Friday, February 13, 2015

Piercing and Polishing Polly Ceramica Beads

Just a short introduction to the process I use in making holes in beads in order to string them on flexible or inflexible jewelry findings (what we would call "infrastructure" in any other business).  I pierce my beads both before baking and then ream the hole smoother and a bit larger after I bake them.

In order to illustrate how I pierce all the beads I make before baking them, I quickly picked up a rectangular block from a cane that I had stashed away.  Because our previous blog is about Natasha style beads and pendants, I proceeded to slice the cane in half, squeezed it together and then rolled it in my palm to a barrel shape.  I had not noticed until I viewed the photo that in spite of all the rather casual manipulation, it is still a mirror image type of bead.  You can make out a seam in line with the piercing tool.

I have it propped on the pliers because if I had laid it down on a flat surface,  it could have made a small flattened streak in a rounded bead.  I use jewelry quality clay, so it is usually safe to let it lie there for a moment or two, but I had other things to do for a while, so I laid it on the tool handle to keep the bead round.

Now about the piercing itself:
1.  I hold the bead lightly but securely in my left hand with one end resting against the pad of my index finger.
2.  With my ring finger (third) on my left hand, I balance the bead and direct the piercing needle directly toward the middle of my index finger pad.  It is absolutely necessary to keep the handle of the tool straight in line with the middle of the bead.  I may have been one or two mm off on this piercing, but photography plays tricks, so I will still use this bead after it is finished.
3.  I have to be patient and gently twirl the needle pushing ever so slightly through the solid clay.

I then put the bead(s) on an 18 gauge aluminum wire nestled on the sides of an ovenware ceramic bowl.  Each bead stays there covered with a paper tent until I have 3 or 4 wires full of beads (not touching each other!!!). The baking process I will cover at another time. 


The examples above show the beads after they have been baked and glazed.  Now you see another piercing tool.  I like to make my beads with holes that I have reamed with my trusty 1/16 inch drill bit.  I do the work by hand because the process requires a delicate touch so that the reaming does not create a new route through the bead.  The bead in the photo above was reamed with the drill bit that it is resting on.  The metal wire is a length of plastic covered steel that I cut from an extra coat hanger. 

Polly Ceramica Art Clay Three Large Mother of Pearl Mimic Beads Ivory and Blue

The beads above are available in my Etsy shop and they were treated in the same process as described above.  They are obviously glazed beads, large rondelles that are great "favorites" on Etsy.  

Hand Rolled Quill Focal Bead with Matching Spiral Striped Accent Beads Gold, Brown, Blue, Gold and White

The medium sized rondelles in the picture above were pierced and glazed just as described above.  And to my own amazement, I was able to pierce the quill pattern focal bead straight through without distorting the shape.  I would not want a steady job doing that all day!  

Now as to creating jewelry with a matte surface texture, or a glowing jeweler's wax shell like smoothness, or a glazed bead, here are some of my examples:

This is a nude bead.  It has nothing on it to change its natural texture.  It is smooth to the touch and the clay quality is very pleasant.  Polymer clay au naturel is just as beautiful as the highly glossed clay beads.  Terra cotta beads in particular, but also pieces that mimic ancient buried jewelry or are made in a rustic style, all should appear as much like clay as possible. 

The above bead is simply waxed and buffed a couple of time with Renaissance Jeweler's wax.  It allows the bead to emit a soft glow, and leaves the bead smooth but still with a natural clay feel.  I allow the wax to dry for several hours before buffing with muslin and/or flannel cloths.

This is a highly glazed bead.  I applied three layers in three consecutive days and then baked the bead again to make the glaze an integral part of the bead.  

If you have questions, suggestions or even objections, use the comment area below the blog.  I am happy to converse with my visitors!  

