Monday, March 19, 2012

Best Flexible Molds has a new YouTube Channel!

Check out the videos making and molding oval faux Turquoise (shown right) on our new Best Flexible Mold's YouTube Channel.

I did not know it, but if you put up your multiple videos, a series on one theme in order, eg. video 1, video 2, video 3 etc. the first one uploaded will be at the bottom of the list when viewed! Seems like I learn something new every day. :-)

So, to view molding the oval faux Turquoise cabochon from start to finish, begin with Polymer Clay Faux Turquoise Cabochon-I- Molding and go up from there.

I continue to make videos of cabochons made using the new mold PJ046 Deep Cabochons and upload them.

The video for the square cabochon shown left is a sanding how-to that is three-fold.

  1. Identifying the types of sanding paper/sponges that I mainly use.
  2. How to wet-sand faux turquoise to remove the black paint used to coat the tiny bits that, when pressed together to make up the turquoise.
  3. How to wet-sand to remove a coating of black paint that may be used to fill any voids between the tiny bits that form the faux turquoise.

With faux turquoise the tighter you press the clay into the mold, the tighter the lines will be between the bits of clay. These tight joins do not leave any voids. See the closeup right showing the tight lines with no voids.

However, when the bits of clay are pressed into the mold less firmly it will leave voids as the two rings on this page show. To fill the voids, the cabochon will be painted with heavy body acrylic (tube) black paint after it is baked and cooled. The heavy body acrylic paint will fill the voids between the bits of clay.

Either way, thin or thicker lines, both are lovely and have a beauty all their own.

After baking, cooling and the paint is dry it will need to be sanded from the surface to reveal the wonderful faux turquoise. To make this easy to do at my work table I spritz water into a shallow plastic dish. The 'dish' in the video is from a frozen entree. I cut the sides away leaving a 1/2 to 1 inch edge sticking up. I work in this little 'tray' with small pieces of wet-dry sand paper and water from a spritzer.

The sanding was done in real time so you can tell that it does not take a great deal of time to remove the paint from the outside of the cabochon.

After sanding, you can continue to sand using finer and finer sandpaper and buff to a shine or you can varnish the cabochon. I chose to varnish the cab using Min-Wax Polycrylic varnish. Sometimes I use Future floor wax instead of the varnish. But, which ever I use, after applying two to three coats allowing drying time in between, I'll reheat the bead/cabochon to 215° F for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Deep Cabochon Mold and Amate Bezels

We designed our newest cabochon mold to fit eight of the top selling Amate Studios bezels. The color artwork (shown left) that comes in each mold package has the number of the Amate bezel that the cabochon will fit.

There are, in this mold, two much desired sizes.

  • A one inch diameter circle (fits Amate bezel 50990190)
  • A one inch square (fits Amate bezel 50990145).

The mold is currently available on our website BestFlexibleMolds.
Since some of the bezels are 4 mm deep and some of the bezels are 2 mm deep, a way to create a cabochon with the desired base depth needed to be designed.

Since some folks do not want a base (a section of the cabochon with flat, 90° sides) the mold also needed to be able to be used to create a flat back cabochon.

Time to, as my granny used to say, "Put on your thinking cap!"

The solution to the need for three depths was found in one of the 'extras' we include with every mold. With each mold we measure the clay needed to fill each opening, measure and list the diameter of a ball of clay needed to fill each opening and provide a series of measuring circles in each package so that the customer can easily choose the right amount of clay for the desired opening.

Note: If you start with a ball of clay that will fit the desired opening in the mold you will have very little frustration with over or under filled designs.

How this will work is shown in the illustration to the right. By filling the mold to different levels, three different thicknesses of cabochon bases can be created or none at all.

Two of them will have 90° flat sided bases. The third will have no base but will be a flat cabochon that can be glued to a surface or beaded around.

To simplify the measurements we provide a chart with each mold to choose the right amount of clay needed for each shape.

The user chooses the shape desired and using the mold identifier right, then decides which thickness of base they want.

For example if you want the 1 inch round cabochon with a 2 mm bezel, go to the sizing chart, left, find the row: C-1 and look across to the column '2mm base'. The amount of clay needed to make a 1 inch diameter round cab with a 2 mm base is a 13/16 inch ball of clay. Note the color image at the top, left. The 13/16" circle is green.

