I made a few more beads in this style at the same time that I made these, but I have yet to get around to sanding and buffing them, so for the time being, these two are the only ones I can show:
I was pretty happy with how they turned out, all things considered, and I think I've learned a little about how to make them better next time I give this technique a try.
The basic technique is this:
- Make sheets of translucent clay. Thinner sheets will result in less crackle. Thicker sheets will result in more crackle.
- Paint the sheets of translucent clay with metallic acrylic paints or inks. (Ok, you don't have to use metallic paints, but that's my personal preference.)
- After the paints have dried (thoroughly), crackle them by feeding them through a pasta machine on successively smaller settings or rolling it carefully with an acrylic rod or brayer. You can crackle them as little or as much as your like, but keep in mind that the thicker the sheet of clay, the dimmer your paint will be. Thin sheets of clay are preferred.
- Make a base bead of your desired color of clay. I chose black for the ultimate contrast with the metallic paints, but any color can be used.
- Cut strips or shapes from the crackled paint clay. Place them on the base bead in a single layer (no overlaps in shapes, yet).
- Roll the bead between your palms until the seams disappear. The "on-lay" should be level with the rest of the bead.
- If you like, you may now add more layers of strips and shapes cut from the crackled paint clay. Add as many layers as you like, rolling the bead smooth between each layer.
- Cure according to manufacturer's instructions. Dunk beads in an ice bath immediately after curing to enhance the translucency of the clay. Sand through multiple grits (to 1000 or finer). Buff to a high gloss, preferably with a buffing wheel. If you want, you can add a a glossy finish/sealant, but personally, I like the way the un-varnished clay feels.
I don't know why I didn't think about the fact that the paint wouldn't crackle much when I started with such a thin sheet of translucent clay. I guess I was only thinking "thin thin THIN", and not remembering that it would be thinner once I crackled it. Well, I'll try the other way next time. For all I know, I may turn out to like this "mistake" version better! You probably see more of the colors of the paints this way, anyway.
I'm thinking I might do a tutorial on this project for the website... It's not a very advanced technique, but it can't hurt!