Sunday, December 18, 2016

A New Digital Drawing By Me!

Hi guys! Hope everyone is HeArtfully Creating in whatever way you do. Wanted to share one of my new digital drawings that I created last week to illustrate another blog article. 
Take care and happy creating!
Anita :o)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Polymer Clay Journey: Time Matters

You may already have figured this out. If you have great, if not, keep reading. Early on I was blessed by learning about polymer clay from some many great teachers online, one I discovered was, Cindy at The Polymer Clay Tutor .  Cindy's research proves that accurate temperature and the length of time firing in your oven matters greatly to achieve optimal strength, steering away from the manufacturer's bake times.
Needless to say, I have heeded Cindy's advice, and can confirm that she is correct, short times as directed on the packaging, doesn't leave you with the strongest clay pieces possible.
Mixed Messages
The fact that the manufacturer's package doesn't provide the bake times that are best for strength, puzzles me. Premo by Polyform, says bake at 375 Fahrenheit for fifteen  minutes per 1/4 inch of thickness...  Why wouldn't they tell us one hour? They must know, don't they? And then the further I head on into my polymer clay journey, the more mixed messages regarding firing time appear! Frustrated, I know! Mostly because the package should have the best bake times for strength possible. Makes sense right!?

Unfortunately, we have to get used to the mixed messages regarding bake times because they are conflicting every where I look. In fact, I recently have been enjoying watching hours of the UK's Jewellery Maker Channel while I work. A large variety of Jewellery Maker shows feature Designer Inspiration and Master Class segments, to promote the products they sell, learning how to use them and to offer inspiration to create.  And one favourite artist I really like watching there is from the UK, Debbie Bulford. Jewellery Maker sells Premo/Sculpey polymer Clay and Debbie offers great techniques and ideas working with the clay. But, she also says to bake it at the minimal amount of time as the manufacturer's directions state. It is clear that she is a credible, legitimate artist who knows polymer clay well and that Jewellery Maker is trying to sell the product she is representing. I am wondering if making it appear as easy as possible to use (offering quick bake times) is part of why watchers aren't told about the need to increase baking time. Maybe it is why the manufacturer of the clay itself,  Polyform/Sculpey doesn't change the times on packaging either?
On that Note,  I am disappointed every time, when I hear a tutorial tell us to just follow the package of clay directions.

Polymer Clay Lesson Learned....
1. Always bake your work for at least ONE HOUR no matter how thin your clay piece may be. Based on my own experience, I totally affirm what Cindy Leitz taught me from day one! It sure can get confusing when even the manufacturer or sellers of the clay are not giving the best advice available.
 After learning from her and some others online, it was clear that firing it for at least one hour, even if it is 1/4 of and thick, makes it stable and stronger. if you don not have the correct oven temperature, then yes, you can burn your work...keep reading....
Too Hot! Too Cold!....Just Right.... 
Side note: And yes, actual temperature matters as well. We discovered that our toaster oven was off by about 30 degrees! (make sure you use an oven thermometer to insure correct firing). At first, my thinner pieces were snapping and had zero stability if not more than a half inch thick. Once we followed Cindy's adamant directions, we bought an oven thermometer, increased the temp accordingly and all improved. If your oven is set to the exact package temperature, no matter how long or how many times you bake, you can not burn the clay.  
Condition Applies
Another key step, sometimes not emphasized by lesson providers or on clay packaging...again to help achieve the best strength, condition all polymer clay very well! Including the super soft stuff! It means smooshing/mixing or repeatedly passing through clay machine, combining all of the ingredients together leaving you with stronger clay. Takes 5-10 minutes.

 It is why I am here sharing what I am learning, wanting to help and let people know the importance of baking  time to strengthen their work.

WATCH: Polymer Clay Tutor Cindy Lietz Videos about Baking Polymer Clay

Thursday, November 24, 2016

My Polymer Clay Journey: Glazed And Confused?

