Thursday, February 20, 2014


Remember those mystery blobs on my work surface from this post?  Well, they are all grown up and ready to make their debut!  A stray comment that Gail Moore made in her video set me to thinking about expanding the coloring techniques beyond just metal.  I have resisted the siren call of polymer clay for many years...going back to the early '90s and my rubber stamping days...too much additional equipment, time, etc. so I knew that was out.  But I remembered another material that is similar and allows wonderful results without the need for conditioning or baking (thus no need for pasta machine or extra toaster oven) AND has the added benefit of producing extremely lightweight final pieces (always a plus for earrings!).

And what is this wonderful material, you ask?  At least, I hope you're asking because otherwise I'm just talking to myself and that's, yanno, crazy.

Anyway, it's called Creative Paper Clay.  It's primarily used in doll making.  It gives wonderful results as far as molding, and shaping, but is much easier to work with because, as mentioned above, no need for the additional steps. 

So, off I went to purchase some paper clay and a few molds.  I still had the cookie cutters I bought for use with Art Clay Silver years ago so I didn't need much.  Once the pieces had been molded/cut out, I let them dry for 24 hours to get them to a "leather" consistency at which point I did some additional cutting, sanding and shaping.  I didn't do too much as I wanted kind of a rustic, almost fossil look - our whole area was an underwater reef in pre-historic times and my mom has this giant rock in her back yard with fossils semi-embedded in it.  Time and weather have gradually eroded away some of the material to reveal more and more of the fossils.  It's really cool-looking and I wanted to keep that rough-hewn look.

Of course, there was a learning curve with molding some of the pieces and I saved some of the wonkier results to test the various color techniques.  I suspected some would not work due to the more porous nature of the clay, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.  I did try to adjust for this a bit by painting all the pieces with gesso first:

After experimenting, the colored pencil technique seemed to work the best (although both alcohol inks and nail polish came out better than I expected - I will do some more experimenting with those in future).  I suppose it makes sense in a way - paper (clay) and pencils :-)  These were some of the wonky shapes where I experimented with color combinations.  I'm personally drawn to the vibrant combo on the bottom right, but I wasn't sure if anyone else would feel that way so I went with the more faded look on the bottom left.  Oh, and I used this same combo to GREAT effect on some brass pieces that I'll post later...they came out AWESOME!

So, here are my little sand dollars and scallop shells.  I went a little bit bright on the scallops, but since they are tropical ocean colors, I thought it went okay.

These are my little nautiluses (nautilii?).  The bottom two were color experiments - the one on the bottom right is more sand and olive green than it appears in the picture
I used the soft gray/sage/aqua with the pink again on this piece.  This is the same scallop shell, but instead of cutting it out and sanding the edges, I left it with the background and I know it's a little off-center and imperfect, but I kinda like it that way.

This is my favorite piece of everything I did.  Color, shape, everything came out perfect!

Of course, there were some casualties along the way.  I did two large leaves and two large flowers that I cut out with cookie cutters and while the shapes were fine (a little cutesy - as you would expect cookie cutter shapes to be), but it was in the color application that things went really wrong.  I need to learn to grasp the concept of "less is more"...too many colors = mud.  Also, cutesy shape plus super-bright color...looks like a pre-schooler's nightmare.
But, there's enough success here to encourage me to keep playing with this technique.


TesoriTrovati said...

How cool! I have never used this paper clay, but it sounds intriguing! I love the little nautilus shells. Great details. Love your experiments, Miss Kelly! Enjoy the day! Erin

Juli Cannon said...

Yay, you! I had not heard of paper clay, and I look forward to seeing you play more with it. I dig the nautilus shells too~ although I kinda dug everything. Squee!