Mica Shift: Great for beginners

Mica Shift is one of those techniques that has many levels of possibilities. For beginners is perfect to experiment with because you only need one color of clay. If you don’t like how it turned out just roll the clay into a sheet again and start over. It’s especially fun now that Premo polymer clay comes is several new colors of metallic clays. The new colors are Peacock, Copper, Purple, 18K Gold, Antique Gold, Magenta, Bright Green & Blue are fabulous !!! The still have 3 of the old colors too: Gold, Silver & Pearl. The Pearl clay can be tinted with small amounts of the opaque clays or with alcohol inks to create your own custom colors. Just be sure to let the ink dry completely on the surface before you mix it in.

Mica Shift is simply the particles of mica in the clay being disturbed or distorted creating the illusion of depth and layers or chatoyancy like you would see in Tiger’s Eye gemstones. First you must align the mica particles so they all lay in a single direction. The easiest method is to condition the clay with a past machine so you have a smooth sheet of clay to begin you project. The process of conditioning the clay with the pasta machine aligns all those mica particles with little effort on your part.

To distort or disturb the mica you have many option. Objects like a ball stylus, a pencil, knitting needle, etc. can be drug along the surface of the clay sheet to create shallow lines and designs. Run the sheet of clay through your pasta machine 2 or 3 times (making it thinner each time) and you will still see the lines you made, but the sheet will be smooth. Other items such as texture sheet and rubber/clear stamps can be used to make more intricate patterns. (*Tip – I always use a release agent like water or Armor-All to keep the stamps from sticking to the clay.)

Here is a very simple project of mine showing a basket-weave Mica Shift project.
And couple by my friend Kellie called Twisted Rope Mica Shift and also the Satin Swirl Egg.
And a few more beginner level projects:
Jelly Roll
And a nice video showing the technique for you visual learners πŸ™‚

The secret to a really nice Mica Shift finished project is the sanding and buffing. You will first need wet/dry automotive sandpaper starting with 320 grit up through at least 1000 grit and a buffer with a muslin cotton wheel. (*Tip – Use the muslin buffing wheel with only a couple rows of stitching at the center. I do not recommend flannel cloth wheels. They tend to be very hard to use on polymer clay and leave gouges in the surface.) I will be the first to admit sanding is tedious and I do not like doing it at all LOL but it’s one of those evil necessities. I always work in water to keep the dust from sanding the clay contained. Add a couple drops of liquid soap as a lubricant. Start with the 320 grit to smooth out any lumps, bump or imperfections. Once it feels smooth all over, then move on to the 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grits. The 1000 is really just polishing, because the paper is so smooth, but that is the whole point, yes? πŸ™‚

The electric buffer takes a very light touch. Don’t push the clay deep into the wheel, the fast momentum of the wheel can grab the clay right out of your hands and fling it across the room. I put an empty box on it’s side, with a layer of quilt batting in the bottom, behind my buffer to catch any projectiles that may leave my hand. You don’t want to break a window or your favorite vase πŸ˜‰ A bit of practice and you’ll be an expert on buffing in no time.

Some eye candy to inspire you πŸ™‚

Jan Geisen mica shift beads

Jan Geisen mica shift beads

Donna Kato

Donna Kato

Donna Kato

Donna Kato

Sherri Kellberg

Sherri Kellberg

Rita Seale - PCC Contest Entry

Rita Seale - PCC Contest Entry

Kathy Weinberg

Kathy Weinberg

Laurel Steven

Laurel Steven

Into The Dawn Designs

Into The Dawn Designs

Happy Claying πŸ™‚

Sutton Slice With My Stamps !!!

Angelina Edwards AKA ColtPixy has made to most gorgeous Sutton Slice sheets using my stamps !!! I just have to try this technique out out πŸ™‚

You can see more of Angelina’s work in her Flickr Gallery
Over at Deviant Art
And on her Blog
Check out her Artfire Shop

Info on Sutton Slice Technique:

The Right Way To Write

I adore covering pens with polymer clay, but these people put my pens to shame !!! Take a look…………

My good friend Moe made these beauties

My good friend Moe made these beauties

Christy Sherman made these lovely blue ones.

