A few years ago before I got a bead kiln I wanted to capture the look of dichroic glass with polymer clay…I did not quite get it but I liked the result. It is a quick and easy technique that you can play with this weekend!
You will need polymer clay and metal leaf. Metal leaf comes in books of 25 (or more) and can be made from aluminum, silver, copper, gold, nickel and other metals. It is usually used for illuminating books (fancy old Bibles) or gilding frames. You can get books of copper, aluminum and fake gold for about $5/25 5″x5″ sheets. Gold and copper tones look nice with warm rich colors an silvers look nice with cool colors. For instance I used a cool red with silver (er, aluminum) leaf. Every color can have a warm or a cool undertone, yellow is a warm color but lemon yellow has cool (green) undertones while marigold yellow had warm (orange) undertones.
Here’s how to make your foiled beads:
- Condition your clay and roll it out into a 1/4″ slab.
- Lay a sheet of metal leaf on top then roll over it again until the leaf starts to crackle.
- Cut into squares, rectangles or long tapered triangles that you can roll up int “croissant” shaped beads. You can also put the small squares of foiled clay in a bead roller for cool round, oval and bicone beads!
- Poke bead holes with a needle.
- Bake according to clay package directions.
- Glaze! I pressed my beads on an embossing ink pad, dipped them in UTEE and heated hem with my heat gun for a thick glazed look. You can also paint them with
nail polish*Edit: see Silverleaf’s comment on the use of nail polish on polymer clay in the comments section. Thanks Silverleaf for the heads up! or use the tried and true FFW (Future Floor Wax, it is in the cleaning supply aisle and it is under the brand name Pledge, this stuff is like acrylic varnish and very durable!)
One more thing I want to mention. I also tried coating the beads with Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS-a product that completely mystified me as I have never found it useful except to help condition old clay and it is constantly leaking and making a mess of my clay drawer…anyway…) thinking I could get a thick semi transparent coating and it did not work for me. I think if I had baked the beads once then added the TLS and rebaked it might have. I’m no clay expert, obviously :D
Go ahead and play with clay this weekend, you might just discover a new technique when you are trying to do something else. Enjoy the process and til next time happy crafting!