Cernit Doll-Making Clay — Conditioning

Summer Months and Ordering

This is true for all polymer clays. Don’t order your Cernit Doll-Making Clay online for delivery in the warmer months. Polymer clay can start curing in 90F and higher temperatures that transportation vehicles may easily attain. Once you buy it from a local store, don’t let it sit in the hot car while you finish your shopping elsewhere. Store it in a cool, dry, dark place. If you want to risk ordering in the summer, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Naysayers, Difficult First Experiences and Crumbly Clay

Don’t assume this polymer clay is impossible to work with just because it’s crumbly. Don’t listen to people who say not to store polymer clay for any length of time.

Weighing Quality vs. Conditioning Work

Is Cernit Doll-Making clay more difficult to condition? In my experience, yes. It tends to be crumbly and yes you can condition it without mounds of frustration. The quality of the clay, it’s strength, the skin-like transparency level and color are worth it though. Really.

Conditioning Cernit Doll-Making Clay

I have some three year old Cernit Doll-Making Clay (polymer clay) and it’s kind of hard and crumbly. It easily gets that way.. That’s easily remedied with a food processor.  This makes conditioning this clay faaar less labor intensive. I’ve also had great success with taking the old Cernit Doll clay and mixing it with Puppen Fimo doll clay and a 1/3 to a 1/2 package of Fimo Mix Quick (which one can get from JerrysArtarama.com). IPlace the Cernit Doll clay or Cernit Doll clay mix in a larger food processor that can handle harder work and whir it around on high until it’s very finely pilled. Some of it will stick to the food processor walls.  Remove the contents into a wide mouth glass container. I use a food spatula to help get the clay all cleaned out of there and follow that up with rubbing alcohol and wipes. When I’m ready to use it, I gather a pinch of it in my hand, pinch the air pockets out of it, and start conditioning while wearing disposable rubber gloves. I work on a clean polymer clay mat.

Labeling and Attaching a Baked Chip

Once I’ve mixed my clay up, I take an index card write what’s in the glass jar, how old the clay is, and baking instructions. I pause to bake a well blended chip. I have found I can easily punch a hole in a 1/4″ thick chip with a hole puncher meant for paper. I tie it to a string and attach the chip with the string to the glass jar that contains the far clay or clay mix. If I have any notes about tendency toward moons or to darken while baking, I add that to the index card and tape it to the glass container.

Polymer Clay Storage

Polymer Clay Storage

Note on Baking Cernit Doll clays

If you bake Cernit Doll clay at temperatures that are too high, it can get duller and can even darken. Use an oven thermometer and if you mix cernit with other clays, don’t mix it with any that cure at higher temperatures. When mixing polymer clays, and they have you always different baking times and temperatures, choose the highest and longest baking temperature from those given by their manufacturers. Then you test the clay to see how well your mix works, if it tends toward moons (trapped air and/or moisture), and so on.  http://www.garieinternational.com.sg/clay/clay_test.htm

A Nice Youtube Video on Mixing Cernit Doll-Making Clay with Puppen Fimo polymer clay

http://youtu.be/wtfmlPq7JcQ

Polymer Clay — To Burn and Crack or Not

When I started with polymer clay and figurative sculpting, I immediately had problems with burning (Super Sculpey) and cracking (Sculpey UltraLight) when doing figures. (I didn’t have much of a problem with curing my polymer clay beads.) To be honest, it kind of scared me off from doing art dolls for a while, after I tried Super Sculpey and a full body sculpt (as opposed to assemblage type dolls upon which I affixed polymer clay heads, hands and feet). And I was busy parenting teens or was later taking care of infants. Well, the youngest grandchildren are toddlers now and I can get my grandson, whom I watch the most, to busy himself at the easel with his non-toxic Crayola products while I get some art done. I can get in maybe about 20 minutes at a time that way and then more when he naps. That’s up to 3 hours or more if I really apply myself and there are no other duties that might interfere.

