Archive for the ‘Jewelery making’ Category

I’m going off topic today.  I like to do that on occasion – if someone I read on a knitting blog hadn’t one day started talking about spinning and dyeing wool, I’m sure I never would have gotten into it, and I really enjoy it.  So, here’s something I’ve been doing the past few weekends.    It may be new for you, or you may be an expert at it already and much better at it than me – in any case, this will be my one and only post on polymer clay roses for jewelry!


So easy!  You make them out of clay, then stick them in the oven.  They turn into a plastic that my clumsy self has already dropped on the floor and happily found they didn’t break!  (At least not on my first dropping – I’m not pushing it.)

Once you make the roses its up to your creativity how you turn them into jewelry -stick wires through them, wrap petals around old posted earrings, etc.  I learned how to make the polymer clay roses with this video by makoccino:


The only thing I did differently on these from the video is that I didn’t glaze them to make them shiny, and on many I used white clay to blend the colors gradually so the flowers could be whiter at the base and deeper colors at the petal ends.

Making blended colors to resemble real roses:  I did the blending by making 3 balls, 3 different shades- a whiter shade, and medium shade and the shade for the ends of the petals.  You only need white clay and the color of your choice to achieve this.  I then rolled each of the 3 shades into a snake and pressed them together.  If you cut your snakes and stack them and squish them, (always keeping the same shades on top of each other), it gradually blends into a clay that changes color slowly.  (Sometimes I didn’t bother to blend, just left the color separated before making petals, you can see this on some of them.)

My biggest challenge has been ending up with earrings that stick out too far.  Here’s what happened and what I did to fix it.

These solid color studs are done like the video, but instead of cutting off the flower and gluing onto a flat earring, I wrapped the petals around some old dingy studs that I had gotten for cheap when I was 15.  The method in the video is better!  I did use the same trick from the video, using a knife to cut it shorter and press it in around the base of the earring to try to make the flower stick out from my head less.  But this was only partly successful, they do still stick out too far, and I don’t really want to wear these.  The smallest stud ones (white with leaves) in the top photo are ok.  Live and learn, I will try to saw these off at the base and see if that helps.


This necklace sticks out quite a lot too, but I like it.  It sticks out so much I got stabbed in the chin when I sneezed!  Bit of a surprise!  But again, I didn’t manage to break it, even slamming my head into it, so they are a little tougher than they look.  I made the rose and leaves, and the two beads on each side out of clay, then just wrapped wire in random ways to make the rest of the necklace.   The leaf is just a piece of clay pressed flat and cut with a knife into a leaf shape, then the end of it is rolled into a snake and used to wrap around the flower for attaching the leaves.

This was a bright royal blue and fuchsia before I baked it, but this blue turned into more of a navy after baking.



Making a leaf shape with a rolled snake on the end to wrap around the rose.  This is the back side.  I might attach this wire to one of the barettes.


Below is the process of the rose making – The 3 tools on the left are useful for wire cutting and wrapping, and are sold as a set and inexpensive at walmart.  Most of the wire also comes from there, and the clay can be bought at a craft store.  I use Premo! clay.  Its kind of like paint, you can blend colors together, so you don’t need a ton of colors, just black, white, and a couple of your favorite shades.  You can see a glob of green clay for leaves (near Earth on the mat) which I made by blending white, aqua and a little yellow.  SuppliesRose

I have a selection of old dingy earrings (below) from the 90’s that I no longer wear to which I planned to glue roses. To help fix the problem of the roses sticking out, I cut some of them off like shown in the video and glued them onto these dangly earrings.  It’s easier to cut them if you let them sit for a few minutes after you are done making them.  When they get less warm, they get a little less soft.  You can see those finished in the top photo.  Here I show a petal on the mat, white at the bottom and a deeper purple for the outside of the petals.  The mat is a child’s place mat, and helps protect the table, and that is the foil pan I bake the clay in.  I put another pan just like that on top to make a domed enclosure to help keep the clay smells out of the oven.  The first time I ever baked clay, I noticed the smells a lot, but I don’t even notice them now, I’m not sure why.


