Monday, February 13, 2012

About Polymer Clay ...

Would you like to guess what's been keeping me busy these days ? I have my stacks of never ending beads but seems like my creativity wanna expand to a much further level ! How I wish i could learn how to make glass beads but opportunities and class availability here in Perth is so limited and even narrowed to none ! What a pity .

I was in Spotlight craft store last week and while browsing for bed sheet covers on sale, I happened to pass by an alley full of Acrylic Paints, Brushes and  Sculpey Clay . I had heard about Sculpey from  some beaders before and I had seen some finished beads on the internet made fromn clay but I never had any idea what to do with the clay myself. I was thinking it was just probably something like a kid's playdough that anyone can mold with their bare fingers into whatever form and shapes they prefer. Hmmm since curiosity was creeping inside me, I took my reading glasses and read the instructions on the packaging regarding how and where to use such clay material. Seems like the process of molding it into beads and baking such in the oven is not too complicated as it seems . Eventhough I never liked the process of baking beads , there's no harm on trying to bake some ... LOL!

A bit more browsing thru the display of materials and then off I went to the cashier with a small 2oz pack of red and white Sculpey clay for my 1st clay beads making attempt. This is going to be a good trial and challenge for me to do ...  I told to myself .

The moment I arrived home, I was excited to check more facts and ideas in the internet about making clay beads and what materials could I have to start with in the process. I  took out a few of my metal findings I presumed I can use to  create molds for specific shapes. I started with making a flower mold using the white clay and formed a pair of hearts with the red clay. Then set the oven at 275 degrees accdg to Sculpey instructions.  I had put the white flower moding 1st in the oven for  about 15 mins but I noticed that it was not even 12 mins yet, I saw fumes coming out of the oven. Oh my God,  so I suspected something was not right. Well, I would admite that my very 1st attempt was a fail coz I had put the oven at 275 degrees centigrade and not fahrenheit so the oven went too hot for the clay.
The poor mold was burned ! Oh No !

Now this flower mold looked like a brown cookie to me and that's how my daughter described it as well upon seeing it. Yayyyyy!
Anyways, I set the oven to a lower temperature 130 degrees Centigrade the second time  and I started all over again. Then I had put the pair of heart beads with holes poked by a toothpick on to the tray and baked it for 15 mins as instructed !
Geeee....They were done so well that I was happy and was convinced to try out another design... a pig fridge magnet I had pre-formed with my fingers ! It was kinda cute ...

Hmmmmmm So I would now say , it's not too bad for a first time clay challenge at all ... based on what had happened,  I should read instructions even more carefully next time and be precise with the oven heat which is a very important part when  creating beads or other ornaments out of clay .

I had reviewed more comments regarding clay sculpting and how to paint or glaze the beads after few more days. Now this is also one interesting stage of this project.  But I don't have the necessary materials needed for it.

Now this is the time I got pushed back to Spotlight to gather more materials and some molding trays, paint brushes, Acrylic paints to start with and a bottle of Sculpey Gloss Glaze. I want my beads to have a shiny effect and not a matt finish. Especially for the hearts ! I had engraved my name's initial "W" and painted it with Black Acryllic  to give it a more personal touch.

I let the acrylic paint to dry for 30 mins before I coated the beads with Sculpey Gloss Glaze for the final finishing touch.

The best way to dry the gloss on a bead is by hanging the bead with it's sides away from anything it can come on contact with. So I used the head pins to hold the beads in place while drying them for at least 24 hrs.

As soon as the gloss is fully dried and the heart beads are ready ... I was excited to make a pair of earrings designed for Valentine's day . So I was really very concentrated last night on the making of these earrings I had designed using my very own handmade Clay heart beads matched with Swarovski Crystal Bicones, Czech Glass fire Polished Beads and finished off  by wire-wrapping all the beads with  Gun Metal color Artistic Wire ( permanently colored copper wire ).

Now isn't this clay beads project worth all the challenges ?

Happy Valentines To All of You !

( This photo courtesy of : )