Back to the burning and cracking issue… Even before the sculpting has begun, there’s the research, idea development, tests, planning, safety precautions, setting up a work place, finding and maintaining dedicated tools, networking… Who wants all their effort to get ruined during the curing process? Not me. So today I gleaned information about how to avoid cracking and burning, as well as why these things happen, from all over the web, books and that fabulous glassattic site. I condensed it down into a couple of pages and into my Clay Art Dolls binder it went. I love that binder. It’s all organized with a table of contents and tab separators and it’s more thorough than any one source. The research and writing took hours.

Later in the day, when scouting local stores for doll clay the next town up the road, I stumbled upon a clearance section in Joann Fabrics. Mwhahahahah. They were clearing out the Adirondack inks and Ranger Rick stuff along with those protective work mats that protect your work surfaces from inks, glues, acrylic mediums and polymer clay. I got a few things for a third or a fifth of the normal price. Those are my kind of prices. Yeah.

What I found out as far as polymer doll clays and local stores go, Super Sculpey aside, is that the only local store within 20 miles that sells polymer clay specifically for sculpting art doll dolls is Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby sells Puppen Fimo. I’m not a huge fan of that store due to their Christian Nation stuff and Wall Builders associations, but then I’m not a huge fan of ordering clay online either.  And I like to find excuses to get out of the house and explore, he he. I wish Michael’s would carry Puppen Fimo. I will occasionally break down and buy Puppen Fimo with a coupon, of course. Hobby Lobby has the best prices the stuff. Later Edit: I changed my mind and would like to boycott Hobby Lobby for life, after their recent ruling. https://www.aclu.org/blog/reproductive-freedom-religion-belief/5-things-women-should-know-about-hobby-lobby-decision

Anyway, while at Joann Fabrics, I got some Super Sculpey and white Premo to mix because that mixture seems to get fewer moonies (white spots that show up after baking) and this is what the Creagers use. I am presently studying art doll creation with the Creager DVDs. Their 3 DVDs are amazing. I can get these two polymer clays at Michaels or Joann Fabrics with a 40% coupon just about any time of the year and I won’t have to feel guilty for feeding the Christian Nation crap. I don’t mind Christianity but that Christian Nation stuff and Wall Builders crap are another thing entirely.

Between the Creager’s tips on the DVDs and the information about avoiding cracking and burning I gathered today, I finally feel confident about curing polymer clay doll bodies or parts. I like the combination of informed innovation or experimentation with tried and true methods. — that’s the sweet spot.

Art Doll Materials

I bought 2 packages of doll (polymer) clay today (on sale, of course). I’ll use what I already have in terms of paint and such to color the dolls but I’m not sure what I’m going to do for fabrics. I’ll get to that later.

It’s been a while since I last sculpted and I’d say I’m still a beginner even if my first art dolls were in an art gallery. I have a lot to learn. This time, I’m going to solder metal for parts of the armature when necessary. I got a Micro torch for that but have to order some solder, the metal and a few odds and ends. And a fire extinquisher (better safe than sorry). I can borrow a few tools from the hubby like his drill?

 

Pure Sculpt OOAK Art Doll Definition

I’m looking forward to making dolls again. I prefer pure sculpts when it comes to actual art dolls. Pure sculpt art dolls can reach the heights I want to as an artist, capture a precise moment or an expression, and can artistically push the envelope in some way. They are created as pieces of fine art. This is why if I altered a molded item, I’ll say that’s what it is, and if I make a pure sculpt, I’ll call it a pure sculpt.

Since many art doll artists can take weeks or months to create their art dolls and props, it’s a concern when doll artists who use commercial molds and parts flood youtube and the marketplace and call their dolls the same thing, a One of a Kind Art Doll. Differentiation helps protect the fine art doll artist and her works.

Here’s my definition of a pure sculpt, one-of-a-kind art doll, because, well, an arrow goes where it’s pointed and I want to make fine art more than I want to be a crafter. (Crafting’s a wonderful choice too, if that’s what you want. It all depends on what you want. I have my crafting moments too.)

Pure Sculpt OOAK Art Doll Definition — An original one-of-a-kind (OOAK) doll made by the artist using no one else’s patterns or molds. The doll is made of any medium or combination thereof and is the artist’s original work and design — no class dolls, no reborns, no repaints, no commercial molds and no recycled or mass produced doll parts. A pure sculpt, the doll is sculpted completely by the artist’s own hands to fulfill their vision and is created as a work of fine art. Art Dolls go for fine art prices and collectors ask for them the world over.

