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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viva Decor Precious Metal Colour Paint in Gold Was Heat-set on Cured Premo Polymer Clay, by Karen A. Scofield

Viva Decor Precious Metal Colour Heat-Set on Premo Polymer Clay

The Clay

I added crushed, shiny micaceous (meaning it’s loaded with mica) rock, fine gold glitter, and Blank Slate Gold and Silver Flake Mix, in order of volume, to some Premo! polymer clay (a Sculpey product). That’s why it’s sparkly and can appear darker or very light depending on how the light shines on it and it moves, you see sparkles as well as flashes and glints.

Aside: The Backstory on the Micaceous Rockhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/sari0009/19354330223/in/dateposted-..

The Paint (and A Closed US Office)

Spelling

Viva Decor’s US office closed in 2015 and my bottle is labeled “Precious Metal Colour” because that is how the UK spells it. Many sites and blogs still use the US spelling (Precious Metal Color), you may notice.

Viva Decor Closed Their USA Office in 2015. European Offices remain open. 2016.

Viva Decor Closed Their USA Office in 2015. European Offices remain open. 2016.

Inclusions Added to the Paint

Precious Metal Colour gold colored paint, specifically, has larger glitter-like particles while the mica powder has super fine (!) particles.

  • Alone, Pearl-Ex mica powder has a very slight orangish undertone by comparison.
  • Alone, Previous Metal Color is a bit bright and silvery.
  • Combined, the color is amazing and the larger particles of the paint aren’t glaringly evident.

So, I added a decent amount of Pearl Ex mica powder to Viva Decor “Precious Metal Colour.”

Rule: With mica powder, less is more, meaning you start by adding very small amounts and adjust according to your liking. I found my mix pleasing as a 14 karat gold color.

This doctored up Viva Decor “Precious Metal Colour” acrylic/enamel paint was painted in 3 or 4 layers on an already baked Premo polymer clay mix.

The bezels were entirely painted with the paint while the figurative beads only had detail work painted.

Heat-setting

All but one were heat-set at 275°F  for 30 minutes. There was no visual or tactile difference between the baked and unbaked paint.

I couldn’t scratch the paint off with a fingernail once the paint was heat-set. The paint looks the most like real gold. I finally, after years of looking for a rather durable solution, now have a tremendous amount of confidence regarding gold detail work on my beads and pendants.

Although Varathane Gloss sealant is one of the top choices for sealing polymer clay, it’s water-resistant, not waterproof. I’d prefer not to have to seal my beads at all.

Acrylic Paints — Drying Time vs. Cured

Note: There is A difference between drying time in curing time. Drying time might occur within minutes or a few hours for acrylic paints while curing time might take a few days. This difference might help explain some problems with heat-setting acrylic paints a polymer clay.

I say it might help explain some of the problems because, according to Blue Bottle Tree, there was a correlation between painting the paint on raw polymer clay before heat-setting and the paint bubbling. This was dependent upon brand of acrylic paint and/or polymer clay, whether the clay was raw or cured, and other factors. For more information, see that Blue Bottle Tree blog post.

One Minor Problem to Solve

When removing these painted bezels from the glossy tile they were baked on, some of the gold paint stuck to the tile. There was enough paint remaining on the bezels so this wasn’t a problem but I’d would still prefer this not  happen.

Perhaps baking on a silicone mat would improve things.

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.

Earthenware Greenware Handmade Ceramic Goddess Pendant, by Karen A. Scofield

The Evolution of Karen’s Beads

Shorter Video

Longer Video

Good news! I have found out I can fire and glaze my beads locally. Probably do this in batches of a dozen each. Here is one that has finished drying and is ready for bisque firing.

image

Earthenware Greenware Handmade Ceramic Goddess Pendant, by Karen A. Scofield

Why Goddess Pendants or Focal Beads?


Before there were pussy hats, there were Goddess pendants. After pussy hats, there will still be Goddess pendants. 

