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Topic: Newbie to polymer...question about joining pieces.  (Read 4296 times)
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AugustBell
« on: February 09, 2012 06:38:33 AM »

I'm having a lot of trouble sticking my separate pieces together without smushing the clay. I made a small mushroom last night and couldn't get the cap to stick onto the stalk without totally smashing everything. Is there any kind of glue that can be used? Or do people just use tiny dowels to join things? I'm very lost!
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Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"


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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012 10:36:06 AM »

There are lots of different ways to connect pieces when using polymer clay, and also various materials or techniques that can be used.
Which you'd use would depend a lot on the size and shape of the pieces (and of the finished piece), the amount of contact between the two pieces, the stiffness and security you'd need (how much stress that area will later receive), whether the clay is raw or cured, whether you're using an armature under the entire clay piece (like for some sculpts) or just want small armatures between added pieces to hold them together when necessary, brand/line of clay being used (some are more brittle), which you'd just prefer to use, and more.

Here are a lot of previous posts of mine as well as pages at my polymer clay site, that address the issues of joining parts, glues, armatures (permanent ones), etc. that will give guidelines about various situations and joining techniques:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=234167.msg2561564#msg2561564
http://glassattic.com/polymer/glues-Diluent.htm
....especially click on the category called Some Bonding Techniques at bottom
http://glassattic.com/polymer/armatures-perm.htm
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpture.htm
...click on Websites, then check out the first sites listed and also Whimsical
http://glassattic.com/polymer/kids_beginners.htm
...click on Sculpting
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm
And perhaps also the pages called Onlay, Mixing Media, Pendants (click on Top Loops), etc.

You mentioned "smooshing" though, so I'm wondering which brand and line of polymer clay you're using.  The softer ones will have more problems with distortion, fingerprints, and more, than the stiffer ones, and that can be worse if you have hot hands or work in a warm area.  
Check out these posts and pages for more info on all that:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpture.htm
...click on Fingerprints, Smoothing, and Dust
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=366723.msg4307846#msg4307846
http://glassattic.com/polymer/Characteristics.htm
http://glassattic.com/polymer/Conditioning.htm
...click on Cooling the Clay, and perhaps Leaching

If you want to get more info on joining specific parts, of specific items, to get particular characteristics, etc, describe those things and if possible attach a photo, so we can narrow down the factors you might be facing or need to be aware of.

Diane B.


« Last Edit: February 09, 2012 10:37:07 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)
AugustBell
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012 01:31:56 PM »

Thanks so much for all your help and links! I'm using some original Sculpey that I bought at Hobby Lobby. I was hoping to make some mushrooms and a bird for my mom. I'm worried about getting the small dots on top of the mushroom cap to stick and also the beak/wings on the bird. Those are the only specific project details I have right now. Smiley
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AugustBell
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2012 01:41:50 PM »

Oh I went and double checked my packs and they are Sculpey III.
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Diane B.
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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2012 09:46:06 AM »

Quote
original Sculpey . . . Sculpey III

As you can see from some of my links below, unfortunately original Sculpey is just about the softest, smooshiest brand/line of polymer clay so it will be much more difficult to handle in terms of avoiding distortion, getting fine detail, etc (it will also darken during baking much easier than any other** and be the most brittle after baking in any thin or projecting areas).  Sculpey III and SuperSculpey will be better, but still not as good as most of the other brands/lines for those problems.  Wonderful things can be made with the 3 main Sculpeys, but it's harder to do and more caution is needed when baking and strengthening.

Quote
I'm worried about getting the small dots on top of the mushroom cap to stick and also the beak/wings on the bird.

Okay, looks like you're just doing "sculpting" with your clay.  That changes some things.

As for the dots, you won't have any problem making them stick if they're raw and the mushroom is raw since basically their entire width will be in contact with the mushroom.  If you want even better stickage in a simple way, just make a dimple in the clay with a rounded tool (end of a paintbrush, etc), then place/press your balls into the divots...you can press down as much as you want for the look you want; cooling the mushroom awhile will firm it up too so it will be at least a bit stiffer when you use the balls, etc.