See “The One of a Kind Debate” at http://www.dollmakersdream.com/one-of-a-kind-debate.html.

More about OOAKs at http://www.niada.org/fundraiserdolls/DollSaleLI.html.

Also see the NIADA site. http://www.niada.org/about.html.

ODACA (Original Doll Artist Council of America) — http://www.odaca.org/index.html.

Prismacolor Pencils: They’re a Gamble in Regards to Quality Control

In the last few years or so, the company started making their colored pencils in Mexico and I don’t know what happened but quality became erratic. (I suspect they might have lost some of their more experienced employees?) Regardless of trying these made in Mexico pencils with an array of quality pencil sharpeners both handheld and electric, pencil leads break repeatedly on some pencils, the wood splits, and the leads are not bonded to the wood as they are with some other high quality colored pencils. Some of the colors don’t feel as creamy either.

If you look at reviews on dickblick.com, for example, and they’re one of the sites with the most customer reviews, some customers are happy and some aren’t.

Since the quality control problems are erratic, their quality control issues haven’t hit Prismacolor financially, and therefore they don’t address the quality control issues on their site and things haven’t improved.  Quality is still erratic. Sometimes everything’s fine with their pencils, sometimes people notice the problems mentioned above.

Therefore, buying Prismacolor colored pencils is a bit of a gamble, quality control wise.

I’m so angry that I bought these a few years ago, thinking they had a long standing reputation for turning out high quality pencils. I will never buy art supplies again without researching them and paying closer attention to reviews and talk about their quality.

Cloth Paper

Why I’m Excited About It

It’s been a focus in many books,  magazines, blogs and even a DVD. You can make it with many “ingredients” or few. It can be simple or amazingly beautiful and rich with colors, textures and cultural references. It can be addicting. It can be meditative. It can be useful or purely decorative. It can save you money and it can cost you money. It can be a way of getting rid of odds and ends or an excuse to go OC on collecting stuff.

What Can You Make With It?

Wallets, ATCs (artist trading cards), paint brush holders, zip pouches, tote bags, customized binder covers, book covers, corsets, handbags, slippers, hats, other wearables, customized organizers, book markers, art quilts, stuffed voodoo dolls, beads, a variety of fabric embellishments, belly dancing belts…the list goes on. It can be thicker, thinner, machine stitched, embroidered, hand beaded, glued, duct taped, fused, painted, stamped, collected, traded, and more.  It’s generally tougher to sew by hand but that can be done most times. Other names for it are fabric paper, muslin paper, fabric fusion, or tissue fabric…and some people even spell it “clothpaper.”

The Basic Steps

Here are Beryl Taylor’s basic steps for making fabric paper: Freezer paper, muslin, glue-water, spaced paper and other bits, glue-water, craft tissue, watery paints, let dry, peel, use. She’s well known for making beautiful works out of fabric paper and has both a book and video out on it.  I have them and they’re well worth it. She’s amazing.

  1. Lay a piece of washed, open-weave muslin on the waxy side of freezer paper and wet it all over with diluted PVA glue. The freezer paper or plastic should be larger than the muslin.
  2. Lay wrapping paper, images, text, etc., into the wet glue, leaving spaces in between.
  3. Apply another coat of diluted PVA glue over that. Embed craft tissue (tissue paper) into the wet glue layer.
  4. While the glue is still wet, paint on dyes using a sponge applicator.
  5. Let dry completely before cutting and stitching. This can take several hours to several days.

A Few Notes on the Glues — I had questions, so many questions, and this is what I found out.

