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Tag Archives | polymer clay

Premo Shapelets

Reported by Sara McKenzie


Premo! Sculpey is one of the many types of Sculpey polymer clay made by Polyform. Among other applications, it is designed for use in jewelry making. And Sculpey helped to make this easier with their “Shapelets“: a series of affordable, plastic templates.

The set shown above is the Heart Shapes; there is also the Triangle Shapes & Segments, and the Square Shapes & Segments. I’ve seen them on the internet from $3.50 to $3.95.

Below shows one of the two sets of templates that comes in the Heart Shapes set. The other template has, of course, hearts!

The photo below gives you a better idea of how large each individual template is in this set:

The Square and Triangle Shapes contain one sheet each, but with multiple shapes in each frame. You can use them individually, or layer them on top of each other. See below, the templates from the Square Shapes set. To use them, you gently press the shapes out of the “frame”. What results is a positive (the shape) and a negative image (the remaining frame).


Below is the size of the shapes in the lower left template. You can see these are sized to primarily make jewelry, but could also be used to make embellishments for your other art work.


I played around with a variety of shapes to make some fun pieces- some of which, frankly, I have not yet decided how to use them!

Here is the placement of a template on top of black polymer clay that I conditioned and then ran through my roller together with a texture plate to create the fan shapes:

I used my craft knife right through the frame to cut out the desired piece. Then I used the “positive” piece, the fan shape itself, to cut two more pieces of conditioned clay in larger sizes. Since this isn’t going to be a lesson on polymer clay, I won’t go into all of the details, but the resulting piece is below. It’s a short necklace, to be worn choker-style:

I used some of the Square Shapes to make the necklace below:

And the Triangle Shapes were used to make the earrings, below (don’t look to closely or critically: the templates don’t make up for sloppy workmanship! I need to spend more time with my polymer clay techniques…).

So, after my afternoon of play, what did I think of the Shapelets?

Pros:
  • Good assortment of sizes. They will work for jewelry or for embellishments on pages, altered books, cards, boxes- almost anything.
  • You can (and should!) use them as templates for all manner of materials. I only played with polymer clay so far, but obviously they would work with paper clay and metal clay, not to mention plain old paper itself!
  • They are a sturdy, thin plastic that should last through multiple uses, and wash off easily (if you use them with paint or ink as stencils, for example).
  • The price is right!


Cons:

  • The material is soft enough to be cut with your craft knife. So be careful if you take your knife directly to the material, rather than tracing the shape first (lesson learned on my part!).
  • The are somewhat brittle. I broke two of the frames trying to release the small square shapes. So you have to be careful, and might even need to use a craft knife to help cut through the plastic to release the shapes.
  • You can find them by Googling “Premo Shapelets” but they do not appear to be very common.

What do you think? Have you tried them? Me, I’m off to experiment more!!

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Sculpey Clay & Conditioning Machine

Reported by Erika Martin
When I was younger, I played around a little bit with modeling clay, but it was always the cheap stuff. Usually very hard in the package, my hands got sore and felt arthritic from softening it. Or, it was the clay we used at school, which we knew had been touched by a bunch of other students and had a funny smell.

For years, I’ve seen the Sculpey clays in stores, but it wasn’t until just recently that I found a love for working with it. When I reviewed the book, “Beyond the Bead,” I picked up some clay to create some of the jewelry projects featured in the book. A whole new world of crafting possibilities opened up to me. My almost-10-year-old daughter also got into it and we bought her a stash of her own clay so she could create with abandon.

Last week, I picked up the Sculpey Clay Conditioning Machine and WOW! Even more possibilities have opened up to me!

I want to show you some techniques I’ve learned along the way, as well as how to use the Clay Conditioning Machine.

Sculpey clay may seem hard when you hold the package in your hand, but it’s actually very easy to soften in your hands. It’s great therapy, too. It might be a bit difficult for some, though, if you have muscle problems or arthritis, which is where the clay conditioning machine will come in handy.

I like to cut off small pieces with an X-acto knife as I find them easier to work with and soften when it’s in smaller pieces.

I roll the clay into a ball and then clasp my hands together and wring my hands like I would do if I were nervous (that’s the best way I can describe it). For me, I find that this is the easiest and quickest way to soften the clay.
Once you’ve softened the clay, you can then work it and sculpt it free hand if you’re feeling adventurous. This is a great way to get your kids involved in imaginative art. It’s amazing the things they’ll sculpt as their imagination lets loose.
Roll out different colors of clay to add dimension and color to your projects. I like that the clay sticks to itself really well as I’m creating and layering. I find that any small pieces that don’t stick completely can always be put back on after baking the clay with a small amount of craft glue.

I seal all my dimensional pieces with a thin coat of matte finish Mod Podge.
The Clay Conditioning Machine (also by Sculpey) is very easy to put together and take apart. It’s wonderful for softening clay if you’re using it for free-hand sculpting or if you’d like sheets of clay to work with. There’s 9 thickness settings on the machine, which gives you lots of options when crafting.

The C-clamp and the handle are separate pieces, but easily fit into the machine by popping them in place. The machine should always be clamped to a surface when using it. The handle won’t turn a full revolution if it’s not clamped onto a surface, as the handle needs to turn past the bottom of the machine.
I cut a couple of slabs of clay from my block with an X-acto knife, set them side-by-side above the rollers, and then turned the handle. The clay went through very smoothly (the directions state not to try to push excessively thick clay through the rollers) and this started the conditioning.
I dialed the setting to #2 and sent it through again. I set it to #3 and realized it was too thin. The great thing about clay and the machine is that you can roll your clay in your hand and send it back through the machine on a different setting if you need to.

