From Art to Art: Cross-Media Techniques
Nan Roche's video, "Nan's Special Techniques,"
is an opportunity for polymer clay enthusiasts to add to their
repertoire of structural and finishing techniques. This acclaimed
author of the pioneering book "The New Clay" shares
an assortment of practical tips for mixing, extruding and
baking clay, and demonstrates details of braiding, stamping
and marbleizing to create unique jewelry pieces.
Nan covers techniques borrowed from other art media:
- From fiber arts, how to braid a pendant
- From metalworking, loop-in-loop chains and Mokume Gane
- From the paper arts, marbling surfaces and using rubber
Several clay-working processes are shown and described in
the course of the video:
- Working with liquid polymer clay
- Using metallic, atomized and other powders
- Modifying a caulking gun to hold a clay extruder
- Creating a Skinner Blend
- Imitating patinas for an antique appearance
- Sanding and buffing clay safely and effectively
- Using rubber stamps and the intermediate rubber stamp
- Finishing the backs of pins and pendants artistically
A self-described "natural experimentalist," Nan
shares with her viewers the results of more than a decade
of working with polymer clay and the benefit of her ability
to translate techniques from one medium to another.
After describing the tools and materials needed to use her
techniques, Nan creates a braided pendant. She gives clear
and detailed instructions for making a Skinner Blend, a technique
which results in a sheet of clay shaded between two colors
or among several. A simple pendant introduces the basic braiding
steps, while more complex variations are shown later in the
Next, Nan uses an ancient metalworking technique to create
polymer clay loop-in-loop chain necklaces which are very flexible.
The chain links are made from extruded clay, for which Nan
demonstrates the use of a clay gun. She gives a thorough explanation
for modifying an ordinary caulking tool to hold and put pressure
on the clay gun. From the extruded clay ribbon, individual
links are made and connected, and before baking the finished
length of chain is prepared so that the links will not stick
together. "Double loop-in-loop" chain is also shown.
This segment ends with a display of ways to create closures
Ever wish you could bring the art of marbled paper to clay?
Nan shows how it is done using a new product, liquid polymer
clay. Because this material floats on water, it can be used
to create marble patterns which are then transferred to sheets
of clay or to beads of various shapes and sizes. Nan explains
the use of different pigments and powders, and observes that
"marbling is a very fickle process — it's going to be
different every time you use it." She demonstrates the
importance of using color and contrast, and shares how to
Nan now demonstrates the use of rubber stamps and the Japanese
metalworking technique called Mokume Gane. Pins and pendants
are created by first building a multi-layered, multi-colored
base. This base is either impressed with "positive"
rubber stamps or is pressed into the "negative"
image sheet often discarded by the stamp manufacturer. These
stamped clay surfaces are sliced carefully with a tissue blade,
revealing the wood grain effect which is the goal of the Mokume
Gane method. Nan calls this step "the drawing slice."
Nothing is wasted, as Nan applies the resulting shavings to
a plain piece of layered clay and burnishes them to create
a third distinctive pin in this series.
Using the Mokume Gane pins, Nan shows how to use patinas
to alter their appearance. Using metallic bronze base paint,
atomized powder and copper sulfate, she creates dramatic surface
treatments. Throughout, the importance and timing of sanding
and buffing is emphasized.