Working With Polymer Clay
I recently received an email from someone whose work I admire greatly. She asked me how I kept my Parker colors so crisp and untainted from the other colors of clay. I do have a “secret” method to keeping my polymer clay colors from mixing together that I will share with you today. Working with polymer clay is always fun…but can often be frustrating too. In all honesty though, the “secret” is no secret at all…
I have an entire post dedicated to the benefits of using lotion when you are working with polymer clay. But using lotion is the first thing I do when I enter my studio. It’s so important to me and working with polymer clay that I keep a bottle of it right in front of me at all times…you can clearly see the bottle of lotion, right there, front and center. Make sure to read the article as to why using lotion is a good thing for you and for your clay!
By looking at my polymer clay studio work area here in these photographs, you can see many of the things that I use often. The other thing that you should notice in this photograph is the huge container of cornstarch. I don’t use corn starch often, but I use it when I have colors that I know taint my hands, work surface, and other clays. Most of those colors are any shade containing reds, black, or green pigment colors. In order to use cornstarch to prevent my colors from bleeding, I have an intricate process. Feel free to use my process and achieve nice results working with polymer clay.
HOW-TO USE IT:
Tap your moist fingers into the corn starch (get the moist by using lotion or wiping with a baby wipe). Then rub that cornstarch onto your hands (similar to washing your hands). Then lightly tap the cornstarch with your fingers again and rub onto your work surface. Then play with your clay like normal. When you are done there should be very little of the color on your hands and on your work surface.
Please remember that using cornstarch also will keep your clay from sticking to the surface and other clays…so use sparingly!
Separate Your Colors
Often on my FaceBook page you will see me post pictures similar to the one here at the left: a color palette of something that I’m working on for the day. What I didn’t notice until after I took this picture, was that the white clay on the bottom looks like my work surface. It’s not my work table, yet it’s so white that it almost looks that way.
In order to prevent color bleeds, I always start a project with an idea in mind. I rarely start from scratch. In this way, I condition the lightest color first, following through to the darkest colors. In the case of this palette I conditioned the clays in this order: white, gold, green, brown, red, & black. In each, if any particles were picked up from the previous color, it seamlessly blends into the clay with no “ack, I got red onto my white” spots.
First Thing’s First
In the same way, when I begin a design, especially my Parker StoryBook Scenes working on the lightest color first. In most cases (except Christmas designs) Parker is a bright and vivacious yellow color. I always make Parker first. Since Parker is the featured element of all my StoryBook Scenes, he must be perfect. So in whatever you are working on, be sure that your primary object of focus is the item that you do first, while your hands are clean!
When All Else Fails
When all else fails, after you’ve successfully done everything you can think of to avoid color bleeding, you still have red spots on your white and blue spots on your yellow. When this happens, you must do what you must…break it out…the bottle of rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is my secret weapon…but truthfully something I use only about once a week. Read my post on rubbing alcohol to see how to effectively use this to remove stains from your hands & work surface. (And yes…you can see my bottle of rubbing alcohol to the far left on my work surface. Yep, I don’t use it that much, only when I have too.)
If you think before you begin your clay process, you should have no trouble with your polymer clay colors bleeding on you.
Thanks for joining me today,