January 17, 2013

Resin and Polymer Clay Bracelet Inspired by The Hobbit

Am I evolving into a mixed media artist? Certainly felt like it when I got my first resin casting kit a few weeks ago. Creations with polymer clay and resin – should be fun, right? I had to give it a try. Throw in the Hobbit theme, and voila!

Hobbit-inspired bracelet made of polymer clay and resin.

For those curious about how I did it, here’s the story.

First, let me share my first-try pieces with resin. Not bad. The process is easy enough.

Resin casting kit and first output.

Suddenly, I had this design in my head of a Hobbit-inspired bracelet combining polymer clay, resin, and cord knotting. Since there would be 12, no, 13 pieces, each element had to be small enough to complete a bracelet that wouldn’t be too bulky. I started making circles with polymer clay. Bake clay, then on to the next step.

Polymer clay backing.

I had printed out a photo of the dwarves when I first started making Thorin’s scalemail armor, so that would be the source of my bracelet photos.

Hobbit photo for dwarf faces.

Long story short, I prepped the dwarf faces, glued them onto the round setting, sealed them with Mod Podge (this step is essential because without the seal, the resin will eat up the photo), and delicately covered each photo with resin one drop at a time.

Preparing dwarf faces for the Hobbit bracelet.

Hobbit dwarves under resin.

No matter how slowly you stir the resin mixture, bubbles will appear in the pour. So I had to tend to the pieces for a few hours, checking to see if bubbles are forming.

Bubbles forming in the resin cast.

To remove the bubbles, I used a butane lighter. I just swiped the flame very quickly a few inches over the bubbly piece to create enough heat to pop the bubbles. Some crafters blow through a straw, but that’s tedious (and your breath moisture could create droplets that will end up on the piece); others use a heat gun (which I don’t have) or a hair dryer (which some don’t recommend because the air flow is hard to control and it could kick up dust/debris that will stick to the piece).

A little heat to pop the bubbles in the resin.

 I covered the curing pieces to protect them from dust and lint.

Cover to protect the resin from dust and lint.

While the resin was curing (this is the toughest part for me -- the resin requires two days to harden), I molded the back pieces – the thingies that would help me string the bracelet. Nothing fancy, just has to do the job. Baked, then after the resin hardened, glued them on.

The back pieces for stringing the bracelet.

Glue the back pieces onto the resin cast.

It was a little tricky knotting the band of dwarves but I got it together. And here’s the knotting effort:

Hobbit-inspired bracelet knotting.

And the finished product. Who can tell me why my OCD is nudging me to redo the final step?

Hobbit-inspired bracelet.

January 8, 2013

Repurposing a Star Wars Bag

At the Star Wars Celebration VI last August, WeLoveFine.com gave away humongous bags for the t-shirts they sold. You buy one t-shirt and you get this gigantic tarp-material bag that you end up carrying around like a billboard.

WeLoveFine.com's Star Wars Bag at Celebration VI

Not a bad advertising gimmick. For tall people. I had to tie a knot on the handle so that I could carry it over my shoulder without the bottom dragging across the floor. Over the four days of the convention, I ended up taking more than one of these large bags home.

I couldn't see myself having the need to reuse these bags as bags, so I thought, why not repurpose them into aprons? When dismantled (rip out the stitches), one bag yields two panels, a strip that used to be the handle, and another strip that held the two panels together.

It was just a matter of cutting a panel to the shape of an apron and cutting the strips to however long the apron strings need to be. I used a serger machine (a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine works too) to clean up and secure the edges, and a few quick sewing stitches to attach the apron strings.

Apron made from WeLoveFine.com's bag from Star Wars Celebration VI

And there it is: a Star Wars tarp-material apron courtesy of WeLoveFine.com. (The second panel is in my "to do" pile.)