Bubbling polymer

Struncova on PCDaily

Lucie Struncova tantalizes us with these Bubbling Pebble polymer beads. This Czech Republic artist and entrepreneur alludes to an ebook but I couldn’t find it and I suspect that it hasn’t been released yet. (Let me know if you locate the tutorial.)

In these pebbles she combines unusual colors and patterns into a fresh graphic pattern. The yellows and grays update color combinations that you may remember from the ’50s. Lucie shows darker, distressed versions of her bubbles on sample beads here.

Still a teenager, Lucie (with the help of her father) has designed a new extruder and a slicer along with her own brand of clay for sale in her shop. All this in addition to an impressive collection of designs and tutorials. She brings an energetic youthful vision to our craft and you’ll want to keep your eye on her.

Her products are available through Kimberly Idalski here in the US.

Raise the roof

Raise the Roof campaign

This year you raised enough money to build a permanent home for the Samunnat women’s project in Nepal. This music video by Australia’s Cathy Bucolo tells the story beautifully. The pictures of the construction and the stories of the women in this thriving program will astonish you.

Dr. Ron Lehocky has been a force behind the project (along with Australia’s Wendy Moore and Nepal’s Kopila Basnet).

When Ron saw pictures of the iron rebar jutting out of the roof for a second floor some day and asked about the stairs that lead to an upstairs eventually – well he couldn’t stand it. “The builder is there, the materials are available, the women need the space. You can do it now,” he said firmly and wisely.

Samunnat progress

If 500 people give $20, Samunnat can complete the second floor and fence the grounds for livestock and gardening. Ron seeded the project with $2000 (and a cow) and already polymer artists have begun contributing. Help now!

Every contribution counts and you can follow along online to see what a difference you’ve made. Need a holiday gift? A donation in the name of a friend or family member makes a thoughtful gift. Here’s a gift/donation card that you can print and send. You can also help by putting this ad on your blog or talking about Raise the Roof on social media. Let’s do it this month!

simple slicer on PCDaily

Simple Slicer Cyber Monday

If you’ve been eyeing one of Lee Ann Armstrong’s popular Simple Slicers, Monday is the day to jump on it. Lee Ann is donating all her Monday sales (not just a slice but the whole shebang) to Samunnat. You’ll be getting a super slicer and making a mighty donation at the same time!

Here in America, shopping gets frantic for the next few days. Monday is the big day for online holiday sales. Our buying frenzy is a little embarrassing but Lee Ann helps you slice better, shop smart and feel good this Cyber Monday.

Extruded sunset

Mills on PCDaily

Libby Mills assembled this polymer collaged 4-inch tile as she quietly worked at our table at a recent conference. Backed with a Skinner blend, the tile combines a layer of ripple blade slices, swirled extruded strings and dabs of solid colors and textures in a fall palette. Her goal was to produce a series of decorative compositions for a wall.

This snapshot of Libby’s work popped up as I prepared samples for a class next Wednesday. (It looks very Santa Fe sunset!) My new extruded disks are now on sale on the Kazuri West site and I’ll be teaching extruder tricks (like perfect polka dots).

Extrusion is an enjoyable technique that we can use as another nifty tool to cover large areas and to produce consistently-sized elements. Ok, I have a thing for extrusion, do you?

Sharing a language

Pasta Machine

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Worldwide Pasta Machine Survey.  Now we can recommend labeling pasta machines with a thickness guide that will help set a shared standard.

After analyzing the survey results we have four key findings:

  1. As we suspected there are huge differences not just from one model to the next but also from machines of the same model.
  2. The Imperia has the smallest range (in one case just 1 mm – 2.1 mm!) and the Dream Machine has the largest range (.5 mm – 3.4 mm)
  3. The common range is between 1 mm and 2.5 mm.
  4. Absolute precision is not possible due to differences in the way each artist measured their clay and machine, the types and age of clay, the variations in thickness of playing cards and the shifting of the rollers over time.

Pasta Machine Thickness Guide

The survey results were used to create this simple chart that can be used as a more consistent way to talk about thickness regardless of the brand of the pasta machine or the number of settings.

Note that the actual thickness of playing cards does not necessarily equal the millimeter equivalent. The stacked cards will commonly be a bit thinner than the clay that comes out of the machine at the equivalent setting but should be within .25mm. This is due to the cards not filling the space precisely as well as expansion of the clay as it rests after being rolled through.

Not every project needs precision in measuring thickness, and not every artist wants to work with this degree of accuracy. But for those who do, establishing a standard will provide a guideline for teachers and writers to use when preparing instructions for students who would like to duplicate steps as closely as possible.

How to label your pasta machine

The instructions include a chart you can fill in and then cut out to tape to your pasta machine. It only takes about 15 minutes to measure and label your pasta machine. The more machines that are labeled, the more we can shift to sharing a common language about thickness.

Requesting feedback

We believe it’s important to include the worldwide polymer community in the process of developing this kind of standard. Please let us know your thoughts by continuing to comment here on PCD.

