Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blue Bird of Happiness

A tutorial of sorts, this post shows the making of 15 charms for a swap with the theme Spring. Sixteen were made, just in case something went horribly wrong at some point in production.

After deciding to make  charms featuring  birds and their houses, the next decision was whether to form the charms from Paperclay or Apoxie clay. Paperclay is significantly lighter, but I worried about durability. Banging around on a bracelet or necklace with other charms demands a certain level of toughness. These charms are relatively small so the weight of Apoxie clay is minimized.

I was first introduced to the product  Apoxie clay by Elizabeth McGrath and it is generally part of the supply list in any Micheal deMeng class. Apoxie Clay is a permanent, self-hardening synthetic clay that combines the features of sculpting clay and two part epoxies. A link to the manufacturer is included below.

In the first step hooks were shaped to be ready for insertion into clay once shapes were constructed. The part that would be inserted into the clay was hammered flat to make it thinner and easier to insert,

After making a small cardboard template of the birdhouse in order to keep the size uniform, I mixed two golf ball sized lumps of part A and Part B Apoxie clay. After a thorough mixing and kneading, the clay was rolled flat with a rolling pin that is only used for craft applications. The clay was cut cookie style with a knife.

The clay from around the edges was collected and divided into 16 small balls that were hand shaped into vaguely bird-like forms. Birds were attached to the houses. Hooks were inserted. Charms were hung to dry and harden.

Next comes paint, another decision. The variously shaped birds are sorted. Shapes are very different with some birds shaped like wrens, some like robins and others like gulls. Painting them according to body style seems like the route to go until the time line comes into consideration, a deadline looms.

Bluebirds, they will all become bluebirds!They will be bluebirds of happiness even if some look more blue ducks of happiness.

Paint goes on in layers.

Shiny black nail polish is used to create the round, shiny little bird eyes.

Some of the details are put on with a brush, others with Sharpie pen.

Lastly, two coats of varnish should enhance the charm durability. If the clock had not been madly ticking toward deadline there may have been a third coat. I dipped and hung the charms to dry. A shiny varnish was selected to mimic glass or porcelain which is a kinesthetic or sensory match to the weight of the charm.

Charms were packaged up pretty, with a vintage postcard and some ribbon.

Of course you could create charms of any shape or theme using Apoxie clay. It is available in many sized containers and has a shelf life of about 3 years. There will be more items made in this material shortly as my 3 pounds is slouching toward the end of shelf life.


1 comment:

  1. They are adorable! I can't wait to receive my bluebird (or duck) of happiness!