I am so very grateful for the new polymer skills I learned this past weekend from Tory Hughes, one of the pioneers of polymer clay. I learned so much in this three-day class that my skill set has really improved.
The first day of class we made faux agate. I had attempted this at home trying to figure out how to do the different layers which was nice but not the technique it all. I was able to use a belt sander for the first time which allowed me to then my agate pieces down in shape them so that you could possibly see through them in the sunlight. So one thing I made was a pair of triangle earrings and a Chevron design with the pendant to match.
She shows the colors of the white translucent and regular translucent and black so we could see the differences between the types of translucent’s. We also used the acrylic paints to give definition to the different layers which gave it this cool technique and look. Very fun to do I can’t wait to try this and other colors.
The second day of class we started out making tiny tube beads. We had to learn to make precise holes in the center of the tubes for them to be able to work as hinges. That is not all that easy but by the fourth attempt fifth attempt I got a couple that were right on, dead center. She makes a bunch of these to have on hand for her hinges in all different sizes colors and lengths. I also learned not to throw away in the scraps of polymer baked clay. It can be chopped up really find to use like a duster flakes. It can be sheets of patterns made with clay or just left over bake scraps because polymer can be cut after it is baked. Then you will have all these bits and pieces that you can use for inlays in polymer you just have to make sure there at least a third to half way into the clay so they will stay and then you bake.
We then went on to learn about Amber the properties of Amber what really Amber looks like. How we can’t mimic it exactly with polymer. We can give the feeling that it’s Amber and of course be in the creative people we are we added turquoise bits to the Amber beads a little dirt little bark and some paint.
These are my first attempts at making Amber some of the Brown is from the tree bark left in the clay and some of that is the pain I applied and dirt. And then I used a buffing wheel and they shined right up. No glaze no varnish just a good buffing.
The last day of the class was all about finishing and learning how to finish the Amber beads and how to make the hinges and polymer clay. She went over several different styles of hinges and showed us several types of polymer jewelry and boxes in which she used her hinges. Really cool! I made a hinge to go with my faux ivory and it turned out really cool.
My faux ivory is showing textures, inlays, the grain of the ivory going up and down and hinged which are all new techniques for me. This was the hardest faux technique for me as I could not see the fine lines when they got this small before baking. And to make faux ivory you have to have straight lines. So this was my challenge piece and after it was baked I could see the lines and I did pretty good. So I’m not sure how but I will have to come up with a way or a technique for me that tells me when to stop because you can go too far and just end up with beige clay. I did have help making sure I had gone far enough. I tried a magnifier but that didn’t help much because we are talking beige and translucent as the color choices to make ivory. Maybe it was the lighting maybe my magnifier was at my strongest one I will have to do some more testing to see what will work for me and my eyes. I absolutely love how this piece turned out. And I took one of the tubes and cut it in half, the hole in half so that I could use half of the team on the back as a hidden bail for your stringing material to go through.
Gorilla glue, superglue is made for plastics and therefore the best thing to use to adhere the two pieces of baked polymer for my bail. You evidently have better control then using the translucent TLS or the bake and bond. What was interesting was that not only do you have to bake the TLS in the bake and bond but that they need to bake at a higher temperature than the polymer clay and so you have a chance of burning your piece. With the superglue there is nobody baking and it’s made for polymer plastics and is more controllable.
Things to consider when baking if you are putting your polymer over a rock or you’re placing it on a ceramic tile you need to consider that they need to be brought up to temperature or the polymer clay that is touching those surfaces will not be cured correctly. The need to preheat the oven with the ceramic tile will bring the tile up to temperature and that is why longer baking times would be required and not hurt the polymer. Tory actually made a rock with polymer covering it and to get the rock up to the right temperature she baked it for 15 hours even though the polymer thickness was only a quarter of an inch. I found that to be very interesting and something I never considered because I do use tiles. If you have a baked piece of polymer that looks cured but you can flake off bits of it with your fingernail on the edges it is not fully cured and is not going to be strong enough.
This is a recap of my class and it was the most enlightening class because of the new techniques I’ve learned and how to put my jewelry together with polymer clay. On Wednesday the polymer clay group is going to meet and share what we’ve learned and look at everybody’s pieces they made. I was in a class with three internationally known, Pioneer polymer clay artists. If you have any questions just make a comment and I’ll get back to you.
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