My other good friend Jackie Sieben makes these amazing pen & perfume pen sets!

Had to share these, too. These pens are just too fun.

These were just too adorable not to share too πŸ™‚ Love the stands for the pens.

Keila Hernandez made these colorful wonders.

Was made by Lisa Pavelka and you can find the instruction on how to make it in her DVD called Polymer Clay Treasures.

And the best for last. πŸ™‚ Keith Henning is the most amazing pen artist and he uses polymer clay like no other to create the most beautiful pens. You really must look through all his pictures. There are pens that look like footballs & baseballs, tooled leather, animal skins…. Just see for yourself. You will be left drooling with your jaw on the keyboard πŸ™‚

Tutorials on covering pens –

Freely Sharing Ideas

A list of recent free tutorials from the blogs I read. Lot’s of great ideas here. πŸ™‚

Carolyn shows us how to turn a large tube bead into a Fan Pull And her tips on texture for those tube beads. Carolyn also has a good idea for making your own texture plates.

Marie Segal did a series of cane tutorials on how to make African Trade Beads out of polymer clay.

Here are the following parts πŸ™‚
There may be more parts, so keep your eye on Marie’s Blog. She actually has a lot of great free tutorials on her blog, so read all the back posts πŸ™‚

Zuda Gay has a couple nice floral tutorials on her blog.
sculpting a little leaf
how to make a hibiscus flower

I used Google translator on this French blog, but you know how accurate that is LOL It a tutorial on how to a hollow bead make hollow beads using what I believe is a cotton ball bead covered with clay, baked, then drilled and de-cottoned. *G* Here is a picture of her finished bead used in a necklace.

Cristalline always has wonderful tutorials πŸ™‚ This watermelon cane is no exception.

Here is a whole list of tutorial on her blog.

Another French blogger that always seems to have something fun to learn on her blog is Parole de Pate. This month it’s Extruded Whirlwinds, Imitation Mother of Pearl, and a Caged Bead

And yet another French blog with a fun Faux Knit design.

If you need to translate any of these links use Google Translator. Paste the web address into the box, choose the languages and click translate.

Having trouble getting that prefect wire wrapped loop? Tina can help πŸ™‚ Try this free tutorial.

Sanding and Buffing Polymer Clay

I will be the first to tell you I honestly hate sanding my clay projects LOL Buffing I actually find a little relaxing. Which I guess is a good thing, since the sanding part is so tough to get through. πŸ™‚

Hand Sanding (sort of)

My favorite tool for sanding is a Black & Decker Scumbuster. I have the old style version with the removable, rechargeable batteries. I upgraded the batteries to Versapak Golds and they last twice as long.

To prepare the sandpaper, I tear the large sheets into 1/4’s and soak the paper in hot, soapy water for 5 minutes to make it pliable. Then I center the sandpaper over the largest scrubby pad that I have already attached to the Scumbuster. I pin (using floral T pins) the 4 corners of the sandpaper into the side of scrubby pad. It sands like a dream ! I started sanding this way years ago when the idea was published at PC Polyzine. http://www.pcpolyzine.com/february2001/scumbuster.html The writer opted to cut sandpaper circles and use sticky velcro to hold her sandpaper on, but that was to much work and cost for me. LOL

There are other versions of sanders people have set up using rechargeable toothbrushes, Tide stain brushes and similar inexpensive devices. I believe they hot glue little circles of sandpaper to the bristles. If you use the toothbrush method and it has interchangeable brushes, you can put a different grit of sandpaper on each brush.

Here is the one my pal Eva in Denmark made for herself
Eva’s comments:
“Ever since I saw the Scumbuster mentioned as a great sanding tool, I’ve had this idea on how to use an electric toothbrush instead, since Scumbusters isn’t an item sold in Denmark (as far as I know). I recently came across a battery powered toothbrush that might do the trick (and was cheap, too), bought that and two 2-packs extra brushes.

