Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dream Design Pearl Encrusted Bangle--First in a Series of Bangle Explorations

Early one morning a picture of a  bangle bracelet with a line of pearls around its center rim appeared to me before I became fully awake.  Creative ideas have a habit of appearing this way, and it is always a good idea to write them down so that they don't slip away from you the way dreams often do.

I knew that one day I would try out this design and finally, last night it happened!  I had made up a new batch of Ultralight bracelet cores in a medium to small size and started playing around with some black and some faux turqoise clay nuggets that I had made up about a month ago for the February PCAGOE challenge.  The nuggets had to be re-conditioned a little after sitting idle for so long. 

Once the bangle was covered in black clay with turqoise, I decided that the design needed a little something, so I decided to embellish the shape of the bangle by cutting away some of the clay with a flexible ripple blade bent into an arc to follow the shape of the perimeter of the bangle.  I accidentally cut a little too deep and sliced away small ovals of the Ultralight core. 

That gave me an idea.  It occurred to me that I could carve holes into the core and incorporate my idea of a band of pearls around the central perimeter of a bangle into this very bracelet.  I carved the holes into the depressions already made with the ripple blade and got to work weaving some nylon coated stainless steel jewelry wire from back to front through each hole with a pearl at each point.  I decided on black and white pearls because they seemed to complement the faux turquoise better that way. 

Once the pearls were in place, I needed to backfill around the holes to give the bangle a more solid look.  For the back of the bangle, all that was needed was to smooth the clay back over the holes, but for the front of the bangle I decided to backfill with more faux turquoise nuggets.  I decided the nuggets needed more inclusions so I smooshed together the remaining nuggets, grated them and covered them in more acrylic paint and let them dry and then started selecting pieces to add to the front, top and bottom of the bangle.  Once the "nuggets were all in place and had been smoothed around the edges to marry them to the underlying bangle, it was time to bake the bracelet.

Once the bracelet had cured for 30 minutes, I plunged it into some ice water to harden the clay and hasten the cooling process.  I usually go through five grades of wet/dry sandpaper to finish my pieces, but because of the nature of the "nuggets", I didn't want to sand too much and risk the possibility of sanding the pearls or sanding away the acrylic inclusions, so I settled for one light sanding with 320 grit paper and a good coating of Sculpey gloss glaze.

The bracelet is complete. There will probably be other incarnations of the basic idea with smooth bangle surfaces.  I do like the look of the faux turquoise with the pearls, though.  It is very natural looking, although I don't know if you could get a bangle of solid turqoise nuggets like this one.  It is fun to wear!


  1. Gorgeous work. I loved reading how it came to be.

  2. Lovely colors, Janice. That aqua is so vibrant. I like the internal texture of how you mixed the colors. Your "nuggets" are really cool. I've never done the grating or food processor approach to clay.

  3. I discovered it when we were doing the February challenge. Turquoise was the stone I picked for December and so I looked at about three or four different recipes in various polymer clay technique books and online and some of the same ideas kept popping up. That is one of the great things about the Challenges. They really stretch you as an artist.