The baking pan- I got a ceramic bathroom wall tile from the home improvement store for sitting the clay on (it will make a smooth shiny spot where it sits on that during baking, so best to have the back down).  Several of these I stuck wire through before baking to make jewelry making easier.  It is easier to bend the wire into shapes once the rose is cooked and harder.



The copper color wire will turn a darker yellower color during baking.  You can see this in the pair of orange roses below, you have two different colors of copper because some of it wasn’t baked.  The copper will turn as time passes in the air, so I’ll see how it winds up looking later after these sit out for a few months.  I love original copper’s peach color, but don’t like the yellowy baked color too much.


Below, and also in the top photo you can see after I worked out the sticking-out issue. Baking the wires through the peach ones allowed me to wrap them in ways that helped them face outward on a dangling earring, I also tried face down like the blue ones below.  I used bead caps and a potato pearl bead and wrapped wires around those.  (I also like wrapping wires around crystals, like the ones on the left, no need for baking.)

Finishing up: After attaching the loops on the wires to store bought earring wires, I use a tiny amount of Aleene’s tacky glue to clean up anything I need to when done, such as adding extra hold to the back of a rose so it faces outward and sticks well to its wire, or to seal any wires that wrapping has left sticking out or unsealed.  Also glueing roses to the old earrings (use a little rough sandpaper to roughen up the back of the rose and the front of the old earring to help the glue hold.)  It also helps hold the crystals inside their wires on the other pair to dab some on the back side, holding crystal to wire.


So concludes my foray into clay roses.  Back to knitting with skinny yarn, which takes a very long time.


I did saw those roses that stick out too far off, and I like them and wear them now.  I got this saw which I used to saw down to the metal earring inside.  I found out just how sturdy this polymer plastic is! Despite how delicate these look, they are pretty tough stuff!  I grabbed them pretty hard while sawing off the back, and no damage.  This was not that easy, it was a couple minutes of sawing, then the earring may pop out and need gluing back in (I used the pictured glue when that happened).  It’s much easier to get the right shape before the clay is baked than it is to saw it later, but if you need to, this is possible.



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ShawlPinHairSticksDone copyEver make a cardigan and not worry about putting buttons on it?  Most shawls also don’t come with closures. Sometimes when its really cold out, you kind of miss the closing option – so, make your own shawl pins!

ShawlPin2DoneThis shawl is pinned on the backside with safety pins, the shawl pin here just adds decoration.  Bling for your knitting.  (This is a pattern shawl, the Summer Flies shawl, which you can find here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/summer-flies).   Below, shawl pin doing actual pinning:


Making the Shawl Pins

You’ll need some sticks.  You can buy wooden dowels, or get sticks from the yard (both are pictured above).  If you get sticks from the yard, make sure they are a good hard wood, nothing that breaks too easily, and nothing rotten. Ideally, you want them a little thinner than a pencil so they don’t put big holes in your sweaters.

You’ll need some tools.  I used a dremel for the shaping /sanding.  You can also sand by hand, but of course it will be slower (take a nice long set-down and relax with some lemonade while you sand :-)).  You’ll need a couple of different grits of sandpaper (I used 100 grit “medium” and 220 grit “very fine”), and something to make a hole in the stick (I used a drill with a small bit -something around 1/16″ or 1.5 mm.).  You may have luck just pushing a thumbtack through it, you’ll have to try).  If you want to seal and protect your sticks, polyurethane or acrylic sealer.

You’ll need some decorations to make a big top for your stick so it doesn’t fall through your shawl.  This can be anything you think will look good.  I used an old pendent from a necklace, some wire from the craft store, a seashell from the beach, some sea glass beads, and the top of a broken hair stick.

SticksRoundingBreak your stick to about the length you’ll want it to be.  Use the dremel with the sandpaper tool, or the coarsest sandpaper to shape one end into a rounded point. Shape the other end flat by sanding a lot on one side, (or whatever shape will fit best with the decoration you chose). Tips:  If your stick starts to catch on fire or burns black, try using a slower speed.  Its a good idea to wear safety glasses.  Even though I’m right handed, I hold the dremel in my left hand and move the stick on the dremel instead of the dremel on the stick.  Mainly because I do this inside and this puts most of the dust on the table instead of in my face.

