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Topic: Polymer Clay Pot Debrief (cont.)  (Read 1569 times)
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atomicjam
« on: June 15, 2010 05:58:30 PM »

Continued form the works-in-progress thread to avoid hijacking it.
Found here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=345728.msg4088877#msg4088877

I'd like to know how you did the sorta-rolled rim too.
I made the rim and top half by making a sheet with the patterns and skinner blend, and laying it round the bulb and then curling the lip over. Then I put a sliver of white (quite a thick sliver) around the rim to cap it.   The sheet was just made from the skinner blend on one side and tiles on the other.  I laid the slices out on glass first and then put the skinner blend over it. This way the tiles matched up much better, but they are on the inside of the pot, with the patterns showing as the lip curls out.

Btw, are you creating the slices pattern on a base sheet, or alone?
For the outer pattern yes I built it onto a base sheet of clay to thicken the wall (the top half had the skinner blend as a backing but ended up much thinner. You can see it dips loads in the photo.).  This was a mistake I think because the slices would stick to the clay base and made it hard to position them accurately.

Did you try Varathane or another polyurethane?  (If you have some "ancient" Fimo finish, definitely hold onto it
No I havn't tried any varnish other than this ancient fimo stuff.  It's turned slightly green in the bottle.  The smell has gone though from this bird I used some on. There was only a thin layer and I sanded most of that off.  I havn't got a buffing wheel or anything.  I'm going to make one though out of... somthing.  You can see a bit of the glaze in this pic. EDIT: having technical difficulties, will get pic up soon but it's not really important.

What exactly didn't you like about the blend?
It went horribly wrong. The initial blend seemed ok, was fairly smooth but did drop out to black abit too quickly. I used 50/50 black and translucent and had left pure white and black area at each end. The only thing that went wrong at this stage was that... (deep breath)... after i'd passed it through the PM a few times it developed bulges in the trailing edge, the last edge of the sheet that passed through. It was always the side underneath.  Sometimes it seemed as though part of this bulge (which where unblended) would get folded into the sheet and leave a steak going down the blend, where the constant blend had been broken by a streak of extra black.  If you know what i mean Huh   (this seems to happen allot to my skinner blends)

The main problem though was that after making the blend I ended up with a sheet that was the width of my pasta machine (7") blending from white to black that needed to fit on the side of a pot only 3" tall.   To resize the blend I rolled it out at the thinnest setting of the PM and made a stack.  I then cut a slice from the stack which ended up too small and so i rolled it out to the length I needed but had to join 3 pieces together to get the width around the pot.

All this meant the blended areas where wobbly from where I rolled it out, wasn't one piece so had split lines in, and had streaks from where the gradual blend was broken. And after resizing the sheet smaller the abrupt transition to black was more prominent.  
lol it just didn't go well.  I don't know if i went about resizing the blended sheet the right way?

[Cracks/spaces] can roll repeatedly over the area with a small rod of some kind.  
Thats what I do and it helped allot. I probably need to do it more. The slices I cut where fairly thick, maybe 2.5-3mm. They weren't all the same though, I didn't measure. This definitely was a problem as the thicker ones would expand more than the thinner ones.  
I saw a video in the blog you linked to from Tonja Lederman with a cane slicing machine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw48pVzAsB0 I want one! I've also been thinking of a machine to reduce canes mechanically. Not got too far with that one though  Wink

Any thoughts?

P.S I'm really tired, sorry if I waffle on  Embarrassed  If you don't understand anything I expalined just say and I'll have another go or get pics.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010 09:43:47 AM by atomicjam » THIS ROCKS   Logged
Diane B.
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2010 12:15:31 PM »

Quote
Yeah Ok, I know.  I was hiding in this thread.  I'll make a new one for this discussion and link to it but I still think people should post picture of works in progress here if they want to, if the pics don't really warrant a whole other thread. Just occasional shots of WIP can be very telling and inspirational.

Okay... if you really were going to post the finished item in Completed Projects, alone Wink.  I'd forgotten you hadn't yet sanded and buffed or liquid-finished it, so guess it was technically still a work in progress. 
And it's great to put things into the Discussions & Questions thread if you really want to discuss them, brainstorm fixes, etc, but still wouldn't mind it being in its own thread, especially since there's a lot to discuss.

