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Precious Gems: Friend or Faux?

by Linda Geer
edited by Sunni Bergeron

Supplies:

  • Translucent Clay (I prefer either Bleached Translucent ("CFC06") or Sculpey III
  • Little bits of clay in red, blue, purple, green
  • Glitters - holographic/prismatic -- as many sizes as brands as possible
  • Sandpapers in various grits ranging from 400 all the way up to 2000, depending on your preference
  • Container of ice water
  • Future


Take all your different glitters and mix them up in a small container

Click on the thumbnail for a closer look.
This is a close up of all the glitters mixed together.

Tint some translucent in several different light shades leaving some plain with no tinting (the ball in the middle on the bottom is untinted).

Take a little of your glitter mixture and mix it into the different tinted clay mixtures - vary the amount you mix in each color and ensure that you have different sizes of glitter in each batch (The different sizes are part of the key).

Part 1 of rolling snakes of your different translucent and tinted clays and marbelizing lightly.

Part 2 of rolling snakes of your different translucent and tinted clays and marbelizing lightly.

Part 3 of rolling snakes of your different translucent and tinted clays and marbelizing lightly. Be sure to NOT go too far. You want areas of color, not a fully mixed blend.

Part 4 of rolling snakes of your different translucent and tinted clays and marbelizing lightly. What the clay should resemble with you're finished marbling.

Click on the thumbnail for a closer look.
Shape and then bake according to the directions on the package of the clay you are using. This picture shows what your Opalgeers should resemble before baking.

This is a close up of what a raw Opalgeer should resemble.

Click on the thumbnail for a closer look.
As soon as you shut the oven, immediately plunge your pieces into an icewater bath. It should be VERY cold. Keep the pieces in the bath until completely cool. These are baked, but unsanded Opalgeers.

This is a close up of a couple baked cabochons that need sanding.When you bake them, try to avoid yellowing your pieces. (I don't know if it really helps, but I tent tinfoil over the top of my baking pan.)

Click on the thumbnail for a closer look.
Sand each Opalgeer beginning with 400 grit and proceed in sequence to 600, then 1000. For a glossier shine, use finer grits, if desired. Be sure to stop up from coarse to fine without skipping any grits. Do not skip from 400 and go directly to 1000. This will leave gouges in the surface of the Opalgeer.

Using a muslin cloth on a drill or a pair of levi jeans, buff the sanded Opalgeer to bring out it's depth.

This is a close up of an Opalgeer where I used star glitter in it as well! It adds a bit of whimsy to the stone.

Glaze with Future - at least two coats, waiting until dry between coats. Glazing for this technique is preferred to buffing alone because it gives the piece a glassy coating and increases the illusion of depth.

Variation

1) Make a base bead out of interestingly colored clay
2) Mix your colors as above, but roll them as thin as possible into thin sheets. Do not marble them together.
3) Tear small pieces off each sheet and place randomly over the base bead. Layer somewhat.
4) Put a super thin layer of translucent over the whole piece.
5) Shape, bake and finish as above.

Linda Geer
©January, 2001

Now that you've read Linda's method for creating faux opals, click here to see Barbara Reider's alternative method for creating these lovely jewelry pieces!

We want to thank Linda and Sunni for sharing this wonderful tutorial with PCC! If you have a lesson or tutorial that you would like to see here on PCC, just email or or Sunni and we will help you prepare your article for the PCC Website.


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