Playing with polymer

After checking out the recent blog of my friend Holly Kellogg, and her reference to the polymer clay work of Katrin Neumaier, I decided to get out some of my own translucent Premo clay from last fall. I also ordered some translucent Pardo clay, inspired by Katrin’s incredible pieces. Holly blogged about some of her trials and errors with the Pardo, so I decided to try alcohol inks for tinting the translucent clay. It had been at least a few months since I worked with polymer clay, so I warmed up by fooling around with some simple beads. It took most of the first day just to condition the different clay colors I wanted to use, including some opaque colors.

I tried covering some mother of pearl beads and some copper beads with the mix of clays.

I can’t say I’m too fond of the “Citrus” ink color. It reminds me of pee. (well, post-vitamin pee maybe)

The lighter green also disappeared when layered over a copper bead. I was happy with some of the beads, so all in all it was a good warm up.

I stopped back into my studio, before bed on Monday, to get a feel for what I would try next. I draped some thin translucent clay over a metal form, to give it an unusual shape, and ended up with a sticky mess. But I also ended up with some midnight inspiration. Though it was really late, I started sketching…

Don’t you love it when you can’t wait to wake up in the morning to get going on a new idea? I filled my day in the studio with systematically mixing alcohol inks with two kinds of translucent clay;  Pardo and Premo. I made similar earring components with embedded copper wire and pieces of silver, brass, and opaque clay. I couldn’t wait to see how they differed when fired. They sure handled differently. Premo is much softer and easier to condition. It looks more translucent in its pre-fired state. Pardo is crumbly and annoying to condition and it is more opaque in its unfired state.

For each earring I rolled the clay to a #3 on my pasta machine.

Before firing:

After firing:

(I quenched all the pieces in ice water, just out of the oven. I tried to get them back into their positions on the tray for reference.)

Holy Pardo Batman! There really is a significant difference between the translucence of the two clays.

This is the first time I have used alcohol ink to tint clay. I was pretty relieved to see the Pepto Bismol pink turn into more of a salmon color, and the blue turn into less of a milky purple.

I learned a few more things from this batch that I will blog about later. I’m headed for bed and a day off-island tomorrow.



Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “Playing with polymer

  1. I really need to learn more about polymer clay. I’ve only made a few beads but definitely need to try some of these more interesting experiments.


  2. holly

    holy experiments, batman!!! you know how to do it RIGHT!!! these are SO impressive and inspirational!
    i’m dying to know: are the swirly beads at the top already baked? (i actually REALLY enjoy that post-vitamin-pee color!! love the tealy-blue palette, too…) are the ones up there that are glowing with a coppery color draped over copper beads?
    i LOVE the way you layered/collaged wire and polymer bits and bobs between sheets ….fantastic idea!
    i must admit i’m a bit disturbed by the change in color after baking….the way i work is that i mix and mix and mix until i get the perfect color, because i always want specific colors…it’s hard for me to just let go of that…
    i hope your off-island day is as productive as the last 2 have been!


  3. holly

    actually i have another question….. when i was scrolling back up through the pics i saw that in your sketch photo on the right hand side you have a striped block that you were cutting sheets off of….did you use those sheets when you were making the swirly beads? lay the sheets on a base and then roll roll roll to get them to swirl?


  4. I have not tried Pardo yet. It looks like I may have to though. I did buy some inks as well but haven’t used them yet. There are not enough hours in the day.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s