Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday: top ten products to add to mokume gane

I've taken it into my polymer-crazed head to post a weekly feature here called "Top Ten Tuesday". (We'll see how long this lasts. . . (g)) Every Tuesday, I'll focus on a different clay-related topic. Since this is the inaugural list, I thought I'd go easy on myself and choose an easy one. ;o)

Top Ten Products to Add to Mokume Gane (and Why):

10. Nothing
No, seriously. You can get some gorgeous mokume gane effects with nothing but polymer clay. Try mg with your own special mixes of mica clay and translucent, clay, too. This style of mg looks best, imho, when patterned with deeply-etched stamps. Check out some of what Nan Roche has done with this technique, if you're seeking some mg inspiration.

9. Glitter
If you're a sucker for that glitzy glittered look, why not sprinkle a little into your next batch of mg? There are a couple of ways you can apply it. Sprinkle it over a sheet of translucent clay, if you want just a little. (Putting too much will prevent the sheets of clay from adhering properly.) If you want more, use the glitter as an inclusion in some translucent clay, then roll that into a sheet for the mg block. Very fine glitter will work better than larger-scale glitter, and polyester or glass glitters perform best during the curing process. (Metal glitters can distort in the heat, with unattractive results.) You could also try a thin application of glitter paint on translucent clay.

8. Metallic Foil

Mylar-backed metallic foils (as opposed to real metal leaf) can be used with mokume gane. One example of this material is the line produced by Jones Tones. To use metallic foil in mg, just burnish it onto a sheet of translucent clay, pull off the clear backing, and use either as is or after crackling the foil by feeding the sheet through the pasta machine. Metallic foil comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and "effects" (such as oil slick, rainbow, etc.), so there are lots of possibilities with this product. (The downside is that some foils can be difficult to apply to clay.)

7. Lumiere Metallic Paints
Lumiere
paints (from Jacquard) come in a gorgeous array of metallic colors that can be mixed to create still more colors. This paint tends to stretch with the clay-- not crackle. There are two ways to approach this property. First, you can embrace it and not worry about crackling. However, if you've got your heart set on crazing, you can dilute Lumiere paint with water-- up to a 1:1 ratio. The addition of the water improves the "cracklability" of the paint. Apply a thin coat of paint to a sheet of translucent clay. Once it's dried, feed this through the pasta machine or roll it with an acrylic rod to create crackle (or not, depending on the look you want).


6. Posh Metallic Inkabilities
Ranger's Posh Metallic Inkabilities come in two sets. Luminous Metallics (the one I own) contains a rainbow of six colorful metallic inks (blue, pink, teal, violet, green, and red), while the Precious Metals set comes with six "metal colors" (silver, copper, charcoal, rich gold, white pearl, and bronze). These inks come in .25 ounce needlepoint applicators and were originally designed for use with stamping, but they work great with polymer clay, too. Gorgeous metallic colors-- and they crackle, too. Just drop a tiny bit onto your sheet of translucent clay, spread it around with a brush, let it dry, and crackle away.

5. Mica Powders

Mica powders, such as Jacquard's Pearl-Ex line, are popular with polymer clay artists, because they have a number of applications. There are a couple of ways to apply them to mokume gane, as well. First, you can put little dabs of them here and there over a sheet of (painted or unpainted) polymer clay. (Be careful not to put too much, as this will prevent the sheets of clay from adhering to one another.) Another way to incorporate these sparkling colors into mokume gane is to mix them with an acrylic base of some sort. Future Floor Finish works well. Just mix a bit of powder into a few drops of Future until you get a nice paint-like consistency. Apply and crackle (or not, as you like).

4. Metallic Acrylic Paints
A number of brands of acrylic paint include metallic and iridescent colors in their lines. By all means, try what you already have, but if you're still building your stock of art supplies, be aware that you don't have to spend a great deal of money on metallic paints. Every brand behaves a bit differently-- and often there are variations within a brand, from color to color-- but often the cheaper "craft paints" work just as well, if not better than, the more expensive artist-grade paint, when it comes to crackling. My personal stock includes some FolkArt Metallics (from Plaid), some Dazzling Metallics (from DecoArt), and a couple of Anita's Metallics. All will work with polymer clay mokume gane. You'll have to experiment to see which crackle best to your liking, but even those that don't crackle as well can still be very pretty in mokume gane (as well as in other polymer clay applications, such as antiquing and dry-brushing).

