Techniques/Lessons/Projects -  Polymer clay help (356 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: rettalee10/6/13 6:22 PM 
To: All  (1 of 5) 
I've done lots of research and can't find info on this particular problem I seem to have.  I love doing people in polymer clay and wish I could bake it and have it with a pretty surface without having to paint.  I tried different techniques using different materials for the core for my "little" people, but still (maybe not as much as in the beginning) have either a darker or lighter color seeming to make its way to the surface.  It is noticeable prior to baking, and when I notice it, have to dig or cut that area out adding more new clay.  So time consuming!  If I can manage to finish a character in one day, it's not too bad, but the larger and more intricate my project, numerous days are required resulting in more uneven color.  Yes I cover to protect it between workings.  The clay that I like to work with is Super Sculpey beige, but I have used different brand name clays that create the same problem.  Does anyone have any ideas?
I have some advise to others to a problem that I recently encountered.  I read a web article that stated to use baby powder or corn starch to finalize by way of smoothing the surface.  I positively would not recommend doing that!  What happened to me, the powder works great in smoothing, but the powder color disappears prior to baking then after baking it shows up looking "powder coated" and having areas that look cracked.  Also, it weakens the clay.  I worked one doll without smoothing with powder and could almost use it as a "baseball bat" hitting the wall without damage to the doll, it was so incredibly sturdy.  My last doll I smoothed with powder, just barely touched an arm and it cracked badly.  The dolls were the same size, same thickness of clay, baked the same way.
I hope to hear from someone.  Thanks in advance.
 Reply   Options 

From: Melody0110/7/13 9:41 AM 
To: rettalee unread  (2 of 5) 
 70680.2 in reply to 70680.1 

Hi rettalee, Sorry you are having trouble with your PC 'little people'. I have a lot of experience with PC, but VERY LITTLE in the application you are using, and I haven't used Super Sculpey much, but you haven't gotten other replies yet, so I'll try to add my two cents anyhow.

It's hard for me to totally understand what you are describing. If you could post a picture, or a link to a picture, that might help to visually identify the problem.

Am I understanding correctly that you are getting a slightly mottled surface in various scattered areas of your piece? If so, are you sure you're conditioning the clay long enough before you use it to evenly distribute the plasticisers?

As far as smoothing with unscented baby powder or corn starch. A lot of people seem to use them successfully, especially with corn starch. I have tried smoothing with both, but didn't like them because (at least the brands I was using) they seemed to work their way into the PC and I could never fully remove them from the surface.

Apparently some people like smoothing with KY Jelly, though I have never used it.

Lynn Reno (DesertRubble) recommends something different for smoothing.

If you think you might be experiencing "moonies" (see Gilladian's post) here's a URL that will take you to one type of fix. I tend to think of moonies as being a lot more noticeable after curing than before curing but you might be seeing them both ways. They are very easy to recognize from a photo.

Hope that others with more experience with Super Sculpey than I have are able to help you soon.

Anita in AZ

  • Edited 10/8/2013 3:46 pm by Melody01

From: gilladian10/8/13 7:22 AM 
To: rettalee unread  (3 of 5) 
 70680.3 in reply to 70680.1 

I have heard pro sculptors discuss using acetone as a smoothing agent on the surface of clay. After the sculpture is finished, but before baking, use a soft bristle brush and stroke the surface with the acetone to remove final fingermarks and tool lines.

I have not done this myself, though...

As far as the marks you're seeing "in" the clay - I think what you are describing are often called "moonies" or "plaque" by most clayers. They're tiny bubbles under the surface of the clay, which once baked appear to be tiny white or beige circles, right?

Nobody is quite sure what causes them. It might be moisture, or air. They are most visible in translucent clay, because the light passes into the clay and reveals them; opaque surfaces hide them. EVERYone gets them; some techniques like faux stone even use them to advantage. But when you don't want them, they're very annoying. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone knows how to prevent them completely.

Some things that will minimize them, though; be sure when you are conditioning your clay that you are not introducing excess air or moisture to the clay - handle it carefully - if you use a pasta machine, always put the clay in with the folded edge closest to the rollers, or at least sideways. Don't mix any wet ingredients into the clay (such as alcohol inks for color). And make sure you're not working in a warm and humid room where sweat and condensation might be added to the clay.


From: SherryBinNH10/8/13 9:45 AM 
To: rettalee unread  (4 of 5) 
 70680.4 in reply to 70680.1 

Look for Patricia Rose's free tutorials online (Google search). She makes absolutely exquisite dolls and has great advice.

Super Sculpey is brittle. If you had good results with it you were lucky, and probably had a particularly solid figure with few little parts like fingers. If an arm cracked off, I'm guessing it was never attached really well in the first place, and that you didn't use an armature. (At least both those things would lead to the problem.) I'd check into Cernit or one of the doll clays...

I would not bake a face in increments -- you can work in multiple sessions, but not bake between steps -- that is a very likely cause of multiple skin tones.

If those things aren't the culprits, I am out of ideas, but Patricia Rose is my go-to girl for sculpting people. (Although there are other excellent artists out there, not the least of which is Katherine Dewey, who wrote an excellent book on the subject.)


Good luck

Sherry Bailey



From: crafts4joy DelphiPlus Member Icon10/11/13 9:34 PM 
To: rettalee unread  (5 of 5) 
 70680.5 in reply to 70680.1 
I've made a few sculpted "people" in the past and I started out with Super Sculpey beige and as I sculpted more and more, I increasingly disliked Super Sculpey. One of the reasons was that I also did some sculpts in multiple stages and was never, ever able to get a consistent color. There was always a obvious difference somewhere.

And then I switched to Prosculpt. It is expensive and not as easily available as the Sculpey, but it was the best switch I've ever made! It is now the ONLY product I use for sculpting humanoids. (I still use Premo for things like the shoes).

On that website there is also a Prosculpt smoothing oil, but I've never purchased it.

Since I've used Prosculpt, I have never really had the need to smooth out the surface with baking or talcum powder. I generally use just a soft brush to smooth any fingerprints out.


First Discussion>>

Adjust text size:

Welcome, guest! Get more out of Delphi Forums by logging in.

New to Delphi Forums? You can log in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account or use the New Member Login option and log in with any email address.

Home | Help | Forums | Chat | Blogs | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Delphi Forums LLC All rights reserved.