piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
the paramour just left, after the first flight was cancelled. the fog was sitting pretty low here, but it must have been vancouver that had the real problem, since the later flight just took off in worse fog. anyway, that one has landed in vancouver, and i am hoping that 1 hour and 10 min is enough time to get through immigration and customs, so that zie'll catch the connecting flight to LAX.

and of course, to be properly ironic, i had for once made plans for today. ha! i keep telling people that not making plans is much better because one is rarely disappointed. :) it wasn't anything big, just that i had charted out a series of experiments in my mind.

see, when i got into polymer clay i really enjoyed most of it, except for the baking. the baking is annoying as all get-out because our oven not only doesn't heat to the temperatures indicated on the dial, no, it also produces weird spikes. and polymer clay does have a narrow range within which it will bake solidly, yet not discolour or worse, burn. so, i bought a toaster oven at the salvation army store. but that didn't work out because the heating element is too close to the pieces that need to be baked, unless they're fairly small. *grump*. early on i saw the warnings on the packages about NOT EVER microwaving it, so naturally, i had to try that -- and those warnings seemed quite correct. a mere couple of minutes in the microwave produce a crisply burned polymer clay piece and very noxious fumes.

that put a serious dent in my experiments with polymer clay, and i put it mostly away and did other things. but yesterday when thinking about artsy things to make for people who commented on the meme a few days ago, i thought "hey! so it burns when put directly into the microwave. but what if i were to immerse it in water? in a container that does not conduct lots of heat?"

so that's what's in the microwave right now, some scrap clay (which is an amalgam of super sculpey and leftover bits of premo). i watched the first cooking (15 min) very closely, and nothing terrible happened. some slight fumes are emitted (the window behind the microwave vent is open), but no worse than what emanates from the oven when baking the clay. and it did bake, all the way through the beads, though not quite as hard as i would want it to be (fingernails leave an impression). so i'm cooking the batch again, for 20 min this time.

Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-15 00:56 (UTC)
brooksmoses: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] brooksmoses
For that matter, you could also immerse it in water in the oven; the water will regulate the temperature to a consistent value below 100C regardless. Though I suppose it takes rather a while to get water hot in an oven....

Alternately, if below-the-boiling-point-of-water isn't quite hot enough, some sort of thing like the terra-cotta containers for baking garlic in ought to work to hold heat and even out the temperature a lot.

Or, for the toaster oven, you should be okay if you put an aluminum-foil tent over the pieces; that will remove most of the proximity effects from the heating elements.

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-15 01:38 (UTC)
ext_481: origami crane (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] pir-anha.livejournal.com
hey, GAS for stuff i am trying to figure out is always welcome!

yeah, i was thinking of building an in-oven contraption from a flowerpot and saucer to regulate the heat, after the paramour suggested bricks for regulating (while we were brainstorming over this between planes :).

that will probably in the long run be a better solution than the immersion in water -- though man, i am liking this! pop into the microwave, wait a while and i'm done! none of the stupid pre-heating and checking. but the boiling point of water is unfortunately a bit too low for the clay to cure completely (recommended is 130°C). i'm thinking that it's probably good enough for beads at 100C, but maybe not for sculpture. we'll see.

i did fiddle more with the toaster oven than i indicated in the OP (including the alu tent, since hey, i learned something from roasting food stuff), but it was just too damn much futzing around in too small a space.

i now need to go and try destroy these beads i've cooked by repeatedly dropping them onto concrete from 2m.

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-15 05:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] elynne.livejournal.com
Ham-mer! Ham-mer! ;)

And, thank you - this is really ridiculously timely, considering that I have a Sculpey pin in the oven right now. Although for this one, it doesn't matter if it burns - it's going to get painted over anyway. Still, for beads, immersion in water + microwave... although our microwave is ridiculously unreliable for temperature control. I do have a candy thermometer, though... so maybe in a saucepan on the stovetop? Hmmm...

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-15 07:37 (UTC)
ext_481: origami crane (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] pir-anha.livejournal.com
bloody unreliable ovens, eh. i don't know that i'd do the stovetop (hot spots!) unless you can somehow keep the clay away from any hot walls -- metal or ceramic are no good, nor is glass, because they all conduct too much heat. you'd have to build a double-boiler with an inner plastic container that swims. that seems like too much damn trouble. better do the temperature regulation in the oven with terracotta, like brooks was talking about. or try the microwave (use a plastic container with lots of water, 20 min -- watch it and if the water is bubbling, things are fine even if your microwave is not so reliable -- the water buffers the clay).

the microwave+water experiment did work out pretty well for my first batch, which was super sculpey with scrap clay (there musta been some elasticlay among it because it remained just a little soft -- fingernail makes a lasting impression). the second batch with fimo classic is harder, but "bloomed" some -- has a white coating on the outside, which comes off pretty easily with some rubbing. neither batch cracked when i threw them repeatedly with some effort against concrete. tomorrow i'll try sculpey III, premo, kato and all the translucents. i bet the latter will plaque.

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-15 21:00 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] elynne.livejournal.com
Ooooh yah... hm. Okay, yah, sounds like the microwave is the best solution. Hm... now I'm wondering the most effective way to mass-produce trilobite beads... I've tried, Sculpey is too hard and too sticky to effectively use molding techniques. Perhaps forming a lozenge bead, putting it on the hole threader, then using a stamp? Hmmm...

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-16 04:15 (UTC)
ext_481: origami crane (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] pir-anha.livejournal.com
i don't much like sculpey III because it's too sticky and loses detail when molded. i'd probably do the stamp thing instead, and yeah, push the bead onto whatever you use to hole it, and then roll it over the stamp.

or, use a different clay. i buy them at sales since i am not doing mass-production, and michaels usually has those weird sales where each 2oz pack costs C$1.50, no matter what the original price, so i can buy the much more expensive fimo and premo at more than 50% off. if i mass produced things i'd buy the 1 lb loafs of the good clays online instead. that probably comes out cheaper than buying the small packs of sculpey III.

oh, and i mix clays for different projects, so i get a material that's got the consistency that's best for it. they can all be mixed, the polymer clays. i mean, smushed together, not one part made from one clay and another from a different one; that doesn't work well. so you could use sculpey III and cut it with fimo classic, which would make a clay that can be molded pretty darn well.

what's a trilobyte bead look like, got a picture anywhere?

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-16 06:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
(recommended is 130°C)

Pressure cooker? I wonder.

Re: Geek Answer Syndrome. :)

on 2006-10-16 18:07 (UTC)
ext_481: origami crane (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] pir-anha.livejournal.com
yeah. except i don't have one, so i can't try it.

on 2006-10-15 01:59 (UTC)
ext_28681: (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] akirlu.livejournal.com
Although, burned Super Sculpey can turn a rather interesting agatey dark brown that is more translucent than correctly cured Super Sculpey. Not, I admit, that I've done it deliberately since the one time I accidentally set the oven too hot. Burning also produces bubbling sometimes, which can be annoying with sculptural stuff.

The next time I get back to it, I think I'm going to get myself a cheap rock tumbler to tumble-sand the beads though. I really like the look of hand-sanded beads, but my fingers cramp up after a while.

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