3. Alcohol Inks

For a dash of transparent color, you needn't look further than alcohol inks. Alcohol inks have a number of uses with polymer clay, and at least a few of them apply to mokume gane. Jacquard's Pinata Colors come in 17 bold colors, while Ranger's Adirondack Alcohol Inks are available in 24 more subtle, earthy tones. Both lines are beautiful and can be used interchangeably. Here are just a few ways to use them with mg (and you can probably come up with more): First, drop a bit on a sheet of translucent clay and use a brush to cover the whole surface. (You can use straight ink for darker color or dilute it with alcohol or extender for a watercolor effect.) You'll be able to see through this layer of color, in the finished pieces. Second, drop the inks onto metal leaf in order to colorize it. Leave the drops as spatters of color or blend them over the whole surface. You'll be able to see through the color to the metallic sparkle of the leaf. Third, apply a drop or two to some polymer clay. When the ink is dry (after 15 - 30 minutes), condition the clay until the color is distributed through it (either evenly or in a marbled pattern, as you wish). Use this clay as a sheet in your mg stack. It will be colored, but still somewhat translucent.

2. Daler-Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Inks
Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Inks (from Daler-Rowney) are a favorite product of many people, including artist Allison Ingham, who uses them to achieve attractive crazing in her polymer clay work. They come in a range of lovely colors, go on smoothly, and crackle beautifully. I've read that the best way to apply them for optimum crackle is to not shake the bottle, but to drag up the thicker "dregs" from the bottom of the bottle and paint with those. Personally, I do shake the bottle and just dip from the top, and I've been happy with the results I've gotten. Try both methods and see which you prefer.

1. Metal Leaf
It's the classic mokume gane addition, and for a very good reason: combined with delicately tinted translucent clay, it creates an absolutely gorgeous effect. Metal leaf adheres easily to polymer clay and crackles easily. The gossamer shimmer of crackled sheets of real metal-- it's the ultimate draw for those of us with inner magpies. Lindley Haunani is credited with pioneering this style of mg. For a slightly different look, apply metal leaft to sheets of untinted translucent clay. Slices from the mg loaf can then be applied to base clay in any color(s) you want. In this ways, you can make mg beads, pens, etc. in a variety of colors, all from one batch.


The Final Word on MG-Related Products:

Whatever you put in your mokume gane, whether you like to "mix it up" and put a little bit of everything in there or your style is more restrained and classic, don't be afraid to try something new. There's no telling what we'll be adding to mokume gane five or ten years from now, and maybe you'll be the one who discovers the next great product!



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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kato's "New Opal"

It's high time for another post. Let's see. . . what can I post about?

Well, here's something:
I tried Donna Kato's "new opal" last week. I've made the opal sheet, but so far haven't done anything with it, beyond cutting it. The results were somewhat disappointing. Oh, it looked ok, I guess, but it was much more brittle than I'd expected.

First, I had a little trouble getting it off the tile. It wanted to crack apart, until I slid a tissue blade underneath to gently pry it up until I could get a good grip on it. Then, when I tried to cut it, the brittleness/crumbliness made things difficult, too.

It's hard to tell much for certain from photos, but the pictures in the tutorial-- and the fact that in her gallery, she's used this faux opal sheet to cover a slightly curved cabochon shape-- look to me like hers were more rubbery and/or flexible than mine turned out.

I can think of a couple of possible reasons for this, right off-- and there may be even more.

First-- I wasn't using the same type of flakes used in the tutorial. I suppose this might have affected my results in more than just appearance. I have yet another brand of flakes (still not the one used in the tutorial, though) that I can try next time, to see if this makes a difference.

Second-- I wonder if I didn't make my sheet thin enough and/or get my mix right. Too many flakes, not enough liquid clay. Ms. Kato describes the correct consistency as being like oatmeal. Unfortunately (in this one instance, at least), I'm not much of an oatmeal eater, so this was a bit of a guessing game for me. ;o)

The tutorial indicates putting the cured and cut opal sheet on top of a base of regular clay. In this step, you have to choose your clay color with care, because some of the base shows through. Well, with my sheet, you can put it on whatever you like, 'cause ain't nothin' gonna show through that sucker. (To put it elegantly. (g)) This is probably another indication that my proportions weren't right and I didn't smoosh it down thinly enough.

