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Just Ask
August 2004

By Deb Hayes
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The lovely and talented Deb HayesDear Readers,

Welcome to Just Ask. I am here to answer your questions…if I don’t know the answer, I will research it with our team of experts and give you THEIR answers. Email me at: Deb@pcPolyzine.com.

Hi Deb,

I have checked your 'Tutorial Archives' and don't see what I'm looking for. Do you have any information on making Faux Dichroic PC pieces?

Thanks, ArLynn

ArLynn—in searching our archives, I found a tutorial from November of ’02, which may help you:  

http://www.pcpolyzine.com/0211november/0211illusion.html

Personally, I don’t have any other info on faux dichroic methods, but a Google search came up with a ton of hits, and this is one of them – a tutorial by none other than Lisa Pavelka: 

http://www.diynet.com/diy/cr_jewelry/article/0,2025,DIY_13762_2892544,00.html

I really love “Googling” for information…it is fast, and very accurate. I have even downloaded the toolbar onto my browser home page, so I only have to enter a search string and hit “enter”. You can download the toolbar at www.google.com .

This is not a compensated endorsement; I am just a happy user.

Dear Deb -

I have come across  a person making bracelets from fresh flowers....she dries the flowers in her oven, she pulverizes and uses polymer clay to make beads, that’s all I know about the process and she is not willing to share the procedure. Do you know how this can be done, or a web site or even a book I could purchase? This person makes bracelets from funeral flowers ( as a lasting memory). You could do the same for weddings, proms etc. I would like to learn how to do this. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You    Pat Hinds

Pat-

If you have dried flowers and translucent polymer clay, you can have flower beads!

In a nutshell, what I do is condition the clay, portion out the amount I want for the bead, and then incorporate the flower (or plant or herb or spice, etc.) bits into the clay. Rolling works best for some, and actually pressing the flowers into the sheet of clay before shaping into beads works well too. Your mileage may vary, depending on the heat and humidity in your studio, and all the usual factors.

Give that a try and let us see what you come up with!

Deb


Hello,

I am new to claying, and I know that you can't use clay for anything that comes in contact with food, but how about a soap dish? Would the composition of clay change if it was exposed to hand soap?

Thanks for the info. I am considering Christmas gifts, and am making homemade soap. I thought that a dish would be a nice accompaniment... If not clay maybe balsam.

Sincerely,
Ann Thompson

Ann, I think it’s a great idea!

My husband, the well-known polymer clay experimenter, made a soap dish using some galvanized wire mesh and polymer clay. The mesh has roughly ¼” openings, so the water can drain through. He applied clay to all four edges, which raises the dish up off the counter just enough to let that water go back into the sink. No adverse effects so far! As usual, your results may vary.

Deb


Now, a question from HotDoc:

Hi - I'm very new at this, so forgive me if the question is too simple. I
couldn't find the answer in the Glass Attic or PC Central.

I am using Premo!, so I initially thought that I should bake a 1/2 inch bead for an hour, since the instructions are to bake 30 minutes for every ¼ inch. But if the bead is already pierced, albeit with a thin needle tool, would that make the actual thickness 1/4 inch, since there is a thin column of air in the center?

I wondered this after I baked black and white 1/2 inch beads for 30 and 60 minutes. The white clay discolored slightly at 60 minutes, which may be for entirely different reasons, but perhaps because of over baking. Both beads feel very hard, and make a nice sharp sound when tapped on a hard surface. I heard that under baked beads could feel fine initially and then crumble in 8 or 9 months. How would I know now?

Thanks! - HotDoc

HotDoc, before we talk about length of cure time, let’s talk temperature. Polymer clay, especially the whites and translucents, are very likely to change color if baked at too high a temperature. Are you certain your oven is accurately baking the beads at the recommended temperature? The only way to be sure is an accurate oven thermometer. Oven temperature regulators are notoriously inaccurate, so checking in various spots for temperature differences is important, as is, knowing whether the oven spikes in temperature as it cycles.

Polymer clay is very forgiving of length of time in the oven, IF the temperature is correct. There have been artists who bake and re-bake items as they add elements, with no ill effects. 

My advice here is to check your oven temperature. It could be off as much as 50-75 degrees! 

If that is not a problem, then perhaps covering your light-colored items as they bake would be a good idea. Some folks use a covered disposable aluminum pan to cure their pc items, and others just cover with parchment paper. 

Let us know how the next batch works! 

Deb

Hi, Deb -

What a great service!

Here's my first question: I'm using Premo to make buttons, but they're so flexible after baking, I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong. I'm baking according to directions.

My second question: I was dismayed to find my unwrapped Premo, which has been stored in a plastic bin in a temperature-controlled climate, so dried out that it crumbled into a zillion pieces when I ran it through the pasta machine. The diluent really didn't help it much, and I could mix it with new clay, but it's so time consuming to "reconstitute" it, I'm not sure it's worth it. Any ideas/suggestions?

