Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bracelet tutorial

Hi Everyone,

As promised, here is the tutorial on making simple paper clip bracelets which I showed in my last post here. Time to make, once you get good, not including baking time is probably about a half hour. The hard part is choosing what colours to use.

You'll need:
  • Circle Kemper Cutters (or equivalent), size 7/16” and 5/8”
  • Spiral paper clips (8-12, depending on your wrist size and whether you want earrings), I bought mine at Staples, an office supply store in Canada, they come 50 to a pack for about $7
  • Jump rings, 2 mm inner diameter minimum, 8-12, these can vary in size
  • A decorative sheet of clay, medium thickness (4 on my Amaco 7 setting pasta machine with 7 as the thickest setting), 2 inches by 2 inches, or big enough to cut 10-12 of the smaller circles. You can be creative here and use veneers, canes, mokume gane, whatever. Mica shift, however, won’t work.
  • A complementary colour sheet of clay that will form the underneath, same pasta thickness setting, large enough to cut an equivalent number of circles. This can also be decorative but it's not critical.
A general note - I've sized the Kemper cutters to my clay thickness and what I like for the centre piece size. But if you don't have these sizes, change the thickness of your clay. There was some trial and error with this approach. If you find your ball too small, use a thicker piece of clay. Conversely, if you find the ball too large, use a thinner piece of clay or a different size cutter. Ideally you want the patterned piece size just a bit bigger than the diameter of the inner spiral of the paper clip.

Also, you may want to go through the steps just using one ball for the first few tries since you will be playing with sizing and with technique. But it's really easy so if you're at all adventurous you don't have to follow any of my suggestions.

Step 1 - Cut out the circles
Use the smaller Kemper cutters on the decorative sheet and try to choose portions that are interesting. Use the larger Kemper cutters on the complementary clay. Cut an equal number of each. It works best if you flatten the clay onto your cutting surface. That way the clay stays with the sheet and you don't have to worry about plunger marks in your circles.

Step 2 - Roll up the balls
Roll up the larger balls. I find it easier to do this production line format so I would roll all the balls before moving onto the next step.

Step 3 - Cap the large balls with the smaller circles

No real trick here - if you've got blodges of imperfections in the large balls you can cover them with the smaller circles. They should look like little acorns at this point.

Step 4 - Re-roll the large balls with the acorn caps
You'll turn the balls into balls with a bit of pattern on the top. Flatten these balls slightly. Ideally the diameter of the ball will be slightly larger than the diameter of the inner spiral of the paper clip. You can see in the photo below how the paper clip is resting on top of the flattened balls. Make sure you do the flattening so that the decorative sheet is on the top half.

Step 5 - Push the flattened ball through the paper clip
I find the shape better if you put the paper clip on top of the ball and push up through the paper clip. Once you've got the ball into the paper clip, smoosh it gently so that the centre spiral of the clip indents into the edges of the ball a bit. This will hold the ball in place in the paper clip. You can test this by trying to push the ball back out of the bead with some light pressure. You can see in the photo below the general effect.

Shape the top and bottom of the ball to the dome that you would like. You'll probably have finger prints on the ball at this stage so make sure to get rid of them.

Also, if you muck up here and don't like the shape or ding it with a fingernail or whatever other minor tragedies can occur, simply pull the ball out and re-roll. I found I'd be able to do several in a row, then I would start to get overconfident and two or three would mess up.

I didn't worry about whether my spirals were spiraling clockwise or counter clockwise. For the perfectionists among us, you may want to track that.

If you like, you can texture the bottom half or add other effects. Texturing can be a bit of a problem because it'll likely flatten your top surface, but that might be OK, depending on what you've done and what you want. You could actually make the bracelet reversible here if you're good with your bottom choice of clay. Or, you could alternate your clips so that they're facing bottom up, top up, bottom up, top up. There are a lot of options at this point.

Step 6 - Finishing Steps
Bake as usual. Finish however you would like. Some of you will sand and buff (not me, no how no way). I've added a coat of Future to some of the pieces and for the ones with metallics or mica in it it really brings out the shimmer. Use your finish of choice. It might also help a bit with gluing the balls in for the wobbly ones (which is why you might want to make a few extra).

I also sometimes like to put just a tiny dollop of PearlEx into my future before I apply the Future to some of what I finish. It can give it just a bit more oomph. You want it to be barely noticeable.

I made some jump rings for the first couple of bracelets. If you don't know how to make them, check out the simple tutorial here. There are a lot of different tutorials for making jump rings and it depends on how perfectionist you want to be. I simply wrap wire around a mandrel (in this case a knitting needle) tightly and then cut with wire cutters. Apparently that's a bit of a no-no since some of the edges won't join together properly, but my jump rings were so small and I was fussy in how I joined the seams that I didn't notice it. Go ahead and close the jump rings when you make them since you'll be sliding them onto the clips.

Once I got addicted to these I bought some jump rings at Walmart for $2.50 for 144 pieces. I liked the Walmart set because it came in three sizes.

Slide a jump ring onto one of the spiral clips and then slide another clip into the jump ring. There will definitely be a right and wrong side so you may have to slide the second clip on once or twice if you're like me and rotationally challenged. Add another jump ring to the second clip and put the third clip on. Continue until you've got the length that you want.

The one challenge to the bracelet is that it's a bit hard to put on by yourself. If you make your last jump ring a bit larger it's a lot easier to do this. But, if you don't like the look of the larger jump ring you can still use the smaller jump ring and have someone help you. I couldn't find any clasps that made the job easier, but I'm generally not a bracelet person so tend to be a bit uncoordinated when it comes to that anyway.

Earrings are SUPER easy with this technique. No jump ring required, just slide the clip into the earring finding.

I don't think I've forgotten anything here. Feel free to ask more questions if something's not clear.




2 Good Claymates said...

Wow! What a great tutorial Sandy! I can wait to give these a try! What fun!

Fiona said...

Great tutorial. Thank you. Now I just need the time to do it. Next week I think as I have a silly weekend ahead. I'll let you know how it turns out.

maerys said...

hello, I'm french, and i see your necklace on polymerclay daily, thank you, it's a very good idea , and what beautiful result !

Alice Stroppel said...

A fabulous idea and a great tutorial, thanks for sharing. So inventive.

Deborah Edery said...

Thank you for the tutorial. I have been eyeing those funky paper clips for a while and you took it to the next level. As a recreation therapist I am always looking for snappy make-it take-it projects for my polymer clay addicted residents in a long term care/rehab facility. They are going to love this project.

Gera Scott Chandler said...

Very clever idea- great tute too!!


Heather said...

Love this idea thanks so much for sharing!!

Wanda AKA "Craftymule" said...

This is way cool! Thanks for sharing!

HJC Editor said...

Hi! Great tute! I will be linking at in future post.


Dentist in Beverly Hills said...

Time to make, once you get good, not including baking time is probably about a half hour.

Anonymous said...

I just new to this. How did you make the pattern that you have here? I like it.