For my 2016 Polymer Clay Challenge I have decided to make a vessel each week. I’m planning a wide range of objects from inros to bowls to covered jars so my first dilemma was deciding where to start!
Since I had a sheet of mokume gane lying around (as one does), I decided to start by covering a jar you either love or hate ;). It was already dark glass so I didn’t feel too guilty covering it with an opaque sheet of polymer clay.
My idea was for it to look like a chunk of lava rock that had been shaped into a vase with a the sides polished off to reveal the bright mokume gane inside. Something almost completely, but not quite, unlike a bolder opal.
I started off by baking pieces of mokume gane onto the flattened sides of the jar so that it would remain smooth while I textured the black polymer clay around it. Unfortunately my simple idea soon turned into a rescue mission as one side cracked. I tried filling it with liquid clay for the next bake and I ended up with a bigger crack and another on the other side. (It’s only just occurred to me that I should have popped off the mokume gane and started again). The more I tried to fill the cracks, the bigger they got. 😥
Since this is my first jar, I’m not sure if this is just something that happens when you cover a glass jar with solid polymer clay or if it was because when I baked the patterned sheets I did a part bake as I knew I would be adding more clay and doing further curing. I do have (up to) 50 more* times to practice, but any suggestions to prevent cracks would be appreciated.
I have started a group on Flickr for Art Vessels if you’d like to join in with your own creations. It’s not limited to polymer clay either, just in case you make chocolate tea pots.
* I am determined to also have a go at making an inro before the end of the year!
This week I made green toggles for my 2015 Polymer Clay Challenge. I do intend to come up with some more interesting mechanics for my clasps, but I haven’t had the time to experiment. So for this week I went back to making shank buttons.
I did start making a wire hook to go with a button to complete the clasp, but then I couldn’t find my hammer to harden it (and add some texture). I’ll have to finish it later when I’ve unpacked.
The different designs all came from the same pattern sheet.
I’ve just realised there are only two days left of green and I’ve hardly been able to give it a fair go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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):
- 99 white
- 0.45 true yellow *
- 0.05 true green *
- 0.5 black
* (0.5% mix of 90 true yellow 10 true green)
- 95 white
- 2.75 true yellow
- 2 true green
- 0.25 black
- 89 true yellow
- 10 true green
- 1 black
- 57 true yellow
- 38 true green
- 5 black
- 61.5 white
- 3 true yellow
- 10 true magenta
- 23 true blue
- 2 true green
- 0.5 black
- 95 white
- 1.5 true magenta
- 3.5 true blue
Although I’d like to claim full responsibility, the necklace I made for this month’s ABS challenge seemed to make itself.
It all started when I was taking photographs the polymer clay beads I made for my Etsy shop, and I was inspired to put the green and brown beads together.
I loved the combination, but unfortunately I only had four of the brown beads. The strand wasn’t even long enough for a bracelet, and they didn’t work so well together when “watered down” with other beads. Then I remembered when I was back at school (in my original zigzag phase) I did a drawing of the Midgard Serpent with small sections of different patterns all down the length. This gave me the idea to make a necklace using several short motifs of different beads.
I call it an Oddment necklace, and it was a great way to use up some orphan beads. There’s no clasp – it just goes over the head. I like the way it looks different depending on the way it’s hung. I hope it conjures up some of the richness of Frida’s paintings.
The short section of beads on waxed cotton cord is a nod to the intertwined thorns of the inspiration painting.