Basic polymer clay techniques such as conditioning with a clay conditioning machine and basic tool use is helpful for this tutorial. Techniques you will learn in this tutorial are, hollow dome forming, basic sanding of polymer clay, sponge texturing, multiple bake construction, and also “Flawlessly Glazed” cabochons for use in your polymer clay projects (video). Hopefully you will also learn in this tutorial that starting at the beginning of a project with careful planning and execution throughout the process of creating will result in less finish work and a more professional look to your projects.
Studio lighting conditions do not show the beautiful glow and sparkle of the Premo Opal Clay nor the sparkle of the sponge textured Premo Granite Pearl Clay in the step by step photos of this tutorial.
Design by Mr. Jan Montarse
NOTES FROM THE ARTIST:
Fresh soft clay is best for this tutorial. The stretching of hollow dome forming requires it.
I use a small disposable foil mini loaf pan to cover the clay in all baking steps of this tutorial. It is mostly a preventative measure that I use for light colored and translucent clays. When baking items that have been “Flawlessly Glazed” it is necessary, you would be amazed what blows around in your oven that could stick to the glaze. Glaze that has been fully dried when baked will become sticky while hot from the oven, but will return to its shiny clear hard finish when fully cooled. If it becomes smudged while it is hot the only remedy is to re-sand and re-glaze.
The Clay colors chosen for this project have specific properties that create the illusion of the Opal affect. The translucent divides layers of opal Clay to give the illusion of depth it also has used as a top layer to seal in the opal flakes for a smooth surface. The white Clay helps reflect light back through the two other layers of clay adding to depth. Also the flat layers shaped into a dome adds to effect by bouncing light around from different angles.
For my work surface, I typically work on inexpensive flexible cutting mats purchased in the kitchen section of the dollar store. I also use card stock or copy paper, patty paper or plastic deli sheets as my work surface. I do use a glass work surface when I want the clay sheet to stick firmly to the glass as I am working with it but in this tutorial peeling a sheet of clay that has been burnished smooth off of a sheet of glass with a clay blade can cause wrinkles on the surface of the clay sheet. Working on card stock or copy paper is an efficient no stick method but leaving polymer clay for an extended period of time will leach the plasticizers from the clay.
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Clay Yo Texture Sponge Set, 7/16 inch Oval Kemper Klay Kutter ( smallest of the 5 piece set ), Several inexpensive shiny 4 x 4 bathroom tiles, 600 Grit Wet Dry Sand Paper, Needle Tool with metal handle that is flat at the bottom end, Bead Pins , Acrylic Block 3” square or larger, Playing Cards, Pin Vise with a 1/32 drill bit, Standard Drinking Straw – 1/4” slightly smaller, Medium Round Soft Brush for Glaze, Small Stiff Disposable Brush for Bake and Bond, Tulip Glam It Up Hot Fix Glass Crystals 3mm (Item No. 31745) Color - Crystal Ab., Small Needle Nose Pliers, Scissors, Small Shallow Container for Glaze, Water Misting Bottle, Alcohol Misting Bottle, Paper towels, Patty Papers or Deli Sheets, Plastic Deli Sheets or Recycled Plastic Grocery Bag (No Ink), Card Stock or Copy Paper,|Clay Yo Texture Sponge Set, 7/16 inch Oval Kemper Klay Kutter ( smallest of the 5 piece set ), Several inexpensive shiny 4 x 4 bathroom tiles, 600 Grit Wet Dry Sand Paper, Needle Tool with metal handle that is flat at the bottom end, Bead Pins , Acrylic Block 3” square or larger, Playing Cards, Pin Vise with a 1/32 drill bit, Standard Drinking Straw – 1/4” slightly smaller, Medium Round Soft Brush for Glaze, Small Stiff Disposable Brush for Bake and Bond, Tulip Glam It Up Hot Fix Glass Crystals 3mm (Item No. 31745) Color - Crystal Ab., Small Needle Nose Pliers, Scissors, Small Shallow Container for Glaze, Water Misting Bottle, Alcohol Misting Bottle, Paper towels, Patty Papers or Deli Sheets, Plastic Deli Sheets or Recycled Plastic Grocery Bag (No Ink), Card Stock or Copy Paper,
Getting StartedPolymer clay may stain. CLAY MAY DAMAGE UNPROTECTED FURNITURE OR FINISHED SURFACES. DO NOT USE polymer clay on unprotected surfaces. We recommend working on the Sculpey clay mat, wax paper, metal baking sheet, or disposable foil. Start with clean hands and work surface area. Knead clay until soft and smooth. For best results, clean your hands in between colors. Shape clay, pressing pieces together firmly. Bake on oven-proof glass or metal surface at 275°F (130 °C) for 30 minutes per ¼" (6 mm) thickness. For best baking results, use an oven thermometer. DO NOT USE MICROWAVE OVEN. DO NOT EXCEED THE ABOVE TEMPERATURE OR RECOMMENDED BAKING TIME. Wash hands after use. Baking should be completed by an adult.Begin by preheating oven to 275 °F (130 °C). Test temperature with oven thermometer for perfectly cured clay. For best results, condition all clay by running it through the Clay Conditioning Machine for several passes on the widest setting. Fold the clay in half after each pass and insert the fold side into the rollers first.
