Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pardo Jewelry Clay, the new kid on the polymer clay block

Pardo Jewelry Clay, manufactured by Viva Decor has made an impressive splash in the polymer clay world. This beeswax based clay, comes uniquely packaged in the shape of the balls that reminds one of gum balls. The color pallet comes in a range of lovely choices. The clay is very easy to condition. And while it falls amongst the softer range of clays, it is still sturdy enough for caning. Even in my warm hands, it does not be come limp-noodle like. Also, there is very little smell to this clay, while un-cured and while curing...always a plus.

On my first round with Pardo, I chose Thulite, Topaz and Yellow Aventurine to make a mokume gane stack. The results are stunning:
Pardo Jewelry Clay experimentation
I did have some color transfer onto my hands. I posted over on the Polymer Clay Central forums to see if anyone else had this problem, but I seem to have been the only one.
Color stain from Pardo  Jewelry Clay
I haven't had that to happen again, so maybe the reaction was caused by something on my hands.

The next Mokume Gane stack was created using black, gold, bronze and silver. Oh my, this is the closest to replicating actual look of metal Mokume Gane, I have come!


Bangles with Pardo Jewelry Clay
This bracelet was created using the Scrap Mokume Gane Bangle Bracelet tutorial by Tonja Lenderman. (I deviated from the instructions by actually creating a Mokume Gane stack instead of the scrap Mokume Gane. However the basis of the tutorial are the same and can be applied to any polymer clay technique.

Pendant with Pardo Jewelry Clay
(Note: the silver frame is not my work. I have not gotten to that level of craftmanship with metal clay yet.)

The one drawback of Pardo Jewelry Clay is the price. It is somewhat higher than that of the other brands I use, and rarely goes on sale. But it is no so high that I wont't use it at all. It will likely be reserved for special pieces.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ok Desi…..what in the world is this Mokume Gane thing you keep doing ????????

You’ll notice most of my polymer clay creations involve Mokume Gane. This technique is a favorite of mine because one slab can generate and endless number of patterns. When you look at a mokume gane piece and come back and look a few minutes later, you’ll notice something different about the pattern. (Plus I tend not to follow instructions as written and mokume gane is pretty much stack and slice….can’t mess that up to bad can I? ;) )

Mokume Gane (pronounced "moe-KOO-may GAH-nay"), translated as “wood eye”, is an ancient Japanese metal working technique developed in the 17th century by Denbie Shaomi to decorate swords belonging to the legendary samurai warriors. The beautiful wood-grained ring patterns quickly made their way into other areas of decoration, especially the jewelry world.

To see the striking work in the metal world, please check out the following links. It gives you a greater appreciation of the work in Polymer clay when you see the technique done in metal work.

The versatile nature of polymer clay has allowed it’s users to replicate the beautiful patterns created by traditional mokume gane metal working artist. In it simplest form, this is achieved by rolling thin sheets of clay, usually on a pasta machine (but can be done without one) and stacking them. Small ball of clay are placed under the slab to create hills and valleys. Thin slices are then taken from the top of the slab to reveal the mokume gane pattern.

However, polymer clay allows artist to take mokume gane to another level. PC enthusiasts have found that there is no limit as to what other mediums you can add to the mokume gane slabs to create infinite patterns. Metallic leaf, paints, inks, mica powders, glitters are amongst some of the most popular choices. Mossy Owl (Michael) has created top 10 list of popular additions to polymer clay mokume gane. See (Note: She also does other “top 10s in polymer clay” on her blog. Her’s is certainly one to bookmark and visit regularly.)

Also you don’t have to use the balls of clay to create hills and valleys. Simply poking holes into the slab and then compressing, will also help to create a pattern. Rubber stamps can be impressed into the top of the slab and the slab then sliced away to create beautiful patterns. Clay shape cutters can also be used. Again an endless number tools can be used tools can be used to create a mokume gane pattern.

There are some Polymer clay artist out there that should be noted for their mokume gane creations. This list is by no means complete these are just a few of my favorites, so if you know of another noteworthy artist please add them to the list.

I’ve already mentioned Mossy Owl. However, please take a moment to visit her flickr website. Her take on the mokume gane jelly roll is wonderful.

Juile Picarello’s use of opaque colors in mokume gane are simply breath-taking.