The beak and wings could be a problem or not, depending on their size and shape, and how much contact they'll have.
...If your beak has a broad area at bottom where it can get lots of contact with the head, no problem (presuming you press on reasonably well, and/or use one of the techniques in that Some Bonding Techniques category at my site).  If you only have a small area of contact at the base of the beak, and especially if the beak is large or sticks out a lot, you might want to use a short armature between the two pieces to reinforce the join (e.g., a short bit of toothpick, a short length of plastic-coated wire--or regular wire maybe zigzagged a bit, a small piece of cardstock or index card perhaps coated with a bit of permanent white glue, etc).
...Similarly, if the wings don't have a fair amount of contact with the body, and especially if they stick out a lot, you'll probably need to use some kind of armature between the join or an armature throughout each wing that gets pushed into the body (or some people solve the problem by just pressing most of the wings to the body, although even then you could have breakage problems for the projecting parts since you're using those Sculpeys).

You don't say whether you're making a realistic bird though, or a simpler more whimsical one, and that could make a difference in the beak for example since real ones often really stick out.  If that's the case, you could make the beak and add a sort of clay "spike" shape on the back end, or embed a wire there, then bake the beak and press the spike or wire into the raw clay head (ok to re-bake the beak).

If you're making a whimsical type, have you seen Dinko's "boids" and his lessons?
http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/castle/lesdinkobird.html
....and a swap based on Dinko's bird
http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/swap_bwt1.html
And/or, check out these polymer clay birds and let us know which general kind you're doing:
https://www.google.com/images?q=polymer+clay+bird

** Most polymer clays turn brownish when the heat is too high, but original Sculpey actually starts out turning kind of purplish.
And btw, it's hard to keep the temp on every part of a clay item below a certain temp unless certain things are done...you might want to check out the Darkening, Scorching, Burning category of my Baking page to find out more about that, particularly if you'll be using the 3 main Sculpeys
http://glassattic.com/polymer/baking.htm
« Last Edit: February 10, 2012 10:01:22 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)
AugustBell
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2012 11:15:53 AM »

Ok, I found two links that are similar to what I'm wanting to make:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4120/4735534083_8b5134b5c8.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_TKp4ykPPpks/TCpQE21zsBI/AAAAAAAACA8/NXjoCCF4m5I/s1600/IMG_0025.JPG

It doesn't have to be 100% realistic, but I am leaning more towards that then the cartoonish ones. The birds and mushrooms are for a terrarium I'm making my mom for her upcoming birthday in March. Would it be easier for me to just get some white clay and form the entire bird from one piece and paint it?

I'm also making a Doctor Who themed terrarium for my sister who shares a birthday with my mom. I'm wanting to make a TARDIS and at least one Weeping Angel for her. I bought the Scupley III, but haven't opened any of those packs yet. I can easily return them to Hobby Lobby and get a different brand. They sell the Sculpey III, Sculpey Premo, Fimo Soft, and Kato polyclay. I also bought a cheap pack of plastic tools to start with, and I have some pins with balls on the ends I can use to make dimples in the mushroom caps.

Thank you so much for all your help!
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Poison_Of_Gull
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012 02:08:27 PM »

Thank you so much for all the info! This helps me a lot too!
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I'm looking for wrist watches or old clocks. Broken or working, doesn't matter! I will swap anything you would like.
Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"


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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012 08:54:04 AM »

Quote
The birds and mushrooms are for a terrarium

Sounds nice!
 
If the objects will be in a real-plant terrarium though, there might be some fairly constant humidity or contact with damp surfaces.  Polymer clay is waterproof for all intents and purposes but if it's in continuous and long contact with water, it can absorb a bit of moisture into the outer surface which will show up on the darker or more saturated colors as a whitish sort of "coating" or fading.

