How do we make our jewellery
About our polymer jewellery
The most common question we hear about our jewellery are Is it painted? How do you paint those designs SO SMALL? We don’t! Those intricate designs are not painted on but made by arranging different coloured pieces of polymer clay to create a design that runs longways. This is called a cane and it is based on the millefiori technique that people may be familiar with seeing in Venetian glass. But we are getting ahead of our selves!
Polymer clay is a synthetic modelling compound and the clay we use comes in about 20 different colours. We mix our own colours by combining different proportions of these basic colours and over the years we have developed scores of different colour recipes. Some people may be surprised to know that most of this mixing is done using a pasta machine!! When new ladies join us they are apprenticed by more experienced artists and start doing things like mixing our scrap ready to make beads and then following simple colour recipes.
Once we have mixed the colours we want, we make our canes. Check out this video here to see Ambika assembling a cane. A cane starts off several centimetres wide and is reduced to just a few millimetres before it is assembled and sliced and the slices use to cover ball of scrap clay (nothing is wasted here and every skerrick of clay is recycled!!) to create a bead. Our beads are made absolutely FROM SCRATCH!!! This video shows just what we mean about how tiny those slices are!
Once the beads are made they are cured in a regular cooking oven. Not so regular in our part of the world and when we started in 2007 we had a lot of trouble finding the right one, eventually having to buy from India! Ovens are now a bit more common but many Nepalis cook everything on a two burner stove top and while it was great for dal bhat, Nepal’s national dish, it was NOT good for curing polymer beads!
The beads are then strung into various pieces of jewellery. In our packaging we endeavour to use no plastic or only recycled plastic and make lots of tiny bags from recycled fabric for when we send the beads to Friends of Samunnat to sell. Our studio is light and airy and lovely and often filled with our singing as we work. We know wen re lucky to have a job that we love so much.