Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Complex Jewelery Tutorial

When it comes to making a costume, jewelery can be a very tedious thing to deal with. With some characters, the jewelery may be simple and the exact or a similar piece can be bought at a nearby store. However, with some characters, the jewelery may be very complex and almost impossible to find locally or even online. This is especially true with Midna's adornments. The complex nature of their design makes them very unique and very difficult to replace with standard objects or common jewelery. BUT they can be easily crafted, and I'll show you how.

- Super sculpey
- Acrylic paint
- Bag of plastic gems
- Reference picture
- Paper and pencil
- Knife and toothpick
- Chain-link necklace
- Needle tip pliers
- An oven

Total Cost Estimate: $25.00
(based on what I had to buy)
Currently selling for: $23.00

Project Duration Estimate: 4-5 hours

Many of these materials can be purchased at nearby arts and crafts stores, even Walmart.

This project makes a durable, lightweight, and attractive looking headpiece/accessory. The super sculpey I used for it came in a large box that comes with a good amount of clay. If you are interested in making more pieces, you may want to purchase this box. If not, most craft stores sell air-dry sculpey that comes in very small $1 portions.

No harmful chemicals or materials will be used throughout this tutorial. Just remember to be careful when handling pliers. Metal can be uncooperative.

Always make sure you read through the entire process before beginning to avoid mistakes and to get a general idea of how the project will progress.
Now, let's get started:

Step 1: Finding a reference picture
Find a reference picture of your object online or in a magazine. Make sure the picture shows significant detail of the piece you want to construct, so you can make it as accurately as possible. Depending on the complexity of the piece, you may need multiple pictures from different angles. For our piece, we can get pretty decent results from using only one picture, but for larger objects, you may or may not need multiple pictures. Another thing, sometimes official art appears different from ingame pictures. So if two pictures contradict each other, you may need to either decide which one to use, or make a combination of the two.

Step 2: Sketching/printing a sculpting outline
Take your paper and pencil (or pen if you're feeling adventurous) and sketch out a life-sized model of the object as best you can. If you can find a silhouette of the object online, print it out! This may be rare, but if you can manage to find one, then you can skip drawing it. Just don't forget that you still need to make sure you print it out with the proper size ratio. Once drawn/printed, compare the picture to your forehead and see if it is appropriately sized. If it runs past your nose, it is too big.

Step 3: Distributing the clay
Take your super sculpey and form it into a very small ball. Depeding on the size of the prop you plan on making, you may need more or less clay, however, for the headpiece we are making, a very small amount of clay will be used. I usually separate the clay from the box so I don't have to mess with it too much and so I don't have to constantly tear new pieces of clay from the larger sections. From your ball of clay, use a knife to cut out equal smaller sections of clay to work with. For the next step, we will be making long, thin strands of clay, so it's nice to try and make the pieces similar. If this all sounds confusing, don't worry. You can skip it. It's just an overview to make sure your necklace comes out even and equal amounts of clay were used for each section.

Step 4: Creating the shape
Once you have the small (hopefully equal) pieces of clay to work with, begin rolling the clay into very thin snakey shapes. When I say thin, I mean thin. Remember, this piece has to fit on your forehead. If the strands are too thick, your piece will be too chunky and may possibly run past your nose. Once you've made the thin strands of clay, put them directly on the outline you made/printed. Make sure they fit nicely into the space you've given yourself to work with. Another small detail- DON'T FORGET to add a small "bridge" in the center of the piece to attach the gem to. It can't just float on nothing, after all.
This is the most tedious and difficult step and will take time, so don't rush yourself or it won't come out as nicely as it could! When you feel bored or bothered with working on the piece, take a break and come back to it later. Working on the same piece for a long time will make you want to hurry up and get it done sooner, which could lead to messy results.

