The Complexity of Time

Natalya Polekh clock 430x411 - The Complexity of Time

In my search for clock inspiration, I veered a bit off the polymer path, but then again, I kept running into pieces that I thought were polymer but were not. Of course, pieces like this splendid celestial clock by Natalya Polekh could be created in a very similar fashion with polymer. Large textured sheets and fun with alcohol inks and mica powders could produce similarly stunning results so I took a  closer look.

Natalya looks to be a well-known mixed media artist in Eastern Europe and Russia and when I say mixed, I mean all kinds of things. Her primary materials look to be various types of acrylic paint, dimensional and pearling paints, 3D gel, embossing paste, and glass and metal accents of different types. She works in texture, mosaics and layered media that is applied in such a way that knowing the materials is rather superfluous. She creates a beautiful complexity of texture and motif with shine and shimmer applied in abundance but always in a tasteful and often intriguing manner.

She does much more than clocks although she has done quite few of them. Take a look at her shop for more clock and textural ideas as well as very well priced tutorials on how she creates this work.  Her page has more images.


Fall Glass

sabine-spiesser-glass-shardsHere is a little more autumn color for the week. I think this is a brooch although it doesn’t say. I did have something else in mind from the ever-exploring Sabine Spiesser but then I alighted upon this little experiment while enjoying her Flickr photos and a couple of things about it caught my eye.

I find this interesting not only because it’s a faux textured glass technique and yummy colors but also because of a comment Sabine made in regards to it:

“Unfortunately I noticed that alcohol inks fade in bright light in Pardo clay. I left an old piece in a bright spot where it gets some sunshine and after about 4 months all colours except for red were gone. That was quite a shock. I have to rethink what I am doing.”

It makes me wonder if this is just a problem with Pardo, or all translucents or alcohol inks in general. I’m going to do some research and then my own tests. I’ll post my results in our newsletter, where all such tips usually land in my world. If you aren’t on our twice monthly newsletter list, you’re missing out on tips, community news, first sales announcements, and some of our magazine news. You can sign up on the left hand side of our website’s home page. In the meantime, enjoy a view of Sabine’s work on her Flickr pages and website.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try something different with a faux technique you like to do. If it’s faux stone, create forms you don’t usually see them in or texture them in a way that would be near impossible in a real stone. If it’s metal, create something organic-looking, like a silver flower or a copper pod. Just because we can mimic nature’s material doesn’t mean we need to recreate it only in the forms that nature presents it. Let go and try something different.


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Alcohol Primaries

montarsi extruder pearl testI think the brightest article we had in the spring 2015 issue had to be Jan Montarsi’s “Expanding Your Color Range with Alcohol Inks”. In this article, Jan not only shows us the best way to use alcohol ink as a colorant for the clay, but also gives us recipes and insights into developing a pearl and translucent clay color range far beyond what is available straight out of the package. Additionally, he offered a great Skinner blend style technique for creating graduated colors with alcohol inks. He has based his newest color expansion on a set of alcohol inks he has been able to determine will work as wonderful primaries for color mixing. It’s an intensely packed article that color junkies really need to get their hands on.

If you have been watching Jan throughout the last four plus years, you’ve seen the intense and gorgeous pearl colors he creates and combines within his various techniques. Because of everything Jan stuffed into this article, we didn’t have room for a show of his work using this coloring approach, so I thought I’d share a bit more of his range today. This necklace was a test using extruded pearl clays. I wish my tests turned out this luscious. This is not even a recent example of where he has gone with his coloring and pearl techniques, but it is a beautiful show of just what can be done by mixing a wider range of pearl colors together.

To see the wider range of Jan’s work, take some time and visit his Flickr photostream. Then be sure to read the article and set aside some exploration time with alcohol inks!