I wrote a grit number on each of the five brushes with a permanent marker and with a 1/2″ circle leather punch I punched out little dots of the sandpaper in five different grits and glued them on the bristles of the five brushes using a hot glue gun.
Note: Put glue on the bristles and then the dot of sandpaper on top to make sure it gets a good grip – the little glue you can put on the dot of sandpaper will not be enough to keep it adhered when you start sanding.

….and it works like a charm – wet or dry! It’s great for small items like beads/jewelry and I think also for hard to get to places on sculpts, but might be a little tedious for larger things, but then again it might not. At least it saves your shoulder and wrist a lot of work. (not to mention your fingertips and nails)
When the sandpaper is worn down just rip it off and replace it. I keep my lil’ dots in zip lock baggies, as you can see.”

Here is a short tutorial where the author opted to remove the bristles from the brush head and use velcro to attach sandpaper.

And yet another take on the toothbrush sander πŸ™‚

Tumble Sanding

If you make a lot of small beads there is no way you will ever have time to sand them all by hand. Invest in a rock tumbler. I purchased an inexpensive child’s model at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon, making it about $15. You can shell out more money for the top quality Lortone tumbler. They are quieter and come with 1, 2 or 3 vessels to tumble your beads in. Which means you can be sanding up to 3 different grits at once. If you make beads for a living it would be a great investment and time saver.

Some people say to line the inside of the tumbler’s chamber with sandpaper. I never have. All I do is cut my sandpaper into very random shapes approximately 1/2″ across. I put the sandpaper chips into the chamber and fill it up 1/2 way with very warm water to soften the paper. In my opinion, if it’s pliable it works better. Add 2 or 3 drops of liquid soap, which will act as a lubricant. I start with 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper and work up through all consecutive grits – 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200. You can go up as high as 1500 and 2000 grit if you really want to, but I haven’t found it necessary. ** It must be wet/dry sandpaper. The kind meant for woodworking will not work. You can find wet/dry at automotive stores or the auto dept at WalMart.

The first tumble with 320 grit is the most important and will take the longest. Maybe 12- 24 hours. Check occasionally to see if the beads are uniformly sanded. When the first tumble is done, it may only take 10 – 15 hours for the second tumble at 400 grit. As before, check occasionally to see if they all feel sanded evenly. I found that as I used each grit it took a little less time to sand the beads. By the time you reach 1000 grit it may only take 8 hours. 1000 grit is really just polishing anyway. It hardly feel like sandpaper at all, it’s so smooth.

I opted to get a less expensive bench grinder and buy muslin cloth buffing wheels for it. The whole setup only cost me about $50 and I purchased it all at Harbor Freight. I know a lot of artists who swear by their Foredom buffers. They aren’t cheap, but worth the investment if you are making a living selling your clay goodies. I’m just a part time artist, so cheap works for me. πŸ™‚

A little education on using a buffer. First and foremost – READ THE OWNERS MANUAL ! πŸ™‚ Seriously folks. It can save you an injury. That wheel spins very fast. Need I say more. My bench grinder spins away from me, but I think some buffers may spin towards you. Be sure to get familiar with your machine. Always use the lower section of the buffing wheel and have a firm hold on your piece. If you lose grip of it, you will have a small plastic projectile flying across the room. Make sure there is nothing expensive and breakable in the path it will fly. I put an empty cardboard box behind my buffer. That works for me, because my wheel turns away from me. If your wheel turns towards you be sure nothing behind you can damaged. And wear safety goggles for goodness sake !

With that firm grip on your piece, hold the clay up to the wheel, just touching it. You don’t need to cram the piece into the wheel. A light touch works very well. You will get the feel for it in no time. Practice makes perfect.

