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Topic: Great tip for translucent clays  (Read 2853 times)
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« on: February 19, 2010 03:41:09 PM »

"the ice-bath method"

Maybe this is not as unusual as it seems to me, but I saw this mentioned while wandering a blog and had to do some research to find out exactly what she meant.  If you put newly cured translucent clay into a bowl or cup of ice water directly after baking it really boosts the translucent effect.  I tried it and... wow!
Diane B.
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2010 08:50:32 AM »

This is known also as "quenching" or ice water plunging, and is one of the techniques used to make translucent clays more transparent.   There are some things to know about doing it though including that the effect may only be temporary, that there are certain times it shouldn't be done, and that there are other "cold" things that can work in the same way.  
Here's the info on ice-water quenching from the Translucents page at my site for details:

I think Lynda Struble (a plastics chemist and a polyclay sculptor) was the first person to advocate the ice water plunge for getting stronger clay.
Sue Heaser published an article about what Lynda said in the 1998 British Guild newsletter, and clayers all over UK have been using it ever since.

My understanding was the "shock" method of dunking hot clay into ice water was to create a more translucence in translucent clays
....it's also used for closing cracks

If you haven't done the ice water soak the first time you baked, you can always put the item back in the oven until it really heats up, then do the ice water bath.

Someone else said when she put her translucent canes in the freezer to cool down, she found the translucent clays became much more translucent much like using the ice water trick.... I plan to use both! Jan
....freezing would be good to use too when you have something porous that might swell when wet --like bare wood or a paper product like papier mache or cardboard

In the case of my tile, I was afraid I'd crack it - not to mention waterlogging (plaquing?).  
So instead I took an ice cube and ran it back and forth across the glitter lines (or over any baked clay). I could actually see them get clearer! Julia

What actually happens with the ice water dunk is that the clay may initially crack (or have tiny cracks) when it's first put into the ice water bath... but the items need to be left in the water to soak awhile, and then the cracks will close themselves!

I learned from bitter experience that when you give cured clay an icewater bath, you really need to let it return to room temp before trying to flex it at all. I broke a cuff bracelet that way. Suzanne

I was playing around and made a flat piece with translucent clay and I was about to stick it in the glass of ice water I had prepared when I realized it was probaly not going to keep its flat shape, so instead, I put the glass of water on top of it! voila! it was held flat AND coold off fast. ~Liz

So far, I've never been able to see any tests that made me feel certain that the ice dunk treatment caused more transparency. It always appeared that way immediately, but then later, I could not tell the difference. ...Only done it twice though so maybe I should test that one again, too. Jeanne R.

We know that going right from the oven to ice water will make the transparent parts more transparent. So I do that with my other pieces. But what about (covering) glass? Will doing this cause the glass to break?, crackle?, destroying my hard work? Help me! Thanks! Ginny
Yes, ice-cold water will make glass crack. It's okay to quench all-clay items, but not when they have glass. Linda S.
I've put glass bottles covered with #4 thickness clay into ice water with no problem. I roll the outside of the bottle in the water before I let it go inside. . . .
Then I tried it with a bottle that was only partially covered and it broke. Paper thin slices may also make the bottle more vulnerable, so if you try it, be cautious. Jody

Now just remember that more heat is one of the techniques that helps translucent liquid clays to become clearer!...lol.

Diane B.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010 08:59:03 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: February 20, 2010 09:37:04 AM »

If you haven't done the ice water soak the first time you baked, you can always put the item back in the oven until it really heats up, then do the ice water bath.

I was thinking that would probably work, considering the way previously baked items soften a bit when re-baked.
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