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I wanted to do something a bit different for the blue focal beads I made this week of my 2015 Polymer Clay Challenge. I started off with some dissolving packing peanuts which I threaded onto wire and wrapped with strings of polymer clay. I couldn’t find my extruder, so the snakes are more irregular and shorter lengths than I had intended. Then I added some spots and dots both for decorative purposes and for structural support to keep adjacent strings joined.

Wrap focal detail by Cate van Alphen

Necklace focal detail by Cate van Alphen

After I’d baked it, I dissolved the packing peanuts in water. I left gaps because I wanted the interaction of internal and external space, but I think I took it too far. As I was contemplating if it would be structurally sound, I dropped it and it broke in two places. I set about repairing it with liquid clay and more dots, but each time I baked it to cure the new clay it broke in a new place (I think due to the polymer clay being softer when warmed up).

I also made a focal flower bead using thick slices of cane which was safer bet both structurally and aesthetically.

Focal flower bead by Cate van Alphen

Focal flower bead by Cate van Alphen

Blue polymer clay focals by Cate van Alphen

Blue polymer clay focals by Cate van Alphen

Then I decided I liked the two pieces together, so I attached the flower bead using fine wire and glass seed beads.

Flower focal by Cate van Alphen

Blue flower focal by Cate van Alphen

Blue necklace focal (back) by Cate van Alphen

Blue necklace focal (back) by Cate van Alphen

I added a few more dots to cover up the wire joins and when I baked those it broke again :(. Now we’ve reached a truce – I won’t touch it, and it won’t break anymore. So it’s an interesting look, but I need to work out some structural issues.

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