The Fine Art Air-Dry and Polymer Clay Market Can Be Confusing for the Beginner to Intermediate Artist

What this page is and isn’t about — It’s about fine art air-dry and polymer clays. It’s not about ceramic, cold porcelain, resin clay, epoxy clays, or any kiln-cured products.

This page was written after reading https://www.reviewstream.com/reviews/?p=155083#thoughts-box, which was about Premier clay, which is an artist grade air-dry clay, and the beginner’s needs and understandable confusion.

For jewelry making, Premo!, Fimo Classic, Kato, and Cernit are some of your better choices of oven-cured polymer clays –they’re durable enough and do not have to be sealed unless certain surface treatments (mica powders like Pearl Ex or Perfect Pearls…) require it. See: https://thebluebottletree.com/seal-polymer-clay/

Durability… While people making charms often use various air-dry clays, they usually don’t construct bracelets or rings out of air-dry clays. Jewelry may take much more wear and tear.

Seal it or not? As a rule, air-dry clays generally have to be sealed once dry and finished but oven-cured polymer clays don’t. (Two-part epoxy clays don’t have to be sealed but although they’re often called air-dry, they actually cure by chemical reaction and may even be able to cure under water. They’re not true air-dry clays.)

Cracks in Premier clay.… Cracks don’t mean your air-dry clay is weak. Premier is one of the strongest air-dry clays. Nearly all air-dry clays have some shrinkage and Premier is no exception, although it shrinks less than some air-dry clays. Having a good armature, if armature is necessary, and using minimal amounts of water while sculpting with Premier can decrease the likelihood or severity of cracks. Sometimes cracks happen but they’re easily be repaired with Premier, even if your item dried. See the below video. Cracks may occur if you added too much water while sculpting, used a cardboard armature, used thin clay over a rigid armature (Ostrich legs, for example), let your item dry too quickly, or didn’t support sculpture parts subject to gravity. Don’t dry your Premier clay items under a fan, for example. Do remember to keep unused clay in an air-tight bag and/or container.

For figurative works, Premix, an air-dry clay made by the same company as Premier, is easier to sculpt and blend than Premier. Doll artist Hannie Sarris loved Premix clay. Premier clay may take some different sculpting techniques than what one would be used to with polymer clay and one uses minimal (!) amounts of water are used while sculpting Premier. People working with these air-dry clays might lightly dab their fingers across a wet sponge to keep clay moist enough while sculpting. They may use a mister type of water bottle. Do not use Sculpey Clay Softener or any type of oil to soften, smooth, and blend these air-dry clays — they are hybrid clays and have their own characteristics, sculpting techniques, storage and compatibility considerations. They’re not like the majority of polymer clays that are oven-cured (e.g., Fimo Classic, Fimo Soft, Cernit, Fimo Doll, Premo!). They’re not like most air-dry clays on the market. They are used by a number of very famous art doll artists and others.

So yes, there are indeed air-dry polymer clays — Activa Lumina Translucent Polymer Clay, Staedtler Fimo Air Basic Modeling Clay, and Activa LaDoll Premier clay are examples of air-dry polymer clays. Activa, the company that makes laDoll Premier clay, describes Premier clay as a type of polymer clay on their site. Lumina has long been known to the polymer clay community. Fimo Air Basic is weaker than either of those.

Polymer clays have their own issues — Dirt, lint, hair, compatibility issues, and baking considerations (always monitor your oven with two oven thermometers, not counting the oven’s own temperature reading). If you look at it that way, a few easily repaired cracks in Premier clay items isn’ts a bad deal.

Sculpey Diluent, AKA liquid Sculpey Clay Softener, works with oven-cured polymer clays, specifically, and not with air-dry polymer clays. Here’s the Sculpey Clay Softener Material Safety Data Sheet: https://www.sculpey.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Clay-Softener-SDS-10282015.pdf

In contrast, Makin’s, Hearty, Das, “cold porcelain” clays, Creative Paperclay, Celluclay, and epoxy putties are not polymer clays no matter who describes them as such.

For a whole lot of information on all things polymer and air-dry clay, see:

…Or go to clay manufacturers’ sites and hit their FAQs and MSDS pages. I wish there were sculpting, storage, compatibility, MSDS and other information (to seal or not to seal) with each clay package that one takes home, but that’s sadly not the case.

