Monday 9 June 2014

Working with air drying clays...the love and hate of!

I’m sure there are many who have been chuckling away at my exasperation with a newly tried brand of paperclay-air drying clay by Hobby Craft on my other main blog, Michelle's Mad World?! :o) 

I’ve used many brands and I know over the years I’ve known people who can work with it and those who can’t despite many attempts. Showing another how to use it via a written online tutorial isn’t easy at all, but I can give some basic tips based on my own experience and those gleaned from what the text books say! Unfortunately I can’t wave a magic wand and work wonders for  you, well, I can‘t work wonders for myself! Lol 

If you’ve had some experience with kiln dried clay that’s a bonus because some of the basic principles apply with air drying clays.

Paper clays and air dry clays are quite vastly affected by their immediate environment once they are exposed to the atmosphere. So if you are working from a brand new pack on a damp cold day…you are most likely going to have a better time with it. Even your hands and work area will have an effect. If you are working on or in a hot and airy day/area then you will need to keep  your clay moist as you work, a damp tea towel over the top of your clay is fine. I always put spare clay back in its plastic wrapper/bag and in an air tight container when I’m not using it (I may keep a minimal amount out for a patch job!).  When I have finished using my clay I keep a wet kitchen towel in with the clay packaging just incase for any air holes!

I find rolling out clay on glass is an option (better in hot weather, pretty awful in cold weather I have found) plastic is all fine to roll your clay out on etc., never wood though as it will leave marks on your clay and dry it out! Use a plastic (an old clean tube will do too) or marble rolling pin. Ordinary cheap clay tools are fine, cocktail sticks, dental tools to shape your clay and old brushes and stippling brushes or anything that will give your clay texture. I am quite resourceful when it comes to sculpting clay, so if it does the job, use it! 

Air dry clays need to be glued onto the surface whilst its still wet, use PVA or white glue and don't skimp on this. 

So working with the clay itself....if your clay is too wet, but workable, I personally would suffer it! You will have more time to play and sculpt it. I only use talcum to absorb excess moisture. I know some peeps use corn flour, but I feel food stuff is a bit of a no-no as it could go rancid and or attract insects/vermin. If the clay is dry, I wet my hands and mould the clay in my hands to work the moisture in, if really bad I may add a few wet brush strokes to the actual clay and again knead it in.  

You are according to the text books able to always roll out nice big pieces of clay. Erm no..that isn’t always the case!  Also, the proper way to get an even depth is to use an spare tile (preferably 30cms square) and add a 2/3mm ridge frame around it. So with you come to roll out your clay on the tile you get an even depth. You don’t  have to do it this way…the eye can gauge for thickness and for certain work you may want the clay thicker. It can be rare to get a piece that big rolled out and sometimes a piece that big is just not workable, so does it matter if you don’t or can’t but you need a large piece? 

What matters that you can join your clay so it doesn’t come apart once it starts to dry. So, to join wet or dry clay to a new piece, you must first flatten an area to be covered and feather or score the edge, I then wet my clay with water and add a layer of PVA/white glue over the top. Don’t skimp on the piece to be overlaid, if it’s too small the two pieces won’t merge so well.  I then proceed to blend the two pieces together until  you can not longer tell it has been joined. A good join won’t crack! I prefer to join two pieces of wet clay, so if I think I won’t be able to finish an area and it needs more clay I cover it over with a wettish (not sodden!) tea towel and leave until the next day… more than the next day though! 

More to come and photo's to accompany. ;o)

Michelle xxx