Thursday, February 18, 2010

Using Cutters with Polymer Clay Try 1

I bought myself some of those baby cookie-cutters that you use with polymer clay and gave them a try last night. The plan was to stack 3 colors of blue clay and then cut a 3 colored bead.

It didn't work very well. The clay stuck inside the little cutters and had to be pushed out with the end of a pen. The end of the pen bent the disk into terrible shapes and left funky marks on the end.

I used a tiny 1/2 inch circle and a slightly larger 1 square.

So instead I rolled everything into balls and them mashed them with the end of the rolling pen.

They look OK but are a little boring.

I'm going to try again using starch as release on the cutters

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tumbling Polymer Clay Beads

In the past I tumbled Polymer Clay with sandpaper. But I didn't like it because the sandpaper sticks together and it is a pain. So I bought some tumbling grit -- the kind they use for rocks and have been experimenting.

The kind I got is labeled step 1 , step 2, step 3 and so on.

I started tumbling with step 4, this definitely sanded the beads a lot leaving them with a sanded finish. I have continued and am now on step 6. They are looking pretty nice and don't seem to have any fingerprints any more.

This is removing a reasonable amount of clay so it would be bad if I had thin slices of cane applied to my beads. I don't though so I haven't had a problem.

I have ordered another tumbler so I can run two at once. I got another toy one but I had to order it. Michael's doesn't carry that brand anymore.

I took one of my old (6 mo? a year?) canes and reduced it in size. The reduction seemed to work fairly well although the cane was brittle to start. I sliced it up and will use the slices for testing out the tumbling.

The plan is to take some beads from untumbled through all of the steps and keep some from each step for comparison. I have some other old beads I am going to try too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June Update

I was hoping to do some crafts this summer.....

But right now I am having the living room redone and I can't get at my craft supplies and I don't have any place to do them. :(

But my living room is going to be really pretty. We are getting it painted, new windows, new flooring, the wet bar remodeled into a storage closet, new curtains, and re-covering the furniture. Oh, and we may get a new entertainment center. (We need a new TV and our stereo is old)

I have gotten really and truly hooked on a computer game on Facebook. Mafia Wars is the most addictive game I've ever played.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Too Busy

I'm going back to school part time and it is taking all my time. I have done a few more experiments with polymer clay but I need to take pictures still.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Experiments with Translucent Polymer Clay

When I created some beads with translucent Sculpey III clay I was surprised to find it was yellowish after it was baked. I googled it and it apparently is always yellowish. So I ran a few experiments...
I cooked it at 3 different temperatures and for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 minutes. It started creamy looking and turned a little yellowish. It was not ever very translucent. I added a tile to the bottom of the toaster oven to even out the temperature and tented the beads with aluminum foil to discourage browning. I had read that dropping the beads in ice water after taking them out made them more translucent but I couldn't tell it made a difference.
Here are some pictures.

(After I had done all this, I realized that sometime in there I had flipped the circuit breaker. So the results aren't real accurate. But I thought they were still interesting.)
A few observations ... after 5 minutes at 225, the clay was still pretty soft. I could gouge it with a fingernail but it wouldn't take fingerprints. None of the other beads were that soft. I could mark a couple with a fingernail but it took work.
The longer and hotter I cooked the beads the yellower and more translucent they got. Temperature didn't seem to make a real difference for that.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taking Photos of Beads

In my last blog post I took close up pictures of the beads I have been working with. I had to work pretty hard to get reasonable pictures. So I thought I would write about it.

I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC - FZ20 which is a very nice camera. It is almost but not quite a digital SLR camera. I can't change lenses but besides that I can do everything I can think of to do. And more than I have the skill to do. For what I am doing here the most important things are a place for a tripod and a shutter release cable.

I wanted to take pictures really, really close up and very sharp of my beads. The first time I tried the pictures were too fuzzy and didn't show the detail. So I decided to try harder. I figured a real photographer with real equipment could do it so I would at least try. (I am nothing if not optimistic about what I can do if only I work at it.)

So I set up on my kitchen table with a piece of foam under the beads. I used bright yellow so both the white and the dark purple would show. It was already by a window but I also took a pole lamp that I had handy and pointed 3 lights right at my work.

Then I got my little tripod. This one is little enough to sit right on the table. And I flipped it around so the camera was pointing down at the beads. It wasn't very steady so I ran and got an ankle weight from my bedroom and leaned it up against the leg to help steady it. (I only tipped the camera over once. Ouch!)

I knew from previous tries at this sort of thing that I didn't want anything more than necessary on the front of my camera so I removed the assorted adapters and filters and hoods that I keep on there.

The shutter release cord plugged into the camera and I was ready to go. I use the shutter release because I have a tendency to shake the camera when I push the button directly. And of course shaking the camera is always a bad thing. I do have image stabilization on my camera but doesn't ever seem to do enough. If I didn't have a shutter release I would use a timer on my camera. That is what I do for my old camera.

I took a bunch of pictures varying the setup to see what would work best. I always used a tripod and I always used the shutter release. But I took pictures with and without a flash. And I moved the camera a little closer to the beads then a little farther from the beads. I took them from this side and that side. I tried zooming to make the beads a little bigger.

The flash left a ring of shadow on the picture from the lens. It didn't wash out the picture too badly though. Sometimes a flash leaves a bright spot in the middle of the picture but I didn't notice that being a problem this time. But my best pictures were without the flash because of the shadow.

With the tripod I was using I could get the camera about 6 inches from the beads or I could move it farther away -- about to 10 inches. Closer seemed to be better. When I got closer I used the macro setting which has an icon of a flower on the dial. These worked pretty well together.

Zooming didn't work well. It made the image of the bead bigger in my viewfinder but it made the image fuzzier. I had a few pictures where the image was completely fuzzed out. I think they were where I used both the macro setting and zoomed. So my best pictures weren't zoomed.

The last thing I did was this. I thought more light would be good since I wasn't using my flash so I went and got a gooseneck table lamp and put it on the table. I bent it over so it was shining directly at the beads. I hadn't thought about it but the pictures that I took with that lamp were a lot yellower than the other pictures. I am guessing it was a different sort of light bulb. Next time I will try to use my Ott light.

So after I took all these pictures I went in Photoshop and threw out all the bad ones. Then I straightened them up and cropped them -- and fixed the color of the ones that were yellow. I think they came out pretty good.