If you need to buff beads, I find it easiest to slip them onto a steel rod and buff several at a time. Assuming you already have holes in your beads. If not, get drilling. πŸ™‚ The beads will want to spin on the rod, so I tend to rest my finger on the rod and snug it up next to the bead to slow the spin. Don’t run your finger on the area of the bead you are buffing. Friction from the wheel heats up the surface, softening the clay, and you can transfer you fingerprints to the bead. There goes all the sanding you did and now you will have to repeat the process. Not fun.

Well, that’s all folks πŸ™‚ Happy creating.

Free Rock Purse Tutorial

Over at the Blue Damselfly Jewelry Blog, I believe the writer’s name is Julie, you will find a really fun tutorial on making rock purses. While not a new idea, it’s always great to have a new take on an old technique.
Rock purses are pretty much what it sounds like. You use a real rock as a shape form to bake the clay around.The possibilities are endless considering every rock is different.Β  πŸ™‚ Years ago I made a bunch of Rock Purses. This was after I spent many weeks searching for the perfect rocks on job sites I visited with my hubby.

This one is in Linda Geer's collection

My very 1st try many many years ago

made with Sculpey Ultralight clay

With a larger rock you can make bowls and covered dishes like these 2 I made.

A few more tutorials you can find on the web to make rock purses, vessels, bowls and boxes.






And some great pictures of rock purses and vessels.



Made by Karin Ashdown

MAde by Jeanette Easley

Made by Tejae Floyde

Sutton Slice Fun

I’ve only tried this technique, the Sutton Slice, a couple of times with some success. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it wasn’t a candidate for the scrap pileΒ  either. <G> Areas of one sheet made this fan necklace. Which just happens to be on sale in my Esty or ArtFire shops πŸ™‚

A few months ago my pal Barbara Poland Waters hosted a swap where we traded decorated sheets of raw clay to do with as we wished. Fun swap !! One of the sheets of clay I received from Kathy Weinberg was decorated with the Sutton Slice technique and it was stunning. I had to immediately buy the Barbara McGuire stamp she used. LOL

I made a whole bunch of pendants with the sheet. The first pictured one I wore today and got the most wonderful compliments.Β  One of the ladies, who works with clay occasionally,Β  said “How come my polymer clay things never look that good” πŸ™‚

I hope to have all 17 pendants listed in my shops by Friday. Just in case anyone is interested πŸ˜‰

Sutton Slice By Valerie

Valerie Wallace, a wonderful person and artist (who is the exclusive supplier of my clear stamp line in the UK), shared a picture of the intricate Sutton Slice she recently finished. It took her hours to make, but oh so worth the work!! The stamp she used is from Lisa Pavelka’s Signature Series product line and I believe it’s 4″ X 6″.

Then the next day she shows off the sheet she made with one of my clear stamps ! I had no idea we could even do the Sutton Slice with clear stamps. What a pleasant surprise πŸ™‚ I am wondering if this design could be trimmed to fit a business card case. Perfect design for a guy.

You can read how to do this technique at HGTV’s website. Lisa Pavelka made a business card holder in an old episode of Carol Duvall.

Another short tutorial here at SurfinCat

More Examples

Here is an example from Sharon Solly

Another from Karen Breukelman

And this one by Julie Eaks is totally in my color palette

And last one πŸ™‚ A untrimmed sheet by Judy (sorry, I don’t know the last name), but I love the sheet !

The $5 Photography Light Cube

The Bead Mavens shared their wonderful, inexpensive idea for a light cube.

You can see the entire article here.

Wings of Art

I find it amazing how many different ways clay artists have found to design wings for their creations.

Whether they be made of transferred images, liquid clay & wire, Mylar or cellophane and adorned with glitter or crystals, each technique is unique and beautiful.

A few stunning examples

A list of free tutorials







http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_xCjD8h5Fc (part 1 0f 8)



Build Your Own Photography Light Box

Saw this link on FaceBook and had to share it with my readers.Β  Looks like an inexpensive way to take great pictures.


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