We’re All Ears Challenge: Antelope Canyon

Polymer clay bead dangle earringsThe inspiration images for this month’s We’re All Ears design challenge are from my home state, Arizona. Specifically, they are photographs of Antelope Canyon – a famously picturesque slot canyon in the northern part of the state.

This is the second time I’ve participated in a jewelry design challenge where images of Antelope Canyon were the inspiration. Last year I designed a necklace and bracelet for a Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design monthly challenge. I think the universe is telling me I need to make a trip to see this place in person.

The Inspiration

If you search the internet for images of Antelope Canyon, it will be immediately obvious why it’s so inspirational for art jewelry. The colors and shapes are out-of-this-world beautiful.

Lower Antelope Canyon near entrance

This is a view from near the entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon. (source: Wikimedia Commons; author: Moondigger)

Light entering Antelope Canyon

The rock formations in this photo show more of the red-orange banding as rays of light enter from the opening above. (source: Wikimedia commons; author: Lucas Loffler)

When brightly lit by sun, the rock formations show bands of red-orange and creamy yellow. In the shadows, there are mauves and purple-reds mixed in.  It looks like one of those places where you can’t take a bad photograph no matter what kind of camera you use or how skilled you are.

The canyon is on Navajo land, and tours are arranged through the Navajo Nation. Their website has more spectacular images and information about this magical place.

The Jewelry Design

When I designed jewelry for the SRAJD challenge last year, I used natural gemstones. For this challenge, I decided to use polymer clay to create the focal components. And Lynda Moseley’s “controlled marbling” tutorial was the perfect technique.

polymer clay earring suspended on wire

The rectangular focals on these earrings are made from polymer clay in blends of colors inspired by images of Antelope Canyon.

I blended some small batches of colored polymer clay in shades inspired by photos of Antelope Canyon. I especially like the range of warm and cool tones seen in images that are partially shaded. The base color, mixed into every shade in varying proportions, was a warm copper. It gives a slight shimmer to the components, which you can’t really see in my photos.

polymer clay earrings displayed on bottle

The polymer clay focals are accented with round goldstone beads and coppery seed beads on natural copper wire.

I lightly sanded and buffed the polymer clay components. I didn’t want them too shiny. I wanted them to have a sort of weathered stone finish. I accented them with brown goldstone beads, which happens to perfectly match one of the shades in the focals. I used natural copper wire to connect the focals to the beads, and accented the loops with some coppery seed beads.

Polymer clay pendant and bracelet bar

I made a pendant and bracelet bar using the same striped veneer as on the earring focals. The color blends show even better on this larger scale than in the smaller earring components. Finished pieces are to be continued, pending me making some coordinating beads.

I had grand plans to make a necklace and bracelet to coordinate with the earrings. I made a pendant and bracelet bar in the same pattern as the earring focals. After pulling out boxes of beads in possible colors and shapes, I decided what I really wanted to string these focals with was rustic polymer clay beads in the same shades as the stripes.  There wasn’t time to whip those up before this reveal, so the set is a work in progress. I hope I can remember the recipes for those colors.

Antelope Canyon earrings on sand background

The final “art” shot of my Antelope Canyon-inspired earrings.

Many thanks to our hostess, Erin Prais-Hintz for yet another wonderful earring design inspiration.  Be sure to stop by the Earrings Everyday blog to see Erin’s designs, and then follow the links at the bottom of her post to see more earring designs inspired by this theme.

22 thoughts on “We’re All Ears Challenge: Antelope Canyon

  1. Cindy

    Wow, Tammy! I am amazed at what you were able to create with polymer clay to mimic the beautiful sandstone of Antelope Canyon. Gorgeous colors and effect. Love those earrings! Be sure to post pictures of the bracelet and necklace you create to complete this set. I’m sure they will be equally stunning!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks, Cindy. I do love all the ways polymer clay can mimic other things. And it’s such fun to work with.

  2. Fiona Robertson

    That’s the thing I never do either -remember to write down the ‘recipe’! Love how your earrings turned out, the colours are perfect. Polymer clay is definitely on my list to explore one day…xx

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks, Fiona. One of these days I will get in the habit of taking notes as I work. Or probably not. I get so involved in the creative part. Maybe I need a voice recorder so I can talk to myself as I work. 😉

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Terri. Polymer clay has become my go-to when I can’t find exactly what I want in my stash.

  3. Erin Prais-Hintz

    If you hadn’t said that these were polymer clay I would have totally thought they were natural stone! I love that polymer clay is so imitative. These are a beautiful representation of the inspiration. And yes! I think you need to go there if for no other reason than I can live vicariously through your adventures! 😉 Thank you for participating in the Earrings Everyday We’re All Ears challenge. Check back on the blog on September 4th for the next inspiration! Enjoy the day! Erin

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Erin. A visit to Antelope Canyon, and a few other spots back home, are definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for another great inspiration and challenge.

  4. Kathy Lindemer

    I love what you did with polymer clay. They really look like a natural bead–agate or jasper. Well done! I also like how you used the tiny beads on the rings of the second pair. I was unaware of this spot and now it is on my list of sights to see in Arizona on next trip. It is stunning.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks, Kathy. I don’t use seed beads often, but they do make fun accents here and there.

  5. Karin

    I’m always so surprised when I see what polymer clay can become! The colors you chose, the weathered finish, everything is perfect to make a great set of earrings.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Karin. Sometimes I surprise myself when I’m just goofing around with polymer clay. I don’t always have a clear vision of what I want to make, and then it just comes together after playing for a bit.

  6. Veralynne

    Beautiful! I wouldn’t have known they were clay if you hadn’t told what the material was. Excellent job capturing the canyon colors!

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you,Veralynne. Those canyon colors are such an amazing palette to work with.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thanks so much, Oksana. The seed beads on the loop were a last minute addition. They were just the right color so I had to find a way to incorporate them.

  7. Nadine

    Tammy, these are lovely! You’ve done such a beautiful job on these pieces! Can’t wait to see more.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Nadine. I haven’t finished the rest of the set yet. I get distracted easily by other shiny objects. 😉

  8. Mona Arnott

    Hi Tammy

    I love that you made your own art beads for the challenge. These look great and I’m sure that when you get them finished the accompanying pieces will too.

    1. Tammy Adams Post author

      Thank you, Mona. I love using gemstones, but sometimes making your own components for a specific design is very satisfying.

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