Category Archives: Products

CHA Quickie Review

I just got back from the Craft & Hobby Association show in Anaheim, and boy, am I tired! Lots of walking, lots of conversations, and more scrapbook paper than one would ever want. After a few days, everything is a blur. However, there were a few stand-outs. I’ll do full reviews of these products after I test them, but these are the things that caught my eye.

Magic-Glos

Lisa Pavelka is now marketing a new UV cured resin, Magic-Glos. This resin is used to create a hard, clear finish on our pieces, and when cured, the surface is more like an acrylic and even harder than EnviroTex or other two-part epoxy resins. HOWEVER, it requires you to cure it using a UV light source–a UV nail lamp, direct sunlight, or a UV florescent black light 40 watts or higher. Lisa conveniently sells lamps and replacement bulbs on her site as well. I’ll report more on the product after I test it, but I like the hard finish of the product.

Kato Polyclay introduced a line of Colored Liquid Polymer Clay.  I know that this was in the works for some time…Tony Aquino, the product guru at Van Aken, had brought samples to the South Bay Polymer Clay Guild for us to play with.  Using some aluminum window channels, we made the most awesome flexible bracelets with this stuff.  The colors are transparent and come in red, yellow, blue, orange, violet and green along with opaque black and opaque white.  You can make opaque colors by adding the transparent colors to white or pearlescent colors by adding mica powders.  I can’t wait to play more with the colored liquid clay!

La D’ore International had some beautiful new colors of gold leaf–cranberry (kind of a violet color) and a phenomenal deep orange. The owner debuted the products at CHA and will have the site updated soon (both products are not on the retail site yet). HOWEVER, when it does come up, he offered National Polymer Clay Guild Synergy attendees a 20% discount off their order. Just put SYNERGY20 in your order comments and mention the discount. He can’t re-process orders, so if you forget, you don’t get the discount. You’ll love these new colors…they are stupendous!

Patera Deep Pendant

Nunn Design has some great Patera deep pendants that are perfect as bails for our polymer clay. They come in gold, copper and silver finishes. Nunn Design sells wholesale, but one of my favorite companies, JudiKins, sells them online.

Avery has a new flexible/stretchable t-shirt transfer paper. On fabric, it has no “hand” whatsoever. I have a sample, and I’m going to try it on polymer clay as yet another image transfer medium. More to come! However, JudiKins Tranz-It Rinse Away Paper still remains my favorite. In fact, I demonstrated it at the Kato Polyclay booth during the show and made Donna Kato and Tony Aquino from Van Aken jump for joy! I called it the “worlds fastest and easiest image transfer.” And it was.

Golden Paint is coming out with one of the most innovative products I’ve seen in a long time. They have some new mediums–called Digital Grounds–that you paint onto surfaces that enable you to run them through your inkjet printer. It will come in White (matte), Clear (gloss) and for Non-Porous surfaces. With these products, you will be able to print onto most anything you can fit into your inkjet printer. At their booth, Golden had samples of everything from iridescent film to thin foil and even a sheet of dried acrylic paint! Wow. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of this stuff. Imagine putting a sheet of cured clay through your inkjet printer? I can’t wait!

I’m sure I’ll remember more as I recover, but these were the real stand-0uts to me!

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Product Discovery: JudiKins TranzIt Rinse-Away Paper

5 Stars Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

TranzIt Rinse Away Paper

There are TONS of ways to transfer images to polymer clay. Inkjet, waterslide decals, toner with alcohol, toner with gin, direct…and on and on.

I have discovered a NEW way to get extraordinary and fast transfer onto polymer clay–JudiKins TranzIt Rinse-Away Paper. Designed for use with TranzIt gel for image transfers, TranzIt Rinse-Away Paper is the perfect transfer medium for polymer clay. Retailing for $7.75 for 5 sheets, it’s not inexpensive. However, you will be thrilled with using this paper.

The paper is made from cellulose. When it comes into contact with water, it immediately breaks down. Thus, you can only use this paper with a laser printer or toner-based color or black-and-white copier. You cannot, I repeat cannot, use this paper with an inkjet printer–it will forever gum up your printer and render it useless. Now for the good news. You can have an image transfer in five minutes. Yes, you read correctly. Five minutes.