Earthenware Greenware Handmade Ceramic Goddess Pendant, by Karen A. Scofield

Earthenware Greenware Handmade Ceramic Goddess Pendant, by Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Why Goddess Pendants? To better answer that, we have to understand the many reasons we make any human figurative art or study female/Goddess figures throughout human history. See http://suppressedhistories.net/

In some languages, the word for history also means storyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History

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

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

Through my beads, I’m telling my story — I’m a woman, domestic abuse survivor, an artist, I’m on the autism spectrum, and my Goddess pendants help tell my story in the contexts of an interest in equality, as opposed to abuse and sexism.  My beads are about equality and power — it’s abuse vs. equality. Women’s rights and Goddess stuff are considered too minority interest, too fringe despite the fact that half the world is female, and that’s a problem. Goddess/female figures may even be banned or get demonized.

Handmade Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Handmade Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Example 1: I had drawn renditions of the Venus of Willendorf, a world famous archaeological find, on shrink plastic and made pendants of them. fThese shrink plastic beads were banned on Myspace as obscene. Here’s what they looked like.

A Shrink Plastic Representation of the World Famous Venus of Willendorf, by Karen A. Scofield
Example 2: I wore a Goddess necklace to Walmart. The cashier suggested I could make money selling them as rather, tee-hee, lewd little party favors at bachelor or bachelorette parties. She had absolutely no inkling that she shouldn’t simply sexualize and peg them in such a narrow, restrictive manner, as opposed to all that the Goddess concept can potentially encompass on a daily basis. Equality touches all all aspects of life, and this shouldn’t be marginalized, pegged as a lewd/lesbian thing, or treated as a fringe topic. Anyway, my Goddess pendant was profane image to her, but to those that wear them, Goddess art and pendants are more of a spiritual and intellectual thing and, more specifically, symbolize spiritual and social equality. They embody, invoke, and evoke this.

As an artist, I cultivate messages and images that are needed, rather than what people are conditioned to lap up from the pundits, pulpits, and consumerism. It concerns me that the world is full of “sanitized,” corporate-made, mainstream images and messages about women and their bodies, messages that are loaded with sexism both overt and/or insidious.

The pussy hat phenomenon shows us that feminine symbols of equality ARE needed. There is the desire to create our world pluralistically without the reality filters of sexism, cultural triumphalism, racism, or creedism (religious prejudice). I desire more autonomous and honest dialog and equality, and I hope you do too.

We still live in a world in which women often don’t get paid the same amount for doing the same job no matter how well they do it, or even if they do it better. As a US citizen, I live in a country in which a considerable majority of art gallery artists are male. It’s a country in which women’s art generally sells for only a small fraction of the profit that art made by men can fetch. We live in a world in which the majority of religion is really male-centric and male-dominated. We live in a world in which men’s voices are given more weight and are heard more. It’s not Goddess, it’s God with no room for any female divine. Instead, we still have the Madonna-Whore Complex. The feminine divine either is falsely demonized, socially/theologically outlawed (or banned), or turned into a whore.

Anti-intellectual, male dominated paradigms hold feminine equality at odds with more formative power structures, be they economic, religious, artistic, or what have you. How is sexism considered to be the fabric of society? And what does that have to do with domestic violence anyway?

See “The Ascent of Woman”http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0693dsh

Domestic Abuse and the Metaparadigm (Mother World View) of Abuse/War

the most reliable indicator of whether or not there is violence inside a country, or whether it will use military violence against another country, is not poverty or access to natural resources or religion or even degree of democracy. It’s violence against females.” — from “Gloria Steinem’s new show links global instability to violence against women: “For the first time there are fewer females on earth than males

The Power and Control (Abuse) and Equality (Nonviolence) wheels, what they mean, what they look like in current events or everyday situations are sadly only usually discussed, shown, or used during domestic abuse prevention/recovery. They are, in fact, paradigmatic and are applicable on a personal, local, national, and global scale. Here’s what goes on with the Power and Control (Abuse) paradigm.

Methods of abusive power and control have been and continue to be used as social, legal, religious, and financial weapons and they often result in violence, be it domestic or wartime violence. The Power and Control wheel/paradigm is diametrically opposed to Equality because it relies on abusive imbalances of power. This is true whether they pretend to protect us and have our best interests in mind or whether they lay bare their prejudices, sexism, and ambitions.  It takes power and rights away from others in order to feel powerful and it’s a massive failure of imagination.

Here’s a page from my art journal on the Equality (nonviolence) power wheel. Notice the notes on imagination.

image

Art Journal. Equality. Power. Tools of Change.

