My Faux Resin Opal Shown Against Light Then Dark Backgrounds

 

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My Resin Opal I filmed in April of 2017, shown against both light and (wait for it!) dark backgrounds. (I've discovered the iMovie app!) I used Magic-Gloss resin, a Lisa Pavelka product, and five very different glitters and powder products to create a light show within my handmade resin gem. So, both my choice and placement of product is what made the light play back and forth between the various resin inclusions. I did not simply dump it in the inclusions, mix, and poor. They were strategically placed, mapped out. You may not find another artisan-made faux opal made of resin with fire like this on the internet? Not bragging, I've just not seen it. Yet. Not all the inclusions were designed for or are commonly used in resin. I make my own pendant gem molds based on my own polymer clay sculpts, as was the case for this Goddess pendant. Sadly, it perished along with all of my belongings in a house fire on Sept. 4, 2017, but I look forward to creating more like this. Here's to hoping I remember just how I made it. #resingem #resingemstone #goddesspendant #fauxopal #opal #gemstones #gemstone #goddess #diy #symbolsofequality #femininedivine #womensrights #ourbodiesourrights #goddessart #fauxopal #resinopalfire #resinopal #resingems #opalfire #crystalopal #fauxcrystalopal #faux #Magic-Glos #lisapavelkasmagicglos #uvresin #uvresinjewelry #playoflight #lightshow #karenascofield #wisconsinartist #resinjewelry

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I used Magic-Gloss resin, a Lisa Pavelka product, and five very different glitter and powder products to create a light show within my handmade resin gem. Choice of and strategic placement of inclusions made the light play back and forth. 

Not all the inclusions were designed for or are commonly used in resin.

I make my own pendant gem molds based on my own polymer clay sculpts. Sadly, it perished along with all of my belongings in a house fire on Sept. 4, 2017, but I look forward to creating more like this. Here’s to hoping I remember just how I made it.

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, an artist grade air-dry clay, and the beginner’s needs or 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) were used. See: https://thebluebottletree.com/seal-polymer-clay/

Out of the air-dry clays presently sold by Dick Blick, the strongest and most artist grade ones used for sculpting, according to many art doll artists, are Activa La Doll Premier, Activa La Doll Satin Smooth, and Creative PaperClay. Creative PaperClay is frequently listed as academic not because it’s strictly academic and you can’t create incredible fine art sculptures out of it, you can, but because students can use it but most, including public school art teachers, don’t know how to get fine art results out of it. In this video, you can see me, starting at 2 min. in, flipping through a book by The late Robert McKinley who made exquisite are dolls with Creative PaperClay. Susie Benes has an excellent basic into page on Creative PaperClay here. She goes into how-to here. Adele Po has some good information and pictures here. You can find some pretty cool Creative PaperClay sculpting videos in this youtube playlist. And of course Pinterest will yield an array of examples.

Durability… (Remember, this page is not covering resin clay from Japan, etc.) Jewelry may take much more wear and tear, so fine art air-dry clays that can be damaged by exposure to water – so Creative PaperClay or Premier Clay usually aren’t used for charms, pendants, and beads. Not unless they’re encased, including inside the bead hole, in resin. For jewelry, oven cured polymer clay is a better choice.

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 like Apoxie Sculpt 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 built on a wire armature, 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. 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 said to be easier to sculpt and blend than Premier. Doll artist Hannie Sarris loved Premix clay. Others love Premier clay. Both 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

Note: 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.

Spray Sealants and Resin for Artist Clays

This page is frequently updated at times.

Audience

If you’re strictly focused on sealing polymer clay jewelry with sealants, you may go to Blue Bottle Tree’s pages on the topic but my page here contains information and examples that she doesn’t and it may interest polymer clay artists who may choose to explore a little, expand their scope, or pick up a few prime tips from chosen resources. 

The audience for this page includes:

  • Polymer clay artists, so I’ll briefly cover sealing a variety of artist grade polymer clays
  •  Art Doll artists who may use very different hybrid or regular polymer clays from the majority of polymer clay artists

As for polymer doll clays, I think it prudent to mention that not all doll artists think it’s a good idea to use a spray sealant on their dolls and some, like Patricia Rose Studio, absolutely advise against it.  She uses a lot of polymer doll clay that isn’t the hybrid type – a 1/3 cernit white to 2/3s ProSculpt polymer clay mix, for example. Then she paints them with oil-based Genesis Heat Set Paints, using Genesis heat set thinner and glaze. She mentions them 2xs on her tip page – under the “Firing Your Doll” and “Genesis Paints” sections. The Genesis heat set line includes Genesis Heat Set Permanent Matte Varnish (negates glossiness of Genesis heat set paints and mediums).

That brings me to the following, you know, since I mentioned doll sculpting clay.

Doll Sculpting Clay/Resin Mediums and Scope

Skip this section if not interested in art doll sculpting mediums.

Opinions on sealants vary because sculpting mediums do. Here’s a bullet list kind of quick scan of artist grade sculpting mediums art doll artists and other sculpting artists may use.

  • Epoxy clays like Apoxie Sculpt – their official Apoxie Sculpt FAQ mentions painting and sealant
  • Polymer art doll clays like Cernit Doll Clay (available at the Clay Factory for the US ), Prosculpt (available on the Art Dolls webpages), or Fimo Professional Doll (available here or here for the US, here for the UK, and here for Australia)
  • Particularly strong, specialist air-dry polymer hybrid clays like Premier (not all air-dry clays were created equal and a lot of pages on air-dry clay are not especially cognizant of that, they don’t truly know the best ones for doll making – their comparisons are lacking enough critical criteria, knowledge, talent, or resulting experience)
  • Air-dry paper clays Creative PaperClay, classified either as a scholastic or artist grade clay depending on the talent and skill set being used (more on that later)
  • Ceramic Paper Clay (is kiln fired)
  • Porcelain
  • Artist grade cold porcelain (not all cold porcelain is created equal either)
  • 3D Printing mediums (often primed and airbrush painted with Golden Fluid Acrylics or paints and such used by the model building crowd)

Not all of the above list will be covered in relation to sealants on this page. That would be a book.

A Few Claying Tips Frequently Not Mentioned But That Really Matter

Skip this section if solely concerned about sealing  polymer clay with sealant or resin.

Yeah, this isn’t about sealants or resin on clays but I feel compelled to add a little section on sculpting. Polymer clay and air-dry clays use different sculpting techniques. (Some of the following pages may mention sealing pieces or may link to ones that do.)

Now I feel I should mention some additional preemptive tips that a lot of people leave out but that will really matter when working with polymer clay.