All in all, rather disappointing, though I can still try to use the pieces did manage to cut out. I just was expecting to have so much more control over the shapes I could cut from it. (That was one of the reasons I was so excited by this technique.) I suppose one mustn't expect success on the first try with every technique, and once I get this one "down", I have a few twists I want to put on it.

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Random bit of nothing:
I daren't be explicit, for fear of inciting "flames". . . and of becoming some milder form of a pariah (though, honestly, some days I already feel like one, in some of these silly groups!). . . but I need a vent for my annoyance, even if it's just a muffled, ambiguous little rant on my own personal blog.

So-- You know how "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"? Well, "a little knowledge" has got nothing on "a (very) little power". And. . . I think that's all I'll dare to write here, after all. I'm moving the rest of what I was going to say to an even less public place than this 'umble 'ittle blog. ;o)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pullin' out the ol' electric buffer. . .

I haven't used my electric buffer (a bench grinder fitted with buffing wheels) for quite some time. (One of the major benefits of making miniature food is that you don't really have to sand or buff that much.) So when I set it up and switched it on again, I had to remind myself how things worked. I was a little nervous. It didn't take long to get back into the groove, but even "the groove" isn't very groovy, when it comes to buffing. ;o) I love the incredibly glass-like shine you can only get by "power-buffing"-- and I like doing a piece now and then just for the fun of seeing the shine pop up-- but I wouldn't mind passing off the bulk of my sanding and buffing to someone else!

So, now that I've gotten the whining out of the way. . . ;o) . . .you may be wondering what I was buffing.

I started working my way through a small pile of mokume gane beads. I've had these things sitting around for I-don't-know-how-long. I know it's been over a month, maybe two. (They were probably sitting on my clay table for a month before I even got around to curing them!) I used a ripple blade a lot in this batch, as you can see from the rippling pattern in some of them. . . What else? I'm pretty sure this batch didn't have any leaf in it-- just various types of paints. The golden-green must be Dazzling Metallics-- Festive Green-- because I got that as a gift back at Christmas, and I wanted to try it out. As for the other paints, I don't remember which I used. Probably Blue Topaz from the FolkArt line of metallic craft paints. . . and a blue-green from Posh Impressions' Luminous Metallic Inkabilities. Oh, and some of my trusty four-colors-a-dollar glitter. (g)



Some turned out better than others, as usual with mokume gane. Maybe the colors were a bit too similar for maximum impact, but I do tend to like monochromatic and limited color schemes.

I also buffed a few "shell-shaped" beads I made a few weeks ago. Well, I call them "shell-shaped". A couple of them are nautilus-shaped pendants (with the wire bit taken out for the sanding and buffing stage), but the first one just makes me think of spiral seashells.

This is my first attempt at a bead shape I admired in Making Polymer Clay Beads. It's pretty simple to get this shape-- just make a snake that's relatively "fat" in the middle and "skinny" at both ends, then wind it around a skewer or rod to shape it. My technique still needs some work, but I had fun playing around. I used scrap clay-- a mostly opaque pale blue with flecks of aluminum leaf in it and a mostly translucent aqua with lots of glitter in it. (Aqua is one of my favorite colors, these days. It's perfect for summertime, I think, and a fitting color for sea-themed pieces.)



Next, here's one of the nautilus-shaped pendants. Again, I used the aqua-translucent clay with glitter, this time paired with a Skinner blend that goes from aqua to more of a periwinkle blue.


One last photo-- another nautilus pendant. This time, I used the same Skinner blend from above, but I switched the glittered clay out for pearl.


Incidentally, I think this was the first time I made a Skinner blend that I was actually happy with. I think I've only tried it once-- maybe twice-- before. (I know, it's shocking. How can someone have used clay for a couple of years without blending?!) Now that I know how to do it, I'm going to have to give it another try. I'm thinking of peachy-orange and pink-- or sunset pink and purple. . . more beachy colors for seashells. :o)

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PolymerCAFÉ -- the summer issue

The latest issue of Polymer Cafe arrived over the weekend, and of course it's been "gone through" several times, by now.

Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Page 10-- the Ranger ad regarding the use of embossing powder with polymer clay. (I have to admit, I like looking at the ads in this particular magazine almost as much as the content, sometimes! As I've said before, I "suffer" from a severe craft supply addiction.) I've been interested in trying out embossing powders with clay for a while, and this ad just puts more fuel on the fire! Clever trick, too, the way they force you to go to their website to find out whether the powders are on or in the clay. (g) I penned in the "answers" in my copy, for future reference.

* * * * *

Inside the front cover-- the ad for Liquid Fimo. It showcases a jewelry design by Karen and Ann Mitchell (the authors of the liquid clay "Bible") and gives the basics on how to achieve similar results. It sounds pretty simple-- just mix the liquid clay with a couple colors of glitter (separately), then spread the tinted clay on a bakeable surface, marble it, bake it, and cut it with paper punches. (You could also use scissors or a craft knife, I'm sure, but if you have the punches, they'd make it even easier.) It's very glitzy, and there's no way I'd ever wear this much glittery stuff all at once-- but scaled down a bit. . . quite pretty! Another thing to keep in mind when I'm playing with the liquid stuff. . .

* * * * *

Page 13-- a clay tip from Dotty McMillan, explaining how she uses eyelets "to enhance those special beads". Fun idea-- especially for bright, playful beads. Wouldn't look right with much of what I'm currently doing, but still something to remember.

* * * * *

Pages 44-47-- Lapel Pin Vase. I'm not really the type to wear a lapel pin vase-- wouldn't like right with my casual tops and jeans!-- but I do like the look of it, and this technique can be applied to anything, really-- especially something flat. It's not that different from some things I've tried before, except for the use of the metal leafing pen instead of actual metal leaf. I'm definitely putting this on my "try it soon" list. (More liquid clay projects!)

* * * * *

Page 48-- "Beaded Extruded Cane Bracelet and Earrings", by Francie Owens. That bracelet is so cute! I love the colors, too. (And it uses an extruded cane-- something I've been wanting to try, now that I have one of those homemade "leverage" thingies to use with the extruder.) I can't really see myself learning the bead weaving part right now-- no time to learn yet another hobby-- but this is one of the few times I've ever felt interested in bead weaving, so good job, Ms. Owens. ;o)

* * * * *

Page 51-- "In Search of the Perfect Mica Shift", by Velina A. Glass. This is an interesting approach to mica shift. It eliminates the need for making a careful cut to achieve the mica shift effect. Ms. Glass refers back to an article by Arlene Schiek, published in a previous issue of PolymerCAFÉ (Fall 2006, if you're interested). However, she changes something from Ms. Schiek's technique, so it's a bit different. The benefit of this technique-- no persnickety shaving with a tissue blade. Particularly helpful for people who have difficulty making a nice, even slice, or for someone who hates handling those sharp blades. The drawback-- you have to do more sanding. It's definitely a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. You just have to decide which thing you hate worse, shaving or sanding. (g)

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beautiful beads abound. . .

. . . in Carol Blackburn's book, Making Polymer Clay Beads.

(Yes, I'm writing about books again, for the second post in a row. I have a group of subjects I've been meaning to write about for a while, but I'm just getting around to it, now. . .)

I really love this book. If you're polymer-clay-bead-makin' fanatic, you need to see this book. If nothing else, try to get it from a library so you can "test drive" it. But honestly, if you love bead-making and have the spare cash, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you buy it sight unseen.

