In a effort to distract myself, I have thought up a little tutorial to (hopefully) amuse you. If you have read any of my posts, you will know that I have an obsession with hollow beads. I am putting together a tutorial for purchase to demonstrate my way of making hollow beads, but another quick and simple way occurred to me for making hollow beads while I recently made some of my new 'Strata' beads. I'm sure this has been done a million times elsewhere, but here is my take on it.
Before I start - another reason to make these beads hollow is that it is then easier to manipulate them into shapes a little different from the cutter shapes. I highly recommend making your own cutters, see tutorial here by Daniel Torres (thanks, Daniel):
Start with well conditioned clay - this is that dreaded of all white clay, the cheap original Sculpey in a box. I often use it for prototypes, because if I can make something in that clay, I can make it in any of the better clays (and it will be stronger..). Pick two cutters that have the same profile, but one smaller than the other. I chose Kemper circles but it could be any shape.
Roll clay into thin sheets (or your preference for thickness) . Cut the larger circles - I find cutting on a dedicated silicone baking mat gives much cleaner cuts.
Start stacking up the circles till you have almost the thickness you want. DO NOT stack evenly, you want the strata to be visible and interesting.
Compress your layers, but do not fiddle with the strata or smooth them in any way.
Line up the smaller cutter on the stack and take some care to try to get an even wall thickness. Cut through all layers and remove the plug. This will make your bead amazingly lightweight, especially if the smaller cutter is just a bit smaller.
You can see that the outside layers are still there in the above picture.
Next choose your top and bottom. For this demo, I am cutting out of a piece of new crackle sheet that I made today. It has a bit of cornstarch on it, so it looks a little dim...
Cut top piece and attach to a blank circle so that your top (and bottom ) are double thickness. A single sheet is too flimsy to function well as a top. Attach and compress slightly and integrate the top into the layers.
Attach the bottom and integrate. Add points of texture interest on the layers if you like - tweak the whole thing, make it a little off round if you like. Push back an errant layer that looks like it got out of control - just look and see if it is how you like it! Make a hole and inflate slightly if you'd like your piece a little domed.
Then comes the painting. I'm not going to go into detail because I'm doing a tutorial on surface finishes as well, but I'll briefly show another bead being finished.
Here are the two cutters I made and used to make the big bead in the picture.
I don't have any more time to post more today, but will come back on Monday to show the crackle topped bead finished and a textured surface variant which is altered after assembly.
The possibilites for using cutters are endless so I hope this mini-tutorial gets you interested. If you are not interested in making your own, Clay Factory Inc. has a great deal on the entire set of Kemper cutters.
See you Monday and hope the postal strike is resolved! Wow, that was fun, must do it more often - the tutorial, I mean, not the rant!