Ruth Tarragano is another polymer clay artist that creates stunning mokume gane pieces. She creates beautiful stones made of pebbles collected from the Sea of Galilee. See her esty shop for these pieces.

I am a member of a flickr group for Mokume gane lovers. This group is made up of many very talented folks that have a love for this technique. So when you have a moment, browse through and check out the great works of this group.

Interested in trying to create some Mokume Gane yourself? You can just Google polymer clay and mokume gane and you’ll find dozens and dozens of how-to’s.

In the meantime, I’ll paste some of my favorite tute links for Mokume Gane:

(Note: does this post seem familiar. If you think you've seen it before, don't worry, you're not loosing it, I imported it from my old LiveJournal blog.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Metal Clay Play

How do you go from a lump of off-white clay to a piece of jewelry that is .999 fine silver?
before and after

Magic...nope. This is done with a relatively new product called Metal Clay.
Metal clay is made up of metal particles combined with an organic binder. The moist clay is shaped as desired, left to dry and then fired at temperatures between 1100 and 1650 degrees Fahrenheit. After the binder is burned away, you are left with an almost pure metal.

PMC and Art Clay are the two most commonly known brands of metal clay. (Note: I have read there are other brands, but I have as yet to see any other brand names mentioned.) Metal clay comes in silver, gold, bronze and more recently copper. Silver is the most common of the metal clays. However, the low cost of copper clay may increase it's popularity.

After about a year of thinking about diving into the costly world of Precious Metal Clay, a post over on Polymer Central's Forums opened a path for me to take take the plunge. JoAnn's has started carrying Metal Clay and supplies and they are having a sale. I was able to get this kit for under a little over $100 dollars. This starter kit contains everything....including the clay to get you started into the art of Precious Metal Clay.
Metal clay kit

So armed with books, the internet and my imagination, I dived head first into the world of metal clay.

Metal clay is measured in grams. And I was prepared for small amounts of the clay in the packages. (I am a polymer clay artist used to dealing in ounces, but I did try to prepare myself for the amount I would be getting). I did not prepare myself enough. I knew the amount would be small, but I was still shocked at how small.This is a stack of 12 brand new playing cards. The prices of 20g of Art Clay Silver Low Fire 650 Slow Dry is usually around $35-$40 dollars. (This is not a cheap hobby to take up if you are not intending to sell products made from metal clay)
Art Clay silver
However, you can get a number of pieces from 20 grams of clay. Because the final piece will be pure metal, you really only need thin sheets to make your projects. My kit came with two very thin 1mm slats to use as a guide to roll your clay to thin sheets.

Let the fun begin!
I did test fire a small pieces to get acclimated to working with the clay in it's wet and dry states and properly firing with the torch.
1st fire

Now I was ready to move on to an actual project.
So, I have one true passion outside of arts and! Of course my first piece would be shoe related.
After shaping my pieces, thanks to a handy shoe shaped paper cutter, I left it to dry to a bone dry state (very important!) And then sanded it with the mini files from my kit (you can also use an emery board if you don't have these cute little files)
(Note: this piece is made from PMC+, I was able to find 1 package at a local bead shop)

I recored the firing and and burnishing process.
Part 1:

Part 2:

The result, a lovely fine silver pendant that I am very proud of. Not bad for my first Metal Clay project.
1st Metal Clay piece

I can't wait to start combining metal clay along with polymer clay.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My scrap play

My muse is in full swing playing in the scrap box. However,I wish she'd find a reasonable hour to do so.

Now these need to be sanded and buffed...oh happy, happy, joy, joy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Playing with scraps

In the polymer clay world, the left over raw clay from your project is fondly referred to as scraps. The scraps are perfect for using as filler for beads or making a solid "mud" color for backings of pieces. However before achieving this "mud" status, quite often, the scrap takes on a life of it's own as it is mixed. And more often then not, you end up with this random, non-repeatable thing of beauty.

This is the dilemma I quite frequently "scraps" have combined and made a stunning sheet of clay. I was attempting to make some "mud" to use as the backing for one of my polymer clay masks. But as I folded and ran the clay through the pasta machine maker, a beautiful sheet of clay resembling stone appeared.

No way, this lovely accident could be relegated to the back of a piece, never to be seen.
From this sheet, several lovely pendants were born. (Note: these pendants are not coated with a gloss, the are buffed on a variable speed grinder with muslin wheels.)