With a clean clay conditioning machine. Condition one half block of translucent clay on a 3 card thickness. Condition one half block of opal clay on a 6 card thickness.Condition one quarter block of white Clay on a 1 to 2 card thickness.Condition the colors in the order I mentioned above to prevent your translucent from being contaminated by the other two colors.The Graphite clay will be conditioned later after we are done with all the Opal clay process.
Trim your Opal clay sheet into a rectangle shape that will fit onto your translucent sheet. Place Opal clay rectangle on top of translucent sheet and trim away excess so they are of the same size.
Roll the two color stacked through the clay conditioning machine on the thickest setting. Cut the sheet in half. Stack one half on top of the other keeping the order of alternating layers. You now have a total of four layers.
Roll the sheet back through the machine a second time on the thickest setting. Cut the sheet in half and stack again keeping the order of alternating layers. You now have 8 layers. Roll the sheet through the machine the third time on the thickest setting.
Reduce the thickness setting of the clay conditioning machine by one setting and run your clay sheet through again. Continue reducing the setting by one thickness and running the clay sheet through the machine until you get to a 4 card thickness. Turn your sheet of clay a ¼ turn, if necessary, before your final pass to approximate the size of your white clay sheet. Place the white sheet of clay on a nonstick work surface. Place the opal / translucent clay stacked sheet on top of white sheet keeping the translucent side up and the opal side touching the white clay. Avoid trapping any bubbles. Trim excess white clay from around the stack. Trim edges of stacked sheet to remove any exposed opal flakes.
Cover clay with a patty paper. Using a folded piece of card stock burnish starting in the center of the sheet and working your way out by pushing any air bubbles out. Continue to burnish until you feel that your sheet is sufficiently smooth. Having the smoothest possible sheet of raw clay will save sanding later after baking.
Peel back your patty paper keeping it close to the clay surface as pictured. Lifting up and away can cause opal flakes to pull up to the surface. If your clay sheet needs more burnishing, use a fresh patty paper if yours wrinkled while removing it. Do not use copy paper in place of patty paper to burnish. The copy paper may be burnished into the clay leaving paper fibers in the clay surface when removed. Plastic deli sheet will wrinkle while being burnished. Standard kitchen waxed paper is too thick, compared to patty papers or waxed deli papers and it wrinkles.
Transfer the sheet to the plastic deli sheet being careful not mar the surface. You will have a second opportunity to burnish the clay again before baking. If there are any bare opal flakes and have come to the surface that you can’t avoid when you are cutting your shapes for your cabochons see the “ Trouble Shooting “ section at the end, it is a very easy fix. DO NOT pull the exposed flakes out of the clay sheet, it will leave divots.
HOLLOW DOME FORMINGArrange the set of six oval metal cutters from largest to smallest. Numbering one through six, with 1 being the largest and 6 the smallest. We will be using cutters 2, 3, and 4 in this tutorial. No. 2 will be used for the bezel and back. No. 3 will be used for the hollow domed opal. No. 4 will be used for the bail. I advise you to use scrap clay to practice the hollow dome forming steps. Hollow dome forming is very easy but a little practice with scrap will prevent waste of the prepared opal sheet and teach you the finesse required for even domes.
Cut a rectangle about a quarter inch larger than your No. 3 oval cutter. With the dull non cutting side down, place your No. 3 cutter on your rectangle and trim off the corners of rectangle with a blade. Do not cut to close we will be using this clay that surrounds the cutter later in the steps.
Burnish your rough cut shape with patty paper on a nonstick surface. Use the side of your thumb with light pressure as your burnishing tool. Place clay on a patty paper. White side down
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