  • Clothes — Avoid wearing fuzzy, fiber shedding garments like sweaters or bathrobes while claying.
  • Environment — Polymer clay seems to suck fibers, hair, and dust right out of the air so don’t set up your polymer clay station right next to your dryer and cats favorite resting spot. I did that when I first started. Also, you may want to keep your doll wigging station far away from your cleaning station for the same reasons. I did that too.
  • Cleaning — Dust then vacuum, in that order, about half an hour before you clay.  Whatever bits that that were scared up into the air by cleaning will have a chance to settle.
  • Storage & Wipe-down — To further combat fibers, hairs and dust getting in your clay, keep your plymer clay packages within Ziploc baggies that are stored within sealed boxes polymer clay packages within Ziploc baggies that are stored within sealed boxes or drawers , cabinets, or drawers. Quickly wipe down the parts of the sealed boxes or drawers , cabinets, or drawers that you touch before getting your clay out. Wet wipes are great for that and I add a little rubbing alcohol to mine in the studio.
  • Tools, Etc. Storage —When not in use, store your clean tools in a sealed container or somehow cover them up. In fact that’s a good idea for anything that will be used on your raw, polymer clay
  • Hand Washing — Wash you hands thoroughly before claying.
  • Dedicated Scrap Polymer Clay —Dust and wipe off your clay area, and once dry then wipe it down with a scrap piece of polymer clay dedicated to this purpose.

If you didn’t know these tips, I just saved you a lot of trouble. You’re welcome. Here are some more beginner polymer clay tips from Blue Bottle Tree and here is her page specific to dust in relation to polymer clay.

And Now, The General Topic of Sealants on Artist Grade Polymer Clays

This section is for a variety of polymer clay artists, including polymer clay jewelry artists.

First, know your polymer clays, choose the right one for your needs, then consider that polymer clay itself doesn’t have to be sealed but some surface effects do, like mica or other dry powders (but Perfect Pearls mica powder may not have to be sealed, not all mica powders are equal). If you do decide to seal your polymer clay, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Please refer to Blue Bottle Tree’s pages about sealants on general use polymer clays — all her pages with the sealant tag. She updates periodically, yay! She even covers how the same sealant may act differently on different clays and goes over a variety of criteria in relation to that. For full results on all sealers, check her google docs spreadsheet here.
    1. Pardo Polymer Clay Note: Pardo polymer clays, which come in Art, Jewelry, Transparent, and Mica sold on Poly Clay Play are not covered by Blue Bottle Tree’s above google docs spreadsheet. I had trouble applying both resin and a sealant like Water-based Indoor Varathane on Pardo clay but then Pardo is a bit of a different polymer clay in that it contains beeswax in its composition.
  2. Generally, manufacturers of art products don’t always announce reformulations and may not anticipate how they will affect various artist materials like, polymer clay.  Reformulations of one or more products may mean they may not play  well together anymore.
  3. Polymer clays have undergone industry-wide reformulations, sometimes numerous ones and they too are not necessarily known to consumers.
    1. A Bit of Background: In 2006-2008 and since,  numerous brands of polymer clay reformulated numerous times, first to take out phthalates (certain type of plasticizer) and then to purportedly to improve clays. Some sealants have also been reformulated, for other reasons.  It’s reasonable to expect that all these changes may account for sometimes contradictory reported results.  http://www.garieinternational.com.sg/clay/shop/fimo_new_formula.htm
  4. Resin or sealant, if used, should be applied to baked/cured/dry prepped clay. Resins are damaged at polymer clay baking temperatures, could interfere with air-dry clay drying properly, and bare polymer clay should be baked and prepped (briefly wiped with rubbing alcohol) before resin is applied. Sealants may also interfere with clay drying properly or may bubble or fill the air with noxious fumes if heated in an oven. Etc. All sorts of issues.
  5. With sealants, spray or otherwise, it’s possible to get very different results using the same sealants and clays because people may be using different ages, and therefore formulations, of the same clay, sealant, or both.
    1. Example: For a while, before our 2017 house fire, I was using a can of Patricia Nimrock’s Clear Acrylic Sealer that was about 10 years old. Additionally, I was sometimes working with 10+ years old polymer clay. Spray sealants and polymer clays in general had undergone reformulations since those production dates. Therefore, for a while, I was successfully using that spray on my polymer clay beads while others using more recently purchased spray and polymer clays weren’t.  They got different results.
    2. Not all resource pages tested more recently purchased polymer clays at the time they were written.  The date of your resource page may matter for the above reasons. Not all artists testing products have the same time, resources, and situations on hand.
      1. Had my house not burned down, I probably would be still be using my older clay. I stored my clay carefully – double to triple sealed, protected from light exposure, and in a home with central air that didn’t experience internal temperatures outside a certain clay-friendly range. The older polymer clay formulations stayed workable for years longer if kept with exquisite care.
      2. Blue Bottle tree has the resources and time to more extensively test an array of newer clay and sealants (resin, liquid polymer clays, spray and bottled sealants).
      3. Additionally, what audience(s) is a web page addressing?  That can make a huge difference because, for example, hybrid polymer doll clays might be very different from general use polymer clays when treated with sealants.
  6. You don’t always know how long clay has sat on store shelves or their storage – product turnover can vary from store to store
  7. Many spray sealants tend to have a strong odor unsuitable for wearing close to your body. Some of my test beads smelled of the spray sealant even years later. I’ve noticed that some people can’t smell it much or at all while it may really bother the next person, to the point of headache with some people.
  8. As for the shimmery mica powder effects on polymer clay, most matte finishes bring it’s look down a few notches or even by a lot. I found the above Lascaux spray, a museum quality finish, did so the least. But is it good to wear against skin? I have yet to test coating Lascaux spray with jewelry resin, but that’s coming up.

In the polymer clay world, some sealants may chemically interact with and change the surface of a polymer clay, making it permanently tacky or even downright gooey. A sealant that works on one or more polymer clays may not work well with others.

Therefore…

  • Check reliable resources on the topic.
  • It’s a good idea to test, test, test your particular combination of products.
  • Check for chemical reactions at one month, 6 months, and even a year after application.
  • Some spray sealants create droplets and alter the mica powder appearance for the worse. It’s yet another reason to do test pieces. Know your products. Know how to use and clean spray cans.
  • Some people keep physical and written records – binders or boards of test pieces with notes (products, methods, date, date checked, results).

Got to Mention Resin and Polymer Clay

Increasingly I’m looking into coating or even embedding polymer clay beads and pendants in resin.

Resin Resources

Blue Bottle Tree also disccesses using resin on polymer clay here but her audience is more the polymer clay bead crowd than an art doll maker audience, so her website focuses on general use polymer clays and not ones like Premier, a hybrid air-dry polymer doll making clay. She has a google spreadsheet that compares an array of sealants on polymer clay but excludes resins. As I read this page, she does not have such a spreadsheet comparing resins on polymer clay.

https://thebluebottletree.com/tag/sealer/

Jessama Tutorials briefly covers the different types of resin one can use on polymer clay here and how to use them here.

Here is a video that compares how much commonly used resins yellow or amber when exposed to light and heat.  It was conducted by an independent lab.  You can see a screenshot of the comparison chart here.

Now for resource pages on specific resins:

  • Art Resin (a brand name) comes out on top as least yellowing, and while it says it’s not a casting resin and is ideally laid down in 1/8 inch layers, I have seen numerous artists successfully use Art Resin for casting jewelry resin pieces.
    • And Ooh La La, here is an extensive Art Resin question and answer page.
    • Art resin also has an FAQ page 1 and  FAQ 2 that covers sealing and embedding and more. (Art Resin’s heat tolerance goes as high as 120F or 50C, in case you were wondering about baking an Art Resin and polymer clay piece because other resins will amber if baked.)
  • Here is a great wealth of information, in a 22 minute video, on how to use Lisa Pavelka’s Magic-Glos UV Resin, by Lisa Pavelka.
  • Here’s video on using Tiny Pandora DeepShine UV brush on resin on polymer clay. It doesn’t curl thinner polymer clay pieces as many UV resins do.
  • But what about nail polish? You have to be specific. Nail polish in general no, but wait, “You can use UV-cure nail gel on polymer clay, in fact. Clear UV-cure topcoats are a great way to get a clear coating on polymer clay.” Born Pretty UV resin gel, a nail top coat, is mentioned.