Micaceous Rock and "Yellow Gold Glitter" Premo Polymer Clay Mix, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Polymer Clay Micaceous Rock Composite Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Polymer Clay Micaceous Rock Composite Goddess Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Polymer Clay Micaceous Rock Composite Goddess Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Micaceous Rock and

Micaceous Rock and “Yellow Gold Glitter” Premo Polymer Clay Mix, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Micaceous Polymer Clay Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Micaceous Polymer Clay Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Appears more glittery and sparkly in person.

Micaceous rock from family land in South Dakota was crushed and added to “Yelllow Gold Glitter” Premo polymer clay — the stronger polymer clay by Sculpey that’s suitable for making thinner beads like this. (Always wear a mask if working with micaceous rock in this manner to avoid permanent lung disease.)

About 2″ long and 1/4 inch thick. Mica powder patterns, a sun or spirals, were stamped into the raw clay before curing. The sun and spiral symbolism can have significance. E.g. http://www.whats-your-sign.com/spiral-meaning.html. Small bead holes are added after curing (now shown), usually after jewelry design is complete. Design may determine hole placement and number.

The finished beads look very much like some of the micaceous earth in South Dakota. The particular rocks used in making this came from family land right by Medicine Mountain, which is sacred land. So these beads have personal significant meaning for me in at least four ways. They are my creative expression, the rock comes from family land, the rock comes from the vicinity of sacred land upon which I attended a ritual, the rock represents time spent with family, and the symbolism is well chosen, of course.

Medicine Mountain Background:www.flickr.com/photos/sari0009/19354330223/in/dateposted-... There are two Medicine Mountains and only one is in South Dakota. The history and backstory for this particular Medicine Mountain is hard to find, hence my link is offered here.

Interesting Factoid: In some areas of South Dakota, the ground glitters like gold due to the earth and rocks’ micaceous (mica-filled) nature and looks magical.

Magic-Glos with Tiny Clay Sculpture and Inclusions by Karen A. Scofield.

Jewelry Resin (Magic-Glos, Ice Resin) Tiny Sculptures, and Bezels

Magic-Glos

Spelling –Magic-Glos is hyphenated and is spelled with only one “s.”

I’m going to discuss Magic-Glos here more because Ice Resin has books based on it. One such book is “Resin Alchemy: Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists,” by Susan Lenart Kazmer.

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Magic-Glos Resources

Lis Pavelka’s Magic-Glos Tips: http://www.lisapavelka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Magic-Glos-Tips-Tricks-15.pdf

Magic-Glos MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet): http://www.artclayworld.com/v/vspfiles/assets/MSDS/magic_glos.pdf

Fire Mountain Gems Magic-Glos Tips and Information: http://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/jewelry-making-articles/f35h

Corrections to My Magic-Glos Video (Always Learning!)

1. Don’t seal paper or cardstock inclusions with Mod Podge or PVC (white craft) glues if you’re using them with Magic-Glos — reactions between water-activated mediums, inks, and Magic-Glos can occur over time.

2. Bubbles can be  prevented almost all the time. Read resouces given here. Bubbles can be removed by letting cured item sit one hour, drilling a hole into the bubble, cleaning up drilling debris, adding just enough Magic-Glos, and curing again.

Things Magic-Glos Doesn’t Work Well With:

  • PVC glues – your white craft, nearly all decoupage mediums/glues, and school glues are PVC glues — https://thebluebottletree.com/what-is-the-difference-between-mod-podge-and-acrylic-medium
  • Airdry glues — air-dry glues get trapped under things, don’t cure 100%, then release air bubbles into your curing resin. Use two-part epoxy glue instead!
  • Ice Resin, whether or not each resin is cured or wet (insured) — chemical reaction between the two resins causes cloudiness
  • Water-based sealants – any sealants that are not waterproof after drying (water resistant is not waterproof)
  • Alcohol inks
  • Unsealed inkjet prints
  • Anything that may run or bleed if wet
  • Sharpie markers

If in doubt, test first, often weeks ahead to make doubly sure.

Baking Magic-Glos

Don’t. Don’t bake Magic-Glos. Avoid temperatures over 100 degrees F. See MSDS. 

Warning: Baking Magic-Glos with polymer clay will cause the resin to amber (brown). See MSDS sheet (link given above) for further info.

