Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dichroic Effects in Polymer Clay Part 3

I finished the backs of three of my pendants and designed necklaces with two of them to give away as birthday presents for a family birthday party today.  I decided to do chain maille with aluminum jump rings in colors to match the colors in the two pendants.  The pink and blue patchwork dichroic pendant was for a younger person and I know she wears pendants on chains that are a little long so I designed her chain to be about the length that I have seen her wear.  I decided to alternate colors and every other link was a pink and a blue link intertwined together as well as attached to the single link above and below it.  This turned out fairly well and I believe the chain really brings out the colors in the pendant.  The second necklace was for someone closer to my age and I decided to make her necklace into a modified chain maille bib with purple and green to match two of the colors in her pendant.  This was really a free form chain maille since I did not use a pattern and have never done it before.  I did study a tutorial by Nan Roche about two months ago on making chain maille with polymer clay and this did help me get some idea of what I needed to do.  For the most part, I made it up as I went along.  I wanted the chain maille to make a small vee shape and then taper into a single chain to go to the back of the necklace. 

What I did not consider while making these two necklaces was that I would be unable to find clasps that would be compatible with the large aluminum jump rings.  I visited my trusty bead store only to discover that there was nothing there that would work.  Toggle clasps were hopeless because the chain links were bigger than the holes in the clasps!  I suppose I could have purchased a lobster claw but the small space that opens up did not look big enough either.  So I had to go home and design two toggle clasps out of wire and clay that would fit.  This actually turned out better.  I used my beveled edge clay cutter and made two polymer clay rings by cutting the clay with both ends of the cutter.  The narrower end cut a circle out of the center of the clay and then the wider end cut out the outer perimeter of the ring.  Luckily for me the circumference I needed was about the same size as another cutter I had (aluminum graduated size cutters from Makins Clay, I think). I took a piece of sterling silver wire and measured the circumference  I needed and then cut the wire, twisted a loop in the center of the wire, bent the ends around the aluminum cutter and then positioned the wire circle on the clay so that I could check for fit.  I had to tighten up the circle a little but it was pretty easy.  I sandwiched the circle of wire with loop between the two pieces of cut out clay and pressed the clay around the inner and outer seams to smooth it.  I then laid the clay piece on the texture sheet that I had used previously to stamp the back of the pendant and folded over the end so that I could texture both sides of the circle at the same time.  This worked out really well because it kept me from flattening one side while I textured the other.  Then I made the toggle part.  I took a small piece of wire that I had previously measured to make sure that even once I added the loop to the center it would still be wide enough to fasten the necklace but not too wide to get through the hoop part of the clasp.  I rolled out a snake of clay, inserted the wire, and smoothed the seams and then textured both sides as before.  I then used Pearlex powders in colors to match the chain and the pendants and used one color on the hoop and the other color on the toggle.  I then attached these to the ends of the necklace and voila!

Lessons learned:  I need to think about the clasp when I am first designing the piece so that the finishing work is not delayed due to "technical difficulties".  I believe I will try making my own aluminum jump rings in the future.  I have the kit with the mandrels for doing this and I am pretty sure I could make cleaner cuts than the company that is supplying the ones I have now.  I don't want my chaines to poke my customers. 

This was a great learning experience and I enjoyed the chain maille so much that I plan to learn more about it very soon.

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