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I’m sure that a lot of people who do any sort of creative work have had the experience of getting an idea into their heads and being unable to let it go until they’ve exhausted it, even if is blatantly not working. Yes, that’s right, this is one of those stories *G*

I’ve always loved the look of polymer clay mixed with alcohol inks, but seeing as the people who make the ones most used with polyclay never got back to me about whether or not it was vegan, I gave up on those inks. Then my desire to use natural products in my work (which is a bit of a stupid desire when you consider than my favourite material is a polymer…and thus, essentially plastic) collided with my desire to experiment with paint effects, and I embarked on a week long period of madness, during which I discovered:

1). I do not have an inherent knack for making stamped, carved or inked pieces. Other people’s efforts in this vein look distressed in the artistic sense; mine look like the person who made them *was* seriously distressed, and possibly did her in a darkened room with a rabid squirrel as her only tool.

2). Liquids with a high concentration of water are a no-no with polymer clay.

3). I don’t know when to give up.

At the end of this week, all my surfaces were covered with pooling liquid and half-dried scabs of my paint, my hands were stained, and I’d used a silly amount of nice white clay for something that ended up disappointing odd. I’m not giving up though (see point 3) – there is a tiny glimmer of prettiness lurking in the idea, and it will be nurtured as soon as I can face anything paint-like again. I daren’t go looking to see if this has been done before, partly because that would mean the experiment of stupidity could have been shortened. partly because I can’t bear to read about stuff that I can’t currently bear to do.

So can you guess what the ‘paint’ is?

Yup, it’s beetroot juice. Beetroot juice mixed with liquid fimo (turns orange), beetroot juice mixed with Pearl-Ex powders (lovely colours, needs work to keep it *on* the clay), and neat beetroot juice (sporadic patterns, can be pretty). Also, the best way to apply it is by letting soak about 40 seconds in a capful of beetroot and mica powders. Any longer and the clay cracks.

By the way, here are the ‘best’ of the experiments:

 
Compared to electrical, fabric and food industries, artisan jewellery making is probably a small drain on the world’s resources. But hey, we have to do what little we can, right? So here’s a few ideas for alternative supplies for jewellery making, as a way of cutting down on animal by-products and less-evironmentally friendly materials.
As well as making your jewellery more ‘green’, another advantage to using alternative materials is that they can help give your jewellery that extra artisan individuality. By using handmade components especially, you’re ensuring that your creations are unique, and you’re adding more significance to your own creativity with components that are also born from love and creativity (that sentence was really hard to write because it feels sappy, but I do feel that way *G*)

Put your ideas in the comments (or let me know something I don’t know…there is, after all, a lot of scope there *G*)

Stringing materials

Most jewellery has metal components, usually mined from the earth in horrible conditions, but to cut down on the amount used, here are some alternatives.

Unwaxed cotton cord or hemp

 White and Green Hemp Necklace
with Glass Teardrop Pendant by NeicosKnots

Unwaxed cotton cord or hemp- Both materials feel lovely against the skin, and can make up a delicate or casual necklaces depending on how they’re used; both knotting and macrame can make the simple cords into something a lot fancier. Perhaps you could also use any scrap wire to wrap the ends and make a small closure or clasp. For a quick course in macrame go here

Seed Bead Necklets
Metallic Blue Necklace with Flower Pendant
by SmadarsTreasure 

Seed beads and thread can make a really pretty chain for a pendant. A simple strung necklace featuring metallic finish Delicas is versatile and delicate, and easy to make, whilst beadweaving, though more time consuming, can be used for a more elaborate effect.

Copper Wire
One of a Kind Metal Pendant, Handcrafted
 From Found Metals by twistedbeading

Old, unloved electrical cables can be mined for copper wire, so you get some cheap supplies while recycling (PLEASE make sure they’re not still connected to electrics, or in use, eek!).  Plus, small pieces of wire from old jewellery and short pieces of scrap wire can be used for wiring up beads or charms; even if you’re ‘only’ using plated metals (metal is metal after all), snip the tops off previously-wired beads, collect ‘mistake’ pieces, and save them. At the very least, they can be used for practicing wirework skills, or making tiny wire charms like coils and scrolls.