Below are a few resources on how to make resined jewelry surfaces more matte. I love matte.

At least one brand of jewelry resin is more matte if you wipe the cured surface with 91% rubbing alcohol, I sadly forget which one at the moment.

A Few Polymer Clay Friendly Sealants, Some of them Spray Sealants, for Sealing Art Dolls

I add this very brief coverage here since many  resource pages don’t focus on art doll clays and sealants used, if any.  Paints are mentioned in this section because you can’t use a water-based sealant over oil-based stuff.

Note: I previously covered different art doll clays and clay type-specific sculpting tips in my above “A Few Claying Tips Frequently Not Mentioned But That Really Matter” section.

  • Polymer clay art doll artists may seal their dolls with oil-based Genesis Heat Set Permanent Varnishes if using Genesis heat set paints which are also oil-based. This I have not used yet.
  • Premier accepts multiple sealants.
    • Lascaux — Artist grade  sealants that won’t yellow, comes in museum quality sprays and liquids. Check out the link. I got mine on Dick Blick and Jerry’s Artarama.
    • Air-dry clay art doll artists may use either water-based Indoor Varathane or other brand spray can sealants if using a hybrid air-dry clay like Premier or a paper clay like Creative PaperClay and they’ve painted their doll with water-based paints and mediums.
      • Some examples of acrylic paint choices include:
        •  Delta Creative Ceramcoat
        • Americana Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint (let dry a few weeks or bake according to manufacturer’s directions)
        • Golden Professional Heavy Body or Fluid Acrylics. Golden fluid acrylics can also be airbrushed on. 
        • Some miniature and model paints like Vallejo
  • Water-based Indoor Varathane comes in matte, satin, and gloss in pint sized containers.
    • It works great on polymer clay art dolls, just clean your doll before painting with water-based products on baked polymer clay surfaces. You do that because baked polymer clay initially has a bit of oily residue.
    • It’s also used on thoroughly dry air-dry paper or resin claysVarathane can be airbrushed or brushed onto your doll. I got my water-based Indoor Varathane at my local Menards (home improvement store).
  • Premier clay is often a favorite hybrid polymer-fiber-stone clay for doll makers and it has it’s pros and cons. Premier clay is formulated like LaDoll clay, but contains an additional polymer binder that makes it tougher and stronger. It’s so strong, it’s often used to make ball-jointed art dolls.

Spray Sealants Sold in Spray Cans

Note: For possible incompatibility, always check your results at several days, weeks, and again at 6 months. Check for any tackiness.

  • PYM II — shiny and no out of production. Drats! Whyyy?
  • Lascaux Fixative Matte UV Protect II Spray Sealant — Tested (2016 to 2017) on a variety of general use polymer clays — remained matte and still not tacky on different polymer clays old and new (listed below) even 12 months later!
    • Museum Quality “Lascaux UV Protect 2 Fixative/Sealant In Matt” Was Tested On Different Polymer and Other Clays (Mostly Polymer Clays): An Ultralight and Premo mix, Amaco Cold Porcelain, Fimo Effect colors, 10+ years old Premo, Cernit, Liquid Sculpey in gold, Studio by Sculpey, more old Premo, Original Sculpey in Terra Cotta, Pardo Jewelry Clay, more Premo from different years, fresh Yellow Gold Glitter Premo, older Premo clays again, Super Sculpey, Polyform Model Air Porcelain, fresh Premo, fresh Sculpey Soufflé, Puppen Fimo (doll clay, now called Fimo Doll Professional polymer clay), Cernit Doll Collection polymer clay. That means there are only two commercially prepared cold porcelain clays and the rest are polymer clays. Among these test pieces are the following finishes: Golden brand micaceous iron oxide acrylic paint, metallic acrylic paints (Folk Art, Viva Precious Metal Colour, DecoArt Dazzling Metallics), Pearl Ex mica powder, Perfect Pearls mica powder, Adirondack Alcohol Ink. #lascauxfixativ  #spraysealants  #polmerclay  #lascaux2  #testingspraysealantsonpolymerclay  #periodicchecks  #testing  #thorough
    • Will wear off with heavy wear. Perhaps spray first, let dry two days, then seal with a quality two-part resin (Ice Resin, Art Resin). Then also wet sand the resin to make that layer more matte if that’s what you want.
  • Mr. Super Clear Spray UV Cut Flat —  For hybrid  Premier Clay not regular polymer clay — mat (more so on some clay than others)
  • Duncan Super Matte — For hybrid clay called Premier Clay not regular polymer clay — not an absolute true mat on some surfaces (like polymer clay)

Again, For Clarity’s Sake

I’ve especially heard a lot of good things from the BJD and repaint doll communities about Mr. Super Clear Spray UV Cut (Flat), specifically. Reportedly, people who have dolls worth a thousand dollars or more really trust this stuff, say it has a very fine spray (could it be used on mica powders then?) and doesn’t alter their work. They seem to have specific preferences/tolerances for finishes on their work that not everyone shares. C’est la vie (that’s life).

Keep in mind this particular subgroup is using clays like Padico La Doll Premier Clay, a strong air-dry stone clay know in professional art doll and other sculpting circles the world over. Some call Premier clay a polymer clay, others a stone clay, and others say it contains tiny fibrous material. It’s a little of all three.

If you look at the ingredients on Premier clay’s MSDS, it’s ingredients are listed as “Inorganic fine, hollow particles Inorganic powder, Fiber, Aqueous paste, Surfactant Antiseptic agent, Water.” The polymer portion(s) are somewhere in there, as are the stone and other portions of this air-dry hybrid polymer clay.

Other Candidates for Spray Sealants on Polymer Clay?

I have so far seen only one mention that Blair Spray Clear, which comes in Gloss and Matte, is another quality spray sealant that supposedly can work on polymer clay. From product reviews, it’s said that this product is not as smelly as other spray sealants generally are. I have some and find that to be somewhat true. It still smells. She also isn’t telling us if she checked her work months after creation, an important note because sometimes the detrimental chemical reaction between spray sealants and polymer clay happens more slowly. I have not so far risked it on polymer clay and the person who said it works well with it isn’t telling us whether her polymer clay work was protected by a coat of paint or other surface treatment.

Australian Art Doll Artist, Amanda Day reports using Boyle Matt Spray Finishing Sealer (www.boyleindustries.com.au) on polymer clay. She’s the only one who’s reported using that particular spray on polymer clay, specifically, as far as I can tell, and I’m not sure what subsequent testing she’s done in regards to this use. From other mentions, it isn’t as mat as the other above mat sprays. As for potentially using this spray sealant over mica powders, I don’t know about that because it reportedly can darken other powders. I’m also not sure it’s available outside of Australia.

