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.

Advertisements
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.

 image

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!

Hand Sculpted Voluptuous Ceramic Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Finally Glazed my First Ceramic Goddess Pendants!

Two of these darlings are in Red Roses Bead Haven, a local bead shop, to test the waters, as it were.

Pictures and a short video. These pendants  represent my first experience with teaching myself how to sculpt and work with ceramics. I previously worked with polymer clay. It’s taken me four months to get to this point because I don’t own my own glazes or kiln. I’m lucky enough that a local art gallery will fire them for me and will let me use donated glazes. However, it’s often three weeks or so between firings, more if the kiln breaks down as it did recently.

One is made of red micaceous (contains mica) clay and didn’t need to be glazed like the rest.

Hand Sculpted Voluptuous Ceramic Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Hand Sculpted Voluptuous Ceramic Goddess Pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Ceramic Goddess Pendants by SE Wisconsin artist, Karen A. Scofield

Ceramic Goddess Pendants by SE Wisconsin artist, Karen A. Scofield

Ceramic Goddess Pendants by SE Wisconsin artist, Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Ceramic Goddess Pendants by SE Wisconsin artist, Karen A. Scofield. 2016.

Earthenware clay figurative pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Ceramic Clay Dare: I Sculpt a Goddess Pendant on Camera

I sculpted with polymer clay before and, in ceramic clay, I sculpted the backside of a bead without a mold. Now I have dared myself to sculpt an entire bead without the use of any of my molds ( I molded my own beads)in earthenware clay, a medium still very new to me. So I did this on camera.

I’ll get better at filming. And sculpting. But for now, at least I know I can do this and I feel a lot better about doing 20, 50, or more figurative pendants like this, in different sizes and styles of course.

The Finished Pendant (Standing)

Earthenware clay figurative pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Earthenware clay figurative pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Earthenware clay figurative pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

Earthenware clay figurative pendants, by Karen A. Scofield

July 21, 2017 Note: I’ve ordered ceramic clay sculpting tools!

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.