Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Various & Sundry

A little bit of this, a little bit of that. . .

First-- a little extra information on the faux ceramic technique. (If you've looked at the Polymer Clay Web forum thread on this topic, this won't be new.) I'm still learning how the Kato Liquid works, compared to TLS. One thing I've always heard (and have proven to myself to be true) is that if you hit the Kato Liquid with a heat gun or embossing gun after curing (or bump up the temperature in the oven, briefly), you'll bring out the greatest clarity. It's pretty amazing how well that works. It takes a little while for me, using my little embossing gun, so be patient. Just keep moving the heating tool around, and eventually you'll see a big improvement. Once it starts to happen, it's fast.

Well, anyway, I knew about the heat gun improving the clarity. What I didn't know is that it also changes the finish of the Kato Liquid. I've done a comparison of pieces cured normally and those that I've given the "extra heat treatment", and there's a definite difference. The "extra-heated" ones have a much shinier finish than the others. (I hope this doesn't mean that I've been under-curing the others. . . I'll have to recheck my oven's temperature, just to be on the safe side.)

Here's a photo that (kind of) shows what I mean:

All of these pieces have a Kato-based glaze, but the top two were heated with a heat gun, while the bottom two were not. (The bottom two have more of a sheen than you can tell from this photo, but it's much softer than the shine on the other two.) I think both effects are attractive; it just depends on whether or not you want lots of shine.


While looking around at Parole de Pâte the other day, I was very impressed by this entry. It's been put through a translator, from French to English, but those translating programs leave something to be desired. The translated version refers to powder (Pearl-ex) and resin. Based on the comments, I think they really did use resin (two-part epoxy, such as Envirotex Lite) for the clear coating over the powders, though at first I wondered whether the translating program got that part wrong. (I thought maybe the French word for resin tricked it, as so often seems to happen with these programs.) In any case, I decided to use Liquid Kato, as I'm more familiar with that medium and knew I could get it pretty darn clear with a heat gun.

There's still the slightest bit of a haze in one or two parts of this heart, but it's not bad at all, and I might be able to get it to go away, if I gave it a little more heat. (You could probably also eliminate this problem by doing two thinner coats and clarifying between them.)

It's a simple technique, but the result is very nice. I'm going to have to give this one another try. :o) (And don't forget to follow that link and look at the photos on the other site. They're gorgeous!)

There's another (more recent) topic on Parole de Pâte that also interests me. It's a new take on Jennifer Patterson's "Hidden Magic" technique. Very pretty!


A few days ago, a customer asked me if I "do pizza". Not yet, but it had been on my wish list of mini foods for a long time. I'd been drooling over Milo's mini pizzas only days before-- we got pizza over the weekend-- and now comes this question. . . It must be fate, right? ;o) I decided to give it a try:

There are a few more mini pizza photos on my flickr.

It was rather time-consuming. Miniatures often are, particularly when they're comprised of detailed layers-- and of course I had to figure everything out as I went along, so that took some time. But it was fun, and I definitely see more mini pizzas in my future. :o)

Oh, and for those interested in size, each slice is roughly an inch long. Way too big for 1:12 scale, but ok for "Barbie scale" (assuming that your Barbies like large slices of pizza). Since they have eye pins sticking out of them, I suppose it's obvious that they're really meant more for jewelry than doll houses. (g)


Polka Dot Creations said...

Thanks for sharing your findings on the liquid experiments. I didn't realize that the heat gun makes liquid katoclay shinier.. I put a thin coating of that stuff on everything I make, because I like the nice sheen it gives, but it's handy to know there is a way to amp it up, if I want something even shinier (as I do in some applications).

Squirrel said...

Regarding the entry from Parole de Pate, it doesn't say much more than you understood. The pieces were coloured with pearl-ex and, I believe after curing, coated with resin (as this can't be cured, of course). As for the second picture, the author wrote a tutorial in english too

I love the heart pendant you made! Did you mix kato liquid and powders, or use the medium as a final coat? Anyway, the colours are great and well blended (hope I've expressed what I mean). Wow!

I already knew that kato liquid gets the highest clarity after being treated with a heat gun, which I know works at 300-500°C, but you mentioned that it's possible to get the same effect by increasing the temperature in the oven. I'm not sure if you meant "briefly" in terms of a "short time" or a "short increase in temperature". The result is much shinier, indeed, it has got that extra finish that makes it quite professional-like.
Thanks for sharing :)

chifonie said...

I like your ceramic looking pendants very much... and your pizza is very mouthwatering !!!

Hi from France :D

KC said...

You do great Minis... I wish I had the patience to replicate these.

artandtea said...

Just came upon your blog and it's wonderful! The pizza looks so real, what a great job. Thanks for the info on the faux ceramic. I'd love to try that technique. -Karen

Michael said...

Lisa-- Glad to help! I've heard of using liquid clay as a thin coating, like you do, and now I see why people do it. It's a nice alternative to Future, etc.

Michael said...

Squirrel-- Thanks for the information! I never know how much I can rely on those translator programs, even though they're better than nothing. :o)

For my pendant, I applied the powders to the top of textured polymer clay, then applied clear liquid clay on top of that.

I've never personally tried putting the Kato into the oven on a higher temperature. (I usually cure at 275 F.) However, I've read about people bumping the temperature up for a short amount of time to 300 F-- or sometimes just leaving it at 300 F for the whole curing time. Supposedly, it can take a higher temperature than regular solid clay. Most solid clay should be ok at 300, too, from what I've read, though colors of clay that are made of a high percentage of translucent clay (glow-in-the-dark, pearl, translucent) are prone to scorching and might not do well if left at that temperature for too long.

Personally, I'm a little nervous about putting the temperature at 300 F. That's getting near the scorching temperature, and with the possibility of the temperature spiking even higher in some ovens, I'd be sure to keep a close watch on it.

Again, I haven't tried the higher temperature, so I hesitate to suggest it. You can probably find more about it at Glass Attic, or ask at the PCC forum. :o)

Michael said...

Thank you, chifonie, KC, and artandtea! :o)

milo said...

you know Michael, your mini-food-jewelry is very mouthwatering (did I mention I love those pepperoni slices? and the melted cheese?) and really inspiring.... (drone from the clockwork in my brain - drrrrrrrr ;o)