It’s funny how many comments and emails I got on Monday when I mentioned that I had untouched blocks of Pardo translucent clay in my studio. There is such a demand and yet so little available. I have had email conversations with a contact at Viva Decor but I never got a straight answer as to why its in such short supply or when we might expect to see it more readily available. So what’s a frustrated artist to do? As far as actually getting your hands on some, your best bet in the US seems to be getting on PolyClayPlay.com’s waiting list. (Is it any easier getting it in Europe by chance?)
In the meantime, I say go play with our other options. Pardo may be the clearest (so we’ve heard) but only in the clays themselves. The absolute clearest polymer you can work with is Fimo Decorating Gel. Although it can also be tough to locate in some places, it’s not impossible to get a hold of. (See our post last year regarding Fimo Gel and a false rumor; I listed places to find it.) You may not consider Fimo Gel to be a primary polymer to create forms with but with a little outside-the-box thinking, you’ll find you certainly can work with it as something other than an addition to the surface of clay.
Kathrin Neumaier has been playing extensively with both Pardo Translucent Art Clay and Fimo Gel, sometimes interchangeably. Here is a piece in Pardo Tranlucent clay (and what a fun piece!):
And here are basically the same forms but created in Fimo Gel:
So, yes, you can form pieces from liquid polymer and get a translucene as good if not better than with the elusive Pardo. And just think … there’s no conditioning!
The easiest way I found to work with liquid polymer as a form is to start out making sheets of cured lpc. You simply drizzle then lightly brush out the liquid polymer on a clean and very smooth, flat surface and bake it like that. A piece of tempered glass or polished sheet metal is an ideal surface. If you don’t have either, you can use a sheet of window glass (you can buy small panes at hardware stores or take the glass out of a picture frame) but you should put untempered glass into a cold oven and wait until it’s completely cooled before taking it out–rapid temperature changes can cause the glass to crack. (And tape up the raw glass edges with masking tape–let’s not cut ourselves!)
If the liquid polymer comes out of the oven still a little milky in spots wave a heat gun over it, keeping the heat a couple inches (50mm) away until it goes clear. (If you baked it on untempered glass, take it off the glass first.) Then you can cut whatever forms you want from that sheet. You can even add more liquid polymer to build it up or add color.
I would say about half the work I did in the first couple years I worked with polymer was created with lpc forms made this way and not just with Fimo Gel. After practicing for a bit, I could get any lpc to got completely clear. It just takes a little patience but its wonderful fun.
Kathrin has made all kinds of forms from liquid polymer including hollow beads and one piece collar necklaces. If you have the translucent bug, you need to take some time to browse through her Flickr pages for some inspiring ideas on what you might try while waiting for your Pardo.