Mica Powder And Other Inclusions You Can Use With Polymer Clay
Mica powder and other inclusions can be mixed into polymer clay. In fact
Polymer clay is a perfect medium for inclusions of most sorts, which opens up for more experimentation with this lovely, versatile clay.
There are inclusions like mica powder that are made especially for polymer clay, and there inclusions that are made for lots of other things, like food, scrap booking and even gardening. They all can be used to give new dimensions to the art of polymer clay.
So what are these inclusions? Let's take a look:
There are several powders that can be used with polymer clay. They work best applied to raw clay, but can also be used on cured clay or mixed into glazes.
Pearl-Ex or Mica powder:
The perhaps most popular powder used with polymer clay is Pearl-ex or mica powder. They come in a wide range of colors, metallic and pearl. They contain mica which makes them sparkle. You can apply them to raw clay with your fingers, a brush or a sponge, and they will give lovely pearly or metallic looks.
The pendant to the right is made with black clay which is stamped and brushed with copper mica powder.
You can mix mica powder into clay to strengthen the effect of metallic clays or make pearly colored clay.
If you mix it into translucent clay, they tint it to lovely shimmering colors. Use it lavishly in liquid clay or varnishes to turn cured clay into glowingly glazed pieces. See this tutorial on one way to use mica powder with liquid polymer clay and ink.
Mica powder is extremely fine, you should therefore be careful not to inhale it. If you only use it once in a while, it will do just being a little careful, but if you use it a lot, I would recommend you to wear a mask as a safety precaution.
When cured the mica powder will bond with the clay, but some of it will still come off when you touch it, so it needs to be sealed with a varnish for protection.
See how you can use Mica powder to create enamel like jewelry in these tutorials:
Faux Plique-a-jour Earrings
Faux Enamel With Liquid Polymer Clay And Mica Powder
These powders are normally connected to card making or scrap booking. But again Polymer clay shows its brilliance in the way of adopting techniques from other crafts. Embossing powders come in many colors, in clear and extra thick and even holographic. You can mix colors to create new colors, mix clear embossing powder with colored pigments, mica powder and much more. It can be used in several ways on clay.
You can mix it into the clay, which will give you very interesting “stone like” results, depending on the color and amount you mix in. Normally embossing powders melt when heated, but trapped in the clay, they somehow don't, giving a grainy appearance instead. If you heat the piece with a heat gun after curing, the powders on, and close to, the surface will melt, giving a slightly bumpy and shiny appearance.
Sprinkling embossing powder on the surface of raw clay will give you small freckles of melted powder, which also brings the mind to a somehow stone like looking surface. You can add large or smaller amounts depending on what sort of result you are after.
On cured clay, you can use it in the same way as on paper. Apply glue to your stamp, stamp the clay and sprinkle the powder over it. Shake of the excess powder and you are left with only what sticks to the glued parts. Heat with a heat gun to melt it. You can use an embossing glue pen to draw or write on the clay.
You can not do this on raw clay though, as the powder would stick all over the clay.
Now, there is one more way to use embossing powders with polymer clay. I know that many do this, and do it with success, but I got myself a very unpleasant surprise several months after I tried it, which I will tell you in a sec.
Embossing powders can be used on cured clay to achieve a glass like surface. The powder is then melted in a melting pot and the bead is dipped into the liquid. It will dry fairly quickly leaving a glass like surface. So far so good.
I did this, and got gorgeously shiny beads, but some months later, they all turned milky white and sticky. All my beads were ruined. I have not heard any others saying that the same have happened to their embossed pieces, so there may be something I did wrong. I did not melt the powder in a pot and then dip it, but dipped my bead in water and then in the powder and heated it with a heat gun, rolling the bead in more powder to add layers. Perhaps that was my mistake, I don't know. I just want to tell you to be a little cautious if you choose to use embossing powder as a glaze for your beads. Try it out before you do it to all your beads, and then leave them for some months.
The positive thing with this technique is that you can build up layers on beads that have three dimensional patterns, like flower petals. Dipping the bead until the bead and the petals are completely covered in layers of embossing, gives the glass like appearance of lampwork beads witch look like they have a flower swimming inside.
You can read about other ways to get glossy beads here.
Embossing powder will melt again if heated. You can therefor not re-bake a bead after you have embossed it, unless it is flat. It is also difficult to remove from you oven or pan if it drips, so use something you can dispose of after use, like an aluminum pan or something.
