Monday, September 3, 2007

Playing with layers of liquid Kato clay

Canadian Tire had a great sale on heat guns this week so I went out and got one because I'd been wanting to play with liquid clay for a while. I love the look of dichroic glass and this seems to be one of the best ways to attempt that. I use the Kato Liquid Poly Clay (abbreviated to KLC for the rest of the posting) since others have said that it works the best.

My method of spreading KLC is pouring a dollop onto the piece and using my fingertip to spread (which is OK as long as the piece is cool).

To take the photos below I put them in the scanner. I tried using the digital camera but I got more detail with the scanner.

I learned a couple of things right off the bat that relate to heat guns.

  1. The first time you use a heat gun, you will generate enough smoke (just from the gun itself) to set off the smoke detector. It does get better.
  2. Don't plug the heat gun and the toaster oven into the same circuit - it will blow.

My first attempt is to the left. I had some amazing scrap clay that Janice had made (it was an ugly cane but creates the most beautiful sparkly slate colour clay). Dimensions of the piece are about 1.5 inches at its longest point. Layered it with KLC, baked, hit it with a heat gun. Next layer was a bit of gold foil and KLC.

After gunning, added some bits of translucent cane (the flowers and bit of silver striping). Added KLC and baked. It's the first time I've had the translucent canes go completely translucent. Amazing! Added a few more layers of KLC and one more bit of silver foil.

You can see on the left edge that I wasn't consistent in spreading the KLC to the edges. This was fixed in a later layer.

I'm most happy with this piece.

What I'm noticing with this piece as the hours go on is that there appears to be a haze forming on the top layer. I've hit it with a heat gun and it disappears but then shows up again. I'll try coating it with a bit of Future and see whether that helps.

One other thing that isn't obvious from this photo is I've somehow managed to get a couple of bits of blue glitter from the Fimo blue clay used below into the liquid layer. That clay has got to be the most persistent as far as finding its way into everything. But, that's what I get for using my finger to spread the KLC.

Another attempt involved Donna Kato's opal spread technique. It's to the right. I used her method of mixing plastic irridescent bits with KLC to oatmeal consistency and spreading them as a thin layer on tile and baking.

This piece started out as Fimo blue glitter flower shaped base layer but I couldn't get the opal layer to cut to the right shape and it just didn't work. Instead I cut the flower shape with scissors to something more free form. Added a couple of layers of KLC and it really does have the potential to look like opal.

What you don't see are the thousands of tiny air bubbles in the opalescent layer. That's part of the opaqueness that you see.

I tried modifying Donna's technique to simply spread a layer of KLC onto tile and then sprinkling the iridescent bits over that. That came out much better with very few air bubbles and I'll keep my new slab for something else.

I would have a hard time using Donna's technique on something shaped. I tried a cabochon and it wasn't even worth taking a photo of.

But, there's some potential there.

The heart attempt to the left involved Jones Tones foil on scrap clay and then stamped. Layered a bit of KLC. On the upper left and down a bit close to the left edge you can see some whitish bit - that was more of the opalescent layer from above, just a few bits of it.

Here I tried adding a bit of sangria Pinata ink after a couple of layers of KLC to increase the richness of the red. I also dabbed a bit of yellow Pinata Ink onto the foil to change some of the foil colours.

What you can sort of see is an orange opaquishness on the left side of the heart. That's the Pinata Ink reacting with the heat gun. In real life it's a fluourescent orange (the colour of eggs used for sushi) and spread much further into the KLC layer than the original drop suggested.

What I discovered here is that the opalescent layer loses its quality as soon as other layers interfere with it.

I was least happy with this piece and gave up on it pretty quickly.

The last sample that I was playing with was becoming my favourite sample until I pushed it too far (a bad habit of mine). It started off as scrap clay with a layer of silver foil which I dabbed blue and green Pinata Inks on with some Claro extender. I find the inks a little too deep so I dab off the colour with a paper towel and I can usually get the effect that I want

I used some blue and green Jones Tones foils in the layers. The foils adhere to cooled cured KLC with a little rubbing and I was most happy with that. What I learned with that is that if the piece is really hot, the foil adheres VERY quickly and in a much larger chunk than you want.

Where this piece started to go sideways was when I put too much of a green Jones Tones foil on the piece and I wanted to soften the green by adding a bit of blue Pinata Ink on it. It looked nice initially but then the blue seemed to spread and take over the cured KLC when I added another layer of KLC on top of it. I lost a lot of the depth that was in the piece before I put the ink on. I was working on these pieces concurrently and hadn't learned about the spread from the heart when I was playing with this one.

If you were to look at this piece in profile you would see that the KLC layers are as thick as the original base clay layer - there's probably about 10 thin layers of KLC.

So, those mark some attempts with playing with liquid clay. I suspect that I'll have another posting in a bit as I try to figure out how to finish off a covered container that I sealed with KLC.




Petra said...

Your samples are very interesting. I like especially your idea to use Tom Jones Foil on a layer of KLC. But could you tell me: What is "Claro extender"? (Sorry for my english!)

Sandy said...

Hi Petra,

Claro Extender is something that came with my Pinata Ink multipak that I purchased. It's a clear liquid that is supposed to help the ink stay wet a little longer. I would imagine rubbing alcohol would work in a similar fashion.

Your English is perfect and much better than my Portuguese (I think that's you, correct?) would be.

Thanks for leaving the comments,


Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy, : I'm German (living in France)

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial! I've been doing Donna's fake dichro tutorial, but just with a toaster oven. I can't find anywhere anything on how hot the heat gun should be, how long to use it (or how long it takes to get a layer to clear up), how close to get to the KLC, etc. Any tips? My heat gun has several settings, which is why I'm asking. (All the tutorials I've found just say "hit it with the heat gun." haha!)

Love your blue "opal," btw!!! What I did for the "opal" thing was make a clay base and surround it with a little "wall" of tin foil, then fill it up about 3 - 4mm with the mixture of KLC and confetti. Cured at around 300 until it was pretty clear. Then took it out, let cool, and put a few more layers of KLC on top to smooth it out. I think it turned out nicely also, and playing with tinfoil walls can help it work on shaped objects.



Sandy said...

Hi Anonymous,

My heat gun has two temperatures and I tend to use the highest one. I get pretty close to the piece, sometimes less than an inch, but generally within a couple of inches. I find the Kato liquid pretty resilient, but if you've got some uncovered clay in the vicinity you do have to be careful with the burning.

Layers should clear up within less than a minute, but sometimes they never do.

I'd love to see your work. I'll have to play with the tinfoil wall thing.

Thanks for visiting the blog.