Carissa Nichols’ Ultralight Sculpey pendants caught my eye at Ohio’s Buckeye Bash (my pictures here) in Dayton. She sculpts the pieces in white clay, bakes and then colors them with alcohol inks and seals them with a spray. Inking the chalky surfaces allows for a bright, frilly effect.

The marshmallowy ultralight requires more gentle handling than other polymer clays. Once baked, however, its soft texture, makes for easy carving and it can be used as a strong armature for large pieces. (See Sarah Shriver’s big beads and Melanie West’s biobangles, for example.)

Carol Simmons was the Buckeye Bash’s visiting artist this year and the room was abuzz with teams creating kaleidoscope canes and slicing them deli-thin on her prototype slicing device.

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  • reply Linda Clay ,

    Cynthia, in your article, there is a mention of a clear spray coating applied over the poly clay piece. Is there a way to find out what brand of spray can be applied over poly clay with alcohol ink finishes? I would like to find out more about the spray options? Pros/Cons. Thank you!

    • reply jana ,

      Looks like Carissa is having fun with Ultra Lite – congrats to her on the feature! I, too, found the ‘wonders’ of Ultra Lite three or four years ago…it has a strange, gooey (and yes, chalky) texture, but those who have taken my Organics workshop know it’s what allows for free-flowing (and lightweight) creations. I love to hear when others find uses for Ultra Lite (want to make sure it stays on the market!). I’ve heard the Buckeye Bash is a great event — glad you all had a good time..

      • reply Jan Scarborough ,

        The Ultralite Sculpey is great for making base beads and using the alcohol inks mixed with shaving cream method of coloring beads. After finishing, drill large holes in the beads and string and knot individually on a long piece of buna cord and you have a colorful lightweight necklace. I make mine so it will wrap around at least 3 times. Different shapes of beads add more interest.

        • reply Carissa Nichols ,

          Hi Ladies. Thank you so much Cynthia. I’m having such fun with this technique let me tell you. And thanks for my mom’s pictures as well. She did some stunning ‘scope canes this weekend and I can’t wait to see what she does with them.
          @Linda- I was very fortunate to spend some time with Ellen Prophater and her partner Sue last weekend. They run a lovely business that offers all kind of polymer clay accessories. They recently came across a product that they have found that works great as a sealer for ink without ANY sheen or shine. It’s called PYM II (for Preserve Your Memories). I experimented with it this weekend and was very pleased. I will keep you updated on its longterm effectiveness. I haven’t unpacked yet so I don’t know where their business card is….sorry! But you should be able to find the product online and link back to their site.

          Thanks again Cynthia. It was lovely to have you at the Bash!

          • reply Debbie Crothers ,

            Thanks so much for sharing this one Cynthia. Carissa excellent to know about the PYM II. I’ve been playing around with inks as well and was looking for something to use as a sealer other than liquid clay. Will definately have to search out the product and give it a try. Thanks so much. I love your inky creations by the way. Awesome.

            • reply Sue Sutherland ,

              PYM II has turned out to be a great solution to sealing polymer pieces. Ron LeHocky introduced us to it when he was sealing his heart pins with it. PYM comes in aerosol and non-aerosol spritzer cans (my preference). As Carissa said, it does a great job sealing alcohol inks, mica powders and metal leaf, without being sticky or obtrusive. It can be used to waterproof our Japanese papers, on metals so they won’t tarnish or so patinas won’t advance. Cool stuff!

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              • I'm Cynthia Tinapple, an artist, curator, and leader in the polymer clay community for over 20 years.

                On this blog I showcase the best polymer clay art online to inspire and encourage you.

                You can find my new book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives, on Amazon.


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