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Topic: Outdoor clay  (Read 2026 times)
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sugarducky
« on: May 04, 2006 06:42:55 AM »

I'm going to try to make my mom a garden gnome for mother's day. But I don't really know what to make it out of. I went to Micheal's yesterday, but none of the clays there said whether or not they could be used outside, except for the kind you pour into a mold.
I know that I could use just the regular kind of clay that you fire in a kiln, but those sometimes shatter when you fire them.
Would sculpey be okay for outside? or is it too brittle?
What would be the best thing to use?
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2006 07:32:37 AM »

You can use polymer clay.   For one thing, it's not porous (or so little that it would take months of continuous submersion in water to show that it's absorbing any at all), so rain, snow, etc. won't affect it ...it's basically plastic after all.

Some of the colors can fade with strong light over time though (mostly the reds and purples), but most people who've used them haven't seemed to mind.  Guess they fade nicely and very gradually.

Which kind of "clay" you might want to use could depend on the size of the gnome too.  You wouldn't want to make polymer thicker than about 1 1/2" anywhere if it's solid, but you can always use an armature (like tightly wadded aluminum foil, wood shapes, papier mache shapes, etc.) underneath a thinner layer of clay ...some armatures will shrink during baking too, like polystyrene forms (Styrofoam, etc.), leaving the item lighter-weight and partially hollow. 
You could also create the gnome in two thin parts, then join them together.

There are other types of clay though that you might want to use, for larger items in particular... check them out on this page at my site:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/sculpture.htm
(...click on "Non-Polymer Clays"....)

For much more info on using polymer clay outdoors, look on this page though:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/outdoor_snowglobes_fountains.htm
(...look all under Outdoor...)

And btw, the Sculpey clays (and now the new version of FimoSoft) are all weaker after baking than Premo, FimoClassic, Kato, and Cernit.  This means they can snap or chip in any thin or projecting areas if stressed, so you might want to consider that too for the gnome.

Good luck . . .  I know she'll love it!



Diane B.
GlassAttic ...polymer clay "encyclopedia"
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm

for the upcoming all-polymer clay board here at craftster, check here!
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=72141.msg813624#msg813624
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POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
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(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
sugarducky
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2006 08:36:54 PM »

Thank you for the info. Wow, that's your website? That's incredible.
I think I may end up going with the polymer clay formed around something.
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teapotdnky
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2006 09:00:54 PM »

I use foil that has been balled up really tight. If you don't want it to blow away (if its stormy there) you can cover a large rock. I have so much clay that I usually use junk clay for my bases. Polymer clay is so much fun! I hope you try/like it! I have a few pieces of polyclay art in a friend's yard and the fading has given them a great looking aged effect. (its super bright and hot here)
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Diane B.
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2006 12:23:22 PM »

Quote
I think I may end up going with the polymer clay formed around something.


Cool.... post when you finish!

If you want info on using armatures of various kinds underneath clay, check out these pages for details on all kinds of things:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/armatures-perm.htm (permanent armatures)
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/armatures-temp.htm (temporary armatures... dissolvable, shrinkable, removable)

and if you want to cover large rocks, look here:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/vessels_rock-alum.foil.htm
(....click on Larger Rocks...)

You can also use other items and materials as permanent armatures that we would normally use just to "cover" with clay (like wood balls, papier mache forms, glass or metal, etc.)... so look on this page for even more possibilities:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/covering.htm (metal/glass/plastic/wood/boxes,etc)



HTH,

Diane B.
GlassAttic ...polymer clay "encyclopedia"
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
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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)
sugarducky
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2006 11:48:15 PM »