Quote
Continued form the works-in-progress thread to avoid hijacking it.
Found here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=345728.10

Also btw, when you link to a Craftster message be sure and use the link that goes to that message directly (not to the whole thread, or anywhere else in the thread). 
You can do that by using the url that shows up in the browser bar after you've clicked on the blue link above that particular message... in this case it would be this url:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=345728.msg4088877#msg4088877
after having clicked on the blue link in the info above your message that reads
Re: Works-in-progress
<< Reply #12 on: June 13, 2010.
The link you used goes to "Reply #5" for some reason. (There are different urls for each message in a thread at Craftster as well as the "show all messages" url which I think begins with the very last message in the thread, but includes all messages included underneath it.)

Quote
I made the rim and top half by making a sheet with the patterns and skinner blend, and laying it round the bulb and then curling the lip over. Then I put a sliver of white (quite a thick sliver) around the rim to cap it.   The sheet was just made from the skinner blend on one side and tiles on the other.  I laid the slices out on glass first and then put the skinner blend over it. This way the tiles matched up much better, but they are on the inside of the pot, with the patterns showing as the lip curls out.

Got it now with your explanation and also noticing the slight crack between the rolled over rim section and the white "thick sliver" under it (didn't see that before).

Quote
For the outer pattern yes I built it onto a base sheet of clay to thicken the wall (the top half had the skinner blend as a backing but ended up much thinner. You can see it dips loads in the photo.).  This was a mistake I think because the slices would stick to the clay base and made it hard to position them accurately.

Re the positioning and matching of the slices, they can be put onto a backing sheet (thin or thick) and still come out pretty well, and when laying them on the glass directly or on a backing sheet you'll be looking at the front sides of the slices as you position them which is helpful (especially if the slices are not thin).
 
To make good alignments (especially where there are really difficult thin lines and sharp areas of color to match like yours), you can also first make units to work with instead of individual tiles/slices. 
So in this case you might have cut your cane into 2 lengths, then joined those cane lengths side by side, aligning their patterns carefully from the end and also down their sides (like "zipping" the two cane lengths together).  You could then use that 2-piece unit to create more of the grid you need.
Or you could have cut more than 2 lengths --like 4 or 6 or 8-- then joined them in the same way (4 lengths would be 2 rows, 2 columns... 6 lengths would be 2 rows, 3 columns... etc).  Since you wanted one whole bird in the center of your strip of slices, you could then have cut your unit of 4-or-more across the middle of the second complete row then moved it to the top of the rest of the cane to finish out.  (Then you'd just need to add more of those large units on either side of that unit till you had enough for the circumference...or you could do that beforehand by cutting that completed multi-length cane into lengths of its own and joining those together).
I *know* that sounds complicated to describe, but it does work to make for smoother transitions to use "pre-unit" cane lengths, then use those in the final application.  There are other methods too though.

Quote
The slices I cut where fairly thick, maybe 2.5-3mm. They weren't all the same though, I didn't measure. This definitely was a problem as the thicker ones would expand more than the thinner ones. I saw a video in the blog you linked to from Tonja Lederman with a cane slicing machine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw48pVzAsB0 I want one! I've also been thinking of a machine to reduce canes mechanically. Not got too far with that one though.
   

Getting all the slices the same thickness is half the battle! But aligning and getting rid of joins is important too.
You are using very thin, sharp long (tissue or other) blades, right?

Cutting even slices is mostly a matter of having cool/firm canes, certain postures (over the cane is good), proper gestures to make sure the cuts are perpendicular throughout, sharp blades, and just plain old practice.
 
Some of the stand slicers sold for making the cuts are helpful, but mostly for the larger canes imo.  They can make good even slices but most all of them have to be advanced slice by slice and that's a hassle. 
I hadn't seen either of the slicers that Wes Warren has --where did you see links for them at my site?-- (though don't know if he actually sells anything at this point--he seems to be having a lot of difficulty with the business end, etc, from reading his blog.) One of those does look like the clay or the slicing tool is being advanced electrically/automatically which would be great (...though it's generally not a good idea to let the slices stay next to each other after each slice unelss very cool and firm because they'll want to stick together).  The other slicer shows cutting slices from multi-unit canes like I was mentioning above (but having used multi-multi lengths).

