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Topic: First time playing with clay: beads, a frog, and a ?  (Read 1903 times)
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« on: October 06, 2010 02:10:13 PM »

This is my first attempt at polymer clay.

I worked on blending colors and doing a marble effect with the colors.  I already turned the green and brown pendant into a hemp necklace, but I'm not sure what I want to do with the brown and yellow beads yet.

And here is my first attempt at sculpting anything.

Although he probably didn't need it, I used a foil ball on the inside of the frog to practice the technique.  I had some problems, though.  I ended up with a lump that looks like a tumor on his back.

I assume that's from air being trapped while baking, but I tried to press the clay really close to the foil while I was molding him.  Perhaps the air was in the foil ball itself and moved toward the outside while baking.  Any tips on how to avoid this?

« Last Edit: October 06, 2010 02:24:53 PM by OrangeKnickers » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2010 09:16:24 PM »

well done!  your pendant and beads are lovely and the frog is very cute.

i'm no expert but did you squash the foil ball really tight?  i've used foil and never had a problem.
and the bubble does not look like a tumor!! lol i thought it was an intentional 'tail' Smiley
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010 01:33:02 PM »

Thanks nougatee.   Grin

I thought that I had squished it pretty tight.  I can only assume the bump came from trapped air because i don't know what else would have caused it.  What issues might cause a bump like that to form while baking?

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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010 11:56:25 AM »

Wow, well done. My first attempts with poly clay were definetly not fit for public consumption.
Diane B.
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2010 10:46:11 AM »

Wadded up aluminum foil armatures do have to be squished pretty tight to get out any air that might be trapped in them (which will turn to steam and swell). 

Hammering can help for one thing. Grin

Katherine Dewey (who often uses them in her sculpts) also uses a shallow hemispherical depression she's made by pressing part of a large wood ball or bottom of metal ladle, etc, into a slab of polymer clay then baking, to help do that...she crumples the foil first and then hammers some I think, then firmly rolls the foil ball around and around in this shallow round depression to compress it more and more, and to keep the evenness of the shape.  She shows this is one of her books (LifeLike Figures, I think), as well as in her "Crafting Foil Cores" handout.

Some clayers (Jodi Creager, e.g.) even use hot glue in conjunction with layers or bits of aluminum foil to build up her shapes.  The glue will soften a bit during heating and allow the parts to stretch as needed, etc., which also avoids the cracking that can happne if too-thick a clay piece is baked.  Some people cover the foil with a layer of clay then bake too, before adding the final clay...they often paint the foil or other armature materials with permanent white glue first which does something similar (let dry thoroughly before adding clay).
There's more info on using aluminum foil in particular as an armature, and the things mentioned above too, on this page:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/armatures-perm.htm (click on Aluminum Foil)

There are other permanent armatures that can be used inside polymer clay too, like wood balls or shapes of all kinds**, wire and wire mesh and other metal shapes, paper-based pulps and clays and other air-dry clays, many fabrics, glass ball ornaments, rocks, eggshells, and even some plastics like polystrene foam, etc (though have to do certain things for some plastics), etc.

**all nature/natural materials need to be bone dry before covering, or first sealed with clear water-based sealer or acrylic paint

Sometimes moisture or air get into raw clay itself though instead of under a layer of clay, which will do the same kind of bubbling when heated.  Moisture can even come from hands, or it can come from additives like acrylic paints/etc that contain water/humidity.
There's a bunch of info on various ways bubbles can happen with polymer clay on this page of my site if you want to check it out:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/pastamachines.htm (click on Bubbles)

At this point for your frog though, you could just hide his lump (with flowers, lily pad, something sitting on his back, etc.), or give him a new name, like Lumpy  Roll Eyes, or make more lumps on him, etc. 
Or you could sand off the lump and a little down past the surface, add some liquid clay and more clay, then rebake?

« Last Edit: October 15, 2010 10:54:17 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2010 01:29:59 PM »

Thanks.  I think I'm going to keep the lump because it's almost centered and could look as if I did it on purpose.  Diane, I like the idea of naming him "Lumpy".  I'm not sure if the air was in the clay itself or the foil, but I'm guessing it was the foil.  Like I said, I was just trying to learn the technique, and I think the lump serves as a good lesson to not rely on my idea of tight.  Hammering sounds like a good idea, and so does baking a sealer layer around it in clay.  Or maybe I'll just get my husband and his big ol' man hands to squeeze it for me.   Wink

I'm happy with it as a first go at sculpting something.

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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011 06:26:14 PM »

 This is great. Especially for your first time. The frog is super cute, and I thought the bump was supposed to be there. The jewelry looks great too. Good job!! Keep up the good work Smiley
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011 10:29:18 AM »

This is great. Especially for your first time. The frog is super cute, and I thought the bump was supposed to be there. The jewelry looks great too. Good job!! Keep up the good work Smiley


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