Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crystal Clay Tutorial - how to make a Christmas Ornament (part 1)

Hi Everyone!
I've been absent from the blog for a while.... but on the bright side, I'm enjoying my teaching job AND I have over 200 pages written for my thesis. :) Sometimes life takes over.
So I finally have a new tutorial. With Christmas season just around the corner, I'm inundated with all sorts of glittery Christmas ornaments whenever I go out. I love the glitter of Christmas, but I also like to repurpose if I can.

I received this acrylic jewel at a wedding show last year. I had NO idea what to do with it at the time, so it went into my 'stash'. I never throw anything away, as my husband will tell you.

Well, I decided to finally do something with it! So with some Apoxie Sculpt (a brand of crystal epoxy clay), some pearl chatons, crystals, silver microbeads, and pigment, I made this ornament that you now see here. Something special for me and the hubby to put on our Christmas tree this year.

- One acrylic or crystal bead/ornament (big)
- Epoxy Clay (I used Apoxie Sculpt, but Crystal Clay works too)
- A beeswax applicator
- rubber gloves
- decorations (crystals, pearl chatons, anything you want)
- A screw-eye

 Step One: Mix the Clay!
All epoxy clay comes in an A pack and a B pack.
"A" is the colour", "B" is the hardener. Mix them both together.
Don't skimp on the mixing. If you haven't mixed it properly, the clay will NOT set. Ever.
When your clay is one solid colour, it's finished mixing.
You now have one hour to complete your project before it dries.
 Step Two: Attaching Your Clay to the Ornament

Stick your ball of clay on the end of your ornament. Epoxy Clay is sticky and makes a great glue.
Skilled in free-form sculpting? No? I'm not either. Just pull and push your clay downwards until it's where you like it. :)
* Don't worry about the clay being perfectly smooth OR working with sticky hands. We'll get to that later!
 Step Three: Decorating the Clay

There are so many ways you can do this, and so many materials to pick, but in the end I went with pearl chatons. You can pick up a pack for 2 - 5$ at most craft/dollar stores.

As you can see, it's just like a normal crystal clay project! Just pick up your sparklies, press them on, and repeat. I left some blank spaces for something special. Don't worry about gaps or clay texture. It will all be fixed!

And there you have it. When you're satisfied with how your ornament is decorated, stop.
 Step Four: Adding the Screweye
A "screw-eye" can be found at most craft/dollar stores, and even hardware stores.

Of course your ornament has to be able to attach to something so it can hang from your tree!
Just press the screw eye in. DO NOT wiggle it around! Otherwise it won't stick.

 Step Five: Adding Microbeads
Microbeads are a special kind of bead. They are so tiny that they have NO holes. They are ideal for scrapbooking and DIY projects, AND crystal clay. Easily found in dollar and craft stores.
Now this is why I left blank spaces on my ornament, and why I didn't worry about rough texture. They'll just be covered with tiny silver balls anyway!
Just put your ornament directly into the bag, shake it around, and use your fingers outside the bag to press the balls into your clay.
shake, shake, shake
If a bunch fall off when you take the ornament out, don't worry. You've done nothing wrong.

Just use the other end of your beeswax applicator, and your fingers, to press them in securely.
Add more if needed.

Aaaaand VOILA! But we're not done yet!

 Step Six: Adding Pigment
Again, pigment is found in most craft stores/websites. Normally used for scrapbooking.... but also GREAT for epoxy clay. A little container is around 5$ and will last for a long time.
Just use a soft bristle brush, dip it in powder, and brush your ornament all over until it is glittery.
As the clay cures, the powder will be bonded permanently.

Some detail shots of the ornament, almost finished and glitterfied.

You will notice that some pigment got on the ornament itself. You WANT this to happen. And remember how I said it was okay to work with sticky fingers? Normally when you make jewellery, you don't want the sticky epoxy residue to cling to your metal. But if you leave your sticky fingerprints on the ornament, the pigment WILL adhere there too! That way you get extra glitter on the acrylic itself, and in the easiest way too. No glue or spray needed.
Just put it in a dish to dry for 12 -24 hours. :) Be patient!

When it dries, just attach a loop of whatever you want: ribbon, chain, beads.
I made a beaded chain to go with it.
And there you have it. How to make a crystal clay ornament. Enjoy!

I had some leftover clay and I made another ornament.... but that's a tutorial for another day!

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