Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frustration and release ( in tutorial form...)

This postal strike we're having here in Canada has made me feel cut off at the knees:  can't go forward, can't ship to people who've purchased from my shop and who are waiting patiently (they can all expect an extra something when they do get their orders..), can't get supplies.  Obviously, for large companies this is not a problem, except as an extra temporary expense for shipping, but 17 -23$ to ship small items (under 12$) is just not realistic for me or my customers.  The back to work legislation was introduced into the House of Commons on Monday, but may not make it through to law before the summer recess starts tomorrow!  Honestly, I would expect my elected members to stay and finish the job before they leave for their ridings for the summer, if that is the course to which our new majority Conservative government is committed!  My shop is now closed until this is resolved and I will be putting my efforts into new work and finishing up a heap of half-done stuff.  Trying very hard not to let this sap my forward momentum.

In a effort to distract myself, I have thought up a little tutorial to (hopefully) amuse you.  If you have read any of my posts, you will know that I have an obsession with hollow beads.  I am putting together a tutorial for purchase to demonstrate my way of making hollow beads, but another quick and simple way occurred to me for making hollow beads while I recently made some of my new 'Strata' beads.  I'm sure this has been done a million times elsewhere, but here is my take on it.

Before I start - another reason to make these beads hollow is that it is then easier to manipulate them into shapes a little different from the cutter shapes.  I highly recommend making your own cutters, see tutorial here by Daniel Torres (thanks, Daniel):
Cutter tutorial

Start with well conditioned clay - this is that dreaded of all white clay, the cheap original Sculpey in a box.  I often use it for prototypes, because if I can make something in that clay, I can make it in any of the better clays (and it will be stronger..).  Pick  two cutters that have the same profile, but one smaller than the other.  I chose Kemper circles but it could be any shape.



Roll clay into thin sheets (or your preference for thickness) .  Cut the larger circles - I find cutting on a dedicated silicone baking mat gives much cleaner cuts.
Start stacking up the circles till you have almost the thickness you want.  DO NOT stack evenly, you want the strata to be visible and interesting.



Compress your layers, but do not fiddle with the strata or smooth them in any way.

Line up the smaller cutter on the stack and take some care to try to get an even wall thickness.  Cut through all layers and remove the plug.  This will make your bead amazingly lightweight, especially if the smaller cutter is just a bit smaller.


You can see that the outside layers are still there in the above picture.

Next choose your top and bottom.  For this demo, I am cutting out of a piece of new crackle sheet that I made today.  It has a bit of cornstarch on it, so it looks a little dim...




Cut top piece and attach to a blank circle so that your top (and bottom ) are double thickness.  A single sheet is too flimsy to function well as a top.   Attach and compress slightly and integrate the top into the layers.

Flip over.






Attach the bottom and integrate. Add points of texture interest on the layers if you like - tweak the whole thing, make it a little off round if you like.  Push back an errant layer that looks like it got out of control - just look and see if it is how you like it!  Make a hole and inflate slightly if you'd like your piece a little domed.


Make holes and bake.

Then comes the painting.  I'm not going to go into detail because I'm doing a tutorial on surface finishes as well, but I'll briefly show another bead being finished.



This group of photos shows the raw ugly bead (square with layers), then the raw ugly bead being fearlessly covered with black paint, then navy paint, then the gradual removal of those layers and slight addtions of other colours to enhance the design.  Finally, it is waxed and polished.  A large round bead that I made earlier is beside it.




Here are the two cutters I made and used to make the big bead in the picture.


I don't have any more time to post more today, but will come back on Monday to show the crackle topped bead finished and a textured surface variant which is altered after assembly.

The possibilites for using cutters are endless so I hope this mini-tutorial gets you interested.  If you are not interested in making your own, Clay Factory Inc. has a great deal on the entire set of Kemper cutters.



See you Monday and hope the postal strike is resolved!  Wow, that was fun, must do it more often - the tutorial, I mean, not the rant!


25 comments:

Mª Reyes said...

Un tutorial muy interesante. Besos

Carme said...

Muchas gracias por compartir tus ideas y tu sabiduria.....
Un tutorial excelente!!!!!

SuziCQ said...

Claire, thanks so much for this great tutorial! I can't wait to try this technique! I wonder if you would mind clarifying one point; when you cover the bead with layers of paint are you letting the first layer dry completely before adding the second layer? And do you let all the paint dry before removing any?

Also, I can't even imagine dealing with the postal strike, I sent three of my pieces to a buyer in Canada the day before it started and worrying about that one package is driving me nuts. I feel for you!

Davinia said...

These are wonderful, I love them and your kindness in sharing your technique. Look forward to seeing how you finish the crackle top bead. We've had mail held up a little because of volcanic ash wafting over us from the other side of the world, all flights grounded for several days and I was anxiously waiting for my Julie Picarello book to arrive. It came yesterday.

Roberta said...

Such a simple concept. And yet, I never would have guessed. Thank you so much for opening my polymer eyes even further. I look forward to your tutorial with much anticipation!

stregata said...

A wonderful glimpse into the magic of your beads!
I feel with you about the postal strike - the Canadian post office has a long, long, long history of postal strikes - I remember some of them lasting months. You'd think someone would find a way to put an end to this nonsense. Hope this one gets resolved quickly.

Anart Island Studio said...

...wohhh!!! Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! What a great way to make beads, I need to try out yout technique, once i get a bit of time...;-))
Hugs
Anke

Julz said...

Wow Claire...your tutorial certainly has me interested!!! I shall be keeping posted!! I'm intrigued!

UnaOdd -Lynn said...

Fantastic technique!

Gosh I hope the postal strike doesn't last long! I'm sure you put the 'down time' to great use, but I'm sure it can't be easy.

Hang in there!

anka said...

Thank you for sharing this tutorial... Your creativity and positive approach to deal with the postal strike is wonderful!! congratulation :))

Its All About Creating said...

Great tutorial, thank you so much!-Marlene Brady

Stories They Tell said...

Yeah, the postal strike. The unions are just bullies. Anyway, GREAT tute-- who knew hollow beads could be such fun? This is giving me some ideas-- and that's ALWAYS a benefit! Thanks, Claire!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I like your work. do you have the tutorial for sale on your coloring technique. i would be interested in it. thanks
Merrie

Pretty Things said...

That's amazing to watch your process!

iratirita said...

I love the tutorial, I promise i'll try it soon!

Jill Palumbo said...

Thank you for this tutorial. You have given us so much to think about. Beautiful and intriguing work!

Patricia Bannister said...

Thank you so much for sharing . . . it was great fun to read and even more imagine trying!

Belén said...

Muchas gracias por el tutorial, es genial!!!

Birgitta Lejonklou said...

woow that is quite a work to make them hollow too....
gorgeous with those crackled sheets
very interesting and impressive thank You !!!and I do love them all <3

Roseanna Smith said...

Great tutorial; thank you so much! I had just this week been wondering how to make some of my heavy beads hollow, since I didn't want to use foil, either.

PerennialGirl said...

Your tutorial is fantastic and amazing!! Thank you!! Can't wait to try it this weekend.!!

Bose said...

creative excellence!Work Release Form

Ann Dillon said...

Thank you for your great tutorial! Love your work... saw something of yours on Pinterest, and it led me here!

angela mcdougall said...

what do you remove the paint layers with to add more colors and such…?

Pamela Alyce said...

hi claire, did you ever create the tutorial for the hollow beads? i would love to find it or purchase it from you! thank you, pamela