Polymer Clay Love

The long weekend has been a crafting staycation for me, mostly with me getting back to polymer clay.  I have amassed enough clay to keep me kneading and conditioning for quite a bit, so I went back to work on unfinished projects.  I also started to collate the work I had done so far, and much of them will evolve into something new cooking up in my head.

I found molds I had created but which I had not used to mold clay with, and a striking ornate brass stamping of a lion head I have had for a while came to life in clay.
Untitled
I am a novice at this but I find it very rewarding with minimal frustration because you can turn it into whatever it is you might want it to be.  It can be fanciful and candy colored, or almost like faux metal or faux stone.  I have enjoyed working with it and creating things to wear that make people stop and wonder what the necklace or earrings are made of.  

I find great inspiration from Cynthia Tinnaple’s Polymer Clay Daily where artisans from all over the world are featured.  Just browsing the short blurbs and the gorgeous pictures are enough to get me thinking about how I want to work with my polyclay.  So many possibilities!

While I work mainly with gemstones and glass beads for my etsy shop, I have pieces which have incorporated handmade cabochons I fashioned from my own molds.  I find that polymer clay cabochons are actually more elegant and have a more subtle color range than the regular resin cabochons that are in the market.  I’ve bought one or two and made molds, but my best tool is a set of carved opal cabochons that I got as a gift from my late mother-in-law.  They were loose cabochons meant to be a set of three, but the intricacy and uniqueness of the carving was what made them standout.  I see them as peonies.

I have worked with both pour on (liquid) molds and the more common mold putty.  I can’t say I like one more than the other because I’ve found that one can be better depending on what type of mold you’re making.  For intricately designed originals with lots of crevices and detail, the pourbob mold is more suitable as you will see in the end product below.
Untitled

The pink and lavender cabs, I will use as is, but the beige ones will rendered with a hint of gold patina using gilders paste later.

Below you will find my raw polymer clay lion head cabochons fashioned from the brass stamping on the picture on the left.  I actually did two versions of this with two different clays.  The harder in consistency went under the brass stamping itself, and the softer beige one went into a putty mold I cast off of the stamping.  
Untitled

The brass stamping wasn’t all that expensive but was hollow and unwieldy to work with, needing attaching to a cloth or plastic base.  So I thought I’d try to create a solid cabochon instead of a hollow form, and experimented with a subtler patina that wouldn’t make the head too loud a part of a piece I had in mind.  Here you can see what I mean when I put the real brass with the faux metal polymer clay lion head.  It isn’t quite as shiny, but you can pass it off as metallic.

This second I worked on is more of a cost and weight work around.  I fell in love with the original casting the minute I saw it but the price was a bit of a splurge for a finding.  The slots were too big and uneven a size for me to find actual cabochons for, so I knew right there and then I’d have to make the cabochons myself.  The piece was also rather heavy and I worried that further embellishing it would make it too heavy on the neck.  

This one is a work in progress as I purposely left out the bail on the original piece, and I am thinking of creating a solid backing for the pendant to have the bail cling to.  But below you will see the original rendering, and the golden tint it took on after an application of gilders paste.

Untitled

Rendered this way, I can fill in the setting with my choice of metallic polymer clay, or do that and add gemstones or other embellishments around the cross form to create a larger statement piece.  It’s just trickier to get all the rope details around the frame, but the finished setting in polyclay worked quite well and turned out as I had expected it to.

I’m going to save the before and after of the flower cabochons I tinted into a dark gold hue for later when I have them set into Earrings.  

I just found a shoebox full of other polymer clay bead experiments which I need to turn into something workable.  That’s another post altogether.  I am also working with doing another form of polymer clay Earrings but I’m still thinking about how I can render it well.  Back to my polymer clay I go..

Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame – Version 2

I’ve been trying to find a way to make the clay more “regular” by trimming the back and the front “picture frame hole”.  It would require another layer of polymer clay to “trim” the edges, but not necessarily another process, as I can bake it in when I do the wings and the other embellishments on the face of the frame.

You can see in the picture below how I had added an orange border on the picture hole, and how I had cleaned up the back to have it fit the circular cap I baked separately.  (If I baked it together, it might adhere to the main frame instead of being removable.

Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame Back

I cleaned up the back by filling in the irregular back of the frame with same color clay, and while it’s still pretty rough in this first piece, you can see what I’m trying to do.

Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame Version 2

I’ve been creating clay canes for the wings, and while I’m not too happy with the color combination for this piece, I have quite a stash for colors to choose from.

I already created the silicone molds for the letters of my niece’s name, “LUX”, and that, too, will be in different colors.  Just waiting on the magnets I ordered now to test how much I would need to have the frame stay anchored to a metal surface like a fridge door.

My Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame – A progress report

Last week, I tried to create a “hollow” face by using corrugated cardboard as armature (or a support / inner mold) for my owl, and while the “face” or outside portion of the owl turned out nicely, the back was rather scraggly and “dirty”.  I took out the cardboard and saw how the edges of the clay had taken its form, leaving a corrugated and unkempt look that was just not desirable for my project.  Leaving the cardboard on didn’t look good either, so I guess I am letting go of the idea of using some form of armature for the frame.

Over the weekend, I tried something new.  I created a pattern on clay and baked it and used this as the basic mold pattern for my owl body.

I cut a total of three layers of clay but in different thicknesses.  It wasn’t a matter of just putting the clay layers together, but each layer served a purpose.

My first cut was the middle piece which I rolled on the 4th setting of my clay machine.   For this piece, I cut the body and the actual photo frame hole as I had on the clay pattern.

The second, I cut at the thickest setting, but I only used the clay mold for the outer shape and I used a larger circle die to cut a hole in it, and I positioned this behind the first cut I did, taking care to make sure it fit the owl snuggly.

Note that pressed clay like this can stretch one way or the other if you tug at it, so it’s important to endeavor to keep the shape.

Then finally, I put in a layer of clay which I had rolled at the 6th settingand “wrapped” the two layers together, folding it into the sides and molding it clean.
Polymer Clay Owls for Lux

I baked the piece encased in a parchment paper “envelope” of sorts and put them between two bottoms of a baking pans.  The back is hollow and my next step is to create a molded back cover for the picture and something to attach the magnet onto.   I’d have gotten to it sooner but I’ve been feeling under the weather.

I’m still hoping to do it this weekend somehow.

Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame – First Attempt

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame (First Attempt)

So I’ve started experimenting with creating a polymer clay picture frame souvenir for my niece’s first birthday this September. I modified an existing pattern online and have created the above piece in stages. It’s an interesting learning experience for me because I am getting to know more about working with layered clay with this project.

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame (First Attempt)

Here’s a palm-perspective size-wise to give you an idea of how big the frame is. Since this is my first attempt, I used the pink base which I intended to do for most of the owls, but I used one of my polymer clay cane experiments for the feathers on the wings. It came out rather nicely but I need to reduce the actual clay content because the frame is a little heavy to hang with magnets on a fridge door.

I am also trying to figure out how to attach the backing to the frame, whether or not it ends up as a standing frame or a fridge magnet.

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame Inscription (First Attempt) 

While my original idea was to create polymer letters to inscribe my niece’s name, I attempted stamping the clay while still raw. I just wanted to see th effect. If I do use rubber stamping, I’m going to stain the stamping with a dark colored paint to make it “Visible” beyond the engraving.

I’m actually rather pleased with what I have come up with but it needs a lot of work.  I will try and do another version tonight until I come up with something I like.  Then I need to produce a few dozens to ship home to Manila.  It’s a good thing I have time!