Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tell Me What You Think To This........




I haven't made jewellery for such a long time - this set is just for me and I doubt I'll be making any similar for any one else.


Here's a close up of the bracelet....what do you think I have used to make this pretty bauble?(hands down you in the back, I know you know, but give someone else a chance!) Have I splashed out on some gen-you-wine chunks of turquoise? Nope.
Are they plastic imitation? Nope.
Paper-mache? Nope.

I'll put you out of your misery - these beads were made from............


....yes, a potato. Not only do I paint the darn things, I'm wearing them as well. It all started when I got a Secret Santa parcel through the post containing a very delicious box of chocolates and also a sheet of paper with How to Make a Potato Bracelet instructions tucked into an envelope. At first I laughed heartily, but then had a thought that if this method worked, it would make quite a fitting keepsake to remember the past 18 month spud marathon. Originally, I had planned that I would wait until I had the 100th potato finished and use that as the basis for a bracelet, but as you can read below, I never actually got Potato No.100 in my hand, so this has been made with the 99th - not quite as symbolic but close enough!


First I had to cut the potato into rough cubes, slightly larger than the beads I wanted to end up with. Then I speared them through the centre on a wooden skewer and left them to dry. The first batch were put on top of the radiator on some tinfoil and just left - these ended up quite angular and a few sort of caved in on themselves. After my son's adventures making freeze-dried potato stew with his Bolivian cookbook that he got for Christmas (a whole other anecdote...) I made a second batch and popped them in the freezer overnight. The has the effect of drawing the moisture out of the potato as it defrosts, making it dry quicker but also you can squidge it a bit and soften the edges - these are the smaller, rounded beads. Above is how they look when dry - they are as solid as pebbles.


Then each bead was painted turquoise with acrylic paint and left on a knitting needle to dry.


They needed a second coat to get a good covering - this is half the mess I got into......


When the turquoise paint is completely dry, paint the beads with black acrylic paint. Now, you have to be quick here - the instructions said paint with black paint and rub off with a paper towel - that just left me with a smudgy black bead. What you have to do is mix a slightly watery black acrylic, paint it on then quickly dip the bead in a pot of water and rub with a damp paper towel until the black is left only in the cracks and fissures of the beads.


When this is dry, do the same with white acrylic paint - you can see in the photo how little remains in order for it to look authentic.

Finally, paint the beads with two or three coats of acrylic varnish - I used matt finish as I preferred to have a soft sheen rather than a high shine on the beads - it's a matter of personal taste.

It's a very effective but quite labour-intensive way of making your own turquoise - I'm pleased with the results and wore my necklace to work today where it got quite a few compliments. The beads seem really hard and robust, although doing the washing up with the bracelet on might not be such a good idea on a regular basis!

8 comments:

Laura said...

Well I never! That is some wonderful jewellery to rememeber your Potato Marathon by.

Congrats on finished the potato project. I bet you're quite the spud expert now!

Sue Doran said...

What an absolutely fascinating account of how you made these beads. They look so authentic! You made beautiful jewellery with them as well, I'm not surprised you got compliments.

Sallie said...

Lovely jewelry! I never would have guess the beads were potatoes.

Magpie Magic said...

They look totally fab. Thanks for posting the "tutorial". If I ever get the time I'll have to try it out. Think it'd be cool with white turquoise as well.

Sue Doran said...

I had an "aha!" moment just now; I was wondering if you could use this technique to make formers to use as a base for PMC/Art Clay beads - I imagine the potato would just burn away during firing and so you could make hollow PMC beads in lots of different shapes. Be interesting to try ...

Boomka said...

I find these bracelets incredible for two reasons. 1. I can't even make a potato out of a potato and you made a bracelet. 2. I would never have known this was made from a potato, I would have thought it was turquoise. Granted my jewelry eye isn't what it should be, but you fooled me. Good job! (P.s. I passed your blog along to my friend who loved it because she is a jewelry maker herself and.. um knitter, or crocheter, I forget the difference)

Caroline B said...

Thanks guys:
Laura - I seem to have become a bit of a spud nerd (that IS the technical term...)by osmosis - didn't want to, but some knowledge has seeped in.

Sue.....um...you've lost me, that's far too technical! These and Fimo are about the sum total of my bead-making expertise - I just like to play with the things.

Boomka....ahhh, bless! Doesn't matter that you can't make stuff 'cos you write fine essays that make me laugh and that's an excellent creative process in itself!

soggibottom said...

SPEECHLESS FROM SOGGIBOTTOM X X X

Someone mentioned seed potoes this morning and I ignored him !