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..

Advertisements

“Goldifying” Metal Accents

Disclosure:  The links provided will take you to a site where you can purchase them if you are interested in buying the item.  Please note that GothamChick is an Amazon Affiliate and will get a commission if you do make a purchase based on the link.

I have always been partial to gold as an accent, even when silver tone is what’s preferred for a certain stone or color scheme.  For one thing, gold tone accents age and fade better than silver-tone ones that tend to rust or oxidize into black.  I also love antique brass, but while it lends a rustic look to your creation, it doesn’t quite exude the same kind of elegance gold-tone accents give.  Thankfully, I’m getting comfortable mixing my metals — but I am still careful in pulling combinations.  There are times when you can get away with it, but there are also times when it just won’t work.
Gilders paste
Last year, I discovered Gilders Paste and I have a few shades handy to work into my metal accents.  I’ve experimented with using one shade and combining two different colors.  Depending on the effect you want to achieve, the applications of gilders paste to recolor your findings is endless!

This is most specially helpful when there are so many gorgeous filigree findings in antique brass and which aren’t readily available in gold.  I also like the different quality the gilders paste gives the metal it adheres to which makes the piece look personalized with the artist’s own patina.

Working with Gilders Paste

One thing you have to remember is that like polymer clay, the consistency of the paste differs from container to container.  It is important to keep the tin container sealed tight when you are not working with it.  The following are some tips to help you work better with the medium.

  • Choose an airy workspace because gilders paste gives off fumes which are chemical in nature.  It isn’t something you would choose or want to inhale directly.
  • Try to avoid touching the paste as much as possible. I use gloves when handling “wet” or “just painted” pieces to make sure I don’t get any on my hands, or that I don’t smudge my pieces with unsightly fingerprints.
  • Work on a disposable surface like a paper plate, a paper towel, or some cardboard you are looking to throw away like an old cereal box laid flat on the table, with the cardboard inside surface as your workboard.
  • Experiment on pieces similar if not the same metal as the one you are working on for your project.  Different surfaces react in varied ways — and the color of your gilders paste will come off differently depending again on what it is applied to.  Antique brass is very “receptive” to paste but it’s darker color tends to mute or darken the shade of gilders paste you are using.  Silver tone metals tend to be more difficult to apply on and doesn’t always “take” the gilders paste well.
  • Clean your piece with a dry piece of cloth or paper towel to make sure that you are applying the gilders paste to a clean surface.  If it has a coating of even just skin oil, it will affect the way your gilders paste adheres.
  • Use a disposable brush as cleaning the gilders paste off the bristles is a bit of a challenge and generally not worth the time.  I purchase these hard bristle brushes from the dollar store.  Make sure you choose the harder bristles because this will help you “push” bits of the gilders paste into the crevices of the smaller pieces you are applying the paste on, or on the finer details of the bigger items you are recoloring.
  • Dab the paste on, do not brush it.  Stipple the paste with the brush into rugged or recessed portions of the piece such as in smaller charms.  One thing I try to do is use the inside of the cover of the tin as a work surface for pieces that will fit in it, so that the bits of gilders paste that form into smaller balls or pebble-like granules can go back to the tin for future use.  (You will know what I’m talking about when you work with it.)  I would only do this, though, if you are only applying one shade.  In instances when you are trying to achieve a different tonal quality by combining two or more shades, I’d use a specific work surface for each color so they don’t mix.
  • Depending on the effect you are trying to achieve, you may need to do two or three coatings.  Remember to let the first coating dry before applying the next coating.  In some instances, once is good enough if you are just staining or tinting the piece and not fully recoloring it from one tone to the other, like antique brass to gold.

These are my own methods for working with gilders paste.  There are other crafters with more experience in it who use sealants or thinners depending on the application.  Try it with one tub and see if you like the way it comes off of your project.  Some crafters like the antique greenish shade to show a faux antique effect on the metal.  It has a million potential uses to enhance your projects once you get the hang of it.