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.

 

5 Comments

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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.

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  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!
    xoxo

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  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?

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  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.

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