Sunday, September 9, 2012

Playing around with polymer clay for my homework assignment

Today I plan to show my polymer clay homework. I decided to use some of that clay I have lying around. I also thought of several things I should add to the main lesson, so let's begin.

You can see I have a new set of gloves. They are not latex, but I couldn't find what they are made of from the label on the box. They have baby powder inside them, though. So, whether you are using gloves or not, be sure to wash your hands well after you have manipulated the clay. Don't touch your face or mouth while working with clay, either.

I forgot to mention, even though I explained I leave my unbaked open clay in their original packages in plastic bags, NEVER wrap them in paper. Paper leaches all the plasticizer out of the clay.

How many times and how many ways can I say this? DO NOT use craft supplies in your kitchen after you have worked with polymer clay, or any other craft project. I simply cannot reiterate that enough.

You can see I rolled my clay out on an index card. Don't recycle these by using them in your ICADs either, please. I keep mine in my toaster oven baking dish, so they are always handy. They don't burn because the temperature of the toaster oven is low.

I was quite happy that I was finally able to get all that open clay in a single baggie, but that's not the real purpose of this photo. I wanted to explain that I've made a lot of my own molds using hot glue. I bought some glue sticks several years ago that were labeled "all temperature." They didn't work for any of my projects, but they work great as molds. Simply squirt out at least one stick of glue in a blob (my glue gun uses the regular size diameter sticks, not the minis). Press any rubber (not acrylic) stamp, metal piece, or other small object you want to use as a mold. Allow your piece to sit in the hot glue until the glue has completely cooled, then remove it. I've never had anything stick because I use PIGMENT ink as a release agent.

Once you want to use the mold, you will need a release agent. Be sure to cover the mold well with mica powders you apply with a brush, or water or Armour-All you squirt from a bottle before you use your mold, just like you would a rubber stamp or candy mold (I showed this last week).

A friend gave me this toaster oven many years ago because she was going to throw it away. I didn't bother cleaning it after she gave it to me, because I knew the only thing I would ever cook in it would be polymer clay. I received it in this condition, and it has never seen a cleaning rag or oven cleaner. I've seen some of the new toaster ovens that are sold at Hobby Lobby and other craft stores. My art friend Kathy has one. The element is in the top, whether you are baking, toasting, or broiling. My oven has two separate elements, and that's why I've never had any of my clay burn. You can see I keep the temperature set to 265 F., no matter what type of clay I'm baking. I may have just been lucky, but it always works for me. To heat and bake, I simply plug in the cord. I don't even move the toaster oven anymore. Although I used the paint sticks and PVC pipe to roll out the clay, I can't see baking the clay in anything other than my toaster oven.

Once the clay has baked, I unplug the cord and open the door to allow the oven to cool. Observant readers will note that the tray of baked clay has already been removed. I don't let my clay sit in the oven to cool down. And I promise, the oven in my kitchen does NOT look like this!

Please note I cooled my baking tray on my (basement) desk on the heat-resistant craft sheet you saw earlier. I didn't move it to this table until I was sure it was cool. Never place a hot tray on a self-healing mat. How do I know this? Because I've seen others have the problem and the results of their mishaps. Thankfully, I'm pretty careful about this behemoth mat.

Once cool, the clay no longer stuck to the index cards, so I turned them all upright so you could see the design better. I used the church cookie cutter and the wing portion of the angel and pressed the two pieces together. It's a really easy process to do that, as long as you don't distort the pieces. I can't really explain in words how I smoosh the two pieces together. It's something you must actually try in order to understand how it's done.

For one of the churches, two of the wings, and the key, I twisted the yellow and turquoise clay together. I forgot to take a photo as I was doing it, but some of the clay mixed almost too well and turned a lovely shade of green. The small leftover mixed clay became a rope I turned into a tight circle I planned to use for an attic window.

Even back upstairs, I kept forgetting to take photos, which is a bit unlike me. Here I've already glued the hand painted paper I made earlier to my AB. When I tried to shut the book, the curtain I made earlier was too dimensional. So I opened the book to that page and set my gesso and coffee mug (it's really good for more than just holding my coffee) on the book to dry the glue. Some of these pages will look fuzzy because the fan was blowing, thus causing the pages to move.

After I cut the excess cardstock away from the book page, it was time to see what color background I needed for the clay assemblage. I quickly realized I needed to call on my OTT full spectrum light for help.

After I finally decided on a color (these are color samples by Bazzill), I had a terrible time trying to get that horrible double sided tape I've struggled with, to stick to these two pieces of cardstock,

but had no trouble with the E-6000, which is a rubber based glue that works well with polymer clay. Since the recommended temperatures for applying this glue is between 70 F and 85 F, it must not have been warmer than that in my craft room. You can also use Super Glue to attach polymer clay to itself, paper, or metal . Note the mark in the church on the cardstock. Although I wore gloves when I made it, my long (natural) nails still left marks. I should know better, but this often happens when I work with clay, especially if I don't notice it until it has baked.

I was afraid to scan this page because I didn't want to place undue pressure on the clay. I didn't want the clay to break before I had it photographed.

