Friday 4 March 2016

Bead Frenzies and Textures and Tools

As I wander around on my day to day travels, taking the longer, more scenic way to the post office maybe, or on walks round the local bird reserve, or just wherever I happen to be, I am always half looking out for interesting things that might make a good texture on Polymer Clay. I'm sure there are many fellow texture obsessives out there who know just what I am talking about.
It's surprisingly hard to second guess which of the things I pick up will work and which won't, (too big, too small, not detailed enough at the right scale etc.) Some of the things I find look promising but don't deliver when it comes down to it, some are ok but nothing to write home about, but others are really cool and work beautifully. The ones above were pretty nifty. And they just look beautiful anyway. The closer to the minutiae of nature I get, the more wonderful I find it.

The other thing I look out for, though not in the same places, obviously, are tools. There is a secondhand tools stall on our local market that I like to keep an eye on. I have snagged a few useful things really cheap. A pair of parallel motion pliers for about 3 quid for instance. OK, theoretically useful things I mean. I haven't found a use for them yet, but if I wanted to bend several wires of the same width at the same time, for instance, they would be just the job. . .

But the extra small, bent nose pliers below, £2.50, and the fine point round nose pliers £1.00, are very useful. Not sprung handles, but sometimes that is a disadvantage as they can spring open when you accidentally relax your grip for a split second, causing you to drop things. And you know what happens when you drop things don't you? They bounce, and unless you manage to follow their progress with a hawk eye, they vanish, only to be found feet away from where you thought they could ever possibly end up, if they get found at all.

I have to say I do get a kick out of 'finding' things, whether in fields or in secondhand shops, it allows the Universe to smile on you from time to time I think, which is always nice.

 Here are some more texture finds. Bone is always good, with that kind of bubble structure. The middle one is Sugar Beet stalk I think, as that is the only thing grown in that field that could produce something of that size and gnarly-ness. The thing on the right is familiar but I can't remember what plant it was from. Winter is a good time of year to find plant related stuff.

Below are more twigs, rosehips, cedar cone remains, flint and a dried root of something or other from the garden. 
I really need to allocate a special box for my texture finds, as my windowsill is getting stupidly cluttered. . .

I used some of these texture items on some of the beads I made in my latest bead frenzy. A selection of said textured beads are pictured below.

The shape of many of them is due to the ad hoc bead rolling device I have been using, viz - a clear perspex block, which, all things being right with the world, is intended to have a silicon texture sheet stuck to it. Of course, being me I use it for no such thing. . . 
The edges of said block are bevelled or grooved to improve the hand's grip on it or somesuch. This groove is hemispherical in cross section. 
So what I do is kind of push or roll a ball of clay down this groove using a texture implement of some kind to propel it and impart texture at the same time. 
Sometimes I use found bits of nature, as seen above, and sometimes my photopolymer texture sheets. The result is a sort of centrally textured, flat ended, ball shaped bead, which is a shape I really like. Kind of pleasingly 'primitive'. . .
It remains to be seen if anyone else really likes it, as these beads are only lately listed in my etsy shop. I think they look cool all together anyway.
Jon x


  1. I really admire your work Jon. These are gorgeous! Anyone could imagine including these in their own designs. Well done indeed! Truly inspiring!

    Texture has been on my mind quite a bit lately as well and I too am always looking for unique textures to use. Your bead making tool sounds quite interesting.

    Have you by chance heard of Oyumaru? For those wonderful textures and shapes you come across.

  2. Is that some kind of mold putty stuff? The name rings a bell. I did have some 'mold maker' but I ran out. I want to try the diy mold making idea i have seen on the internet, where you mix plumbers silicon caulk or sealer with cornflour/starch to make a flexible mold. I guess you have to use the mixture straight away as it would just set but it sound 'interesting'.
    Thanks for the kind words about my beads. I hope people do use them in their designs.

  3. Your beads are wonderful! I think a nice polyclay basket would hold your texturing treasures!