****************

Some of the information on polymer clay sealants was originally on my tutorial on how to make polymer clay mica powder covered goddess beads

Can You Condition Hard, Crumbly Polymer Clay or Should You Get New Clay?

Hard and crumbly polymer clay could be older, partially cured, or the plasticizer has evaporated or leached out. Some clays tend to be more crumbly by nature if older than a year or so old, e.g., Cernit Doll clay. The question is, can it be successfully , softened, conditioned and then used?

Bottom Line or Pro — Unless the clay had been cured, most hard, crumbly clay can be softened.

Pro: Not all methods of softening difficult-to-condition polymer clay require adding products.

Possible Con: Adding products changes the way clay feels and behaves so some techniques will require new, fresh clay instead. If in doubt, test.

Work it or Buy Fresh Clay? That’s a decision that you’ll make based on a variety of criteria. Personally, with the price of larger “bricks” of different doll clays, which is mostly what I have, I’m going to choose “work it” more often than not. I’ve worked really old clay (10 to 15 years old) for 30 to 40 minutes, conditioned it, and used it with satisfactory to excellent results. Often, it doesn’t take nearly that much effort.  If it hurts your hands to work the clay into submission, you might want to consider using a mallet or NeverKnead (a machine).

Goal: The Goal of Methods 1, 2, and 3 are to make it possible to clump your clay together and run through the pasta machine repeatedly and/or work it with your hands in order to condition your polymer clay.

Method 1: Put it in a zip lock baggie then. in your pocket or otherwise against your skin for a bit to warm it up.

Now try to condition it.

Method 2: It’s not too stiff and crumbly but still needs a little more help?

Soften it with physical manipulation, additives, or a combination of physical conditioning methods and adding new materials to make it supple and workable. Here are your options. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether physical efforts vs. additives are your best options for your techniques.

  • Whack It — Whack the clay with a rubber mallet to “get things moving.” A few good whacks can “jumpstart” conditioning — the more you whack it, the better it behaves, generally.
  • NeverKnead (Tool)– NeverKnead is a modified arbor press that smashes polymer clay. It allows you to condition it without hurting your hands. This can be a boon to those with arthritis.
  • Use Clay Softener (Diluent) or Translucent Clay – Work some softener or translucent clay into it. Start with smaller amounts!  you can always add more but it’s difficult to leech it back out.
  • Translucent clays – Translucent clays have more softening agent  and many clayers soften their crumbly clay by adding some translucent clay.
  • Fimo MixQuick — Fimo MixQuick helps soften hard polymer clay.
  • Sculpey Mold Maker – Sculpey Mold Maker can also help soften hard polymer clay.

Now try to condition it.

 Method 3: If it’s really hard, crumbly, and unresponsive

  • Chop — Chop up the clay in tiny bit using a blade or dedicated food processor.
  • Add — Add Sculpey Clay Softener, mineral/baby oil, liquid polymer clay, or Fimo MixQuick to your polymer clay, if you didn’t already, or maybe again if it needs it, and mix.
  • Simmer” in a Ziplock Bag — Place in a zip lock sandwich bag let sit for a few days in a cool, dry, dark place so that the liquid or plasticizers in Fimo MixQuick seep into the hard clay and soften your clay.
  • Repeat — Repeat the process with more liquid or Fimo MixQuick if necessary.
  • NeverKnead/Mallet — Whack the clay with a rubber mallet to “get things moving” and/or use the NeverKnead.

Now Try to condition it. Again, the goal of the above 3 methods is to make it possible to clump your clay together and then condition it in the pasta machine and/or with your hands.

 “Conditioning Fail”

If even method 3 doesn’t work, your clay was probably partially cured. It can be used as clay crumbles in faux rock or other uses, perhaps, or it can be thrown out.

Prevention

Avoid ordering your clays in the hotter summer months, buy clay only just before you need it, and consider your storage conditions. Your clay is supposed to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Many people try to order the clay just before use. Others found a bargain and store it until later.

I have clays that are 10 years and older that I’ve conditioned and used. We have central air. I store my clays out of the sunlight in a cool, dry, dark place.

Polymer clay can start partially curing at 90-something degrees F. So while it’s okay to warm polymer clay against your body before conditioning for short periods of time, never leave your polymer clay in a hot car while shopping or on a warm windowsill. Store it in a cool, dry, dark place…about 74 degrees or lower, ideally. If you don’t have a house or other storage in which you can keep it 74 degrees or lower, your clay may not fare well if stored for longer periods of time.

See: Glassattic.com’s page on storage

Kraft-tex, Testing different mediums on

Review of Kraft-tex with Pictures, Tips, and Notes

What This Page Is and Isn’t

This page is not designed to cover all tips, techniques, needles sizes and such and cannot take the place of Kraft-tex books, videos, workshops, or project downloads. I show and discuss using an array of common art products on Kraft-tex, link to an ever-growing Pinterest board loaded with examples, include basic tips, and illuminate some basic starter information. That’s it.

Kraft-tex is a durable cloth-paper hybrid product and how you prepare it before using it can make a huge difference, something evident on my Kraft-tex Pinterest board.

What Does it Feel Like?

Right off the roll or bolt, it’s heavier than 140 lb. watercolor paper or cardstock but it doesn’t feel exactly like really heavyweight paper either. It’s a hybrid product initially created as a synthetic leather substitute, doesn’t need interfacing and basically you have two choices — make it supple like fabric/leather or keep it stiffer like really thick art paper.

The difference begins in preparation. Washing it makes it feel more like supple leather…more on that process in a moment. If you want to keep it paper-like, stiff, and flat, it can be ironed even on the highest setting. Some examples of projects that use flat unwashed Kraft-tex are folders, book covers, or envelopes. Also, using Kraft-tex with various templates meant for cardboard gift boxes, etc., is not an unknown. There are many free templates for this on the Internet.

 The Official Kraft-tex Introduction: “Wait until you get your hands on this rugged paper that looks, feels, and wears like leather, but sews, cuts, and washes just like fabric. kraft•tex is supple, yet strong enough to use for projects that get tough wear. Use it to bring an exciting new texture to your craft-sewing projects, mixed-media arts, and bookmaking. Durable fiber-based texture softens and crinkles with handling and washing.” Source: http://www.ctpub.com/kraft-tex

Tips

Why tips? Because it’s a hybrid product, it’s a bit mysterious at first but Kraft-tex can offer frugality, artistic freedom, and the ability to make custom projects for your digital dohickies, kitchen stuff, car kits, sewing room necessities, or different sets of tools. Basic Kraft-tex tips can encourage crafters/artists and fire up some unimpeded excitement with up front initial information, as opposed to eking what they need to know out of numerous web pages, videos, and books. Without somebasic tips and does-this-work-with-that information, which is what this page is largely about, the learning curve can be too drawn out and frustrating some. (Kraft-tex projects, workshops, or patterns available for purchase out there will still have their place/value, I’m sure.)

Tip: Watch Out for Lint, Be Careful of What You’re Wearing — Often, artists don’t realize that their clothes shed fibers until they’re working in the studio. For example, wearing my fluffy navy blue bathrobe while working on white Kraft-tex left it covered with dark fibers.

