Tag Archives: polymer clay cane

Experiments With Pardo – Part II

As I hinted in my last post, I am back with more notes on my experiences with Pardo translucent clay. There are people doing some amazing things with this – check out Ginger Davis Allman’s website, The Blue Bottle Tree, for instance. She has done beautiful work with this clay and has posted her own very useful observances on the different brands of translucent clay. I am still in the process of experimenting with the Pardo translucent, so what better way to blog than to share my results?

As you can see, I was able to achieve much greater translucency in this second trial (see this post for the first run). Here’s another flower, in purple:

Purple trans flower

purple trans flower 2

It really amazes me that you can actually see the green stamen through the outside layer, and in the top photo you can see the ball of the head pin I was using to hold it with. Here’s a blue flower I did in that same batch:

blue flower 1

It was really fun and exciting to get these results. What did I do differently? First, I upped the temperature, to 275°F. I baked for 30 minutes, as before. When I pulled the pieces from the oven, they were still white. I plunged them into an ICE water bath, not just cold water as before, and waited awhile. This is the result.

I do have to say, I am not sure I like the pieces at this level of translucency. They are very clear, it’s true, but they are also very shiny. They really look like shiny plastic to me, rather than something made from art clay which happens to be plastic. I know, it’s a weird distinction. I just kind of like the first set of results better.

I like the cone shape, so I’m practicing making them. It is really hard to get the pieces thin enough using this method, but I’m working on it. I decided to work as well at getting results somewhere between my first set, which were more translucent, and the second set that is transparent but shiny. I just like the matte look better for these. Here are a few that I made last night. I haven’t gotten the translucency/transparency thing down right yet, but I still like my results:

Purple flower 1

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Yellow Flowers

Green Flowers

That’s it for today… see you next time around.

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Tutorial: Pearlescent Rainbow Blend

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The other day I was playing around with ideas for mokume gane, and I realized I hadn’t done a rainbow pearl blend in awhile. This is a useful way to make up a sheet of clay that can be used for several different techniques at a time, or just use it all at once for a technique that you really love. The advantage of using a blend in mokume gane is that, of course, you have that lovely shading. So here are the steps I followed in making my rainbow pearl blend.

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The set-up.

I started out with 5 colors of Premo! clay – gold, peacock pearl, green pearl, navy blue, and purple pearl. I needed to make my navy clay pearlescent, so I added silver pearl. I find the newer Premo! pearlescent colors need a bit more pearliness for this kind of technique, so I added plain pearl to the peacock, green and purple pearl. I ran each color combination through the pasta machine 50 bazillion times, until the colors were completely mixed.

Next, I took each sheet, laid it out on my work surface, and squared up the edges – I actually had rectangles, which worked fine for my needs. Now here’s a trick: I needed to make right triangles in order to make my blend, and I didn’t want to waste any of the clay I had just mixed. After all, the idea is to have a nice large sheet of clay that I can use for several techniques. What I did was cut each sheet of clay on an angle, from a top corner across to a bottom corner (left to right or right to left, your choice). Then I laid these 2 triangles on top of each other so that I had a double layer of clay. You’ll see what I mean in the next section.

I set up each doubled triangle color section like this:

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Feeling a bit out of balance.

If you look at the edges, you can see how I doubled the triangles of color. Now, I set up my triangles different from some other clayers. You have heard me say here before that I am not a stickler for accuracy. It is not my style to be perfect. I just like to get the job done. Other folks might have a diagram of how to cut and set out the clay in triangles that will give you a perfect blend. But doing it my way gave me a beautiful blend that I’m really happy with, as you can see with the first photo. At any rate, the photo above shows how I set up the triangles, but as you can see, there is something missing. I got everything set up and realized that I could probably use another color, plus it would balance out my sheet. So I mixed some alizaron crimson with some gold clay, followed the triangle making steps, and here’s my set-up:

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Now isn’t that pretty.

