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Topic: newbie with questions  (Read 803 times)
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« on: May 23, 2009 12:33:00 AM »

I read through the questions and answers and not sure if I missed what I was looking for.  I'm new to polymer clay and bought several kinds from Hobby Lobby.  I'm making whimsical items such as minnie mouse for hair barrettes  or centers for bows.

First off where do I get simple molds for circles and flowers.  Everyone that makes the whimsical beads and hair barrettes seem to use the same molds for the tiny flowers and for the circle shaped heads.  I bought a jewelry mold and it had hearts and ovals, but nothing else that I could use.

Second, the kato clay is really tough. Is this supposed to be this way?

Third I'm using the premo, and sculpey 3 and others, and the temp is different for baking on all of these. Do I just pick a temp in the middle and use that?  How do I know when it's done?

If I am stacking clay on clay, such as hair on a face, do I use the glue or liquid clay first, then bake?  I don't want anything falling off.

I've been on the glass attic site and it was helpful, I just couldn't find the answers I needed.  Thanks so much.

Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"

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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2009 09:21:34 AM »

I'm new to polymer clay . . .

Welcome to polymer clay!

I've been on the glass attic site and it was helpful, I just couldn't find the answers I needed.

That's my site, and I know it can be hard to find things there-- especially before you're used to the way I've categorized things.  To make things more difficult, much of the info could "belong" in one or more place and the site is huge, so that makes it doubly hard to know where I decided to put it (usually in the place it had the "most" to do with, or I didn't have good info on previously).

Some suggestions for the future (though I'll include specific pages below to the questions you've already asked) would be to:

...use the Table of Contents page ...browse all the way down through all the categories and subcategories, or just do a Ctrl + f search on the page for the word(s) you're looking for
...go to a likely page ...check out the names of the subcategories, or do a Ctrl + f search for words
...use a "site search" in your browser to search the whole site for a word(s)... here are sev. ways to  do that:
......for example, put the following text string into a Google search box (or into other search engines, I guess too), then click on Search:
site:www.glassattic.com mold flower (note the space before search word and between the 2 search words)
..... (the green part tells the search engine which site to search--you'd use that for all searches-- where the purple part tells it the search term(s) you want to use)
......that will bring up a page that looks like this, which lists every page the search word(s) are on:
.....(unfortunately, the "Cached" version of my pages no longer works at Google, so just click on each page, then do a Ctrl + f search for the word, and click Next...Next to jump down through them all
....... if you have the Google Toolbar though, you can then just click the "highlight" icon in the toolbar to highlight each instance of the search term so they're all easy to spot on the page, or you can just click repeatedly on the search word --which will show up in the toolbar-- to jump down to them
........also, if you have the Google Toolbar, once you're on any page at my site you can simply put the search words into the google Search Box on the bar, then click on the Search Only On the Current Site icon (two eyeballs on a magnifying glass)... that's the quickest way

...if those things don't work, come to this Questions board and ask... I read everything posted here so I can let you know where to go.

Now to your specific questions.

where do I get simple molds for circles and flowers.  Everyone that makes the whimsical beads and hair barrettes seem to use the same molds for the tiny flowers and for the circle shaped heads.  I bought a jewelry mold and it had hearts and ovals, but nothing else that I could use.

There are various places you can buy premade molds, or you can easily make your own molds (beware: this is addictive! Grin).
The pre-made ones are available at craft stores and online (companies sell them and individuals also make them to sell).

You can find many of the supply sources online on the Molds page of glassattic.  That page also goes into great detail on how to make your own molds from polymer clay, and from other materials as well, to use for clay castings:

the kato clay is really tough. Is this supposed to be this way?

Kato Polyclay is one of the two firmest polymer clays when raw (FimoClassic is the other).  It's also one of the strongest clays and one which handles the best even when the clay gets warm from working or from hot hands/environment (ditto for FimoClassic).  The clays which are softer when raw are easier to condition, but more subject to becoming too soft while working for optimum performance. Some clayers prefer to deal with the disadvantages though than deal with conditioning the clay more than briefly (conditioning isn't time-consuming if using a pasta machine for it though), or they don't realize there's are significant differences between lines.
Everyone has their favorite brand or brands (for everything, or for certain types of projects) though, and wonderful things have been made by clayers using all brands of clay.