A Practical Polymer Clay project I completed a while ago....
more on that in the future!
As I reported previously, in this article here about the Polyurethane peeling off of my pieces. (And yes, I used the exact kind recommended by many reputable Polymer Clay Artists).  I had to sand off all the Polyurethane and opted for sanding, buffing and waxing. Well, since that article, I have just read from The Blue Bottle Tree's Ginger Davis' Article, that the Renaissance Wax that came highly recommended by one of my favourite Poly Clay Sites - Isn't as protective as I believed it was. The Blue Bottle Tree says it isn't as protective to pieces with Mica powder on the surface, it may even remove it and that there are even more expensive ways to achieve the waxed effects.
Needless to say, initially, I felt confused about who to believe and what I should do. I am not dissing all the valuable lessons from those I have learned and are learning from...not at all.  I am saying that it is my fault for not researching on my own, by actually doing my own tests. Always have been lazy that way...finding a teaching and then devouring all they have to say, basically parroting them without questioning anything. Learning lessons the hard way means those lessons stay with you forever.
Conflicting Messages?
After countless attempts using recommended finishes, I personally recommend that if you want to seal or offer a glossy surface to your pieces, do your research. I have found conflicting articles by artists who I have learned from. It seems that some of the same methods and products when used by me, don't always works as described. Doesn't mean they were wrong. Maybe I do things differently and made a mistake?! Possible.
Regardless, I foolishly (in the beginning), just embraced, without question advice by purchasing and using specific glazes and such and covered a tonne of beads. (You know how much work that is!)
And then weeks later (sometimes even days later), when I went to use my beads or pendants, I discovered the surface to be sticky and ruined! Can't tell you how frustrating that can be. :o(  Not that any of the advice I gleaned was wrong or anything. It just means I have learned that lessons need to be learned through trial and error on my own, not just following others without question.
Yes as many of you may know, there are definitely well meaning tutorials from less experienced clayers (I assume) who give advice that ends up contradicting those Polymer Artists that have great reputations, the ones I trust far more, such as some of my favourites: the Polymer Clay Tutor Christi Friesen, Katers Acres,  and now, Blue Bottle Tree and Unruly Housewife. If I hadn't learned from these guys, then I would be making even bigger mistakes. So I strongly encourage endless hands on experience and research....
Some Final Thoughts....
After too many disappointing glazing moments, I highly suggest to do your own testing on small amounts to avoid wasting your time  and money. Bummer is, I bought one litre of Polyurethane and other glazes, now I will not be using them on clay! Be sure to research the terrific articles and videos by the many great poly clay artists online, but don't just assume every word of advice will work for you....test them out yourself or you'll learn the hard way like me

HeArtfully Creating,
Anita :o)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

MY POLYMER CLAY JOURNEY: Creating Practical Tools With Polymer Clay - SPOOL KNITTING

Way back when, I remember one of the coolest things my Dad taught me was what he had done as a
A Bergie Creation - I made it with polymer clay and wire
child. Decades ago thread spools were made from wood. When you hammered four or so fine nails around the centre hole of a thread spool, using some yarn and another nail or hook type implement to move the yarn up and over each nail head...well, you were able to create knitted tubes. This is known as spool knitting. My Dad told me they would knit the tubes long enough and then coil them into a spiral formation. Using some thread (maybe from the very same spool?) they stitched the knitted coil tube to create a pot holder and if big enough, a small rug!
 Happily my dear Dad made one and I began spool knitting till my hearts content. In fact the trend caught on and during the seventies and since, companies were producing plastic spool knitting
This looks like something my Dad could have made!
devices in a variety of sizes. Before you knew it, you could whip up a warm toque or tube socks! My Mom taught me how to knit conventionally, as well as crocheting, skills I was grateful to learn and Dad inspired me to think outside the box.

Lately as my interest in wire  wrapping and wire weaving, wire knitting and crocheting have re-entered my creative journey, I decided to make my own spool to knit with wire. Yes, I did find a device or two for sale online. But, wanting to make my own (save a few bucks), I decided I could make it myself.
How Did I Create A Spool To Knit On?
Sorry, I didn't take pictures  or videos, so I have to explain what I did.
Tools Needed:
Polymer Clay
A sturdy cardboard tube or rolled yardstick. 
Scotch or masking tape 
18 gauge half Hard Wire cut into about 6 2 inch lengths
A Baking tray for polymer clay
Some Clay Tools
Needle Nose Pliers
Wire Cutters 

1. The cardboard tube I used was about 1 inch or smaller across. My husband cut me a piece about 2 inches long.
2. You can make a four prong spool, but I wanted a 6 prong one. (If I make another one,, I will be sure to take photos of the steps)
If you look at the spool I made here, you can see the shape of my 18 gauge wire prongs.
I folded each cut length almost in half. To make sure the wire stayed anchored in the clay, I used my pliers to curve the wire end on one side and ran tape on only one side of my long skinny "U" wire shaped prong. So the clay could attached and be folded around the wire well.
(I know it sounds confusing, so I just decided, it would be best to illustrate how I did this)

....Hold that thought folks! I shall return with illustrations/photos of my steps to better show how to make your own spool for spool knitting wire, cord, string or yarn!

Subscribe now, and you won't miss a thing.

HeArtfully Creating,

Friday, October 28, 2016

POLYMER CLAY JOURNEY: To Glaze Or Not To Glaze, That Is The Question!

As we create, we are always learning, right? Right! We learn from watching others create as well as from actually working with whatever your favourite art making material is. Or if you are me, you are wanting to learn and try out a variety of creating methods. For me these past couple of years, it has been all about learning the best ways to work with polymer clay. It was love at first sight. Working with polymer clay means I can use colour in a three dimensional way.  For the first half century of my life, my favourite art making materials were two dimensional, acrylic paint, coloured pencils and such.
Acrylic Painting On Stretched canvas by Anita Berglund

Treating The Surface Of Polymer Clay
One of the many lessons I have learned from the many great online polymer clay artists was that the best product to use if you want to glaze your baked clay is, water  based polyurethane. So I bought a huge can and spent two days straight glazing my recent pieces.
Because I have also learned that it is far better to create my polymer clay pieces as smooth as possible. Unless you want texture. If the surface is smooth, it can be left or barely sanded, waxed and buffed or glazed and look great. However, it turned out that because my pieces were too smooth, the polyurethane on many pieces peeled. I like to test all pieces after my multiple failed attempts at using other glazes such as triple thick. Some end up sticky and gross. In fact, that has been number one pet peeve. Polyurethane, perfect, no sticky icky surface. It was when I tried to see how durable the shiny surface was with my finger nail, that I discovered the glaze cold  peel like good sunburn does. Okay, I use to like peeling sunburnt asking (my own of course!). Needless to say, I was very disappointed.
Here are some pictures to document what happened....