Next Guest Article: Some Recommendations for Teachers and Writers

What’s in the cards?

Measuring Thickness on Pasta Machines

You can help create a Standard Thickness Guide for the polymer community by reading the measuring instructions and filling out an easy survey form by March 31, 2012.  All participants will be entered in a drawing for two prizes.

Let’s do it

Don’t you think it’s time we establish a standard way to refer to the thickness of sheets of clay? A few months ago Sage published an article in The Polymer Arts magazine that suggested a playing card method. Then independently on her blog Maggie proposed a metric stacking method that makes it easier to get metric measurements by stacking sheets to be measured by a ruler. Both methods generated many comments. The common theme was “let’s do it!”

Two methods

Developing a standard is not an easy task. We aren’t working with precision tools or a precision material. Thicknesses produced on pasta machines aren’t consistent even between the same models.  Polymer itself can increase in thickness after being rolled, bouncing back a small percentage when left to rest.

However, we’ve found in the variety of machines we tested that they can all produce sheet thicknesses that measure between 1 mm to 2.5 mm.  We’d like to recommend that teachers and writers keep references to sheet thickness in this common range. That way students and readers will be able to duplicate their instructions on whatever pasta machine they own.

Measuring sheet thickness in mm is fairly precise, but requires access to calipers or time to go through Maggie’s stacking method.  Knowing there isn’t usually time and rarely a caliper in a classroom, we tested the fast and easy playing card system and found the common range to be 3-8 cards.

To confirm our findings, we would love to get results from polymer artists from all over the world. You can help us finalize a Standard Thickness Guide by taking a few minutes to measure your machine and fill out an online poll.

As a thank you to those who pitch in, we will put you in a drawing for one of two items–A $20 gift certificate towards copies or a subscription to The Polymer Arts magazine or a copy of Maggie and Lindly Haunani’s book Color Inspirations.

PCDaily will publish the results of the poll and share the final version of our Pasta Machine Thickness Guide in an upcoming guest post. Thank you for helping.

Rugged polymer

Rugged beauty has a double meaning in Marlene Brady’s case. This heavily textured polymer necklace owes its roughness to an indoor/outdoor rug that Marlene purchased and used for a mold before she put it on the floor. She paired the rough bead with other deeply stamped pieces and added layers of paint.

Marlene’s going through that stage when everything you see is a polymer tool. You’ve been there, right? Check out her series of stamps from the bottoms of plastic bottles.

The clincher is the bag of metal pieces she thrifted thinking that she could surely cover them or use them as polymer tools. But there was another message in the bag.

About face in polymer

Inveterate polymer experimenter Dee Wilder created these new story beads using Maureen Carlson’s new small face bead molds. Here’s the back of Dee’s creations. She made not only beads but a series of rings as well.

These somber looking faces can be embellished and manipulated to make their story serious or silly or something in between.

One of Maureen’s original beads totems stares at me from the kitchen window sill. Now I can make more to poke up out of the garden. I was thinking of whipping up these plant stakes in polymer too. (I’d much rather do that than spread mulch!) Enjoy your weekend in the garden or the studio.

Is gold green?

From a recent ASJRA newsletter:

It is purported that to create one 18k gold ring results in:

  1. 20 tons of mine waste
  2. another 250 tons of mine waste for a 1ct. diamond
  3. cyanide to separate the gold from the ore
  4. smelting to remove gold impurities (Smelters release upwards of 140 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere annually.)

Thanks to Elise Winters for the info.

Extruder fun

In my search for the perfect polymer clay extruder, I finally hit upon a dream machine.

I’ve written a short article about it (read it here) for Stacey Apeitos’ arts and crafts e-zine. Her Astarte’s Megazine is an Australian online magazine that you can subscribe to. There’s plenty of lovely info free on the site as well.

My hunt for a good small extruder (see an earlier project) became such an odyssey that I felt I could break my rule not to discuss tools on this blog. The BullensWullens adapter (contact pat@bullenswullens.com) was developed by an Ohio couple which makes my discovery doubly special.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Susan Rose and her PolymerClayNotes.com. Susan has generously shared her finds with me over the past year and now she's launching her own site concentrating on polymer clay techniques and tools. There are other such sites but few webmasters have her sleuthing ability and her panache.

I found the fondant rolling pin above through a link on Susan's site and was lusting after the lovely dotted fabric it makes. My husband suggested that I make my own roller out of polymer clay. Of course! There were a few other things, however….

Happy first birthday to the Polymer Clay Guild at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society (LACS). The young guild is collaborating with the New England Bead Society (Beadesigner International) to celebrate the guild's first birthday and the bead society's twentieth. The birthday show runs October 7-21 at the Parson's Gallery in Lexington, Massachusetts. The purse shown here is by member Karen Swiech.

And speaking of guilds, you should note that the national guild has posted its 2007 Progress and Possibilities juried exhibition application forms. Entries are due by April 1.

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