Monday, August 11, 2008

Oooh, aaah, Casa Blanca Beads...

Hi Everyone,

A while back on one of the Polymer Clay newsgroups someone mentioned that they were addicted to Casa Blanca Beads. As soon as I found out that Desiree had provided instructions, I knew that I had to try them. If you haven't already seen Desiree's website, please check her out here. She was one of the first websites I found once I started claying semi-seriously and has been a favourite for a while (along with another favourite, Beady Eyed Brat). Her tutorials are wonderful (as well as the rest of her website). This first photo is an image from her website on the Casa Blanca Beads.

I know that some of the photos on my blog look like my objects are monster size. Not sure why I can't get scale and I took these without my usual coin as a marker. This next photo is a compilation of the bits and pieces. The largest lentil bead in the image is about the size of a quarter, or maybe a wee bit bigger. The beads are just over an inch long. This image is all the Casa Blanca Beads, some of the scrap, some lentil beads, and the earrings that I'm playing with. More on those later.

This is definitely something I'll have to try again. I have a few tips for those that are trying Desiree's technique.

I am incompetent when it comes to drilling holes through beads, particularly if I'm supposed to have the hole go from one pointy edge to another. So in this case I put the bead piercing wire thingy (the bead holders that you get when you purchase the Amaco beading sets) through the clay first, before I made my cut. Then I put the blade on the clay in the way that I thought that I wanted to cut it and made a slight indent. Remove the wire, cut, replace wire, do next indent mark, remove wire, cut... you see what I mean. At the end of it I was just slightly off from the points but no more than I would be if I had tried to do it after baking. Of course, I didn't figure this step out until I was down to my second to last bead.

Desiree likes the contrast of a different colour core for the beads. You can see a bit of it at the pointy edges of her beads on the right in the image above. One of us tried that (I didn't) and didn't like the appearance. I would think that if you're using bright colours this would be a neat accent. My advice would be to try one or two rolled up like that and then the others without the core. It comes down to a personal choice.
Here is a close-up of my beads (though technically since they don't have holes in them yet they're not yet beads). I've finished them with 400, 600, and 800 grit sandpaper and then took a nifty neato dremel tool accessory that I'll write more about later once I find out what it's called to do the buffing. They've got a nice satin /semi-gloss finish to them. And buffing with a dremel tool is fun. I just wish I could figure out a sander with a dremel tool. Desiree gives the size of the plug that you're supposed to be working with. She also says that you use about 9 inches for each bead (pay attention to that instruction, I was rolling the whole strip up merrily before Karen stopped me). I think my next attempt I'll use less than the 9 inches but end up with plugs that are 1 inch tall instead of the 1.5 inches tall that mine were.

While I love earrings, the football beads are probably a bit big for what I would wear. Though maybe not, but I'm not sure that I can drill holes in them without ruining them. So I was inspired to cut them in half and use the modified pyramid shape for the earrings. I've got to square off the pointy edge of these so that the hole is more centred and I think I want to create some additional beads out of the scrap that I've got. And I've put two orientations so far with the earrings. I'm not sure if I want pointy edge up, the one earring could either look like a Christmas tree or like a person (neither of which makes me want to wear them) but I do like the look of it. I also like the look of the pointy side down. I might just make the earrings the way they are in the photo and have one be right side up and the other be upside down which would add to the funkiness of the design. Oh, and to cut the cured bead I plunked it in the oven for 10 minutes and then cut while it was still hot. Much easier.

And, wonder of wonders, I might actually be getting the hang of lentil beads. Turns out I have much more success if I do the twisty motion with the glass on a surface that's got a bit more tooth than a ceramic tile. My beads used to slip all the time. Now that I'm just doing them on my hobby table it's much easier. I've also learned that it's not necessary to apply any pressure to the bead as you're rolling them. And, I'm a counter clockwise person for whatever reason. If you're still having problems with the beads my friend, Barbara, swears that you have to do them with your tongue clenched between your teeth and sticking out of your mouth. I haven't tried that yet.

Anyhow, to make a long story short - please check out Desiree's website and enjoy this technique. I'm looking forward to playing with it some more. I will warn you that choosing colours was the most stressful part for me so I would advise you to start with colours that you like and then not worry about it too much. I love the shimmer from the mica in these beads.

Overall, a very successful endeavour - thanks so much Desiree for posting the technique. Your generosity is amazing.

Cheers everyone,



Louise said...

Thank you for sending me back to this blog. Impressive technique.

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Oooh Aaah is right! These are simply stunning Sandy! I love your color choices, gorgeous!!!