Beads

 Artisan Lampwork beads
Piranha Lampwork Bead Set Blue Cobalt Black by helbels



This type of bead makes a gorgeous alternative to gemstones, and when buying handmade, artisan lampwork beads, you can be sure than the person creating them is doing so in better conditions than gemstone miners. Silver glass, like Triton, and dichroic glass can sub for the flashes in labaradoite and other stones, whilst the richness of jewel-coloured transparent glasses match rubies and sapphires. Plus, look out for beads with mica-powder decoration for a shimmery, pearl effect.



Lampwork Glass Beads Purple Sparkles
on Grey Pixiedust Spacers by boga119

 

Deep Cherry Red Transparent Lampwork
Small Disc Spacer Beads Set of 12 by JSavinaBeads



Glass pearls
Fantasy Fairy Jewelry – The Garden Fae
 by StarrlightJewelry 

There’s a wide range of glass pearls out there in beautiful colours, which make great substitutes for those taken out of oysters. Swarovski Elements (TM, et cetera) in particular do high quality glass pearls; in a fit of paranoia about rumours of fish scales being used in the coating of some glass pearls, I e-mailed them about this, and they stated there are no animal by-products involved in theirs, so vegans can rest easy about them!

Amazing Cream Glass Pearl Hand Beaded Necklace
with Sterling Silver by metalclothnwood 
 Cerulean sea necklace by
pinkbubble  

Polymer Clay  

 

Polymer Clay Cabochons Lemon Grass Faux
 Dichroic Set of 3 by Polymerpretties


- with a little bit of polymer clay, and some mica-powders, you make your own pearl-esque beads, and you’ll be able to control the size, shape, colour, and texture of them to get a more organic feel. With a few more supplies, you can mimic the look of almost any material with polymer clay, including lots of non-vegan things, making them a lot animal friendlier. If you’re not polymer-clay inclined, have a browse on Etsy – there are lots of talented artists there who are open to commissions.



Giant Pink Faux Rock Pendant 



Faux River Stone Necklace
by juliespace

 



Precious Metal Clay (silver)



Sorceress Fine Silver Earrings
in Chocolate Amethyst by CeeGeeJewellery

Making your own fine silver findings and beads from recycled cars? Because it’s maleable and pliant, you can mould elaborately curved toggle clasps, shape bead caps directly onto the beads for a perfect fit, and make lightweight hollow beads by connecting two curved circles together with silver clay paste.
I have to admit, I had reservations about what the ‘organic binders’ were, because this vague and oddly sinister description made me think of a distraught man yelling out ‘Organic Binders is people!!!!” (geek) but apparently the binders are plant-based. Phew.

Frank-Fine Silver Owl Handmade Necklace
Pendant Sterling by abbielyn



Christmas Confetti fine silver circle earrings

 

Recently I’ve been on the lookout for ways to package items with less waste – I already recycle jiffy mailers when I can* and snatch up any card or bubble wrap that enters the house, to re-use in my parcels. But I wanted to find some sources for actual recycled papers, business supplies, and other items. I haven’t used any of these places yet, so I can’t vouch for their service/quality, but I thought sharing them here might help out anyone looking for similar products (UK based).

To see previous resource posts, click here for ‘ethical’ supplies and here for vegan craft items

Green Stationary:

http://www.greenstat.co.uk/storefront/home - stationary that is bio-degradable or recycled in some way, as well as ‘green’ office supplies like recycled printer cartridges and catering packaging.

Recycled Paper Supplies:

http://rps.gn.apc.org/index.htm -  card-making, wrapping, paper, and packaging that is recyclable, and mostly recycled.

Eco-craft:

http://www.eco-craft.co.uk/ - yay, an eco-crafts site. Papers, cards and display bags. (Now all we need is an all vegan craft site)

Tiny Box Company:

http://www.tinyboxcompany.co.uk/ - already well-known, but they do a great range of jewellery, cupcake, and gift boxes in recycled cards (I *have* bought their boxes before, and they were great)

Eco-topia:

http://www.ecotopia.co.uk/pages/default.aspx - as well as a wide array of paper and business supplies, they carry eco-friendly gifts like mouse mats made out of juice cartons, and various cool-looking gadgets.

*i.e. when I haven’t ripped them open down the middle in haste. Ooops.

 
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