Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrapping Roses and Playing with Clay

I had mentioned in some previous posts that I had been playing with paperclay in addition to the polymer clay that I already had purchased.  The two mediums are very different--paperclay is like shaping wet paper towels that have been shredded in a food processor...  Very different than polymer clay.

Polymer clay, as it gets warmer and more conditioned, seems to get softer and softer...   Which is great for some things but a pain for others.  Soft clay picks up practically every detail of your manipulation of it (including fingerprints), and if you're not careful that means it can sometimes look like you, as an artist, have a heavy hand and aren't handling the clay delicately enough.  Soft polymer clay takes a while to "cool off" if you've worked it too much.

The paperclay, however, has the exact opposite problem--it's continually getting stiffer and less pliable because it literally dries out as you work with it.  The moisture in the clay is wicked away by your hands and the tools, and as it evaporates the clay turns harder.  The great thing with paperclay is that it's easier to make it more malleable by simply adding water over the the clay, replenishing the moisture.  I started dipping my tools in the clay so they were wet, and this allowed me to rub over the top of the clay and hide any cracks and seams.

I would venture to say that for me, it's easier to make the paperclay moist than it is to stiffen up the polymer clay.  There's less time involved rewetting the paperclay than letting the polymer clay "rest" and become more firm after too much playing.  Sure, there are ways to cut down on that time--like refrigeration--but once the clay softens up again your back to the same problem.

Paper clay doesn't have that issue.  There's a tradeoff, though--it isn't good for small details.  Polymer clay is great for working tiny, but the smaller you work with paperclay, the harder it is to manipulate.  The fibers in the paperclay are much bulkier and present a lot more "resistance" than the plastics in the polymer clay, which don't have a fibrous mass like paper fibers do.

Paperclay dries out into a much lighter weight than the polymer clay, and has a surface texture that polymer clay doesn't have.  It also has different storage requirements.

But my experimentations with it have been FUN!!  I've made doll legs, feet and heads, and I'm enjoying the whole process immensely!  I can use my acrylic paints on the paper clay without prepping the surface, and sand away parts without leaving a marred surface.

I made my first piece of jewelry with the paperclay as well!  I'm calling this "Relished Wrapped Rose".  The heart shape is a piece of paperclay, the rose cabochon is polymer clay, and the whole entity is wrapped in jewelry wire and suspended from a chain with a magnetic clasp in the back.  It's somewhat primitive, a bit artsy, and charmingly primitive at the same time!  I don't know if I'm going to be making much more jewelry with paperclay (I'm not sure it's sturdy enough) but these pieces were a  great experiment that I had a lot of fun with!  The style fits with what I am envisioning for Relished Artistry, and I may have to think about more wrapped wire jewelry in the future.

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!


  1. Corey, you are a very busy guy! The fun you had making this beautiful heart shows in the finished piece ... great work and really good information on the two different clays, thanks.

  2. Thanks, Susan! I am indeed having fun! Woohoo!


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