Black and white bead swap

Our first swap/challenge at the Philippine Polymer Clay Guild involved creating 17 beads out of only black and white clay.  You can make any size, shape, and style of bead you want - they just had to be all black and white.  I thought the challenge sounded simple enough, but I was sooo wrong!

There were so many possibilities, so many designs swimming in my head, that it was getting too complicated. My almost-automatic reaction was to make a black and white millifiore bead, but I already tried that before when I was a teenager. 

I made a black and white jelly roll cane, and turned the beads into ethnic-looking earrings.  They are now one of my mom's most oft used pairs (photo above). 

For this P3 swap, I wanted to challenge myself to try something new, so in the end, I decided on this flower bead below. 

It's a variation of the Feuille de Autumne beads I made a few weeks back - a swirl bead as base, with two layers of textured leaves to form a flower, and topped with a smaller swirl in the center.  But I realized I didn't have the energy to make 16 more of this bead.

I am not a patient bead maker, in the sense that I rarely make multiple beads of the same design.  I get bored easily, so I usually make just one or two identical beads, then move on to a different project.  This challenge was a test of endurance and patience for me.  Especially now that I get tired easily.  Hindi kaya ng powers ko.

So I had to simplify the flower bead into something more practical, but still charming and still represent me.  The original plan with the flower bead was to add interest through texture and layers.  This time, I wanted to focus on contrast. I was toying with the idea of doing black image transfers onto white clay, but trashed it because I couldn't find an image I wanted to use.

At the very last minute, I finally found a variation I could live with.  I used the textured leaf element from the flower bead, and combined that with the image transfer idea, and came up with my Toile de Jouy leaf beads.  Don't they remind you of toile fabric?

The smaller black and gray leaves were individually sculpted by hand.  They're teeny tiny, so I had to work on them in the afternoons when the light was good.  The larger white leaf were measured using a teardrop cutter for uniformity, then pinched and sculpted by hand to give it a more leaf-like shape.  The image was then hand stamped.


I wanted to add a surprising detail to the back of the beads, so I stamped another detail on the rounded corners. These beads are top-drilled, so they can be used as a charm, or added to wire-wrapped projects.

What I learned from this challenge:
  • I've known this for a long time, but I am stressing it again: it's hard to keep white clay white, ugh.  But with practice, I can now make clean, unmuddied white beads. Yay.
  • My eyes can't keep up with me anymore - I can't work with black clay at night.
  • Now I know I was just suffering from tamaditis.  I was just too lazy to do production work.  Thanks to this challenge, I'm now ready to start making identical beads in larger numbers - yey!
Today Mr. Mailman came and brought me the swap beads from my guild-mates! Woohoo!  Here's my loot from the swap, plus a few extra goodies from generous members.

Aren't they all lovely?  Check out more pics of these beads on our FB fan page!


Purky said…
Your beads are delightful. I love how crisp and classy the design is :)

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