Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 19: Six-Piece Painting

This week's project was a cascading series of disasters. I had this plan of creating a grid of clay tiles, with each tile being part of a picture. I planned to do a photo transfer onto the clay tiles, then embellish and display them in a grouping.

So pretty much everything went wrong. I used the wrong kind of clay - "Sculpey Light," which it turns out doesn't have the same properties as regular Sculpey clay. This messed everything up: the image transfer failed, and my attempts to fix it with ink and markers tanked as well.

But you know what? It came out looking just fine in the end. With a coat of acrylic paint, it's now a painting, rather than a photo. Here's how it all went down . . .

What you need

  • Sculpey clay (not Sculpey Light as shown here)
  • Liquid Sculpey
  • bone folder
  • t-shirt transfer paper
  • pencil and ruler (to create grid lines)
  • rolling pin
  • x-acto knife and self-healing cutting mat
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes and palette paper
  • acrylic gloss varnish

What you need, clockwise from left: acrylic gloss varnish, Liquid Sculpey, rolling pin, acrylic paints, palette paper, painbrushes, bone folder, x-acto knife, ruler, t-shirt transfer paper, self-healing cutting mat, Sculpey clay

Start by using an image editing program to flip your photo - it will render as a mirror image after transferring to the clay.
Flip your photo, then print it out on the photo transfer paper.
Turn the paper over and draw in gridlines. Number the rectangles so that you can keep track of where each clay piece goes.
Cut out the rectangles, then roll out the clay to a 1/4 inch thickness using a rolling pin. Spread some Liquid Sculpey on the clay (it helps the image adhere to the clay) and press the rectangles face down on the clay. Use the bone folder to smooth and press the photo down.
Cut out the clay rectangles with an x-acto knife on the cutting mat.
One you've cut out your rectangles, bake as directed on the clay instructions. Cover the clay with a pie tin and clamp the edges, so that the clay polymers don't off-gas into your oven.

When your clay is baked, pull off the t-shirt paper backing and - ta-da! - your images will be revealed. Pencil the number of each image on the back of the clay so that you can continue to keep track of which image goes where.

Here's where everything went downhill. This Sculpey Light stuff leached most of the color out of the image transfer. Instead of the pretty beach scene, it was a gray apocalyptic landscape. And the image transfer didn't stick well to the clay - there were some huge bare areas where the transfer paper pulled off.

Plus, there were far too many pieces for this clay art piece. I ditched most of them and just used the six central pieces.
Desperate, I tried to add in some color by rubbing pigment ink over the image.
But the pigment ink came out kind of cruddy, and didn't evenly cover the bare areas. I added some marker too, but it still didn't do the trick. It looks better but not even close to where it needs to be.
Acrylic paint to the rescue! I chose colors similar to the photo  and repainted the whole thing.
And here's the final piece after painting on two layers of acrylic varnish to protect and seal the piece, and to add shine.
Finally, I have a nifty looking six-piece art sculpture thingy. I'm planning to hang this on my wall with a funky frame.

If at first you don't succeed . . . well . . . do whatever you can to get it to work!

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