Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just bangling around!

I’ve never been much of a bangle bracelet gal, but I’m well on my way to changing that thanks to several creative people who have been inspiring me recently! I tried making a bangle bracelet early in my polymer clay journey and it was – how to put this tactful??? – less than successful! Actually is was pretty awful so it went the way of many of my early projects.

(((NOTE TO NEW CLAYERS: Hold on to some of your early works so you can see how far you’ve come!)))

So my general response to people who ask if I make bracelets has been “not yet”. (I never say no because I just never know what’s going to catch my attention or my imagination!)

I’ve admired other artists’ work on bracelets but nothing that really inspired me to try my hand at it until I ran across Alice Stroppel’s blog about using her face canes on bracelet blanks. Then I found a thread on PCAGOE talking about using bracelet blanks to make gorgeous bracelets. So the search was on for bracelet blanks which led me to Melanie West’s website. I ordered a few aluminum cuff type bracelet blanks and a few brass channel bracelets. I read through Melanie’s “how to” on covering the larger blanks and anxiously awaited the package from Melanie. I can definitely give her a thumbs up for her customer service. I received the package very quickly! Now what to do with them…..

At the June meeting of the Central Mississippi Polymer Clay Guild, we learned how to make faux abalone. We used some gold clay in the stack so it was perfect for the brass channel bracelet blank. The biggest problem I ran into was getting everything smooth. I’m thinking next time around, I’ll add some texture just to keep those little imperfections from jumping out. Of course, I’m probably the only one who sees them! I love the rolled edges on these bracelet blanks. It gives the bracelet a more “finished” look. Now I’m on the search for wider bracelet blanks with the rolled edged channels. I’ve emailed Melanie but if anybody knows where I can find wider blanks with the nice finished rolled edges, please leave a comment below or email me. In the meantime, I have an idea bouncing around in my head… now where did I put that extruder? I'm not as happy with the aluminum blanks. They are difficult for me to get a clean professional finish on the inside of the bracelet. I know, nobody really sees the inside of the bracelet, but I like for it to look nice too.

Oh and did I mention, Eugena, Eugena's Creations, just announced that she is developing a tutorial for a bangle bracelet. I’m just being FORCED (big grin) to make bracelets… See why I never say no!!!

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Well, I procrastinated long enough and Eugena got her tutorial finished and for sale on her Etsy site. I ordered it, tried it and here are the results! None look exactly like Eugenia’s but that’s the joy of polymer clay. Once you get the basics, everything else is your own creativity. Thanks Eugena for a great tutorial.

This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun! And every one is different! One thing I really like about this technique is that the size of the bracelet can be changed just by using a larger or smaller “armature”. My youngest sister has very small hands and most bangle bracelets just slide off of her. You’ll have to check with Eugena to see what she uses! In the meantime, I’m thinking about canes again… bet some of my flower canes would make gorgeous bangle bracelets.

One thing that I did learn the hard way is to make sure your oven is cooking at the temperature you think it is!!! Why do I mention this, you ask? Because the first two bracelets I made cracked on the inside. What's going on?

I go back and re-read Eugenia's tutorial to make sure that I've done everything correctly. Her directions were very clear and specific and it appears that I have stuck pretty close to her directions so I start checking the other variables -- the ones in MY studio! Apparently the last thing I had baked was a pendant and beads using alcohol inks and gold leaf on black clay with a thin layer of translucent on top-- and anytime I use translucent, I turn the oven down just a bit AND cover with aluminum, just as a precaution. I've scorched my share of translucent as I've learned!

Long story short, I readjusted the dial back to where it needed to be to get the strength in the clay and made another bracelet. Excellent results if I do say so myself. Mine doesn't look exactly like Eugenia's but I'm pleased with it.

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