Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Observation and Mythbuster Moments

I have been interested in CAD/CAM for awhile now, and just got a new toy called the Silhouette Cameo Cutter, a digital paper cutter that will cut out your own drawing or designs. One of the most challenging things about working with a clay like medium is precision with delicate or thin pieces. By running thin sheets of clay through the Silhouette as Wanaree Tanner has outlined in her Metal Clay guide for the Silhouette, the possibilities are intriguing!

Ninja star earrings
Pre-made fine silver PMC sheet & ACS paper clay
2 layers, no solder ;)
Materials that can be cut have to be dry but somewhat flexible for clean cuts. For fine silver that means using PMC+ sheet, Art Clay paper, or making flexible clay by adding glycerine to lump clay and drying it.

PMC is thinner, more flexible and feels almost foamy compared to Art Clay Paper. Art Clay Paper is relatively thicker, looks metallic right out of the package and feels like a flat refrigerator magnet.

For this experiment, the clay was only cut once.

PMC sheet stars
Bottom left corner - ACS sandwiched between 2 layers of PMC
Click on photo for more detail
I found that PMC sheet didn't like to stick to the Glad Press N' Seal cling wrap and needed a cover sheet on top to hold the clay in place while cutting per instructions. Art Clay Paper picked up the texture of the wrap and was better mounted directly on the cutting mat or the sticky side of contact paper.

Art Clay Paper picks up texture of the Glad Press N'Seal
Click photo for more detail

Without the top sheet, the surface is untextured
The cut lines are a little more ragged on the edges, but it is easy to clean up
Slowing the cutting speed may help.
Click photo for more detail
I've heard mixed review as far as adding glycerine to lump Art Clay Silver - binder degrading, glycerine sucks moisture out of the clay, and Yes, I've done it!

I started with 10g of fresh clay and thoroughly kneaded 1-2 drops of glycerine into the clay at a time alternating with 1 drop of water. The clay shouldn't look like it is disintegrating, nor be too sticky to roll out. This clay was rolled 2 cards thick and air dried.

Flexible ACS sheet

Each clay has its own characteristics and while PMC+ sheet with PMC+ lump clay would be the easiest to use for compatibility of shrinkage, I like knowing what can be possible if the ideal materials are not at hand.

Additional Reference: Hadar Jacobson's Youtube video on making flexible clay.

If you would like to add to these observations, please share a comment here! Also, check out what other metal clay artists are doing and learning on the MC SILies Facebook page.