Thursday, October 18, 2012


I am pleased to report...

the air dry clay...

 is pretty much...
a fabulous new discovery.  In my last post, I asked if anyone had every tried it and what would be a good sealant.  After drying for about 5 days, the beads were hard as rocks but I was concerned about their durability as beads because the surface was pretty chalky.  I threw one as hard as I could against my concrete floor and it remained intact and I didn't even see evidence of any chalking-off.  But all it really takes is some fingernail scraping to get it chalking.  Worse, my initial efforts with sealants (acrylic paint, then glossy mod podge) was ridiculous.  It all peeled off in one big skinlike piece.

A couple days ago I tried gold leaf paint and Sculpey gloss finish sealant.  That was okay.  But there was no real ceramic vibe.  By looks alone, it could have easily been a polymer clay bead.  Not that there's anything wrong with that--I love polymer clay beads.  But the whole point in using pottery clay is that it has a whole different look and feel.

So last night I tried some different sealants, with the idea of getting the look of an authentic pottery glaze.  The beads above are the result.  I used a combination of acrylic paint and Fimo liquid polymer clay.  I've used Sculpey liquid transparent clay a lot, but this was my first time using Fimo liquid.  I love the results, especially that whitish one on the right.  It's got a double coat on, and was cured twice.  The glaze is nothing like I would have thought with polymer.  It feels just like a regular glazed ceramic bead and it's heat set on there, so there is absolutely no peeling or flakiness.  The top of the center one is a bit nutty looking because I had to apply a bit more of the Fimo to the bead hole where I missed a spot the first time around.

I cant wait to experiment with the glazing technique--I'm thinking there are going to be all kinds of fun effects with different applications of paint and inclusions.  There seems to be a ton of randomness now because the beads all turned out pretty different even though I used the same set of colors and general technique.  Sometimes the liquid clay started clouding up in a weird looking opaque thing before I even put them in the oven.  So experimenting is on the agenda.  In about 5 days, since it takes so long for them to dry.  It makes me really appreciate the immediacy of polymer.

This bracelet above has one of my ceramic beads--the gray one just below the finger.  Isn't it weird how they all turned out with different colors?  I wonder if it is just going to be a crapshoot like that.

More bottlecap beer-rings.  Can you guess the beer from whence these came?  Couldn't resist the stars.  Sure was difficult peeling the plastic gunk off the underside of these. 
 But I love all the scratches it made--if the stars weren't present, I would have used the backside as the front.  Maybe with some paint or some type of color enhancements right between the patterned edges and central scratch rounds.  That'll be my next bottlecap adventure.  I also made the earwires for these, since the bottlecap holes were kind of a deep catch for commercial ones.  It was such a cinch--I should do that more.  I used to make all the ear wires I used--but I would get stuck on them and end up spending more time than I did on the actual earrings they held.  I guess all the wirework I've done in the interim has made it easier.

Some short chandeliers with steel frames, my polymer beads, trade beads, onyx and teeny wood chips.
Everything will be listed tonight!


  1. I shall have a little play with some air dry clay. Mines been lying around for nearly a year. I used some for Christmas decorations and they worked out great. Why didn't I think to use them for beads...Doh!

    1. What great news to hear the clay works for larger pieces like your decorations (assuming they were larger pieces, of course.) I've been considering making some little bowls and vessels. I've even thought about getting one of those kids' pottery wheels to make tiny thrown things. I saw one for $20. Yeah, I'm going to get that. I love thinking I can use toys to make things.

  2. Your experimenting has brought some great beads. I love that they are all a different color and texture. Your bottle cap and chandelier earrings are gorgeous!

    I have not patience for experimenting for some reason. That's probably why I'm still just stringing and doing a bit of wire work.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you!
      I think jewelry construction is so appealing because it can be approached in so many ways, and it satisfies many different desires-to-create. For example, I have to admit I don't have a passion for jewelry making or jewelry in any kind of stand-alone sense. Hard to really articulate--I do love jewelry and have some history with it, but I never would have thought, "I love jewelry so much that I want to try to make some and see what I can do." The notion of jewelry itself is not my compeller. It's more that I use jewelry as a very practical forum in which I can apply a variety of creative ideas and techniques.
      So in the same way that you are "just stringing," I really am "just picking the plastic off the back of a bottlecap." It's all the same action really, just with different approaches and materials.

  3. The beads are gorgeous. I thought they were pottery! And the bottlecap beads are great. I think that the back is really cool! I have tried using a heat gun to soften the glue that holds the plastic on and that seems to work. Try it! I would love to make my own ear wires, but I know that I would then never make earrings because I was spending so much time on that! I don't have a problem using the commercial ones so that I can keep on creating. Thanks for sharing your process and your style. It is inspiring. Enjoy the day. Erin

    1. Hi, thanks!
      The beads are pottery, the glaze is faux. Thanks for the heat gun tip--someone else mentioned it too for the gunk--sounds like I'm going to have to figure something out with that (don't have a heat gun.) I think I'll try heating them up in my polymer oven to see if that loosens it up a bit. I'm also finding there is a difference in gunks from brand to brand, so I might settle on using a specific brand's cap.

      I'm with you on the earwires--that's just why I stopped making my own!

  4. What a great post. I love your experiments. I just got a load of clay to play with and was assuming that I would have to fire them but you've made some interesting discoveries.Your bottle cap earrings are really shaping up to a cohesive style.
    What's not to love about this post!

    1. Thanks so much. I can't believe I'm not only using bottlecaps but finding the results pleasing enough to list. I do love making use of castoffs.

      What kind of clay did you get? In order to not fire it, I think it has to be a certain kind. The stuff I'm using is real pottery clay (amaco brand, found at hobby lobby and michael's), but it's specially formulated (or something) as air dry clay. I'll take some in process photos with the beads that are drying now and blog about the making and glazing next week.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks. I really like them too. I keep holding them and feeling them because I can't believe I made pottery beads in such a lo-fi way.

      It's really frustrating not being able to just make the beads and experiment with glazes though. I think the next batch will be ready tomorrow or the next day. I guess the trick is to just make a dozen or so every day or every other day so there will always be some to glaze in turn.