Wednesday, January 27, 2010



I had someone email me asking if I would consider doing an on-line class. The person really liked some of my techniques. Because my style is so "improve" I figured I could never do anything that structured. However I don't mind sharing my techniques. Feel free to use these techniques and make them your own. I think of polymer clay as "Adult Playdough". Play with the techniques and learn from your mistakes. Some of my favorite discoveries were from mistakes. This is the fourth post to answer my fan's questions.

Over the years I have occasionally antiqued polymer clay, so I thought I would do a test comparing different formulas. My test used seven different formulas. Remember that you can use any available color of paint. I just used the colors I had on hand. This technique is done to baked polymer clay.  This photo provides a nice comparison of all the different formulas/products I used.


1. Liquitex Raw Umber acrylic paint always works well. It produces a nice dark color in the recesses. The downside is that you have to work fast before it dries. It produces a nice low sheen on the clay.

2. I have always liked using a liquid clay and paint mixture as an antiquing solution. I mixed up a new batch of Liquitex Raw Umber acrylic paint with Kato Liquid Polyclay. It was about a 1:1 mixture. You can really see the difference between this and the raw umber that I used straight out of the tube for #1. The antiquing is much subtler. The advantage of this technique is that you have unlimited working time to get it just right. The downside is that the piece has to be re-baked. The result is a finish that is almost matt and has a slightly rough feel.

3. This is an old formula that I have used a lot. Unfortunately it is made with Transparent Liquid Sculpey, which is no longer available. My notes say that I used the TLS, raw umber acrylic paint and Pearl-Ex gold mica powder. The characteristics are very similar to the blend of Kato Liquid Polyclay and paint (formula #2) except that the finish using TLS is totally matt. I don’t know why the color is so different when I supposedly used the same color acrylic paint. What I really liked about using this formula is that it makes things look so much like stone. The finish is totally matt and the texture is rough. Here is an example of its use to highlight the impressions from a Celtic rubber stamp.

4. Genesis Heat Set oil paint has been my favorite antiquing method for quite a while. It produces a much different effect. In addition to filling in the depressions it also stains the clay. You can rub some, but not all of it, off. It is very thick so it does take some effort to get it into depressions. It also has to be heat set. I just re-bake the piece at the same time and temperature. It probably doesn’t need to be cured that long. I just haven’t taken the time to experiment and find the minimum time needed. It might work to just cure the paint with a heat gun. Try it and see. Here are a couple of brooches that used the Genesis paint. For the first one, B9014, I coated the bottom layer and didn’t wipe any the paint off. The texture on this layer is from the Genesis paint. For the Pod and Bone Brooch I used the Genesis paint like a stain.  I put it on, then wiped it off.  The surface of the clay was smooth. The pattern is in the clay itself.

5. Golden makes an airbrush acrylic paint which has a very thin consistency. This test used Transparent Raw Umber. It produced a subtle antique appearance that is similar to the liquid clay plus acrylic paint formula (#2). What is interesting is that it produces a very nice sheen that looks hand rubbed. The disadvantage is that you have limited working time, just like with regular acrylic paint. I also noticed that the paint stayed a little sticky, so I re-baked the piece and that took care of the problem. I just might not have waited long enough for it to dry.

6. For this sample I used Golden Black Opaque Airbrush Acrylic paint. This opaque paint left a nice sheen on the clay, just like the Golden Transparent Airbrush paint. It did stain the clay a lot. I don’t know if this was a characteristic of the paint, or just because I used black.

7. This sample was done with Golden Transparent Shade Gray Airbrush paint. It has the same characteristics as the other Golden Transparent Airbrush paint used in #5.

Good luck with your own experimentation. Don’t forget to have fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Now that the holiday season is over I need a break.  Having to make a lot of jewelry for the gallery's christmas season caused a little burn out.  So I needed to find something fresh and different to do.  Normally I am a total improv artist.  I don't usually do anything structured.  So for something different, I started working on a scientific experiment.  I am testing the crackling process of paint on polymer clay.  It sort of got out of hand.  To date I have tested nine different types of acrylics.  It is amazing how different the crackle characteristics are for each product.  I plan to turn this experimentation into a tutorial/reference guide for the process.  However, now I need a break from that too.

Almost three years ago I was photographed for an HGTV program called That's Clever making a plant stake out of polymer clay, glass, and copper.  Well they are finally in season 5 and my episode (532) should be shown in the next couple of months.  They are airing episode 526 at the end of February.  My episode isn't listed on HGTV's website yet.

So to give myself something different to do, again, I started making mini plant stakes (more like everlasting flowers).  I am using jewelry components, copper and sometimes polymer clay.  It has been fun.  Each one is unique.  They look good placed in a pot with a small plant, or in a small vase.  They are for sale in my garden Etsy shop