Monday, October 3, 2011

Cameo Heirlooms - Katalina Style!

To create a faux cameo pendant you will need:
  • Pasta machine (dedicated to polymer clay use)
  • Small oven (dedicated to polymer clay use)
  • Long thin blade for cutting polymer clay
  • Exacto knife
  • Ceramic tile
  • Chain-nose pliers
  • Round-nose pliers
  • Bailing pliers
  • Ball peen hammer
  • Steel bench block
  • Flush cutters
  • Baby powder
  • Liver of Sulfur (optional)
  • Wet/dry sand paper: 220 – 600 grit
  • Polymer clay: copper, orange, white, black, translucent, and scrap clay (refer to recipes below)
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Cameo (to be used as a mold)
  • Pearls, gemstones, glass beads, ceramic beads, crystals and charms of your choice
  • Copper wire: 14 –24 gauge

General Instructions for Polymer Clay (creating and finishing techniques)
1. To condition the clay first kneed it in your hands to warm and soften; then run through a pasta machine several times.
2. Dust objects and/or mold with baby powder for a release agent.
3. Bake the clay on a ceramic tile according to the manufacturers instructions in a small clay dedicated oven.
4. Finish the baked piece by sanding the sides and back (stay away from the cameo so as not to remove the detail) with wet/dry sand paper under water using a drop of dish soap for a lubricant. Start with 220 grit and work up to 600. You can very lightly use the 600 on the cameo image but check often to ensure that you are not removing the detail. Buff with a soft cloth.
5. Antique by applying brown paint and quickly rubbing the excess off. Sand lightly with the 600 grit paper and buff.

Wire Frame
1. Decide on a wire frame design that will compliment the shape of the cameo you have chosen to replicate. Remember to consider how you will attach the clay cameo and other adornments to it.
2. Use pliers to shape 14 or 16ga wire into a frame according to your design. This particular design also requires 2 v-shaped wire pieces that will extend out from the cameo and attach to the wire frame.
3. Use the hammer to apply texture to the metal.
Clay Mold
1. Press the original cameo into a ball of scrap clay; remove carefully.
2. Bake the mold (refer to general instructions); remove from oven and let cool.

1. Push a ball of the white clay mixture (refer to the recipe below) into the mold; remove.
2. Slice the cameo imprint away from the remainder of the clay and place it back into the mold in the original place.
3. Carefully push a ball of the black clay mixture into the mold pressing lightly to adhere it to the cameo imprint; remove. 
4. Cut off the excess clay to form the desired shape and use your fingers to smooth the edges. Slice the piece in half. Use an exacto knife to dig tiny troughs on the inside of the back half where the v-shaped wires will lay. Place the wires in the troughs.
5. Replace the back; use your fingers to reseal, reshape and smooth the edges.
6. Bake; remove from oven and let cool.
7. Sand and antique (refer to general instructions).

Assembling Cameo to Frame
1. Lay the wire frame over the cameo; use pliers to bend each prong upward.
2. Trim each prong to about 3/8” long (or just long enough to bend over the wire frame). Bend each prong over the frame to secure the cameo in place

1. Use 24ga gauge wire to wrap the frame with the desired crystals, pearls and/or beads.
2. Attach additional pearl, crystal and/or charm dangles with wrapped loops.

Final Touches
1. I finished the necklace off with a chain fashioned from handmade beaded wire links and a handmade hook clasp but you can also use a purchased clasp and chain. 
2. For a time-worn antiqued look; dip the entire necklace into a Liver of Sulfer solution. Rinse with cold water and buff the metal with steel wool.

A few more styles


Clay Recipes 
White Mixture  - 1 part white  / 4 parts translucent 
Black Mixture  - 1 part black  / 1 part translucent 
Carnelian Mixture  - 1 part Copper Base / 7 parts translucent 
Copper Base Mixture  - 1 part orange /1 part copper

Good Luck and have fun!
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Egytian Coil - Katalina Style!

If you are new to working with wire this may seem challenging at first. Just keep practicing - it get's easier with each link.

*Here's a beginner's tip - It's good to start with a softer wire such as copper. It's fairly inexpensive - you don't have to worry that you are wasting money if you make a mistake. Also, it's a soft wire which makes it fairly easy to manipulate.

To make Egyptian coil links you will need:
  • Wire of your choice such as sterling silver, copper, brass - the above photo shows the necklace made from copper wire but for the instructions I used 16-gauge darkened annealed steel wire which can usually be found at your local hardware store (it is often referred to as tie wire)
  • Flush cutters
  • Pliers: chain-nosed, round-nosed
  • Hammer: ball-peen
  • Steel bench block
  • Jewelers file
  • Tape measure
  • Fingernail buffing stick: if using darkened annealed steel wire
Use the flush cutters to cut a 5” length of the 18ga wire. File each end. Use the round-nose pliers to form a loose coil in one end. Repeat for the other end. The length of the wire link should be approximately 1 ¾” long from end to end. Repeat to make 6 more links - make sure all the coils are the same size and the finished lengths are all the same.

Hold one link with the coils downward and place the round-nose pliers at the middle of the straight area. Use your fingers to bend each coil upward. Repeat for the other 6 links.

Hold one link with the coils upward and the “U” downward. Place the chain-nose pliers about 1/8” above the bottom edge of the coils.

Use your fingers to bend the “U” upward until it is perpendicular to the coils. Repeat for the other six links.

Hold one link with the “U” between your finger and thumb. Use the chain-nose pliers to bend each coil towards the “U”. Repeat for the other six links.
Use the ball end of the hammer to texture one link. Reshape the link if necessary. Use the fingernail buffing stick to sand the link to remove some of the black finish and reveal a soft shine (if using dark steel wire). Repeat for the other six links.
Connect one link to another by holding one link sideways and inserting the “U” into the “U” of the other link. Connect one more link to form a 3-link chain. Repeat to make one more 3-link chain.

Connect the last link to the two 3-link sections with jump rings and wire wrap a tear drop stone at the center.

I finished the necklace off with a chain fashioned from handmade beaded wire links and a handmade hook clasp but you can also use a purchased clasp and chain.

Good luck and have fun!


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