Sunday, March 13, 2011

Some Polymer Clay Experimentation

I recently purchased a couple books on Polymer Clay. It's a chemical compound that really isn't clay at all, but can be molded and manipulated as such.  I've been fascinated with the pliability of the material, and the way it can be mixed and combined in various colors to create some really cool effects.  The jewelry that I've seen made from it is truly fascinating, and it can be used to create objects that really don't look like clay at all--fake bone, metal, stone...

The book I got is called Mixed Media Mosaics by Lauri Mika.  It caught my attention because of the metal looking effects on the cover.  I bought a sampler pack of Sculpy clay, a clay conditioner machine (which is essentially a pasta maker) and some stamping tools for making impressions in the clay.  I had some left over tools and clay from my experimentation with doll-making (see here), so I used those to enhance my collection of supplies.

In a single day, I managed to put together a wooden-based mosaic using the techniques in Mika's book.  And I'm hooked!  Here are some pics...  I'm quite happy with the results, and I learned quite a bit.  I was able to push lace into the surface of the clay squares and rectangles that I cut up, and then I pushed a button and a variety of beads into the clay as well.  The metallic powder I used to dust onto other pieces worked out great, and I was able to paint portions of the pieces with acrylic paint after I baked everything.

Needless to say, based on this single experiment, I am hooked.  I am now assembling pieces to make a table top, and contemplating ways to sew the mosaic pieces onto a garment.  I can sew them on using holes I put into the pieces before baking, or I could plan to put "rivets" into the pieces and hold them onto the garment that way...  I haven't done any actual mosaic pieces on any garments yet, but that's my goal for tomorrow's studio project.

Today, I simply prepared pieces for another wooden-base mosaic that's more "childlike".  I'm using bright red, yellow, and green pieces interspersed with black and white tiles.  I haven't composed the plan of how I'm going to place the actual pieces on the board, but I'm having a blast cutting out the pieces, decorating them, baking them, and then painting them.  I've gone through 2 bottles of gloss medium so far, and I've decided I need to figure out a different way to "glossify" everything because it just takes too long to paint all the pieces by hand using the Sculpy gloss medium which requires 2 coats to make things look glassy...

I've also been thinking about what the best use of the pieces on a garment would be...  Right now, I'm considering the cuffs and the collars of coats and kimonos.  I am a big fan of the artist Gustav Klimt, especially his paintings that incorporate lots of geometric design, like his portrait of Adele Bloch.  I could very easily see a kimono or robe with beautiful mosaic pieces carefully places all down the front along the opening.

There is an advantage to using polymer clay over metal here--the clay is more lightweight as well as a tad more flexible.  This allows for the use of slightly larger pieces without burdening the integrity of the garment, and would be a bit more comfortable as well.  With the qualities of the clay and it's seemingly endless options for manipulation, I can easily create metallic effects, beads, translucent pieces, and unusual shapes while placing holes for attachment wherever I desire as I make them.  I can make a variety of textures, paint whatever I want on them, transfer images using transfer medium, and pretty much create whatever I can dream up in my head.  Then physically attaching them to the garment might render a truly unique piece.

I'm going to give it a shot tomorrow.  I'm going to start with some roses, leaves and vinery along the hem of a white velvet kimono robe.  My plan is to hand dye some soft pastel background coloring onto the velvet pieces, and attach the pieces on top of it.  Hopefully, I can hearken back to some of my great grandmother's hand-painted china.

Can you tell I'm excited?!?  Haha!

Okay, I'll keep you updated.  Until then, Live Life with Relish!

1 comment:

  1. How funny Kiddo!

    But I know the addictive magic well myself!!! I poo poo polymer clay for YEARS. It never seemed to not look like plastic or imitations of the real things to me. But I kept thinking maybe just maybe with a lot less "faux patina" slathered on it, it might just pass muster. So a friend sent me a big box of white via "Mule" service and I got sucked in hook line and sinker!!! So I used some to make molds then made the pieces from the molds. Aged it with stamping dyes or shoe polish and damn it looks just like bone or ivory!!! Course I discovered the trick is a whole lotta wet sanding then plain old cloth hand buffing to give it that subtle soft patina that antique bone or ivory has. I love it!!! Now nothing is safe from having a mold made from it!! Actually drop by my blog the last posting is a necklace I made. I made a leafy branch with a tiny gecko on it. Looks like the antique Japanese netsukes I have Turned out rather cool if I say so myself.

    Hmmmm the glossified finish.... I don't have anything I can use here. It all stays sticky and never cure/dries. That's the reason I do the buffing. But I have had a ton of artist tell me to use Future floor acrylic ( has to be future though)that you get on the cleaning supply area of the big box stores. Sets up perfect usually only needs one coat for real glossification. Hmmmm I wonder if you could use it in an airbrush gun??? Sooooo I have Future wax on my list of must haves when we go to the northlands in June!!!!

    I'll be anxiously waiting to see how your experiments go!!! Sooo be sure to keep us posted. "K"?

    Pattie ;)
    Mazatlan Mx.


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