You can find a variety of polymer clay jewelry and components for your own designs at 
the links listed here: 

Please leave a comment and up to 3 links to your own creations: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You will see the "Add Your Link" button just below this blog entry and linked photos that others have posted. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Designing and Making a Natasha Style Pendant Necklace

A tutorial on a Natasha style pendant on a handmade Blue and Brassy necklace:

Designer Signed Natasha Style Pendant on Blue, Green and Gold Necklace

 This the method I used to produce the complete necklace, but the intrigue apparently surrounds the Natasha style pendant. 

After I had rolled the stack of colored sheets of clay into a log, I manipulated the log of polymer clay for several minutes by twisting and folding.  The clay log for this particular Natasha pendant would have looked a lot like this one, except in a very different color and pattern: 

Then I pressed it into a long rectangle.  

I cut a section the size that I wanted for a pendant; I sliced the exterior portion of each side and end of the rectangle.  Then I cut the rectangle in half, opened it up to see the patterns that had developed and pushed the two mirrored halves of the image together, being careful that I did not spoil the proportions of the images, but being sure that each side was adhering securely to the other.

After that, I hand sculpted the pendant into the shape you see here, first rounding the top of the mirror image plaque with my scalpel, then smoothing the edges with fingers and sculpting tools.  

After oven firing the polymer clay, I tumbled it with smooth rocks and a bit of water for many hours, along with the hand sculpted polymer clay beads that I made for the necklace.  After they were thoroughly dry, I hand buffed the pieces with jeweler's wax which brought out the colors and put a soft glow on the pendant and each bead.  

A bright olive is the dominant shade of green in the pendant and in the embedded spiral decoration on the cobalt blue polymer clay beads.   The bright olive spirals inspired me to use the Swarovski faceted olivine crystal beads along with Sri Lanka sapphire beads to harmonize with the cobalt blues in the necklace elements.  

The cobalt blue polymer clay beads are shaped by hand to repeat the soft curves in the patterns of the picture panel pendant and in the rounded corners of the polymer clay pendant.  They are sculpted into different shapes and sizes to excite the eye of an admirer of the jewelry you are wearing.   The beads on each side of the pendant are three sided with soft angles.  They also curve slightly to accent the curve in the top of the pendant and to lead the eye upward to the other beads.  Each bead is different in the trail decoration made by spiraling thin strips of polymer clay in gold, olive green and pearl around each bead and then embedding them smoothly into the surface of the polymer clay bead, all done before curing the clay, of course.  

 This unique design results from manipulating the outside of a clay log so that the interior movement creates swirls, lines, color blends and contrasts.  Such a picture panel is developed organically from a stack of sheets of clay in colors that might be used in painting a vase, for example.  Nothing too jarring, rather I use two colors that are close together in the spectrum, and one that is in great contrast to the two. 

In this pendant and beaded necklace, blue is the dominant color, a brilliant cobalt blue.  The green and gold blend together and create several different shades of the two colors.  Just a bit of white pearl polymer clay separates the blue from the green to prevent the color patterns from becoming muddy.

The second and third pair of beads above the pendant are also three sided, but are not curved inward and the third pair is smaller than the ones below it.  The two polymer clay beads at the top are much smaller free-form beads and act as finials for the polymer clay designs.  The necklace string continues around the back of the neck with blue sapphire gemstone and Swarovski crystal beads.

The metal beads, bead caps, pendant bail and necklace fastener are all antiqued brass over zinc with no lead content.  This original picture panel designer pendant bears my stamped logo on the back of the pendant. 

This is a Polly Ceramica original never to be repeated.  In fact, it is impossible to be repeated.  When you wear this necklace, you know that no one else will ever say, "Oh, I have one like that!"  If you like fashion flair with a folk art flavor, Polly Ceramica is your brand.  

