Friday, March 13, 2009

Adventures in Polymer Clay

Kathy Cano-Murillo is known for her love of Glitter and Chicano pop-art.
Margot Potter , Jennifer Perkins, and Jackie Guerra create gorgeous works of jewelry.
Twinkie Chan inspires me with her sweet and savory crocheted scarves. (LOVE the pizza scarf!)
Maureen Carlson creates whimsical creatures in polymer clay.
Vickie Howell has gotten me to knit.
Carol Duvall is the queen of it all!

Why can't I just do one craft? I haven't decided what medium I prefer to work with when crafting. I always have to try to do different crafts, I can't just stick to one. Which is why my
craft area seems to have overgrown it's happy little corner and is now trying to take over the entire third floor of my house.

But I digress. My adventures this week take me into the land of Liquid Polymer Clay. I saw the Carol Duvall episode where guest Michelle Ross used liquid polymer clay to create a photo transfer for a translucent night light. I decided that I wanted to try this technique as well.

I want to mention that I haven't really worked with PC too much, just a few small things for swaps and one other Altoid tin. I must say that I learned a few things.

Special thanks to @summergirl38 and @penguintrax (from Twitter) for their tips!

Here are some things I learned during this project:
  • Don't shake the bottle. I didn't, but I read that doing so can create air bubbles. Bubbles = BAD.

  • Use a thin layer of liquid clay. Let it rest after spreading, after baking and any other time you think the clay might need it. 10 minutes might be a good resting time. I don't think it would hurt if you let it rest longer.

  • Bake the liquid clay. Yes, a heat gun will work, but I had better results with the oven. It requires a higher baking temp, which seems to give a brighter color transfer. Let it rest.

  • Don't use Sculpey Bake n Bond to attach anything that you have to bake more than once. I've been told that the Bake n Bond doesn't do well with being baked more than once. You can use a thin layer of the liquid clay as your bonder. Let it rest.
  • Gently place the transfer onto the item to which you are attaching it. The last thing you want is air bubbles under the image. I gently "rolled" the image onto the tin, then used an old spoon to smooth out any air bubbles trapped underneath. Let it rest.

Here is a picture of the first tin I tried, without any knowledge. I covered the top of the tin, baked it. Added the photo transfer, baked it. Still looking good at this point.

Covered the bottom of the tin, got lazy and used the toaster oven instead of the regular oven.

See all those red circles? Those are bubbles. Remember what I said about bubbles?

Bubbles = BAD.

There was no way that I could send this tin in a swap. It's sub-standard for the Fearless Crafter. Luckily, I had a second tin on hand.

Just because I was annoyed at the bubbles, I decided to peel the transfer off the tin.

It's still cool that the image transfered from the transfer to the clay. And it had a nice shiny top coat.

Keeping all this info in mind, here are my steps for creating a polymer clay-covered altoid tin with a liquid clay photo transfer on top:

Make sure your tin and work area is clean. As always, condition your clay.

If you're like me, (little Miss Perfectionist), you can create a template.

Roll out your clay, use your templates to cut out your clay in colors of your choice. Cover the entire tin with clay.
Bake the tin. I baked mine at 250 for 15 minutes.

Time to create the transfer!

Print your image onto photo paper. I've been told that not all photo paper works well with this
technique. I used glossy photo paper I found at the dollar store. I also used an ink-jet printer. I don't know that a laser printer will give the same results.

Take your time, and paint a thin coat of liquid clay onto your image. Make sure you add about a 1/4" all around the image. If your image is 2" x 3", you want to make sure you cover an area that is about 2.5" x 3.5"

Let it rest. I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I cannot stress this enough. Letting your liquid clay rest will help to eliminate air bubbles. Oven bake the transfer according to the product directions. The first time around, I didn't paint a thin layer and I used a heat gun. And I didn't let it rest.

After the transfer is baked, let it rest. Paint another thin layer. Let it rest. Oven bake it again. Let it rest.

Now that everything has had a rest (hopefully you've included yourself, too!), it's time to bring it all together.

Once the liquid clay has been baked, it can now be cut with scissors. Cut your image to the size fo the tin. I lightly scored the top of the tin before adding a thin layer of liquid clay. I also applied a thin layer to the bottom of the transfer. Yes, let it rest.

Bring it all together!

Slapping the transfer on the tin is not going to yield good results. It's going to produce bubbles. Starting with one end of the transfer, gently "roll" it onto the tin. Be careful that the transfer doesn't move too much. It wants to do that. Use an old spoon to burnish out any bubbles.
Depending on the photo you are transferring, you might be able to see any bubbles that may have formed through the image.

Once I was satisfied that there were no trapped bubbles, I oven baked it all again. I had one edge that wanted to raise up and not be flush with the rest of the tin. I baked it upside down, checking that it wasn't burning about every 5 minutes. However, since regular clay requires a lower baking temp than the liquid clay I baked it at around 250 degrees. I also baked it for about 20 minutes.

Here is the second, finished tin!

For pizzazz, I added silver beads that I found in the wedding crafts section of my local craft store. To make sure it's a perfect fit, you can gently press the beaded string into the unbaked clay on the tin to create indents. I used some glue to adhere them after it was all baked. If you like, you can line your tin with felt, or any pretty fabric you may have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great job on the final tin. Thanks for the nod.