Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mica Shift, Bling and String

I have heard all my life that you are only as good as your tools. This means using good brushes and paper when you start out as a painter. It means using nice yarn for beginner knitting projects. It certainly means using the right ingredients when you bake. All that being said, it really applies to polymer clay. I have always been enthralled by the look of the mica shift technique using metallic polymer clay. I have been playing with polymer clay since the early 90's and I have never been able to make the mica shift technique work. After a while you decide it's you and stop trying. I know, I know... Any who, last week I absentmindedly reached for a conditioned piece of silver Premo and started working it around in my hand. I first thought it had picked up some darker clay or even some paint in it, because it was showing swirls and lines and all kinds of designs as I kneaded it.

TAA, DAA, light bulb moment!! That's not junk in the clay, it's the elusive mica shift. It wasn't me after all, it was the clay I was using. Folks, Sculpey III metallic clay doesn't seem to work with the technique. It's cheaper, but that's not always better. Now I get it. Now I see how it works. I was so happy when I realized it wasn't me that I ran to Michaels to get more Premo. Hmmm, they were out of gold and silver. Am I the last person to discover this truth? Off to A. C. Moore to get some Premo metallics. Plenty on the shelves there.

Ok, Ok, I promise not to drag this on forever. Here is a heart pendant that I made using this fabulous technique.

My friends, this is done with silver Premo. That's right, just one color clay and you can get this look. This piece has been wet sanded smooth (which I love to do) and it looks great. There are several ways to do this and I'm sure my expert friend, Marie, (who is responsible for the development of Premo clay by Sculpey, and gulp, I can actually say I know her) could give us lots of insight. I used a technique similar to this one that I found on Polymer Clay Central. I hope you will try out this fabulous and surprising polymer clay technique. Remember it's all about the tools, kids.

The bling in the title of this post comes my recent infatuation with all things HotFix. I decided to try my new Bejeweler tool again, this time taking more care about my work area. I got out my supplies and placed everything in a box, to contain wayward stones and placed my work on a sheet of shelf liner that actually keeps beads and such from rolling around.

I should have done this with my previous project, but I was too excited to take the time to do things correctly. Once again, it's all about the tools.

So here you see my watch with a leather band that needed some sparklies. I taped the watch to the shelf liner to keep it flat and placed the stones on one at a time. I did somewhat better this time and like the result.

Less than 10 minutes later I have it partially done and...

In about 30 minutes I have a new watchband. (That's the fun of taking pictures of your watch, you can actually time yourself-another one of my self challenges).

In case you are wondering where I got the idea of HotFix rhinestones, Art Beads.com has a wonderful program that I am part of, which allows me to try different beads and such and make a blog post about the them. I am sometimes hesitant to give a less than glowing review about the beads that they supply, because as you can tell from my mica shift experiences, I sometimes tend to think it's my own ineptitude. But, the whole purpose of the program is to get the opinion of real beaders and find out how their company can better meet the needs of their customers.

After seeing my post and reading about some of the challenges that I had with the rhinestones, they have given me several helpful tips and are sending me a tool , called a jewel setter, that will help in picking up the stones for easier placement.

Well, now onto the string in my title. I can rarely create a new piece of jewelry without being reminded of the comment that someone made, several years ago, about a necklace that I had designed. I was very proud of it and was showing it to some friends and this person said, "oh, you just strung that". Whether she was dismissing it because I had not made the beads, or whether it was because it was not an elaborate technique, I will never know. While that person is now out of my life, the phrase did have a lasting effect on me. Now, I always stop and think before I make a comment on something I am being shown.

This piece is one that I strung using large beads that I got at a local bead show last year. I have looked at them and thought about them for well over a year and finally put together in a design that I am most happy with.

Sometimes the simplest technique requires the most thought. So that's my post for today. I hope everyone has a great week and hope you are being creative... in life, love and as always, in art.


Nezzy said...

I love, love, love the premo pendant. That is really a masterpiece. Ya know yesterday was my birthday...hummm.....well,,,,uhhh..I wouldn't mind a belated gift. Hint! Hint! LOL Have yourself just one great day!!!

Countryfolk Keepsakes said...

I love that premo pendant too!!! Very cool!!
The watchband looks great and that necklace is very pretty!
As far as that string comment... I know how you feel. I once had a woman say to me, "Oh! You make those voo-doo dolls."
As I politely smiled at her, I thought, "I do now." ;> )

Crafty Gal Linda said...

LOVE the silver heart pendant.

Artgalcrafts said...

Hi Susan
love this article on your Mica shift technique. havent tried it, just one technique I have been putting off doing, but with your help on it I just might. Love the heart.Yes Premo is better than SculpyIII but unless I am away from my town we only have Sculpy or I have to send for Premo or any other make.
I do have Premo silver here at the moment so might get to do something with it now thanks to your prompting.
Love the idea of the crystal helper it can be frustraing trying to pick things up.
Must show you the beading board I use.
I do use felt too when I am away and cant take everything with me.
Love and Kisses.
I have your lovely picture in a frame in my bedroom by my comp.
lucky girl, both of us LOL.XXXX

Kristen said...

I love your primo heart!
And that watchband repurposing is great! Your jewelry is always so fun and definitely post worthy.

About the apples, my dad picked a couple wheelbarrows full today, I wish I could send them to you.

I hope you have a nice day, and thanks for stopping by!!!


suze said...

The heart is really cool!I am playing with clay tomorrow.

Artgalcrafts said...

Hi Susan before I go for the night saw this necklace and love the idea of the beads being all different. GFives me ideas as what to do with all those one or two polybeads I seem to make and have a heap of.