Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rock Tumbling and Finishing Polymer Clay Beads

Well yet another day has come and gone.  I am still in my search for new and fun ways to create jewelry.  I try different techniques and I read a lot.  Really, I mean I read a lot.  I read on the web until one would think I am crying.  LOL my eyes water when they are tired, but I keep reading.  There is so much information out there for the beginning jewelry artisan, it is unbelievable.  I have learned so much already, and even as I begin to try some of the techniques that I have found, I continue to read for more.  I truly feel like a sponge. 

This week Leia and I have decided to do a little rock tumbling.  Nothing extravagant mind you.  We purchased a very small, inexpensive rock tumbler from a craft store.  You can find them at most craft stores, Michael's, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby.  I purchased mine from Michael's.  Yeah Leia gets a little discount there as an employee.  Every little bit helps as most of you know.  Anywhoo, this little thing comes with a few rocks.  Now I would not know one rock from another at this point, but I am learning.  Also, note, this tumbler is not fast.  It takes a couple days to do the first rough grinding, then it takes a few more days for the fine grinding.  And of course there is still a couple of polishing cycles.  So this is not something that the impatient should try.  I am very impatient, but I am being good.  There was a significant difference after the first grinding and the instructions indicate that the second grinding could take from 4-7 days checking intermittently.  We checked at about a day and a half and decided they were looking good but wanted to continue on.  Now when we started they looked just like any old rock you see on the ground.  Oh, so not true.  What we have is a few beautiful green stones and one looks like clay with some thin black layers in it and a black across one edge of the stone.  Very pretty.  They are currently continuing in the second grinding.  we plan to check on them tomorrow which will have given them a couple more days.  I am thinking that they will then be ready for the first polishing. 

This is where this becomes interesting.  I plan to throw my first polymer clay beads into the mix during the first polishing and let the stones do the first stage of the clay finishing.  Of course there will be the polishing powder for the stones in there as well.  So we will see how this works.  I am hoping that this will be a good way to finish the clay beads.  I have some handicaps with my hands and am not able to hold onto beads and sandpaper or anything to do the finishing by hand.  So I have found through some of my web surfing which by the way has turned into jewelry tutorial and technique surfing strictly, a method of finishing clay beads using rock tumbling.

To be honest however, my trial and error technique here is different from the technique I located on the web.  I must give credit for the idea to Desiree McCrory.  If you are interested in the river rock finishing for polymer clay beads, I would highly recommend this link http://www.desiredcreations.com/howTo_TLTumbleSand.htm

Desiree McCroy is the author of the information at the above link.  There are lots of interesting techniques she has listed there.  The river rock tumbling sounded like a really good idea and since I don't have any river rocks or a ready supply of them.  Expense is always a matter to be considered for newbies.  I did not want to spend a lot of money trying new things with jewelry that may or may not work out for me.  So I will try the method I have described above.  if it works, then I have my own method, plus I get some really neat stones that can be used in our jewelry as well.

Of course, the final results of the experiment will not be available for a few days, however, I did want to get the link for Desiree up without delay. I thought her information was great and very very easy to understand.  She has a way of explaining her techniques that anyone could understand. 

Come back in a few days to see the results.  I will post photos as soon as I have some completed.  Keep your fingers crossed that they will turn out well.  If not, then I move on to another technique.  I will always try anything once, if it does not work out, I move on to the next thing.  Jewelry making is such a wonderful addiction, that I just can't put it down.

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