Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pardo Experiments

Cynthia Tinapple's post today at Polymer Clay Daily was about playing with clay, appropriate for me since playing with the clay with no set goal is one of the things that helped me work my way out of my 3 month long polymer slump.  Cynthia played with a crocheted, "granny square" look for polymer, with fabulous results.   Me?  I played with Pardo. 

I experimented with Premo Translucent and Premo Frost last year in an effort to duplicate beach glass, and now it seems all the rage to be trying to duplicate beach glass.  Pardo has lead the way as far as the most realistic efforts, so I thought I'd get some and see how I could wreck it, er, I mean, see what I could do with it.

One of the things I love most about polymer clay is its versatility.  I love to use it in ways it shouldn't work, so when it does, I get a little happy buzz.  A "yay me, I did it" kind of thing.  

Anyway, I have heard that Pardo, a modeling compound out of Germany marketed by Viva Decor and sold online in jars by polyplayclay.com, offers a more translucent clay than the other manufacturers.  Pardo is made from pure beeswax and other natural ingredients and does not contain any phthalates.

It proved a bit of a challenge for me.  Nothing like being in a slump AND being challenged, right?   So, I donned my mad scientist goggles and put old Frankenstein in the corner for the day and got down to it.  The first thing I had to do was stop trying to make it act like regular polymer clay.  It looks different, it feels different, it even smells different.  The packaging says it has no smell, but I easily detected the pleasant scent of beeswax.  I also liked the the feel of it, too, just slightly waxy, but not sticky like polymer.  There was no icky residue on my hands. 

I tried Pardo in two formats, the small balls packed in a plastic jar which I purchased six of online from polyclayplay.com; and the brick slab form I bought from my local Hobby Lobby.  Hobby Lobby sells online now, and the bricks and balls are also both offered in their virtual store, and cheaper than I could find anywhere else. 

I do think I got an old batch of balls.  They were very hard to condition.  I tried flattening them with my roller, and they crumbled and would not go back together.  The packaging does not contain any instructions on how to bring them back to life, and it would have compromised my scientific findings, doncha know, to add liquid Kato, so I threw away the entire jar (more on that stupid jar later.)  The next jar I opened was marginally better, although I had to slice the balls and run them through the pasta machine a BUNCH of times to get them pliable.   I finally pieced together enough of them to equal about 2 ounces, although the jar says there is 2.7 oz. in each.  I'm wondering if they didn't take the weight of the jar into consideration when calculating that.  I got a scooch under 2 1/2 ounces, but there were some crumbles that got left in bottom of the pasta machine, so that's probably why.

Then, just for the heck of it, I sliced and conditioned one of the 2.1 ounce bricks to see if the clay in the jar equalled the amount of clay in slab form.  I could tell there was less clay in the brick, but not much.  The brick was a whole lot easier to condition, just a few quick turns of the pasta machine and it was good to go.  

The jar was extremely annoying.  It is supposed to be more convenient, with its own screw on top for storing, but all I could think of was that I was paying for air and the weight of the dang jar.  The price for one jar was $4.95.  The price for a 2.1 ounce brick was $2.97, on sale from $3.49.  If the purpose was to make small pieces in a manageable size, I think square pieces or rectangles packaged in a square or rectangle package would have been better, something along the lines of the old, scored Studio bricks would be perfect.   But maybe I'm being too picky?

On to the next step, the real purpose for my Pardo experiment, to see how it takes alcohol inks.  You know I can't live without alcohol inks.  I tried it first with my faux "burma green" jade color recipe from my faux jade tutorial.  To the 2.5-ish ounces of the clay from the jar, I added 12 drops of Ranger Adirondack Willow Green, 4 drops of Lemonade, 2 drops each of Mushroom and Bottle Green, and a scant 1/8 teaspon of Ranger Distressed Walnut Stain embossing powder.   I also added the same amount of ink to roughly two ounces of Premo Translucent and to Fimo #00. 

I baked them at 266 degrees for 30 minutes.  I normally bake my Premo at 275 degrees, and since I only bought the Fimo for this experiment, I forgot to pay attention to how long it should bake (bad sicentist, bad scientist!)  That's probably why it placqued so badly.

I baked another batch at 275 degrees, but it didn't change the color of the Pardo from the batch baked at 266 degrees.  I also baked some Pardo by itself in a very hot, 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, and got a beautiful button that I did not even have to sand or buff.  It came out perfectly beeswaxy shiny!  It was a little "oily" to the touch, but after I wiped it off, it is actually my favorite piece.  I wouldn't recommend baking it at 300 degrees, though.  I'm sure the Pardo people would have a fit, so if you try it at 300 degrees, I did not tell you to do so.  LOL .

In this photo, the top row are the unbaked pieces, the bottom row is the baked, unsanded pieces.  As you can see, there is a significant difference in the colors.  These teardrop shapes were rolled the the pasta machine on the 3rd thickest setting and are about the thickness of a U.S. dime.  Most of my pendants are 1/8" to 1/4" thick.

