The Thunderbird necklaces from my previous post have now evolved into these mosaic pendants.
Initially these started because I decided to squish all the off-cut scraps from making the Thunderbirds into some fresh raw clay to make new sheets to use for mosaics. I had yellow and orange on my table at the time so that’s what I made. Because I didn’t know how the baked scraps combined with new clay would hold together when cutting into tesserae I decided to make some simple geometric shapes. I also added some deco beads for shine and to give a contrasting texture.
So, yes, I do have a favourite child here – the yellow and orange one appears in every photo! It’s the last one I made and I like the Art Deco look. I also used some bigger off-cut chunks (from carved beads) with fewer deco beads hidden in the spaces.
The edges of the tessera are pretty rough. I could probably improve this by warming the clay before cutting, or sanding the edges, but I quite like them like this. I think it adds character. Anyhow it’s very fulfilling when all the little pieces come together and seem to fit.
When the schools closed in March and I suddenly became a full time teacher, we continued the topic that my daughter had started at school which was Native Americans. Unsurprisingly my thoughts turned to their jewellery, in particular my grandmother’s Thunderbird necklace that she bought in New Mexico in 1946.
The family legend is that she met man selling necklaces for tourists but she wanted the one he was wearing as it was far superior. He said he couldn’t possibly sell it to her because it was his Thunderbird and without it he wouldn’t be protected. However she was determined and insisted on buying the one he was wearing rather than any of the others. After some persuasion he reluctantly agreed on condition that she go with him back to his house so he could put on a new Thunderbird so that he could safely take off the one he was wearing. Based on this article, this may have been a colourful story for a silly tourist. Nevertheless she treasured it and proudly wore the necklace when she dressed to impress and it has left me with a lasting impression of the Thunderbird as a powerful symbol of protection.
Which takes us back to the start of the Coronavirus lockdown, when everyone was stunned, scared and separated. I needed a project to get me out of bed in the morning and we all needed something to make us feel safer. I decided to create a Necklace Club for the ladies in my family and send each of them a handmade necklace as a physical link between us. I chose to make polymer clay Thunderbirds in memory of my grandmother and because I wanted something with a strong visual style to unite the individual necklaces.
Before she died, my grandmother decided to send her necklace home to a museum in New Mexico so I don’t have any photographs of it. I relied on my memories of it and a google search of images which reminded me of what I remembered. There was such a variety that every pendant ended up a little bit different.
Once I had all the pendants made, my sister in South Africa did a remote calibration on them to give them each an intention of healing and protection for the wearers. Hopefully this will also cover the postal journey that some of them are still making to South Africa!
I ended up making 12 pendants and strung the necklaces according to the preferences of the individuals receiving them. Some are chokers, some are part beaded on adjustable satin cords and some are fully beaded and long enough to slip over the head.
As a bonus reference to the crazy time in which I made these, I thought this handful of faux heishi beads looked like tiny loo rolls which made me laugh. For some reason toilet rolls were a big thing here in the UK. These are my first batch and are are a bit rough but I figured out some techniques to make them better. Hopefully I’ll get a tip tutorial done about that soon.
May you and your family circles stay safe and well.
I’ve always struggled to photograph my necklaces showing their scale on a human. I’ve had a mannequin for a while, but I’ve never really known what to dress her in, and it didn’t seem right leaving her naked. Therefore I decided to give her the same treatment as my necklace display and cover her with paper patchwork.
As you can see I built in some paper mache clothing. I wasn’t worried that she’d look naked once covered in paper, but I thought it would be useful to have a neckline for judging a necklace’s length.
I monoprinted the paper using my gelli plate before tearing it into pieces which I glued on. I wanted to make something that was interesting but subtle enough to act as a background.
I haven’t quite decided if the patchwork is too distracting. Here is another necklace made with my polymer clay beads for you to consider. What do you think?
I’m not a massive fan of Halloween (I don’t like the idea of teaching kids to ask for sweeties), but my children are. Last year my daughter insisted on keeping a small squash on her windowsill until it decayed. This year, after months of nagging, I decided to make something more permanent from polymer clay.
They are hollow led tea light holders with jack-o-lantern faces. I used sketches by the children as inspiration. I tried to keep the lively wobbles from the drawings but I did need to make the edges a bit more simple.
These are mixed media. I started with a layer of gum tape paper mache, foil armatures to build up the bulges on the pumpkin, plaster bandages to give a rigid surface and finally an outer layer of polymer clay.
These took about three days to make, with drying times, and figuring out how to make the lids. Maybe by next Halloween I’ll have made a tutorial to share with you.
Just to make them extra cheesy, I used glow-in-the-dark polymer clay to outline the features.
Here’s a video showing the technique I use to create a sheet of polymer clay mokume gane using a variety of stamps. I’m working on another video showing some things you can make with your finished sheet. I’m due to get a new phone tomorrow so the quality of the video footage should improve soon (although I still have a few demos that I have already filmed which are waiting for editing).
Here are some earrings I made using the sheet so you can see it all nicely sanded and finished. I have another video with a tip for sanding when there is wire embedded in your polymer clay.
I’ve been working on some fuchsia and lime polymer clay earrings. Here’s a selection of them (they do have partners, but I couldn’t fit them all in the photo):
My favourite pair is these green ones with a new shape bead that I like to think of as snails. I’m tempted to keep them, but I don’t wear much green. Maybe I’ll make another pair in a different colour.
I made a necklace. I like the beads, and I like the necklace but sadly I have a horrible suspicion that I’m going to dismantle it.
It’s an asymmetric necklace with a mix of different shaped beads in different sizes. It works well on the beading board, the problem is when it’s on a body…
… the square shaped beads lie horizontally instead of face on. See that pesky bead at the bottom? What do you think, is this a feature or a fail?
I like the big square beads, but I now realise the hole needs to be offset if they are to hang correctly at the bottom of a necklace. I should have remembered this from my big lentil necklace. The weight of the necklace is all wrong if I rotate it so that the square beads are on the side instead.
It works quite well as a multi-strand bracelet provided that you don’t move your hand at all. I’m trying to decide if I should take the necklace apart and use the beads to make four stacking bracelets instead.