Scientists often work collaboratively with others as no one scientist is an expert in all fields. So it is with jewelry. Unique and lovely pieces can be created jointly by two artists in different fields.

North Carolina based Donna Nolen Weathington is coincidentally a chemist by education. She is the artisan behind Orbitals Jewelry whose hand crafted polymer clay pendants feature original artwork by Kinman Chan of San Francisco.

I was pleased to learn Donna is a regular reader of this blog. She had taken note of one of my jewelry photography tips to use scrap booking paper. To my delight, she was able to choose some perfect matches for her finished jewelry. The design above entitled In the Park was photographed with a forest scene. The piece below called Wharf has a brick wall as the background which made the pendant look like an art piece, which it is, on a trendy art gallery wall! In fact, Donna's work has actually been presented at an art exhibition.

Donna also does custom pendants based on client images - photos, children's art all transform into wearable mementos. Donna takes a long time to complete each of her necklaces. The images are transferred and encased between layers of polymer clay which is then highly polished. She then creates the necklace using sterling silver chain, glass and gemstone beads to compliment the finished pendant. She graciously explained the process she uses:

"I use a digital version of the image and resize it to an appropriate size for the necklace I want to make. I print it out on a color laser printer. For the clay I use a mix of white Kato and translucent Premo clays. The Kato by itself doesn't seem to take the image well. I roll the clay out and lay the image down on the clay and burnish it and cut out around it to approximately the size and shape I want. Then I bake the clay for about 7 minutes, take it out immediately and burnish it again and then peel the paper off while it is still hot. Then you can do a little more trimming while it is still warm and easy to cut. Then you finish the baking for the clay. Once it cools I brush on some liquid Kato and then bake that on. Sometimes I do both the front and back with the liquid clay so that both sides are smooth without much sanding. To prevent shiny spots, you have to place the tile on parchment. You sand the edges and back and then finish them. I usually use either Ranger Adirondack Inks gold and silver to paint the sides and back or use a leafing pen."

She really enjoys working with polymer clay this way. She has more artists and even a photographer lined up and is thoroughly excited about her future collaborations and projects.

The Beading Gem's Journal

Subscribe to THE BEADING GEM'S JOURNAL by Email
Subscribe in a reader