The making of – my polymer clay flower earrings.

A few weeks ago a friend and customer of mine asked me to re-create a pair of earrings for her friend. The petals on one earring were broken and they looked quite worn out and dirty. I had a look at them and discovered that they were made from a different material (not polymer clay), it was white underneath layers of colour. To figure out how to make these I had to take them apart. And then I just played around and experimented. I bought a freesia cutter to use for the top bit and used a small round cutter for the bottom bit. I also changed the design as I don’t want to copy things.

After finishing this pair I mailed my friend the images and she was happy with the result. Which gave me the idea to make more of these but changing the design and use mainly polymer clay.… Read More

Polydays 2012 Part 3 – Alison Gallant’s Reversible Necklace

posted in: Jewellery, Reviews 0

Polydays organiser Alison Gallant taught our group on the final “Polyday”. Alison is an internationally renowned British polymer clay artist with over 20 years of claying experience. She is also a regular contributor of “Making Jewellery” magazine and I have attended a course of hers before a few years ago – I have also written about this for Making Jewellery.
For the “Polydays” Alison chose an elaborate and quite complicated project – a necklace that can be worn in two different ways as the beads all have two sides – a rough black dome shaped and the flat front. Complicated, because it requires several steps of preparation and baking.… Read More

Happy New Year – My plans for 2013

posted in: New Year 0

I wish all readers of my blog a Happy New Year.

I haven’t posted in a while, due to being ill with flu (am still coughing away as I type) and I also was away for Christmas.

I know I still have to write the final part of the Polydays series. I am working on it but in the meantime I wanted to share my thoughts on the New Year.

I don’t have proper New Year’s resolutions as such, but want to change things and move forward. So here are the things I would like to do or rather change – some of them are business related and some are just things I want to do outside designing jewellery.

1.Go back to paid writing – yes you read correctly. Last year I didn have many paid commissions and wrote a lot on a voluntary basis, but really I need to earn money. This means getting more proactive again.

2.Getting back to fiction writing – a few years ago I did an Open University short course on fiction writing and really enjoyed it – the course was very well organised and kept me writing every day, because it prompted you with lots of writing exercises. I even started a novel and was 4 chapters in. But then I got discouraged by comments by one tutor from a different writing course I also did with Writer’s Magazine (though my impression was that she didn’t understand that it was meant as a chapter of a novel not a short story) and kind of gave up. So this year I want to get back to this – if time allows. But then again I just have to make time.… Read More

Polymer Days 2012 – Part 2 – Carol Simmons’ Mokume Gane Technique

posted in: Jewellery, Reviews 2

One of the reasons I booked a place on this course was to meet and learn from American polymer clay artist Carol Simmons, who creates the most amazing Kaleidoscope canes. I can’t exactly remember how I found her on Facebook I guess it was via other polymer clay enthusiasts.

Carol has been claying since 1995 and teaching since 1996. Her beautiful Kaleidoscope canes take a long time to make and the courses she runs for these take about 3-6 days. As the Polydays only lasted three days, she chose to teach us how to make beautiful shimmering Mokume Gane veneers.

Mokume Gane is a Japanese technique originally used with wood and metal, but has been adapted for Polymer Clay. Different tutors have slightly different techniques, but the basic Mokume Gane technique involves the stacking of several sheets of different colours of clay, texturing them and revealing the resulting veneers by carefully slicing the cane. The beauty of this technique is that you never know what you end up with and each slice will look different.… Read More

Polydays 2012 – Part 1 – Bettina Welker’s hinged bracelet

posted in: Jewellery, Reviews 3

In September I went on a three-day course called “Polydays”, which was held in a small place called Toddington. The event was organised by British polymer clay Artist Alison Gallant, who also taught her acclaimed reversible necklace on the course.

I was lucky to go – thanks to a royalty payment from ALCS earlier this year. One of the reasons I booked a place was that I always wanted to learn how to make polymer clay bracelets and I liked Bettina Welker’s hinged bracelet.

About 35 people attended the course, which was split into three groups. Each day the tutors would rotate and teach a different group. I decided to start with Bettina’s bracelet, because I had a feeling that this is the most complicated of the three projects we were taught, plus on the first day people hesitated slightly and so Bettina’s first group was a bit smaller and we were lucky to have a room to ourselves (this changed during the other two days, and all groups were taught in the bigger main room).

I was right – I didn’t finish it on the day as it is very time consuming and you have to work very precisely. Unfortunately I didn’t have the right mould to wrap the first layer of FIMO around – I used an empty soda can, which I had cut in half – which meant it could easily bent and distort. My bracelet is far too big for my small wrist. Obviously I can’t really explain to you how this bracelet is made – for this you need to book a course with Bettina, who teaches this and other techniques worldwide. Or you can buy her book “Polymer Clay Bracelets – Armschmuck aus Polymer Clay”, which is written in English and German and was published in September this year. I can recommend this book, as it has some lovely projects and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow (something not to be taken for granted, I often struggle with understanding instructions I read in a book).… Read More

The making of …my signature cane

Today I want to share with you how made my first signature cane. When I looked for good tutorials I couldn’t find any with detailed descriptions or lots of images, so I decided to photograph each step of the way for you. For this cane I used the Makin’s Clay Extruder Gun and a variety of discs. You might be able to use alphabet cookie cutters instead, but these tend to be much bigger- which means you spend a long time reducing the cane (reducing means making the cane longer and thinner/smaller) plus you can’t be as flexible with the way you want the signature to look.… Read More

The making of … a beautiful landscape pendant.

I just realised that I posted my last entry in May. Upps. Well to be fair I have been very busy making things and taking part in a three-day polymer clay workshop “Polydays”, which took place in September in a small village called Toddington. It was taught by some of the world’s best polymer clay artists – Carol Simmons, Alison Gallant and Bettina Welker and it was quite intense – and back breaking. I came away with lots of new techniques and unfinished projects – as most of the projects taught were quite time consuming. In the next weeks I will finish those projects ( a reversible necklace, a hinged bracelet and beautiful Mokume Gane slices which I will use for pendants and bracelets.) and will write a bit more about Polydays.

In the meantime I wanted to share how I made this pendant:

On the final day of the Polydays workshop Alison Gallant showed our group how to create her reversible necklace and also how to create Mokume Gane canes with ripple effect – a great technique that creates beautiful patterns. Somehow though I wasn’t so happy how they turned out when I cut them and placed them on the clay – so I mashed up the clay and put it through the pasta machine a few times -and the colours changed into something I really liked – so I cut out some small circles, used some of them for the necklace and the rest for future projects.
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Helen tests … polishing methods.

posted in: Jewellery, Reviews 2

Working with polymer clay means you end up not only sanding a lot, but also polishing to give the pieces a nice sheen. I often don’t polish and instead use varnish, especially when working with Mica powder, which requires varnish. However as varnish is a bit messy and mainly reserved for designs with Mica I have started polishing. My first attempt using my Dremel tool with a buffing wheel has ended up in dents – mainly because I wasn’t careful enough (even the lowest speed on the Dremel is pretty fast and you should only touch the wheel lightly with the item you’re trying to polish) but also because I used the wrong buffing wheel – felt – which is far too coarse for polymer clay.

Frustrated I asked on the BPCG’s Facebook page for advice and started a long discussion about not only the best use of the Dremel, but also alternatives. One member advised me to make my own Dremel buffing wheel out of denim, as it works well as a polishing cloth ( you can even see the difference when you are just using it without a Dremel).

Following the instructions on FloRaeMe’s blog I made my own wheel.… Read More

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