I approach a hobby, I always try to find easier ways of doing things -
be quite ‘side-tracking’ from the hobby itself, but maybe some of my
findings will be useful to other Group members.
of the polyclay projects I really enjoy is covering glass vessels and
caned polyclay. I make geometric pattern canes using either extruded
rods or ‘reduced’ blended canes. The
final cane can be a little disappointing compared to what was
intended. So I’ve designed a preview aid that may be of use to others.
gadget is simply a square of thin steel sheet, painted matt white, with
drawn on it in fine marker pen - my grid is 8x8, but obviously any
size can be made, dependent on the complexity of your canes. I then obtained some magnetic printer ‘paper’
and cut it into strips, whose width was slightly less than the squares
grid. I painted the strips in various
colours and cut them into small squares. I
made about 25 squares of each of eight
colours. Then the squares can be placed on
and the proposed cane can be designed. As
an extra aid, I cut some squares of plastic
mirror which can be
placed upright alongside the grid to show what a ‘times 4’ cane will
like. (Obviously, if one hasn’t access
to magnetic strip etc., the grid and squares may be made from paper -
beware of draughts!)
sometimes find it difficult to produce cane slices of equal thickness,
often, accurately cutting vertically can be problematical.
On the Internet, I’ve seen lots of devices
that allow the clayer to produce good slices, but these tend to be only
available in the US,
and would be costly to import.
browsing through a toy catalogue, I found a miniature ‘slinky’ - (you
spring that walks downstairs), and my mental cogs began to click. I sent for a couple from an online novelty
shop. I used masking tape to hold the coils together temporarily. Then I made a small metal tray, (anything the
correct size will do) and lay the closed spring horizontally in the
tray. The whole thing was then warmed in
to about 60 Centigrade. I poured ready-mixed 2-part epoxy resin into
making sure the ‘inside’ of the bottom coils was covered.
Then the assembly was left to allow the epoxy
to set properly (see manufacturer’s instructions).
Then the stabilising tape may be
removed. I then made a small pad of foam
plastic (Plastazote) to cover the lower part of the inside of the coil
makes slicing the canes easier (and extends blade life). Then the cane
sliced is placed into the spring, and, using two tissue blades (thin
best), the cane is sliced by ‘leapfrogging’ the blades down the
needed to find a means of making repeatable shapes, - particularly
wings for polyclay butterfly brooches. I
tried lots of things, ranging from paper ‘masks’ and stencils to
method that worked best was to make a series of ‘cookie cutters’ from
strip. The gauge of metal I used was
0.005inch sheet (available in the K&S range - No 250).
The sheets are 4ins X 10ins. I
first marked the sheet into 1cm strips
(giving 1cm by 10inch strips). Then I
used an old pair of kitchen scissors to cut the sheet into strips
care - it’s very sharp & if you cut yourself you don’t get much
sympathy). The strips can then be bent
into any shape and the ends overlapped, clamped and spot-soldered
(Superglue will also work very well). Any
fine details can then be added using fine
pliers or the shanks of
scissors - whatever you have available.
my butterfly cutters, I only needed to make one side of the insect, as
pressed two of the shapes, flipped one of them and pressed them
then added sculpted bodies with brass armatures and wire antennae to
complete wing-set to make the brooches.
course, any shape is possible - Christmas decorations covered in
Pearl-ex - the
possibilities are endless.
like to use Fimo ‘spirit’ gloss varnish on most of my ‘sculpted’ pieces
was having trouble producing a good finish, there always seemed to be
bubbles or brush-marks marring the surface sheen. Also
after a while, the solvents evaporate
from the jar and the solution becomes rather thicker.
I thought one solution(!) may be to dilute
the varnish and so I tried isopropyl alcohol, white spirit and genuine
turpentine but none of these worked well. I
contacted Eberhard-Faber and a very helpful
Roland Lenhof suggested I
try nitro-verdunnung (subsequently translated as nitrocellulose paint
thinners). I obtained some of the solvent
commonly used to clean airbrush parts etc. and I’m very pleased with
results - at 1:1 dilution, there is a little loss of the original's
but that can suit some subjects better than the high gloss.
idea I’d like to pass on is that the tools made for Pergamano paper art
superb for modelling in clay - there is a range of ‘ball-ended’ metal
and another set of multi-point styli - all set in good to hold
hope some of the above tools, gadgets and tips may be of help in your