Friday, December 2, 2011

Mica Shift Pendant Tutorial- written by DreamWeaversDesigns

This tutorial was written by Smooshers member DreamWeaversDesigns, originally on her ArtFire blog.  She was kind enough to share the post with us as well.
Mica Shift pendant tutorial.

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The above necklace and earring set were made using the mica shift technique.  Finished pieces were placed on memory wire.  Black crystals and white glass beads were used to complete the look.

I love mica shift!!  Mica shift is a polymer clay technique that shows up as a 3D or ghost image.  There are certain clays that have mica particles in them and when these particles are manipulated {by rolling the clay in one direction over and over with a pasta machine}, the mica lines up.  When stamped, shaved, or just cut, the clay has areas that are darker and those that are lighter, giving a two toned effect.  The images one can capture are amazing; the 3D effect is awesome.  Pearlized clay can also be used to achieve the ghost image.  The following is my method for getting this great look.  I wanted to make this tutorial for those who may be interested in the technique, but were hesitant to try it.  I hope it's not too long!!

Start by assembling your tools.  I used Premo pearl clay, cranberry Adirondak ink, a flexible blade, a non flexible blade, an acrylic roller, stamp of choice and my pasta machine.

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Cut off the amount of clay you think you will need.  I used 1/4 of the 2 oz pack, which is plenty for the pendant I am making.  I then roll out the clay on the widest setting to get ready for applying my alcohol ink to tint {This was a great tip from one of the Smoosher's!}.  Note, you can darken the clay by reapplying more ink after the first coat has dried.  Placed your prepared clay on your tile.
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After the ink has dried on your clay, fold it in half and start running it through the pasta machine.  Inserting the fold first will express all the air in between the 2 halves.  I rolled my clay through the pasta machine about 30 times to make sure the ink was thoroughly mixed.

Once you have selected your stamp, impress the prepared clay.  {Make sure you apply even pressure so the design is deep enough.  Sometimes this takes practice.  The great thing about polymer clay and this technique is, if you make a mistake, you can start all over.}  Once I was satisfied with my stamped impression, I began the slicing process.  Due to the pressure used to imprint the stamp, my clay is good and stuck to the tile.  I hold the non-flexible blade at an angle, starting at the side farthest from me.  Then I drag the blade across the piece, slowly shaving off the raised layers of the stamped impression.  {This too takes practice.  I have made many mistakes and sliced too deep.}  Once you have been doing it for a while, you get a feel for how to hold your hands to make the right depth slices.  The goal is to shave off all the raised areas so your clay is fairly smooth. 

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After I have shaved off all the raised areas, I used my acrylic roller to flatten the piece even more. {Some people prefer to roll their piece through the pasta machine to achieve a smooth surface; I prefer using my roller}  Use a light hand when rolling and change directions to avoid distorting the image. 
Because of the pressure to apply your stamp; then the slices you take off, you are left with a thinner sheet of clay.  Gently use your blade to remove the prepared clay off the tile.

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  I like to use the remainder of my tinted clay, rolled through the pasta machine at the widest setting, to use as a backing.  Place the shaved sheet over the plain sheet and roll with the acrylic roller to remove any air bubbles.  Next I cut out my shape using the flexible blade, gently push down the edges of the piece and smooth by running my fingers down the side.  I feel this gives the pendant a more finished look.  Then I pierced the top for stringing the piece, embellished with a flat back crystal and baked according to the instructions on the clay pack in my convection oven.  For this piece I baked it for 40 minutes.  Note: please observe all safety precautions when working with clay, sharp tools and the oven.  Keep the area well ventilated and never use tools, utensils or ovens for food items after used with the clay.

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Once my baking was done, I immediately placed the pendant in an ice bath.  I feel this brings up the image.  After soaking in ice for 20-30 minutes, I was able to use my micro mesh pads to sand the piece, than I buffed it to a high shine on my power buffing machine.  Here is the finished product, ready for stringing.

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Thanks for taking the time to review this, my first, written tutorial.  Feel free to let me know what you think!!


You can also find DreamWeaversDesigns online at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/j-mw/, and http://dreamweaversdesigns.blogspot.com/.


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1 Smooshing Thoughts:

averilpam said...

Lovely clear instructions. This is a technique I have yet to try but I must put it on my list!