Volume 3, Issue 5
by Margaret Ball
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The first set of these beads came about through a happy accident – I was playing with some scraps of foiled clay left over from another project and casually rolled out the slab from which the beads were cut. As not infrequently happens, the beads were prettier than the original project – what I consider a "scrapendipitous" outcome!
For purposes of this article, let's assume you have to make your own scraps.
| Step One:
Condition your clay and roll it out at a #1 (thick) setting. Cut a 3" x 3" square from this sheet.
Roll out remaining clay at #3 (medium thick) setting; lay the 3" square on top of this sheet and trim it to fit. Press both sheets together well. This will be your base.
| Step Two:
Roll out the rest of the clay at #3 (medium thick) setting, and this time cut out a 2 ½" square. This will be the top sheet on which you build your layers. (Don't worry, it'll grow to the size of the base before you're through.)
| Step Three:
Knead your scraps together and roll them out at #5 (medium thin) thickness. Cut this sheet up in four or five random shapes, one for each color of foil you are going to apply. The metallic leaf only needs to be pressed on to the sheets.
For the Jones Tones foils, cut a piece of each color the size and shape of the sheet you are using, burnish it on carefully (I use my fingers; the heat of your hands helps the foil adhere) and then lift one color and peel off the Mylar topping.
You can run these foiled sheets through the pasta machine again at #6 (thin), for a crackle look, or you can use them as they are.
For this piece I used copper and gold metallic foil and light blue, purple and "oil slick" Jones Tones foils and crackled all the pieces.
| Step Four:
Now cut the foiled sheets in interesting squiggly shapes and layer them onto your top sheet. It's ok if they overlap – they'll all be smoothed down in the next steps.
You may even wish to crumple some of them on purpose. Try for an interesting overall distribution of color, and be sure to leave some areas blank for the powdered pigments.
| Step Five:
Run this composite sheet through the pasta machine at #3 (medium thick) setting. Then reset the machine to #1 (thick) setting, turn the sheet 90 degrees, and run it through again with the shiny side against the texture plate.
Lay the textured top sheet down on your base, shiny side up, and trim those overlapping edges.
| Step Six:|
Now get out your powdered pigments to cover all the little spots where naked clay shows through. You can apply these with your fingertip to accentuate the texture, or use a small soft brush to get down into the crevices.
Brushing the colors over the foiled surfaces produces an interesting bi-color effect.
For this piece I used Pearl-Ex Aqua, Duo Red-Blue, and Sparkling Gold.
Now it's time to get to work with the canape cutters. You can use these as window templates, moving them over the slab until you've framed a nice bit of color and texture.
Here I've placed a bird shaped cutter so that there's a textured circle where the eye should be.
| Step Eight:
Cut out your bead shapes and lay them on a separate work surface.
All you have to do now is pierce the stringing holes with your needle tool and bake. I like to use a coat of Varathane to protect the foiled and powdered top surface and to sand the backs and edges smooth.
| Of course, you will have some scraps left…but you know what to do with those now, don't you?