Mica shift is a mesmerising technique that mystifies anyone unfamiliar with it. It uses the special properties of the clay to pattern the surface, creating colour change in each twist.
- 3/4 block Premo! Sculpey Accents magenta pearl (5029)
- 3/4 block Premo! Sculpey Accents sunset
pearl (5115) ¼ block Premo! Sculpey Accents silver (5129)
- ½ block Premo! Sculpey Accents pearl (5101)
- Pasta machine
- Tissue blade
- 8mm and 18mm circle cutters
- Polyester quilt wadding
- 48 x 4mm and 28 x 6mm light grey crystal pearls
- Wet and dry sandpaper (400 and 800 grit)
- Beading wire
- 2 x calottes
- Practise the twists using scrap clay to help coordination and inspire confidence.
- Blend peacock pearl and light green pearl for a cool palette.
- Use crystal beads in place of the small coloured discs to add sparkle.
Condition ½ block each of magenta pearl and sunset pearl. Mix together ½ block of pearl and ¼ block of silver and put ¼ block’s worth to one side for a later step. Roll the three colours on the thickest setting on the pasta machine and form into double thickness rectangles approx. 60mm x 40mm. Cut the silver mix in half lengthways.
Lay the sheets on your tile in the order of silver, magenta pearl, sunset pearl and silver. Overlap each colour by 10mm and roll over to join and slightly flatten the seams. Roll through the pasta machine at the thickest setting, fold from the bottom to the top and repeat about 20 times until the colours have blended.
Place the blend on a tile and trim one end straight. Using a rigid blade, or holding a normal blade firmly at each end, cut a strip across the blend, as wide as it is deep. Pasta machine widths vary, but you don’t need to be too precise in this case. Continue cutting strips and leave the pieces on the tile so they don’t stretch.
Condition about one block’s worth of scrap clay. Roll through the pasta machine at the thickest setting. Stamp out 4 x 18mm circles and roll into a ball. This is the base for the centre bead. Next, stamp out 18 x 18mm circles and roll them into six balls of three circles each. Finally, stamp out 16 x 18mm circles and roll into eight balls of two circles each.
Carefully pick up one strip of the blend and lightly press one end onto a scrap bead. Hold that down with one finger and, using your other hand, twist the strip and press it onto the scrap bead, turning it as you progress. Add more strips as required, joining them with diagonal cuts for neatness.
Continue wrapping and twisting until all 15 beads are complete. Gently press the twists to flatten slightly, and then roll in your hands until you can’t see any seams. The lines will show up the mica shift properties of the pearlised clays, alternating between light and dark. Pierce each bead from top to bottom and place on polyester quilt wadding to avoid flat spots.
Take the ¼ block’s worth of silver mix from Step 1 and roll it on No.3 on the pasta machine. Repeat with the magenta pearl and sunset pearl and place the sheets on a tile. Stamp out 28 x 8mm in each colour and pierce with a needle tool. Remove excess clay and leave the beads on the tile for baking.
Roll the remainder of the magenta pearl and sunset pearl on the thickest setting and stamp out 21 x 8mm circles in both colours. Roll seven balls using three circles for each colour. Pierce and place on polyester quilt wadding. Bake the three sets of beads at the clay manufacturer’s recommended temperature.
When the beads have cooled, sand with 400 and 800 grits of wet and dry sandpaper. Polish using a coarse cloth or a buffing wheel. String on beading wire using light grey 4mm and 6mm crystal pearls between the polymer beads. Finish with calottes, a jumpring and a clasp.
Make a pendant and earrings
Roll a small piece of magenta pearl at No.3 on the pasta machine for a base sheet. Cut out strips and twist, making six lines. Roll in and run more magenta pearl through with a texture sponge. Place under the twists, cut out the desired shape, bake, sand and add a bail.
Repeat base sheet and twists, making five lines. Add the textured clay, stamp out the shapes, bake and sand the twists. Make ear wires from Sterling silver and attach with two-part epoxy glue.
All materials are available from suppliers advertising in this magazine
Laurel Guilfoyle, Paul Gallant
- Date 4th April 2017
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