Beyond Stringing: Necklaces in New Ways

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium for exploring many types of techniques. Especially when we first start playing with this versatile modelling material, we become enamored with swirling, layering, carving, and stamping the colors. We learn about mica shift, mokume gane, retro canes, Stroppel canes, textures, and much more. We learn to make swirly lentil beads, Natasha beads, barrel beads, and even simple cane slice beads. The next step, of course, is to start making jewelry with our polymer creation, so we get out the wire, cord, and findings and start stringing necklaces. There is nothing wrong with this and trust me, my jewelry collection is full of strings of beads! But polymer clay has so many possibilities that it’s worth exploring other ways that you can create a necklace from polymer clay without using the popular bead-and-string concept. What new ways can you make necklaces that are beyond stringing? Here are some excellent examples I’ve found to share. I hope this whets your appetite and gets your creative juices flowing!

Chain Maille

Jill Krieg of Chromatic Maille used my Graduated Colors Tutorial to create the colors of polymer clay in these necklaces. But what really makes them special is that she combined the polymer clay with metal rings in a technique known as maille. You can see more of Jill’s work in her Chromatic Maille store.

Necklace made by Chromatic Maille using polymer clay and chain maille. Necklace made by Chromatic Maille using polymer clay and chain maille. Necklace made by Chromatic Maille using polymer clay and chain maille.

Micro-Macrame

Macrame from the 70’s has come a long way and now makes a fantastic and versatile material for completing a polymer clay necklace. This elephant necklace by Sherri Stokey is called the “Bohemian Behomoth” and it does have a very boho style. See more of Sherri’s complex macrame jewelry in her website Knot Just Macrame. Sherri sells tutorials in her Etsy shop, too. The elephant is a polymer clay pendant from Staci Louise Originals. Interested in learning more about combining macrame with polymer clay? Iris Mishly also has a series of tutorials on this very subject.

Bohemian Behomoth, a necklace made with micro macrame and a polymer clay elephant.

Wire and Sari Silk

I’ve talked about Staci Louise Smith before, and I do think she’s one of the most innovative polymer artists out there now. She’s always pushing the limits of what this material can do. This neat necklace features a new crackle technique (tutorial is coming, she says) and it’s an excellent example of how to create a necklace where wire and sari silk are not used to string, but are used structurally to create an entire necklace. You can see more of Staci’s work here.

best friends

Here’s another example of using wire structurally instead of as a stringing material. Debbie Crothers is an Australian polymer artist known for her innovative techniques and bright colors.  You can see more of her work here on Flickr and on her website.

Organics

Flexible Wire

By using flexible beading wire, carefully balanced and held in place with bead crimps, this necklace has an open and airy look that you know would feel light as a feather. I’m not sure who the artist is, but it was shared by the Vancouver art gallery Soigne. Looks like a neat place to visit if you’re in the area.
Polymer clay necklace 5

Bead Embroidery

People who have far more patience than me find their calling in the art of bead embroidery. This is a craft where you stitch tiny beads to a backing material (as you would do embroidery), to create a design. This majestic piece uses many faux turquoise polymer clay beads and was created by Katherine Farmer in homage to Sherry Serafini’s work “A Mermaid’s Attire”.

Polymer turquoise necklace grande

Pure Polymer

Necklaces don’t actually need to use other materials at all, actually, except perhaps as an armature. Here’s a striking example of a necklace that literally stands on its own. This was made by the incredibly original and creative Sona Grigoryan. Her works is well worth enjoying!
#sonagrigoryan

Claire Maunsell is another innovative polymer clay artist known for using polymer in all of its dimensions. Her hollow forms and complex, richly colored surface treatments are instantly recognizable. This necklace features an innovative closure that is actually part of the necklace itself, and not being made from a purchased finding. This particular one reminds me of empty, split seed pods of trumpet creeper vine. See more of Claire’s work here on Flickr, and don’t miss her class on Craftcast where she gives valuable instruction on how to create her Illusory Leaves necklace (paid class).

'Snakeskin' tube necklace with carved closure

Claire has done some work with creating special polymer clay closures that will not twist the entire necklace as you screw them closed. Do they spark any ideas for you?

The first group of clasps/closures

And finally I wanted to share this necklace by a Flickr user named  “valegent76”. This has been made from liquid polymer clay, alcohol inks, and foils. Being a simple cut-out without contour, this one-piece necklace would likely need some structural design changes before being worn comfortably. But I love the idea, the concept, and hope it sparks an idea or two for you.

polymer clay necklace

Love to Make Polymer Clay Jewelry?

I created my Beadmaker’s Bundle of Tutorials because I noticed that jewelry artists were buying my Organic Beads, Rustic Beads, and Faux Glass Effects tutorials all at once and I wanted to give them a bit of a price break. It also comes with a bonus copy of Getting Up to Speed in Polymer Clay, an informational primer that I wrote specifically for artists from other craft areas who just need the basics of polymer to get “Up to Speed” and be able to make beads with my tutorials. You can find the Beadmaker’s Bundle in my Tutorial Shop (where you can also buy the tutorials individually.) Happy Claying (and jewelry-making)!!

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