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PC11: Medley of Jewelry Techniques

w/ Sue Heaser


video sleeve image

$24.95 + S&H

Table of Contents:

Pietra Dure Mosaics
Sugar Craft Sculpting
Gilded Leaf

Approx. Running Time: 78 minutes

Polymer Adornments in Small Scale: It's in the Details

Renowned English polymer clay artist Sue Heaser brings her techniques and style to the world in her video "Medley of Jewelry Techniques" from MindStorm Productions. The author of three books and more than forty magazine articles on the subject of polymer clay, Sue now adds a video to share the detailed techniques that make her work so imaginative and precise.

Following an introduction to tools and materials, Sue guides the viewer in making:

  • Gilded leaf pins
  • Applique pendants and brooches
  • Sugar Craft earrings
  • Pietre Dure pins

The first segment in this video explains how to use real leaves to create pins, pendants and brooches. Leaves are pressed into thin polymer clay sheets and cut out. Metallic powder is applied as gilding, the leaf's veins are emphasized with a needle tool, and the polymer leaf is baked on a support which preserves the naturalistic curves and form. A pin back is attached and the leaf is varnished to protect the gilded surface.

As in all the segments in this video, Sue Heaser provides a running commentary of observations, comments and tips which will be useful to all polymer artists. The accompanying camera close-ups provide a wealth of information about shaping, cutting and assembling clay, particularly in the small scale work which has earned Sue her world-wide reputation.

In the second segment of the video Sue demonstrates in great detail the use of applique techniques for making jewelry. She says "I like to use naturalistic effects - little butterflies and tiny flowers." Using a pendant as an example, she gives very detailed instructions for manipulating polymer clay to create a miniature garden scene. Clay is rolled in thin snakes and then flattened in a variety of ways. Ultra-thin slices are made with a special knife and applied to the pendant background to form flowers and a butterfly. Sue shows additional examples of applique used in jewelry, such as other pendant styles; a large bead; and the use of various colors, flowers and insects.

Sue gives detailed instructions and examples, anticipating and answering the questions that always arise in classes: Exactly how small should that clay be rolled out? How much pressure are you applying? Why did you make that design choice? This attention to detail makes the next segment especially instructive.

The next subject is making delicate fairies as earrings. Sue has adapted the art of "sugar craft," also known as gum paste, to create lovely jewelry. Clay is marbled to create hanging flowers to serve as the fairies' dresses. Tiny leaves are added for collars, arms and legs are attached, and the fairies are completed with heads and wings. Sue comments that "at this scale, minimalist sculpting is absolutely vital." The fairies are baked (hanging inside a glass jar), and their headpin armatures are made into loops and suspended from ear wires to complete the earrings. Variations include tiny fairies whose wings are made from translucent clay canes and whose hair is fiber applied after baking. Bouquets of mini-roses are shown along with flower pins and earrings featuring perfectly crafted flowers.

The final segment on the video features Sue's unique adaptation of Pietre Dure, the elaborate stone inlays made in sixteenth century Florence. In this art form, pieces of a solid background are removed and replaced with various shapes and colors to create miniature landscapes and still life scenes. Sue artfully simulates the use of marble and semiprecious stones with polymer clay.

All work is done using a pasta machine to ensure a consistent thickness of all the clay sections. Sue first creates the background of the seascape whose finished size is approximately 2" by 3". The marbled sky simulates agate. Using a drawing done on tracing paper, she carefully transfers design elements one by one to the clay background. A tall cliff shape is cut out, removed, and replaced with a brown marbled clay slice. The rest of the design - cliffs, house, trees and boat - are created using the desired colors and patterns. The tiniest details are "scribed" into the design. Realistic simulated stone is achieved using "strip blending," a technique which Sue developed to achieve color shifts over very small distances.

Sue now covers the final burnishing and baking of the pietre dure as well as sanding and buffing. Completed pieces are made into pins or used as lids for small boxes. Some of the variations shown are different types of landscapes and different kinds of marbled and shaded inlays. Traditional pietre dure is simulated in additional pieces depicting birds, fruits, flowers and a scene of a lemon plant in a terra cotta pot.

Sue Heaser's video demonstrates the techniques of representational art-how to achieve in polymer clay the illusion of a realistic flower or the slant of sunlight on a seaside cliff. Because these techniques can be transferred to many other kinds of projects, "Medley of Jewelry Techniques" will prove valuable to a wide range of polymer artists.