Necklace Length - 20 inches (51 cm)
Pendant dimensions - 36 mm (1.4 in) x 54 mm (2 inches) (including bail)
Largest polymer clay beads dimensions - 16 mm (0.6 in) x 36 mm (1.3 in) inc. caps
Smallest polymer clay beads dimensions - 13 mm (0.5 in) x 22 mm (0.9 in) inc. caps
Sapphire and crystal beads - 6 mm
Metal beads - 8 mm 

You can find a variety of polymer clay jewelry and components for your own designs at 
the links listed here: 

Please leave a comment and up to 3 links to your own creations: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You will see the "Add Your Link" button just below this blog entry and linked photos that others have posted. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mary Beth TheTwistedRedhead Won the Bracelets Give_Away

And the winner is Mary Beth of The Twisted Redhead on Artfire.

This is a pair of my featherweight polymer clay bangle bracelets.  They are very sturdy and slightly flexible, very comfortable to wear.  

Congratulations, Mary Beth!  

See more of my handmade original designs in polymer clay at my Polly Ceramica Studio . 

Some examples of my listings at the studio: 

I will be posting another Give Away drawing for the Summer season some time in March.  I will share the news when I get it posted.  In the meantime happy browsing at my Polly Ceramica Studio on Artfire and at my Polly Ceramica Shop at Etsy !  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Statement Necklaces Natasha Style

Natasha Makes a Statement in Polymer Clay

Original Natasha Style Pendant and Beads Blue and Coral PolyClay

Only self confident women will wear a bold statement necklace such as I have designed in polymer clay.  It also required a certain self confidence in my own design capabilities to make a bold Natasha style pendant and beads to be strung together on a richly decorated necklace.

I hope this piece finds a bold and beautiful neck to hang on.  

A close-up view of the mirror image beads (Natasha style) on this necklace: 

For the red coral, white and gold Natasha style bead necklace pictured below, I chose to use a large bright red Pacific coral as the focal and used all my Natasha style beads as accents along the strand of gold toned brass beads, smaller red coral beads and white bone spacer beads.  

Coral, Gold, White Bone Necklace, Hand Sculpted Picture Panel Beads

Perhaps I should share a bit of the process in making such pendants and beads: 

The bead or pendant begins as a stack of colored sheets of polymer clay. The stack is manipulated into a log, which I then twist and shape into a block. At this point the actual picture will not be visible. The outside of the log of clay does not show on the final bead design. After making the log into a rectangular tube, I slice the clay in half and open it to find two mirror images of whatever design the twisting and shaping of the log created. After I coax the two panels with mirror images into one face of the bead, I make a second slice of each of the mirror images, place them back to back with the first set of panels and at that point, I have a four sided Picture Panel or Natasha style bead. 

For this very special necklace, I made four large beads and a couple of small lentil shaped beads with the same colors but not made in the same technique. the Picture Panel bead should be large enough to show a discernible image. These beads are shaped entirely by hand -- my own hands.

Below is a close-up of the mirror image Natasha style beads.

Though I had discovered the fun in slicing open polymer clay beads and pushing the slices together, open face up, I needed the inspiration from my tutor, Cindy Lietz,  to make abstract designs by using certain twisting and compacting techniques.  The originator and popularizer of this style of polymer clay bead making is Natasha Flechsig who actually lives presently in a city nearby in Northern California. She is still young and probably was very young when she began to design and tutor others in this fascinating method of creating beads. 

And a final look at Natasha style pendant necklaces with logs of smaller mirror image accent beads. This necklace has coral, too, but it is white coral.  

Natasha Style Purple and White Beaded Necklace with Amethyst and Coral

Natasha beads were made popular by a European glass bead designer a few decades ago.  Polymer clay lends itself to such a bead making process.  The polymer clay can be glazed to appear more like its glass ancestors.  For the designs on this page, I chose to buff them with jeweler's wax and allow them to be what they are: polymer clay. 

You can find a variety of polymer clay jewelry and components for your own designs at 
the links listed here: 

Please leave a comment and up to 3 links to your own creations: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You will see the "Add Your Link" button just below this blog entry and linked photos that others have posted. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Polly Ceramica Gives Away Bangle Bracelets

Soft leafy green and metallic copper polymer clay spirals dance around this pair of bangle bracelets.  They are medium size with random sized stripes curling around the circular bangle bracelets.