Here’s how:

  1. Print your images onto the paper using a laser printer or laser/toner copier (color or black-and-white). Most likely, a copy center will be reluctant to put this paper into their machines, but you could give it a try. I have a color laser printer, and it worked well. The paper buckled and curled a bit with the heat from the printer, but the images transferred easily and well.
  2. Cut out your image, leaving NO white space.
  3. Roll out a sheet of conditioned, light-colored polymer clay on your desired thickness setting. Place it either on your work surface, a baking surface like a tile, or on a deli sheet or waxed paper–depending upon how you’ll be using the transfer. I use light colors of clay (white, pearl, translucent, ecru or even silver or gold for a different look) since the transfer is translucent, and any backing clay color will show through the image.
  4. Place your printed image face-down on your conditioned clay. Cover it with a sheet of deli paper, plain paper, etc. Burnish the image through the paper using a bone folder or other burnishing tool. I do this so the tool doesn’t drag across the raw clay as I go past the edges of the conditioned clay. Burnish from the center of the image out towards the edges to ensure that you do not trap any air between the image and the clay. Remove the cover paper.
  5. Wait at least 5 minutes. DO NOT WAIT MORE THAN 20 or 30 MINUTES. I let a piece wait for too long (an hour or so), and the image smeared.  15 minutes was fine.  I haven’t ventured past 20 minutes since the smear incident. :-(
  6. Take your image to the sink and run water over it. You will see the paper dissolve and rinse away.
  7. Make sure all of the cellulose material has rinsed away. You may find remnants sticking to the dark areas of your image. Gently wash/wipe these away.
  8. Form your piece with your image and bake. You can also cover the image with a VERY thin layer of liquid polymer clay to protect it.

Now, wasn’t that easy? I thought so. I’ve been experimenting with this paper a bit, and if I find different issues with it, I’ll report back here. However, I do have to say that this is the EASIEST image transfer I’ve ever created on polymer clay.

I’ve linked to JudiKins’ retail store so you can get your own (no, I don’t get commission for this…I just don’t know who is stocking this stuff, and I thought it would be easiest for you got get it from the source).

Have fun!

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Product Review: Atlas Pasta Drive Motor

Pasta Drive

Four Stars Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

After several years as a slave of my hand-cranked

pasta machine (and sufferer of sore shoulders), I decided to get a pasta machine motor. A Christmas gift certificate helped make the purchase a much easier decision, but I felt that with all the claying I do, it would be worth the investment regardless of the cost.

I researched prices and found that Polymer Clay Express had the most reasonable deal ($80, as opposed to around $100 on other sites), so I placed my order for my Pasta Drive along with a nifty little accessory–a foot pedal ($18) similar to a sewing machine pedal. I’d be able to turn the machine on and off without using my hands–a nice feature when you’re working with a large or long piece of clay.

I receved the motor in good order. However, I found out that the older Atlas machine that I have didn’t have the requisite holes drilled around the crank case to attach the motor! Fortunately, I had another machine that had the drilled plate, so I did a little switcheroo and had a machine ready to motorize.

The machine has a crank shaft similar to the end of the crank handle plus two little catch bolts that secure and hold the motor to the machine. Ten seconds of fiddling and fitting (well, ten minutes and ten seconds, if you add the time it took to find and replace the plate), and I had a motor ready to go. I plugged it into my foot pedal, set my rollers on a #1 setting and I was ready to go. I had some clay flattened to get through the rollers–I know that if you put in too much clay at a time, you can really stress the engine–and I pressed down on the pedal to get the motor running.

WOW! LOUD LOUD LOUD! The motor is extremely loud. Almost ear-plug loud. I put the slab of clay through the machine, and the machine got louder and a bit slower until the clay was through. I folded and put the clay through again and went through normal conditioning, lickety-split. It was really nice to condition the clay in this manner, but I have to say that the noise could and will get very irritating in a short amount of time. However, the good thing about a foot pedal is that you don’t have to have the machine constantly on. You can turn it off and on easily and have your hands free at all times.

I took my slab of clay through the various settings of the pasta machine and found the performance of the motor to be just fine. However, I began to smell a bit of burning, and I immediately stopped the machine.

The nice thing about the polymer clay community is that there are a lot of people willing to help you with questions or problems. In order to find out what’s normal with this motor, I went to the Polymer Clay People Yahoo Group and asked people what was normal regarding noise, the burning smell and longevity of the motor. In no time at all, I had my answer:

- Yes, the noise level is normal. The slowing of the motor as it’s working is normal. Just don’t try to cram a bunch of clay through the machine; you should only put a sheet through that’s double or 3x the thickness of the setting at MOST.

- Yes, the burning smell is normal. Sometimes the motor burns off some of the oil used to lubricate the motor during manufacturing. The burning smell will subside.

- Yes, the motor lasts for a long time. People have quoted years of use with no end in sight.

These key pieces of information made me much more comfortable with my purchase. As we all know, when we’re unfamiliar with something, it’s always nice to hear that others have had the same experiences and the experiences are normal. That’s one of the reasons I’ve started this blog.