Tip: All needles and Kraft-tex are permanent. all needle holes are permanent on Kraft-tex. This will affect what size needles you choose, how you backstitch, how you double stitch, and stitch length. Choose a longer sitch length than usual. You may use hand sewing needles, embroidery needles, or an 80/12 sharp sewing machine needle. You will not pin your pattern pieces together before sewing, for obvious reasons, you may have to clip them in places instead. One can also play with decorative perforation.

Tip: Needle sizes and scissor sharpening? Use a hand, sewing machine, or embroidery needle that’s strong enough but no larger.  Also, Kraft-tex dulls scissors and sewing machine needles more rapidly so sharpen your scissors frequently enough and replace sewing machine needles if they get too dull. If you really get into Kraft-tex, you may want to use dedicated sewing machine needles (meaning you don’t use those needles for other stuff).

Tip: Do decorative stitching before you sew  your project.

Tip: One can dye it an array of colors using Rit dye.

Tip: One can emboss Kraft-tex. Example: https://youtu.be/eUDQeFs117I

Tip: Cut our pattern pieces before pre-washing, if you’re pre-washing your Kraft-tex.

Tip: To fold, lightly score and then fold with the bone folder. This will make sure it folds along the intended line nice and neat instead of creasing and creating an imprecise messy fold. You can see the process here.

  • To score, lightly draw the “blade” edge of a bone folder down along the intended line, then fold by running the flat side of your bone folder along the intended folding line.
  • If you don’t have a bone folder, the rounded handle of a clean butter knife may be substituted.
  • If you don’t have a bone folder, draw the blunt blade of the butter knife down the line where you want to fold, then carefully fold over with the blunt butter knife handle.

Tip: Test products you’re using on a scrap piece as you go.

Tip: It can be sewn using your sewing machine, with a heavy-duty sewing machine needle, just keep in mind that all holes from pins and needles are permanent.  Therefore, backstitch slightly to the side to secure stitching — don’t go back-and-forth over the same stitching line as  you normally would when backstitching or you’ll create a hole. For the same reason, if you want to double stitch, avoid double stitching over the exact same line but stitch slightly to the side of the first stitching line instead.

Your Basic Preparation Options

To Keep it Like Paper — Don’t Wash It — If you want to keep it stiff and flat like paper or cardstock, then don’t wash it before using Kraft-tex. It wipes clean pretty well as it’s water resistant. Unwashed, it could be used as a fine art surface (avoid creasing it then) or to make wallets, book covers, boxes, bag straps, etc.

Testing it as a fine art surface, It was placed either on a huge clip board or on my magnetic board. (I have a huge magnetic board and plastic/enamel-coatef super magnets so that I can work on Kraft-tex at my standing easel). So far, no tape that I’ve used  to secure it to the  clipboard has ripped or otherwise damaged the Kraft-tex. Whether different tapes can leave an undesirable tackiness or residue is possibly an issue with some techniques and/or art products? If in doubt, test first.

Handmade Blank Canvas Board Art Journal, by Karen. A. Scofield. Bound with a beaded coptic stitch.

Handmade Blank Canvas Board Art Journal, by Karen. A. Scofield. Bound with a beaded coptic stitch. I covered the back MDF board cover with Kraft-tex and decorated that too.

To Use it Both like Kind of Like Paper and Very Much Like a Fabric — Wash It — If you want to use it like a paper-cloth or a replacement for leather, then wash it before sewing it. If you wash it after creating your item, its resulting texture may not be as even. If  you want to create a very soft fine leather-like texture, specifically, then use my method, below.  This video discusses a different wash-and-crumple method than the following steps, and you can see it produced a faux leather texture that’s not as soft. A lot of people simply wash and dry their Kraft-tex on hot three times.

  1. Cut — Cut out enough for your project or cut out the pattern pieces in advance, in the first place.
  2. Container — Find a basin or cooking container that will hold your material. Remember, it’ll be kind of stiff when it first goes in to soak.
  3. Boiling Water Soak — Boil enough water, put it in your container, keeping all safety precautions in mind, and soak your Kraft-tex in that water for 5 minutes.
  4. Crumble It Up — Wearing protective, thick rubber gloves and using tongs, remove your Kraft-tex and crumble it into a ball, trying to crumble it as evenly as possible into a ball. Let it sit several minutes.
  5. Flatten — Lay it flat.
  6. Repeat — Now do steps 3 through 5 two more times — you will soak it in boiling water 5 minutes, crumple it in a ball, and lay it flat — you will do all that three times total.
  7. Dryer — As a final step, you can put it in the dryer on any setting, yes, including the hottest. In fact, some prefer the hotest dryer setting as the last step in turning Kraft-tex into a supple, sewable paper-cloth state.

Art Products One Can Use on White Kraft-tex, and Some to Use on Black Kraft-tex

I’m testing an array of art products on white Kraft-tex. Paints, markers, and pens have to be truly opaque for you to see them on black Kraft-tex … unless you’re talking about irridescent Shiva Paintstiks or interference acrylic paints and powders because those can show well on black art papers and black Kraft-tex.

Opacity and Absorption Considerations

Test even products that say they’re opaque — they may be varying degrees of opacity from brand to brand, colors may vary in opacity by nature, and some marker “juice’ may soak into substrates and dissapear some or alot while others will do fine. So test the color range or the colors you’re going to use. Also, keep in mind that washability is a consideration for some uses but not others. Some products are not washable but that may or not be a consideration for your project for various reasons. For example, if I spray a sealant on what I did and then coat it with a quality acrylic medium, it may not be a problem for the type and amount of wear my finished project might see in its lifetime. If my item is going up on a wall and isn’t going to be around outside or laid on tabletops were people might spill their drinks or other fluids, it may not be a problem that what I drew or painted on is not washable or might ruin if exposed to moisture. It all depends. Know your products and think it through before you create your items or works of art.

