Monday, February 22, 2010

Finding a Color Palette

One of the parts of the process that is sometimes the most troubling is finding a pleasing color combination.  In a workshop I took from Carol Simmons, she had a neat trick for dealing with that problem.  She had cut out pictures from magazines that had a multitude of beautiful and pleasing colors.  These pictures - they could be anyting - ads, clothing, home decorating - provide the inspiration for a wide range of color palettes and can jump start your creative process. 

Recently, for one of my projects, I searched on line for desert colors.  I found this set of pictures with the perfect colors.  I pulled from my clay stash to find similar colors.  You can see the straight out of the package colors here.  I plan to custom mix these colors to get closer in tone and saturation to my inspiration piece.  I've started my collection of scrap images to keep me inspired for years.  I also have collected paint samples from the paint section of the major home improvement stores.  When I need a bit of a push, I can take these helpful collections out, browse to my heart's content, match up against my other elements such as beads and findings and put together a wonderful palette to work from.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back to Poly Clay

I enjoyed my diversion with resin and overall I am pleased with the results. I have a few resin pieces curing now and will post those when they are ready.

In the meantime, back to my primary medium - polymer clay. My "create it" list includes making bracelet and earring sets using faux techniques. First up - faux jade. So, I did some research on the colors of jade and wanted to stay focused on the more commonly seen green jade.

Overall, I still have work to do to get the color right, but adding a patina cures almost all less than perfect colors. Here's a look at the custom color mixing process.

My recipe included translucent, I used a mix of leftover translucent so I have FIMO, PREMO and KATO, and a custom green clay along with the addition of cilantro as an inclusion. You could use some grated black clay or other green color spices such as thyme, sage, etc., in flake form. I just happened to have cilantro I was willing to part with (could not tell how long it had been in the cupboard) :)

Mixed in the cilantro until it was uniformly distributed throughout the clay and added two strips of green clay to the clay/cilantro mix until it was evenly colored. 

The final mixed color seemed light to me but I thought it would darken when cured, so I didn't add any more green. So, on to creating the beads.

To create the beads, I rolled the clay on the thickest
setting of my pasta machine and used a circle cutter so I would get evenly sized beads. This tip to get similar sized beads is from one of my guild members - ah, the joys of guilds. Here's the bead-making process from start to finish. I started with the number of circles for the size of bead I was making - in this case 3 cuts from a 1" circle cutter. Next rolled in a ball, flattened (used the furniture caster in the picture as a flattening guide as it has a recess on one side) and then impressed my design. That plastic snowflake in the picture is my stamp. I find that I look everywhere for texturing tools, in this case this snowflake is from a bunch of Christmas decorations from the Dollar Store. In some of my future posts I plan to shop all types of places for unique textures - stay reading for that.

Here's a close-up of the final beads.  Once cured, the clay stayed the same light color as in the pictures which was way too light.  I had planned to add a patina but was thinking white - no way.  I needed something darker so I used burnt umber acrylic paint.  Use a heavier body, quality paint as some acrylics peel off.   Experiment with the acrylic to find the one you like. In this post I used Liquitex but often use Golden.  Once the paint dried I lightly sanded the bead with 400 grit to get as much of the patina off as I liked.  Then I heat set the paint in the oven for 5 min and finished by buffing with my Dremel to bring out some shine. This picture might be a bit dark but the burnt umber paint did the trick for me. I like the organic look.

To put the bracelet together, I used gold-plated findings from Desert Gems in Lakewood, CO. This shop has a great selection of semi-precious beads, findings, rocks and tools. The loops that join the beads for the bracelet are small eye hooks that screw in. I like these screw eye hooks when I need a bit chunkier look. The earrings I pierced prior to baking with fine bead pins which I left in during the baking time. When you use these bead pins, let the bead cool slightly, not all the way, so you can easily remove the pins.  

Finishing the bracelet and earrings had me making many wrapped loop dangles with glass beads and stones and attaching to the loops between beads. The wrapped dangles added interest, movement, texture and an additional pink color which I think compliments the green. I'm pleased with the overall organic look and feel. This set is off to be a gift. Hope you enjoyed this post - leave me a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Experiment - Resin Casting Part 2 - Casting the Piece

Well, I have to laugh at myself.  I hope I'm not the only one who is so impatient to see their creation that they don't follow the process.  :)  After making a perfect mold in the last entry, I used Easy Cast Resin to fill the mold and waited about 12 hours instead of the required 48-72.  Needless to say I didn't get a useable bracelet but I did learn a lot about casting in resin.  Here's what I got and here's what I learned:

The first picture is the original cast.  I didn't color the resin so I could get a good idea of the color, texture, bubbles, etc.  You can see that the resin is yellow and not the crystal clear I would hope for.  I think this is due to the type of resin and I will have to experiment with other types to find the one that works best for me.  It is hard to see the detail so I highlighted the piece wth burnt umber acrylic paint to better see the details.  Overall, I was pleased with the process of creating a mold and the level of detail I could get.  I'll keep trying to see improved results.