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Topic: New to Polymer, a few questions. :)  (Read 1216 times)
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Lethargic
« on: June 12, 2006 09:16:28 AM »

I just got some Polymer clay a few days ago. This is what i tend to do with new crafts. I say, hm ok i think i'm going to be makign jewelry now, and i go out and buy all the stuff i need and just assume I can do it. For the most part, that works out alright for me, but this clay thing is not as easy as I had hoped. Undecided

So I have a couple questions for you fine clay experts. lol

I wanted to make a cane, a citrus one. like the tutorial here. http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/candy_citrus.html

One of the problems I am having is that i cant seem to get an even smooth log like in the picture. I've seen some shows on tv about polymer clay and it doesnt seem to work for me or something. How do I get an even thickness log?

Also, what kind of cutting utensil do I need? Because anything i am trying to cut with right now just smooshes it and even if I do end up making the cane, it wont matter.

And then, I'm having a little trouble getting it rolled out real thin. I know a pasta machine is the best idea but I dont have that kind of money right now. I was using a rolling pin and its working out alright but still not getting thin enough. Any suggestions?

It seems like my clay is a lot softer than the stuff I seem them use on tv and things. Like its harder to work with small pieces because all they do is smoosh between my fingers when im trying to shape them. I'm using Sculpey and Premo right now.

Thanks for all the help everyone!! Im really enjoying getting into this new craft and I already made some ice cream cone earrings, so I'm not completely discouraged yet!  Grin
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Diane B.
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2006 10:30:10 AM »

Hi Lethargic, and welcome to polymer clay!

Quote
One of the problems I am having is that i cant seem to get an even smooth log like in the picture. I've seen some shows on tv about polymer clay and it doesnt seem to work for me or something. How do I get an even thickness log?

First, experience youll learn which part of your hand or fingers to roll with, how much pressure to apply, and how to move them to keep everything as even as possible.
Having said that though, this log is so even that she probably rolled over it (back and forth) at some point with a sheet of glass or plastic (longer than the log).  That will give a very even log.
If you want one thats more even than that, place the log near the edge of your work table (and parallel to it), lay the glass or plastic sheet on the edge of the table and also contacting the log then roll the sheet back and forth over the log while also holding it against the edge of the table (the table edge will act as a guide to keep the log perfectly even-thickness). 
Keep in mind too that things you see on TV or in lessons may have already been prepped (like Skinner blends which are perfectly squared up!, etc.)

Quote
Also, what kind of cutting utensil do I need? Because anything i am trying to cut with right now just smooshes it and even if I do end up making the cane, it wont matter.

You dont say what blade youre using now or what clay youre using (actually you did mention the brands, but I missed that the first time Roll Eyes), and those can both make a big difference. 
Generally, clayers use a long and flexible (or long-flexible but slightly stiffer) blade for cutting logs and canes, but other things can be used depending on the size and shape of the thing being cut.  Single-edge razor blades also work fine for logs/canes that arent thicker than say 3/4 diameter, and you can use a wallpaper scraper blade or other things in a pinch. 
(Other blades and tools can be used for cutting sheets, or other clay, etc.)

There are other things that cause smooshiness when cutting raw clay though.
One is the softness of the clay. 
Some brands of clay are just really soft (Sculpey & the new version of FimoSoft), and all clays can get soft in warm conditions, with the friction of being manipulated, and from hot hands.  Solutions there are to use a firmer brand of clay (Premo, FimoClassic, Kato, Cernit), cool the environment or your hands, or cool the clay (let it sit a while, or put in frig or freezer a short time).

One other thing is cutting technique most beginners tend to push down on their blades when cutting, rather than being more gentle and subtle (especially in the beginning of the cut), so kind of "working with the clay" while cutting will help.  Some clayers also rock their blades or roll the cane a bit while slicing, and some make an initial cut then spread the clay a bit before continuing the cut.  It's important to clean the blade occasionally too (alcohol), or perhaps use a bit of cornstarch on it.

