Archive for December, 2021

Liquid polymer clay

Lynn Yuhr, self-described “artist-teacher-creative-maker-adventurer” at The Flying Squirrel Studio does beautiful work in polymer clay. I love the mark-making, the density and space, the boldness and energy of line, colour and form.

Work by Lynn Yuhr, from https://metalwerx.com/class-detail/exploring-liquid-polymer-clay-1
Work by Lynn Yuhr, from https://metalwerx.com/class-detail/coloring-outside-lines-polymer-clay-0

I’m also a great admirer of Lynn as a generous and helpful person. I was interested in her upcoming online workshops with Metalwerx, but hesitant given Lynn uses Sculpey clay and I have already invested in Kato products. I sent an enquiry and Lynn responded immediately, supportive of my preferences and with detailed questions and suggested experiments to test whether her techniques can be transferred. A week or so later Lynn emailed again – she had acquired some Kato liquid clay, done her experiments, and gave me a full rundown on what should work and ideas still to be explored. Amazing! Naturally I’m now enrolled in both classes – and even that was a problem-turned-pleasure. There were some issues with my non-US credit card plus challenges with online payment providers, and Violet at Metalwerx was friendly and helpful in finding an approach that worked for us both.

The classes aren’t until February and March, so you still have time to sign up. In the meantime, I’ve been doing my own basic experiments. My previous use of liquid clay has been the clear version, as glue between baked and fresh clay, and as a surface glaze.

Early experiments

1. First look, on white and black clay

Row: 1 liquid clay colours mixed with white liquid clay
Row 2: liquid clay dabbed on
Row 3: Using palette knife

The Kato colours are transparent, and barely show on the black. Adding white liquid clay made them visible, but pastel colours. Application methods attempted made glossy lumps on the surface of the clay ground.

2. Colour mixing

The central colour wheel uses mixing to create purple and orange.
In the corners are purchased colours of purple and orange.

I purchased all the colours of Kato liquid clay that I could find from Australian vendors. They seem to mix reasonably well.

3. Variety of marks

Rows 1 – 3: Marks using cocktail stick; piece of credit card; ball of tissue
Row 1: white liquid clay
Row 2: black liquid clay
Row 3: grey (mix of black and white)
Row 4: white pool with black feathered through; white pool with black dragged around; black pool with white dragged around

Dabbing created the flattest marks, but still with a slight gloss after baking. It all depends on purpose, but I find the stamp of the credit card edge gives a more energetic, purposeful line than any of my dragging attempts.

4. Reds on white

Column 1: cotton ball dabber – red liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + clear liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 2: small brush – red liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + clear liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 3: chili pepper alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 4: on black clay. from top: white liquid dabbed on, left 5 min then magenta + clear dabbed; magenta alcohol ink + clear; Chili + white; magenta + white

When I first emailed Lynn I was planning to use alcohol inks in clear liquid clay for my colours. She encouraged me to try the purpose-made coloured liquid clay as well, to see if it had similar properties. With this limited experiment I found:
* alcohol ink + liquid clay dried more on the ceramic tile palette, but a quick spray of isopropyl alcohol restored it to usable.
* I have quite a few alcohol inks, bought for use with resin. Useful to increase my colour range. I have yet to try them mixed into pre-coloured (ie not white or clear) liquid clay.
* The Kato liquid clay colours are labelled “transparent”, so they aren’t useful straight from the bottle onto a dark clay. Dabbing an area with white, leaving it to dry out a little, then over-dabbing with coloured transparent clay seems to offer the best results for a good non-pastel colour over dark clay.

The liquid clays themselves reminded me of my Akua print-making inks in viscosity and transparency – a comparison noted for followup.

Alcohol ink sidetrack

Looking at various videos showing alcohol inks with polymer clay, I was inspired by MyVian’s Galaxy earrings to make a quick Christmas Tree ornament as a gift to some lunch hosts.

Attempt 1 didn’t go as planned.

It looks pretty enough, but the mica powder formed clumps and didn’t show well, and I broke the star while sanding. The gold you can see was later experimentation with gold ink. I used a gloss varnish over the inks and mica.

Attempt 2 looks better in real life.

This time I mixed both mica powder and inks in clear liquid clay, to avoid the need for any varnish. Not great, but it looked nice as one small item on Marianne’s tree.

Monoprinting

I mentioned above the material similarities between printing inks and the liquid polymer clay. In a brief flurry yesterday I tried a couple of basic techniques. All use premixed red liquid polymer clay from Kato, on a base of white clay.

In progress
Baked
  • colour dabbed using cosmetic sponge (this is on the publicly available material’s list for Lynn’s class, and is much better than the oddments of tissues etc I used in my earlier experiments).
  • cosmetic sponge cut into a shape and used as a stamp.
  • sponge used to apply to the end of a rolling pin, which was used as a stamp.
  • colour sponged onto bubble wrap, then stamped
  • a stencil cut from yupo paper, colour dabbed over with sponge
  • a stamp improvised with string around an old office stamp. Colour sponged on to stamp. This also left some indentation on the clay base, which looks good (for the right purpose…)
  • a flexible net onion bag used as a stencil, coloured sponged on.
  • a shape cut from a thin sponge material (don’t remember quite what – sitting in monoprinting box). used first as a stencil, colour dabbed around it; used second with colour dabbed onto it and used as a stamp.

All of this is interesting and exciting, opening up possibilities. I love it when different areas of creativity start crossing over. I wouldn’t call the colour “rich”, but that in itself suggests more questions. I’m thinking partly of glazes used in watercolours, layering up. Or a stencilled larger design over a hexagon of more intricate cane clay. Perhaps short interim bakes to stabilise in between layers. Any difference made adding alcohol inks to pre-coloured liquid clay. Obviously also there will be lots to learn from Lynn.

Other experiments

For the sake of completeness…

I’ve shown before some of my colour mixing experiments, mostly focused on pairs of colours (for example 31-Aug-2021). I wanted to start looking a bit further.

Above is a basic skinner blend of magenta and blue, mixed with increasing amounts of yellow.

To be honest, I can’t remember where I was going with this. I think it may simply have been seeking some joy, after weeks of sitting as part of a dysfunctional jury hearing in a trial about the unpleasant doings (or not) of a dysfunctional family – and not even the “resolution” of achieving a verdict.

The scraps of my colour set were chopped up and whirled, following a tutorial purchased from Deb Hart.

My choice of base colour really drabs it down. Next time adjust thickness, and maybe darker (even black), for the base.

And finishing on a happier note, some random cane in the stash became a hair clip.


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