One thing to note though is the brittleness of a particular brand and line of clay after baking in any thin or projecting areas (fat, rounded shapes are inherently strong no matter what they're made of).  So the 3 clays original Sculpey, SuperSculpey (flesh), and Sculpey III aren't good to use in those situations... they'll bake up very "hard" but will break if stressed much, where the others would just bend (FimoSoft is strong enough, but not quite as strong as the other "strong" ones).

There's loads of info on the handling and strength characteristics of the various lines of polymer clay on this page:

And info on various ways to condition (and also cool, stiffen) clays on this page:

I'm using the premo, and sculpey 3 and others, and the temp is different for baking on all of these. Do I just pick a temp in the middle and use that?  How do I know when it's done?

First, the more thoroughly a clay object has been polymerized, the stronger it will be (for any brand), so the main idea is to give a time and temp that can cure the object all the way to the center, and even longer if possible--especially if strength will be an issue in the way that it's used.  So in a way, it doesn't matter how low you go with temp (within reason) but the time-temp ratio is exponential, so the lower the temp the much longer the time required.

The clays all used to be cured at 265 or 275 F, depending on manufacturer, but since the latest reformulations (of all clays) due to plasticizer changes, some are now suggesting 230.  Clayers have found that 265-275 is still fine though for most lines.  
The most problematic brands/lines for baking at those temps are, and have always been, the main "Sculpeys" (the three lines I mentioned above) since they will darken easily at those temps.  In fact, Polyform (manufacturer) used to suggest 225 but changed to 275 when the items broke too easily, since I guess they didn't want to have to suggest a much longer baking time for what they considered a "toy" craft.

Instead of baking longer, the darkening can be fairly well prevented by using an "enclosed" or even a partly-enclosed baking method (or a convection oven); that will ensure that the temp touching any part of the clay is never even for a second higher than 265-275 (be sure to use an oven thermometer though!).  Generally, the heat spikes caused by the thermostat do create higher temps so the air in the cavity can stay as hot as you've set, and when temps go up (even briefly) some clays will darken easily.  Theoretically, polymer clays could bake all night as long as they never ever exceed those temps.

However, most all translucent clays, or clays with much translucent in them (not always obvious, some Sculpey III colors for example), will darken more easily than regular colors will.

(At the opposite end from those 3 Sculpeys btw, is Kato clay.  It does great at even higher temps than 275.)

And btw, the bottom-line answer to the temperature to use when mixing clays is to try different things and see which you like.  
Either get a new temp by figuring the proportions of each clay used at temp recommended for each , or just go for the higher temp (esp. when using a protected baking method) or the lowest temp and bake longer.

You can read all about those things, as well as using some of those protected baking methods on my Baking page:

If I am stacking clay on clay, such as hair on a face, do I use the glue or liquid clay first, then bake?  I don't want anything falling off.

There are a number of things you can do to not have things fall off where you've joined clay to clay.
If you're joining raw clay to raw clay, and if there's a lot of contact between the two (and you've pressed them together reasonably well, and conditioned the clays till they're completely smooth and pliable), there should be nothing else required.

If however you have a small amount of contact, or if you're joining raw clay to baked clay, you'll want to do something to make that bond stronger... e.g., use an adhesive of some kind, use an armature, or leave the joined pieces sitting together awhile before baking .
You can read much more about those techniques on this page:
...click on Some Bonding Techniques
And there's more about using liquid clay as an adhesive (prob. the best one for raw clay), plus possibly more info on joining, on the Liquid Clays page:
...click on using it as a Glue


Diane B.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2009 10:11:15 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

few of my photos
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2009 09:48:09 PM »

Thank you very much.   Smiley
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