Art is the Antidote

How is it that society today hasn’t quit its addiction to prejudice, bigotry, sexism and the like? I don’t pretend to understand all that and I hope I never do. I can imagine many other paths to power. I can imagine sharing it. And as a woman and an artist, I shape a more inclusive world in clay, canvas, paper, fiber, cloth, and words. Art is an antidote. Symbols matter. Symbols are powerful and my art beads are ones I can bring into all sorts of every day settings.

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux Opal Test Beads

Tutorial Below (for the 2nd Attempt)! This page may update with additional faux opal polymer clay versions.

Attempt #1

Polymer Clay Faux Opal Test Piece, by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux Opal Test Piece, by Karen A. Scofield

.

  • Pardo Art Clay Translucent — It’s a keeper! I had to order most of mine online because the one store that carried it locally stopped doing so. Anyways, It’s nearly as transparent as glass in thinner, cured layers but very much like milky white, translucent faux opal in a much deeper bead like this. It can be dyed with tiny amounts of translucent alcohol inks for faux opals.
  • Oven Temperature — This bead was baked at 300 – 315 (oven cycling temperatures and all ovens cycle) degrees F for 2 hours. This temperature is close to the ambering point for this clay but increases the clay’s transparency. An oven you can trust not to spike and an enclosed baking tin/pan with glossy ceramic tile in the bottom of it, are instrumental to avoiding buring your beads. Test your oven while empty, noting it’s temperature range during cycling and do at least one test bead and bake.
  • Premo White Clay — It’s a great clay and I used it as a back layer of clay during the molding process. Unfortunately, some of it broke through to the bottom of the mold (the front of the bead) and it’s very opaque and isn’t opal-like. It does give contrast to the far more translucent Pardo Art Clay though.
  • Arnold Grummer Iridescent Flakes — These are translucent yet flash colors at you as the glitter flakes catch the light. You can get white, green, and blue versions. These are ideal for faux opals due to these two characteristics. They can also be dyed with tiny amounts of translucent alcohol inks for faux opals, should you desire to do so (optional for faux opal).
  • Darker and/or Opaque Glitter — I used Iced Enamels Susan LEhart Kazmer “Shattered Fire Opal.” Note: The Shattered Fire Opal is dark while the Shattered Opal is not. Anyway, darker glitter flakes are not attractive in this type of faux opal because while they glimmer “fire” at you with delightful plays of color, they also appear dark and opaque when not catching the light. The same is true of holographic glitter. Dark + Opaque = Contrary to this faux opal, so it won’t be used again for this. It’s probably fantastic in resins and such, and the website right on the label reads ww.iceresin.com. Yup. I had to try it. It said opal in it’s color title, he he. The Shattered Opal flakes of the same brand are light, translucent, and very prime for faux opal, however.
  • Aztec Gold Pearl Ex Powder Impregnated Liquid Kato polymer clay — Totally optional. I don’t think I like it draping over the top of the bead after all.

Attempt #2

First, some shots of the same bead to show translucency and opal fire.

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White  (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Polymer Clay Faux White (Crystal) Opal by Karen A. Scofield

Technique/Tutorial

I examined the real opal I have, noted its properties and imagined how I could make something close to what I was seeing. My father did lapidary and metal jewelry work when I was a kid, a lot of it had to do with Australian opals, and sometimes I got to participate. That background helped. After ambering one bead from this 2nd batch, I lowered the temperature 5 degrees F on my oven down to 298. That means it actually gets up to right around 300 to 315. I baked these for 2.25 hours at that temp. My bead is close to an inch at its thickest.

Don’t miss the variations at the end of the steps!

Note: I wore clean disposable gloves during the entire process and had cleaned my station first with alcohol wipes and then with light colored scrap clay. I wiped down the mat and the pasta machine this way. This helps ensure color integrity and translucency. Cutting enough clay to clay into the mold is easier if you use smaller, clean, sharp scissors rather than an X-Acto knife because of the glitter.

