A Learning Process

Monday, March 17, 2003

I thought I’d create a few Crafty Goat items for today’s “90 Days to Self Employment” task. Having just seen Carol Duvall’s episode on using polymer clay combined with fabric, I was eager to try a few variations. I bought some decorative paper and a nice quilted-look fabric in preparation a few days ago, so I was set.

I really wanted to make a couple of polymer clay-covered pens, using TLS and the fabric. I followed the process of spreading the TLS on the glass and laying down the fabric. I baked it for 15 minutes, and it looked great! I peeled it off and tried to wrap it around the pen, which I’d prepared with TLS. Hmmm… the clay fabric wasn’t nearly as pliable as the regular polymer clay I’d done pens with in the past. It just wouldn’t stick.

I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea, so I remembered that TLS adheres to itself. Maybe if I put TLS on the “wrong” side of the fabric too, the TLS on the paper would adhere to the TLS on the pen. So I did another layer of TLS on the other side of the fabric, then baked it for 15 minutes.

Of course, what I wasn’t thinking about was that the TLS only acts as an adherent as it’s baking. This still wouldn’t help me. Tying a bunch of strings around it to hold it in place as it baked would probably have been an option, but I didn’t think it would create the smooth finish I wanted.

I tried glue, but that wasn’t enough. I tried pressing the clay fabric into a separate piece of sculpey, then wrapping the pen with that… but the clay fabric was still too inflexible to stay around the pen.

Since we’ve been trying to get to bed earlier, and I really wanted to get something accomplished, I gave up (temporarily?) on the idea. I decided to work with the white sculpey that was still dutifully wrapped around the pen. I smoothed it out some, then added some specks of gold leaf left over from another project. I textured it using my ShadeTex texture plates, and was finally pleased with the results. I stuck it in the oven, started the timer… and then 5 minutes later, I started smelling something. I opened the oven to reveal a billowing cloud of smoke…. followed by my “masterpiece” — curled and brown.

I looked at my pen box. Sure enough, I’d used the wrong kind of pen. Instead of PaperMate’s Flexgrip Ultra (my usual), I’d used another brand’s RubberGrip. All that work for nothing! Oh well… you live & learn!

I’m not sure what I could actually use the fabric clay successfully for. In fact, I kept wondering why I was messing with that additional step at all — instead of, say, putting some glue on the pen and wrapping it with the fabric. Frayed edges might be an issue then (I’m not sure), but I may try it sometime anyway. That’s something I’ll never run out of — things to try!

On a separate note, I’m really enjoying my ShapeBoss. I bought some copper to emboss, just on a whim, and tried it out tonight. The patterns I have (the ones that came free with the embossing system) seemed perhaps a little too elegant for the more folksy copper. But as I was reading the instructions, it mentioned tracing a design onto the copper, then using the stylus to enhance the traced design. The only thing I had handy to try was a design from a rubber stamp, which was also a little fancy, but the process worked very nicely. I’d like to download some patterns (surely there’s some free somewhere?) specifically intended for copper embossing.

One final note. I made a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” basket for the folks I met at the dog park yesterday, and wanted to include a handmade card. I hadn’t gotten to use my embossing tool for a real project yet (though it seems like every piece of paper in my craft room is embossed!), so I decided I’d do a card with embossed flowers and vines around the edge, then a polymer clay house (to celebrate their new house) in the middle. While the end result wasn’t bad, I think the elegance of the embossing didn’t quite go with the crafty look of the polymer clay house I did. I’ll have to play around with using a less-fancy embossing design, or a nicer-looking clay centerpiece…