Wednesday 26 October 2016

Image Transfer - Just when you think you know what's what. . .

I have been transferring images onto Polymer Clay for a couple of years now, so you would have thought that I would have it all sorted and under my belt and fully figured out etc etc. But I am still plagued by inconsistencies.
The issue is stickiness.
Once an image has been transferred, and all the paper has been rubbed off using the time honoured 'water and index finger' method, the image on the clay becomes sticky and is likely to smudge and transfer itself onto your fingers, however careful you are.
It's fine if you are making flat objects, like my tile beads, you just have to know when to stop rubbing the last tiny bits of paper off, knowledge that comes with experience, but if you are hoping to wrap the piece of clay with the image on round something, you are in trouble. Obviously, you can't wrap something round something else without touching the surface, however briefly, and when you do that, smudges and suchlike happen. And, as I like to wrap my images round things, this affects me.
My style has evolved to take account of that. In fact I have managed to make it work as a kind of faux ageing process, along with other tricks and processes. So it has become part of what I do and a step in the evolution of my style. However, I would like to find a way of stopping it happening for the times when I am not after that effect.

And. . . I thought I had. I have tried gently heating the image transferred clay to help the image to 'dry'. it doesn't. I have tried leaving it for a day or two. Nope, still sticky. I tried freezing it. Nope. I tried a thin layer of that floor polish stuff I can't remember the name of, and I thought that had worked, because it seemed to have done, but there was another issue I hadn't thought much about that has rendered all my experimenting kind of redundant. . .
Basically, I think a lot depends on the kind and brand of paper and ink involved. It has to be a photocopy/laser print, which I get from my local copy shop. I get things printed on an irregular basis, so if they change the brand of paper or toner, I wouldn't know. Sometimes I use the photocopier at the local library, which would use their particular paper and toner brand.
I have come to this conclusion because I can't explain the inconstancies I get any other way.
I have been messing around with some printed images from different times and places, and mostly they come out sticky. But some are fine. I hadn't noticed because I assumed that the Klear (I think that's what it's called now I remember) floor polish coating was the reason for this. But I don't think it was. . . Sigh. . .
I need to do some experimenting. It may be that coating the image a thin layer of something does actually help a bit in some cases. It may be that if I coat the image immediately it is possible it might stop the stickiness from happening. I haven't tried prolonged soaking to get the paper off, but I can't see why that would be any better.
Meanwhile, I have been following my fascination with distressed surfaces by not fiddling around trying to get a clean result, but going with the smudging and smearing and making some very organic, rustic, ancient looking beads. Everything leads to something else you may not have considered. . . That's my excuse anyway.
Jon x

Thursday 20 October 2016

Saved from the To-the-Charity-Shop box. For far better things. . . .

      This is a Portmerion jug that my mum had, and which has been lurking in various cupboards and on seldom visited shelves for years. I have often made a mental note, when it so happened that it came into my field of vision, that the raised design on it might have textural possibilities.
So when it turned up in the this-is-going-to-the-charity-shop, should-I-stay-or-should-I-go, pending box I thought I had better rescue it and actually try out said textural possibilities.
      I think the design is based on some older Staffordshire pottery, Wedgwood or some such, and before that Ancient Greek. I could research this but can't be bothered so if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. . .
So anyway, I rolled it on a spare bit of polymer clay and quite liked how it came out.
Another thing I have had lurking for quite some time is a remnant square inch of Amazing Mold Maker. You know, that poly clay type stuff that stays flexible when baked and is used for taking texture impressions and making moulds. So brushing the dust off that I made a texture sheet/mould of the jug pattern.

      It never comes out as crisp as I would like but it serves.
      Now, what I like to do is roll bits of polymer clay between two textures, and here I had two versions of the same texture, one positive, the jug, and one negative, the mould or 'mold' if you prefer, though to anyone from the UK, that is a seaside town in North Wales. . .
So, without further ado, whatever that is, I rolled polymer clay between the two textures. Here are the results.

       Well, obviously I painted them with alcohol inks, sanded the raised bits gently and varnished them. Somehow the pattern takes on a different feel, almost as if I had used a bit of lace, as I have seen done by various artists. They are verging on the pretty. Sorry about that ;-)

     These earring drop charms were also the result of my experiments. You can see the positive and negative patterns on the purple ones quite well.
Nothing more exciting to report on the house front, the bees in the 'chimbley' are quiet, so when the weather gets a bit colder we'll get the roofer/chimney repair man in. 
Sales in my Esty shop are chugging along. It's nice to have that bit of affirmation to help the creative confidence along. It's nice to be relatively unstressed after the horrors of buying and selling and moving house etc. 
Oh yeah, and it was extra nice to be featured on Polymer Clay Daily the other week, and to get a mention in the Blue Bottle Tree blog too. ;-)
Jon x

Friday 7 October 2016

They came, they saw, they faved, they went away again. . ;-)

Well, I had a great idea the other day. I would get all my beads I saved from deconstructed necklaces that never quite worked out, all my experimental beads that didn't quite fit with others, and some beads I like but haven't used for anything and most likely won't use for anything, photograph them and list them as a big destash (auto correct says 'deaths'.  .) sale. I could publicise it on Facebook etc etc. So I did that.
I got a nice response, so thanks for the views and faves, but it didn't turn into the stampede of bargain hunters snapping up beads right left and centre that I was hoping for ;-) Never mind. You can lead a camel to water, they say, but you can't make it put on a blonde wig and dance the Watusi. . . Wait, maybe they don't exactly say that, but you get the gist.
I'll keep the destash section going for a week more maybe, then de-activate the listings, as they are kind of filling up my front page somewhat.
I have had some sales though, just not anything in the destash sale. .

In between photographing and listing old beads I have been making some flattened profile bicones. I also have been reacquainting myself with my marbling/crackle technique and reminding myself of its little ways. The results have been good, though I say it myself. I went with more subtle colours which added to the gentle, faux ceramic, faux stone vibe that they exude. . .

The other recent departure for me in my bead making of late has been the manufacture of some simple, unadorned but still rustic beads, intended to compliment my other beads. They have gone down quite well, as they are reasonably priced and come with a discount if you buy with other beads. I think Etsy allows me to do that. Can't see why they would have a problem with it.

Bees in the chimney - I spoke to a local beekeeper on the phone. A really helpful old chap who gave me the lowdown on the issue. He had a wonderful Norfolk accent, and told me the problems trying to get rid of the bees in my 'chimbley' could bring. The upshot is that I will leave them be (bee?) and see if they survive the winter. They don't fly once it gets below 10 degrees, so we can get the roofing work done next month maybe. They have still been coming down the chimney in small numbers though. I blocked the small hole they were getting out of the wood burner through with polymer clay (of course!) and draped an old coat over the front just in case they were attracted by the light. That seems to have stopped the problem. But I'm not opening the door unless gets it gets cold. The old beekeeper said I should light a 'smookey' fire to spook them if they have tried to build anything in the actual lined part of the chimney.
Country living eh?
On another country living note, I thought we were down to just one guinea fowl as I hadn't seen the other one for a day or two. I sadly wandered the edge of the garden looking for the corpse or evidence of a fox of whatever, but found nothing. Nothing that is, until I disturbed guinea fowl two from her nest under the hedge. . . That's where she had been. Nesting, in October! Poor silly thing. Oh well, they are from the plains of Africa, so haven't got a clue about rural East Anglia and things like winter. The eggs most likely won't hatch, and if they do I give them ten minutes before they turn up their little toes and die. The last brood they had lasted about a week, and that was in the high summer.
It's a hard world.
Jon x