Thanks!

Denise

Denise…thanks for the compliment…we are happy to help!

First, Premo---yep, it is flexible, all right! In thicker applications, it’s not so “bendy, but in flatter and thinner parts, it does have some give to it. My suggestion for the buttons, if they are flat, is to make them thicker.

Regarding the crumbling clay, is it protected from UV light sources, as well as heat? Ultraviolet light can cure the clay, too, and it sounds like maybe your clay has started to do just that. If it is just hardening, without curing, you can try to reconstitute it

As far as reconstituting it goes, you can add some diluent to the crumbles, and put them away to “soak” for a bit. (A plastic zip bag works well) As the diluent soaks in, the clay will soften, and you can then add more crumbles to it and repeat the process, rolling and flattening the clay at each stage. I know it takes time, but I hate to waste even a crumb of clay, so that’s what I would do. 

Another factor to consider is whether it’s just one block, or your entire inventory. One might be dispensable, while your entire stock wouldn’t be.

Also, was the clay workable when you opened it? Perhaps the supplier should be notified. It isn’t unheard of for a truckload of clay to start to cure on the way to delivery. 

I hope some of this will help. Please let me know if you need more assistance!

Deb


I love updates and corrections. Here is one.

Janey gave us ideas for using an electric skillet as a mini-oven for curing polymer clay items, and referred to some clay that had melted. Here is her update.

Deb, I think my letter to you about electric skillets was the only place I
"went public" about the melting green Kato clay. Donna Kato and I have
corresponded about this, and I owe an apology! Hopefully, you will print my apology as well as having been so kind as to print my letter.

We discovered that I had sculpted with and "cured" green Claytoon(R) NOT Kato Clay. Claytoon is non-hardening, and not meant to be "heated". So it is MY mistake. My sincere apology to Donna. She produces a fine product and was very helpful in getting this resolved.

Janey Wicherski

Thanks, Janey, for the clarification. Last summer, some of my students brought in their own clay to class on the last day, and we had a similar situation. What started as a frog ended up being a green blob that really smelled AWFUL while “curing”. As it turns out, the clay was not the cure in your oven type, and it was a mess! 


Hi,

I am looking for a Polymer clay artist who makes beads that look like lampwork beads but they are polymer. Do you possible know of anyone who does this type work?

Many thanks!
Sue James

Sue—a Google search resulted in several hits—here’s one of them!

http://members.tripod.com/~ctrottier/clay7.html

TLS, or Translucent Liquid Sculpey, and the other brands of liquid polymer clays, are wonderful, and I think we are going to be seeing many new uses for them as time goes on. I hope this gets you started, and remember, we LOVE pictures!

Deb


Hi Deb,

I’m new to polymer clay. When I look at a polymer clay animal sculpt, it looks like I could easily make one too...but it’s hard...I just don’t think I know how to start a project. I would like to make some cats. Can you explain how is a good way to get started? Thank you!!

kat

Well, kat, have YOU come to the wrong place. Just kidding…remember, what I said about what I didn’t know, I would research? This is one of those times. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a sculptor. However, I found that making things sometimes just happens when you let your hands take over.

For making a cat, I would start with two balls of clay, one for the body, and one for the head, and a tailpiece. I would start with a rough shape, attaching the body to the ZZZhead. I would “pull” ears out of the headpiece, just a little at a time. From there, I would fine tune the cat until it actually looks like one, with the eye areas indented, and small clay balls added, and a nose, etc.

Now remember, I am NOT a sculptor, so this is just how I would do it.

I am going to toss this one to our readers:

Anyone have a quick answer to kat’s question? Send your answers to deb@pcpolyzine.com

Thanks,
Deb


Hi Deb, do you know or have you heard of anyone who has simulated
sheer stockings (nylons) using paint on baked clay while still allowing the clay to show through - just as they would look on real legs?
 
Thanks, Pam

Pam, I havent seen it, nor done it, but why not use real nylons to impress the design, then dry brush the resulting texture with either a dark or light acrylic paint, to highlight the pattern?

Any other ideas out there? As usual, send your email to deb@pcPolyzine.com


Dear Deb -

I just saw a book today that I would like to try; it is for images and said to use a photocopier only. Is there a way to substitute something for the photocopier? Thank you very much.

Kay Fremouw 

Kay, the word to remember is Lazertran. The instructions for using their product with an inkjet printer are here:  http://www.lazertran.com/inkinstructions.html

As you can see from their site, they make several different papers used for decals and transfers, but folks seem to use photocopiers mainly. This is a good page to learn more about making transfers with your inkjet printer.

Please let us see results?

Deb

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