Sunday, February 21, 2010

Can-Can Girl Lace Garter Bangle

The idea of a bangle bracelet with a ruffle has dominated my thoughts for the past several months and many possible art solutions have presented themselves as ideas, but somehow, I couldn't quite wrap my head around the structural requirements to make it work.  I tried several times to gather the clay and make a ruffled cuff but could never get the ruffles to work out to my satisfaction and then, I didn't really want a smooth texture, either.  I thought about starting with ribbon and making a cuff with an inner armature of sheet metal or wire mesh, and soaking the whole thing in liquid clay and I may still try that, but my one experiment with the aluminum wire mesh as an armature failed miserably with the wire breaking before I could even get the bracelet like I wanted it.  This was back in August or September.  So I have been thinking about other possible ways to get this effect and tonight it occurred to me that I had some unfinished bangle bases in Sculpey Ultralight just begging to be covered and this might be the solution to the ruffled bracelet conundrum--make it a bangle and have a nice sturdy bangle skeleton underneath. 

Another idea that kept popping into my head for the past month, no doubt due to Valentine's day, was the idea of combining red and black with some type of lacy effect for a piece of jewelry.  I have a great chantilly lace texture plate so I used the edges of that plate to make sections of lace and trimmed the edges.  I brushed the lace with three different reddish or pinkish varieties of Pearlex mica powder to add the red to the black clay.  Then I began gathering the lace into a ruffle and applied it to the bottom edge of the bangle a section at a time, trimming the excess clay after each attachment.  I took the whole thing off and added some liquid polymer clay for stability since I was adding it to an already processed base.  I decided that the bangle part of the bracelet could be covered with another pattern from the same texture plate which included textured bars with textured ovals in between them.  I made this part of the bracelet skin out of a custom color of magenta clay.  The ruffle had to come off again so that this bangle skin could be fitted in place and then the ruffle was re-applied.  If I make another one of these, the construction process will probably be simpler since I had to work out the design issues as I went along this time. 

I decided that something had to be done about the bottom of the ruffle since it was just smooth clay on the bottom and I didn't like that in case the person wearing it was to lift up their arm and expose the underside.  There really wasn't any way to texture the underside of the ruffle so I decided the only thing to do was to add a second layer and put the lace texture on the bottom of that ruffle.  I used red/blue Pearlex to paint that ruffle. So now the bangle had a double ruffle along the bottom, but what to do about the need for texture on the top side of the bottom ruffle?  I decided to pleat the top surface with a knitting needle.  This did flatten the lace texture on the bottom somewhat, but didn't obliterate it and the pleats looked nice with the lace on the top view.

Next, the inner bangle had to be covered. The idea of using a rippled surface on the inside was very appealing and my ripple blade will bend, but I doubted that I had the coordination or expertise to slice the inner surface and get a perfect ripple so I decided I would have to create the ripple in the liner before applying it to the bracelet and just be careful.  After some false starts, I got a nice rippled band around the inside of the bangle.  I decided to use my knitting needle to seal the edges of the clay to the other surfaces.  This caused the clay to ripple just a little and that was my "Aha" moment!   I realized that the bottom of the rippled inner skin of the bangle looked as if it were sewn to the lace ruffle underneath and I realized that I had just made a very good imitation of a garter!  I decided the only thing to do was to add more folds to the inner skin to simulate the gathers over elastic that you have with a garter.  The top edges were sealed with another texture tool just for fun.

My new garter bangle was missing something, though.  What did I need to add to give it just the right airs and make it unmistakably a garter for the wrist?  Why, of course!  Garters have ribbon rosettes!  I made a rosette out of a round piece of black clay covered with red fabric foil and added a very sparkly faceted clear glass jewelry bead to the center for a little extra bling!

Voila!  The new can-can lace garter bangle is born!  And I have my entry for the March Texture Challenge for the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy!  Hooray!


  1. Very nice Janice!! It turned out beautiful! I know whenever you try something new, you figure out ways of how to do it better next time. Did you jot them down so you don't forget?

  2. NO, but that is a great idea. I should start an artist's journal. Thanks for the great advice!