L-R:  Premo, Fimo, Pardo
One thing I really, really like about the Pardo is that it did not plaque, not once.  I held these pieces up to a bare lightbulb to take these photos, but as you can see, the Fimo plaqued something terrible.  The Premo did to a lesser extent, which I don't mind at all when I use it for faux jade pieces.   The Pardo was also the most translucent of the three.  (A note here:  I probably should have included Kato translucent in my experiment, but the only Kato clay I use is the liquid Polyclay.  The smell puts me off for some reason, so I never got in the habit of using it.  Plus, I am not a cane-maker, and it is best used for canes.  I leave all the lovely Kato for the rest of the world.) 

L-R:  Premo, Fimo, Pardo
The next photo shows the pieces after sanding through 8 grits of wet-dry sandpaper and buffing with a Dremel hand tool.  As I constantly preach, sanding brings out the clarity, buffing adds beautiful depth. 

Here is the faux jade button I baked at 300 degrees, but don't tell anyone, okay?   I don't want the Pardo Police after me.  This piece was not sanded or buffed at all. 
The next step was to add different colors of alcohol inks to see how they would react, with interesting results.  Colors other than green and red/pink stayed pretty true, although they were darker.  I was especially surprised at the baked color of the Pinata Sapphire Blue and the Ranger Sail Boat Blue.  I have a hard time getting a good red from Premo and alcohol ink, and pink shades, which really isn't my color anyway; and I wasn't surprised to find even with Pardo, they still baked a different color than they were supposed to bake.

This photo shows the unbaked Pardo in the top row and the baked color in the bottom row.  Again, I baked at 266 degrees for 30 minutes.   The colors of ink I used are shown, too, except for the second set, which is the faux jade recipe I included above for you.

L-R;  My own Burma Green Faux Jade Color Recipe, Ranger Willow, Ranger Sail Boat Blue, Pinata Sapphire Blue, Ranger Raspberry, Watermelon, Terra Cotta and Sunshine Yellow

The next step was to see how the Pardo mixed with other brands.  I wanted to dull down these bright colors a little, but still have some depth and the appearance of texture, so I added 1 part Premo Gray Granite to 4 parts Pardo.  That is when I started doing the happy dance.  The blend baked beautifully, the translucency was still there, the colors held, and still no plaquing!  

Cynthia will be happy to know I played all weekend with this technique and the Pardo.  I will stick to Premo for my faux jade pieces, I think the color results are more reliable with it than with Pardo (why do I want to type Prada every time instead of Pardo?), but I will be reaching for the Pardo again, just not those annoying little balls.  It's bricks for me!

Here are some of the results of my playtime.  Now these were all sanded through 9 grits of wet-dry sandpaper and Dremel-buffed.  I started with 400 and worked my way up to 3500.  You can see more photos of them in my flickr photostream

Thanks for putting up with my experiment.  I apologize for the length of this post, but this was fun and I hope it encourages you to do your own experimenting.  I would love to hear about how you played with clay today.  Send me your photos and I'll post them here for everyone to share. 

Hmmm, I might just have to have a weekly play date with my polymer friends.  What do you say?   Meet me back here Saturday and we'll do this again? 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back in the Studio... Yay! First Up, February's Art Bead Scene Challenge Entry

Hallelujah!  I actually ventured into my studio and didn't get the heebie jeebies.  I stayed and worked out some of the kinks from a 3 month long slump.  Yes, the lights are beginning to come on again.  More about that and my first experiments with Pardo and alcohol inks later but first, here is my entry in Art Bead Scene's February challenge, the theme of which is based on "The Conference of the Birds by Habiballah," (page from a manuscript of the The Language of the Birds of Farid al-Din `Attar ca. 1600.)
I chose to focus on the beautiful blue green and gold peacock in the center of the illustration, and created these earrings and the peacock focal components,  I used a peacock stamp from cooltools, vintaj Etruscan bead caps, other brass findings, fire polished AB finished Czech glass beads in a beautiful majolica blue; Prussian blue acrylic paint and my own blend of antique gold metallic polymer clay.  I distressed them a bit to add some age, too.  So what do you think?  Do these look like Ancient Persia to you?  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Scottish and Irish Tartan Jewelry - Sweet Little Brooches

I ran across (no pun intended) these "run rabbit run" vintage pins on Etsy last week, and had to have them.  I am ordering as many as I can find.  I would love to have them in the antique silver finish, too  If anyone knows where they are hiding, please let me know.

I hate to waste anything, and I am  determined to use as much of the pattern as I can.  These images are just big enough to get a 1" circle cut out of and have a little strip left that is wide enough for the opening of these frames.  The finished pieces can be used as brooches or pendants.

I love, love, love them, and so does everyone who has seen them.  Yay!  Several are promised for Valentine's Day, but I can make these in any Scottish or Irish tartan pattern.  More rabbit pins are on the way. 

I have read and studied these tartans so much that I can accurately guess the surname now when I see a pattern.  Unfortunately, Irish tartans are limited to county/districts in Ireland, and there are only 3 that I can find for specific surnames. 

I'm off to hunt wabbits...


MacLeod of Raasay

Royal Stewart