…better known as Polyvinyl chloride (PVC… yes, like the pipes) is produced by polymerization of the vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), as depicted… pretty awesome huh?! Not only is this substance used to make sewage pipes, wire insulation, clothing, upholstery, shoes, vinyl records and more – a sculptable version of this substance is what we know as Polymer Clay.
[dropcap_1] P [/dropcap_1] olymer clay has no clay minerals in it at all, and is only called clay because its working properties resemble clay. Modern polymer clay is based on a plastic modeling compound that was tested in 1913 by a German doll maker as a possible replacement for plastics that had become difficult to obtain during World War II (it did not work). Sculpey, is what I’ve used since I was just a child, and it was only invented in the mid-1960’s. It is relatively a new art medium, unlike many media that have been around for centuries and have long traditions.
My attraction to this “clay” is due to how it can be cured in a regular home oven, it comes in varying harnesses and you can purchase it in almost any color (if you don’t want to paint it after). There are many specialty types of Sculpey as well, including but not limited to: translucent clay, metallic colors, glow in the dark clay, and a clay that stays rubbery after it’s baked. The only down side is that it does have toxic properties (wash your hands) and cannot be used to make drinking cups or dishes (don’t eat it).
Here’s a list of some of the advanced techniques you can employ when working with polymer clay:
- kneed clay colors together to make new colors
- wire/foil interior for added support and shorter bake time :)
- use textured item to transfer its texture onto your piece.
- smooth the clay’s surface by using a small brush to apply small amounts of rubbing alcohol or turpenoid.
- carve and drill the clay once it’s been baked
- as long as you don’t exceed the recommended bake temp (275 F) and duration (15 min per 1/4″ thichyou can bake the clay multiple times
- add soft clay to baked clay by using petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as a glue.
- send finished sculpture to a moldmaker to have a mold and/or duplicates made of your creation.
Is there anything specific on this list that sparks your curiosity? Do you have any specific questions about any of the above-mentioned techniques or have a different technique you’d like to share? Even if it’s just an off-topic idea for a future post, contact me.