Some of the things I love about Making Polymer Clay Beads include the following:
  • So many techniques!! There are lots and lots of techniques. Many of these techniques will be familiar to more experienced clayers-- but hey, who wouldn't like to have them all tucked away neatly into one concise volume? And they're all adapted for use in bead-making, which is great for us jewelry-makers.
  • Gorgeous, colorful photos! And lots of them!
  • Step-by-step instructions! With photos to illustrate each process, for the visual learner.
  • Index! Nice, full index so it's easy to pin-point information. Or you can do like I do and flip through the book to find the desired page, only to be endlessly sidetracked. "Oooh, I'd forgotten about this one! . . .Now, what I was looking for before. . .?" ;o)
  • Gallery and gallery strips!! In addition to your standard inspirational gallery near the end of the book, nearly every page of this volume has a "gallery strip" along the top, crammed full of extra photos. These are rich with ideas for using the techniques demonstrated on each page-- different ways to work the beads into pieces of jewelry, alternate shapes, colors, etc.
  • Faux effects! If you're a fan of faux techniques, you'll be happy to hear that there's a whole section dedicated to imitative techniques. Sixteen different techniques covering everything from wood, ivory, and veined marble to abalone, mother-of-pearl, and onyx.
  • "Bringing It All Together"! The third section of the book focuses on taking your lovely new beads and making something wonderful with them. There's an introduction to findings and stringing materials, as well as a short explanation of how to attach findings. Then there are four pages jam-packed with information on designing with beads, including several aspects of jewelry-design to consider. (Oh, and there are pretty pictures in this section, too.)
To sum it up, it's just a great book for people interested in making polymer clay beads-- especially those who want a reference book of techniques. There's one more thing you should know, though: this isn't a project book. True, the techniques are written and illustrated in the step-by-step style, but this isn't a book that starts with a picture of a specific necklace, then takes you through the entire process of making that particular piece of jewelry. Personally, I think this is a good thing, because it leaves room for more techniques, but it's something you might want to take into consideration before deciding if this book's for you.

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Books about making miniature food

If you're in the market for a book about miniature food-making, here are a few options you might want to check out. (Follow the links for detailed tables of contents and more information.)

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Making Miniature Food and Market Stalls, by Angie Scarr

This book is one of my latest acquisitions. I enjoy looking through it just for the joy of seeing how polymer clay (and a few other odds and ends) can be magically transformed into miniature food. The projects in this book include fruits, vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, meats, and seafood-- followed by a section on making market stalls and miniature crates for displaying the foods.

Incidentally, Ms. Scarr is British, and a few of her food choices demonstrate that, I think. For instance, there are pork pies, crumpets, hot cross buns, black pudding, and kippers-- all of which I, at least, associate with the UK.

One more note-- I was surprised to find that there's quite a bit of caning in this book. These are very interesting techniques that can be adapted to fit a variety of other foods, too.

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Making Doll's House Miniatures with Polymer Clay, by Sue Heaser

As the title implies, this book focuses on doll's house miniatures-- not just food-- but there are plenty of mini food projects in there, including baked goods, vegetables, fruits, desserts, a roast lamb dinner, and more. This is an ideal choice for someone with an interest in miniature-making in general. Have a doll's house to furnish? Then give this one a look!

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The Polymer Clay Techniques Book, by Sue Heaser

Don't buy this book expecting loads of miniature food lessons, but it's a good choice for beginners or anyone who wants an overview of a large number of techniques-- and there are a few helpful tips for making mini foods. If I remember correctly, there's information about using inclusions and artists' pastels to add realism to miniature food.

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Updates to Polymer Clay Web

I'm finally learning how to update Polymer Clay Web all on my own, rather than just working on the copy and waiting until my husband has a chance to build the corresponding pages. (I mean, he is a web designer, but even web designers need a break sometime, right? ;o)) I find that the "new to me" programs I'm using aren't really all that more complicated than the ones I've been using for a few years, which is reassuring. I hope my new gain in computer confidence will lead to a steadier flow of additions and improvements to the page, in the near future. :o)

Speaking of additions, there's a new tutorial up-- Marble Picture Pendants.


The basic idea behind the tutorial isn't very complicated, and even someone completely new to clay should have no trouble with it. (If you do, though, there's a thread in the forum where you can ask for help. Now that I'm going to stop ignoring the forum, that is...) With this method, even those who are too scared of (or confused by) image transfers to attempt them, yet, can take a photo or "found image" and turn it into a little pendant.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Donna Dewberry's invading my dreams!

And I don't even do that one-stroke painting thing, either! ;o)

As you may already know, there was a lot of talk, not so long ago, about Polyform's decision to create a polymer clay trainer certification program affiliated with Donna Dewberry (of One Stroke fame). Many people were up in arms over the news, afraid that... I'm not sure... it'd be an unfair challenge to established teachers/instructors? Hurt business (for those who sell their pc creations) by bringing in more competition? Somehow make it "mandatory" for instructors to be DD-certified if they want to be taken seriously by beginners? Whatever the source of their frustration, some people were upset. Others thought it could only help the medium by increasing its exposure and, in turn, its popularity and availability.

