Casual Elegance » The Art of Polymer Clay

Casual Elegance is my line of jewelry and and home accessories that are hand crafted from polymer clay. The pieces range from playful to tailored, from casual to sophisticated. The essence of every piece is a striking combination of custom-blended color that becomes a natural complement to any wardrobe or home decor.

To make my creations, I start with polymer clay, a malleable material that comes in an array of colors that I can custom blend into an infinite number of hues. When I have my palette of colors mixed, I roll the clay into flat sheets, logs and triangular tubes. These are then assembled into a block of clay in which a design forms in the cross section. This block or “cane” is then stretched and elongated. This miniaturizes the cross sectional design. These small patterns are then sliced and the slices are used to create a bead, jewelry, component or part of the veneer for covering clay bases for clocks, picture frames, pen casings or any other item.

The blue denim bead picture above shows how beads are made. Different colors of clay were chopped up in a food processor. The pieces of clay were then run through a pasta machine a number of times until the clay was a smooth consistency. The pasta maker rolls the clay into flat sheets that are then stacked up into a larger block of clay. This block of clay or “cane” is then sliced into strips that were then placed together, flipflopping each slice to create a pattern. The newly formed cane is then stretched and elongated which reduces the cross sectional size of the cane but makes it much longer. Slices can be taken off at this point or the cane can continue to be stretched until the design becomes even smaller. When the desired size is reached, small slices of the reduced cane are taken and laminated onto a piece of scrap clay creating a patterned veneer. When all sides of the clay are covered with the pattern, the bead is compressed and rolled to join the seams. A final shaping of the bead is done, a hole is put into the bead and it is baked to harden the clay.

The picture of the flower cane and bead shows how flower canes are constructed and beads are made from the flower canes. For the center of the flower, a periwinkle log was wrapped in a sheet of violet colored clay. This was rolled from a one inch diameter down to a diameter of a thin pencil. It was then cut into many pieces and reassembled into another fat log, this time with many periwinkle circles wrapped with a violet color. Again, this piece was elongated thereby reducing the pattern size. Another shaded green log of clay was made using the Skinner blend method. This was wrapped in a dark blue color and then elongated and cut into pieces to form the petals. Each petal log was wrapped around the central polka-dot log. To keep these petals very round, the dark blue color that wrapped the petal color was then shaped into a triangular piece and elongated to form thin triangular logs. These were inserted between each petal log. The whole group of logs were then wrapped in another thin sheet of the same dark blue clay. The cane is compressed and stretched out. At this point, slices of the cane may be used for jewelry component pieces or thin cross sections may be applied to a clay bead core as a veneer. When the core is fully covered, the clay is rolled in to melt together any seams which appear. The bead is pierced and then hardened by baking.