  • Watercolors and Watercolor Pencils — Trying these on the white Kraft-tex, I found out they can be used wet, in dry-brushing, and in the form of watercolor pencil. One can lift colors back off of Kraft-tex and you’ll have to mind which are your staining colors, just as you would on any watercolor surface that allows lifting (removing some color). I have not tried a wide variety of wet watercolor techniques on this surface. Dry watercolor pencils, especially the lighter colors may show up on black Kraft-tex, at least my Cretacolor AquaMonoliths sure did, but test your brand first if you really want to know.
  • Modge Podge Fabric — Works but it’s not my favorite and compared to acrylic mat mediums, it looks plasticky and can easily look gloppy if you’re not careful.
  • Ink Jet Print It — More information being sought on that at the moment.
  • Water-soluble Oil Pastels — I tried both Caran d’Ache Neocolor II and Cretacolor AquaStics (which are generally more lightfast).  Both brands work well on this surface and, like watercolor, can be lifted off. Both brands of water-soluble oil pastels have staining colors, just as artist grade watercolors do. Both can be fixed to Kraft-tex. Here’s how I did that.
    • Apply your water-soluble oil pastels. Color, wet, blend, etc., just like you can with these products on other papers.
    • Let dry.
    • Krylon Workable Fixative — See manufacturer’s directions and then spray with Krylon Workable Fixative and let dry. Don’t spray until you saturate the surface. Just give it a decent layer.
    • More Fixative — Spray two more layers of Krylon Workable Fixative, letting each application dry. Let the last layer dry completely. It wouldn’t hurt to let it dry for a couple of hours or overnight.
    • Acrylic Matte Medium — Finally, brush a light coat of acrylic mat medium over your fixed water-soluble pastels. (Liquitex Matte Medium is more matte than Golden’s, in Kraft-tex.) Let dry.
      • Why Three Layers of Krylon Workable Fixative? — If you try to get away with only one layer of Krylon Workable Fixative, expect colors to bleed (especially some of the blues and greens in both brands). They bleed less with two layers of Krylon Workable Fixative using this method. I didn’t see any bleeding with three layers of Krylon Workable Fixative using this method. Please test whatever you’re doing with water-soluble oil pastels, however.
  • TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) — Follow manufacturer’s directions. Before using, consider if you’ll be using Kraft-tex like a stiff paper or like a supple fabric and pre-treat it accordingly, or not.  E.g., the Be Peace Bag shown here.
  • Graphite Pencils — I tried the HB pencil from my Cretacolor set so far. These work well on white Kraft-tex, you can smudge and blend them, but they do not erase from Kraft-tex, not even if you use several erasers. I have not tried all the B pencils and I have not tried all brands. As always, test first. If you make heavy marks, you’re not going to be able to erase completely. If you make like marks and erase with a regular eraser and then also a kneadable erasure, you may be able to remove most of your pencil work.
  • Sketching Pencils (sanguine, dark brown, black and white) — These work well on white Kraft-tex, you can smudge and blend them, but they do not erase from Kraft-tex, not even if you use several erasers. I have not tried all the brands. As always, test first.
  • Rubber Stamps — They work well on it. Of course some ink pads are better than others, same as on other surfaces. Some are archival and water-resistant, others are very much not.
  • Neopaque (opaque fabric paint) — Works well on different colors of Kraft-tex.
  • Sakura Micron Archival Ink Pens — Work well on white Kraft-tex. I could not wet or scrub them off.
  • Sakura Gelly Roll Pens — This brand of gel pen doesn’t run or bleed if they get wet, after they dry. The Moonlight ones are opaque and can be used on white or even black Kraft-tex.
    • Rule: If your gel pens or other pens don’t say water-resistant, they probably aren’t. If they don’t say they can write on dark surfaces, they probably won’t show up well on black.
  • Crayola Crayons — These work particularly well on white Kraft-tex, you can get a solid coverage, and heating the crayons up on its surface is a possibility.
  • Conte Crayons — Work well on white Kraft-tex but don’t erase from it even if you use several different types of erasers.
  • Colored Pencils — These work very well on Kraft-tex but don’t expect them to erase.
  • Uni-Posca Paint Pens (Markers)  — These fabulously opaque water-based paint pens work very well on Kraft-tex, even black Kraft-tex but you have to work fast to blend these markers. Heat setting alone may not be enough to set them, if the item you’re making might meet up with moisture. I’ll do more testing as to how to set them on this surface and will update this page with my findings.
  • Acrylic Paints – Acrylic  paints work very well on this surface, using a variety of brushes and methods. If you’re making a wearable, use a fabric medium with your acrylic paints. Craft paints lines often have a fabric medium they sell too. Golden Acrylic Paints has GAC 900, and Liquitex also sells a fabric medium.
  • Acrylic Inks — Same. They work very well on this surface.
  • Alcohol Inks — Adirondack Alcohol Ink works very well on this surface but spreads so well that you shouldn’t expect to make clean, tight lines with it. They may show all the way through to the other side. A lot.
  • Rit DyeWorks well on Kraft-tex. Pre-cut your pieces as the dye often doesn’t penetrate all the way through, though straight Rit dye did.
  • Shiva PaintstiksWork well on Kraft-tex and heat set. The irridescent ones work well using the rubbing technique on black Kraft-tex. Regular ones work too.
  • Various Fabric Paints — All the brands of fabric paint and iron-on fabric crayons have worked exceedingly well on this white Kraft-tex surface. I’ll do tests to see how they take washing later. Rule: If your fabric paints or markers don’t say they work well both on light and dark surfaces, they’re probably not opaque enough to work on black Kraft-tex.
  • Gessoes — I’m working with modern gessoes, as opposed to rabit glue gesso. Gessoes work well on Kraft-tex though one I tested, Martin F. Weber Prima Gesso, can wash out a bit while others don’t.  Some gessoes are more mat than others, some provide almost paper like textures, and others can create peaks and textures. Some are even glossy looking. Know your gessoes, know your projects, know your likes, and use the best gesso for your needs and preferences. I did not find a need to use gesso on Kraft-tex. However, one could use colored gessoes or white gesso on different colors of Kraft-tex for various effects.
  • Elmer’s Painters (paint markers) — I tested the oil-based kind. They have varying degrees of opacity but work very well on white. On black Kraft-tex, however, they were a bit of a dissapointment because they soaked right into it and seemed to seemed to dissapear somewhat, some colors more than others. They generally don’t show up well enough to my satisfaction. I have not tested them by washing.
  • Various threads, embroidery threads, and various glues can be used on Kraft-tex. Check Glue This to That and other sites for which glues may be most appropriate for your particular project.
  • Polymer Clays? Since Kraft-tex can tolerate heat, polymer clays cure with heat, I will experiment with polymer clay and liquid polymer clay on Kraft-tex.
  • Wood Burning Tips — First check if that could create toxic fumes. It doesn’t sound like a very good or necessary technqiue on this material. I wouldn’t bother trying.

Do the Above Products Show Through to the Other Side?

After testing many products on my white Kraft-tex, I flipped it over. Only some products show through just a tiny bit, like a shadowy hint that something must be on the other side, but none of them bled through…except for two — Rit Dye and the alcohol ink. This means that I can use the other side, the yet all white side, for other work and I may or may not want to apply a layer or two of artist quality acrylic gesso to it first when I do so.

Testing Opacity of Products on Black Kraft-tex

Watercolor Pencils and Elmer's Painters on black Kraft-tex.

Watercolor Pencils and Elmer’s Painters on black Kraft-tex.

Testing water-soluble oil pastels on black Kraft-tex.

Top: Testing water-soluble oil pastels on black Kraft-tex. Middle: Testing Elmer’s Painters. Bottom: Testing Mungyo Gallery Artist Soft Oil Pastels.

Colored Pencil on Black Kraft-tex.

Colored Pencil on Black Kraft-tex. Lighter colors show better.

Uni-Posca pens (AKA Posca markers) on black Kraft-tex.

Uni-Posca pens (AKA Posca markers) on black Kraft-tex. Very opaque.

Dimensional fabric paint on black Kraft-tex

Dimensional fabric paint on black Kraft-tex. Varying opacity.

Sakura Gelly Roll: Moonlight set. On black Kraft-tex.

Sakura Gelly Roll: Moonlight set. On black Kraft-tex. Very opaque, bold, and water resistant.

Irridescent Shiva Painstik on black Kraft-tex.

Irridescent Shiva Painstik on black Kraft-tex. They show up extremely well and are heat set.

Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight pens, Mungyo Artist Soft Oil Pastels, Uni-Posca paint pens , and only some fabric paints show very boldly when applied to black Kraft-tex. Some colors of watercolor pencil (Cretacolor’s AquaMonolith) and colored pencil show very well to rather decently. Test first. Generally Best Performers: Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight pens, Neopaque paints, the shimmery kind of Shiva Paintstiks Uni-Posca paint pens would be fabulous for some projects but not others (it depends what you’re project is used for, subjected to). Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight pens don’t have to be heat set or covered with an acrylic matt medium or anything like that — they are very water resistant and dry relatively fast. Mungyo Artist Soft Oil Pastels can not be heat set or sealed using an acrylic matt medium. They never cure and remain very to somewhat smudgeable. It remains to be seen whether any spray sealant would be suitable enough to allow these oil pastels to be used on wearables or anythign that might see some wear and tear. They are between student and artist grade quality (some colors are fugative). I have to test how Uni-Posca paint pens would stand moisture and/or wear. If needed, I’ll experiment with different says to fix these so they can be used for wearables or items that may be handled frequently enough. The watersoluble oil pastels showed better if I wetted the Kraft-tex and then applied one to numerous times. They can be fixed in the manner described earlier on this page. More testing to follow…

Upcoming

  • Washability — Always test washability of various artwork on the Kraft-tex. The Kraft-tex itself is very washable.
  • Printing on Kraft-tex — I will test clear Golden Digital Grounds on white Kraft-tex. I have that already and am unsure if I want to by TAP (transfer artists paper) too.
  • Testing Opacity on Black Kraft-tex — More testing!
Polymer Doll Clay Storage by Karen A. Scofield

Cernit Doll-Making Clay — Conditioning and More

Naysayers, Difficult First Experiences and Crumbly Clay

Unless it’s very fresh, Cernit Doll clays can be hard and crumbly out of the package … but it’s one of the best polymer doll clays on the market. That confuses a lot of people because most clays are partially cured when they’re crumbly like that (partial curing can start to occur at 90 degrees F). Cernit clay, however, can be crumbly just because that’s its nature if it’s not manufactured quite recently. Don’t immediately assume this polymer clay is impossible to work with just because it’s crumbly.

See “Can You Condition Hard, Crumbly Polymer Clay or Should You Get New Clay?” It lists three methods of conditioning hard, crumbly polymer clay. Adding Fimo MixQuick isn’t so much a problem with doll clay, specifically, because many doll clay artists already do that to add flexibility so little fingers and toes don’t break off so easily during shipping.

Weighing Quality vs. Conditioning Work

Is Cernit Doll-Making clay more difficult to condition? Sometimes. The quality of the clay, it’s strength, the skin-like transparency level and color can be worth it and many hyperrealistic art doll artists choose Cernit Doll clays. With Cernit Doll clay, you can have more control over the softness and firmness of the clay once it’s conditioned precisely because it’s more temperature sensitive. That can be a tremendous plus.

Conditioning Older Cernit Doll-Making Clay

Food Processor to the Rescue! — I’ve had great success with taking the old Cernit Doll clay and mixing it with Puppen Fimo (now Fimo Professional Doll Art Clay) and/or a 1/3 to a 1/2 package of Fimo Mix Quick (which one can get from JerrysArtarama.com).  Place these in a larger food processor that can handle harder work and whir it around on high until it’s very finely pilled. If the Cernit is really hard and crumbly, I  put my Cernit Doll clay into a food processor until it becomes a fine crumbly mess. Then I add the Fimo Mix Quick and maybe some Puppen Fimo too.

Some of it will stick to the food processor walls but a rubber/silicone spatula can help you get it out.

Jar or Bag It and Let it Sit — Remove the contents into a wide mouth glass container or zip lock bag. I prefer the glass jars. Let it sit for a few days to let the plasticizerrs on the MixQuick do their work and soften crumbly clay.

Fastidiously Clean Your Food Processor As Soon As Possible — Clean with rubbing alcohol and wipes and dry before next use.

Labeling and Attaching a Baked Chip — Once the clay is in my glass jar, 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.

Cover your Jar — If you think it might sit a while, you can cover your jar with a pillow case or homemade cover to keep out the light.

Use It — When I’m ready to work with it, I put on disposable latex gloves (not thicker household rubber gloves), pinch together a bit of clay, and start conditioning it with my hands. I work on a clean polymer clay mat and will often rub my work station and hands with scrap polymer clay kept for this purpose — it picks up what your hand washing and wipes may have left behind.

If that doesn’t work, refer to “Can You Condition Hard, Crumbly Polymer Clay or Should You Get New Clay?” again.

Polymer Clay Storage

Polymer Clay Storage

Some Cernit Doll Polymer Clay Information

Origin: Belgium. Made by The Clay and Paint Factory S.A. Yes, they have a Facebook page.

Availability: May be more easily available in Europe and other places than in the US.

Cernit MSDS: http://cdn.dickblick.com/msds/DBH_33904XXXX.pdf

Artist Grade: Yes. Cernit is more translucent and stronger than ProSculpt, another artist grade polymer clay, once conditioned and cured properly. (Reportedly, one can add Premo translucent to Prosculpt to get something close to Cernit but then it begins to work like Cernit — hard at first and then too soft – without becoming as quite as strong as Cernit.)

Strength and Durability: One of the strongest clays in its properly conditioned and cured state.

Shipping: Cernit is more susceptible to transportation and storage temperatures/conditions when in the raw. Cured, it’s one of the strongest clays but finished works still should be well protected/padded during shipping.

Shelf Life: It should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Some people have used 20-year-old Cernit with no problems. Obviously, it may last this long only if transported/kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Reformulations may affect shelf life? The brand is more sensitive to transportation and storage temperatures than other clays.

Multiple Stations: It saves time and sometimes a great deal of frustration to have different stations at which to paint, sew/costume, play with settings, and photograph. For example, once I got wool roving all over my work station, loose bits and all, fibers flying into the air (no, I didn’t shake it about), I had to clean my work station and studio several times and still found those little wool fibers here and there. They’re a pain to get out of polymer clay. So I have a folding table in the living room to use as a wigging and costuming station. I wish I had the space for various permanent work stations but I don’t, so folding table it is!

Cernit Doll Clay Colors: Has range of doll clay colors and can be mixed with each other or other brands to tint. Cernit Doll Biscuit color deepens after baking and Cernit Doll Almond is not quite as yellow.

Conditioning: Warm briefly but sufficiently against body before conditioning. It’s misleadingly crumbly right out of the package but once conditioned may produce superior results, providing that the reason that it’s crumbly is not because it was partially cured due to improper transport or storage temperature. (Most clays are crumbly because they’re partially cured but Cernit is crumbly out of the package before conditioning because that’s the nature of the clay, unless it’s freshly made within the last month(s).) To condition, try pressing it for a while at first more than rolling and twisting. It may get “sticky” if it becomes too warm in the hands. Proper conditioning is crucial to attaining the clay’s ceramic-like, slightly translucent quality though.

Note: Stays softer longer once conditioned, as opposed to other brands of polymer clay.

Cross-Brand Mixability: Yes. Cernit can be mixed with other brands of polymer clay and Fimo MixQuick.

