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Filigree clay bead necklace

Polymer beads acquire a colorful luster with a dusting of metallic powders.
Filigreclaybeadneckhero
Create an elegant, openwork bead with the look of filigree. Add a small charm or bell to the hollow bead for a special touch.

SUPPLIES

  • 2 oz. pkg. Premo clay, black
  • Pearl Ex powders: antique gold, green pearl, copper, interference violet
  • cornstarch foam pieces (magicnuudles.com)
  • 5⁄16 in. (8mm) or smaller bell, bead, or charm (optional)
  • small paintbrush
  • needle tool
  • plastic modeling tool kit (optional)
  • Varathane Diamond Interior wood finish, water-based
  • parchment paper

INSTRUCTIONS

Base structure

FiligreclaybeadneckA
PHOTO A

1. You can make this filigree bead with a small bell or other object inside, or you can leave it hollow. To make the hollow version, skip to step 2.

To insert an object, make a lengthwise slit slightly longer than the object near the end of a foam piece. Move your knife back and forth in the foam to create a cavity, keeping the opening as small as possible. Insert the object (PHOTO A) and squeeze the opening shut.

2. Trim the piece of foam into a round shape about 5⁄16 in. (8mm) in diameter, or as desired. If you inserted an object, make sure it is not exposed.

FiligreclaybeadneckB
PHOTO B
3. Cut the polymer clay into four quarters, then cut one of the quarters into three pieces (PHOTO B). Each of these pieces makes one bead. Condition one (or more) of the pieces.
FiligreclaybeadneckC
PHOTO C
4. Roll the clay into a log. Then keep rolling until the rope is 1⁄16 in. (2mm) in diameter. Make five ropes, each approximately 6 in. (15cm) long (PHOTO C).
FiligreclaybeadneckD
PHOTO D
5. Place the trimmed foam on one of the clay ropes, wrap the rope around the foam, and let the ends overlap slightly (PHOTO D). Cut one rope to that size. Cut two more pieces of rope about 1⁄8 in. (3mm) longer than the first.
FiligreclaybeadneckE
PHOTO E
6. Wrap the short piece cut in step 5 around the foam, positioning it alongside the slit (PHOTO E). Press the ends together and smooth them with a needle tool. Crooked or uneven ropes make a more interesting bead. Neat seams make it easier to decorate the bead in later steps.
FiligreclaybeadneckF
PHOTO F
7. Wrap a second rope around the foam so it intersects the first, dividing the foam into four sections. Repeat with the third rope, forming eight sections (PHOTO F). This becomes the base structure of the bead. Let the clay rest if it starts to get sticky.



Embellishment

Place the bead on a small piece of parchment paper so you can rotate it easily when adding decorative elements.

1. Use the remaining clay ropes to form vines. To vary the size, roll portions of the ropes so they’re thick in some places, thin in others.

2. Press one end of a rope against the base bead and wrap it around the bead in curving lines. Press the rope gently against the base to attach it. Smooth the end seams.

3. Fill in any wide gaps with short vines.

4. Cut the remaining pieces of rope into 3⁄16 in. (5cm) thick slices and roll the slices into balls. Don’t try to make the balls uniform in size.

FiligreclaybeadneckG
PHOTO G
5. To make leaves, flatten a ball into a thin oval. Use the needle tool or other pointed tool to add a center vein. Pinch the ends into points. Place each leaf on the base using the needle tool. Position each leaf so its ends touch the vines (PHOTO G). Point the leaves in different directions so they appear randomly placed. Use leaves to span open areas and to cover seams.
FiligreclaybeadneckH
PHOTO H
6. To make flowers, flatten a ball into a circle on the tip of your finger. Use a pointed tool to cut an X in the top of the clay, then make a second X between the lines of the first one. Continue the cuts along the edge to create the look of petals. Place each flower on the base as desired, covering any exposed seams (PHOTO H).
FiligreclaybeadneckI
PHOTO I
7. To make dots, cut a ball into thirds and roll the pieces into smaller balls. Place the dots wherever the base looks bare (PHOTO I). Flatten them with a needle tool or your fingernail.

Finishing
FiligreclaybeadneckJ
PHOTO J

1. Brush Pearl Ex powders on the clay as follows: green pearl for leaves, interference violet for flowers and leaf accents, copper for dots, and antique gold for vines and other bare spots. Apply the powders unevenly to get an antique look (PHOTO J).

2. Bake the bead at 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Let the bead cool, then hold it under running water to melt the foam. Let the bead dry completely. (The beads do not get completely hard after baking.)

3. Put the bead on a wood skewer and coat the top surface with varnish. Let the first coat dry before applying a second one. Then turn the bead over and repeat.

Have a question or comment? Please contact us at editor@FacetJewelry.com
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