Once upon a time I had a small bead store, and that is how my blog got the name of Dancing Hand Beads. Although the bead store is all gone, I still have tons of beads in inventory, and I would like to liquidate them. Therefore I have listed a bunch on Etsy, and will continue to do so in the near future. I have reduced prizes on all of them by about 1/3. Here are some that I just listed – click the photo to go directly to the listing:
As I hinted in my last post, I am back with more notes on my experiences with Pardo translucent clay. There are people doing some amazing things with this – check out Ginger Davis Allman’s website, The Blue Bottle Tree, for instance. She has done beautiful work with this clay and has posted her own very useful observances on the different brands of translucent clay. I am still in the process of experimenting with the Pardo translucent, so what better way to blog than to share my results?
As you can see, I was able to achieve much greater translucency in this second trial (see this post for the first run). Here’s another flower, in purple:
It really amazes me that you can actually see the green stamen through the outside layer, and in the top photo you can see the ball of the head pin I was using to hold it with. Here’s a blue flower I did in that same batch:
It was really fun and exciting to get these results. What did I do differently? First, I upped the temperature, to 275°F. I baked for 30 minutes, as before. When I pulled the pieces from the oven, they were still white. I plunged them into an ICE water bath, not just cold water as before, and waited awhile. This is the result.
I do have to say, I am not sure I like the pieces at this level of translucency. They are very clear, it’s true, but they are also very shiny. They really look like shiny plastic to me, rather than something made from art clay which happens to be plastic. I know, it’s a weird distinction. I just kind of like the first set of results better.
I like the cone shape, so I’m practicing making them. It is really hard to get the pieces thin enough using this method, but I’m working on it. I decided to work as well at getting results somewhere between my first set, which were more translucent, and the second set that is transparent but shiny. I just like the matte look better for these. Here are a few that I made last night. I haven’t gotten the translucency/transparency thing down right yet, but I still like my results:
That’s it for today… see you next time around.
Well, I left you hanging the other day with the first part of this tutorial. Writing these things is work! Here’s part two. Please keep in mind that I am the queen of imperfect canes. I really never did get the hang of being neat in my work, and honestly I kind of like an object that is less than perfect.
Here’s a recap of the first part of this tutorial: We started with a sheet of translucent clay, and spread a thin layer of inclusions (spices in my case) on it. We ran it through the pasta machine until the spices were evenly blended throughout. Then we laid thin sections of 2 opaque colors of clay halfway up the sheet of translucent, and ran this sheet through the pasta machine so that we ended up with the blend in the photo above.
Now, I wanted to make beads out of my cane, but I had a sheet of clay that was way too large and going in the wrong direction for a simple reduction. So here’s what I did:
Step Six: Run your sheet of clay through the machine again, starting with your stripes perpendicular to the rollers. In other words, the stripes should be up and down, not side to side. You will start at the thickest setting on your machine, and roll the sheet through each level for six levels. Here is the sheet I ended up with:
Step Seven: Now cut your sheet into even sections across the stripes, with each section being approximately an inch and 1/2 deep. Stack these sections so they look like this:
Section 8: I like to call this technique “increasing” the cane, instead of “reducing” it. Some people call this plugging, which will make sense shortly. Take your stack of clay and start pushing in from the ends: yes, this is hard and probably won’t make sense until you’re done. It looks like this when I do it:
Here’s the direction you should be pushing, only do it on both ends (I had to use one hand to hold the camera).
Remember to pick up the “plug” from time to time, since you want all the clay to move in towards the center, not just the sides. Eventually the plug will get thicker:
Now you’re getting the idea. You want to end up with a nice square block like this:
Now you can reduce this just as you would a regular square/rectangular cane. Reduce it so the stripes run lengthwise and you have the width you would like for whatever project you have in mind. In my case, I wanted to make some log shaped beads. My cane ended up being about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide:
My beads ended up like this:
And there you have it. I would love to hear from folks about this. If you try the tutorial, let me know if it makes sense. Leave comments or questions below, or you can email me at DancingHandBeads@gmail.com. Hope you have fun!