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Bandana pattern bracelet

Use bright colors and translucent spirals to give polymer clay the look of fabric

The wild fabrics that are strutted on fashion runways inspired this colorful polymer clay project. Translucent and white clays are artfully combined to make a striped spiral cane. Thin slices of the cane are then layered over bright clay blends. The curing process accentuates the translucent slices, yielding a finished bead that looks like soft cotton.

SUPPLIES

  • Polymer clay
    • 1 oz. (28g), white
    • 1 oz. (28g), translucent
    • 20 oz. (560g), your choice of colors
  • Elastic cording: 1⁄16-in. (1.5mm) diameter, 9 in. (22.9cm)
  • Cyanoacrylate glue

TOOLS

  • Pasta machine*
  • Tissue blade
  • Acrylic roller
  • Smoothing tool (optional)
  • Plastic bags
  • Circle cutter: 3⁄4-in. (19mm) diameter
  • Nonstick work surface
  • Needle tool
  • Knitting needle (optional)
  • Oven*

*Dedicated to nonfood use 

Bandana pattern bracelet 1
PHOTO 1
Bandana pattern bracelet 2
PHOTO 2
Bandana pattern bracelet 3
PHOTO 3
Bandana pattern bracelet 4
PHOTO 4

Slices of striped jellyroll cane give the surface of these 7⁄8-in. (22mm)-diameter beads the look of printed cotton. The beveled beads allow the bracelet to curve so that it rests comfortably on the wrist.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Condition and roll out the white and translucent clays. Roll out 1 oz. (28g) of white clay and run it through the pasta machine set to the medium-thin setting. Continue to run the clay through the machine until the clay is approximately 21⁄2 x 9 in. (64 x 229mm) long. Use a tissue blade to trim the ragged edges of the clay. Repeat with 1 oz. (28g) of translucent clay (PHOTO 1).

2. Cut and stack the clay. Lay the sheet of white clay flat on your work surface. Use a tissue blade to cut the sheet across its width into six equal pieces. Repeat with the translucent clay. Stack the clay pieces, alternating the translucent pieces with the white ones (PHOTO 2). 

3. Roll a slab of translucent clay. Roll out the remaining1 oz. (28g) of translucent clay and run it through the pasta machine set to the thickest setting (PHOTO 3).

4. Cut and layer slices
. Cut 1⁄8-in. (3mm) slices from the 2-in. (51mm) ends of the clay stack. Lay the slices flush against each other on the slab of translucent clay (PHOTO 4). Continue placing slices to the end of the translucent slab.

5. Level the clay. Without distorting the stripes, use an acrylic roller to smooth and level the surface of the clay. Trim the ragged edges of the clay strip.

6. Thin the ends of the strip. Use your fingers to pinch and thin the short ends of the strip. This makes it easier to roll the strip into a cane. Leave the middle of the strip thicker.

Bandana patrern bracelet 5
PHOTO 5
Bandana patrern bracelet 6
PHOTO 6
Bandana patrern bracelet 7
PHOTO 7

7. Bevel the ends of the strip. Make a beveled cut 1⁄8 in. (3mm) from one end of the strip. Measure 1⁄4 in. (6.5mm) from the opposite end of the strip and make another beveled cut (PHOTO 5).

8. Roll the strip into a cane. Cold clay is difficult to roll, so warm the clay if necessary by placing it in a plastic bag and setting the bag in a bowl of warm water.
Begin at the 1⁄8-in. (3mm) beveled end and carefully roll the strip into a jellyroll (PHOTO 6). Smooth the seam with your fingers or a smoothing tool.

9. Reduce the cane. Use your hands to roll the cane to a 5-in. (12.7cm) length. Cut the 5-in. (12.7cm) cane into two 21⁄2-in. (64mm) pieces. Set one piece aside. Roll the other piece to a 5-in. (12.7cm) length, and cut it in half. Reduce and cut the clay three more times to make a series of gradually smaller canes (PHOTO 7).

10. Cool the canes. Place the canes in a plastic bag and immerse the bag in a bowl of cool water. This firms up the clay and makes it easier to slice. Translucent clay is particularly pliable and susceptible to distortion when it’s warm.

MIX THE COLORED CLAY FOR BEADS

Download the “Color Blends” chart for recipes on how to mix the six colors used in the featured bracelet. Alternatively, select your own palette of solid colors. For a monochromatic effect, choose just one color or different values of the same color.

Bandana patrern bracelet 8
PHOTO 8
Bandana patrern bracelet 9
PHOTO 9
Bandana patrern bracelet 10
PHOTO 10
Bandana patrern bracelet 11
PHOTO 11

11. Run the clay into slabs. Separately run each color of clay through the pasta machine set to the medium-thick setting (PHOTO 8).

12. Make clay balls. Use a 3⁄4-in. (19mm) circle cutter to cut three circles from one slab of colored clay (PHOTO 9). Combine the circles and roll them into a seamless ball. Repeat with all the colors until you have 24 to 30 balls.

13. Cut slices from the canes. Remove the canes from the plastic bag and place them on a nonstick work surface. Cut very thin slices from the canes. The thinner the slices, the more transparent the clay will appear after it is cured.

14. Embellish the balls. Lightly press a couple of large-diameter cane slices onto a clay ball, and then fill in the spaces with smaller slices in a random pattern (PHOTO 10). Repeat until you’ve embellished all the clay balls.

15. Make lozenge shapes. Using your fingers, press each ball into a 3⁄8-in. (9.5mm)-thick lozenge. Flatten one side of each lozenge to a 1⁄4-in. (6.5mm) thickness (PHOTO 11).

16. Make holes in the lozenges. Using a needle tool, make a hole in the center of each lozenge to fit your elastic cording. If necessary, use a knitting needle to enlarge the holes. In one bead, make the hole large enough to conceal a double knot of elastic cording.

17. Bake the beads. Bake the beads in an oven according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

18. Chill the beads. Place the beads in a bowl of ice water to bring out the translucency of the clay. Dry the beads when they are cool.

19. Assemble the beads into a bracelet.
Line up the beads so the thin edges of all the beads face the same direction. Place the bead with the larger hole at one end. Cut an 8-in. (20.3cm) piece of elastic cording and thread it through the beads. Tie a double knot with the ends of the cording, and dab cyanoacrylate glue on the knot. Trim the ends of the cording and pull the knot through the bead with the larger hole.

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