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Wrapping Beach Glass in Clay!

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!!!).

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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.

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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.

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I went back to facebook with the new prototypes and received much more enthusiastic reviews. I was really excited, so I made more!

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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:

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It’s like there’s a flashlight behind them when it’s now solid clay! Yum :)

And new ones!

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Think & Design #3: The Cluster

Yep, I skipped #2 but that’s only because my sketches for those are upstairs – they were made while I was still doing the exercises physically, on paper with pen.

But then I bought this tablet, mostly because touching it in the store gave me a completely visceral reaction, and I started doing my sketching there. It’s nearly as good as paper, sensually, and ten times better because I always have it with me (but carrying around my notepad and a bunch of pens was getting tedious). I’ve been using it to capture all kinds of ideas – including a super secret project that I hope to be able to reveal soon! And then it’s easy to export sketches to a file for sharing.

So here are a few of my sketches from the third lesson. I’ll get back to #2 soon :)

First, a few sketches from the middle of the lesson and the beginnings of some designs:

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And then a concept for a necklace that occurred to me – to sew leather to a wire frame, and sew button clusters to the leather, and then cluster the frames: Sketch7019467

 

Good times, right? I’ve been having a ton of new ideas lately. Now if only I could get the time to do them! Oh hey wait – I’m on vacation – so here goes nothin’!

PS this Cluster lesson is available for sale.

Think and Design: #1 – The Flower

As promised, I’ve begun the drawing exercises on my journey towards a new style. Above is the first exercise in the Think and Design Jewelry Series, which is to, essentially, draw a flower. I drew a bunch because it was so much fun to remember that hey, I used to know how to draw!

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Part of the exercise is to come up with a bunch of loose concepts for types of designs based on the flower. I was somewhat distracted while working on the first batch but my second pass yielded a few ideas I think I might even put into production – including, perhaps, clay button starfish rings!

So far, I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.