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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:

 

Happy New Year everyone!

And now:

Practical Polymer Clay Tips

And here are some of mine, that come purely from my experiences with polymer clay. Many polymer clay artists have incredibly insightful tips scattered all over the internet; I do not. I just have these *G*

  • If you like to use sparkly, shimmery dust of any kind (mica, flakes etc.) designate one whole day “Sparkly Day” and do nothing else that day. No matter how hard you clean, how strenuously you scrub, the sparkles WILL get everywhere – your clay, your hands, your significant other’s work clothes. Best to accept this, and embrace it to the fullest.

  • My favourite working surface is a cermaic tile (floor, bathroom or kitchen), as they’re generally smooth, grip the clay well without grabbing it too much, and can be popped straight in the oven, which helps keep flat components from being distorted by transferring them. DIY shops may have offcuts, or wait until you’re getting your bathroom re-tiled, and ask for leftovers from the nice builders *G*

  • Always have hand-wipes nearby; some colours bleed very easily, to the point that their colour can be transferred to the next one you use. A quick wipe of your hands solves any problems beforehand.

  • Don’t burn it, don’t eat it, and don’t mix it with anything that will be toxic if baked. Other than that, experiment! Mix in herbs, pencil shavings, fragments of sweetie papers, bits of grated, cured scrap beads. Dip it in vegan gravy, stain it with tea, roll it in sea salt. You might get a few fugly test beads, but you’ll never again have to wonder if baking beads suspended on dry spaghetti is a good idea (I ran out of cocktail sticks).

Check out the post that gave birth to some of these tips here: http://allthosethingsandtheotherstoo.blogspot.com/2009/06/polymer-clay-addiction.html

More tips will be forthcoming (when I erm…discover them *G*)

 

One of the best parts of working with polymer clay for me is what happens when things don’t go as planned. (I hope the universe doesn’t take that to mean I want things to go wrong – I really, really don’t!)

When polymer clay takes an unwanted turn, one of the most basic and primal ways to deal with it is this: squishing. You take the misshappen piece into your hands, and you twist it and roll it and smush it and smear it until

a). you feel calm and oddly satisfied, and
b). you have a new, cool Thing.

The Thing might be as simple as a new shade or colour to use, or it might be a random abstract pattern that echoes your subconscious state of mind (or it might just be a lumpy goblin creature. Most of the time it’s a lumpy goblin creature)

Often, I’ll bake these types of Things, because there is no way I’d ever be able to recreate them, but they’re just so interesting; maybe there’s a Rorschach inkblot picture hidden somewhere, or a landscape. Sometimes, these ‘creations’ lead to me considering a theme or colour scheme I hadn’t thought of before, so it can lead to new things too.

I wonder what other creators/designers do when their pieces go wonky. I know lampworkers get the opportunity to plunge hot glass into a bucket of water and gleefully watch their frustration explode into a shower of frit, but it would be interesting to hear what others do for crafting catharsis *G*

 
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