Magic-Glos Layers

Doming, Pulling Away, and Self-Leveling Properties and What They Mean to the User — The same properties that allow Magic-Glos to dome causes the resin to pull away from edges/periphery in first layer or two, hence a good dome is built up in layers, each of which are cured before the next is added. The last layers are minimal amounts and it may help to spread the resin nearly to the edge (with a toothpick or small ballpoint stylus) and then let Magic-Glos self-leveling finish the job, finally fully covering evenly and doming. Let it sit 10 minutes to 1/2 hour out of UV light to let it finish self-leveling and to let air bubbles make themselves evident. The self-leveling properties mean that you might think you only added enough, the self-doming is a bit of a delayed reaction, and then suddenly you have Magic-Glos running over the sides. If still uncured, it can be cleaned up with cotton swabs and wet wipes but prevention is better than damage control.  Prevention involves adding thinner, multiple layers that are each cured before the next is added and curing your item while on a pedestal — a bit of polymer clay or poster-tx on a craft mirror a bit larger than your piece but small enough to fit in the UV lamp oven.

If the overfill cured, it can be pried off with your hands and/or chipped off with a craft knife.

Minimum Number Of Layers — usually 2 layers, less is more, meaning it’s better to add thin/incomplete layers than to overfill. Thinner layers allows the air bubble popping method of passing a butane mini torch or windproof lighter over the surface of the Magic-Glos for one and only one second.

Note: You don’t have to use seven layers like I did. I used so many layers because I made mistakes and was fiddling with different effects. You can use three layers or more, and maybe less. It depends on what you doing, of course.

Ice Resin

Ice Resin Faux Opal, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Ice Resin Faux Opal, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

I also did a faux opal with Ice Resin. Fun!

Art Journal. Why Magic? by Karen A. Scofield.

So I’m Doing Art Journaling Finally

A Few Sample Pages of My First Art Journal

Of course, it all starts with love, four words for love, then it covers reciprocity, examining what kind of power we have in our relationships from personal to public and political. After that, I talk about making reality according to will, because chances are, if we examine love, power, and reciprocity then we’ll want to make changes.

First, I experimented with backgrounds made with acrylic craft paints. There are some neon, glow, and fluorescent colors in there. I added some mica misters (sprays) on top on some pages but not others. Uni Posca paint pens and “Moonlight” Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens were used on all pages so far. These particular gel pens don’t have to be sealed once dried but the Posca paint pens remain water-soluble and do best with several layers of Krylon matte sealant for that reason. The spray sealant also happens to solve the issue of acrylic painted art journal pages tending to stick together.

I’m diving into some art journaling as I wait for my clay pieces to get fired. It’s taking quite some time as the art gallery’s kiln needed new parts and only recently got them. Because of that, they’re behind and still have to fire my pendants. I’m not doing anymore glazing until I know if this works out and what to expect.

Art Journal. Words for Love from Agape to Praxis. Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Art Journal. Words for Love from Agape to Praxis. Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

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Art Journal. Why Magic?

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Art Journal Spread "Words!" by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Art Journal Spread “Words!” by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Aphrodite Over Time. Goddess. Art Journaling. Grimoire is to spell or write. K. Scofield. 2016.

Aphrodite Over Time. Goddess. Art Journaling. Grimoire is to spell or write. K. Scofield. 2016.

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Art Journal. The Great Meta Goddess

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Art Journal. Equality.

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Art Journal Pages. Karen A. Scofield. 2016. Credit for Law of Magic goes to Isaac Bonewits.

Art Journal Pages. Karen A. Scofield. 2016. Credit for Law of Magic goes to Isaac Bonewits.

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The Mad Art Doll Sculptor Experiments — A PaperClay-Premier Slurry Mix (Slip)

He-he-ho-ho-ha-ha! Mwha-ha-ha-ha-ha-HA!

It’s kind of like that for a few seconds but then days (and into some mornings) were spent examining many different art doll mediums, sculpting techniques, youtube videos, and pinterest pins. But you know, that initial glee does infuse a peaceful and intense joy into hours of research.

Related Pinterest Boards

I’ve built up little libraries on my Pinterest boards. It’s not all the usual, so you may want to check these boards out.