SticksSanding1Sand the sides of the stick and the rounded point smooth.  This smooths or removes the outer bark.  I do this by hand, and I used the medium grain sand paper, (#100) for this, then finish it off with the #220.   I make a hole in the flat part because I will use wire to help hold decorations on, so having a hole to put the wire through is helpful.


Staining and sealing: I used a bent up paperclip through the holes to keep the hole from getting sealed shut. I stained these to give them a little color, sanded slightly with very fine paper, sealed them with polyurethane, then sanded slightly again with very fine paper, each time just to remove any scratchiness. (Meaning you don’t really need to sand, just swipe off any rough stuff each time).


Here is an assortment of useful jeweling tools -though mostly not necessary for this. Various thicknesses of wire; and cutting, flat and rounded pliers (you can get this set of 3 pliers at the big box store for $9).  Tip: Real stuff (such as real copper and silver wire) tarnishes.  Some of the cheapo craft wire from the big box stores doesn’t tarnish quite as quickly.  If its really important to you whether your piece does or doesn’t tarnish, and you’ve got months of time before you need the piece, get some of your chosen wire and leave it out for a long time before using it to see how it looks later.  Silver can be polished with a polishing cloth from a jeweler, and I was told copper can be cleaned with damp baking soda and a soft toothbrush (but the one time I tried that I scratched the piece up, so, at your own risk!).  For this already tarnished pendant, I won’t mind when the rest tarnishes to match.  I don’t mind the old look on my knitting.

ShawlPinWireCutThroughSo, I have a thin piece of wire, about 8 inches long or so going through the hole.  Below:  I wrap it around the pendant to attach it, in and out and around it again, letting the ends wind up on the back side.  I left the loop on it where it used to hang on a necklace, I will attach another decoration here.ShawlPinWireWrapBackIt comes out looking like this from the front.  Since the wire matches, it is not that obvious.  People don’t usually look at things very closely, so its unlikely anyone will ever notice the wire, and it makes a secure attachment better than glue would.


I use some glue too.  I use Aleene’s Tacky Glue, but any craft glue would probably do.  I put some between the pendant and the stick to help hold it in place. I used an old bobby pin to dab glue on the ends of the wire to help dull them a little.  Its best to tuck them between the stick and pendant, then cut them to that length to really keep the ends from getting caught on things, but gluing them to something helps too.  I also put a dab of glue on the loop I had to open to add the butterfly decoration to help seal it shut.

ShawlPinApplyingGlueFinished pin below, securely attached and made from a stick from my yard.  This is an old pendant my mom had, but you can get pendants like it, and the butterfly, at the craft stores.

ShawlPinDone1aAnd of course once you’ve got the wire, you wind up making other fun stuff like the necklace (a crystal wrapped in wire, then wrapped in felted wool, then hung on the copper wire).

ShawlPinOnShawl pins also make great hair sticks!  (Which of course also means that if  you don’t want to make shawl pins, you can buy hair sticks with big tops to use as shawl pins.)

ShawlPinHairStickDetails on each stick:  1. Stick from the yard with necklace pendants, stained and polyurethaned.  2. Wooden dowel, unstained, red wire wrapped around a glass stone (glue behind the stone helps with security).  3.  Wooden dowel, stained and polyurethaned, seashell glued on to a flat end of the stick with copper wire wrapped around for both decoration and security.  A separate wire is bent and hanging through the hole, beads added to each end, and wire wrapped into spirals with the round nose pliers to hold the beads on.  4.  Wooden dowel, I tried my hand at making a spiral shaft, but you really kind of need a wood turning machine.  The pendant glued and wired on to this was the top of a broken hair stick. 5.  Haven’t decided what to put on this stick from the yard yet, but it is urethaned and ready….   6. This was a chopstick from a chinese restaurant, unstained.  I colored it with colored pencils to look like those harmony wood knitting needles you see in magazines. (This was an experiment, didn’t come out quite like I hoped, but its okay.)  Copper colored wire wrapped through the hole and spiraled at the ends to hold the bead on.

ShawlPinHairSticksDone copy

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