Wednesday, March 31, 2010

7 Reasons I love Polymer Clay

I love polymer clay, I put aside knitting and most of my other crafts to devote time to it. Here's why I am so crazy about it:

1. Color! My very first reason for loving polymer clay- not just that it comes in so many colors but that I can mix just about every color of the rainbow myself. The better clays come in artist colors so making the colors I want is at least half the fun. You can mix colors completely or leave them marbled to create different effects that stay after baking.

2. Baking! It is easy to cure a piece, you just have to bake it in a regular oven at 230-270 degrees, no kiln needed, so you can jump right it. And you can bake it over and over with a problem.

3. Metallics! I admit it, you can't make every color - like metallic colors that shimmer but several clays have create metallic colors that shimmer and gleam. Personally I think Premo ranks on this.

4. Faux Items!  You can use it create almost any effect, I've seen "denim" buttons that look I thought were fabric, faux gemstones, rocks, flowers, trees- almost any item can be made out of polymer clay.

5. Firm yet Smooth! Most polymer clays are firm enough to add tiny details and textures, to be able to add beads and all sorts of mixed media. Still most are not to difficult to condition so they are smooth and easy to work with. It sticks to itself when raw.

6 Great for Beginners We all start as beginners.You can find polymer clay in most craft stores. Polymer clay only requires your hands and the clay to start. A couple of toothpicks are about the only tool you'll need. There are lots of free tutorials online.

7. Great for Experts You never can go too far with polymer clay. There is so much you can do with it - jewelry, miniatures, sculpture, I can't even think of everything and so many techniques, people come up with new one constantly. There are blends, mixed media, caning, sculpting- so many things you can do and then perfect. Polymer clay isn't something you'll ever run out of things to do with it.

These are just a few I think my truly favorite thing is that it is just fun to squish and create and enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

-Polymer Clay as Therapy

I've felt like I've been stuck and just decided to put everything aside to just smoosh around. Rather than just waste clay, I remembered how calming making river rock was. It is just some blending and smoothing and totally free flowing. Other times I'm just made up the colors and made a number of matching beads. I decided to just really play around and see how different each rock could be. I only put two restrictions on the beads- they had to be in blues and greys but all different and they had to similar in size so they could be used together.

I gathered up the necessary colors- basically I'm just using black, white, translucent, blue and a little purple or turquoise in a few, just to mix it up a little. I figure green and purple are also in the cool palette so they mix in well. I started by mixing up a dark grey as a base color. From there I mixed in whites, blue, and translucent in varying amount to mix up the bead. Usually I mix up more than I need for one bead then use some of the leftover in the next bead. To start I mix up a few colors- I just mix up a little at a time. Then I blend it and squeeze it until mostly blended. As you can see sometimes I leave it a little marbled so there will veins, other times I mix it completely.

This is what it looks like after I blended it. It's mostly a bluish grey with a few swirls in it. I pinch off enough for one bead and put the extra aside. I'll use that to start the next bead. They'll be similar but different. No two are ever exactly the same. To get a rocky look, I mix a little of Jim Holtz's Distressing Powder, for this this rock, I'm using the black soot. It darkens it and adds some grit. I usually just drop it, the powder sticks to it and then I blend that in. Now the rock part is mostly done. I just smooth it into a "rock" shape. Since these are supposed to river rocks, I use rounded shapes and smooth edges.

This is the almost finished rock. You can still see some of the powder on the board. Before I bake it, I'll add a hole being careful not to distort the bead. Drilling would be nice but I don't own a drill. Then I'll run the beads with cornstarch to smooth them out and get rid of finger prints. If I do this, I won't need to sand them after, eliminating the most tedious step for me. I'll bake the bunch for about 20 minutes and put them for sale in my shop-