Yes, you read that right. You can use cosmetics with polymer clay. Eye shadows and powdered rouges works pretty much the same way as Pearl-ex or mica powder.
Like me, you probably have some of those terrible old eye shadows that you bought years and years ago, but barely used. They are perfect for polymer clay, so dig them out from the bottom of your make up bag and shake of the dust.
Chalks and crayons:
Again, chalks are borrowed from scrap booking, where you get them in boxes with up to 16 colors in one box. But don't limit your self to those. Chalks for black boards, for kids and all other chalks will do, so will pastels and dry pigments. You can brush them dry onto raw clay, or add water and apply them like paint. You can grind them up and mix them into clay, to get some pretty spicy color effects.
If you feel the chalk is a bit dull, mix in some mica powder or Pearl-ex to sprite it up a bit.
Crayon shavings can also be mixed into clay. When baked the crayon will melt, and can give some interesting effects both inside the clay and on the surface.
Chalks and crayons will work best with light colors or translucent clay. In opaque clay, you will hardly see any difference to the color. As with all the powders, chalk must be sealed off after curing, for protection.
Most of the powders, except embossing powder can create lovely effects if you apply it to raw clay, stamp the clay and cut away the raised parts before curing. You will be left with the pattern of the stamp in the color of the powder you applied.
These earrings are dusted with golden mica powder, stamped, and then the raised parts are sliced off.
Herbs and spices:
Not only will some of these leave interesting effects both inside and on the surface of the clay, but they may also give a scent to the clay. You can of course not eat the clay, so I leave out the flavor bit.
Practically all herbs and spices can be used. You can add semolina, rice and even couscous. You can add paprika or turmeric to color the clay, pepper and other dried herbs in translucent clay, which will show the inclusions after curing.
You can roll your beads in rough salt or rice which will give a bumped and interesting surface after curing, when you wash it away. This opens up a whole new dimension, doesn't it? I mean spiced clay, exiting or what? How about a lavender scented pendant, or rosemary earrings...And don't forget to use some of the herbs and spices to make some tasty gourmet food as you go along.
Glitter you can use with EVERYTHING, and definitely with polymer clay. There are several types of glitter, some are metal, some are plastic and I think some are glass. They come in all kinds of colors and special effects. Some are almost powdery, others like flakes Which you use, depend on your project and your liking.
Glitter can be sprinkled on the surface of raw clay, and can be used on opaque and translucent colored clay. If you mix it into clay, it work best with translucent clay. Iridescent flakes are used by many when they make faux opals.
Glitter can also be mixed into liquid polymer clay or varnishes to give very nice effects on cured clay. If you use several layers you build up a nice glittery depth.
One thing about glitter though, is that you can actually buy polymer clay with glitter in it. Fimo soft have glitter in some of their effect clays. The white one is especially nice and gives a kind of luxury appearance.
From the garden:
Dried flowers, leafs, scented oils, sand, straws and more, can be mixed into polymer clay, but the extent of their effect may wary, so here you probably need to do some heavy experimentation.
Colored sand, may give nice color and substance effect to clay. I must admit that I have not tried any of these myself, so I cannot tell you much about what kind of impression or effect they will make. But if you are curious, try them out.
So there you have them, mica powders, glitter, embossing powder and all the rest. Mix and match as you please.
There are many more things that can be mixed in and applied to polymer clay. You can use small beads, small bits of cured clay, marbles, glass and much, much more. Let your imagination run wild. Search around and you will find things maybe no one have tried before, and have great success.
Some things may not tolerate the curing and may ruin your project, so test things out well in small scales, before including them in your big projects.
A few tips:
When you mix mica powder, pearl ex or any of the rest of the powders into the clay using your pasta machine, it will be smeared with the powders. To avoid this, you can run the clay between two sheets of paper or plastic wraps.
Also, when you have lumpy or hard inclusions mixed into the clay, you may damage the plates and scratch the pasta machine. Instead use your acrylic roller if you need to flatten the clay sheets.
Have plenty of baby wipes or alcohol wipes to clean your hands and tools while you use the inclusions. It is so easy to get powder or glitter or herbs all over the place. Stubborn powders that sticks to the clay where it shouldn't can be removed with a bit of tape or carefully be scraped/sliced off with a tissue blade or crafts knife.
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