Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fairy Flower Pendant Tutorial

Months ago I started a series of blog posts about the projects I was teaching in our local homeschool co-op.  Well, I accidentally deleted a bunch of photos and those projects were among the casualties.  So, next fall, when I teach the class again, I will make a second attempt at finishing the tutorials.

Meanwhile, I am starting a new series on my "Polymer Clay 2" (creative name, huh?) projects.  There will only be a few projects in this series as we have 10 weeks in the term at co-op and each project will take multiple weeks. (I originally intended for each project to take 2 weeks but we are 3 weeks into the term and have only finished this project, so we'll see how the rest go.)

The first two weeks were a couple of canes.  Since awesome tutorials for both of these are found elsewhere on the web, I won't bother making new ones.

 The leaf cane tutorial is found here: (This is part of a more complicated rose cane but you only need this page to do just the leaf.)

And the lace cane is found here: 

The supplies for this project are simple:
1 lace cane
1 leaf cane (don't make it into a leaf shape for now, keep it round)
solid-color bits leftover from the lace cane
1 eyepin

And the tools needed are basic as well:
pasta machine
circle cutters or the paper template pictured below
needle tool
jewelry pliers for bending the eyepin

I took a lot of photos for this tutorial and they are pretty self-explanatory so I'm not going to use a lot of words.  There are two pendants here.  The first one is the one (pictured above) we did for the class.  The second one is a little too difficult for small, inexperienced fingers to manage.

In order to keep the need for tools to a minimum, the kids used a paper template to transfer the shape we needed for the base of the flower to the clay.  I have included a copy of that template at the end of the tutorial.  Print it as a full-page image and it should be the correct size.  If you are using the cutters, the template can still be helpful in seeing where the smaller cutouts need to be placed.

Medium-thick sheet of clay, 2-inch cutter.

1/2-inch circle cutter or use template at end of post.

Cane same size as small circle cutter, sliced to same thickness as black sheet
We skipped this step in class but it can add a little interest if you choose to do it.

Pinch the top, so it resembles a leaf.

The bend in the wire will help it stay in place between the layers of clay.

Make sure your cane is the same diameter as the small circle cutter.
Some of my students had theirs bigger or smaller and it messed with the design of the pendant.
(Still turned out well, though.)

Try to go "follow the design."

Impress veins in the petals.

We also skipped this step in class.  (Sorry for the lightbulb glare)

Pinch to make the second row fit better between the first.

Roll each slice into a ball.
A tiny ball tool will work here, too.

About the size of the center hole.

Press it in there to fill up the hole.

More tiny balls.

Another ball for the center, and you're done!

And the second flower:

Begin the same way as the first...

Same as the other, but with red instead of black.
Make part of the cane into a leaf shape before slicing.
I stretched each slice a little more to make them long and narrow.
Roll tiny black ropes into points, then spiral the pointed ends. These can also go under the leaves.
The puff petals were made by pinching round cane slices as for the leaves, then pressing in the round edge to form sort of a triangular cup, then turned upside-down  and pressed into a circle.
Fold the upper leaves over the top petals.
Add a black dot with a red dot on top of it for the center.

The handout I gave to the kids.  Print as a full-page photo to use as a template.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beginner Basics Kids' Class - Lesson 2: Marbled Bead Bracelet

My goal with this homeschool polymer clay class is to expose the kids to the versatility of polymer clay, so we're doing a wide variety of basic projects and techniques.  The second lesson will be marbled beads that can be strung to make a bracelet.

One of the things I had to figure out with this class is how to efficiently hand out the clay.  This is what I came up with:

Each of these balls is one tenth of an ounce.  I used my tiny scale to weigh each one.  (It might have been quicker to do some math and roll out blocks and cut them but for various reasons, that wasn't an option.) The bigger chunks are the scraps from last week that need to be re-weighed.  Each week, I will know exactly how much clay I want the kids to have and I can tell them to "pick 6 balls of any color" or "choose 4 black balls, 2 brown ones, and 1 green" or whatever.  It is a lot of work to prepare the balls but I got my kids to help while we watched TV and that made it go waaay faster.

So, here's this week's project:

This lesson is intended to teach the kids about marbling (and what happens if you go too far), forming basic shapes and bead piercing.

3 balls each of 2 colors of clay (about 1/3 ounce of each color)
stretchy cord
spacer beads
super glue

tissue blade
needle tool

This looks like a long tutorial but it's actually really simple. I just took lots of photos.

So here's the clay:

Mash the matching balls together and roll them into short logs.

Slice up the logs.

Pull the slices apart and pile them randomly on the work surface.

Squash them together into a ball...

... and roll it into a log.

Twist the log...

... and fold it in half.

Twist again...

... and roll again.

Fold in half...

... twist, roll out, fold in half, twist...

and roll into a log one more time.  Roll it to 8 inches long and cut into 16 pieces 1/2 inch long each.

The cut ends are marbled differently than the sides.  You can leave them as is or you can hide the ends.

If you want to hide them, pinch the sides gently toward each other...

... until they touch. Press them together firmly.

Round the points.

Do the ends of all of the pieces.

Roll them all into balls.

Form the beads into shapes. We're going to do four rounds, four cubes, four ovals, and four disks,

Pierce the beads and bake. (I'm using Fimo Soft and baking at 265 degrees for 20 minutes.)

String the beads on elastic cord with spacer beads between.

Tie a tight knot.

Get someone to hold the knot tight and put a drop of superglue on it.  Trim the ends of the elastic and you're done!