  • Acrylic Matte GelThis is a artist grade acrylic medium that you can order online and from brick and mortar stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. It’s water-resistant once dry and PVA glue isn’t.  Mixed-media fabric artist and author,  Sherill Kahn mentions using acrylic matte medium instead of PVA glue. Mixed-Media Master Class with Sherrill Kahn: 50+ Surface-Design Techniques for Fabric & Paper. ISBN-10: 160705423X; ISBN-13: 978-1607054238
  • Sobo — Many use Sobo fabric and paper glue, a PVA glue, because of its hand and flexibility once it’s dry…but it’s water-soluble once dry. I found mine in Joann’s for $2.99 a 4 oz. bottle.
  • Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive — Others are using archival (won’t degrade papers over time) Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive, which is also a flexible PVA glue that’s water-soluble even after drying. Of course, using archival glues doesn’t help if all your papers aren’t archival. Most people are using what they have rather than archival tissue and other papers.
  • Fabric Mod Podge –Mod Podge fabric is something you can try and it’s washable once dried. Experiment to see if it can be diluted for this. http://modpodgerocksblog.com/learn-how-to-mod-podge

Cost Comparison If bought in a gallon jug through dickblick.com, Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive presently costs the same as Sobo which does not come in gallon jug containers. Fabric Mod Podge does not come in larger containers and can end up being your most expensive option, although you can frequently use a coupon when buying it in a Michaels store. Per liquid oz, Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium costs the least, if I buy it off of dickblick.com. If you buy it with a 40% off coupon in a brick and mortar store, it’s about the same cost as your PVA glues. You may do your own cost comparisons, of course.

That Moisture Concern

Personally, I’m leaning toward using Fabric Mod Podge and/or Liquitex Matte Gel. The cat, the baby, the cup that tips over, the bottle that leaks in your purse…the humidifier that leaked all over to the table…stuff happens.

Notes on Tissue Paper

So far, I’ve been using weak tissue paper I had around and it ripped while using it. Sigh. So not all tissue paper is strong enough for this, though some people say the torn tissue paper gives cloth paper character. Look through product reviews for complaints that the tissue paper is too substantial or seek out craft tissue paper that’s known to stand up to a lot of tasks. That’s the tissue paper you want.  The only Japanese tissue paper I could find, which is what Beryl Taylor prefers, costs about 20 times more than craft or substantial packaging tissue paper and I could only find it online. No, I’m not paying over 1 dollar plus shipping for Japanese tissue paper.  I was thinking of getting some “Bulk Basic White Tissue Paper 15″ x 20″ – 100 Sheets,” by Premium Quality Gift Wrap Paper: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0062MQY3C/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AS03ME368F813

Made with tissue papers, cotton fabric, water, glue, and paints. Can be sewn.

Made with tissue papers, cotton fabric, water, glue, and paints. Can be sewn.

Fabric paper

Cloth Paper: Faux Fish Skin


A Recipe for Fabric Paper Textured with Cheesecloth  

Materials

  • Something You Can Peel Your Dried Paper Cloth from Once Dry– Plastic sheets, garbage bag plastic, that wide roll waxy freezer paper – use whatever you have that you can peel your dried fabric paper off of once it’s dried.  You can even use washed plastic dog food bag (what I’m using).
  • Cotton Fabric — Muslin or other thin, plain cotton fabric (must be pre-washed to remove any sizing)
  • Thin, Absorbant Papers — Tissue papers and/or printed paper napkins (some of them are quite beautiful)
  • Cheesecloth – Cheesecloth can be bought in Walmart, some grocery stores, fabric stores, or online.
  • Optional Odds and Ends — Scrap papers, brown paper bag, metallic candy wrappers, pre-washed fabrics, ribbon, flocking, rock dust, dryer lint, silk roving, dried rose petals, leaf skeletons, glitter…. just any kind of ephemera to make your layers and what makes you happy.
  • Glue — Sobo glue, Fabric Mod Podge, Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive and/or Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium.
  • Colors– Fabric paint, acrylic paint (craft or fine art paint kinds), alcohol inks (e.g. Adirondack), Dyna-Flow, etc. Many of the fluid acrylic colors are rather transparent and can be diluted with water, making them ideal. They go a long way because of their incredible pigment load and give superior results. That’s why Beryl Taylor uses Golden Fluid Acrylics in her video.
  • Brush — Foam paintbrush or cheap craft paint brush. Foam brushes are often preferred for mashing layers without tearing them.
  • Optional Mark Makers – Gel pens, dimensional paint, permanent markers (some colors may bleed over time – test)

