Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bead Fail

I've been doing so well with my bead making when yesterday, I had the biggest bead fail. I was almost done with the first and second batch of my beads...initial baking, then decorating and painting and finally I added the sealer... I used a polyurethane floor wood varnish as I couldn't find Varathane in the 2 shops that I visited. They had a sample piece of wood at the store and it really was a beautiful finish. So, I decided to give it a try. The varnish is called Pye Wood Varnish. It is a resin based air drying polyurethane as described in the website.

I painted it on lightly and it gave it a nice shine and seemed to work pretty well with the clay. I figured it probably works the same as the Varathane. So, I proceeded to paint one side (the top side) of the rest of the finished beads.  I decided then to try to bake it again in the oven since I read the re-baking items that were sealed with the finish helps too. So, I turned on the oven at 130C and set the timer for 10 mins and left it to bake. About a little more than midway through, I started to smell a horrible scent and went to go to the kitchen, turned off the oven and took out the beads...and when I opened the foil covered baking pan, my heart sunk to find my beads were horribly burnt, distorted and smelled disgusting... take a look what happened to my beautiful beads....

Boohoooo...I don't even want to say what some of them look like but, you can see them for yourself.

I think I may have had the heat too high and had it in for too long. The oven I was using does not have an even temperature all throughout so some parts may have even been hotter. Some parts were ok and some beads were actually saved. The heart had a pretty shiny and hard cover (and would have been beautiful i think) .... here' a closeup...

unfortunately the bottom and back parts were deformed....

Well, I was able to save a few beads, although, they do have some slight imperfections....

The top right bead is deformed but still kind of looks pretty cool... My 3 favorite beads were saved...the one in the center and the 2 beads to the right and lower right.. they turned out really pretty and I'm so glad they were saved. (The one on the lower right is slightly sticky though, perhaps not fully dry yet.)

So...that's my big bead fail. But, it's alright...I know you have to go through some wrongs to be able to learn what's best. What I learned....always do a test batch before using your actual beads. Second, check on what your doing. I left the beads for 10 minutes but since I was testing it, I could have gone and checked on it every couple of minutes just to make sure things are going ok. And third, make sure to read and learn everything you can before starting a trial run. I was reading around after and I read that you have to bake the sealed beads at only 200F or 93C...I used 130C...

So, live and learn....

Well, to battle the bad things that's 3 good things going on...First, take a look at the texture sheets I made that were quite successful...

The one on the left was taken from my nephew's stone box that he got from Vietnam. The box entire is beautifully carved from stone and I just took a section from it. I'd love to make a mold from the entire cover but I didn't have enough clay for it. I'll just have to go back again one time...

Second, look at these wonderful dental tools my niece generously gave to me. They are old tools from back in her dental school days that she can no longer use in dentistry...(mostly slight rusting and grime)...but are awesome tools for clay and bead making...YEY!!!

So many!!! Here are just a few of the tips (double sided too!)

Not only that, look at the handles of the tools...they're great for different textures too! Who would have known that I would love dental tools (*winks*)

And third...I found my old candy molds which were never being, they will be specifically for clay...(they need a lot of cleaning though since they've been stashed away for quite a long time)...

Three good bad...not too shabby!

That's all for now....Have a great day!


  1. The beads look great, the transformation is amazing, the finsihed product looks great. Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I love how you show your process, and believe me -- I've burned some glass beads with raku. Yoikes. You made some really cool ones, actually!

  3. oh gosh! so sorry about your beads. you know what they look like when i first looked at them ... i thought they were shitake mushrooms! but some of them has such character! maybe you can find a way to use them in assemblages or something. can you actually bake sealed polymer clay? esp those that are painted and sealed with a household varnish? i use to use future floor finish as sealer and it works very well and comes out pretty shiny. love how your painting came out tho ... very rustic and the colors are gorgeous! keep at it ... it'll only get better :)

    ooo! those dental tools are YUMMY!!!

  4. I just had to laugh when I read your comment on my post! The irony is that I was actually on a plane in Europe when it happened, so technically I could've seen it if I hadn't been a mile high!


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