The Magic of Transfers
MindStorm Productions has recently released the latest video
in its Master Artisans: Polymer Clay Series, featuring Dotty
McMillan in "Transfer Magic." Magic is just what
Dotty seems to produce: vivid, crisp designs replicated on
clay. Already well known as the author of suspense novels
and as a nationally exhibited artist, Dotty makes her video
debut here as an excellent polymer clay instructor.
After a detailed introductory explanation of the tools and
materials required for her projects, Dotty begins with a basic
black and white transfer. Using an image which has been either
freshly photocopied or printed on a laser printer, the artist
places the image on raw clay, burnishes it well, and bakes
it. The steps are explained and shown in very clear detail.
Dotty shows how the use of two colors of clay creates easily
achieved visual interest. She explains the importance of burnishing,
"the very most important part of doing transfers."
Following the transfer of the image to clay, a pin is created
with the addition of a contrasting frame and a pin finding.
As will happen throughout the video, Dotty throws in an additional
suggestion or two for using or presenting the finished pieces.
Next, Dotty shows how to make a collage pendant. She creates
black and white copies of images from a variety of sources,
colors them with colored pencils, and burnishes the design
onto raw clay. Having problems with an incomplete transfer
to the clay? Dotty shows how to remedy the situation. For
this project, she molds the frame clay in the "matrix"
which is part of the rubber stamp manufacturing process. Talcum
powder or "Armor AllTM"
is used as a mold release, and a needle tool is used to smooth
the seams. An embossed tube of clay is made to form a holder
for the pendant's cord. the entire frame and cord holder is
enriched with the application of Liquid SculpeyTM
which has been thinned and tinted with artists' oils. Viewers
are also shown how to use successively finer grades of wet-dry
sandpaper to obtain a satin smooth finish on the baked piece.
The next project is the transfer of color images. Dotty reveals
the special type of paper which makes these transfers possible
(and which type does not). Her clear explanation of why things
work or don't work will appeal to the inquiring minds among
her audience. Copying original or copyright-free art is explained,
as is another demonstration of burnishing. Liquid SculpeyTM
is used to coat and protect the image. A large, colorful pendant
is made using black clay, pressed into a mold to create an
embossed effect, as a frame for the color image.
The use of rubber stamps and their reverse molded images
is an integral part of the projects on this video. Dotty explains
how to create, purchase and use these tools to add either
subtle or dramatic emphasis to transferred images.
Dotty now goes into considerable detail about using various
finishes to create patinas or weathered appearances on finished
work. She shows how she makes pins and pendants which look
like reassembled shards of broken pottery or tiles. Black
clay, subtly embossed with a related pattern, forms a frame.
Antique looks are achieved through the use of acrylic paints,
EnhancersTM, and metallic
wax. The addition of dangling beads completes these unique
and handsome works of art.
Dotty also makes dimensional images by using rubber stamps
and thick pads of clay to make her own molds. After baking
her molded clay pieces, she "antiques" them and
demonstrates the use of sandpaper to achieve a clean contrast
among the different thicknesses of clay.
The final section of the video is packed full of enough ideas
to keep polymer artists at work or play for a long time -
suggestions such as sources for images, making shaped frames
and boxes, miniature books, creative pendant and pin backings,
and the use of a computer to create images and/or add color
Dotty McMillan is a talented and imaginative artist who shares
her ideas generously with her viewers. When she lists sources
at the end of the video, she even lists herself as available
to do scanning, sizing and printing on transfer paper. Be
sure to stay tuned for the now-famous MindStorm video outtakes
at the end of the tape; it's such a relief to see and hear
that the experts among us make their share of mistakes and
can laugh heartily at themselves.