Polymer clay challenge week 21 – beads

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Since I was disappointed with last week’s pendant I wanted to make something really nice this week, but I’m still cleaning the old house and at one point I thought I’d have to write a blog saying I hadn’t made anything at all :(. Then I realised it was Wednesday morning not Thursday so there was still time. Whew! I took the evening off from unpacking and made these green polymer clay beads.

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

I made a cane with layers of green which I sliced/squashed using a credit card. Then I used my method of making a Natasha bead round (do you think I can call them Cate Beads?). The two patterns below are from the same cane, but I used different orientations of the Natasha cube to make the poles.

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

I finally got round to making a pair of head pins for earrings. I also made another earring pair by making the beads oval and adding gold mica powder tips. They looked a bit lonely in their own photo, but they are there in the top right of the first photo in this blog.

Green headpins by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay and coloured copper wire headpins by Cate van Alphen

Maybe next week I’ll have found all my tools and have time to make something amazing. ;)

Polymer clay challenge week 20 – focal

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This week’s offering is a bit rubbish, but the Polymer clay challenge is to make something – it doesn’t have to be good! I managed to excavate enough space among the moving boxes to make a green pendant. It wasn’t easy.

Green shard pendant by Cate van Alphen

Green shard pendant by Cate van Alphen

Panel bracelet by Cate van Alphen

Panel bracelet by Cate van Alphen

The filigree shard is from a disaster in week 18. I wanted to revisit a technique from a few years ago where I made a filigree pattern from finely extruded polymer clay and then, after baking, I squished in a backing of layered clay to make a subtle mokume gane background. Unfortunately when I squished the backing onto the baked filigree pattern, the curves snapped. Then when I came to sand the surface to reveal the colours in the extruded threads the whole sheet crumbled. I’m not sure if it was because the backing clay was thinner than I had planned (I didn’t have as much clay mixed as I should have) or because the clay wasn’t properly cured (I turned the temperature down in an attempt to stop my beads cracking).

I hoped that I could put a shard from the crumbled sheet onto some backing clay to make it strong enough for me to sand. I couldn’t find my blades, so the background shape is a bit rustic (it’s uncut from the pasta machine). I couldn’t find my sandpaper to texture the clay either so I used a scrunched up ball of tin foil. I quite like the effect.

Back of green pendant by Cate van Alphen

Back of green pendant by Cate van Alphen

When I took it out the oven both layers cracked which made me suspect the temperature wasn’t high enough. So I stuck it together with some bake and bond and cured again. This time it held together, but the cracked filigree irritated me, so I added some crackle effect varnish to make it more of a feature. I haven’t used it very often and the cracks were smaller than I wanted. I tried adding some green alcohol ink to highlight the crackles, but it just coloured everything (see the smudge on the right) so that was a fail.

But I made something.

Polymer clay challenge week 19 – bead

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My post is a bit early this week, but we are moving and the internet goes tomorrow. :o What will I do without internet? Oh, right – pack boxes!

Green sequin beads by Cate van Alphen

Green sequin beads by Cate van Alphen

My offering is pretty simple this week – again it’s the moving thing. I made some rustic polymer clay sequin beads. The twist is that they have contrasting colours on either side.

Disc beads by Cate van Alphen

Beige disc beads by Cate van Alphen

I think this will create a nice dynamic effect when they are strung into something like a necklace because the colour will change depending on the viewing angle.

Green disc beads by Cate van Alphen

Green disc beads by Cate van Alphen

Glitter repair

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I couldn’t bear looking at the cracks in my green beads anymore, but I didn’t want to completely obliterate the green patterns, so I added a layer of transparent polymer clay mixed with green glitter. I backfilled the cracks with some green clay first to reduce the chance of air bubbles being introduced. I made a few spacer beads using the excess transparent clay.

Green glitter beads by Cate van Alphen

Green glitter beads by Cate van Alphen

This time when I baked them I put the top shelf back into the oven with a tile on top to protect the beads. It seemed to work – I didn’t find any cracks or air bubbles :)

Polymer clay challenge week 18 – toggle

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This week I made the inevitable leaves for my green polymer clay challenge. I started off with something else that was a complete disaster (I’ll see if I can rescue it some time). So I started again by making a leaf cane using this free tutorial (which was actually one of the main reasons I bought and extruder) and then I made lots of leaf buttons.

