I tried a new polymer clay technique this month: the torn paper or watercolor effect. I was inspired to make beads and focal components using this technique and the color palette for the February Art Bead Scene challenge.
This is my first time participating in the Art Bead Scene’s monthly design challenge. I’ve followed their blog, and admired other artists’ interpretations of the various themes. I’m not sure why I finally decided to jump in this month. I almost joined in last month when Erin suggested I enter the Ultra Violet inspired earrings I created for the We’re All Ears monthly challenge. But I didn’t get my act together in time to create an account for my submission.
When I saw the inspiration image for the challenge this month, I knew I wanted to create something using the watercolor technique. The inspiration is itself a watercolor image. It’s an illustration for a Japanese fairy tale, painted by Warwick Goble.
The watercolor technique is simple, but labor intensive. Which seems to be true of many polymer clay techniques. In this case, it involves making a veneer, tearing it into teensy weensy pieces, and placing those pieces one by one over bead cores or pendant bases. (Incidentally, this is also a fun way to use scraps of any veneer for interesting effects, as I discovered with my “molten lava” beads.)
Although it is time-consuming, the results are worth the time it takes. I didn’t get as much of the peach and violet (or is that indigo) from the palette into my veneer as I intended. However, the overall effect is very much in line with the wash of colors in the background of the painting.
I didn’t realize how much veneer I would end up with when I started. Although I read/watched a few tutorials for this technique, I didn’t take notes on how much clay was being used. I only intended to make a focal and some accent beads to be used in a necklace. I ended up with nine focals and enough accent beads to make several necklaces, plus bracelets and earrings. And I still have a good sized piece of the veneer left over to play with.
I experimented with shapes and sizes, including some swirled lentil beads which gave the most interesting effect. The swirls of color in the beads evoke the movement in the inspiration image, which has a flock of magpies flying through the night sky, carrying a woman whose robes flow behind her.
One of the tutorials I saw used graduated round cutters to make circles that were layered on top of each other and then smoothed. That process is far less time consuming than tearing a sheet of clay into confetti and painstakingly placing those pieces of confetti onto base beads. It gives an interesting look, but the swirled lentil is still my favorite. At least as far as interpreting the inspiration image for this challenge.
I am often hard-pressed not to be too literal when interpreting a jewelry design challenge. I think it’s partly my lack of formal art training. But mostly that’s just the way my brain works. Because the inspiration image has birds, a lantern, stars, and some butterflies (on her robes), those were things I initially thought to use for a jewelry design. I still may. But because I haven’t yet decided how to incorporate those things into a piece of jewelry with my watercolor beads, I’m submitting my beads for the challenge while I ponder how to use some of them in a design.
It’s highly unlikely I will use all of these beads and components in jewelry designs for this challenge. I am tempted to hoard them all because each one is unique and cannot be duplicated due to the nature of the technique. However, I recently decided to offer some of my polymer clay beads in my esty shop, and that’s what I plan to do with most of these. You will find them in the Bead Shop section.