I made these bracelets some time ago and am finally deciding what to do with them.  They are now my Winter Season Give Away.  

Here is a different view that shows the charm of random spiral stripes of both the green and copper.  They measure 2.4 inches inside diameter and the bangles average 1/3 inch diameter for the band.  

The colors really pop after the glaze is baked.  

Browse through more of my polymer clay jewelry designs at my websites: Artfire Polly Ceramica Studio and my Etsy Polly Ceramica Shop .  Here are some examples from my websites: 


Copper Illusion PolyClay Hand Sculpted, Painted Bluebird Pendant, Beads

Polly Ceramica Quill Bead Earrings with Blue Crystals, Gold Filled Wires

Original Design Pendant Red, Purple, Green, White, Gold, Sculpted

I now invite you to enter the drawing for the copper and green bracelets: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You are then included in the drawing on February 6, 2015  

You will see the Add Your Link button that sets up your links just below this blog entry:  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bead Glazer Says Do Not Be a Drag!

We hardly ever want to leave heavy ridges of brush strokes on our glazed or painted beads.  We want them as smooth and glossy as my capped quill focal bead shows here:

Finding icicles of gloss hanging from a dried bead or puddles on a glazed pendant are disappointments that are sometimes difficult and time consuming to repair.  In trying to avoid the dripping and puddling, it is easy to find yourself working with too dry a brush when applying successive layers of gloss.

Here is a photo of an unfinished quilled bead that can be a challenge to glaze:

The first task after baking and curing for several days, is to pierce through the top of the bead with a very fine 1/32 inch bit twirled by hand very carefully.  Then we must decide what will hold the bead steady while we apply the finishing gloss.

My first concern would be that the shape of the quill bead is inviting the clear gloss to run right off the tip and hang there like an icicle from a shed roof in winter.  And second task is finding a way of holding the bead still on a wire or a pointed stick.  This is because the quill beads must be drilled at the top and serve as drop beads on a necklace or dangles on earrings.   Finding a wire that is fine enough to fit through a 1/32 inch hole and yet hold the bead in position for applying liquid gloss is often difficult; it has proved impossible for me.  If secured on the tip of a sharp pointed bamboo skewer the bead can allow drips to form all along its bottom length if the bead glazer is not careful.

Nevertheless I chose the bamboo skewers.  At least the quill beads could not jiggle around while I applied layers of glaze over the three days of applying, drying and re-applying, as shown here:

This is a different quill bead that has now been pierced at the top, loaded onto the bamboo skewer and placed in a glass jar to support the leaning bamboo skewer.  The skewer secures the bead tightly enough that I can use my fine bristle brush to apply the layer upon layer over the next three days to achieve the desired depth of color and shine.

Still another concern is choosing the best gloss for the purpose.  I could have chosen a soft almost naked clay look by using jeweler's wax.  But I wanted to make this style of beads shine brilliantly.  So I chose the highest gloss polymer clay compatible finish gloss.  I prefer the Varathane polyurethane water soluble or oil based.  Either one glazes the beads to a glass like finish and can be re-baked after the bead has been brushed with three layers of gloss on three separate days and has waited for a few more days before the piercing.   The liquid gloss should be a comfortable room temperature and you should stir it gently before using it.  Do not shake; that causes bubbles! 

But at this point I have another choice to make: which brush?  My favorite for this size of bead and for applying a very smooth gloss without brush marks is this fine bristle brush: 

It is best to use the brush loaded so that the tip is full but not dripping, and then apply and spread the liquid gloss in smooth, light strokes without letting the brush get dry and start dragging.  Dip the brush lightly into the gloss as soon as you see it is not leaving a glossy finish on the bead.

Tip: Do not unload the brush by dragging the brush against the rim of the gloss container or any other edge.  Allow the brush to drip its excess load into the container before making the first brush stroke.  Small beads usually will not require reloading the brush.