There are various pre-made cane stand slicers actually on the market (I have a large one from way back, the JASI, which works great for large canes, and I also have the Precise A Slice for smaller canes, but as I said they're all kind of a hassle to use for anything but large canes, especially once you just get used to being able to cut reasonably-same-thickness slices and doing the the other stuff to make even slice sheets). 
If you haven't checked out tips on slicing in general, on my Canes-Info page, here's a link:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Canes--general.htm > Cutting Canes
And the Cutters-Blades page I guess you saw also has slicers you can make yourself:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/cutters-blades.htm > Stand Slicers

(While looking through Wes' stuff, I ran across this quite interesting way of reducing canes, especially larger ones using plastic wrap and bungee cord:
http://caninable.blogspot.com/2009/01/cane-reduction-beado-bunge4000.html
Cindy L. had also left a comment about trying it with smaller canes and flat rubberbands instead of bungee cord, and liked the result.  Definitely have to try that.
If you create something that will reduce canes more automatically than the ways and contraptions invented so far, you could probably sell a load of them!)

Quote
I havn't got a buffing wheel or anything.  I'm going to make one though out of... somthing. 

Check out my Buffing and Tools pages for ways and materials to make your own buffing wheels for bench grinders (or small ones) and also for rotary tools like the Dremel:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/buffing.htm > Electrics > Wheels
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/tools_Dremels_worksurfaces.htm > Dremels > Buffing
...You can also do things like put your sanded items in the dryer to buff them, or use brief high heat, etc.

Quote
The initial blend seemed ok, was fairly smooth but did drop out to black abit too quickly...The only thing that went wrong at this stage was that after i'd passed it through the PM a few times it developed bulges in the trailing edge, the last edge of the sheet that passed through. It was always the side underneath.  . .

The "bulges in the trailing edge" are a common problem.  Check out the Pasta Machines page for ways to avoid or fix that:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/pastamachines.htm > Problems, then scroll down to the section called "Uneven or Ragged Edges" and look for the solutions that deal with "curved or uneven" edges

Quote
Sometimes it seemed as though part of this bulge (which where unblended) would get folded into the sheet and leave a steak going down the blend, where the constant blend had been broken by a streak of extra black.  If you know what i mean    (this seems to happen allot to my skinner blends)

Not sure exactly which thing is happening here.  It's common for there to be unmixed areas near edges until the blend is really complete, or if the width of the clay sheet is too wide and folding back on itself.  Is either of those what's happening?

Quote
The main problem though was that after making the blend I ended up with a sheet that was the width of my pasta machine (7") blending from white to black that needed to fit on the side of a pot only 3" tall.   
To resize the blend I rolled it out at the thinnest setting of the PM and made a stack.  I then cut a slice from the stack which ended up too small and so i rolled it out to the length I needed but had to join 3 pieces together to get the width around the pot.. . .  I don't know if i went about resizing the blended sheet the right way?

There are various ways to "limit the width" of the blend in a pasta machine, to make a "narrow blend," and to deal with the blend sheet in order to change it into other sizes. 
For those first two, read all the solutions on the Blends page:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/blends.htm Size & Shape > Limiting Width
For size changes if you've made a sheet too big, also check out the sub-category called Plugs.

Here's some other stuff from my To Be Added to GA files as well:

There are several ways of making a Skinner blend narrow:
...narrowing the width of the area on top of the rollers which the clay is allowed to pass through
...folding in certain ways during the blending or after (e.g., accordion-fold)
...creating a Skinner blend "plug," then reshaping it
...It can also help to start with long and very thin logs of colors, which will keep the blend from becoming the full width of the rollers after 12 or so passes, but round logs won't give as much of the blended area as a Skinner blend.

Desiree's "carrot" method
...create long and thin tapered shapes of clay (like long carrots) for each color
...place next to each other but alternate their orientation
These "carrots" are easier and work quite well in the pasta machine (or even when doing a blend manually without a pm), and can create a narrow or tight blend.

