace looks quite different depending on the rotation around the neck.

Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

Bronze and Gold Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

Some of the beads I used to make this necklace are currently available in my Etsy bead shop.

Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

Bronze and Gold Oddment necklace by Cate van Alphen

I’m collecting up a few more stashes of beads so I expect there will be more of these necklaces soon ;)

April Earrings – Evening Glow

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I was inspired to make a pair of glow-in-the-dark mood bead earrings by the Earrings Everyday April challenge.

Hemispheric - Valencia, Spain

“Hemispheric – Valencia, Spain – Jan 2007″ by Diliff – Own work.
Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

The thing which struck me from this photo was the dynamic quality of the light, so I included the mood beads which change colour. I made the beads on the bottom from polymer clay and the “white” veins glow in the dark. These beads convey the glow from windows.  The central beads feature the colours of the photo and the patterns are mirrored like the reflections on the water. And the pink cotton cord… well that connects the beads to the ear-wires ;)

Evening glow earrings by Cate van Alphen

Evening Glow earrings by Cate van Alphen

Here’s a close up where I’ve changed the colour of one of the mood beads by warming it in my hand.

Evening glow earrings by Cate van Alphen

Evening Glow earrings by Cate van Alphen

You can find these earrings in my Etsy shop.

Earrings by Cate van Alphen under UV light

Evening Glow earrings by Cate van Alphen under UV light

Glow in the dark beads by Cate van Alphen

Glow-in-the-dark beads by Cate van Alphen

Green colour palette recipes

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Today is the start of green. This time I’ve prepared some ideas so the transition should be easier than the switch to yellow.

Here are my green colour palette recipes. I’m using Fimo Professional, and percentages for the quantities (click here to see why):

RiceFieldHues

Green colour palette scan

Beige

  • 99 white
  • 0.45 true yellow *
  • 0.05 true green *
  • 0.5 black

* (0.5% mix of 90 true yellow 10 true green)

Light Green

  • 95 white
  • 2.75 true yellow
  • 2 true green
  • 0.25 black

Green

  • 89 true yellow
  • 10 true green
  • 1 black

Dark Green

  • 57 true yellow
  • 38 true green
  • 5 black

Grey Green

  • 61.5 white
  • 3 true yellow
  • 10 true magenta
  • 23 true blue
  • 2 true green
  • 0.5 black

Light Grey

  • 95 white
  • 1.5 true magenta
  • 3.5 true blue

Goodbye yellow

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Today is the last day of Yellow. I’ve been a bit more organised this time and I have listed most of the components in my bead shop.

Earring pair by Cate van Alphen

Earring pair by Cate van Alphen

Tassel pendant and buckle by Cate van Alphen

Tassel pendant and buckle by Cate van Alphen

Yellow tracery beads by Cate van Alphen

Yellow tracery beads by Cate van Alphen

I’ve kept a few components aside because I know how I want to string them to make a necklace. No doubt they will make it to my Etsy shop with finished pieces of jewellery like my Daffodil necklace eventually.

Daffodil necklace by Cate van Alphen

Daffodil necklace by Cate van Alphen

Goodbye (for now) yellow, it’s been fun!

Polymer clay challenge week 15 – toggle

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This week I’m slightly early for my Polymer Clay Challenge piece because it’s nearly time to start the next colour – green. I made toggles this week. I kept it fairly simple because I knew I didn’t have much time to work on it. I wanted to make something to go with my retro beads.

Yellow focal toggle by Cate van Alphen

Yellow focal toggle by Cate van Alphen

Anke HumpertI used the cut and replace technique from Anke Humpert’s class on the Virtual Retreat. It’s the same on both sides, but I think it would be interesting to try contrasting colours on the reverse.

Mosaic focal toggle by Cate van Alphen

Mosaic focal toggle by Cate van Alphen

The mosaic focal toggle happened by accident because my on my first attempt the clay was a bit thin. Adding shards of polymer clay helped add some thickness and I like the look of it too :)

Now you can find it in my Etsy shop.

Part baked cracks

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I finally put the edges on my polymer clay focal bead from a few weeks ago. Unfortunately when it came out from the final bake it had cracked :(

cracked bead by Cate van Alphen

I did notice a tiny crack after baking the back onto the dome which I thought was due to the air expanding inside the newly sealed dome. Therefore I drilled a vent hole via the threading holes. When I make pieces like this, which I bake several times, I usually to a partial bake for 10 minutes or so, and then a full bake at the end. I suspect the cracks are due to the partially baked clay waiting around for a few days before the full cure.

So from now on I’ll be doing longer cures between and hopefully avoid the cracks.

Retro beads revisited

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Almost as soon as I had made my polymer clay retro beads I was itching to swap the colours around.

Retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

Retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

The combination I liked most was the one with the beige background and the big yellow and the small orange dot. It occurred to me that this was because it had a light, a middle and a dark colour. So I did a mockup on the computer to check this in black and white.

oldg_old

See how heavy and dark the green and brown together become when it’s in black and white? Here’s an alternative colour scheme.

new

I’ve gotten rid of the repeating combinations e.g. big brown dot with small green dot on one tile and big green dot with a small brown dot on another. And see how the pattern still pops even in black and white?

g_new

I’m not sure how many different colour combinations there are, but it’s a pretty deep rabbit hole as artists such as Josef Albers have discovered before me.

Will I be remaking these beads? Probably not (or at least not anytime soon since it’s nearly time for green). Although I think I’ve learnt a few lessons that will help if I do decide to make these in the next colour scheme.

Lesson 1: do a mockup on the computer before spending a day making beads!

Polymer clay challenge week 14 – bead

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This week I made yellow polymer clay beads again. I started off with some macaroni beads with random patches of colour made from leftover mokume gane sheet rolled to the thinnest setting and torn into small pieces. The result reminded me of painting watercolours onto wet paper.

Watercolour macaroni beads by Cate van Alphen

Watercolour macaroni beads by Cate van Alphen

I also made a curved piece that I was going to cut up into smaller beads, but I like it too much as a whole. I think I’ll make it into a torque necklace once I’ve done a bit more sanding and tidied up the ends.

Torque necklace - WIP by Cate van Alphen

Torque necklace – WIP by Cate van Alphen

Then because it was the Easter weekend, I decided I had some time to revisit the retro beads I made earlier in the year. I thought perhaps if I made several all together it would be quicker and more efficient. It wasn’t really :|

Yellow retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

Yellow retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

Almost as soon as I’d made them I wanted to switch some of the colours around. I have an idea about what’s worrying me with these beads and I’ll get back to you as soon as I’ve figured out how to articulate it.

Retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

Retro tile beads by Cate van Alphen

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