Sad to say, the photo above is the best one to come out of the session where I tried to create translucent hollow beads with Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS).
I had read (where exactly escapes me now) about a polymer clay artist getting better translucent effects by painting liquid Sculpey. There wasn’t any further information than that, so out come all of the supplies.
I found a recipe for the traditional cornstarch and baking soda “play clay” of childhood. I remembered it as being heavy and cracking a lot when trying to make Christmas ornaments years ago. With any luck, neither of those factors should be an issue for this purpose.
What I’m looking for in my dream bead core is the ability to dissolve quickly and easily, so the bead won’t take forever to transform from filled to hollow.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fascinated with some of the jewelry I’ve seen online that uses translucent polymer clay, especially when it looks like sea glass or glass glass.
After a lot of poking around for answers to how people like Kathrin Neumaier, Barbara Fernald and other clay artists, like those featured on The Blue Bottle Tree blog create their pieces, I had some idea of what to do, but was still a bit fuzzy about how to create the effects I was after. There were hints here and there, but nothing that really gave me the complete picture.
There were plenty of tutorials available for a price, but I had no way of knowing whether they would tell me what I wanted to know.
It was time to set up the la-bOr-a-tory (mwah, ha, ha!) and try some experiments.
The reason I made all of those alcohol inks from Sharpies was to color translucent polymer clay. Now it’s time to put them to work.
I had no idea how much ink to use in proportion to the clay, other than hints online that it didn’t take very much at all. The translucent clay was also new to me and I wasn’t sure how translucent it would get. So…it was time to call on my inner mad scientist.
It all started with a love of sea glass, and all things “frosted” looking.
On Pinterest, I came across translucent polymer clay being used to mimic it. Katrin Neumaier’s jewelry caught my eye again and again. Her work takes my breath away.
After researching this (and wandering off the beaten path a bit), I found that the clay can be colored with alcohol inks to create a more lasting color and preserve the translucency in a way that adding colored opaque clay doesn’t.
So… off to look for a starter kit of alcohol inks. This wasn’t working out for me. The popular Adirondack inks come in 1/2 ounce 3-packs, with names like Bottle and Mermaid.
I’m a pushover for a great name, and YouTube tutorials with Tim Holtz have helpful tips and techniques, but since I taught Color Theory for years, I’m picky about my colors and am pretty thrifty. I didn’t want to buy colors in a 3-pack if I only wanted two of them.