While I'm not crazy about the silly idea of DD suddenly becoming some sort of polymer clay expert, overnight, I tend to think that, if anything, it should have a positive effect-- that is, if it has much effect at all. And at this point, I'll only believe that when I see it! So far, I haven't seen or heard much more about the DD-pc connection, after the initial reaction from established clayers. Of course, the "regional trainer certification course" doesn't begin until mid October. (It was to begin this summer, but had to be rescheduled "due to dozens of calls in reference to summer time schedule conflicts".)

So, anyway, to get back to the subject of my title line... ;o)

Considering how little thought I've been giving the whole Donna Dewberry thing, imagine how surprised I was to find myself having a nightmare about her involvement with clay!

I was watching TV, and there was an infomercial for some sort of humongous new message board/on-line community hosted by the Michaels chain of stores. When I say "humongous", I mean that there were sections for practically every craft the store sells supplies for-- even very obscure ones-- all bright and shining and colorful. Very appealing. While I watched, there was a feature highlighting polymer clay, and who should be talking but Donna Dewberry herself, along with her daughter (who apparently was now in on the act, too) and some sort of host.

They were showing photos of clay projects (evidently from the Internet community)-- and among them was a photo of one of my mini burgers. (Well, it was my dream, you know! (g) It's a sad girl who can't get her work shown in her own dreams.) Having my clay burger on TV mightn't have been such a bad thing, if DD hadn't decided to then talk about how it was very bad practice to handle the clay too much, as the creator of this piece obviously had done. (!!) And then she went on to say that you really ought to do projects all at one time. If you did part of it, then left it for a while and came back to it, Bad Things would happen, such as the finished product not being very durable. The daugher was agreeing without question, while I shouted protests. "No! That's not true!! What are you talking about?! Argh!!"

And then, mercifully, I awoke. ;o)

So. Maybe I ought to rethink my former attitude of "DD + clay =/= The End of the Claying World as We Know It". . . (g) Either that or learn to keep my crazy dreams to myself. ;o)

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

ATCs-- I just don't "get" 'em!

Not to be negative or anything, but I've never understood the appeal of ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) or the related ACEO (Art Card, Editions and Originals) They're 2.5" by 3.5" cards made of whatever you like, decorated however you like. I guess the idea is to make something that shows "what you can do", artistically speaking. Fellow artists trade them to admire one another's work-- maybe even get inspiration for ways to improve their own creations.

According to the wiki on the subject, they haven't been around for all that long-- only since 1997. (1997 happens to be a landmark year for me, since it's the year I graduated from high school.) Since then, they've gained popularity among artists in a variety of media, including polymer clay.

If you're just trading them, ok. It's probably fun to be in on the trade, and I suppose you can display them as miniature works of art. Kind of like the original sports trading cards (though I never "got" those, either, not being the sporty sort).

But these days, I've been seeing them for sale, and I really don't understand that. Maybe it's different for people who aren't interested in jewelry, but I'd much rather have a bead or a pendant that I can wear or at least make into jewelry for someone else than a little rectangle of clay, however prettily it's been decorated.

Maybe my reaction to ACEOs is the result of my frugal nature in combination with my jewelry-making tendencies. What?! Make something out of clay that can't be worked into jewelry and worn?! What a waste of good clay! ;o)

Well, even if I'm still rather mystified by them, it's obvious that many others are not-- and I can appreciate the skill and work that goes into many of them. For instance, PCC hosts photos from a couple of ATC swaps: Here and here.

(If you enjoy those pages, check out PCC's swap index for more photos from polymer clay swaps.)

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Randomosity--

Or, a group of lil' tidbits from here and there. ;o)

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Something I learned from Polymer Clay Daily today: PVC is banned in Asia, so air-dry clay is more commonly used there. I had no idea! I wonder why... Safety issues of some sort?

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Something else from PCD: a link to a new (to me) clayer: Lesska's flickr photos. I love her style! So pretty! Many of her pieces remind me of the shapes and layering technique demonstrated in this tutorial (and this one, too, actually-- and the faux opal pieces in the gallery, as well) by Donna Kato-- only with different media added in and a more organic tone.

