Presented by Lisa Pavelka, Award-Winning Artist, Author and Instructor,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Create decorative stripe borders for Swarovski® crystal cosmic stones out of polymer clay in this jewelry-making tutorial with renowned mixed media artist Lisa Pavelka. She explains the tips and tricks of how to make stripes in polymer clay for a clean, precise finish.
Condition black and white polymer clay by hand kneading or running through a poly roller until soft and pliable.
Form a pea size ball of white clay then form the ball into a rough cube. Place the cube of white clay into the hole of a 20x20mm Swarovski crystal square ring fancy stone. Place the square crystal on a non-stick Teflon® sheet then compact the clay cube down so the clay extends out to each inside corner of the square.
Run the conditioned black clay through a poly roller machine on the third or fourth thickest setting. Cut a square that is slightly larger than the 20x20mm crystal from the clay sheet and place it on the Teflon.
Apply Lisa Pavelka Signature Series Poly Bonder™ adhesive to the back of the square crystal then place the crystal on the square black clay sheet. Roll a small amount of scrap clay into a snake then pinch down the length of the snake to give it a triangular shape. Insert the pinched edge of the scrap clay snake into the gap between the black clay sheet and the square crystal to fill in the outside gap.
Use a clay blade to trim the excess scrap clay away from each edge of the square crystal.
Tip: Stand over your work looking directly down to ensure clean and straight cuts while trimming. When standing back from the clay, cuts tend to be made at an angle.
Separately, run both the white and black conditioned clay though a poly roller machine on the third largest setting to get two large sheets of equally thick clay. Place the larger of the two sheets of clay down on the workstation then gently smooth down the second sheet of clay over the first, from one end to the other, so no air gets trapped. Keeping the blade straight up and down, use a clay blade to trim away the excess clay, leaving both sheets the same size with straight and clean edges.
It's important to have a nice clean sheet with no folds or crevices to ensure there is no interruption in the stripes
The thickness or thinness of stripes is a matter of personal taste. They don't have to be the same thickness or only two colors depending on your preference for the design.
Lift the clay sheets from the workstation without stretching them by shimmying the clay blade under the sheets at an angle from one side to the other. Run the stacked sheets through the poly roller on the thickest setting.
To get a better idea of how thick the combined clay sheet is, use the clay blade to cut a thin strip from the edge. If thinner stripes are wanted, run the combined clay sheet through the poly roller one size down until it is the desired thickness.
Tip: Do not worry about any specs of contaminating clay attaching to the sheet from the poly roller, they will soon be covered by another layer of clay and will not be seen.
Use a clay blade to cut the combined clay sheet in half then gently stack the halves on top of each other by smoothing down one sheet over the other without trapping air between them. Be sure the colors alternate when stacking.
Free the clay sheets from the workstation by shimmying the blade underneath them.
Repeat three to four times until there is a sizable stack of alternating colors.
Tip: Do not compress the clay sheets together too hard when stacking them or the stripes will deform.
With the stripes laying horizontally on the workstation, use a clay blade to slice one side of the striped block even, revealing clean striping underneath.
Slice off an approximately 1/8 inch thick slice from same side of the block of striped clay.
Any contamination or residue on the blade can cause distortion in the stripes, so it's important to make sure your blade is clean and very sharp
Cutting the cane with the stripes positioned vertically will cause the stripes to bow and distort
Place the sliced sheet onto a piece of Teflon paper then run both the sheet of clay, so the stripes are vertical, and paper through a poly roller on the largest setting. Hold onto the Teflon sheet until the clay is caught in the roller or the sheet may crumple and disfigure the clay stripes. Repeat once more, passing the clay and Teflon sheet through the poly roller one size lower to make the clay slightly thinner.
Note: It is normal to have distortion on the top and bottom of the clay sheet after running it through the poly roller.
Use a clay blade to trim the uneven edges from the clay sheet then cut a strip from the clay that is slightly wider than the thickness of the square crystal.
Apply a small amount of poly bonder to one side of the square crystal over the scrap clay used to fill the gap in Step 4. Place a strip of striped clay over the adhesive, lining the top of the strip with the edge of the square crystal then use a clay blade to trim the excess clay from the strip.
Repeat to place a strip of striped clay on each edge of the square crystal.
Tip: In this tutorial, the clay will be baked at the very end. However, the clay can be baked (for a little less time than the manufacturer's instructions) or hardened with a heat gun in this step to reduce the chance of marring or distorting the clean stripes of the clay strips.
Roll a cherry tomato size ball of white clay then roll that ball into a marshmallow shape. Create a sheet of black clay approximately the size of your palm by running the conditioned clay through a poly roller on the thinnest setting then place the sheet on the workstation.
Place the marshmallow on top of the black sheet then trim the sheet so it is the same width as the marshmallow. Create a clean edge by using a clay blade to cut the closest edge away from the black sheet.
Roll the marshmallow with the sheet until the edge of the sheet doubles over to touch itself then unroll. Trim the sheet at the slight indentation line, then rewrap the marshmallow up to that seam.
Use your fingers to compress the roll and elongate it. When the roll has approximately doubled in length, place it on the workstation and roll it into a 1/8 inch thick snake. Use a clay blade to cut a 2-inch segment from the snake then create a teardrop shape with the snake by using your fingers to compress one edge down its entire length.
Tip: Typically, it's important not to roll millefiori canes to prevent distortion, but there is nothing in this design that could distort or twist.
Cut eight thin slices from the teardrop snake clay. When making the cuts, stand directly over the clay and bring the blade down and over, to the side the tip of the teardrop is facing. After every slice, roll the teardrop snake over (remember to always cut in the direction that the tip of the teardrop is facing.)
Carefully and without distorting, place one teardrop over each corner of the border surrounding the square crystal to hide the merged edges of clay. Continue to place four teardrop slices in the center of square crystal with the tip of each drop touching a separate corner to create a flower design. Create a vein line through the leaves by dragging a toothpick or awl down the center of each.
Place a very small ball of black clay in the center of the flower, converging the rounded ends of the teardrop slices. Use a Crystal Katana to press a Swarovski flat back crystal into the clay far enough that a natural bezel is formed to secure it in place.
Bake the clay pendant for a little less time than the manufacturer's instructions or use a heat gun to harden it.
Use a small amount of poly bonder to adhere a glue-on bail to the back of the pendant then let dry.
Place a small black sheet of clay on the back of the pendant over the bail then use a texturing tool to texture the clay. Use a clay blade to trim the excess clay from the back then bake according to manufacturer's instructions.
Eyepins and headpins can be added to the pendant and even used in place of a bail to give a different and unique look, just be sure to create a hook on the end of the pin that will be covered by the clay so it stays securely in place.
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