Polymer and Metal Clays?

What exactly, IS "polymer (clay)"?

Polymer is like modeling clay in it's raw form, and comes in many wonderful colors which can be mixed together, yielding an unlimited palette. Heat friendly additives (like micas, glitter, foils, even spices) can be mixed into uncured polymer.

With versatility unlike other mediums, polymer can be worked in millefiori techniques like glass or folded in the manner of Japanese metal working (mokume gane). After low temperature curing, it transforms into a hard surface which can be sanded, drilled, carved and polished like wood, bone and stone. Metallic formulas can be impressed then sanded down to reveal gorgeous, dimensional optical illusions in a technique called "mica shift".

There are a number of manufacturers, each having different characteristics after curing - strength, flexibility, luminosity and transparency. I use primarily Premo! brand, along with some Fimo and Kato.

Polymer is also available in a liquid form, which can be used in many exciting techniques. The wrapped cuffs in 11 BOLD street's Wristwear section are some examples. It is nearly impossible to find other polymer artists using liquid polymer with lightweight fabrics in the same manner as you will find in this shop.

An ultra-light formula is available, which I use to reduce weight on larger pieces. And, flexible formulas are great for making custom molds.

...and what about "metal" clay?

Metal clay is a clay-like medium used to make jewelery, beads and small sculpture. It consists of very small particles of metals (such as silver, gold, platinum, or copper) mixed with an organic binder and water. Alloys such as bronze or steel are also available.

When the clay is fired, either by torch or in a kiln the binders burn off and the result is nearly pure metal. Silver clay components, for example can be called "fine silver" after firing.

At 11 BOLD street, I'm in the initial stages of incorporating metal clay components (silver and copper) into polymer pieces. The additional possibilities are incredible exciting!

...and metal working...

Wire work and wire wrapping techniques are showing up in many jewelry items. That's partly because the tools, materials and knowledge (books, how-to DVD's and videos) are so much more available to the artistic community.

Look for more metals as I continue to develop the skills and techniques that are at the level of the other items at 11 BOLD street. These components add another level of uniqueness to the items and are thoughtful, integral parts of their design.

Watch for:
Wire wrapping with sterling, copper, brass and aluminum wire
Forged (hammered, textured) wire and sheet metals
Mixed metals, with cold or torch-soldered connections
Colored patinas

...other components...

Some of the other materials which may be incorporated pre and/or post curing with polymer:

Mica powder ~ Embossing powder ~ Pigment ink ~ Alkyd oil colors ~ Acrylic paint ~ Metal leaf (silver, gold, copper) ~ Foils ~ Alcohol ink ~ UV resin

... and finishing.

The basic finish for 11 BOLD street polymer items is lots of just plain elbow grease in the form of hand-sanding, usually at least 5 grades. Then, I finish with the buffing wheel. Faux leather is usually treated to a firm rubbing with a hard fabric, like denim.

Some metallic surfaces need additional sealing which may take the form of satin polyurethane, cured liquid polymer or UV resin.

Occasionally, matte surfaces are called for and this is the natural state of cured, untouched polymer. This finish may also be enhanced in a tumbler, with polymer pellets.

Buffing the shiny polymer areas of a piece briskly (but gently) with a piece of denim will renew the finish, if needed. Polymer itself is waterproof, but other components may not be.

Metal components may be finished with metal polish and/or museum-quality wax.

Please treat any of these pieces like you would treat your fine jewelry.