Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Playing with clay

Don't laugh!!!  I'm a beginner!  I've got so much to learn, and this is going to be a real process.  I have been searching as much as I can on the internet on making polymer clay beads as well as checked out a couple books from the local library.  I've been working on some very basic things, and the ONLY reason I'm showing you these things...not because I'm so proud of them...but because I'm hoping for some guidance (maybe Marie? :)

The first thing I did was a simple jellyroll.  Matthew helped me late one night over the weekend.  We had fun together!  We picked red and yellow...good high contrasting colors.  My first lesson was all about translucents.  lol.  The yellow didn't look so yellow after being baked.  Ok, so I think we did all right on the jellyroll...except that I can't cut them right.  I watched videos and read and watched more videos and read some more.  I learned that the clay has to rest in between steps or it will become distorted.  Check.  I'm not usually a patient person, so this will be a real test for me, but I did let the clay rest, and even refrigerated, between steps.  But the clay just seemed to get so warm and soft so fast.  When I would go to cut the slices they wouldn't stay round.  I even rolled the cane a little as I sliced downward like I'd seen the pros do.  But mine still came out all wonky. 

Next I decided to try a simple flower looking cane.  I chose a gold, bright blue, black and a hint of white (which was such a "hint" that it altogether disappeared later in the process).  I got the cane all cut, let it chill, stretched it out, let it chill, and then went to cut it.  Same problem...lopsided slices.  grrrr.  AND by looking at the petals I realized I was twisting as I was stretching because the circles became distorted.  Even so, I was ok with my first attempt at a flower cane.

Decided to go a step further and make that cane into another cane.  cut the pieces, stacked them, wrapped, let it chill in the fridge overnight.  The next day I stretched and pulled.  I did a much better job of keeping the cane straighter as I stretched this time.  BUT I still can't cut a slice to save my life. When I did the slices some were thicker than others.  On the really bad ones I was going to put the clay in the "mud" bag, but decided to see what it would look like if I made the garbage into beads.  Kind of a nice affect.  Lesson learned...nothing is garbage.  Try different things and you just might get something interesting. 

This is the "mud swirl" made from garbage
This is a side-by-side progression of my canes
After I let the slices and beads chill again, I tried making the bead holes through them.  They became even more distorted.  *whimper, sniffle*  Still I carried on.  Next was sanding.  That didn't last long.  How in the world do you sand something so small???  I couldn't even hold onto them, let alone sand them.  I ended up putting the sandpaper on the table and holding it with one hand while rubbing the tops and bottoms with the other hand.  I wonder how long one has to sand in order to get that glassy finish I've seen the pros do?

Oh...I forgot.  I also did some wrapped beads by layering four colors of circles into the extruder, pushing out long snakes, wrapping a core bead made from mud (again, using the garbage), baked them and then started sanding down through the layers of colors.  Looked really cool on the video, but it seems the only color I could get to show through was the orange.  There was also yellow and green in there.  Still a fun bead to make, and I'll probably play with this one a little more in the future.

So that was my adventure in an intro to polymer clay over the weekend.  No masterpieces yet. lol.  No...that will take quite some time, I'm sure.  But I'll keep you posted on my progress.  And anyone who wants to chime in with any tips, I'm ready for it!!!  Oh!  I've got some molds on order that I'm hoping come any day now in the mail.  Got about 5 different cab molds.  It will be fun to swirl colors and powders and glitter together to see what happens!  Will post more on that later.

Bead happy.


Beadwright said...

Not bad for your first time out. Do you know Marie from Art From the Heart? She has some very good video tutorials. She is listed on my blog list. Look her up she is fabulous.
Have fun and don't for get my birthday sale and blog party tomorrow

Lori said...

I think they are pretty good for a Beginner..Cane is hard to master. What are you using to cut the cane with..? After sanding Buff it with Denim to get a higher shine..

Marie S said...

I agree with Nicole, you are doing a fantastic job, Lisa.

You must have warm hands girl. That is awesome when you are conditioning clay but not so awesome when you are making things.
Just stop touching your clay so much, use your fingertips more, set things down in between, and do not cradle the cane in your palm all of the time. ;-D Everyone does this in the beginning.
These are things that you learn when you become more confident and know what is going to happen in the next step.
Please don't be hard on yourself, you are doing really well for the first canes
You could go to the hardware store and get yourself and big cheap marble tile. Roll out your sheets and set them down on that and then go to the next sheet, so you are doing all of your prep work first and then assemblage. This will give the sheets a chance to rest while they are flat and thin.
You can also put your cane in to the fridge for an hour or two and then cut them. Most canes will flatten a little with cutting.
The rolling cut does take practice too. When you cut the cane your push the blade forward while rolling the cane forward, not so much pressing down as you cut. It is a long sweeping motion and not a short roll. Do you have a flexible blade or a thick one?
The thick ones are harder to cut with than the flexible ones.
The thick ones are wonderful for cutting sheets and straight lines for the sides of sheets.

Some of the distortion you see in your canes might be from the blade not from you putting it together.
I see progress from the first to the last cane so your progressing at a rapid pace. Your spiral is very good though. The color is a natural mistake. Some people tint their baking trays with foil when they are baking the translucents.
It also helps to add a small bit of white to the colors(not Translucents)to keep them bright and out of the package color after baking.
Lisa, no worries, you are doing very very well.
Keep up the great work and you will get better with more practice.
Way to go, I am very proud of you!!!

Mandy said...

Lisa they look awesome!!! I really really like that last bead with the orange and it looks pretty shiny also! Keep at it!

Barbara said...

Wow, I'm so impressed! I was trying to do some of what you achieved and gave up. Now I only use polymer to hand-sculpt faces for some of my dolls. But that keeps me busy enough! Do you follow Marlene's blog, All About Creating? Dig deep to see some incredible polymer pieces. Her canes are incredible:

Roberta said...

I am a beginner as well and yes, there is quite a learning curve to this stuff, but oh is it fun, fun, fun!

MoiraMia said...

I couldn't believe these are your beginner pieces! They look great. I really love the beads you made from the ' garbage'. :-) They are very pretty.

This polymer is going to be a fun trip for all of us to take with you. I can't wait to see what you make with them. :-)

You'll be a master in no time at all!

Jan said...

your results are great, don't be too hard on yourself. Imagine if this was someone else's first attempts, you would be giving them positive feedback. You are doing very well, just keep practicing and follow Marie's suggestions. You have already learned a lot.

Isn't Marie great? She is so generous.