Steps

  1. Condition Your Clay — Condition three seperate pieces of Pardo Art Clay Translucent.
  2. Color Your Glitter Flakes — Color three seperate batches of Arnold Grummer Translucent Glitter Flakes in bright yellow, bright green, and blue-violet, using transparent Adirondack alcohol inks. Easy does it. I used those tiny paper dixie cups, probably filled it 1/3 and used one drop of ink to color. Stir right away, rapidly enough and thoroughly. As for brands, you can also use “Iced Enamels Susan Lenart Kazmer Shattered Opal” glitter flakes. The inks: http://rangerink.com/?product=tim-holtz®-adirondack®-alcohol-inks
  3. Color Your ClayOptional! Color three seperate bits of the conditioned Pardo Art Clay Translucent with the same alcohol inks. Easy does it, that alcohol ink is strong. What I did was not even use a whole drop but I touched what leaked out of the ink nozzle to my gloved finger, almost let it dry, quickly touched it to the clay, let dry 30 seconds and then mixed the clay (about 2/3 to 3/4s of a paerdo art clay package for each color).
  4. Mix Clay and Glitter Flakes — Mix like colors and clay and flakes together — roll clay in the pasta machine, sprinkled with glitter, pat down, fold clay on itself, roll out, sprinkle with glitter, and do that until you’re satisfied with the amount of glitter. Then roll each color clay into seperate long ropes. As you work the clay, you pick up the escapee glitter flakes.
  5. Twist Ropes Together — Twist the three different colored ropes together tightly, scrunch them up tight getting the air out.
  6. Roll and Twist Once More, Then Half It — Roll the combined clay into a long rope, double it up on itself, twist it again, scrunch it up shorter while squeezing the air out to prevent air bubbles, cut in half lengthwise.
  7. Roll Each Half — Pinch the long end of each half of the cut rope and put it through the pasta machine starting from the 2nd thickest to the thinnest.
  8. Build Up Layers of Clay In Your Bead Mold — With a shallow mold, most cabochon molds for instance, you might run some of the translucent clay through the pasta machine on the very thinnest setting and lay that down in the mold first. This further prevents glitter from poking through. This tactic, however, has so far backfired in a bead mold such as this Goddess one. Tyhe clay tears and breaks as I try to place an even, thin layer in the deeper, more curved parts of the mold, so I end up laying down down more, and once baked, there is less glitter in the deepest, most curvy/shaped part of the mold, in thise case the breasts. So this is what you’ll do for deeper, more complexly shaped bead molds. You’ll skip the initial layer of plain transluent clay and go ahead and lay down bits of the sheets of the rolled out glitter clay. Tearing off appropriately sized sheets of the opal clay and press into a silicone mold. Press the layers together well. I used my molds I made from Amazing Mold putty.
  9. Color Trick, That Extra Touch — When about half way to 2/3s of the way filling bead in, add some color. In streaks, get a bit of interference type of Pearl Ex powder, it’s more translucent, in a clean synthetic brush and draw it across the exposed clay that’s already in the mold. You’re going for a hint of green or violet in a few streaks, they have to be sheer streaks too, and don’t coat all of the exposed clay. Continue filling the bead as before, laying the rolled clay in, in a relatively flat manner as much as possible.
  10. Fill Mold Until Clay is Flush — As you fill the bead, press the clay into the mold, until you build up enough depth and the clay is flush with the mold. You really want to smash it in there. This and having rolled the clay in a pasta machine helps prevent glitter from poking through the front of the bead, to a great degree. Smooth the back side of the bead and make sure the molds is filled properly.
  11. Place the Uncured Beads on a Light Colored Glossy Ceramic Tile — Pop the bead out back-side-down onto a glossy ceramic tile and bake in a covered container in your oven. This step assumes you tested both your oven and getting close to the 315 F ambering point of the Pardo Art Clay for maximum translucency — without actually ambering your bead. It also assumes you have figured out how not to burn your beads. I have glossy ceramic tiles on the bottom floor of my oven and inside a large covered metal tin. I additionallly cover the bead with polyfil to insulate it from the heat fluctuations during normal oven temperature cycling.
  12. Ice Bath — As soon as your bead is done, dunk it in an ice bath with silicone tipped tongs.
  13. Trim and Sand if Necessary — Trim off any glitter that might be sticking out around the back periphery of the bead, the only place they seem to stick out with this method, if they stick out at all, The problem of glitter sticking out is very minimal with this technique. You can use an X-Acto knife under a magnifying lamp to cut estremely close. Sand lightly with very fine sandpaper in the areas you had to cut away glitter poking out, if you like.
  14. Gloss — If you want more of a glossy look, buff the bead a bit or add a couple of thin layers of slightly diluted Varathane Water Based Interior Glossy (must be water based!) My daughter likes it when I add the glossy Varathane. I always rapidly quickly clean the beads with alcohol before adding Varathane but don’t soak the beads in alcohol as soaking in alcohol mars the translucency of the bead. The alcohol interacts with the bees wax then. So simply swiftly clean and dry the bead before the Varathane. I lightly sand with fine sand paper before applying each layer of Varathane. I make sure each layer of Varathane dried overnight before adding the next layer. I add up to three layers this way. More on sealers here. I’m not sure how well Kato Liquid Clay clear jives if applies on top of Pardo in a thin layer to add gloss, but I’m going to try that again as an alternative.