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A while back-- a fairly long while back-- I wrote about how some of the clay I'd tinted with alcohol ink had experienced a color shift during curing. Well, I came across something related to that, today. Libzoid wrote recently about five of her favorite inks and paints to use with polymer clay. (Yay! Another ink and paint fanatic!) She mentions that the pink and magenta colors can shift to "a shocking neon pink".

Now, what I'd noticed (albeit in just that one instance) was a tendency for the cured yellow to shift to a slightly orangey gold, and the pinks to shift to a pinkish orange. That entry got a comment from Becks, who'd also had problems with the yellow and chile peper Pinata inks tending toward orange in a project including silver leaf and liquid Kato. Not quite the same results as Libby reports, but still interesting.

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Ok, enough for now. I have to go phone the vet's office to schedule an appointment for one of my dogs-- Daisy the Eskie. She's been on phenobarbital for almost a month, now, so it's time to check her levels. If I'm lucky, they'll be fine and she can stay on this dosage. If not, then it's a new prescription and back to the vet again, until they get the dosage right. It's kind of a pain-- especially considering that she's not one of those dogs who "never met a stranger"-- heck, her being a typical "reserved" Eskie, sometimes she treats even people who aren't strangers with an insulting degree of suspicion-- but at least the medicine seems to have reduced her epileptic fits.

Dogs-- a whole lot of trouble, sometimes, but I guess they're worth it. ;o)

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Monday, July 02, 2007

New polymer clay product on the way?

I just read something interesting in a PCC thread about Donna Kato's newest book. (You can find the thread here.) I haven't found anything official about this subject, but as Donna Kato herself was in on the discussion, I guess that's official enough. ;o) Apparently, the book mentions a new product that will soon be released to the public--

What is it?
It's something called "Kato Color Concentrate Clay" (which may or may not be the name it's eventually marketed under-- I don't know), and from what I understand it's basically polymer clay with a very high concentration of pigments. There's something like six times as much color in this new product compared to what goes into regular polymer clay.

What do you do with it?
From what I gather, some of the projects in the new Kato book use it, so you can probably refer to that for some examples. Based on the same PCC thread, it sounds like it probably has a variety of uses. For example, it's ideal for making rich shades of pearlized/mica-infused clay without losing the mica shift (chatoyant) effect. It's also suppsed to be great for mixing dark colors without the muddying you often get when mixing regular clay. Because the colors are so rich, you can use just a little bit of the color concentrate, compared to the amount of regular clay you'd have to add to mix the desired color.

What colors does it come in?
The only colors it will initially come in are red, yellow, and blue. But these can be mixed, of course. (Mixing is really their whole reason for existence.) There may eventually be new olors added to the line. (It looks promising, based on the discussion in the PCC thread!) Another color-related tidbit for those of us dying for more info: The three existing colors, mixed in equal parts, make black-- apparently a very fantabulous black. (No, I'm not sure what makes it better than regular black. (g)) ...And the greys are pretty great, too, according to Lynn Ann Schwarzenberg, who was the impetus behind the prototype for the product.

How is it packaged?
I don't know. (I'm not even sure if it's been packaged yet!) Donna Kato describes it as polymer clay consistency-- not liquid-- so I imagine it's packaged similarly to regular polymer clay. Because it is so potent, it may come in smaller packages than regular clay. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Where can you get some?
To start with, it will only be available at select on-line distributors, according to Ms. Kato. And it's not available even there, yet... This first batch is relatively small-- 300 lbs. I hope that once that flies off the shelves (as it's sure to do, I'd say), they'll manufacture more. If it's successful enough, maybe it will eventually be available wherever Kato Polyclay is sold. (However, the only local stores that stock solid Kato clay don't even have the liquid Kato, so I'm not holding my breath. (g))

And in less exciting news. . .

While checking out Donna Kato's blog on the off chance that she'd mentioned this new product (not that I've seen so far, but I'm still reading), I saw this entry-- and this one, too. Evidently, the folks at Epson have changed the formula on some of their papers. One of their papers was discovered to be excellent for image transfers with polymer clay, but that has changed.

Don't despair! There's still hope. ;o) There are other papers that work, including the one Katherine Dewey suggested in the second link-- JetPrint Imaging & Photo Matte Paper, medium weight. (Actually, I think that's the one I've used before. I'll have to go check...)

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