Thursday, May 22, 2014

PCAGOE June challenge piece - Art Deco faux stained glass trinket box

If you like this piece, please visit my shop StrebeDesigns for a variety of polymer clay art pieces.

Being an Art Deco junkie I was really excited about the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) challenge this month with the theme of Art Deco/Art Nouveau.  Since I started making my nightlights, I had a vision for a faux stained glass box for this challenge.

After doing a little research on art deco colors, I decided on the colors for the translucent "glass" sections by using the ink colors celery, eggplant, butterscotch and pebble.  For the circles I went with my own color scheme since I wanted splashes of bright colors: juniper, watermelon, sail boat blue, and more butterscotch ( a luscious color).

To make the circles, I first made the frames by putting extruded clay around cookie cutters and curing.  When cool enough, I filled the frames with liquid translucent pc and mixed with alcohol ink (I used a toothpick to mix). Then I gave it a bit of time to level out even (which it will do on its own) and then cure.

There is that luscious butterscotch!  Sometimes the liquid clay would ooze under the frame. If that happened, I simply trimmed the ooze with a razor blade after curing.  If you look closely at the blue one, you can see where it has been trimmed.  

Next I blended the translucent clay with the inks, so that I had plenty of each color. I also filled two extruders with black Premo! clay so I had plenty of material ready for framing.  Using some of my sketches as guidelines I cut out shapes and started with the four sides.  

Yes, I know, neat I am not.  

Unfortunately, I don't have any more photos of the construction process.  Frustration won out. The four sides took a loooong time, and I changed patterns over and over, sometimes even cutting out and replacing cured sections. 

When the four sides were completed I constructed and cured the bottom.  Again agonizing over pattern layout. Now I had four sides and a bottom, but nothing connected.  I had no idea what to do next, and could not find anything to use as a form to construct and support the box.  Very bad planning, extremely bad.  

I can't remember how many things I tried, but there were many that failed miserably as I couldn't keep the sides straight.  Finally my solution was to extrude large diameter, and large flat sections of black clay and use it as the binding material.  

The corners are held in place by round strips on the outside and flat strips on the inside.  The sides are held to the bottom by large round strips on both sides of the side.  All this had to be put in place using liquid clay to hold the uncured clay securely to the cured clay.  I was able to use a Fat Daddios square cutter inside the box to hold the sides upright while curing, wasn't a great fit but good enough. 

The results:

It is about 4" square and 2" high. 

A lot of hard knocks along the way, a lot of swearing, a little wine, but most importantly a lot of learning.  The nightlights seem like a walk in the park now! 


  1. Wow Betsy! This is a great description of your process, both technical and artistic. I, too, have had projects keep me up at night trying to figure how to make it work. That is the real work of the artist, how to make your ideas work into a finished piece. You should stand proud, You did it! I looks great and you learned more about the clay and about yourself in the process. That makes it a winner in my books even before the voting starts. Wonderful

  2. Thank you so much Line! It was an adventure for sure.

  3. I am super impressed that you stuck it out! It's amazing! Now you have to make about 10 more of them to get your process perfected, then sell us a bunch of tutorials! ;-)

  4. Hopefully 10 will do it, Lisa! thanks so much.

  5. Ah, another new favorite, for me, of your work! I love everything about this piece, the design is awesome... and I loved reading about your process too! Kudos to you for sticking with it, your determination paid off big time! :)

  6. Thank you so very much Beth. Now that it hasn't consumed my life for a few days I am starting to enjoy it!

  7. Cool, Cool, Cool! I love seeing your process. This box, along with your night lights, has a real "signature" designer feel.

  8. The box is lovely! It turned out really nice!. Now you have inspired me to try the translucent effect.

  9. OMG AMAZING! Wow, it is so imaginative and such precise execution. I love it.

  10. Thank you so much ladies! I am finding translucent clay a lot of fun,

  11. These are beautiful. Thank you for sharing the technique.