Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sculpey Bake 'n' Bend Clay Review

I finally got around to playing with the bake and bend. I decided to make a little frog, please excuse the photograph it isn't great but you get the idea.
This is the first time I had attempted to use it, it feels like ready conditioned clay and is really smooth but oily to sculpt. The colours blend nicely which is great because the pack only has basic colours included. It sculpts very easily but takes a lot of work to smoothen joints and attach more pieces, such as the legs on this frog.
It was very difficult to add any fine details to the clay because it is so soft. Perhaps blanching (correct term?) to reduce the oil might help but I was eager to play with it.
I used the specified time and temperature but it still burnt on the thinner bits, I expect some of you would be able to avoid this but I never usually have this problem with fimo but that does bake at a lower temperature anyway. A paint job should be able to save him.
Fully baked and cooled, I tried to bend it. In my opinion bendable is not exactly the right word to describe it. It is a little more flexible than regular clay and good for pieces like the tongue which would be less likely to break off but it doesn't really 'bend' as such. I fear that even the tongue would snap off if you tried to really bend it and not just wiggle it! The feet have little to no flexibility, same for the eyes.
So for a first attempt, I would say I learnt to bake at a lower temperature and not to expect too much flexibility. I think it would be best suited for bangles or rings that need just a little flexibility to wear.
Would love to know if anyone has better success or could give me any tips. Love Sam x

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fimo Moulds Review

This is a review based on my first experience of using Fimo moulds. It is purely my opinion.

I have never used moulds to create anything with clay previously but as I was sent them so generously by Staedtler to use in my clay session in June and I thought that I had better try it out before I take them along, I was so surprised by how beautiful they are and how easy they are to use!

I used the air dry clay, I sprinkled one with powdered chalk and the other with mica pigment then pressed the clay into the mould. The fact that they are transparent helps you to check you have no air bubbles and they are really bendable so you lose no detail when you push the shapes outwards.

I find the shapes beautiful though a little flat in comparison to my usual dimensional creations because the bottoms are completely flat. However my 5 year old daughter pointed out that they would be lovely as fridge magnets so we will be adding small magnets to the back of my examples.

They are so simple that anyone can create beautiful pieces of art work. They can be used for Fimo soft, to make candles, chocolate, crayons, soaps etc too, they are so versatile. If you are working with children or with adults who need to build a little confidence with clay before starting a more independent project then these moulds are fantastic! I intend to use them during the session and combine them with Fimo Air Light to create more magnets.

Unexpectedly these are highly recommended! xxx

Fimo Air Natural Review

This is a review of my own first experience using Fimo air natural clay and is solely my opinion.

When I opened this clay I was a little intimidated, it is nothing at all like polymer clay which is my clay of choice. It is like a paper pulp to handle and is rather wet. It has an off white colour to it and looks like a really natural product. It gets dry quite quickly and is very messy but a lot of fun! You need to use a lot of water with this clay to sculpt it into the shapes that you require but only small drops at a time or you will be left with an usable clump of mulch.

It surprised me by being really mouldable, it took on the shapes easily and really responded to the small amount of water that I used to smooth edges and join the components together. It also kept the ridges that I created for the toadstools really well as it dried too! I did not colour it before sculpting because of how wet it felt but it can be painted afterwards which I fully intend to do with acrylic paints.

It is brilliant for children because it has no scent whilst moulding or setting it. However it does take 24 hours to completely set so you would need extremely patient children and more than one crafting session to complete a piece.

I am really looking forward to trying more with this clay, it has a really great texture that feels very natural and is very inspiring. I think it would be great for any creation based around nature, trees, toadstools etc and I hope to explore some of these options despite the messiness which to be fair only makes it more fun! I am not sure that I would be able to do anything with huge sculpted detail but I would really like to try.

This is definitely a clay to try if you like to get messy and really feel the clay between your fingers. Children will love it too. xxx

Fimo Air Light - Microwaveable Review

This review is based on my experience, the first time that I got to experiment with Fimo Air Light, microwaveable clay, it is my own opinion and nothing more.

This version is almost exactly like the air dry Fimo Air Light (please see the previous blog post for a review on the air dry clay) except that as the name suggests, you can set it in a microwave. You simply make your product, pop it into your microwave next to a small bowl of water and zap at 600w for 10mins.

The clay has no scent even whilst cooking which makes it great for using with children and you do not need to have a separate microwave either. The white version is brilliant white, I added mica pigment for the creations in the image above, the gold looks great but the silver made the clay look a bit dirty. The clay is hard to keep clean and you cannot use a wet wipe as you would with polymer clay because the moisture smooths the details that you have purposely added.

I found that the texture was brilliant for making marshmallow charms though! This is another product that works better with the moulds than sculpting figures although I did create a small bird figure which has a very simple shape. Once dry the beak of the bird is extremely sharp and surprisingly hard. It can be painted and varnished once the clay has been set too.

I would highly recommend the microwave version rather than the air dry version if you are intending to use the product with children because the fact that it is so fast to set is amazing, it really helps if they want to add colours afterwards. I do not think that I would use this clay to make anything with a lot of detail but I will definitely be using it with my own children as an introduction to clay.

Fimo Air Light Review

I have only used Fimo air light once and this review is my opinion and other people may have had very different experiences with this product.

The large packet that I have is white and it is pure brilliant white, you cannot fault the colour. I used chalk pastels in small quantities to add colour to the white clay and it seems to add a really lovely effect to the clay. As the name would suggest it is an extremely light clay and is entirely differnt to the Fimo soft which I am used to creating with. It is also stickier and the consistency is more like a melted marshmallow than clay, you do not need to condition the clay at all which makes it ideal for using with small children who often find even Fimo soft a bit tricky to condition. A definite bonus is that it does not smell at all, no fumes as it bakes either because it is air dry.

It was difficult to compress the clay without creating folds and cracks, you can use water to smooth them over but as you can see from the chibi on the right, cracks and folds seem to come back as the figure dries. I found it extremely difficult to create small details without creating more creases in the clay and adding water to remove the creases then removes the details that I am trying to create.

The moulds (made by Staedtler also) are perfect for this clay, I used a dry brush to spread powdered chalk to the moulds before adding the clay and afterwards used water to spread the chalk around the shape.

The clay takes 24 hours to completely air dry, once it is dry you can paint it and create more effects but it does feel a lot like plaster and powdery, it can be sanded down if necessary and can be varnished but the examples that I have shown have not had any afterwork to them other than small dots with a sharpie marker on the chibi. After the drying time, unelievably it is even lighter, I can imagine that it would be perfect used for mobiles and large statement pendants.

In conclusion, this clay is perfect for larger pieces that require bold details but in my opinion is that Fimo air Light is not suitable for small detailed pieces. It is perfect when combined with the Fimo moulds and could be of benefit in creations where weight is a problem. However the colours that can be achived are lovely and it is well worth playing with if only for the fun of the marshmallow like squishyness xxx

The Brilliance Of Staedtler

I am a member of a small parent and toddler group which I attend with my gorgeous baby boy. It is a non profit group and funds are low! I was asked by the organiser if I would mind running a small clay class, I jumped at the chance but as you know clay is not a cheap material! On the off chance that I might get lucky I sent an email to Staedtler, manufacturer of Fimo asking for help. The response I got was unbelievable, they had such a personal approach and sent plenty enough for me to run a session with the group and everyone to come home with a small creation. I cannot say thank you enough or say how thrilled that I am with the products. Some of those I had never used previously so I have had a little go before the session (reviews for each will come soon). I will be a Staedtler customer for life, any business that can help small groups deserves a big round of applause! THANK YOU STAEDTLER xxx