Method to Make Fabric Paper  

  1. Lay Out the Muslin — Lay your crumpled or ironed fabric on your waxed paper or plastic surface. This is going to be very messy. For the glue-water, the minimum amount of glue is 2 T per half cup of water but 1:1 glue to water mix is quite common. That’s equal parts of glue and water, whether your glue is Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium, Sobo, or Lineco.  (I’m not sure if Fabric Mod Podge can be diluted. I’ll have to experiment. Or you can.)
  2. Add Color to your matte medium or glue and water mixture — Add some color; either fabric paint or acrylic craft paint.
  3. Brush to Saturate — Using a foam brush, saturate your lightweight cotton fabric of choice with the colored glue or matte medium water mixture. Have no dry edges of areas.
  4. Add Tissue Paper(s) – Apply a whole sheet or torn strips of tissue paper onto the web fabric with the flat side of the foam brush, mashing it down. You can use either flat or scrunched up tissue paper. Use enough glue-water to flatten it down. You may color the glue water with acrylic paint if you like. The result you want is flattened and has no air bubbles.
  5. Add Cheese Cloth — Cut a whole sheet, strips or bits of cheesecloth and mash onto the top of the tissue paper too. Make sure it’s web with glue-water. You may scrunch it up a bit in areas. Added Touches — Add bits and pieces for any type of contrast you like (light and dark, contrasting colors). You can use papers, bits of yarn, thread snippings…use your imagination but they have to be totally wet with glue-water.
  6. Dry Thoroughly — Let dry for 24 hours or more. Peel. Use your fabric paper in a variety of ways. It can be layered and stitched by machine or by hand. Use the stronger sewing machine needles for thicker fabric paper – 70/80 or 90/100, respectively. You may have to replace machine needles more often when sewing fabric paper.

Recipe for Dryer Sheet Fabric Paper (Can Make Flexible or Stiffer)

This is the kind of stuff that some might call “tissue fabric.”

Materials

  • Used dryer sheet
  • Strong PVA glue or Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium, etc.
  • Freezer paper/waxed paper, cereal bag from inside cereal boxes, plastic type of table cloth, or plastic washed dog food bag that’s flattened out (use what you have but it has to be larger than the fabric paper you want to make)
  • Masking tape
  • Brush for glue
  • Acrylic paints (artist grade, Dyna Flow) and alcohol inks
  • Scrap papers, brown paper bag, metallic candy wrappers, fabrics, dried rose petals, leaf skeletons, ribbon, flocking, rock dust, dryer lint, silk roving, Angelina paper, Angelina Fiber, glitter…

Method to Make Fabric Paper

  1. Protected Surface – Whatever you use, you must be able to later peel your fabric paper off this surface without damage to the surface or your fabric paper. Tape a sheet of freezer paper or waxed paper, whatever you chose to work on, to a piece of cardboard or other board you want to work on. Place this on a level surface. Or tilt it if you’re innovating with coloring it, you dare devil you. But it’ll have to lay it flat to dry.
  2. Lay Down Used Fabric Softener Dryer Sheet. Tape it down on the waxed paper if you like.
  3. Glue-Water — Mix glue and water using a 1:1 ratio. Or mix matte gel and water using a 1:1 ratio. That’s equal parts of water and glue. The glue will be water soluble once dry and the matte gel won’t be.
  4. Pour and Spread– Pour the glue-water on the sheet in the middle and spread out until it covers the entire surface. You may mash and tap the wetness all over. Leave no area dry.
  5. Add Paper and Stuff — Layer and down decorative napkins, tissues papers, fabric, ribbon and thin papers.  Use more glue-water over these. Don’t worry, it’ll dry clear and adds strength.  Layers add strength; how much strength and how many layers is up to you.
  6. Color – Alcohol Inks, Glitter Sprays, Dynaflow, Acrylic Paints – Drip, brush or spray these on as you know how.  You can use craft or acrylic paints. Weeeee!
  7. Layer– Keep adding, layers until you’re satisfied.  Mash and press down the glued pieces, making sure they come in good contact with the layer below it. You may lay down plastic wrap and a book top of it and let it dry completely. Make sure there’s enough plastic wrap to protect both the book and fabric cloth. If do this, it’ll take longer to dry, of course.
  8. Dry– Let it dry several hours, 24 hours, or longer. It must be completely dry.
  9. Peel — Peel your dried fabric paper off of your waxed/freezer paper or other surface you were working on.