Leaf buttons by Cate van Alphen

Leaf buttons by Cate van Alphen

It was fun trying different shapes and sizes. Some of them (not pictured) were too thin and snapped. I couldn’t resist adding a touch of silver acrylic paint to highlight the vein texture.

Leaf button toggle by Cate van Alphen

Leaf button toggle by Cate van Alphen

I made wire loops for some of the buttons. The oval-shaped loop worked best for being large enough to fit the button through, but not so big that the button fell out by accident. I also like that it looks a bit leafy too.

Polymer clay and wire toggle by Cate van Alphen

Polymer clay and wire toggle by Cate van Alphen

I made a sheet of patterned clay using slices of leaf cane which I cut into a doughnut shape. I used silver coloured wire to make a bar and loop to complete the toggle.

Green bead toggle by Cate van Alphen

Green bead toggle by Cate van Alphen

Then I spend a ridiculous amount of time figuring out how to add a shank loop to the back of the bead that I made using the hole from the doughnut. (Sorry I forgot to photograph the back.) The wire loop is one of the round ones that was too big for the leaf button.

Green polymer clay and wire toggles by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay and wire toggles by Cate van Alphen

Retro necklace

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Previously I mentioned that I’d kept some of my yellow polymer clay beads aside because I knew how I wanted to string them. Here they are in a yellow and brown micro-macramé (or microme ;) ) necklace.

Retro necklace by Cate van Alphen

Retro necklace by Cate van Alphen

Retro necklace detail by Cate van Alphen

Retro necklace detail by Cate van Alphen

Macramé necklace detail by Cate van Alphen

Macramé necklace detail by Cate van Alphen

This chappy is now available in my Etsy shop.

Fairy Door Swap

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I made these fairy doors back in February for the Virtual Retreat swap. I wanted to give them some time to reach their destinations before I showed them on my blog. Then I got distracted, and now it’s May!

Fairy Doors by Cate van Alphen

Fairy Doors by Cate van Alphen

The doors feature a glass nugget as an inter-dimensional portal, a little bell to call the fairies, and protective runes so that only friendly fairies can come through.

Back of Fairy Doors by Cate van Alphen

Back of Fairy Doors by Cate van Alphen

I surrounded the doors with natural things like wood, stones and plants made from polymer clay. I had to stop myself from endlessly adding bits of moss and flowers.

Fariy Doors by Cate van Alphen

Fairy Doors by Cate van Alphen

I experimented with different reflective surfaces behind the glass. I tried foil, glitter and silver acrylic paint. They each resulted in different effects each with their own appeal.

Polymer clay challenge week 17 – beads

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I was a bit disappointed with my cane last week and then I remembered that previously when I’d made a similar cane I had used clay that I had made into a skinner blend first. I used the same quantities of each colour as I did last week and the same extruder die. I think the new cane is more subtle and interesting, although perhaps it could do with a few solid lines as well as the blended ones.

Green canes by Cate van Alphen

Green polymer clay canes by Cate van Alphen

Again I didn’t have much time this week to make my green beads, so I only made 6 using the new cane. I added the same green iridescent mica powder.

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

I was really disappointed to find that they all cracked when I baked them :(

Cracked beads by Cate van Alphen

Cracked beads by Cate van Alphen

The worst part is – I’m not really sure why. Previously when my beads cracked I thought it was because the clay was only partly cured while I did multiple bakes. It did take a few days for me to finish off these beads, but they were raw clay throughout and sitting on a glass board, so they shouldn’t have leached. Since the cane was made from blended clay, I didn’t think it was a conditioning issue either. Now I wonder if the temperature of the oven spiked more because with only six beads, there was less polymer clay in the oven than usual.

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Green beads by Cate van Alphen

Anyway they look ok in selected shots ;) I don’t know if I’ll be able to cover them with something else since the cracks may result in air bubbles.

Queen of Hearts’ Earrings

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I was inspired to make earrings for the Queen of Hearts from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. They feature polymer clay focal beads handmade by me.

Queen of Heart's Earrings by Cate van Alphen

Queen of Heart’s Earrings by Cate van Alphen

Of course I couldn’t resist making earrings based on the other playing card suits too.

Playing card suit earrings by Cate van Alphen

Playing card suit earrings by Cate van Alphen

I think they’d make fun mismatched pairs. They are all available now in my Etsy shop.

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