Thankfully that didn't happen, so I was a much happier camper than I was a photographer (grin).

Some of you have asked to see how much my book has grown since I started it. Although this is the flattest altered book I have ever made, it is still starting to swell.

Next, I thought I would show a project I made for my Hands AB. This was back when I decided to make some Liquid Sculpey transfers using magazine images for my AB class. It is often called Translucent Liquid Sculpey or TLS. Some of you who work with clay may have it in your arsenal.

The first thing I did was spread the TLS over the magazine images. The instructions said a THIN layer, so I tried to add a thin layer to the pieces. Even laying it on thinly, I used nearly 1/3 of the bottle on those two pieces. I allowed the images to sit for a few minutes, making sure there were no holes or air bubbles in the TLS, while also allowing the TLS to self-level.

Next, I baked the pieces for 15 minutes per the instructions. I used my dedicated toaster oven. The pieces were milky when they came out of the oven. The instructions were to allow to cool slightly, but while still warm, drop the pieces in warm water and allow to sit for a few minutes. I had merely taken the pieces out of the dedicated toaster oven and taken the photos when I picked the pieces up and they were already cool to the touch.

Undaunted, I dropped the images into the water and allowed them to sit for awhile.

The instructions were to "peel gently" and I did just that, but you can see that I tore the polymer film in several places while doing so. Also, this is the "back" side or the side that was exposed to the ink. The front side (which we use in packing tape transfers) was still milky. Either I didn't get enough TLS on the pieces before I baked them, or I didn't bake them properly. Either way, the pieces just crumbled in my hands, no matter how gentle I was removing the backing. After some very careful rework, I was able to make them look almost decent, though. I'll show how I used them next week, when we work with fabric. Maybe I'll show it again when I create the lesson on transfers! I need at least ONE failed experiment among the lot!

Once again I learned a lot from this experiment. I now know I won't be making TLS transfers again. I will use the pricey TLS for other projects.


15 thoughtful remarks:

Julia Dunnit said...

YOu have to use a lot of the TLS at once huh...that would kinda influence my decision to try it!! Love the clay churches and wings..and I promise, I won't use my kitchen equipment ever again. Oh what a joy that would be if taken literally!!

Rebeca Trevino said...

what a wealth of information you are. i learned so much with this lesson!
i am sure you have told us before, but why should we NOT use our kitchen equipment when working with clay? it it toxic? will it render the equipment no longer kitchen safe? (i am sure you probably already told us why, i just cannot remember)
thanks E for a great lesson.

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial as always. Never knew that paper would leach the plasticizer, you are a wealth of knowledge and always willing to try anything and share your results. Thanks!!! xox

Rita said...

I tried transfers a couple times and couldn't get them to work, either. so I just haven't done them again. I'd be curious if you figure it out, but it seems awfully wasteful of product. Too expensive to be doing much of, you know?

I have a dedicated toaster oven and pasta maker, but I've never used gloves. Not that polymer clay is something I work with all that often, but I never heard you were supposed to use gloves with it. I think the gloves would drive me crazy and make marks all over my clay? How do you smooth edges and such with your fingers? Is it that toxic? I thought it was the fumes from baking that were the toxic part?

Darla said...

More great polymer clay info. One of these days I might actually open a package of what I was given as a gift.


Halle said...

Your polymer clay pieces turned out well. Really like the addition of the wings to the church. I wouldn't have thought of that.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Those churches are just adorable! I have the same problem with my nails..when I plan to do a lot of clay work, I cut them shorter, Lol, so it isn't so frustrating!

I've never tried to make the transfers--I use the LS very sparingly since it is so expensive.

I'm still trying to come up with an idea for my travel theme, but I plan to have my button page up tomorrow!

SandeeNC said...

I have never layed with Polymer Clay before, but your little hoses came out so darn cute, great job. I'm still smiling at your little oven and the state of crafty ugly it is in! I use to have dedicated to shrinky dinks but it seems to have dissappeared after the many other things! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

gina said...

My goodness, I think you have to be a chemist to venture into this territory! I am so impressed with your process and tutorials! Love that toaster oven that has seen so many artistic projects. Have a creative week Elizabeth!

Carolyn Dube said...

The price of TLS has always scared me off from using it for transfers. I love your sense of experimentation! I have am going to learn through you and save the TLS for other projects! Thanks for sharing your adventure!

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carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful creations ~ great idea to use house as base for angels ~ excellent tutorial ~ (A Creative Harbor)

Healing Woman said...

I think I learn as much from the mistakes that you show you have made on your tutorials as I do from what turns out right. What a good way to teach. Too bad about the hands mishap but at least you know now.

Also, scrolling down I read about another one of your "stay cations" Love that term and love the idea. Just a quick get away where you learn something and spend little time and money..great!!!

Margaret said...

What a mine of information you are, love the polymer clay results, your ages look really fab, great colours and composition! No idea about the TLS, looks hmm... unpredictable .. Mx

Nora MacPhail said...

Wow, very cool! Thanks for sharing your creative process. Fascinating.