Experiments With Pardo Translucent Clay

As you may have read in my last post, I recently bought some Pardo translucent clay from Lynda Gilcher at Lynda’s Artistic Haven. I have been intrigued by the photos I have come across on the web of work that people have done with the clay. People are getting some really amazing results with this clay, making objects that are quite nearly transparent. Here are my observations after working a couple of days with the clay.

When I got home from my shopping excursion, I sat down in my studio and opened the package of Pardo clay. The clay is very white and milky, unexpected when you are used to working with Premo! translucent. It seems pretty opaque when you work with it before it’s baked, and for a few minutes I thought maybe I had picked up white instead of translucent. I double checked the package and it did indeed say “translucent”.

pardo pre baking

The Premo package is in there to show perspective.

I started conditioning the clay by hand. I am impressed that the clay is easy to condition without crumbling, yet is not too soft to hold up to extensive working. I decided that I wanted to use the pinch pot method to make some cone-like forms that I could use to make flower earrings.

Now, the cones that I wanted to make are very small, which meant that I would not be able to rely on only my fingers to do the pinching. Instead, I used the very useful tool pictured above on the right. Shown are the beginnings of the cones that I made on the first try. I added some green to the clay on the left just for the effect. I continued to work them after I took the photo. I didn’t have anyone available to take photos for me, otherwise I would show the method I used to make the cones.

I found that the clay was pretty easy to work, but not particularly stretchy – if I worked too fast or wasn’t paying attention, I would tear the clay and have to start over. I made a cone from Premo! translucent too, just to be able to make comparisons. The Premo! was very easy to work with as well, and it was less susceptible to tearing, which is a plus in my book. I also mixed some pink clay into some Pardo at one point, mixing it completely instead of just  a little bit. I made the clay as thin as I possibly could, to maximize the translucent effect.

After making several pieces, it was off to the oven. You are supposed to bake this clay at 248°F, much lower than other clays I have worked with. I fudged and baked it at 250°, since my oven has a digital readout that only allows temperature gradations in 5° increments. I baked the objects for 30 minutes. When I pulled the items from the oven, they were white still – which upset me, but I plunged them into cold (but not icy cold – I was out of ice) water, and waited a few minutes. Here are the pieces from that baking:

Not transparent, but pretty translucent.

Not transparent, but pretty translucent.

A white cone. I didn’t stretch this one out as much as the others.

green cone 1

This is a the green cone. I stretched it out quite a bit after taking the first photo. Still, the cone is really quite small. It is translucent enough that you can see the pink stamen through the green/translucent.

pink flower

By contrast, this pink flower, in which I thoroughly mixed the pink clay, is pretty opaque. I should emphasize that the walls here are really thin – as thin as rice paper in some areas. They look thick in the photos due to the angle of the flowers and to the fact that I used “magnify” mode on the camera.

premo orange cone

This last photo is the Premo! clay. I made the mistake of mixing in orange, not thinking that it would make it hard to see the color of the translucent clay. Still, it is pretty obvious that the Premo! translucent is not only fairly opaque compared with the Pardo, but also somewhat yellow. I did use the “frost/white/bleached” translucent for this experiment.

I didn’t quite get the results I was hoping for, but don’t give up on this experiment yet, because the best is yet to come! In my next post, I’ll show you what happened in the next batch that I made. I think the results are fantastic. See you next time!

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5 thoughts on “Experiments With Pardo Translucent Clay

  1. Ginger Davis Allman

    Isn’t Pardo a dream to work with? I work a lot with Pardo and have figured out a few things. You might want to try baking the Pardo at a higher temperature. I have safely baked it as high as 325³F and it does come out quite clear. But make sure you use an oven thermometer at that temp…it’s pretty close to smoking! With thicker pieces, I do get plaquing when I cool it too fast, though, so you might try both warming and cooling very slowly if you start to see white marks inside the clay after baking. There’s some more info about Pardo on my website, if you’re interested.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Experiments With Pardo – Part II | Dancing Hand Beads

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