Polymer clay jewellery: Not just kid stuff

I got so excited about announcing the draw winner that I mistakenly published this on Tuesday. Here it is again... but I still posted twice today! Oh well, worse luck.

In the windows today, polymer-clay pieces, which in certain hands becomes very cool, and very affordable. Yes, there are a miniature ice cream cone and cute puppy earrings out there, but polyclay can rise above juvenile themes and twee miniatures.

In the hands of a talented maker, the clay or gel-like material (a form of plastic) transforms into gorgeous beads. It is fairly light, durable (given proper finishing and care), and allows effects impossible with minerals or glass.

The trick is finding adult pieces; for some reason, European designers make some of the most striking grown-up designs. (Prices shown in approximate $US, and do not include shipping and handling.)


Left: From Madrid, an exuberant one-of-a-kind necklace by Silvia Ortiz De La Torre, in Madrid; price, $120.
Centre: Grey, white and mustard bead necklace by Melbourne-based Rubybluejewels; price, $30. What a whimsical gift this would make!
Right: Turquoise, grey, black and gold barrel pendant on 25-inch cord, about $15 from Wildchild708, in New York.


Left: Stretch bracelet of carved beads; different colours available. Price, about $35 from MomentoComplimento, Almeira, Spain
Right: Wide dragonfly bangle by WildOnionArt, Omsk, Russia; price $50.


Left: Polymer clay and tassel earrings by Rubybluejewels; $18 (sold); similar here.
Right: Silkscreen-print earrings, about $15 from Couquetteriecreations, Loury, France.

Beads: Easy DIY project

Left: Beginner
You can make a simple necklace in under an hour by threading a single focal bead on a silk, linen or leather cord, making sure the bead's hole is big enough for the cord. (2mm is standard.) This carved and hand-painted 37mmx25mm focal bead from TalaruTribu, Brisbane, Australia, is $15, and makes an intriguing accent for a tee or dress.

Right: Just beyond beginner
Feeling more confident? I keep returning to admire JBDRusticOrganic, in Norwich UK, who transfers his own images onto the polyclay to make earthy and original beads. String these tube beads (price, about $12 for six beads) with a smaller bead at each end (as shown in the centre necklace above). It could be for yourself or for a gift—and expect more requests.

Polyclay pieces are are some of the best jewellery bargains out there; I don't understand why more boutiques don't carry them! But we can buy from these exceptional makers, or venture into beading, which has a way of blooming into a creative passion. Worse luck!


How timely! I just visited the "Vikings" exhibit at the ROM and my friend and I were commenting on the beaded jewelry and how we'd be able to wear any of it today! So colourful and even though they would have been much more limited in their materials there was a real attempt at a pattern or to have a symmetrical look to the design where possible.
LauraH said…
Wow! What a revelation. I was vaguely aware of polymer clay as a medium but never dreamed it could look like this. That necklace from Madrid is right up my alley, reminds me very much of some of the works at the Yahoo Kusama Infinity Mirrors show on at the Art Gallery of Ontario right now.

Agree with Margie's comments about the Viking jewellery. I guess there are only so many forms out there and every culture and epoch puts its own stamp on them.

Thanks for this post, another eye opener. It's wonderful to learn about new forms and new ways of looking at things.
LauraH said…
just saw this glitch...'Yahoo Kusama'...gotta love autocorrect...that should be Yayoi Kusama.....
Leslie Milligan said…
The RubyBlueJewel piece in grey and mustard is really cute, but sold out. (I blame you 😏) There are still a couple of similar pieces in blue, white and mustard. Mustard is not my color, but I could pull it off with one of those and the price is right. I purchased a couple of sets of polymer beads on Etsy a few years back, but they skewed too young. I did use a few individual beads in the boho necklace that I showed you, but the rest will be used in gifts for teenagers. It’s always nice when you share pieces that support creative spirits and don’t break the bank, though I love looking at the bank-breakers, too. Thank you.
Duchesse said…
Leslie Milligan: Etsy vendors usually welcome requests if something is s/o. Sometimes it is just a matter of making another one or waiting for their next collection. You mention "young". I don't know what it is about clay, but there are more kitties, pizzas slices and unicorns in clay that I ever dreamed. But there are some artists like the Spanish ones, and the makers of the ndividual beads I showed hw make adult beads. I had to really look to put together this post.

Mt very talented Susanfriend who makes the beaded necklaces (I think I once sent you photos) makes her own polymer beads , to work into her necklaces made of beads she collects on travels.

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