I live on an island. For the past six years, a significant chunk of my income has come from wire-wrapping beach glass and selling it to tourists, or folks from here who have family away and want to send them a piece of home. It’s been great, and my parents have been my largest supplier of beach glass, picking it up on their weekly beach walks.
But recently, at least three other wrappers have popped up and I felt the market was inundated, so I stopped – but my work was still being requested. I ruminated for a while, and decided that polymer clay was the answer.
First, I did a bit of sketching. That’s my new thing, with the Think and Design series behind me and a gorgeous new Galaxy Note 8 Tablet (with the pressure sensitive s-pen!!!).
I may have gotten a little carried away drawing shellfish.
Anyway, yesterday was the first day I was actually able to work on this idea. I grabbed a couple of light, slightly uncommon soft greens and got to work. At first, I wanted to just make sure I could actually capture the stone without using a back, so I didn’t get into any fancy sculpture, just some waves and dots.
I sort of liked them – the blue one has great lines – but neither one of them was really pushing my buttons. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went straight to my wonderful fan base on Facebook and asked their opinions! And oh boy did they have opinions :) Most people agreed with me that they weren’t quite right but it wasn’t until I started pushing for answers that it came up to the surface: they looked like icing, like cartoons, like kid’s jewellery. Which totally resonated with me, and now looking at them I can identify that the solid colours and thick lines are not sophisticated enough. I needed texture, depth, interest.
So OK, back to the drawing board. Except this time I didn’t do any drawing. Whoops?
Anyway, I thought of trying a somewhat traditional bezel setting. I rolled out some clay, textured it with this gorgeous zentangle stamp, cut out a geometric shape using my clay blade, used an x-acto knife to cut out a hole behind the stone to allow the light through, and then used a piece of textured clay to create a bezel to trap the stone.
I went back to facebook with the new prototypes and received much more enthusiastic reviews. I was really excited, so I made more!
I had a lot of fun picking out and blending the Pearl Ex Powder colours on the surface of the clay to set off the colour of each piece of glass.
This technique lets me play with pearlex powders and textures while still keeping the natural beach glass which I actually do still love a lot, and I think it’s just groovy.
I can see a few places to improve and grow on this technique but so far, I’m loving it and I just had to share!
EDIT: Ok wow, my friend suggested that aluminum foil behind the glass would help with the luminosity, and BOY HOWDY does it ever! The difference was so staggeringly awesome that I re-baked all of these with foil trapped in a new layer of clay. Check it out, before and after, similar lighting conditions:
It’s like there’s a flashlight behind them when it’s now solid clay! Yum :)
And new ones!
Yes, I like the rounded shapes! But I didn’t mean only rounded but curved the way art nouveau pieces are with curved embellishments and such – though less convoluted, of course, since it’s polymer clay! :)
Oh I love art nouveau…what a great idea!!
I was speechless when I saw these pieces! They look so amazing! Very creative indeed! http://www.seaglass.us/
Eye opening, to say the least. Thanks so much for sharing your exploration with poly clay bezel setting.
You’ve taken your love of beach glass jewelry into a whole other world.
It’s the most fun! I can’t wait until the weekend when I can do some more!!
very nice work – I love beach glass and your designs really show them off – love the rivets
Yay! Thanks for the zentangle stamps, they’re my favourite clay tool!
Your work is simply lovely. Thank you for sharing.