Painting with Polymer Clay
MindStorm Productions has recently released the latest video
in its Master Artisans Of Polymer Clay Series, featuring Jody
Bishel in "Exploring Liquid Sculpey." Jody makes
her video debut in this excellent introduction to the use
of Liquid Sculpey polymer clay as a decorative medium. As
the leading artist using Liquid Sculpey, Bishel shares her
creativity along with her technical expertise. This video
is certain to expand the horizons of anyone who works with
While polymer clay itself is several decades old, the liquid
form has been available only recently. Liquid Sculpey, made
by Polyform, came to the attention of Jody Bishel soon after
its introduction, and she has been experimenting, innovating
and winning awards with it ever since. She has built on her
professional art training, her experience with metal and stone
jewelry and her background as a painter to create novel ways
to work with this new product in conjunction with the more
familiar solid polymer clay. Topics and projects include:
- Pin Marbleizing
- Gold Layering
- Layered Patinas
- Faux Enamel
- Image Transfers
Jody begins by reviewing the specialized tools and materials
needed to complete the projects on the video. In addition
to the supplies which most polymer artists have on hand, they
will need items like an old light bulb, linoleum cutter, glue
gun, acrylic and oil paints, Pearlex powders and, of course,
Liquid Sculpey and Transparent Liquid Sculpey. Mail order
suppliers for tools and for Liquid Sculpey are listed at the
end of the video.
Jody's first project is image transfers. Anyone who has struggled
to get perfect transfers onto polymer clay will applaud this
techniques using Liquid Sculpey. The transfer process is simple
and results in an image which can be applied to a curved surface
if desired. When created using Transparent Liquid Sculpey
on a sheet of glass, the images are extremely clear; when
applied to a background of colored clay, the color shows through
and becomes part of the finished design. In this small project
alone, Jody shares the kinds of tips and subtle pointers which
you just can't get from "book learning."
The next demonstration involves mixing Liquid Sculpey and
Transparent Liquid Sculpey with artists' oils and Pearlex
powders to create custom colors and effects. The mixtures
are applied to a colored clay background and baked, resulting
in a sample which shows the effects of the background clay
color on the finished piece.
Readers who admired Jody's beautiful Liquid Sculpey butterflies
in a recent issue of Jewelry Crafts will enjoy her demonstration
of these brooches. Applying several colors of Liquid Sculpey
in "drips and stripes" to a background shape cut
from colored clay, and then using a pin tool to drag the colors
through each other, she shows how it pays to take one's time
to get the best results. A 3-dimensional "body"
is added to enhance the realistic effect. After baking, a
final coating of glaze brings out the full beauty of the Pearlex
powders which were mixed into the Liquid Sculpey.
Ever been frustrated by trying to backfill carved or excised
designs in polymer clay with contrasting colors of raw clay?
Try Jody's approach using Liquid Sculpey. She demonstrates
the use of several conventional and "found" tools
to create patterned depressions in clay, bakes it, and then
fills the voids with various colors of Liquid Sculpey. The
project is complete with tips on removing excess Liquid Sculpey
and sanding it after baking.
"Gold Layering" is the term Jody uses for her technique
of creating an incredible sense of depth in a glossy finish.
She impresses a design into raw polymer clay and then enhances
the appearance of depth by brushing acrylic paint into the
recesses. To add further contrast, she highlights the high
spots with Pearlex powder. The entire piece is coated with
two coats of Transparent Liquid Sculpey (with baking sessions
between them), and the addition of a pin back completes the
piece of jewelry. Throughout the project, Jody provides a
constant stream of advice and commentary - for example, using
Transparent Liquid Sculpey to help raw clay adhere to baked
clay, and tips on avoiding bubbles in Liquid Sculpey.
The next project is called the "Dragonesque Brooch."
Here, Jody demonstrates the art of faux enameling using Liquid
Sculpey. Jody sculpted a dragon-form brooch based on an ancient
one from from Britain, but any design containing open "cells"
will do. After baking the polymer form, Jody creates the appearance
of age with a patina, and then fills the individual cells
of the form with Liquid Sculpey. After baking, the finished
piece is left unsanded, adding further to its "ancient"
appearance. Jody also demonstrates a variation of faux enameling
by carving a design into baked scrap clay and pressing this
design into raw clay. After the raw clay is baked, it is filled
with Liquid Sculpey. Jody shows how to prepare open cells
with acrylic if they are to be filled with Transparent Liquid
Sculpey, and how to swirl multiple colors of Liquid Sculpey
together. The piece is finished by sanding and buffing or
by adding a layer of varnish.
"Layered patinas are my favorite technique with Liquid
Sculpey," says Jody as she introduces the final project
of the video. The variety and depth of colors which seem to
float over each other over a curved surface are truly beautiful.
This complex vessel will look familiar to people who have
admired Jody's award-winning entries in juried shows and in
recent publications. Jody uses an old light bulb as the armature
over which the vessel is built (and provides safety guidelines
for removing the glass after baking). She shows how to cut
and trim a slab of clay to fit the curves of the light bulb,
how to remove air bubbles, and how to attach a footed base.
The first patina layer of tinted Liquid Sculpey is applied
in a deliberately uneven manner and baked. Subsequent steps
involve the application of Transparent Liquid Sculpey and
Pearlex powder to the exterior of the vessel as well as a
glazing of the interior. Jody creates folded, ribbed, patinated
leaves which she attaches to the outside of the varnished
vessel using Liquid Sculpey in a glue gun. Following the final
baking of the piece, colored Liquid Sculpey is applied to
the ribs of the leaves and set with a heat gun. The final
product is well worth the many steps in its construction.
Jody explains each facet of the project with the clarity of
a seasoned instructor and with the enthusiasm that will inspire
viewers to design their own unique creations.
The video ends with variations on the many techniques.. Pin
marbling examples include Christmas ornaments and more elaborate
butterflies. Rubber stamps are used to form bases for faux
enameling, and we are also shown variations of back-filling
with Liquid Sculpey. Patinas are shown covering 3-dimensional
objects, and an elaborate pendant is covered with gold layering.
A craggy, multi-hued vessel with lots of texture required
at least 20 trips to the oven. Realistic leaves, coated in
layered patinas, look as though they came from the forest
floor, and layered patinas are also used to great effect on
a bulbous pendant decorated with Paleolithic animal motifs.
The final and most complex object shown is a covered vessel
which makes use of several of Jody's ground-breaking and inspiring