This wasn't all that I glazed, but you get the idea... Wanting to know what I did wrong, I researched some more and discovered that polyurethane can peel because of natural oils the is on our hands, so you can use rubbing alcohol to wipe the surface clean of oils. As well lightly landing with a high grit sandpaper first helps it adhere. For me, it just became too frustrating because I didn't research as much as I should have.
To Glaze Or Not To Glaze, That Is The Question!
As you may already know, you do not actually have to put a finish on polymer clay. The clay is far more durable than any finish. A coating of your choice (I a sticking with polyurethane used properly) is helpful if you have glitter or some such thing that you feel may rub off. Mica powder like Pearl Ex actually is fine if rubbed on in one layer onto unbaked clay. If you want to cover it before with a thin layer of liquid clay or after baking with a glaze, that is an option we have.
Surface Before The Polyurethane
Personally, after spending more hours sanding OFF all that peelable glazing, I concluded that sanding, waxing with Renaissance Gallery quality wax and buffing or just leaving it as is, will be my choice for surfaces of clay. UNLESS, the poly clay piece is a figurine or something that won't be worn or used like beads and cabochons.
See The peeling? Bummer!

See The peeling? Bummer!
Working On Sanding and Then Waxing And Buffing or Polishing

Working On Sanding and Then Waxing And Buffing or Polishing

Working On Sanding and Then Waxing And Buffing or Polishing
Working On Sanding and Then Waxing And Buffing or Polishing
Sanding Tips:
Because Polymer clay is so fine and can enter through air passages, it is best to sand using wet/dry sandpaper in a pan of water or because  I physically can't do that, I have a tub of water next to my work space. Then I dip my sandpaper and piece in the water, lay them down on a towel and begin sanding. If the surface has roughness then starting with a number 600 should work to get the hard parts off. I have to keep dipping in the water because the polymer powder builds and clogs my paper fast.
If your pieces are as smooth as mine started out, 800 to 1000 works and I even have a 2000 grit paper to finish off with if I want.
Without waxing, I personally wouldn't be able to polish my pieces hard enough. I know of other artists who don't wax. They sand and then  use a cotton denim or jean fabric to buff out the clay and it gets super shiny. My hands are not strong enough to do that, so I put a thin layer of Renaissance wax and let it dry for ten minutes and then polish with a soft cloth. I love the finish. So if I can achieve a nice buttery finish with my weak hands, anyone can! Imagine what you can do with healthy muscled hands!!
Hope You Learn Something Inspirational Today!
See You Soon!

HeArtfully Creating,

My flowers are okay with a thin layer of polyurethane. I love this piece.

Here are some great videos about finishes from some of my favourite polymer clay artists:
Cindy Leitz- Polymer Clay Tutor:
Renaissance Wax

Minx Polyurethane - Oil Based 

Should I Seal Polymer Clay?

Liquid Polymer

Monday, October 24, 2016

POLYMER CLAY JOURNEY: A HeArtfully Creating Summer

Some flowers I enjoyed creating this summer...
Hope everyone had a great summer! Did you all enjoy creating? Whether it is drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, weaving, cooking, singing, knitting.....well, the list is endless when it comes to creativity. Bottom line, hope the creative wheels were whirring away. It has been a while since posting any articles because our computer died and I had to learn how to work on a lap top. Actually, I tried an IPad first but couldn't get it to do what I usually do on a computer. Because my hands and arms have weakened muscles, using a laptop has been a challenge. For me, the keyboard is too far ahead so it is a challenge reaching the keys. In fact, as I type this I am using one hand and a pencil eraser to reach. See, there is always a way to accomplish tasks.
HeArtfully Creating
Not only did I spend the summer figuring out our computer situation, but, our street was totally under heavy construction. That meant not being able to come and go freely because our driveway had a deep cavernous, drop off for a bit along with scrambled dirt for a street. My husband and I both use wheelchairs and cavernous holes and scrambled dirt make mobility a challenge. Thankfully, I enjoy creating so much that I rarely leave home anyway! That means I spent my time doing the very thing I love, creating. I wanted to share some random photos of my polymer clay pieces. Some as works in progress as well as finished beads and cabochons. 

Slicing The cane to make the flowers you see at the top of the page. 

Ready For The Oven 

Cabochons and Beads All Baked And Ready To Be Transformed

Recently, I also made a spool for spool knitting out of polymer clay and 18 gauge wire for the prongs! My Dad taught me about spool knitting when I was jus a wee one :o)
Thanks for Stopping By!
HeArtfully Creating,
Anita :o)

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