Silver Spokes Redux

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This is actually attempt #3 for my Night Carnival accessories, but #2 doesn’t make the cut in terms of meriting a tutorial.  These pieces are probably the winner for Saturday’s costume, and I’m seriously contemplating sculpting a master mold so that I can more easily make several variations on this concept.  I may even use it to create a more fanciful Mushroom Woman.  I have…  Ideas.

These pieces are a bit more iridescent in person than I was able to capture in these cell phone photos.  If I wear them in the sunlight, I’ll try to get a better picture.  I create the iridescent illusion by layering duo violet, blue, and green mica powders over the silver, then blending them out.  You could be more heavy-handed with this and still end up with a nice result, but I wanted to be super subtle.  (Shocking, I know.)

Organic Radials in Iridescent Silver

For this project, I needed a pair of earrings and a pendant.  I’m going for the impression of silver wheels without being too literal about it.  For that reason, I chose to use circular cutters.  Even though the finished product isn’t really a circle, it is close enough to read as circular.  If you don’t have circle cutters, feel free to use a stencil, cut freehand, or deviate into more amorphous forms.  Prepare your non-porous work surface and whatever tools you might like to use for texturing.  For this project, I use a needle tool, a small ball tool, and a natural sponge, but you should feel free to experiment.

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Choose and condition a grey or silver clay that is darker than the silver mica powder that you intend to use.  Decide on the sizes of the cutters that you want to use, and be sure to have a little more clay than you’ll need, as we will be rolling and cutting.  Prepare three short head pins with a loop at one end and a bend at the other.

Portion I — Foundation

  1. Roll out your clay to about 1/4” thickness

  2. Cut three circles (one for necklace pendant and two for earrings) in the sizes of your choice and set aside these circles

  3. Roll out scrap clay thinner than before and cut three more circles of the same sizes (these will be used on the backs) and set aside

  4. Lay your main pendant circle face down on your work surface and position a head pin so that it lays flat along the center (with the loop exposed at the top)

  5. Gently press the head pin into the clay until it is flush with the surface

  6. Cover with a thin circle of clay that you cut and set aside in Step 3

  7. Press clay layers together, more firmly toward the edges

  8. Using a natural sponge (or a stiff brush or other texture tool), gently texture the exposed surface and nudge it back into the shape of a circle

Portion II — Sculpting

  1. Using a tissue blade or other lifting tool, loosen the clay from your work surface and flip over your work (and don’t worry if the surface o the clay is not smooth)

  2. Use a needle tool to draw gently curving lines toward (but not reaching) the center, dividing the circle into 7 or 8 similarly-sized segments

  3. Further divide some of these sections in half and, alternating sections, fill in with more lines to create segments of flowing ridges

  4. In the remaining segments, leave some of the smooth ones alone, and create alternating textures in the others (using the needle tool, ball tool, or other texture tools)

  5. Using the needle tool, redefine any lines that were obscured by texturing and bring the radial lines as close as possible to the center (without touching or crossing them)

Portion III — Color

  1. Apply a thin layer of silver mica powder over the entire piece

  2. Apply a generous ring of purple in a circle near the outer edge of the piece

  3. Apply blue in a smaller circle, overlapping with the purple

  4. Apply green to the center of the piece, then blend outward toward the edges

  5. Repeat the color applications until you are satisfied with the faux iridescence

I would advise being more aggressive with the color than I was.  Mine just look silver in most lights, and I do wish that the color popped just a little bit more.

Once you’ve repeated these steps with the earrings, bake them sculpted-side-up according to manufacturer’s instructions.  After they have cooled, add your findings and enjoy.

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I do intend to try this with more freeflowing shapes and with more of a folded fabric feel.  If any of that works out, I will be sure to share it here.

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These are my three attempts at Night Carnival accessories. The sets that I do not wear for my costume will be available for sale this Saturday at the Carnival. Come to Milwaukee! Bring a friend! Have a magical evening!