Friday, July 24, 2009

"Chatty Charms" Tutorial

("Chatty Charms?" you say. "Really?" Yes, really. I have a penchant for cutesy names. I'd like to say I've struggled with it, but that wouldn't be true. I've merely given in to it-- alliterated myself into oblivion. Oh well. We all have our faults.)

Today, I added a tutorial for "Chatty Charms" to Polymer Clay Web.

You may, perhaps, be wondering what on earth a "chatty charm" is.
Here's an explanation:

Do you have something to say to the world? Feel the need to express yourself? "Chatty Charms" can help you spread the word, leaving your mouth free for other, more engrossing pursuits, such as eating ice cream, smooching, or playing the harmonica. (These are of course only suggestions. If you'd rather whistle, stick out your tongue, or savor some chocolate instead, I won't tell.)

Ideal for beginners, this project relies upon a couple of very basic but versatile techniques. Stamping and antiquing are useful in a variety of other applications, and this is a fun way to familiarize yourself with them both.

Put your monogram on a pendant— create handy label-style keychains— engrave favorite quotations on fridge magnets! Choose words of inspiration, pile on the sarcasm, or opt for something completely off the wall! It's such a simple yet rewarding technique, you'll find it hard to stop.

So as you can see, this probably won't be anything new to people who've been claying a while. It's more geared toward those who are still new to polymer clay. That said, I did try out a couple of new (to me) things, in the process of making the tutorial.

First, I sanded some of the antiqued pendants. In the past, I've always just wiped the paint away before it dried completely. I think both techniques have their merits, but I've gotta say, right now I'm really loving the sanding. Wiping away the paint with a paper towel frequently leads to a vicious circle of wiping too much-- having to reapply the paint-- wiping too much again-- and so on. Since you wait for the paint to dry completely before you sand it, it seems a little easier to remove just as much as you want. (On the other hand, with sand paper you run the risk of scratching/removing some of the texture of the piece.)

Second, I tried using a thin coat of translucent liquid clay over an antiqued pendant to serve as a protection and to increase the sheen. I was very happy with the results-- much nicer (in my opinion) than a regular acrylic finish. I prefer the way the liquid clay feels, and there's no mess with brushes or streaky brush marks. Of course, we'll have to see how well it holds up, but I don't foresee any problems.

Well, that's it for me for today!
Happy claying!

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Polyform Clay ;o)

Well, maybe not quite everything, but Angela's (aka CraftyGoat's) most recent blog entry does bring up some interesting points. She shares her notes from a Q&A session Polyform offered at the IPCA retreat, so this is very fresh information. I highly recommend giving it a look, if you haven't already-- especially if you regularly use any of the Polyform clays (SculpeyIII, Premo, Studio by Sculpey, etc.).

I was surprised to read that Premo no longer contains phthalates. I'd heard that Kato Clay had made the switch, but nothing about (most of) Polyform's lines of clay. I'm not sure how I feel about that. If the phthalates really were a significant health risk, then of course it's good to avoid them, but I always wonder how much things of this nature may be blown out of proportion. I also wonder how much of a reduction in shelf life we should expect, now that so many brands are going phthalate-free... (This makes buying in bulk and/or stocking up during clay sales seem a bit more risky. Better get busy using up some of my more recently stock-piled clay, huh? (g))

It was also interesting to read that the recommended temperature is a little bit lower than what you need for optimum strength. (Apparently the manufacturers prefer to err on the safe side. Can't really blame them there, but it's good to have the facts.) I guess people knew what they were talking about, all these years, when they've said you're ok if you don't go over 300 degrees. I know I often find my oven's temperature tends to creep up higher than 275, but I've only scorched something once, and that was because it was too close to the heating element.

Anyway... Good stuff to know! Thanks for sharing the info, Angela!