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Faux Millefiore Chevron Beads

By Sunni Bergeron
Materials Needed:
  • Pasta Machine
  • Tissue Blade
  • Exacto™ Blade
  • Scrap of plastic wrap
  • 1 log blue polymer clay, any brand, any size
  • 2 sheets white polymer clay, any brand, clay large enough to cover the log twice
  • 1 sheet each red and blue polymer clay, any brand, large enough to cover the log once
chevronbead000a.jpg (10682 bytes)

Conditioning:
Condition the clay by manipulating it. Fold it, run it through a pasta machine, mash it, twist it, work it until it's workable. To test if it's conditioned enough, roll the clay into a fat snake and bend it in half. If there are no cracks or fissures along the bend, the clay is ready.

Step 1 Step 1: Roll the white sheets through the pasta machine on the medium setting. Then roll the blue and red sheets through on the thickest setting. Roll the log out so it is an even thickness.

Step 2 Step 2: Pick up one of the white sheets and trim the sides so it is the same width as the log. Trim one end and roll the log into the sheet starting with the trimmed end. Roll all the way until the trimmed end meets the clay a gently press to make a slight indentation. Roll back just a little and cut the sheet along the line made by the pressure. Set the scrap aside for another project and seat the two ends so they abut without any overlapping.

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 with the red sheet. Step 4: Repeat Step 2 with the other white sheet.

Step 5

Step 5: Repeat Step 2 with the second blue sheet. You now have a multi-colored bull's eye cane.

Step 6 Step 6: Reduce the cane until it is a little thicker than the biggest bead you plan to manufacture. If you are unsure of how to reduce the cane, go HERE. Cut a length of the cane off that is no longer than your tissue blade. (I do this for convenience and accuracy for the next steps.)

Step 7 Step 7: Place the scrap of plastic wrap over the cane, place your blade sharp side up (taking care not to cut your fingers) and press down evenly along the length of the cane. Press the blade just about halfway. The object here is to NOT cut the cane, but to distort it. This technique was gleaned from Elissa Powell's Chrysanthemum Cane. (Click picture for a larger view)

Step 8
Step 8: Pull the plastic wrap from the crease, give the log a quarter turn and repeat Step 7. Do this two more times so there are 4 creases in the cane. (Click picture for a larger view)

Step 9

Step 9: Now turn the cane just a little, replace the plastic wrap and crease the log in the middle of one of the quarters. Continue creasing until you have 8 creases total. (Click picture for a larger view)

Step 10
Step 10: Here's where I vary from the Mum Cane. Roll the cane smooth again. Don't worry if it elongates.

Step 11 Step 11: Using a method I learned from Donna Kato, roll the cane backward until it is back to the size you wanted for your beads. To do this, place both hands on the cane, one at each end. Roll the cane back and forth while moving your hands inward toward the center. This will push the cane back into a thicker log.

Step 12 Step 12: Now slice a piece off the cane just a bit larger than what you want your bead to be.

Step 13 Step 13: Place the bead on your work surface on end and, with your Exacto™ Blade, shave off some clay at an acute angle. Do this all the way around the base of the bead. When you're done, flip the bead over and repeat that with the other end.

Alternative methods for this step have been suggested that would be much easier:

Desiree suggests: "Your message title set a brain spark a'flyin'. I was thinking, once the chevron cane is made, wouldn't it be cool to have one of those apple peeler/corers, but sized for tiny little apples, apples about the size of a big bead? Then you could plunk a cane segment into that silly peeling contraption and it would shave away the ends of the bead, exposing the star patterns, thus easily creating a chevron bead. It wouldn't take forever that way. Of course, the trick is to find a teeny tiny apple peeler. ;-)"

Pencil sharpeners after baking were suggested by JennyPat, Jeanne and Joanie Clayshapr.

Sandpaper after baking is another one suggested by Desiree. I thought of maybe some kind of bead-sized cup lined with sandpaper while Joanie Clayshapr suggested: "Maybe a piece of sandpaper in a funnel.... stick the beads in and twist them to sand the ends off after baking. That would keep the patterns more even? You'd have to start off with pretty rough paper in order to remove bulk material of course."

Step 14 Step 14: Once again, roll your miniature cane (aka bead) smooth. It is easiest to do if you use just one finger.

Step 15Step 15: Pinch the ends to bring the bead back to the proper size.

There you have it. My Faux Chevron Beads are not precise as this tutorial was actually started as "just a noodle." Kind of like thinking out loud. I am sure, with practice, they will be able to resemble the blown glass millefiore chevron beads quite accurately! Below are some of the beads I made and laid on top of the picture of the African Trade Beads that were my inspiration.

Finished Beads


Faux Chevron Beads.
Click on the picture for a closer look.

 

Variations
by Desiree McCrory

In case anyone is ambitious enough, making a more demanding (less easy) faux chevron bead requires:

1. making a multipoint (e.g. 12 - 20) star millefiori cane (use lots of little triangular polymer clay canes,
2. fill in all the triangluar valleys with more triangulat canes,
3. cut a segment from the cane (anywhere between 1-2" long),
4. carve, shave and/or sand both ends to expose the deeper layers; like the way Sunni shows on her webpage tute.

If you've got a chevron bead, take a look at it head on (from one end) you'll see the cross-section of the cane's construction and how to build your polymer clay cane.

If you don't have a chevron bead, you can see a side view and top view at my online photo album. Here's the url to page:

http://www.pbase.com/image/128146

©2001-Sunni Bergeron

Thank you, Sunni! You can Email Sunni at sunni@polymerclaycentral.com or visit her Website at http://members.spree.com/sip/sunnidaze/me/polyclay.html

Member Tips

From Susan

Tip: "To see more of the inner patter, mix the outer colour with some translucent clay and put a very thin layer of it around your bead (after step 2 of Desirees variation). The white will shine through it just a little bit and adds depth! You can also scrape a bit off along the length of your cane at a few places, so you can actually see the white."

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