Hall of Memories – Part 2

by anna on January 14, 2012

in Anna's Blog

Today is Friday 13-th – a spooky day :). And it is a leap year, too. Feel that icy breeze of fear?.. Oooh, we all have to get scared now! – Nope, we’re not! We’re gonna keep laughing as I’ll keep walking you through my anecdotal polymer clay adventures :).

On the left is a picture of the Sing of the Sea necklace, my second polymer clay project. No one said I haven’t got any ambition, have they? 🙂

The idea of making this design came to me when we were driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with my husband coming back home from a business trip. In my head, I heard a song, a harp playing. Melody turned into words. I snatched my sketch pad and wrote the words down. As a naturally mad person, I’m not afraid of the voices in my head. Quite the opposite, I do listen to them, as oftentimes they tell me darn interesting things :).

This time I did look online, searching for how to make a polymer clay ship. But I might as well not have :). Because there was nothing on the subject. Because nobody was making them. So, once again, I was left on my own.

Well, nobody said I’m not stubborn either. It took me 3 days and 4 tries to finish the boat. First three boats were constructed, considered non-viable and ugly, smashed down and started over.

In addition to the trouble of shaping the boat, I was making it out of Kato Polyclay. I did take Fire Mountain’s (Kato distributor) words seriously about it having “ease of conditioning and handling” :). Of course, once you smash it with a hammer for a dozen times, run it through your pasta machine for 20-30 times, and then squash it some more with your hands – then it is very easy to handle :D. But I did not have a pasta machine at the time and didn’t know about the hammer trick. I conditioned a few blocks of Kato used in this project by hand. I got a terrible skin irritation, and in some places the skin started to come off, so at the end I was working in gloves, in order to prevent my blood from getting onto my pearl white ship.

With my husband, we called this boat “the booze cruise” 😀 because I used rubbing alcohol to remove fingerprints and blood traces while working on the ship. I decided to try every liquid I had on my working table :). Olive oil didn’t work, it only made a mess. Acetone didn’t work either, it was melting the raw clay and removing the pigment. But the rubbing alcohol worked perfectly! The lesson learned – booze is a clayer’s best friend! 😀

The next challenge I faced was that the ship sculpted from solid clay, would be too heavy to wear, as well as wouldn’t bake through. So, I needed a core. From Russian dollmakers I found out that they stuff compressed aluminum foil in dolls heads. Thank you very much, folks!

So, I got my hammer out and got my foil. Few blasts – and I had my core formed, and the coffee table had a few brand new dents in it.

After that, remembering the bead hole disaster, I searched for what to use to support the structure while baking. I came across some advice to use synthetic batting. So, on I went, took our old blanket and tore it apart. Luckily, my husband at the moment already managed to buy a new one, so we weren’t left without this important accessory :).

I stuffed the batting into a large bowl, made an indentation in the center, and stuck the ship into the indentation. Finally, it baked! What a relief :).

You think the troubles were over? No way! 🙂 First, I strung the ship first. Then I decided to glaze it. Wrong order! I think, any circus gymnast could get jealous to the unthinkable poses I was standing in, holding my ship while glazing and drying it, so the glaze doesn’t get in the beads. The lesson learned: glaze first, string last :).

And another one – the glaze dilutes alcoholic inks and gold marker – unless they’re heat set :). Don’t want your proud ship to look like a coal barge? – then heat set the inks first :).

The words on the sail read:

Look at the waves reflecting the skies,

Listen to sea gulls’ worrying cries,

Breathe in the air so salty and free,

Close your eyes, smile – and sing of the sea.

The ship is an actual (sailing) model of Etruscan sea ship, which Etruscans used to build in 1200-550 BC, crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea on them.

To be continued…

Until it is continued :), have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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