Desiree's pasta machine "stop" (dam, barrier) for creating narrower blends:
...place a plastic sheet over top of pasta machine (hers has the fenders off)...then press a big hunk of scrap clay on top of and down into the rollers a bit ... remove and bake it
...THEN to create one very smooth/slick surface on the stop for the clay to slide easily against when rolling it through, trim a little slice off the area that will be the "inside" side of the stop (with a stiff blade, while clay hunk is still warm)... after cooling the clay stop, sand and electric-buff that trimmed, smooth side to make it even slicker


There are other ways to make stops, etc, though (on the Pasta Machines page).

Quote
Yeah (the colors)  didn't come out very good.  The orange wasn't too bad either - abit dirty. I'm using FimoClassic.

The "dirtiness" is another way of saying you have a "tone" instead of a pure color (by having added to the final mix at some point the complement of the color, an off-white or brown, or several other colors--which will make brown). 
The other of the big three besides tones are "shades" (made made by adding black to a pure or any color) and "tints" (made by adding white). 
Unfortunately the FimoClassic colors are mostly all tones to begin with, so really impossible to get back to pure colors.

Whew... probably tmi!
Diane B.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2010 07:52:50 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)
atomicjam
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2010 06:50:50 PM »

Whew... probably tmi!

No. Never too much.   Let me take all that in and have a good read on glass attic... Thanks for all the info...
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atomicjam
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010 09:42:43 AM »

Hi,  Smiley Just wanted to say thanks so much for your detailed and informative post.  It's really helpful.  I don't know anyone around here who uses polymer clay and having this forum and like minded people to talk with is a real boost.   

Anyway just a few things i'd like to say.. (it's been a while since I was on craftster)

Wink.  I'd forgotten you hadn't yet sanded and buffed or liquid-finished it, so guess it was technically still a work in progress.
And it hasn't got any legs  Cheesy

...when you link to a Craftster message be sure and use the link that goes to that message directly...
Didn't know about that.  Don't suppose anyone knows how to create links that are simply a word.  Like when it says click here.?

To make good alignments (especially where there are really difficult thin lines and sharp areas of color to match like yours), you can also first make units to work with instead of individual tiles/slices.
It's funny, I was just re-reading one of the first discussions we had and you suggested then I combine lengths of cane to make units like this (for geometric patterns). It'll all sink in eventually.  I've been reluctant to do this before though, because I was worried it would go wrong somehow and I'd waste the cane (i also thought I might be able to get it more accurate placing each tile individually, but as I handled each one, they would each distort a bit).  I'll try combining sections of cane next.  I guess it will help eliminate cracks/gaps too.

Getting all the slices the same thickness is half the battle!
Ok. I think i may have underestimated this. I've got a tissue blade but its blunting already. I've tried using scalpel blades and it worked pretty well, at least on these small canes. I can only get them about 2mm thin by hand. I've made a cutting guide but its very fiddly to set up and needs to be set for each cut. One of the bird canes was about two months old and the other I'd made that week.  The older one was much firmer and easier to cut.  The work surface I'm using is quite low so getting over the work for nice cuts is quite easy.

...the slicers that Wes Warren has... ...where did you see links for them at my site?
It was in a post you made on this Craftsters thread about blogs: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=349132.msg4070162#msg4070162. I found the vid in Tonja Lederman's blog that you linked to. I hadn't watched that vid with the volume on before and didn't realise that the slicer is automatic! I assumed it was on some kind of mechanical pulley system or something, guided by his hands. I really, really want one now. It's like a clay chopping robot! And using that bungie for reducing is genius!

The "bulges in the trailing edge" are a common problem.  Check out the Pasta Machines page for ways to avoid or fix that:
Having read about the problems on that page I can see the dreaded bulges sound quite common. Either a natural part of the process or from uneven  roller and/or uneven distribution of clay.  I'm starting to think the reason I had streaks in the blend was because of impurities i.e bits getting in it. I'm gonna try folding the top and bottom edges into the centre. It sounds like that might help get rid of them or at least will make them part of the blend.

With regards to re-sizing the blends, I think maybe the plug solution would have been best. I'm going to have to play around and practice at that. Like my old art teacher told me once... 'technique is everything'.

Anyway, I've decided I need LOADS more practice and so shall return to the depths of polymer clay creation for a while.  Thanks for all the help so far. Smiley

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