Saturday, June 7, 2014

Glammed Turtles

This fabulous tutorial is from Chris Crossland a friend, fellow clayer and talented artist. She is one of Best Flexible Molds' biggest supporters.She uses our molds in many very creative ways and this is one of her newest designs.
From Chris: I have been in love with the sea turtle mold (#PJ048) from the moment I saw it.  I have molded lots of turtles in both sizes using clay “cabochons” for the back.  Lately, I have been experimenting with incorporating those inexpensive colored glass “pebbles” that are sold in net bags in the floral department of Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s into my clay designs.  They are sold to go in vases with floral arrangements.  I found that the glass pieces that are about ¾” across (measured across the flat back of the glass drop), fit the baby turtle bezel very well.  The size of the glass drops will vary some, but they are fairly uniform.  I think the resulting fusion of glass drops and the baby sea turtle are a match made in clay heaven.  So, here is what I did to glam the little babies up!

1. Before de-molding each turtle, I made a hanging loop from 20 ga wire and bent the loop slightly forward.  I embedded it into the clay where the head of the turtle disappears into the mold.  Place it so most of the wire loop extends beyond the edge of the mold cavity.  The loop should angle up toward you and away from the clay in the mold.  This embedded loop will allow you to add a jump ring for stringing the finished piece.  The back of the turtle can also be textured before de-molding.

(note from Penni Jo here)Panel 1, Panel 2 and Panel 3 below show the steps and materials mentioned in step one.

Panel 1

Panel 2
Panel 3
  2. Carefully remove the turtle from the mold and gently “ease” the two sides of the bezel (the turtle’s shell) so it is just large enough for the glass drop to fit snugly in the bezel.  There may be a small triangular space at the base of the tail which will need to be filled with a short snake of clay, but that will be covered by the rest of the embellishments.  
(note from Penni Jo here)panel 4 shows some of the steps mentioned in step two.
Panel 4
    3. After test-fitting the glass, remove it and lay metal leaf or shimmer flakes of glitter directly on the clay in the center of the turtle’s bezel.  I used tweezers for this and still found myself cleaning up run-away pieces of glitter, so be careful!  Try to cover that space pretty evenly without too many spaces where the clay shows through.  This will act as a reflective backing under the glass and create beautiful glittering highlights.  Your color choice for the glitter will be determined by the color of the glass drop, but usually either silver or gold will work nicely.  Even if you are using a frosted glass drop, silver glitter under the glass will still create a really nice shimmer.
       (note from Penni Jo here)Panel 5 shows some of the steps mentioned in step three.

      Panel 5 

      4. Once the glitter is in place, put the glass drop carefully back into the bezel and gently push the edges of the clay as close to the glass as possible on the top and sides without distorting the shape.  If you find that you have that little triangle of empty space at the base of the tail inside the bezel, don’t try to “smoosh” the clay up to the glass, just add a small piece of clay to fill in the space and hide it with something elegant when you complete your design.
       (note from Penni Jo here)Panel 6 shows some of the steps mentioned in step four.
    Panel 6
      5. Because the clay will not adhere to the glass, it is necessary to build up clay around the edges of the glass to hold it into place after the piece is baked.  That is really the only “rule” that must be followed.  I found that small, thin snakes of clay worked really well and looked elegant.  Roll out or extrude some small snakes and artfully arrange them so that the ends curl up over the sides of the glass.  While these won’t actually adhere to the glass, they will harden when they bake and serve the same purpose as the prongs in a stone setting.  So, have fun and keep going until you create a pleasing and balanced design.  The design can be simple or very complex, as long as the clay comes up over the edges of the glass all the way around to form a secure “nest” for the glass.  I finished the designs with small balls of clay, some of which were indented with a ball-tipped tool to add interest to the design.  PJ’s Tiny Embellishments mold also has some really pretty designs which could be used with or instead of snakes.  You can also add hot-fix crystals, if desired.
       (note from Penni Jo here)The fabulous glammed turtles below show some of the techniques mentioned in step five.
      6. Use a very small brush to add metal powders and/or mica powders to the clay.  Try to keep the powder from getting on the glass, but if some does find its way onto the glass (and it often will), don't fret, it can be removed after baking with a Q-tip dipped in a little rubbing alcohol.  For removing excess powder from really small spaces on the glass, I wrapped a tiny piece of bathroom tissue tightly around the end of a toothpick dipped in alcohol.
     (note from Penni Jo here)The fabulous glammed turtles below show some of the techniques mentioned in step six.
    Super Glammed Turtles
     7. Bake the finished turtle at the usual time and temperature (I baked these for 45 minutes).  When they are cooled, add a coat of glaze to protect the metal or mica powders.  I used gloss because it doesn’t dull the shine on the metallic powders.  

    Now I ask you, is this not the most glammed-up herd of turtles you ever saw???
    More beautiful Glammed turtles!
     this original tutorial is by Chris Crossland – all rights reserved.

    For more information about the mold mentioned in this tutorial please feel free to contact us at:

    PJ048 Sea Turtle Bezels and teardrop Caboshapes

    This mold is available at:

    an original design and sculpture by
    Penni Jo Couch
    all rights reserved

    hand cast mold made in Maysville Oklahoma, USA