La Doll Premix Clay, an Air-Dry Clay

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444941638163831573/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444941638163831549/

Official sites refer to La Doll Premix as a stone clay, a paper clay, and a polymer clay  — a hybrid clay! It has paper pulp in it as well as two types of finely ground stone – talc and pumice. It also has other stuff in it that allows it to dry to artist grade strength and you can make hollow dolls with it just as you can with La Doll Premier clay. Premix is a proprietary mix of La Doll Stone (often just referred to as “La Doll) and La Doll Premier, their most advanced clay. It is stronger than if a customer mixed the two, I’m not sure how.

Unfortunately, I can’t find Premix locally and shipping costs are financially prohibitive so I turned to an experimental mix.

Considering Air-Dry Clays … Paperclay and Premier

I have some delightful polymer doll clays (Cernit, Puppen Fimo), but have become quite fascinated with the air-dry clays suitable for art dolls, mainly Padico La Doll Premier, one of if not the strongest air-dry clay on the market. (Clays that seem to dry in the air but that really cure by chemical reaction not included.)

Air-dry Clay Directory: http://newclaynews.blogspot.com/p/adc-brands.html

Many of the renowned figurative art doll artists on my pinterest  boards use these two air-dry clays. Others most commonly use artist grade polymer doll clays, often Cernit and Fimo.

Air-dry Clay Slip … What For?

Padico makes Premier, Premix, and La Doll (meaning their original Stone clay) and  La Doll Cloth Clay, a clay slurry/slip version of Premier air-dry clay, essentially.

Slurry, n. — a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.

In the ceramics world, clay slurry is referred to as “slip.” It’s used to coat or join pieces. It’s also a handy way of recycling dried up bits of clay, as they can be rewetted (providing they weren’t fired, I presume).

The Cloth Clay page states: It is a liquid air-dry clay sure to inspire some new styles of doll crafting. It can be used in a manner similar to the clay-over-cloth technique currently used by many cloth doll crafters or used for draping fabric on a sculpted clay figure. It can also be used like a clay slip, to fill small holes or cracks on finished surface of a sculpted figure.

If you go to the video on youtube, “Japan ‘Ichimatsu’ doll Making (without subtitle),” you’ll notice they’re working with a surface clay made of pulverized shells (must not breath in while dry!) and do wonders with clay slip. They don’t just use it to join things like the ears. They also use it to create the eyes — to embed the eyes. They later carve them out in a highly stylized way. Captivating.

Ecorche (sculpting of the muscles, often over a wire armature), such as what sculptor Julian Kohr accomplishes, involves sculpting the fatty padding and skin for a more realistic appearance.

https://youtu.be/SXmtItK9SmE

Can an art doll artist do that with Premier and other artist grade air-dry doll clays, maybe like this at times? It’s a WIP (work in progress) by russian art doll artist extraordinaire, Михаил Зайков (Michael Zajkov). Such an approach would better portray all sorts of people — young, old, female, male, active, inactive and an artist could better portray the body as a living, breathing, body, a person with a story.

The Questions, They Burn!
  1. Why not do an adapted version of ecorche and then dip the sculpture in a clay slurry to add fat/skin?
  2. Why not dip armature in a clay slurry to start coating the armature with clay?
  3. Why not, at various stages, dip WIPs in clay slurry to smooth things out and bulk things up at the same time?
  4. Will slurry be smoother and easier, more magical, than traditional additive and/or subtractive methods, litterally and figuratively, pardon the pun? If it is, can a slurry open doors when working with air-dry clays? Is it part of how to work air-dry clays masterfully? Is it part of that toolbox?

Slurry Creation, a 3:1 Mix, and Testing it Out

https://youtu.be/ri6UQKRJZPU

I got two larger jars, put in a block each of Creative PaperClay in one jar and Padico La Doll Premier clay in the other, in chunks. I then added water and tried to break the clay down  and create that magical slurry. Apparently, that was going to take forever so I transferred the clay and water to a blender and added enough water to make smooth slurry of each kind of clay. I added cling wrap over each open jar then closed the lids.

I started testing. I wanted slurries to provide a smooth and an even enough coat and then sanding can take care of the rest.

