Monday, October 20, 2014

Mixed Media: Polymer Clay and Wirework

Wirework is what I do most, and most likely, best. But I do love to play with other materials and techniques as well. One of my favorites is polymer clay. I don't often get the time to work with clay, but when I do I love to make canes. I have so many canes sitting in a drawer that I will probably never get a chance to use all of them. It's not just the canes that I make with a specific design in mind either. It's all the canes I've made from all the beautiful bits of scrap that I cut off of the cane I was supposed to be making first. Usually when I make one cane, I get about 5 or 6 more smaller canes just out of what I cut off of the first one, or the leftovers of the beautiful colors I mixed up for the cane. Or extra pieces of a skinner blend (gradient). Some part of me just refuses to write all of it off as "scrap" to be mixed into oblivion and hidden underneath some other project.

The focal for this bracelet is from one of those scrap canes. It the simplest of all of them really. Just press a bunch of the cut off bits of the main cane together to make a thick rectangle, put it on top of a thin piece of black (or any other contrasting color, I just like black) and roll it up like any other jelly roll cane. I cut off a thick slice, baked it into a round pillow shaped bead, and quickly forgot about it.

Fortunately, while looking for a bead to use for this bracelet, I remembered this particular bead. One of the most common problems with making a framed bead style bracelet is that the bead likes to spin if you don't find someway to keep it stable. The usual fix for this is putting a wire across the back of the bead to keep it from turning. This usually works, but if you turn the bracelet over and look inside, it just seems to make it a little less pretty. I like the inside/back/etc of a piece to look pretty too. If you choose to let it spin though you risk it putting too much stress on the wire holding it in place, eventually breaking it. To correct that on this one, I used the flex shaft and a bur to create a groove all the way around the edge of the bead. This way, when I put the bead in place, I was able to press the frame into the groove. Now it looks just as pretty on the back of the bead as the front, plus it stays just the way it should.

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