Also note that the mold identifier, right, shows the size of cabochon each mold makes. Both the sizing chart and mold identifier come with the mold.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Playing with the new mold.

The new mold has been fun to play with and new ideas keep coming.

This week we filmed some video for our new Best Flexible Molds YouTube channel. Turquoise cabs were molded, baked, painted, then sanded to reveal the beautiful patterns. We also showed how to be sure that your cabochon will fit the bezel.

The blue oval cab with the lily of the valley on it started out to be faux Wedgwood but flopped mightily.

The molded part did not show up well so I tried to antique it but that made it look dirty. To overcome the 'dirtiness', dry brushing with white was attempted. Now I have an oval cabochon with a dirty white lily of the valley on it. Next, there was a dim hope that varnish would brighten the whole thing. Nope, now it is just a shiny oval cab with a dirty looking, shiny lily of the valley on it.

Very good lessons to be learned. The coral square, bottom center, worked much, much better. The tiny molded butterflies and flowers were made of pearl. After baking they got a very light dry-brushing of white to bring out their details. I should have left the varnish off of it. Another lesson learned.

For some reason I always think the (fill in any item here) would be prettier if it were shiny!!

No matter, the next one will be better, I'm sure and, if not, I'll try again. :-)

My granny always used to say "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." A very wise and loving lady.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Tools!

For several months I've been toying with the idea of finding a company to manufacture tools based on the handmade tool designs I've been using for decades.

Back when I started using Fimo in '81, there were no tools, no classes and only one book, published by Fimo. The more I used the clay the more it became obvious that tools were needed for a variety of techniques.

Along with becoming a sculptor I became a tool maker.

When I teach classes, the students get, for free, one of my tiny bamboo Peej Picks. The bamboo is sanded smooth, the point is tapered and the opposite end is cut into a wedge shape and polished. It takes quite a bit of time to make forty or sixty of them at a time but the students seem to love their Peej Picks as the lessons go a bit easier with this little workhorse of a tool.

Word about the Peej Pick got around and soon other students, people at retreats and clay friends began to express an interest in having their own "Peej" picks. Those who would come to play days at my studio saw some of my other original tools on the work bench and were interested in them especially after a demonstration of how quickly a job could be done with the right tool. See the switch plate covers below.

The original tools were made of wood, clay and wire but Christi Friesen encouraged me to go for stainless steel after seeing my bamboo "Peej Pick" at Fandango last May and so the search for a tool maker began!

After much thinking about the logical tools to begin with and planning sizes, shapes, etc., I contacted a friend of mine, Andy Huang, in Taiwan RC. He was able to find a factory who could do the e
ntire kit including the following:
  • two stainless steel Peej Picks
  • two stainless steel Peej Shapers,
  • three half circle clay cutters with polished wooden handles to cut or imprint polymer clay
  • one small custom shape scraper / blade. Used for lifting clay, removing excess clay from molds, scraping unintentional colors from sheets of clay
  • one super cool zipper pouch 4 by 6 inches with loops to hold all 8 tools. A graphic will be silk screened onto the front of the pouch. Right is a rough draft mockup using Photoshop but the final design will be similar and have the final name on it.

The tool samples arrived on the first of March!! Needless to say, I was doing the happy dance!! and have enjoyed playing with them.

The Peej Picks and Shaper tools have excellent heft and strength. They are designed for clay but can be used for a number of applications other than polymer clay.
We expect to be delighted to see what our customers do with the tools.

I made the flowers and eyelet, left, ten minutes after opening the tool kit. The flowers were cut using the half circle clay cutters and all the details shaping the petals and centers were done with the Peej shapers. The indentations around the petals and the bottom edge of the eyelet were done with the wedge end of the Small Peej Pick. The eyelet finishing 'eyes' were done using the large and small Peej Shaper. It was great fun.

Left are two light switch covers with scalloped, picot edges. These borders were quickly cut using the half circle clay cutter. The 'picot' holes were also quickly done using the Peej Shaper.

The covers are made of a very strong clay and the borders are still perfect.

The production will begin after the final approvals.