Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Polymer Clay Experiments...

I have a love affair with ancient Roman glass.  There's just something magical that happens when the glass is buried for a few thousand years.  I am smitten with the blend of rustic and iridescent.  But there are some drawbacks to working with it.

For one, it's... understandably... on the expensive side.  Most of it is found in Afghanistan in old Roman bottle dumps.  It has a finite source and once the dumps run dry, that's it!

Another thing that is less than ideal is that even though the glass has survived for thousands of years beneath sand and stone, it's on the more fragile side.  Not only is it prone to chipping and breaking, but the delicate finish on top can be worn away with body oils or flake off.

So I set about creating a similar effect in polymer clay.  I'm still experimenting with other mediums, but that's another blog post for another day.  After several different attempts, I think I've figured it out and came up with a method that I'm pleased with.

Here are my results:
This is one version of my Faux Roman Glass.  I really like it!  I even added larger holes in this batch to replicate the look of authentic pieces even more.

This is another experiment with the Faux Roman glass.  It has a slightly different color recipe and I finished them a bit differently as well.  I think it looks spot on!

Here's what the backs look like.  You can't really tell in this light, but the pieces are translucent and play with the light nicely!  I added inclusions to the polymer to make it look even more like ancient glass.

The nice thing about working in polymer is that the pieces are super flexible and bendy!  It really opens up design options.  Along with the flexibility, another perk is that I can do whatever shape I like and am not constrained by what's available on the market.

Here's another view of the Faux Roman glass pieces!

The pictures really don't do these justice, as the iridescent layers don't get to sing like they do in real life!  I spent a long time trying to figure out just the right formula and am pleased with the way they turned out.

While I was experimenting with what started off as a way to figure out the look and feel of ancient Roman glass, I branched out and played with some other color combinations and surface treatments.  This combination plays with shades of purple, glints of pink, and touches of blue with a vivid contrast of gold highlights.  I call them Gypsy Drops.  They remind me of the colorful scarves that adorned the costumes of the gypsies in my childhood stories.

This is another colorway.  This plays with pale greens and subtle blues with touches of gold.  I call them Ocean Tears.  They remind me so much of light on the waves of the ocean.

This colorway is called Magma Drops.  I really embellished these pieces with the crusty factor and added layers of rust reds and coppers to the pinks and pale purples.  When I looked at them, there was something primal that came to mind, that the churning surface of molten volcanic earth.

I'm going to keep playing around with this technique of building layers and balancing the right combination of matte, shiny, and pearlescent.  I really love how the idea of simulating ancient Roman glass sort of formed and I used it as a springboard for other ideas and surface treatment applications.  Hope you all like them as much as I do!

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