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

Crafting Haitus

So I fearlessly proclaimed (more than) a month ago that I was back, and then there was silence.  Yet again.  I am the first one to be totally disappointed that the next post comes so long after the much-vaunted return (of the come back like we joke around back home in Manila) which  never really happened.

Another false start?  Perhaps.  But there is much to write about because I think I’m getting my fourth wind this year.  I haven’t quite given up even if it appears it’s such a struggle to keep this corner of my web presence going.   (Plus, I have the domain name and I will NOT let this domain name go dormant yet again.)

I have been crafting that I have not been.  There are a bunch of half-finished projects and work in progress that have been momentarily stalled by other more pressing concerns like life catching up on me.  (Excuses, excuses, I know!)  The past 4 weeks have been very interesting and have forced me to redefine my direction, but I have decided to continue with the projects already in the works, one at a time.

First, I’m sad to report the loss of my iPhone mid-October, and although the iPhone was a business gadget, losing it meant losing 5,000 photos that weren’t on my cloud.   The iPhone was replaced (sans an upgrade =(..) but the pictures are forever gone.  All save for the 300 or so on my Instagram account (GothamChick) and the ones that landed on Flickr (where I am as Pinay New Yorker).

One of the sets lost contained snapshots of my  of my altered book.  I had managed to take pictures of the backgrounds that were already finished so that I could do a “before and after” shot.  The good news is that one thing I haven’t stopped or slowed down totally on is my altered book and my art journaling.  I’ve mostly concentrated on word art or lettering, compressing entries into simple phrases or single sentences.

I’ve also started working on a multi-page layout with windows, painting a varied mix of backgrounds with only the cut out window as the unifying theme.

Work in Progress: my altered book

The word art at the end of the set is slowly revealed per layout, giving me flexibility to work around it and play around the reveal.
Work in Progress: my altered book

It’s a long way towards the end of the book so it will be a while before I actually start journaling on it.

In the meantime, I’m approaching a multi-page layout I had done sometime last year, and I am really excited to start journaling on this spread.  It took some crafty cutting to get the letters down, and when I did, I had to do some patchwork.
Work in Progress: my altered book
What is most striking to me is the difference between my perspective on “happiness” at the time I created the multi-page layout and now that I’m getting ready to fill the altered pages with journaling.  But that’s a totally separate blog post in the works altogether.

I am hoping to get back to polymer clay again but I can’t find the handle of my pasta machine.  (Duh!)  It happens.  I am trying to find it, and it’s probably stuck between boxes on the floor or in one of my bins.  (Give me a break, it IS a detachable part of the contraption although it is also an indispensible part of it.)  With the holidays fast approaching, I want to create more pieces this November, more so since it’s one holiday month I am not going to close the shop for a vacation.  (Did that in 2011 and 2013.)

My Thank You Postcard Project is back on track and will be up before the month is done.  (Sending out prototype postcards soon.)

So while I am not starting any new projects soon, I’m picking up the ones I managed to get off the ground in recent months.  I am happy that no matter what distractions have come my way, I never totally shelved any of these undertakings, just setting them aside in the meantime until I can pick them up again.

This time, I mean it — I AM BACK.. and I’m already drafting the next post to prove that.

 

In the middle of projects

I’ve been trying to finish some pieces for the shop but I think I’ve been distracted by a new found interest in metal smithing — particularly working with hammered wire. It’s been very interesting.  While I had been experimenting with working with my tiny hammer and seeing how the metal wires react given the different gauges, I’ve since progressed to filing open edges which should make it safe to wear.  (You don’t want the sharp edges of the wires scratching your skin.

Hammering wire has a different design effect from just looping the wire or handling it to take this or that shape.  Flat wires can also provide a good base finding for necklaces and maybe bracelets, although I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I’m learning that I have to count the times I hammer a particular area and the direction my hammering moves also affects the shape of the flattened wire.  While I had thought that hammering wire would thin it, it does so in a way but the expansion of the wire in a different direction actually makes it harder and sturdier.

I’m hoping to finish and post a piece or two over the weekend as I am starting to get back into polymer clay.

This time, I’m going beyond simple hand conditioning and actually rolling out the clay in the pasta machine’s thickest setting.  I’m going to “punch out” beads from these.  I’m also trying to create some bead molds.  (One of two – not bad.  The second that didn’t quite work out will become a bead pin cushion when I bake headpins.)

Work in progress: The Thank You Postcard ProjectI’ve also been busy doing postcard backgrounds and flower embellishments for a postcard project in the works.  It’s something that is taking shape very slowly but requires quite a volume of pieces to take off.  I have over a hundred postcard backgrounds and maybe almost a hundred flower embellishments for starters, but this projects involves more than just my favorite pieced paper flowers.

I’m gathering my stash of background papers, bought from the store and made from prints and watercolor and other inks.  I am thinking of different ways and means to create, using up gorgeous paper napkins as backgrounds, and gathering other graphics I had created during my short stint with other art for swaps.  I’ll write more about that later.

Meanwhile, time to get back to the wire and the hammer and hopefully get a post or two up at the shop later.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

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!

Back to Polymer Clay

I’ve been busy trolling Michael’s waiting for another good sale.  The kind of sale where polymer clay goes for $.99.  It had come a couple of weeks back but I was eyeing other items for the sale, so I made do with 20 bars.  Now I’m getting ready to experiment on souvenirs for my niece’s first birthday in September, and from the looks of what I’m going to try to do, I’m going to need a bar for each souvenir.

I’m also surfing the web for owls and have found some rather interesting owl images.  Still, it looks like I’ll be doing the same pattern I had eyed from the very start.  Invitation and souvenir both.  The tricky thing is that I want to use my Spellbinder to cut the invitation.  While an owl die cut is not available for my Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine, I’m hoping to do some magic with other shapes and I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my dies to see if it can be pulled off.  If it can’t, then I have more dies to use for next time. 

In the meantime, I’ve started conditioning some polymer clay.  I like doing them by hand instead of through the machine because then I get a full sense of the pliability of the clay.   I’m going to try and experiment with creating canes along the way, hopefully to use as embellishments for some fancy owls.  (Not the one for the party, though.)

Watch out for more!