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“Breakthrough” Backgroundless Polymer Clay Cane Technique…

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the last few months I have been hearing a buzz about a new technique in polymer clay cane-making.

As Naama Zamir (founder of the Israeli Polymer Clay Guild) described it in the title of one of her blog entries, this technique is “A Breakthrough” for polymer clay cane-makers; in fact it is such a revolutionary technique that already it is gaining almost legendary status – up there on a level with “The Skinner Blend”.

I first noticed some references to a new ‘backgroundless’ technique in the Spring of 2010, and was intrigued by how excited the authors were to discover it. Trying to track down the source of this brilliant method (and to find out what it actually was), I attempted to trace it back through various cryptic and secretive references that I encountered in the blogs and websites, but kept coming to a dead end.

However, by Summer 2010 the trickle of references had become a steady stream, and I was finally tipped off by Penny Vingoe’s “Clayaround” newsletter, which pointed to this blog: http://naamazamir.blogspot.com/2009/05/breakthrough.html. At last! I could tell I was getting closer to the original source! It appeared that Edith Fischer-Katz (“Zoota” on the etsy site) was the inventor/developer of the backgroundless technique.

I contacted her today to ask if (a) she really was the original inventor, and (b) if she would be happy to participate in an email ‘interview’ to be published on the BPCG website, and she replied “yes” on both counts. So as soon as the email interview has been conducted, it will be shared with BPCG members on their website. I am really looking forward to it.

“But wait – what the heck is this fantastic new technique?” I hear you ask. Well, until now the usual way of reducing a non-round (e.g. flower) cane has been sort of grab both ends of the cane and just pull (which does result in very nice beads, but they are often inconsistent sizes, as the cane can become rather lumpy and often gets very thin in the middle and remains very thick at the ends). Even with very experienced cane-makers, the ends of the cane are often squished out of recognition, and need to be consigned to the growing pile of scrap clay (as shown in the photo below):

wonky flower cane

wonky flower cane

…but now Edith has provided the answer. Suitable even for beginners, the ‘backgroundless’ technique is a brilliant way of reducing a cane and keeping crisp edges and a consistent cane diameter, and results in far less clay going into the scrap pile. This new way involves wrapping the cane in Play-Doh and then an outer layer of scrap clay. Edith pointed me to a YouTube video which demonstrates it, which was created by her friend Yonat Dascalu: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ecS_Sa0KbM&feature=player_embedded#

Wow! This month I have been in contact with polymer clay royalty! First Cat Therien (yes – THE Cat Therien) commented on one of my blog entries, and now I have had the opportunity to have an email chat with Edith, The Inventor Of The Most Exciting Polyclay Thing Since The Skinner Blend.

I shall die happy now.

Polymer Clay Nail Art

August 19, 2010 1 comment

I’ve only just found out that people are using mini polymer clay canes to decorate their nails! Duh!!

On the other hand, the UK often seems about five years behind the USA in terms of picking up on a lot of craft/fashion trends, so maybe it’s not surprising that not many people are doing this in the UK yet.

Looking at the websites of nail salons within a ten-mile radius of where I live (near Brighton), I haven’t found any that appear to use polyclay canes. Maybe I should view that as a business opportunity, and introduce them to my canes! The only trouble is that I don’t have a clue how they are actually incorporated into the nail design, so if the nail salon staff ask me how to use the canes I won’t be able to answer. Do the nail technicians bake the canes and then take fresh slices while the canes are warm? And then do they cover the design in gel and cure it under a UV lamp?

I’ve done a bit of experimenting with some leftover cane-ends that I had in my workshop, and a lot of them reduce quite well (i.e. you can still see the detail even when the canes are reduced to a diameter of about 5mm). Here are the results of my experiments this morning:

nail art cane experiments

nail art cane experiments

combination of cane elements

combination of cane elements

cool sort of mokume gane-ish water pattern

cool sort of watery pattern

even the wild violet (from the other day) reduces nicely

even the wild violet (from the other day) reduces nicely

closer view of some of the canes

closer view of some of the canes

quick experiment on some plastic nails

quick experiment on some plastic nails

Woo – I imagine that in the hands of an expert the nails could be made to look really special. Charlene ‘Cat’ Therien (polymer clay genius) has got lots of polymer clay canes for sale, and has a page about Fimo nail art, plus another page on http://www.neoflexnailart.com/shop/. There are some more pictures of pre-made nail art here, plus an article about polymer clay nail art here.