So, the Pasta Drive gets 4 stars out of 5. The noise kicked it down a notch. :-) I’m looking forward to less soreness in my shoulders and many more days of clay.

Digg!

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Product Review: Makin’s Clay Professional Ultimate Clay Machine

1 Star 1 star (out of 5)

Suggested Retail Price: $50 – $60

Makin’s® Clay is on version 2 of the Ultimate Clay Machine. Unfortunately, their 2nd try solves one problem and creates another.

In April 2006, Makin’s Clay stopped production of its Ultimate Clay Machine. This new machine initially showed real promise. It was the only commercial “pasta” machine that touted non-stick rollers, wider rolling area (around 7″), and 9 thickness settings. No other machine had the same unique features.

It’s unfortunate that these unique features have caused great headaches for the Makin’s people. The way that pasta machines…er…clay machines work is that clay is rolled between two rollers. Below the rollers, “scrapers” keep the clay from continuing round and round the rollers–they scrape the clay off the rollers and the clay comes extrudes out below. The scraper blades are made of metal and are fairly sharp, and they tend to touch the rollers to ensure that material doesn’t continue to stick on the rollers.

This core design was troublesome for the 1st Makin’s machine. When the scraper blades touched the non-stick coated rollers, they scraped grooves into the non-stick coating at the points of contact. And when you rolled your clay through, those light grooves translated into grooves and texture onto your clay. The grooves were minor, but you could see them clearly on the rollers, and lightly on the clay.

This grooving happened to me on the very first use of the original machine. I contacted the vendor who sold me the machine, and she refunded my money. Walnut Hollow, the US distributor of the Makin’s Machine (the machine is manufactured by Hong-Kong based Sino Harvest Limited), picked up the machine via FedEx at their cost.

I thought this was the end of it, but Walnut Hollow mistakenly sent me the version 2 machine a few weeks ago. Being the curious sort that I am, I decided to test the machine. First, I read the instructions, and cleaned the machine as advised. I then took some black Kato Polyclay that I conditioned in my Atlas machine, and ran it through the #1 setting of the Makin’s Machine. I immediately noticed a scraping across the top surface of the clay–as if I had scraped a wide object across the clay and marred the surface. I folded the clay and ran it through #1 a couple of times and noticed the same scraping. This was a bad sign.

At #2, there was still scraping. At #3, more still. At #4, I had a piece of clay that was rippled on the top, with fairly deep ripples but no tearing. This rippling got worse as I set the machine thinner. This wasn’t going well.

I cleaned the machine and tried with some unconditioned clay–maybe my clay was too soft. I took some unconditioned black Kato Polyclay and flattened it with my acrylic roller. I put it through a #1 and saw the top scraping. I conditioned it on #1, folding and rolling as usual. Still some marring. And when it was getting conditioned and as I rolled it through successively thinner settings, the same rippling occurred. I also tried with some softer clay, some metallic clay, etc. The result was the same.

I turned the machine over and found the culprit–they had replaced the metal scrapers with plastic, and it was apparent that the polymer clay was sticking to or scraping against the plastic. The friction from this plastic on plastic is causing the surface marring at #1 and the rippling at #4 and beyond. HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, not everyone that has been using the new machine has experienced the same issues as I have. BUT some others have.

I contacted Walnut Hollow regarding the error and regarding the issues with the clay, and they once again sent FedEx to pick up the machine. They also sent me a technical sheet regarding use of the machine. The thing to note is this. Makin’s clearly states, “The Ultimate Clay Machine™ works best with Makin’s ® Clay. Results may vary if machine is used with brands of clay other than Makin’s Clay. Because we have no control over the manufacturing and distribution process of clays other than the Makin’s ® brand (including but not limited to ingredients; formula; nor storage, shipping or handling methods), we cannot guarantee the quality or consistency of results you may experience using the machine with other clay brands. Your results may vary depending on brand of clay used. The information on this technical sheet is presented in good faith, but no warranty is given, nor results guaranteed.

The net of it? Well, my old Atlas was abused through some very rough handling by the USPS when I sent it to and from my vacation spot. I was hoping to replace it with the Makin’s machine, but given my experience with 2 poor designs, I’m going back to the Atlas. The Atlas 180 has the wider (7″) rolling surface and 9 thickness settings. All it doesn’t have is the non-stick rollers. Given that Makin’s is suggesting the use of cornstarch, deli sheets or waxed paper in case of sticking when rolling thin sheets–the things we do with the regular steel rollers without a non-stick coating–and given that the prices of the Atlas 180 and the Makin’s machines are relatively the same, there is no advantage, and some risk, in purchasing the Makin’s machine for use with anything other than Makin’s Clay.

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