This summer, since I've shut my shop, I've been spending my time focusing on learning new things without worrying about creating something "sellable". I've been messing around with my Bamboo tablet and enjoying the freedom I have to make as many mistakes as I want. I've also been dabbling in knitting, crochet, and polymer clay. All of them have been great past-times because I haven't been concerned with the outcome.
While experimenting with the polymer clay and using stamps to create textures and patterns, I began to wonder if anyone had ever used the material to print with. I thought that once the clay had been baked it would still have some flexibility and therefore, would make it possible to be applied to a collograph plate and sent through a press without damage. I started to all sorts of possibilities and felt like a mad scientist when I created my plate. I had to create ant least thre different plates before I got one to print the way I wanted it to. I haven't seen anyone else use this technique so I thought I would list off what i learned and perhaps you would like to give it a try too.
I will be hand coloring these with watercolor
1. Once baked polymer clay has a slight texture and will print as a mid-tone grey. If you want to create whites or lighter greys you have to have to either adhere something smooth like plastic or varnish the area. Take note that the varnish doesn't stick well to polymer clay and it breaks down over each consecutive pull. I varnished my plate again half-way through the edition. I've been experimenting with various wet/dry sandpapers to create a smoother surface.
2.It's very easy to create a bevelled and level plate with the polymer clay.Unbaked polymer clay is so manipulative that it's very appealing in its' ability to be "drawn into".
3. The clay can hold very deep lines which can be advantagous or a problem when wiping the plate. If you don't push in enough ink the lines will appear white. It's surprising how little depth you need in your plate lines for them to print well.
4. This technique can be used to create relief prints and/or embossed images.
You can see ink and oil that has accumulated under the plastic I used for the torso and face.
This gives you an idea for the depth of my plate pattern. Can you see the pattern I scribed into the plastic for the dress?