  1. PaperClay slurry was too gritty in a coarse way.
  2. Premier clay slurry was so smooth and gelatinous-like that it bunched up when I tried to smoothly apply it over a sheet of paper with a brush. Nope. Neither were quite what I wanted.
  3. A mix of the two?! In mad scientist mode, I got a trusted dual ended measuring spoon out — a teaspoon on one end and a tablespoon on the other end, and made a 3:1 Creative PaperClay Premier clay mix, meaning one part Premier (1 t) and three parts PaperClay (1 T). “T” is for tablespoon and “t” is for teaspoon.  I mixed it up well, applied with a brush to paper, applied it to a papier-mache egg, filled a mold with it, and dipped a wooden skewer in it.
    1. The 3:1 molded clay slurry has dried.
      1. Dried, the molded clay slurry is close to a thin wafer like medallion and it broke easily. Curious, it’s strong if it’s coating something, even a thin wooden skewer normally used in BBQing, and is whacked against something hard but if strong shearing force is applied, if on its own, the dried 3:1 clay slurry breaks. So it has some kinds of strength but not others. Unless someone tried to snap doll in two, dried slurry remains incredibly strong. This is a vote for using this slury as part of the sculpting process, but only in thin layers over something else — the first coating of armature, coating musculature to soften appearance, adding sculpted eyebrows/moles/elbow skin. I will not use it for joining limbs, other body parts, or digits. It’s a vote for either decreasing amount of Creative Paperclay slurry in the mix or switching to a premade slurry of eithre La Doll Stone (regular) or La Doll Premier. The slurry for La Doll Premier is called Padico Cloth Clay. I just now ordered some Padico Cloth Clay for $11.20 US dollars. I must compare, of course.
    2. The clay slurry dried on the wood, paper, and papier-mache very nicely, stayed put, dried overnight, and sands ever so easily.
    3. Strength and other qualities will be continually checked as I use this mix.
    4. The clay slurry I haven’t mixed will be kept separate by brand and used with the clay it’s made from…unless I mix it for certain purposes. I don’t know if I will?
    5. Two coats of 3:1 slurry on a wooden skewer, letting the first dip dry overnight before dipping again, made the stick at least twice as thick as its original width. It does not easily chip off even though I whacked the coated skewer against many surfaces many times.
    6. One coat of 3:1 slurry dried on paper does crack and separate one dry when you fold the paper.
    7. Testing of brand-pure, 3:1, and other ratio mixes of slurry will be dried over armature and tested.
    8. Putting clay slurry in a thin line squeeze bottle to write, create brows, create moles and other details is still a monstrously good idea. I was incredibly pleased with the results.

Conclusion

I am more interested in Premier, Cloth Clay, and Premix than ever. Premix is not available locally or from many o the major art supplies online stores.

The book Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide, by Ryo Yoshida just arrived. I got it for 20-something US dollars, a good price. It came weeks early, a rather pleasant surprise. Now I must find help with translation or find ready-made translations of chapters online. No one’s Japanese here is that strong.

What’s in My Art Travel Bag Video

Off to S. Dakota we go! Just the hubby and I, the rest of the household is staying home.

Contents of Fanny Pack Watercolor Travel Bag

  • 1 sample size Aveno Baby Eczema Therapy tube of handcream
  • 1 Altoid tin of eyeglass lens wipes
  • 3 Sharpie pens, 1 blue, 2 black, fine
  • Masking fluid
  • 1 tiny tube of table salt (used an old Pentech Liquiphite tube) for watercolor technique
  • 2 tiny spray bottles
  • 1 white gel pen
  • 1 mechanical pencil
  • 1 white Elmers Paint Pen
  • I Pigma Micron Pen
  • 2 large bull clips to hold pages down
  • 1 cotton kitchen towel
  • 1 tiny Strathmore sketchpad
  • 1 small Strathmore 140 lb. watercolor spiral notebook
  • 1, 6 stick set of Cretacolor leads, assorted (good for aux quatre crayons sketches)
  • 1, 6 stick set of Cretacoor charcoal leads
  • 1 Cretacolor Ergonomic lead holder (has built in kead sharpener!)
  • 3 nail files to help sharpen leads
  • cotton swabs
  • 1 large wash brush
  • 1 larger round brush
  • 5 or 6 cheap kids’ round paint brushes for masking fluid
  • 2 water brushes (they hold water in them!)
  • 1, 24 color Koi pocket watercolor field sketch box
  • 1 splatter screen
  • 1 oz bottle titanium white Golden Fluid Acrylic
  • 1 old tooth brush
  • 1, 11 oz. can Krylon workable fixative (ten years old and still working!)

I added the workable fixative, toothbrush, Cretacolor leads, Cretacolor lead holder, tube of salt, white fluid acrylics, and Sharpie pens after the video.