Variation to Experiment With …

  1. Color One — Color only one of the three portions of clay to begin with.
  2. Color None — Color none of the three portions of clay to begin with.
  3. Skinny Colored Rope Addition at Step 3 — With larger batches, you can double or triple the amount of clay used and when you get to step three, have the three ropes of clay rolled out but add an additional but very skinny colored rope for one, two or all three of the three main clay ropes.
  4. Skinny Colored Rope Addition at Step 6 — Do the same but add the skinny colored rope(s) at the point of step 6, meaning you’ve already rolled three portions out, twisted them, compacted them to get the air out, and you rolled the clay out into a long rope again. It’s at this point you’d add a skinny rope of colored clay.
  5. Streaks of Interference Color — Don’t color any of your clay with the alcohol inks but when you’re laying your clay in the mold, add a streak or two of very lightly applied interference color of Pearl Ex mica powder. Again, don’t cover the whole layer — just a barely there streak of color. Here’s a tip for loading more lightly loading the brush.
  6. Opal Glitter in Streaks Added at Molding Stage — Add additional Shattered Opal glitter flakes individually to make streaks, just not in the first layer or two of your bead (you don’t want the glitter streak smashed right to the front of the bead).
  7. Opal Glitter Streaks and Inteference Pearl Ex Streaks Working Together — Add the streaks of opal glitter flakes to where you laid down the barely-there interference mica powder streaks. Right on top of it.
  8. And More Interference Pearl Ex in Next Layer to Deepen Effect — Same as 7 only, with the next layer of clay add some more barely there interference powder.
  9. Stacked Lighter and Darker Streaks of Inteference Pearl Ex — Same as 7 only with multilayered interference mica powder colors, add the slightest hint of a lighter color, then the darker interference color in the next layer so it sits behind it. Avoid using colors on opposite sides of the color wheel so you don’t muddy/gray your bead’s color.
  10. Ultrafine Glow-in-the-Dark Glitter Touches — With streaks of barely there interference colors of mica powder, if they’re toward the back fo the bead, add some light colored, ultrafine glow-in-the-dark glitter. Just don’t make it the last layer at the back of the bead (the last layer you can lay down in the mold). Goes better behind green, orange, pink colors rather than purples or violets. Glow-in-the-dark is yellowish by nature and that’s on the opposite side of the color wheel as violet or purple and together, they might gray out the bead.
  11. Fantasy Film and/or Fantasy Fiber Additions — Not while laying down the first layer, but add “streaks” of crinkled fantasy film or snippets of fantasy fibers.  Easy does it.  It’s probably better to add the rare pieces rather than plaster the clay with the stuff — you want to enjoy the layers of translucency and overdoing it can ruin things. Don’t pick the darker, more opaque colors of fantasy film. Think opal. Do a visual search for all the variations of opal out there.
  12. Paper Bead Style — Great idea for completing a bracelet or necklace design that uses a focal faux opal bead like the above. Create paper bead template(s). Roll out translucent clay. Cut the paper bead shape from the clay with small, sharp craft scissors. Add Arnold Grummer glitter flakes or only smaller pieces of the Shattered Opal flakes as you roll along with fantasy fiber/film snippets, as you like and as what works. Roll onto skewer or appropriately colored glass tube beads. If the bead is thicker once done, you might stamp it with Pearl Ex Powder designs on both sides. Or not. Just don’t forget that you have to have a bead hole in the end. You may edge the clay with gold mica powder before or after rolling the bead. Trim any pesky glitter flakes if they poke out. Before or after baking, add additional minute finishing touches as you see fit in ways that lend to the overall jewelry design. How about those tiny glass/polymer beads in gold as trim on the tops or edges of the bead? What of bead caps that use tiny glass/polymer clay beads and/or the tiniest AB or other pretty rhinestones? Oh experimenting with this is going to be fun.