I stamped into my moss-colored clay with a fern image, making sure to put a good amount of pressure on it to get a good impression.

I used an X-acto knife to cut around the fern before baking it according to the package directions (275 degrees, 15 minutes).
I had some moss clay left over and decided to blend it with some brown clay to create some rolled beads. I sent some brown clay through the machine to get it the same thickness as the moss clay. I layered the pieces of clay on top of each other and then put them through the machine to bind them together. I used my X-acto knife to trim the edges of the clay to make them even.
I then rolled my clay and kept rolling it back and forth to bind the clay together and also form the tube to the length and shape that I wanted.
I cut slices of the clay to create my beads. I kept them the shape that was created when I cut them, though I could have shaped them in my hand a bit to make them completely round.

HINT: If you want to get rid of any fingerprints on your clay pieces, you can either wear a tight pair of rubber gloves or you can also wipe your pieces quickly with your finger to smooth the clay out.
A couple of beads were a bit uneven on the ends (these were the two on either end of the tube) so I put the beads through the machine and got long flat pieces with a really cool effect that will work great as pendants or earrings.
I used a large tapestry needle to make the holes in my beads. I then heated all my clay pieces for 15 minutes at 275 F degrees.
I added some wire elements to my bumble bee for the antennas and the wings. I also placed and eye pin into the body to eventually turn this into a key chain. I used a black glaze pen to complete the eyes.
I rubbed some gold metallic rub-on paste to my beads for a vintage feel and strung them on a cord with green and gold beads to create a necklace.

I also rubbed some of the rub-on paste on the fern that I created and will use this on an upcoming scrapbook page. (If you’re using rub-on paste, make sure to seal your pieces so that the paste doesn’t rub off.)
So, what have you made with Sculpey clay? Have you used the Clay conditioning machine? What’s your favorite Sculpey clay color?

Pardo Polymer Clay by Viva

Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs


Polymer clays by Sculpey, Cernit, and Fimo have been around for years, but now there’s a new player on the field: Pardo polymer clay by Viva.

Originating in Germany, it’s main distinction is that it’s beeswax-based (and therefore somehow more environmentally-friendly) and phthalate-free. It comes in 70 colors, which are supposed to reflect precious metal and precious gemstone colors. I was told at CHA that they also closely align with the Swarovski Crystal bead colors.

It’s sold in 1.2 oz mini-pack (which contains 6 balls) and 2.7 oz plastic jars, which the company is also touting as being more earth-friendly. This seems really counter-intuitive, as instead of being wrapped in cellophane like most clays, it’s packaged in hard plastic containers. However, they hope that people will reuse or recycled the containers instead of pitching them (I think they are being overly optimistic here!).

It’s billed as “jewelry clay”… so that’s what I set out to do with it. I opened the package, and sniffed. SNIFFED? Yup, sniffed. Some brands of polymer clays have an odor, and I’m pleased to report that Pardo had no real smell. Good for you sensitive folks out there.

As I stared kneading the clay, I noticed a faint stickiness- very comparable to other soft clays, such as Sculpey III. It’s not bad, but you do feel some residue on your hands, and there were fingerprints in the clay that needed to be smoothed out. It went through my pasta machine like a dream, and in 2 passes it was ready to work. This is GREAT news for folks with fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.- more playing, less conditioning!


I used Olivine (green with glitter inclusions) and gold. I will say that the colors are saturated and rich, and some of the “transparent effects” clays have no equal in the market.

The first project I made was a little holiday pin using cookie cutters. It cut cleanly and layered well. The fingerprints left behind needed some smoothing, but no biggie.


I then attempted to make a Skinner blend using the two colors. I’m not sure if my technique was just off or what, but I was not pleased with it’s ability to blend smoothly. I also tried caning… and dearies, I’m not even going to dignify that with a picture! The clay is so soft that it just doesn’t hold up well to constant manipulating. I tried reducing a bulls-eye cane, and it was just kinda mushy and wouldn’t slice cleanly. (I also offer up that my studio is on the cold side and I have cool hands- so it wasn’t the conditions, it was the clay.)


So I baked up my little holly pin, and it cured as advertised, taking 30 minutes in a 275 degree toaster oven. (Tip: ALWAYS use a thermometer to make sure you’ve really got the right temp, most ovens are not calibrated accurately.)

After it was all cooled off, I buffed it with a felt buffing wheel on my Dremel, and it came up to a lovely luster. Like most sparkly things, it was hard to capture the shine in a photo. But I DID love the green glitter… it’s a winner!

Now, for the bad news. This clay is 1) hard to find, and 2) it’s pricey. I’ve heard rumors that Hobby Lobby is carrying it, but it hasn’t shown up at my other favorite craft stores (of course, it’s available online if you Google it.) Even if you DO find it, you might want to wait for a coupon. On the whole, it averages TWICE the price per ounce. Ouch.

On the whole, I would use this clay for jewelry, but I probably won’t go out of my way to buy a lot of it unless the price comes down. It may be the new player on the field, but it’s not “MVP” in my book.

Pros:

  • Lovely color selection
  • Easy to use out of the package- great for folks who have hand problems
  • More “natural” ingredients (beeswax)
  • Packaging easier to recycle

Cons:

  • More expensive than other polymer clays
  • Not widely available at this time
  • Plastic packaging may end up in landfills
  • So soft that it’s not great for cane work

If you’ve played with Pardo Clay, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what YOU think! Happy claying, and craft on!

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