Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tips and Tricks of Working with Polymer Clay, part one

If you ever worked with polymer clays and you like me, just starting, most likely you encounter three, at least three big problems.
First: good quality polymer clay is not cheap, even in internet stores, and if you build solid parts, it is going pretty fast. The solid polymer parts are also very heavy, especially heads.
Second: when you try to smooth the surface, you find that it is pretty difficult, because fingers leave marks and dents.
Third: what if you want your parts to be empty inside? For example, my dolls are combination of fabric and polymer parts, that are build on wire armature. If your clay is solid, how do you attach these parts?

In order to solve these problems I researched a quite a few internet articles, read  "how to" books and watched a lot of "Youtube" tutorials. Many of them were good and I learned a lot about the process, yet I could not find all the answers to my questions, because everyone does their sculptures little differently, and not all my questions were addressed.

In order to let the parts dry evenly, stick them on the wire.
Therefore, by the way of error and trial, I was looking for my own ways to solve these big problems. Here are some solutions that I discovered. I decided to share them with you, if it helps you a little, and saves you some trouble, I would be very happy.

My greatest find that helped with solving these big problems is the "Carve-Foam", that is similar to florist foam that is sold in any craft store.  Its greatest advantage is the ability to easily withstand 275 degrees heat of your oven. "Carve-Foam" is easy to give it desirable shape, even without special carving tools. Then, you need to dip it in"Gesso"to seal  porous surface and let it dry.

After it is dry, you place your favorite polymer clay on the polymer mat or a simple piece of wax paper, roll it about 5mm thin and  carefully wrap up your foam forms in.
Gently smooth clay over (do not press too hard, you can crash the foam) The foam provides an nice smooth base, that makes it easier to smooth, without leaving finger marks. Just a little talc, gently brushed and ribbed on the surface of your clay also makes surface smoother.

It is important to put at least one layer of Gesso on.
 You can find it in any craft store.
Sculpt, then bake, and after the parts are cooled off, (give it at least a hour)  clear the foam out!
You can ask: where do I get this marvelous foam? And I will suggest you the link to the "Dick Blick" store. As an art teacher I work with them a lot, and very happy with their prices, quality of products, and service. I would recommend it to every creative person, who has a life and a hobby. Enjoy!

The parts of my latest project, already backed