Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Beads

These beads were made with Halloween colors in mind, kind of fun, kind of spooky, but certainly not a skull buster technique. I was just marveling at the swirls of color I made and how easy it was to make them.

I am convinced that bead making for me is going to be polymer from now on--I have had too many disappointments with my ceramic beads, putting hours of work into a load only to have the glaze firing not come out as I hoped. Mixing polymer colors to create beads is much more rewarding, because wysiwyg.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Press Mold Polymer Horse Beads

Sometimes you forget where the seed of a new direction comes from. But before I get too deep into polymer and forget what started it for me, this post is about what really launched me into polymer. I have been working in ceramics since the 1990s, and have made lots of horse beads in ceramic clay.

Then this fall I bought a custom tooled leather purse from Beas Bargains on etsy. I decided to make a purse dangle to put on it, stringing some eclectic vintage beads. Over the years my beading tastes have evolved, and though I started out doing bead embroidery with seed beads, I have grown to love old, earthy beads that look like they were dug up from an archaeological dig.

So anyway, here I am making a dangle with an eclectic group of beads from around the world, and I needed to put my individual stamp on it with my own handmade beads. Since this was going to be a purse dangle, I wanted my bead to be less breakable than the ceramic beads I normally make, so that's where polymer came in. (I had used polymer on and off just a bit over the years, but nothing serious. I didn't see the potential and wasn't aware of the great art being made with polymer.)

Falling back on my ceramic mold making experience, I made a two-sided press mold using Sculpey Super Elasticlay MoldMaker. I had an original sculpture I made from Chavant oil based modeling clay (I was making plaster molds for ceramic slip casting with the little horse sculpture) that I pressed into one side of the mold material. I then removed the horse sculpture and baked one side of the mold. When it cooled, I put the horse sculpture back in the first side and pressed the mold material into the second side. Removed the horse and baked the second side.

Now I have a two sided press mold, so my resulting polymer horses are fully dimensional.