Sculpting: Uses some different sculpting techniques than the rest of the polymer clays. Some people make their doll in Super Sculpey or another clay, create a mold, and then make their item out of Cernit Doll Clay. Others do fine by using warm tools and/or hands when blending clay during a sculpt. Many (most?) sculpt and series bake (bake then proceed to next stage/part) when using Cernit Doll. Lighter colors may make it more difficult to see sculpting details. Check with a mirror and photos that you take of it.

Blending: It is reportedly the most difficult to smear or blend one piece onto another – a feathering and pressure method is often used. Some people report that a Cernit 50/50 with the Classic Fimo blend makes for better doll sculpting. Many add Fimo QuickMix to Cernit and use Sculpey diluent to ease blending.

Armatures: Cernit can get softer while sculpting and baking and needs more excellent and carefully constructed support (armature) than perhaps other clays might.

Water: No! Cernit possesses a filler (natural clay, possibly kaolinite) that absorbs moisture. Therefore, talc or cornstarch are the better release agents and Sculpey Diluent/Softener is better for smoothing the clay than using water.

“If your clay is burning, the temperature of your oven is too high. Address your temperature, not your bake times! Baking longer is never what causes burns if temperature and baking methods are correct.” — http://thebluebottletree.com/how-long-bake-polymer-clay/

While you can rebake your doll many times, you may want to avoid bake times longer than necessary when using the light colored doll clays. Light colored and translucent clays can yellow an darken a bit if baked too long. Experiment and know your clay.

“The instructions on the package are what is going to give adequate results for most consumers. They are not designed to give the optimal results for perfect and controlled conditions. Feel free to do your best to create the best possible baking conditions for your polymer clay so that you can get the best results possible.” — http://thebluebottletree.com/how-long-bake-polymer-clay/

Avoiding Cracks, Plaques and Oven Hot Spots

Know Your Oven – Test your oven — Moniter temperature throughout the baking process, with one to two independent oven thermometers.

Test Your Brands and its Particular Colors – Lighter colors and translucent clays are more susceptible to darkening or yellowing while baking. Test, test, test. Test bake times and temperatures in of your brands and colors. Also, lighter and translucent colors will have to be buried in baking soda and/or covered with polyester polyfil.

Cure the clay without sudden temperature changes. Place your covered and protected polymer clay piece(s) into a cool oven, turn the oven to the correct temperature, and begin timing only once the proper temperature has been reached. Once baked, turn off the oven but leave your items inside the oven until they have cooled. This is to help avoid cracks and fissures.

Some people bury their Cernit beads or dolls in baking soda to avoid thermal shock and to insulate from oven hot spots. Dolls can lay on a bed of baking soda.

Others protect against thermal shock or hot spots by covering item(s) or parts of it with polyester batting (does not burn or melt at these temperatures).

Information for Before You Bake Your Doll 

  • Lighter Colors of Doll Clay — Lighter and translucent colors will have to be buried in baking soda and/or covered with polyester polyfil.
  • Series Baking — Cernit can be baked in stages (“series baking”) so you can add fine details without marring the sculpted piece. Let the clay cool completely between each layer to prevent air pockets and defects in the finished piece.
  • Sufficient Oven Temperatures — Cure at sufficient temperatures and avoid water or too much hand sweat in order to avoid cracking/figures but verify your oven’s temperature with a separate thermometer (or two!) and to cover your items while baking to protect against burning or dark spots.
  • Polyfil for the Delicate Areas — Cover delicate fingers, toes and other parts with thick layer of polyfil.
  • Choice of Oven — A digital convection oven is more temperature accurate than a regular home oven and a toaster oven is your most volatile and least accurate, as far as temperature accuracy and steady temperature are concerned. The reason that toaster ovens are your worst choice is that it doesn’t circulate the heat and spikes occasionally in order to bake! A regular home oven can suffice just fine with proper testing, baking, and monitoring methods.
  • Choice of Cooking Container – You want a covered or tented pan for baking your dolls. Metal pans and wing components heat up faster and higher than glass, ceramic and many other materials. If the recommended temperature says 265-275 it will bake correctly on glass, but be darker on the edges if you use metal cookware. Surround your doll with a layer of polyfil and monitor delicate wings and fins as much as you can while they are in the oven.
    • Convection Oven Tent — Some people tent their doll, meaning they create a tent of aluminum foil over a basic tent armature and use that as a tent to put over their doll while baking in a digital convection oven.
    • The Home Oven Disposable Pan “Clamshell” – Create an enclosed baking contain by placing one disposable aluminum baking pan over another to create a covered cooking pan, then clip shut on both ends. You’ll have placed a glossy ceramic tile on the bottom of this and will have surrounded your doll with polyfil, including a layer of polyfil under it to prevent flat, shiny spots where the doll rested on the tile. Or the doll can lay on a bed of baking soda and have hands and feet wrapped in polyfil.

One Possible Doll Curing Method

  • Test Bake with Independent Thermometers — Do a test firing before baking each doll. Test your oven with one to two independent oven thermometers. Do not depend on the oven’s indicator regarding whether the proper temperature has supposedly been reached. Test your oven’s actual internal temperature for about 40 minutes to see if it a) attains the desired temperature and b) doesn’t spike high enough to burn your doll. It is possible to burn parts of the doll but underbake the rest of your doll.
  • First Bake – Place your art doll in a cold oven, set the oven temp so that it actually attains 230 degrees F. Once it attains that temperature, set your time for 18 minutes or so. This first bake can decrease chance of cracks and fissures and firms the doll up just enough to work it before the final cure. You must do the following though.
  • Cool the Oven With Doll in It — When your timer goes off, prop the oven door open a bit and let it cool completely. Do not handle your doll. Keep it in the oven with the door open a bit and let cool completely.
  • First Scrape and/or Sand — Scrape and or sand with 320 – 600 grit fine wet/dry sandpaper, keeping the sandpaper wet while working. Scrape larger lumps, sand the rest of the body. Rinse your doll clean.
  • Acetone Rub — Clean it lightly with acetone and a cosmetic cotton pad if you need to remove white scratches or lumps found in any larger areas of your doll.
  • Second Bake — Place your art doll in a cold oven, set the oven temp so that it actually attains 270 degrees F. Once it attains that temperature, then set your time according to the doll’s thickness.
  • Cool the Oven with the Doll in It — When your timer goes off, prop the oven door open a bit and let it cool completely.
  • Painting – You do not have to heat set acrylics. If you use Genesis Paints, once it’s painted, put your doll back in oven and fire for 5 minutes at 250 degrees using the above method of placing your doll in a cold oven, etc.
  • Cool the Oven With Doll in It — When your timer goes off, prop the oven door open a bit and let it cool completely.
  • Embossing Gun Option for Genesis Paints — An embossing gun cures the genesis paint faster and is a better way than putting the doll back into the oven for that paint firing. One must use a thermometer to monitor temperature, however, and constantly move the Embossing Heat Gun back and forth over the surface of the painted areas to avoid burning, etc.

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

My Personal Fears and Work Situation

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.

My Information-Packed, Fabulous Polymer Clay Troubleshooting and Problem Avoidance Binder

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. Problem-solving pages are written in  easily referenced, fleshed out, sweetly succinct outline form.  Bingbadaboom!

Local Doll Clay Shopping

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. (2016 Update: they stopped selling 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.

Creager DVDs

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.

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.