You can remove the items and let their surfaces dry out though.  Or you can try using a clear (water-based and gloss, semi-gloss, or matte) finish on the parts that will touch the soil, or all over --although the some finishes can absorb moisture too and become cloudy.  Or perhaps just elevate the bottom a bit if it's only the soil that will stay damp. 
(Or do one of those things 6 months from now only if you see a problem and it bothers you.)

Quote
It doesn't have to be 100% realistic, but I am leaning more towards that then the cartoonish ones.
Would it be easier for me to just get some white clay and form the entire bird from one piece and paint it?

Which one would be "better" for you to do depends on the look you want to achieve, as well as perhaps how much you know about "painting" in the art sense. 
Those who are primarily artist/painters just like to paint everything; that's what they know how to do and enjoy. 
Most polymer clayers though aren't painters and prefer to use all the tricks that polymer clay can do to achieve their coloring (perhaps using paint only to do some "antiquing" washes on textured or dimensional surfaces for more visual depth which is easy to do--see Stamping or Texturing pages below for more). 

The pieces you showed would be considered "graphic" or "cartoonish" in the way I meant, though not also "little-kid-cute" cartoonish.  The painted one would be a little more toward realistic but not a huge amount. The first one would fall more into the "abstract" or "ethnic" sense of graphic, and the second one to a lesser extent.
The "realism" can come just from painting on top of the surface though (including washes of paint), or it can come from more refined and accurate shapes or texturing, or it can come just from more complexity/onlaying even if still graphic, etc.

Here are some examples of all kinds:
more realistic, and not graphic:
http://www.elvenwork.com/book_1.html
http://www.elvenwork.com/wfc/wfc2.html
http://arlissagreen.bigcartel.com/category/polymer-clay
http://www.craftster.org/pictures/data/500/medium/162063_07Nov09_bird11.JPG
http://www.elvenwork.com/archive/15.html (if a bird)
and loads of polymer clay "birds" of all kinds, including ones that fall into all of the categories:
https://www.google.com/images?q=polymer+clay+bird

Quote
TARDIS and at least one Weeping Angel . . . get a different brand . . . Sculpey III, Sculpey Premo, Fimo Soft, and Kato polyclay

Personally I would suggest Kato Polyclay or Premo from that group (or also FimoClassic, Cernit, and even SuperSculpey-Firm which is only gray) rather than Sculpey III or FimoSoft. 
Kato and FimoClassic will be the firmest when raw so will handle best and not be as temperature sensitive as the other good ones (especially if you have hot hands). 
Kato will also be the densest so will probably absorb moisture the least of all polymer lines if that's a concern (and also darken the least during curing even if not protected).

Quote
I also bought a cheap pack of plastic tools to start with, and I have some pins with balls on the ends I can use to make dimples in the mushroom caps.

Most polymer clayers skip the plastic tools that can be purchased next to polymer clay since they're usually for the kinds of things kids would do.  They also won't usually have the rigidity or the flexibility needed for doing certain kinds of shaping.
In general, those are also meant for "sculpting" earthen clays where fine-detail isn't possible and most of the work is done by pushing or pulling the clay surface around.

Polymer clayers do love tools though(!) whether they're real "sculptors" or just regular clayers...I must have a zillion myself.  But most of those tools are things one might find around the house (often kitchen, garage, sewing room), plus a few actual purchased "tools" (which may or may not be used for their intended purposes).

You can actually do sculpts with polymer clay using no tools but your hands and a flat, smooth work surface, and add only a toothpick to that.  Your ball-ended pins will come in handy for some things (I have a number of sizes of those too), and a purchasable one of that type would be the ball-ended tools used for dry embossing.

If I didn't include any links below for beginner tools, as well as tools for "texturing" and "stamping" polymer clay, check out these pages at my site:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/tools_Dremels_worksurfaces.htm > Beginner Tools
http://glassattic.com/polymer/texturing.htm
http://glassattic.com/polymer/stamping.htm
...and tools specifically "for sculpting" are discussed on this page:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm > Tools For Sculpting)
(....Other tools may be used for other topics within polymer clay but the tools for those will often be discussed on their own topic pages.

HTH,
Diane B.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012 09:10:24 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)
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