I’m sure that a lot of people who do any sort of creative work have had the experience of getting an idea into their heads and being unable to let it go until they’ve exhausted it, even if is blatantly not working. Yes, that’s right, this is one of those stories *G*

I’ve always loved the look of polymer clay mixed with alcohol inks, but seeing as the people who make the ones most used with polyclay never got back to me about whether or not it was vegan, I gave up on those inks. Then my desire to use natural products in my work (which is a bit of a stupid desire when you consider than my favourite material is a polymer…and thus, essentially plastic) collided with my desire to experiment with paint effects, and I embarked on a week long period of madness, during which I discovered:

1). I do not have an inherent knack for making stamped, carved or inked pieces. Other people’s efforts in this vein look distressed in the artistic sense; mine look like the person who made them *was* seriously distressed, and possibly did her in a darkened room with a rabid squirrel as her only tool.

2). Liquids with a high concentration of water are a no-no with polymer clay.

3). I don’t know when to give up.

At the end of this week, all my surfaces were covered with pooling liquid and half-dried scabs of my paint, my hands were stained, and I’d used a silly amount of nice white clay for something that ended up disappointing odd. I’m not giving up though (see point 3) – there is a tiny glimmer of prettiness lurking in the idea, and it will be nurtured as soon as I can face anything paint-like again. I daren’t go looking to see if this has been done before, partly because that would mean the experiment of stupidity could have been shortened. partly because I can’t bear to read about stuff that I can’t currently bear to do.

So can you guess what the ‘paint’ is?

Yup, it’s beetroot juice. Beetroot juice mixed with liquid fimo (turns orange), beetroot juice mixed with Pearl-Ex powders (lovely colours, needs work to keep it *on* the clay), and neat beetroot juice (sporadic patterns, can be pretty). Also, the best way to apply it is by letting soak about 40 seconds in a capful of beetroot and mica powders. Any longer and the clay cracks.

By the way, here are the ‘best’ of the experiments:

 

9 Responses to Experiments with polymer clay (of the not-clever variety)

  1. Melobeau says:

    How cool is beetroot juice in the hands of an artist! Very pretty.

  2. Hazel Ward says:

    lol, thank you – it was one of those creative freaks that wouldn't go away until I'd tried it :)

  3. Judith Lynn says:

    I know what you mean about getting something in your head…Now it's in my head.

    First thing that came to mind when you mentioned the problem with the high water content – I own a dehydrator. If you dehydrated thin slices of the actual beet, then ground to a powder in a spice or coffee bean grinder, you might then be able to mix the powder with alcohol and make your own ink. Or w/ liquid clay.

    If you don't have access to a dehydrator try the lowest setting on your oven and bake until the slice will 'crack' in half like a cracker.

    ADHD is a bad thing. lol. I am now looking at my dehydrator with new eyes and a ton of ideas running thru my head.

    Can't wait to see how you master this. For now, I'm off to try something with my dehydrated peppers!

    Judy
    Judith Lynn Originals
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/judithlynnoriginals

  4. Hazel Ward says:

    Hi Judith :)

    That is an absolutely brilliant idea! Thank you for sharing it…I think I'll have to pop out and get more beetroot now you've given me the tip :D

    I hope you have success – and fun! – with your dehydrated experiments *G*

  5. Judith Lynn says:

    ADHD…gotta luv it!

    I just tested out my suggestion above using the spice 'smoked paprika'. The 'paint' was a little grainy to paint with. After mixing with enough alcohol to make a gel like thickness I painted the entire surface of some pre-baked squares of Premo Pearl clay I had.

    The paprika remained somewhat granular in the mix and were noticible in the liquid but the alcohol had been dyed by the spice. Maybe a little longer rest before using would have dissolved them more.

    I used a heat gun to evaporate the alcohol and then wiped the spice grains off and was left with this really lustrous orange and the pearl clay gave it a nice sparkly effect.

    See the attached pics. Didn't see how to attach pics so I am posting them on my Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=54378&id=179962288694252&saved#!/pages/Judith-Lynn-Originals/179962288694252

    The item on the left was UNbaked pearl clay that I added some of the 'paprika ink' to and mixed in. I then added additional 'dry' paprika to enhance the 'speckles'.

    I am now hooked and looking for other things in the cupboard to try mixing.

    Let me know how your beet experiment comes out.

    Judy

  6. Hazel Ward says:

    Fantastic! I think you got great results with the paprika, and mixing it with the pearl clay really did give it even more 'dimension'. Maybe filtering the dyed alcohol would leave a less grainy stain? (Although I do love the effect of the slight 'grain')

    I'd love to put up a link to your pictures if you don't mind – to let people know about your experiments. Let me know if that's okay :D

  7. Judith Lynn says:

    Just posted a couple more photos and details on a couple more techniques.

    I looked at the ingredients in food coloring and it turns out it is only alcohol and dye. I also tried some Gel food coloring which is sugar and corn starch based and last but not least tried the paprika with liquid Kato polyclay.

    I am really happy with all the results. All photos and instructions are on my facebook page.

    Yes,please do post a link, and thank you.

    Judy

  8. Hazel Ward says:

    Hi Judith – I love the effects you got, especially with the gel colouring (and by the way, yes, Elvis is totally doing his thing in that multi-coloured piece!) Your handmade food colouring is great too *G*

    (Thanks for letting me post a link – a post's up now)

  9. I decided to make a pendant with a cherry blossom motif – it now looks like a fat pillow, from adding more and more clay to get it the way I want – not there yet, but have finally given up – added to that, my pasta machine has died on me – boo hoo – I invite you to my blog
    http://www.capriliciousjewellery.com/caprilicious-jewellery-blog.html
    thanks for posting

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