Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Layered Millefoiri Tin – fun to do PLUS it's for a good cause!

I belong to a fantastic group called PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy) and each month we have a challenge designed to encourage our members to push their limits and create something based on a theme. I was recently involved in a challenge where everybody was given a small tin box to cover with polymer clay using any technique that we wanted to use. The finished tins are being donated to our team charity – Polymer Clay for a Cause – which will be auctioned in June. The entries that I've seen pictures of so far have been fantastic! I'll go into a bit more detail on that closer to time for the auction. In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of you my contribution and the process.

The background "fabric" was made by marbling white clay with just a tiny bit of blue. The Premo Ultramarine blue is a strong color so you don't want to add much at a time or it will just be too dark! I wanted a soft, cloud-like blue. You also don't want to keep blending because you do want a nice mottled background.

I don't know that it is absolutely necessary, but before I applied the clay to the tin, I sanded it with course sandpaper. Why you ask? Because the clay sticks better to a rougher surface than it does to a smooth surface and I wanted to make sure that the lovely design doesn't come off!

Once I had the tin roughed up, I used the marbled background to cover the bottom of the tin and baked it long enough to "set" the clay.

The next step was to roll out the clay on a relatively thin setting then begin adding the layers. First I added the waves and stripes which are "stacked" canes made with translucent and white clay. I love adding these to designs because when the translucent bakes, it virtually disappears! How cool is that!

Next I added the leaves which made using a technique I learned from Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg, one of my very favorite cane artists. She was one of four teachers on a polymer clay cruise in 2008 organized by Lisa Pavelka and I've been fascinated by her designs ever since!

The pink flowers were added next and the tiny white flowers finished the design. All of this was done while the clay was still in sheet form flat on my work surface. That made it a lot easier to roll the canes into the background clay to get it as smooth as possible before applying to the tin and baking.

Once the tin was baked, I sanded, and sanded, and sanded. Then I sanded some more! After the final sanding, I took the tin to my workshop and buffed it to a beautiful shine. Just for the record, I'm a fan of adding texture so that I don't have to sand so this is a definite departure for me. But the end results are beautiful. And smooth as a baby's – well, you know!

This tin won't be available in my Etsy shop because it will be auctioned for our team charity, but I will be glad to make one similar to it.  I say similar because no two items are ever exact.  That's one of the joys -- and challenges -- of polymer clay!  You can custom order the background color, the color of the flowers, to suit you -- or order it as a gift.  It's a great size to carry in your purse or pocket. 



Arlene, your Julie colors are beautiful. I love taking classes from her she's great. Thanks for the nice comments you left on my blog. If you want to try bead crocheting again go to Amazon and get "Beaded Crochet" with Ann Benson. It's a DVD and now everything makes sense to me. It's really fun. Love your tin and what colors were those that you used for Mokume Gane? They are really lovely.


Arlene Harrison said...

Thanks Bonnie. I'm going to leave the crochet hook in the drawer for a while but thanks for the DVD recommendation. I just get too frustrated!!!

As for the colors, the red has some metallic gold mixed in, the blue has some of the ecru mix in it, then of course, the ecru mix is ecru plus pearl plus translucent.

I actually did 3 stacks during the workshop. Plus I did a black, silver and white with silver leaf last night. I'm hoping to get pictures taken and posted tonight. It's definitely my favorite stack so far.