This week for my polymer clay challenge I made spacer beads using my indigo colour palette.
I also made some disc beads.
And some double-sided disc beads (the other side is indigo).
A while back (oops!) I mentioned I have a secret weapon for mixing colours and it is… grid lined paper. By looking directly down and lining up a rigid blade with the lines on the paper and I can get accurately sized pieces. I use this both for colour mixing and for getting evenly sized beads.
To cut 1/2 a square, I line the blade up diagonally with the corners of the grid (see image above where I’m cutting 5 squares into 2x 2.5 square pieces).
For example the colours above are the following mixes of Fimo Classic:
in the usual ratios this would be:
So if I wished to make 100 spacer beads (each using 1 square of clay) in each colour, I would simply use 1 square of clay for each percent and mix up the perfect quantity of clay. If I were working in the parts method I’d get 4 parts of brick and 40 parts of mustard (or to get equal quantities I’d have to mix up 1 part bordeaux + 19 parts yellow and then use 2 parts of that with 2 parts white and mix a second time). Or I could multiply each part in the brick recipe by 10, and then that’s 80 shapes to cut out.
I don’t know about you, but I find mixing colours a bit of a chore when I’m impatient to make beads so the single mix option appeals to me! There is a further perk to the percentage recipes when mixing gradients which I’ll explain in another post.
Once my colour is mixed I use the grid paper to cut the polymer clay sheet into equal sized squares.
That way I end up with nicely regular sized beads. And providing I write down what I did, if I come back another day, I can make more beads of the same size (e.g. in another colour).
A few Christmases ago my sister requested 5 large beads with swirls of colours, so I made her some jumbo lentil beads. Unfortunately they have been bothering me ever since!
I decided to bake them without holes so as not to distort the shape, but the first problem was that the beads were over 3cm in diameter, (almost exactly the same size as my drill bit) so I needed to find a way to drill from either side and meet perfectly in the middle. I found an excellent tutorial for drilling lentil beads but unfortunately I had to wait until we arrived at my dad’s house to use his drill press. Did I mention this was Christmas eve?
After some trauma (including a cracked bead) we managed to drill all the beads perfectly in the center. As soon as the varnish was dry, I strung them only to be met with the next problem: while I loved each of the beads individually, together they just didn’t hang nicely at all! Since it was now late on Christmas eve it was too late to do anything.
My first attempt at a solution was to make some black spacer beads. They solved the problem of the beads being too close together, but the lentils still had a tendency to twist sideways. Also the holes of the spacer beads were quite large so they didn’t sit neatly on the cord. So slightly better but still not great.
I have FINALLY managed to get the beads back from my sister and drill a second hole between the first hole and the top of the bead. I have tied knots between the lentils to keep them spaced apart, and strung a second (slightly thinner) cord which stops them twisting. Because the necklace has an adjustable knot, I have put in two “tension” beads – these allow the second cord to be altered so that it hangs correctly (changing the length of the necklace seems to change the angle of the loop sides).
Voilà – new improved necklace. The lentils no longer twist, and the second cord is not too intrusive. If I make large lentil beads like this again, I will drill them slightly above center – presumably the weight at the bottom will discourage them from twisting.
If you want to try making lentil beads yourself, this is a really good tutorial.