Tag Archives: clay tools

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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Field Trip!

I went shopping today… see what I got?

Lots of Pretty New Toys.

Lots of Pretty New Toys.

I was in need of some Premo! Frost translucent clay, as I had none, and I don’t care for the tint of the regular translucent that Premo! makes. I don’t like to have clay shipped in the summer because I’m afraid that it will get baked in the back of the delivery van. It was time that I paid Lynda Gilcher, of Lynda’s Artistic Haven, a call.

Lynda’s shop is located in the Loveland Artist Studios on Main, in Loveland, Ohio. Loveland is about an hour’s drive from my home in Dayton, Ohio. Lynda has been supplying the Dayton/Cincinnati area’s polymer clay needs for over 10 years. She is a very talented artist and she also sells her own handmade polymer art jewelry at her studio. Check out her work here. I really love what I call her pansies:

lynda's flowers

Pretty, right? She had them in all sorts of lovely colors at her studio. My thanks to Lynda for an afternoon well spent discussing clay. Please check out the links to her web page and photos.

Coming soon: Experiments with the Pardo translucent I bought today.

Don’t forget to check out my work on Etsy, and Like me on Facebook!

Experiment: Lumiere Paint and Polymer Clay

ImageI’ve been thinking about trying a mokume gane stack with Lumiere paint. Jacquard makes these thick, metallic, and highly opaque paints, and I am addicted to them. I’m pretty sure I have every color they make, and even 2 bottles of some colors. I have tried them before in mokume gane with limited success, because the paint never seemed to dry on the unbaked clay. But why should that stop me? I figured I might as well try it again. Here’s what I ended up with, so I’m not too discouraged:

Polished egg lumiere

I started with translucent clay rolled to a medium thickness on the pasta machine. I wish I had had some bleached/white/frost translucent (go here for Patti Stoll’s great comparison of the vast range of translucent clays), but all I had was regular old Premo translucent, so that’s what I used. I cut the rectangular sheet into three sections. The colors I chose to use were Metallic Russet, True Gold, and Halo Blue-Gold. In retrospect I didn’t make a good color choice. The Halo Blue-Gold reads like green, and the True Gold like yellow, so putting the three colors together gave me red + green + yellow = brown. It wasn’t totally terrible, just not what I was going for.

My next step was to apply the paint to the clay. I used a soft round brush and went for a thin coat:

ImageHere’s what the sheets looked like after being painted:

026I left them out to dry for a day, and to my surprise, they actually did dry to the touch in that period of time.

My next step involved adding metallic leaf to the clay. I used composition gold leaf:

031

The process is as simple as laying the sheet on top of the painted side of the clay, and tearing the extra away:

037I covered each rectangle with the leaf, then stacked them and laid another rectangle of unpainted translucent clay on top of the uncovered sheet of leafing (on the bottom of the stack). I think that placing the leaf on the painted side of the clay was a mistake in hindsight. If I had placed it on the unpainted side, an extra sheet of translucent would have been unnecessary, increasing the visibility of both the paint and the leaf in the final mokume gane. Still, it worked out okay, just not as well as I had hoped. At any rate, here’s my completed stack, from the side:

042

The next step was to manipulate my stack to make the hills and valleys that produce the mokume gane effect. I started this by using tools that Polyform produces and are great for this type of thing:

043Using the large round tool, I impressed the top of the stack over and over, placing my markings very close together. When doing this, you want to make a deep mark, but don’t go all the way through the clay (as I accidentally did here a few times).

049

I then took the small tool, and made impressions between the big ones. After that, I trimmed my stack up a bit, then I turned it over and made some impressions on the back of the stack with the big tool. I filled those holes with bits of the leftovers from trimming the stack:

055As I alluded to earlier, obtaining the look of mokume gane requires adding hills and valleys to your stack. At this point, I have lots of valleys, but I don’t really have any hills. I’ll change that by manipulating the stack. I started by pushing in on all sides.

058I continued to do that, slowly, until my stack looked like this:

060

This is my completed mokume gane loaf/stack/whatever name they’re calling it these days. I let it cool for a couple of hours, then I began slicing it across the top (not from the top of the stack to the bottom of the stack), and I laid the slices on a sheet of gold clay.

062And there you have it. I applied the clay to an egg, sanded and polished it. I like the final product enough to sell it, but there are some things I will definitely change the next time I try it, as I indicated above.

If anyone has ideas about how I could have done this better, or if you try it based on what is in this post, let me know in the comments. Thanks for looking!