17 February 2015

Faux sea-glass beads using polymer clay

Ever since I first saw the work of polymer clay artist Kathrin Neumaier, and marveled at the translucency of her pieces, I've wanted to try using Pardo translucent clay. I ordered some a few months back, but I've only now got round to having a play with it.

I couldn't find much information online, but I knew that to make beads that were glass-like, I was going to have to make them hollow, and I wasn't sure how to do that. Then I saw a commenter on a blog wondering whether packing peanuts would work. The next time a parcel arrived at work, I grabbed a handful, and, after running them under the tap to make sure they really would dissolve, I started to play.
1. Cut a packing peanut in half and trim to a ball shape. Using ever so slightly damp hands, roll it into a smooth ball.
2. Condition the clay by rolling it around in your hands (I found Pardo was very crumbly and difficult to condition).
3. Add a drop or two of pinata ink.

4. Roll a piece of clay flat, then mould it around the peanut ball. I found it difficult to make the clay adhere to itself, so next time I'd add some liquid clay to it.

5. Make a hole at each end.

6. Suspend the beads on wire over a baking tray, and bake. I baked at about 145-150C, for 30 minutes. The clay slightly yellowed at this temperature, but I liked the blue-green colour that resulted.

7. Immediately plunge the beads in iced water.

8. Leave the beads in the water for a while so it soaks into the packing peanut material.

9. Blow on one hole of each bead to force the soggy packing peanut material out. It probably won't all come out, though.

10. Give them a few coats of varnish.

I'm happy with how this experiment turned out, and feel that the beads are much more translucent than any I've made with other clays and other methods. But I think this method can be improved on. I would definitely make the clay thinner next time - it's very strong so it would not be a problem making it thinner. I would also add some liquid clay to make it more workable. 

I'd be interested in trying different substances to form the bead shape - I've seen someone using sugar, which looks interesting but it would be more time consuming having to make the sugar balls in advance. Maybe I could make cube-shaped ones with sugar cubes though!

I'm also thinking of making some other shapes with the clay that would not require any packing material, for example discs or cylindrical beads.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...