Step 5: Small details
Use a knife, pen, toothpick, or other object you have laying around to aid you in the detailed work. For this particular headpiece, there are very thin lines running horizontally down the jewelery and small indentations in certain areas of the piece. The two bird-looking heads towards the top of the ornament need eyes and beaks, and there are small connecting loops that are used later for stringing. Use a toothpick for the very fine details, and a knife for smoothing it over and collecting any extra "debris" you may have kicked up with the toothpick. Remember to touch up the shape by adding sharp details. Once you are satisfied with how it looks, you can proceed to the next step. Just be completely sure you like what you see! Once you bake the object, you can't add anything else.
REMEMBER: to poke holes through the "chain connecting" areas, because we will actually be using them to string!

Step 6: Baking the clay
Once you're pleased with how your object looks, you're ready to bake it. On the box of super sculpey, there are instructions on how to bake the clay. They include what degree to bake it at and for how long, depending on the complexity and thickness. If you used a different kind of clay, you will have to adhere to the baking instructions on the box. Air-dry clay does not need to be baked and will dry overtime, same with paperclay. I wouldn't recommend these for jewelery, because they are often much more delicate.
Super sculpey bakes at 275º F (130º C) and this particular piece should only take about 15 minutes. Once it is done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for a good 10-15 minutes before handling. You can place it in the fridge to make it cool faster if you're in a hurry for some reason.

Step 7: Painting
For painting the piece, you have several options. Acrylic paints are my personal favorite because they dry quickly and have vibrant colors. Not only that, but they are waterproof once dry on clay (that's right, I tested it). You can use oil-based or water-based paints if you wish, but I prefer acrylic because it's cheap and comes in many colors. For this piece, I actually mixed some paint I had lying around, but you can purchase metallic silvery colors to get the same effect. The entire piece was coated in a very light silver and I added a touch of black to the silver to make a much darker tone for highlighting certain areas of the headpiece (the bird-eyes and indents).

Step 8: Attaching the gem
Now hopefully you created that "bridge" I was talking about before or attaching the gem will be a bit difficult. REMEMBER, you only attach the gem after you've baked the clay (so it won't melt in the oven) and painted the piece (so you don't get the gem dirty). Depending on the type of gem you purchased, attachment may require glue. Some gems that are meant to be attached to things have a sticky bottom and only need to have the paper peeled off before sticking, while others don't have this and need to be glued on. I used hot glue, to ensure that it won't fall off, but you can also use crazy glue. I would avoid elmer's glue, unless it's the industrial kind, because I don't think it's meant for clay.

Step 9: Stringing the piece
"Stringing" is a strange term. In this step, we will be adding the chain to the headpiece. For my chain, I used an old necklace I had lying around that was looking pretty ugly. I detached the charms from it and laid it on a table. Since we need to have the back parts in tact for attaching it to your head and sizing it properly, I instead attacked the front. Determine the middle of the chain and select a single chain link. Use the needle-tip pliers to deform the link and pry it open. Once open, you can separate the two sections of the necklace. Keep the chain link open and attached to the necklace. Repeat on the other side, grabbing the last link and prying it open in the same way. If done correctly, you should have a necklace that can still open and close in the back, but now on the front, it is detached and has an open chain link on either end. Sorry I don't have a picture, I forgot to take one, but I hope you can understand well enough. Anyway, once you have your links open, place the chain connecting loop of the clay piece in the center of the open chain link and use the pliers to clamp down on the link, forcing it to close around the clay loop. Chances are, the link does NOT close all the way, but that's fine. Just so long as you clamped the link closed tightly enough that it will dig itself into the loop, it will stay. Don't be afraid to use force either. The necklace should be pretty tough. Repeat to the other side.
If you didn't have a chain laying around, or just didn't want to use one, that is also fine. You may instead use a string (preferably silver or gray). Simply feed it through the loop and tie it around.
IF you forgot to make a hole through the loop to connect the chain to, don't sweat. You can simply hot-glue the chain/string to the headpiece.

And there you have it~
A very nice home-made costume accessory! Now that you've done this, you can tackle anything. And look, you have a WHOLE lot more clay to spare :')

For more information on purchasing jewelery and other props in my tutorials, requesting a custom item, or an idea for a new tutorial, feel free to email me at Kanti-Kane@hotmail.com (:


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