Introduction: Chinese Lantern Earrings
These are nice, elegant earrings made of polymer clay that has been sanded and varnished to look like glass.
Premo translucent polymer clay - I found that premo brand provides the best translucency after baking. The translucent clay is important to give the look of glass.
Red polymer clay - I used Fimo Effects Red Glitter
Gold or Brass Leaf
26 gauge gold beading wire - I purchased this from Walmart. The package contained several small spools of various colors.
fish hook earring findings
gold bead cap (optional)
beading pliers for forming head pin, wire cutter
wet/dry sand paper - 400, 800, 1000 grit
Varathane Polyurethane water based varnish
Step 1: Create the Layers of Color
Use the mokume gane technique to create the layers of colors.
Roll a thin piece of translucent clay. Cover the translucent clay with the gold/brass leaf.
Roll a thin piece of the glitter red. Lay it on top of the first layer of translucent clay.
Roll another thin piece of translucent clay. Lay it on top of the 2nd layer red layer.
Trim the edges of the stack into a rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 3 equal pieces and stack them on top of each other.
Taking the end of a brush or some other blunt object, press several holes into the stack of clay, making sure it goes through several of the layers.
Refrigerate the block of clay for a few minutes to make cutting easier.
After the clay has cooled for a few minutes in the fridge, take a tissue blade and cut thin layers from the stack. Continue cutting thin strips from the block and set aside.
Step 2: Form the Bead
Roll 2 equal pieces of translucent clay into the desired size for the earring bead.
Take the nicest pieces of the mokume gane strips and cover the translucent clay balls. Take the balls of covered clay and roll them until the seams are smooth.
Take the tissue blade and cut the balls of clay into 4 equal slices. Take each slice and pinch the ends and smooth/round out the edges.
Re-assemble the 4 slices of clay back into a ball, but make sure the seams are still distinct (the wires will sit within these grooves).
Take a bead reamer and make a hole in the bead. The hole should be large enough to fit several strips of wires.
Bake the 2 beads based on the directions on the clay package.
Immediately after the bead has completed baking, take the bead from the oven and place into a bowl of ice water.
Take the wet/dry sand paper and soak it in water with a little bit of dish soap. Sand the 2 beads starting with the 400 grit and work up to the 1000 grit paper.
Step 3: Wire the Bead
Cut about a 5 inch strip of the gold wire.
Insert the wire through the bead so that about 1 inch protrudes from one side of the bead. Taking the longer tail, thread the wire around the bead, position it over a groove on the side of the bead, and pull tightly (make sure there are no gaps between the wire and the clay),
Continue wrapping the wire around the bead until all 4 grooves are wrapped. Make sure to pull the wire tightly so that there are no gaps.
Take a head pin and insert the bead cap through it. [NOTE: Instead of using a pre made head, you can also make your own by rolling a small square piece of polymer clay and adding rhinestones (refer to the picture). Bake the piece of clay with the rhinestone before adding it to the bead. ]
Insert the head pin and the bead cap through the bead. Take the gold wire and wrap it tightly under the loop of the head pin. Push the head pin down through the bead and make sure the bead cap is flushed with the top of the bead.
Take a pair of round nose pliers to form a loop at the bottom of the head pin. Trim off the excess head pin wire and make sure the loop is tightly closed.
Wrap the bottom piece of the gold wire around the newly created loop at the bottom of the bead.
Varnish the bead with the Varathane varnish and hang it over a scrap piece of wire to dry.
Step 4: Create the Tassle
Create a tassel to be added to the bottom of the bead.
Below are variations of the 'tassel'.
Tassel 1 (picture 1) - roll 2 small pieces of clay into tear drop shape. Insert a head pin and cut off the excess wire. Press a small rhinestone on to both sides of the tear drop and bake the clay. Varnish the clay before adding to the bead.
Tassel 2 (picture 2) - same as tassel one but no rhinestone is added. After the tear drop has baked, sand the tear drops and varnish.
Tassel 3 - take a long twisted glass bugle bead and insert a thin piece of wire through it, leaving about an inch of wire at one end. Take a small glass bead and insert through the longer end of the wire. Take the longer piece of wire and thread it back through the same bugle bead. The glass bead will prevent the wire from pulling all the way through.
Take another bugle bead and insert the wire through and follow the same procedure as the first. Continue until 3-4 bugle beads have been added.
Twist the ends of the thin wire together and form a loop. Wrap the excess wire around the loop and trim.
Add the tassels to the earring using a jump ring.
Add the fish hook earring find to the top of the bead.
Step 5: Additional Technique
I found a great technique by Polymer Claus that is much simpler than the Mokume Gane technique and provides terrific results. The earrings pictured here was created using Poly Claus' technique.
Roll a medium thick piece of translucent polymer clay and cover with gold/brass leaf. Roll the clay into a thin piece.
Roll a long piece of red glitter clay and white glitter clay and cut into small pieces. Sprinkle the red and white pieces over the translucent clay with the gold/brass leaf.
Roll the translucent clay with the pieces of red and white clay into a tight log.
Take the log and mush together and roll into a ball. Be careful not to over mix the clay as you want the mottled color versus a uniform color.