Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Amethyst Agate Choker--My Latest Foray into Faux Effects

The Amethyst Agate Choker came about as a result of my explorations with faux effects in polymer clay.  This is not a completely new area of interest since I had worked with faux agate flower canes last month and had used the very similar chrysanthemum cane several months ago to cover a bracelet.  However, this is a new level of focus, because my aim was to approach a different level of realism and imitation with the purple agates. 

I found several different recipes for faux agates, both in my own library and on the internet and finally decided that I wanted to do the geode shape rather than the banded look and I combined a recipe by Jenny Cox from Polymer Clay Central where she grated three different colors of clay to make the centers and the recipes from Sue Heaser in two of her books, Polymer Clay Techniques and The Encyclopedia of Polymer Clay Techniques, to make my agate cane.  After slicing the canes, I arranged them next to each other and rolled them through the pasta machine to get a sheet of slices.  This is part of the reason why the cane slices are different shapes and sizes--my slices were random thicknesses, so they didn't all flatten out in the same shape.  I then cut the sheet apart to get the new uniformly thick agate slices and played around with them until I found a pleasing arrangement. 

Next came the tricky part.  I had to decide how to fasten the components together and how I wanted the finished product to be shaped so that I could pre-drill the holes in the raw clay which is much easier than trying to drill holes in cured clay.  I knew I wanted to fasten the pieces together sideways with purple aluminum jump rings and I knew I wanted a silver chain across the top.  I decided that I wanted some kind of design element along the bottom edges of the agate slices, so another hole was added there.

Once the pieces were cured, sanded and buffed, I re-arranged them again until I found just the right presentation and added the findings.  The Swarovski crystals were a happy accident.  I had thought about small bicones but had to go to the jewelry supply store because I ran out of purple jump rings and they had these really nice sized dark purple and lavender aurora borealis crystals that looked perfect with the "agate" colors.  The best part was my encounter with the two cashiers before leaving.  They wanted to know all about the necklace construction and we had a great time comparing notes about the pleasures of jewelry creation.  They told me that the necklace looked like little geodes and really made my day!

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