Happy May Day, all! Memorial Day is this month. Can summer be far behind?

This month we have an assortment—some questions, and a very good suggestion, too—

To start, Linda in Indiana was trying to figure out some alphabet soup—she asked: "What are TLS and LS?"

They represent some of the most fun I have ever had with clay!

TLS is Transparent Liquid Sculpey—a liquid form of polymer clay made by Polyform that has so many uses I am sure they haven't all been found yet. If used in thin enough layers, it will be just about transparent. A thin layer is the key!

LS is Liquid Sculpey—the TLS, with titanium white added. It is opaque.

Both versions work as an excellent way of "gluing" layers of clay together, raw clay to raw, as well as raw clay to cured clay. Once you apply the TLS or LS as a glue, you need to bake the piece according to the manufacturer's dirctions for a permanent adhesion.

Also, both versions can have paints and other inclusions added for interesting effects.

As always, Diane Black has more information than I do! Try this link: Glass Attic Liquid Sculpey Information

Now, from the Midwest to the South—Rosie Walsh in Atlanta asks:

Once clay has been conditioned, how long does it stay conditioned? In my experience (woefully limited), it seems the clay must be reconditioned after conditioning, then stored. Is this true?

Well, Rosie, according to my sources, it is, and it isn't!

Seriously, those more experienced than I say that you might have to knead it a bit to get things going again. Others say that simply warming the conditioned clay will be enough. Those in the know used to say that it must be conditioned thoroughly for post-curing strength, but now it seems the opinions are leaning towards the just-get-it-soft-enough-to-work-it school of thought.

In addition, the amount of plasticizers in the clay will affect the stiffness quotient! If the clay has been stored in a plastic container that is not going to react with it, the clay will probably be softer and more malleable for a longer time.

If the clay has been resting on paper, the plasticizers may have leached into the paper, leaving more crumbly clay.

My suggestion—if you are using clay that was recently conditioned, warm it up before you use it. Place it in your pocket, your waistband, or even your bra.

Sitting on it can also help---just make sure to check before you leave the house, to make sure the clay isn't going with you!

For newbies who also keep birds, Monica Burklund sent this reminder about additional safety precautions to take when curing polymer clay. She asked that I use it this month, and I think it's a good idea to do what we do as safely as possible. (It's not just for newbies, though, even a seasoned clayer could get a bird one day!)

Not everyone will think about the days when canaries were used in mines to see if there were gas fumes. If clayers have birds, they may want to make sure the bird is not close to the toaster oven or kitchen during curing, and if it's a small bird, it may be wise to put the bird in another room until the curing is done. (I would keep the bird in another room until the project has cooled.) Be especially certain that the polymer isn't burned because it puts out even more intense fumes.

When baking TLS and LS, bird owners should make a tent to go over the project to help with fume retention; clay burns easily so it would be best to just take the precaution every time.

Monica adds: "Therefore, I thought you might add that in for beginners. I think it should be added to any basic information about polymer clay, books included.

However, that's coming from someone with a bird."

Thanks for your questions and comments—as usual, I have learned lots!

E-mail questions to Deborah! Use Beginners' Corner as the subject heading.

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