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Vintaj Patina Time

vintajinks test2 mg focaldisks2 - Vintaj Patina Time

Who here likes mokume and also likes working with inks? I bet I’d see a lot of hands raised if I could actually see you all. This link will send you to a kind of exploration, that doubles as a tutorial, on working with Vintaj inks with a mokume technique. Vintaj is an opaque ink created to be used with metals, but Amy Crawley decided to try it out with polymer.

What I’m getting from her experiments is that this is a good alternative for opaque color layers. We already have metallic foils and gilder’s paste, and you can use oil paints or alcohol inks for varying levels of transparency, but we don’t have any good opaque options. Acrylic paints, because they become a stretchy plastic when dried, stretches when cut, so it makes a rather funky color layer that can also pull your layers apart when cutting. Trust me, I tried, and it was a mess. But the Vintaj ink doesn’t stretch. It will crack, though, which is actually kind of cool.

So I thought I’d share this with you all as an alternative idea for mokume layers. It made me think that maybe tempura paints would work in a similar manner — crackling, not stretching, when manipulated and cut. In any case, if you are up for exploring mokume layer options, this set of three blog entries and her results may get you thinking and get you playing.

Her original experiments with Vintaj just on the surface of clay is the first post Amy write on Vintaj. Then go here for the first half of her mokume and Vintaj process, and here for the final steps.


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DIY Alcohol Ink

So after a week of talking about alcohol inks, have you found yourself diving in and trying a few ideas you saw? And now, are there any alcohol ink colors you wish you had, but haven’t been able to find or don’t want to buy a pack of 3 or 9 just to get them? Do you find them expensive or hard to find? Well, we do have an option–making our own!

The things you need to make your own alcohol inks are a permanent dye color source and rubbing alcohol. There are two primary color sources available to pretty much everyone–home fabric dyes such as Rit, or permanent markers like Sharpies. I haven’t tried either, but I have heard that the ones made with Sharpies are very, well, pungent. That chemical marker smell will fill the air. Not sure that’s a good thing, but if you have  lot of permanent markers you don’t really use, it would be a way to give them a purpose.  However, from the research I’ve done, it seems that the Sharpie colors are more vibrant than those made with the fabric dyes when using them on polymer clay. Which was a little surprising. Not surprising is that the colors are more vibrant on paper than on polymer. But as I haven’t tried it (yet!) myself, I can only offer the online instructions I found that seemed most useful and let you decide.

This video uses the permanent marker method:

7468612_f520Here is a page on creating alcohol inks with markers if you aren’t into watching videos.

As for alcohol inks with fabric dyes, here is the best of them that I found. It’s a short video by Cindy Lietz of Polymer Clay Tutor, so it’s definitely geared towards polymer clay use.

You may also find some instruction about making alcohol ink with food coloring or Kool-aid, but keep in mind that the color needs to adhere to polymer. Most food dyes  cling to proteins but will not stain–certainly not in any permanent fashion–synthetic materials like plastics. So you need permanent dyes that will become permanent on synthetics and non-porous surfaces.

So as far as I know, permanent markers and fabric dyes are your best bet for easy to find alcohol colorants. And they’re cheap. That is always a plus!

Crackly Goodness

I couldn’t let the last days of the year go by without stopping to admire a little crackle. These sumptuous discs here are the work of Barbara Fajardo. She developed a technique that layers alcohol inks to get a multi-dimensional texture with, of course, lots of fine crackle.


In this case, the polymer is a carrier rather than visual element, but even without knowing the particulars of Barbara’s technique, it’s unlikely that there is another material that could be paired with the inks and manipulated so as to develop the light crackling effect. These are some of the most magical aspects of our medium–the plasticity and ability of polymer to take on a wide variety of other mediums.

Even though color is what often draws us to polymer, it’s the physical characteristics of the material that make it so versatile. One of these days I’m going to count how many ways we can use it just for crackling.

In the meantime, we hope Barbara has the opportunity to develop a class for CraftArtEdu on this beautiful technique. She has four other classes available there right now. If you want to see more applications of Barbara’s crackly goodness, take some time to look through her Flickr page.


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