You can find much more info on cutting-slicing clay (including canes) and info on suitable blades on these pages:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Canes--general.htm
(click on Cutting Canes)
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/cutters-blades.htm
(look under Blades)

And more info on the characteristics of the different brands of clay here:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Characteristics.htm

Quote
And then, I'm having a little trouble getting it rolled out real thin. I know a pasta machine is the best idea but I dont have that kind of money right now. I was using a rolling pin and its working out alright but still not getting thin enough. Any suggestions?


Check this page for info on making sheets of clay without a pasta machine:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/pastamachines.htm
(click on No Pasta Machine?Other Ways)
Btw, with a bi-weekly 40% off coupon from Michaels you can get a reasonable pasta machine for about $15.

Quote
It seems like my clay is a lot softer than the stuff I seem them use on tv and things. Like its harder to work with small pieces because all they do is smoosh between my fingers when im trying to shape them. I'm using Sculpey and Premo right now.

Well, as mentioned, Sculpey is considered a very soft clay, and many clayers dont like to work with it because of that (...also because it and the new FimoSoft are weaker clays after baking in thin areas).
Premo is a strong clay, but it is more temperature-sensitive than FimoClassic or Kato, so clayers with hot hands, those living in hot climates without air conditioning, and those who like to work-and-work their clay, prefer to use those brands.

P. S.  For other questions as they come up, you might want to check out other pages at my polymer clay encyclopedia website heres the table of contents page (be sure to scroll all the way down):
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm


HTH, and have fun!



Diane B.
GlassAttic.polymer clay encyclopedia
(TOC) http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
« Last Edit: June 12, 2006 10:39:21 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2006 03:22:25 PM »

One more thing about that citrus cane lesson...

I'm not sure why she suggests wrapping 10 logs separately, rather than wrapping one much-larger log once, then reducing it, and cutting it into ten lengths (or at least five lengths in two passes).  That should give the same result and is a lot less work (believe would be the most common way too).

Angie Scarr has another simple way of making an orange (or lemon, lime, whatever) cane if you want to check it out too, using "insertion" then wrapping ... it starts with mixing the colors (she uses part translucent colors, rather than completely opaque like Candace, and she doesn't add the central white log though you could)
http://www.angiescarr.co.uk/oranges/pith_and_skin.htm
...but the actual cane making begins on the next page.
Her way makes the orange segments a little less rounded too

(btw,she goes on in that lesson to use a thick slice from this cane to make an actual whole orange, which is cut open to reveal the segments inside)

Nora Jean's lesson is similar to Angie's but she only partly wraps the basic log before reducing/cutting/recombining, and she uses more translucent in her colors
http://www.norajean.biz/food/Citrus/2002-orange-grp.htm

And here are some slices from NoraJean's citrus canes... one used more translucent in the original orange-log color than the other one, or else those cane slices are just cut thicker so they're not as translucent when placed over the background clay:
http://www.norajean.biz/Sproing-003.htm
http://www.norajean.biz/Sheets/OnBlack/002d-Fruit.htm

There are more citrus canes around online, but can't find them just now.... oops just found another lesson, this one by Maureen Carlson:
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/dc_occasions_december/article/0,,HGTV_3472_1390370,00.html
(pictures at top of page, but instructions in middle of page)

Just found more!
... Marina uses her slices as onlays on a barrette and cuff bracelet
http://www.marieidraghi.it/agrumimurrine.htm

And citrus slices were used to make a bowl at this link, just like the polymer bowls shown in my previous post, only here the cane slices are overlapping (could also have been done with a "sheet of slices" made previously then snugged down over the form before baking):
http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/ViewPhoto?u=4153008&a=31609329&p=70822348



Diane B.

preg_replace('/(.{19})/', '$1 ', 'GlassAttic....polymer') clay "encyclopedia"
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm


« Last Edit: June 12, 2006 04:31:21 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
Subversive
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2006 06:56:36 AM »

Diane, that's excellent info/resources on the citrus canes.  I honestly have thought I had no interest in doing fruit, but those images have inspired me (esp. the bowl...)!
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Lethargic
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2006 07:55:34 AM »

Thanks so much, that makes sense! I'll have to try it out and then post some pictures of my work. Smiley
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