Thank you for the links. They helped very much. I started on it today.
Just in case you wanted to know, here's what I did.
I bought some 20 gauge wire that's tin and copper, and 24 gauge, that I think it tin and copper, too. I made a sort of frame, and then filled it out with foil. That was a lot harder than I expected. Then I wrapped the foil guy with the thinner wire, to keep it together, and to help hold the clay on. I poked holes in a metal box, for a base and wrapped the wires around in them. Then I covered it with clay. It's just a bunch of colors of super-sculpy mixed together. (I knew that's not a strong clay, but I think it will be okay. I couldn't find a big pack of anything better, and I already had these.)
I don't think I got the right kind of wire, because the frame leaned back naturally. But maybe I just didn't secure it to the base well enough. I think it's a batter pose anyway. His hands will be in his pockets.
I've started shaping the face and shoes. I'm really happy with how this is going. I've never really made anything cool with clay, like I've made a couple cute animals, and some beads, but never a sculpture-type thing.
Please excuse my carpet, that is where I sew.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2006 09:10:09 AM by sugarducky » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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Diane B.
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2006 08:19:01 AM »

It looks really good!!!

Quote
20 gauge wire ...I made a sort of frame, and then filled it out with foil. That was a lot harder than I expected.
Then I wrapped the foil guy with the thinner wire, to keep it together, and to help hold the clay on.


You might try looking for "armature wire" at an art supply store, though most any wire will work if it's made strong enough for the figure. 
As for the aluminum foil, you might also want to try Katherine Dewey's trick of using hot glue with the aluminum foil (it actually works)... that also seems to provide a buffer against any shrinking/swelling inside the clay when baked --the description is probably on my Armatures-Perm. page or on the main Sculpting page.  Or you can just use thicker aluminum foil... there are various ways I've seen it done, e.g., scruching lengths of it then wrapping them around and around the wire.

Also you shouldn't have had to wrap the aluminum foil with wire.  The aluminum foil should be tightly-crumpled which will hold it on well ... some people even hammer it a bit.

Quote
I poked holes in a metal box, for a base and wrapped the wires around in them. Then I covered it with clay.

No holes are needed, and no wire is needed. 
When "covering" paper or other porous materials, simply apply a coat of white glue, let tack up or dry, then apply the clay.  The glue will give tooth so the clay can hold on the cardboard/papier mache box and also binds to it during heating.

Quote
It's just a bunch of colors of super-sculpy mixed together. (I knew that's not a strong clay, but I think it will be okay).


This isn't vital, but to avoid any misunderstandings you should probably use the exact terms for the clay you're using. 
SuperSculpey is only the flesh-colored Polyform clay which comes in a box.  Sculpey III is only the small bars of colored clay (it can be gotten in larger bricks, but I know only one place that sells them). Sculpey, or "original" Sculpey, is only the white or terracotta colored clays which come in boxes (and is even weaker than the other two).... though you'll often hear the white stuff in a box and the colored bars referred to simply as Sculpey.
 
Quote
I don't think I got the right kind of wire, because the frame leaned back naturally. But maybe I just didn't secure it to the base well enough.


The type of wire doesn't matter too much, but the size or rigidity can.  There's a whole physics thing about making sculpts stand and balance properly, and sculptors have to go to great lengths to figure that out and compensate for the pose they want.  The larger the item, the more important that can get.
Even with small sculpts without armatures though, the crazy little things can stand just fine until they're baked, but then they tump over  (don't know if the slight softening of the clay during baking actaully causes them to move, or if the slight stickiness of the raw clay having disappeared from the bottom of the "feet" is the culprit, etc). 
Making a base is a great idea though when possible... it's also good to run a stiff wire out the bottom of each foot, which can then be fixed or glued into the base (especially if needed).

Since your clay "mud" is one color, are you going to paint over the clay?
Or are you just aiming for a sculpted rock, etc., feel?  If color is important, just be sure to bake the clay correctly or it can darken, especially at the highest points, while in the oven.  Check out my page on baking for more tips:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/baking.htm


Keep up the good work!




Diane B.
--- polymer clay "encyclopedia"
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
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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)
teapotdnky
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2006 10:14:55 AM »

I don't pay too much attention to the type of wire I use, I just make sure that it is super tightly wound around what I want to use. I have not done them tight enough and the stuff just fell off. You are doing a great job so far! Are you going to bake it in stages?
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