Don’t worry about those little dots of peacock that are on the gold, because they are going to get mixed into the blend anyway.

Next step: It is very important to run your sheet through the pasta machine thusly:

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Please ignore the junk in the background.

Think of your triangles as stripes, which is what they will become. You always want your stripes to run top to bottom, never side to side. It will really mess up your blend and make you cry if you do not heed this advice. Here’s the sheet after the first pass through the machine:

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That red clay really spreads out.

It’s a bit wopple-joggled (never heard that one before?), but I’ll just trim it up and all will be well. Now, fold this sheet in half across the triangles, so that the colors match up (stripes run top to bottom, remember?).

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Match colors to colors, please?

Here is the sheet folded:

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Scary to make that fold, isn’t it?

At this point it’s so hard to know if you’re folding the sheet correctly, but here’s another hint: you always want your fold to be across all of the colors. If the red had touched the blue in this picture, I would be doing it wrong.

Now run the blend through the pasta machine again, fold first. Remove it from your machine, fold as before, roll it through the machine. Repeat approximately 15 times.  Here is my blend after 6 runs through the machine:

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Getting there.

As you can see, the colors aren’t really mixed together yet, they’re just laying on top of each other. Here’s the sheet after 15 runs through the machine:

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All blended up!

And there you have it. This sheet is about 5.5 inches wide by 12 inches long. I’ll be able to cut it into at least 3 sections and experiment with techniques. I’ll be sure to share when I do!

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:

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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:

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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).

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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:

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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!

Simple Blend with Inclusions: The Saga Continues

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Completed Blend at setting 1

Well, I left you hanging the other day with the first part of this tutorial. Writing these things is work! Here’s part two. Please keep in mind that I am the queen of imperfect canes. I really never did get the hang of being neat in my work, and honestly I kind of like an object that is less than perfect.

Here’s a recap of the first part of this tutorial: We started with a sheet of translucent clay, and spread a thin layer of inclusions (spices in my case) on it. We ran it through the pasta machine until the spices were evenly blended throughout. Then we laid thin sections of 2 opaque colors of clay halfway up the sheet of translucent, and ran this sheet through the pasta machine so that we ended up with the blend in the photo above.

Now, I wanted to make beads out of my cane, but I had a sheet of clay that was way too large and going in the wrong direction for a simple reduction. So here’s what I did:

Step Six: Run your sheet of clay through the machine again, starting with your stripes perpendicular to the rollers. In other words, the stripes should be up and down, not side to side. You will start at the thickest setting on your machine, and roll the sheet through each level for six levels. Here is the sheet I ended up with:

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Rolled out to a six

Step Seven: Now cut your sheet into even sections across the stripes, with each section being approximately an inch and 1/2 deep. Stack these sections so they look like this:

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Cut and stacked

Section 8: I like to call this technique “increasing” the cane, instead of “reducing” it. Some people call this plugging, which will make sense shortly. Take your stack of clay and start pushing in from the ends: yes, this is hard and probably won’t make sense until you’re done. It looks like this when I do it:

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Ugly, ain’t it?

Here’s the direction you should be pushing, only do it on both ends (I had to use one hand to hold the camera).

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Push it baby.

Remember to pick up the “plug” from time to time, since you want all the clay to move in towards the center, not just the sides. Eventually the plug will get thicker:

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Getting there

Now you’re getting the idea. You want to end up with a nice square block like this:

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I told you I was no good at precise.

Now you can reduce this just as you would a regular square/rectangular cane. Reduce it so the stripes run lengthwise and you have the width you would like for whatever project you have in mind. In my case, I wanted to make some log shaped beads. My cane ended up being about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide:

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I mean it, I’m really bad at perfect.

My beads ended up like this:

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Look at all those little specks – nice way to do inclusions Ann!

And there you have it. I would love to hear from folks about this. If you try the tutorial, let me know if it makes sense. Leave comments or questions below, or you can email me at DancingHandBeads@gmail.com. Hope you have fun!

Ann