Using Your Fabric Paper Use your fabric paper in a variety of ways. It can be layered and stitched by machine or by hand. It can be glued. It can be used in art journals, greeting cards, ATCs (artist trading cards), bags, totes, purses, fabric bowls, functional items, jewelry, and various types of embellishments. Use the stronger sewing machine needles for thinner and thicker fabric paper – 70/80 or 90/100, respectively. You may have to frequently replace machine when sewing fabric paper.

Recipe to Fused Brown Paper Bag

See Maggie Grey’s “Background 3″ in her book (see the resources section below).

Recipe for Laminated Paper Fabric

I haven’t tried it but it’s a thought. Place on silicone oven mat, coat with liquid polymer clay, place it and cure it in a covered pan and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Avoid using anything that might create toxic fumes when exposed to heat (used dryer sheets, plastics, etc.)

Resources

Books

  • Tissue Fabric” is covered in Fabric Art Collage, 40+ Mixed Media Techniques, by Rebekah Meier. Glue-water is used.
  • Paper cloth is covered in Stitch Alchemy, Combining Fabric + Paper for Mixed-Media Art, by Kelli Perkins. This book has more of a focus on it. Glue-water is used.
  • “Making Fabric from Paper” (ch 4) appears in The Quiting Arts Book, Techniques and Inspiration for Creating One-of-a-Kind Quilts, by Patricia Bolton. Yes indeed, it’s paper cloth put together with diluted glue. Beryl Taylor contrubuted.
  • Fabric paper is covered in The Cloth Paper Scissors Book, Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art, by Barbara Delaney. Look for the “Building Upon Layers, Detailed Design Made Easy” section of Chapter 2: Printmaking and Surace Design, see pages 36 – 39. Once again, Beryl Taylor contributed. Glue-water is used.
  • Paper cloth is covered in Mixed Media Explorations, by Beryl Taylor.
  • Paper cloth is covered in Mixed-Media Master Class with Sherrill Kahn: 50+ Surface-Design Techniques for Fabric & Paper, by Sherrill Kahn.  Glue-water is used but the “glue” is matte gel, an artist acrylic medium.
  • From Image to Stitch, by Maggie Grey covered creating a stitchable paper-fabric using crumbled, printed upon, waxed, bonded brown packaging paper.  No glue-water used. (How about using Golden Acrylic’s GAC 900 to prepare the paper for printing, I ask?)
  • Maggie Grey covers “Background 3: Brown Paper and Bondaweb (fusible webbing)” in Chapter 1: Making Backgrounds of her book Raising the Surface with Machine Embroidery. No glue-water used in that recipe either.

DVD

Review: Canson Foundation Canva-Paper

This Canva-Paper took a lot of rough treatment, layers of paint, and barely, and I mean barely, buckled. It didn’t degrade or tear either.

Here’s what I did so far. I took a 12 x 16″ sheet of this Canva-Paper, taped it down with Frogtape Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape, and put down layers of Liquitex Basics acrylic paint (one of the best student grade acrylics paints out there), rubbed some off, laid down textures within the paint with the lovely Princeton Catalyst Blades (silicone blades are fun!), put down more layers of acrylic paint, rubbed off paint here and there, and added more layers of paint. I finally added some Liquitex Clear Gesso (which is kind of gritty) and then sanded the surface. And all of that on paper. Wow.

…Later, I did even more to this paper and it still stood up to all the treatments I did (more layers, more wiping, more sanding). I should have started working on this paper instead of trying to use cheap student canvas (paper) boards!

I’m going to try using Cretacolor leads on this in “aux quatre crayons” (white, black, brown, earthy red) or “aux trois crayons” (using just three of those colors) sketching style. I can do this with confidence because the buckling was so minimal.

I got my Canva-Paper pads at our local Michael’s craft store during a two-for-one sale, very happy with it, but wish they sold 18 x 24″ pads there.

Side Note: I hyperlink to dickblick.com product pages simply because they offer some of the best information on and classification of products (artist grade vs. student grade, oil based or water based) I’ve seen, plus you get to read reviews and maybe even see how people used the products…or weren’t able to. I’m not affiliated with dickblick.com in any way at this time.