Enjoy.

Attempt #3

(Pictures to Come)

Clusters Embedded in Translucent Clay — Bake small clusters of alcohol ink colored Pardo Art Clay Translucent with similar colors of translucent glitter flakes. You can elongate all or some of the clusters. Minute, “easy does it” traces of matching interference colors added to the clay clusters and/or clay immediately surrounding the clay is optional. Once baked and cooled, add the color clusters to raw conditioned translucent clay and mold. Bake again. How much translucent clay you add to hold the clumps together and whether you use interference mica powders will change the finished look. Remember to bake at a higher temp, as described above.

I think you know what I’ll be doing for a while … between watching grandchildren, cleaning house, running errands, taking care of myself, and the 1001 things I do as a go-to person for family.

Blue Streak -- Layering Glitters and Mica Powder in Preperation to Better Imitate the Streaks or Bands of Fire of Opal. Karen A. Scofield.

Blue Streak — Layering Glitters and Mica Powder in Preperation to Better Imitate the Streaks or Bands of Fire of Opal. Karen A. Scofield.

Binder of Faux Opal Examples with Notes

I’ll keep examples with notes stores in a trading card binder. You can pick up trading card binder pages even at Walmart.

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Raised Scratch Foam Designs in Polymer Clay

Raised Scratch Foam Polymer Clay Designs

Raised Scratch Foam Designs in Polymer Clay

Raised Scratch Foam Polymer Clay Design Test, with notes, by Karen A. Scofield

KarenAScofield Spriograph Clay Texture SheetsNote: This page will be updated as examples are made.

The above picture is only a simple and fast test. It’s not meant to be a prime example, just an example to get your creative juices flowing (and mine). It shows a moon shaped piece of clay with a raised scratch foam design that was colored with Pearl Ex.

I haven’t yet seen others doing it, but yes indeedy, spirographs can be used on scratch foam (Inovart Presto Foam Printing Plate was used in this case) with a ball point pen, ball stylus, or Sakura Gel Pen.

Back at it, Dec. 2016.

KarenAScofield Spriograph Clay Texture Sheets

spirograph clay texture sheet by Karen a Scofield

The Basic Idea

Create a design on scratch foam with a spirograph set and a ball point pen. Press  polymer clay into the design and lift. Add bead holes, etc. You’re looking for spirograph sets that won’t make unintended scratches on the scratch foam. Mine came with “The Spiral Draw” Book.

Taking it Further

Pointillism elements or entire designs be be added inside or around the spirograph design with a ball point pen or ball stylus. The result creates raised clay designs once clay is preseed into it.

Ball point styluses that come in varying sizes can be used for added interest and then needles or beed hole makers can be dragged across the surface, at a slant, to add on to the design too.

Scratch foam designs are probably more commonly used for printing monoprints and other techniques … and also by metal clay artists. They can be earthy/rustic looking or linear and crisp ones.

One can create a bezel complete with boarder designs, with scratch foam designs. What you indent on the foam will be raised on the clay. If you add dimensional writer designs to the scratch foam ones, the clay pressed into it will have both raised and indented designs.

If you use Sakura Gel Pens for the spirograph scratch foam deisgns, many of their inks are oqaque and therefore show up on darker clays. You can press the clay into the fresh scratch foam design and then bake. You may want to seal your design afterward.

Any manner of polymer clay extrusions, applique, relief sculpture, lace impressions/molds, designs for faux enamels, crackling, or designs made with cutters/blades can be applied over the spirograph textured clay passages. If you’re worried about pressing clay together to cause adhesion, because you don’t want to ruin more delicate designs, you may want to use liquid clay or Bake and Bond for adhesion purposes.

With single layer or multi layered scratch foam designs, you create mixed media mosaic tiles, embellishments, beads, and larger clay sheets. You can create molds of the larger clay sheets if you want.

Raised designs can be colored with paint, Sakura Gel Pen ink, inks, or Pearl Ex powders (which are a brand of mica powder). I’d apply paint to baked clay but Sakura Gel Pen, Pearl Ex, and alcohol inks can be applied to raw clay that’s then baked.

You may want to seal baked polymer clay items that have Pearl Ex mica powders or Gel Pens baked onto them. Varathane Water Based varnish is a wonderful sealant for polymer clay pieces.