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Clay Cloisonne Pin

This project reflects the beauty of cloisonne and Bassetaille enamel in polymer clay media.

Guest Judy Belcher shares her technique for forming a cavity to hold liquid clay to create the look of shimmering texture beneath the surface of the "enamel." To achieve the texture underneath a pool of liquid polymer clay, she made a mold out of scrap clay and textured the surface so that the positive clay image would replicate it in low relief. The following is a partial excerpt from guest Judy Belcher's book, Polymer Clay, Creative Traditions.

Materials and Tools:
scrap of Kato Polyclay
Clearsnap Stylus Molding Mat "Waves and Weaves"
sharp blade
Mona Lisa Authentic Metal Powder by Houston Arts - platinum
Kato Clear Polyclay medium
Clearsnap "Vivid!" re-Inkers in purple, green and sky blue
application bottle with metal tip by Jacquard
dental pick or other pointed tool
Flecto Varathane - gloss
pin back

Figure A

Steps:
1. Condition a sheet of scrap clay (Figure A).

Figure B

2. Spray a texture sheet with a fine mist of water. Misting the back of the clay will keep the acrylic rod from sticking to the clay. Using an acrylic rod, impress the clay into the texture sheet firmly (Figure B).

Figure C

3. Cut apart the various blocks of texture. Cut each of these into interesting shapes to form the mold of the piece. I drew out the shape of the finished piece and cut the clay to match the pattern. I used cutters to make holes that would translate into raised areas of the finished work (Figure C).

Figure E

4. Position the various pieces on another sheet of scrap clay, leaving at least a 1/8-inch gap between the elements. This will act as the "cloisonné wire" to form the "cloisons" of the piece. Add an outer edge of scrap clay all the way around the piece (Figure E) leaving that same 1/8-inch gap to form the outer border of the piece. Trim.

5. Bake the mold as per the manufacturer's directions and allow cooling.

Figure G

6. Mist the mold with water. Lay a well-conditioned sheet of scrap clay over the mold. Misting the back of the clay will help minimize the change of pulling the clay out of the mold. Press the clay firmly into the mold with your fingers to insure that every edge is properly formed (Figure G). Cut away the excess clay around the edges.

Figure I

7. Dust the piece entirely with pulverized metal powders using a dry paintbrush (Figure I). Metal powders become airborne easily so be sure to wear a protective mask when working with this material. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Bake as per the manufacturer's directions. Tip: Some clay will withstand a slight raise in temperature. According to the manufacturer of the metal powders, the metal will anneal to the clay after only five minutes at a temperature of 300 degrees. Be sure to test the clay you use prior to trying this technique. I have found that Kato Polyclay works well. Allow the piece to cool.

8. With a dry, stiff paintbrush, brush off any excess powder that may remain on the piece.

9. Prepare small amounts of tinted liquid polymer clay. Barely tint the medium, with one small drop per half ounce of liquid clay because you want the texturing within the cell to show clearly through the "enamel" layer.

Figure J

10. Apply the tinted liquid drop-by-drop into the chosen "cell" using an applicator bottle or dental pick (Figure J). Spread gently into the corners and crevices. Using any pointed tool to "drop" the liquid will allow for some control over where the liquid goes. Wait for each series of drops to settle and pool, and continue to add liquid until the cell is filled. Tip - Fill cells that are not adjoining and bake between applications. This ensures that the liquid will not spill over into the next cell. Tap the bottom of the piece gently with the dental tool to force the air bubbles to the surface. Pop stubborn air bubbles with a fine pin prior to baking.

11. Bake per the manufacturer's directions and allow the clay to cool.

Figure K

12. Applying a coat of gloss varnish seals the metal and adds to the glass effect of the enamel-like portion (Figure K).

13. Add a pin back with quick-dry cyanoacrylate glue.

Resources(Hide)

    • Kato Polyclay, Kato Clear Liquid Medium, Kato NuBlade and acrylic rod from Prairie Craft Company/ Kato Polyclay
    • Applicator bottle and tips (Jacquard) from Rupert, Gibbon & Spider Inc./Jacquard Products
    • Judy Belcher
      Artist/Designer
      St. Albans, WV
      Phone: 304-727-3943
      E-mail: pcitsajoy@msn.com
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