The beads in the photo below have been baked solid, pierced at the top for stringing, and then glazed with high gloss polymer clay compatible finish.  They have then been re-baked to set the glaze.  I then strung them on gold filled wire and gold plated ear hooks with blue Swarovski crystal glass beads.  They are listed in my Etsy shop at the URL shown below the picture.

Visit  MY WEBSITE  to see more of my creations. 

Please leave a comment and up to 3 links to your own creations: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You will see the "Add Your Link" button just below this blog entry and linked photos that others have posted. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Adjusting to Changes in Systems and Locations

Since the first week of October, I have been struggling to balance blogging and the task of rearranging my online merchandise to fit the new demands of the electronic device method of communicating with online buyers.  As a result, I am limiting the size of my shop on the Artfire venue, which has been a very good location for my antiques and antiquities over the past three years.

I decided that 400 - 450 items fill the Artfire shop to overflowing and that I should find another place to list my Polly Ceramica creations and maybe some of my other handmade jewelry.  In this blog, I will be discussing my own online merchandise and that of my friends at both Artfire and Etsy.

And since I am enjoying the process of creating jewelry in polymer clay, I will concentrate my blogging efforts at this blogger site and at my AntiqueSilverJewelry site for my Yemen and Turkoman jewelry collection.  I expect most of the news will be here where I propose to continue offering a Give-Away each season and sharing the creations of jewelry artisans and those who create handmade items in other media.

So here goes:

EweniqueEssentials brightens our cloudy late Autumn days with these  

And just look at what Nancy Tonelli of JazzitupwithDesignsbyNancy, another designer and knitter, offers for this season:

CraftingMemories has handcrafted this magnificent filigree necklace in purple, silver and black

Specialtivity has beaded her way to success as a jewelry artisan with pieces such as this

Stained Glass Illusion Pendant Hand Beaded Blue, Copper, Gold Necklace 

Nikki of MyMountainStudio is well-known online as a designer, knitter, photographer and nature-lover.

PrettyGonzo has opened a shop at Etsy where she displays her jewelry art and her skill in photography and merchandizing:

Red Czech Glass Green Freshwater Pearl Earrings Coral Swarovski Crystal 

JRs pillowsandBags has an established business in fantastic fabric designs at Etsy:

Christmas Stocking in Bold Red and Green Print with Large Circles  

DianesDangles specializes in wire wrapped collector coins as jewelry, but she also is a designer of beaded jewelry; see this snowflake charm bracelet as an example:

Snowflake Dangle Charm and Green Glass Pearl Winter Christmas Bracelet

Christie Cottage offers a service for needlework artisans at her shop on Etsy; this cute duck pattern serves as a phone pouch and other practical purposes.

AdorebyNat creates lovable artistic cards, banners, tags, and other decorative items for children's celebrations:

Noah's Ark Centerpieces for Birthday and Baby Shower Party Celebration

PebblesatmyFeet is a master of stone and metal jewelry arts.  I offer these earrings as an example of her art:

Pale Sky Blue Stone Earrings, Copper Paisley Hoops, Aquamarine

Nancy of Wyvern Designs creates the most charming fantasy art by hand sculpting such pieces as this:

Fairy Cottage Christmas Ornament Hand Sculpted From Polymer Clay

Polly Ceramica - that's me - is working at establishing a 100 item shop at Etsy, full of my handmade beads for jewelry artisans.  I will continue to write blogs on my sources of inspiration and my methods of making the polymer clay creations. In addition I will be sharing the creations of other artisans who sell on both Artfire and Etsy.  I also will continue to offer an opportunity for artisans to link their own photos of their products here along with comments on the blog.

Polly Ceramica Art Clay Textured Rainbow Foil Glazed Pendant and Beads

Visit MY WEBSITE to see more of my creations. 

Please leave a comment and up to 3 links to your own creations: 
1.  Comment in the section for comments below. 
2.  Leave up to three links to your online shop items or to your blog entries.  The links will automatically load a photo; you will provide the caption.  
3.  You will see the "Add Your Link" button just below this blog entry and linked photos that others have posted.