When I first began exploring polymer I was coming from years working with hot glass. You can imagine how excited I was to find that translucent clay existed in a few varieties in the Polyform line! I found it was a natural progression from sandblasted glass to translucent polymer clay.
It’s very easy to add small amounts of colour to translucent to really make it glow, but I’ve found that you have to be careful to not overdo it and cover up the the intrinsic beauty of this mysterious almost clear material. We’ll be adding colour before curing and after as well here, but if you like what you get right out of the oven, go with it!
In this post I am going to show you how to make a flanged or flat (your choice) pendant, or you could choose to make a matched set for earrings as these pieces are feather light. If you like matching sets, be sure to make them at the same time so the result will be similar.
Condition the translucent clay well. If it is stiff and old you will need to add some drops of Sculpey diluent because you must be able to stretch and move the clay to make the piece. I condition by slicing into small pieces and put it through the pasta machine on 1 (Makins machine) and then finally on 4. Then I make sheets on 3 to do these pieces. Putting translucent through the fine rollers makes it more fluid and workable!
This picture above shows all you need to make these pieces: Translucent Premo white sheets – setting 3, exacto knife or cutters, Pan Pastels, alcohol ink markers or Sharpies, acrylic paint (any kind compatible with cured clay, please verify), texture sheets (optional), piece of wire to form on, silver coloured wire to make the finding (20 gauge), pliers for cutting and forming the integral finding.
Freehand cut 3 discs from your sheets. They don’t need to match exactly. Use cutters if you are more comfortable with that, but not everyone has them. These are between ¾ and 1 inch in size. Colour with PanPastels. Go easy, not a heavy coat at all!! The layers build up and can become quite dark.
Freehand cut smaller discs and imprint with designs using your texture sheets. Or apply as you like….
Sandwich the PanPastels between the two discs (large and small). Use a piece of plastic or parchment on top of them and smooth them into each other.
Form the three pieces into a triangle as shown in 6, leaving a hole. Make sure that the PanPastel is on the INSIDE – otherwise you will smudge everything! The photo above shows that a wire has been placed inside – this is to form the piece around and ensure that there is a hole for the integral finding you’ll add when it’s finished. You can use any fine rod for this or a fine bead mandrel.
This series of photos show how these 3 pieces become one. You need to compress the polymer around the wire and simultaneously stretch the polymer outwards into a pleasing shape. It will be thicker around the wire which is why you need to thin it out first and get that material to move towards the outside. Do not let the edges get too thin.
When you have formed the piece to your liking, you can still add more Pan Pastel – I put some on the edges where it will need to be sealed afterwards.
In the photo above I show that the forming wire has been removed and I am ready to install a finding. I ultimately used a silver coloured wire (not the one shown) and you can see in the photo below the wire with the loop at the top (background) and the bottom wire fold (foreground) which is being encased in polymer to prevent the finding from falling out. The silver wire shows much less in the translucent clay but you can use any kind of wire that you like.
The steps showing the second piece made in this session. I used simple circles of colour and laid them randomly. I rolled a small snake of translucent and covered it with black PanPastel. Then I cut the ‘log’ and laid the tiny dots and laid those at random as well. They became the black circles on the finished piece.
The cured pieces.
I cured them at 275 and then raised the temp to 310 for the last 5 minutes. Then I dumped both pieces in an ice bath. Then I highlighted certain areas with alcohol ink pens to make colour contrasts and coated each one with blue acrylic paint which was wiped off. I scratched a little on the first one, so that the paint would remain in the scratches. You work them until they please you! I like the results of the second one the best as it is lighter!
These show the pieces strung onto sari silk which gives a better sense of scale. They are approximately 2 inches long, which show how much the discs grew from being compressed and stretched.