Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tutorial Creating a Pillow Lining for Curing Polymer Clay !

So this blog post is the first in returning to my intended purpose for it, which is to share my art, and occasionally useful information, like tutorials.  Other than my basic perspective and philosophy about art, this particular blog will focus on topics related to my art which is mostly mixed media art sculpture, and doll art.  I write on four other blogs, with bleak mystique retired.  Dicky B. Haven is also an art related blog, but it delves into ontology, and Further Dispells, in that blog I write about anything; current events, both alternative, and mainstream news, there are no sacred cows or taboo topics, so in that blog you'll get my rational perspective of issues and subject matter often viewed with much bias. Bias is a precognitive unconscious state of mind, and to overcome your own biases is concurring your unthinkable, conquering your unthinkable does lead to reason, a strong argument can be made for reason, as an expression of enlightenment, I would strongly side in that camp, and leave my views about it in my other blogs. 

So this blog is a tutorial for making a pillow lining for glass baking dishes to cure polymer clay sculpture.  First of all I prefer glass with and without a liner for curing polymer clay.   Prior to making one of these I baked my figures or sculptures on a bed of polyester batting laid inside of the baking dish, and that can lead to problems first and foremost the loose polyester batting fibers do stick to polymer clay during the curing process.  From experience I know some polymer clay sculpture requires propping of some kind, and it can be useful if you want to avoid flat shiny spots on your artwork to use polyester stuffing or batting.  I find it particularly useful when making doll bust, and limbs, or fully sculpted figurines.  Creating propping pillows gives you the same benefits of using polyester batting without loose fibers sticking to your work, or melting as a result of falling to the floor of your oven.   The oven I use is a gas kitchen oven dedicated exclusively to polymer clay, I do clean it regularly, the last time I cleaned it I notice some of the fibers in the batting had made their way down to the floor of the oven and melted to it, they were easy to removed from a clod oven, but that could still pose a health or fire hazard so I decided to make the following changes the tutorial explains.

Materials List for Tutorial
 1.1/4 - 1/2 yard  100% cotton fabric, cotton and silk blend suiting can work also, but I recommend inexpensive bleached or natural unbleached 100% percent preshrunk muslin.  If you buy it new, I recommend machine washing and pressing it prior to using it for this project. You can also recycle almost any woven 100% cotton fabric.  Knitted cottons like tee shirt material has too much stretch for this project I don't recommend it.
2. A marking pen, you can use a ball point pen or fabric marking pen,  trim all the pen lines off anyway during the cutting.
3. Shape scissors / shears for cutting fabric. 
4. 3-5 ounces of craft store polyester stuffing, poly-fil™ is a brand name, but this is the material in most pillows, and modern plush toys. 
5. You'll need you baking dishes, to trace. 
6. A sewing machine.

Steps 1-2 
Step 1.  Lay your baking dish edge down on your fabric and trace all the way around, with marking pen, I do this to one layer of the pressed fabric.
 Step 2.  After I've traced the baking dish, I fold and double the fabric, then cut the block of doubled fabric from the rest of the yardage, I repress the fold at that point.
Step 1-2

Step 3. Since the baking dish has glass handles which extend about 1 1/4 of an inch at the center on both ends, I laid the baking dish back down and just marked from where the hands extends, then used a ruler to make a new trimming line, the seam allowance for this project is 1/2 inch, and the thickness of glass must be accounted for, the thickness of the glass is 1/4 inch.   
Step 4.  Trim all the way around, and cut where the new trimming line is, you won't need the handles in the tracing of your baking dish.

Steps 3-4

Step 5.  With right sides together after cutting out the fabric, I have used pins, then laid the fabric into the baking dish, I didn't make any alterations, didn't need to.  

Step 6.  I have adjusted the sewing needle on my sewing machine for a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Sewn all the way around,  leaving one end open, about the length of a handle.   After I sewed the seam I pressed, and trimmed it down to 1/4 inch, then I set it back down into the baking dish
Steps 5-6
Step 7.  I cut out wedges two on each of the four corners, depending on the fabric 2-4 just on each of the corners will be enough, I pressed the seam after sewing , prior to turning the lining pillow right sides out.   The entire project took only about 20 minutes even stopping to take the pictures, in fact writing this tutorial is taking longer than the actual project. I left the iron on the during the time I was making this to press properly.
Step 8.  Turn right sides outs, I use a wood sculpting tool to push out the seams, press again.

Steps 7-8

Step 9. Once the right sides are turned over, I filled with poly-fil, the density should be about 1-1/2 inches of thickness all across the inside of the pillow.   In order to insure an even layer of poly-fil I pounced the pillow against the corner of the desk, and agitated the filling between my hand palms facing one another say in a clapping motion, but kneading like dough instead, one I had enough poly-fil, I used a preset over-edge strait and zig-zag combo stitch to close the opening. 

Step 10.  I have used these pillows for the last 2 months, and I've found them to be wonderful, I've used them on small figurines, one of the things I noticed is that during the baking process the plasticizers, and mineral oils used to suspend the molecules of polyvinyl stain the fabric.  The figurines I've been baking have been solid clay, and I bake them for up to an hour without problems.  It was interesting to notice this phenomenon, I don't know if it effects the quality of the sculptures when those mineral oils exit the sculpture in the curing process, but I've notice stronger more resistant sculpture, with the consistency and density of a silk stone barbie.  I've also watched several videos on You Tube regarding some glazes becoming tacky or sticky over time with the charms made from polymer clay.  It may be due to the fact that when cured a small amount of the minerals and plasticizers remain saturated in the clay some do evaporate, but not all.  This baking method gives those mineral oils, and plasticizers an exit during curing, laying paper towels under the work might have the same effect too.   I'll write another blog about the issue later if I need to.  
Steps 9-10 The baking dish has a  13 x 9 interior.  Original sculpture by Alan G. Jong

Hope You'll enjoy this Tutorial, and Thank You, Best Holiday wishes, and endeavors.

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