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  #1  
Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 18th, 2011, 03:23 PM        Smoothing clay
Hi, I'm not sure where else to post this and didn't see any threads where this would have been addressed, but...

I'm having a really rough time with smoothing oil-based clay. The usual mineral oil that you'd use on a stiff synthetic brush is depositing tiny balls of clay, almost like little shavings, all over the surface of whatever I'm working on. The softer it gets with added oil, the worse this phenomenon becomes. I think the main cause of it is that the softened clay is clogging the brush, and the clay is kind of chalky and has a tendency to separate because there's not enough binder in it at the chemical level.

It didn't used to do any of this but the formula of the clay has changed over the years (Van Aken Plastalina) and it doesn't react the same way to the oil as it used to because of ingredients that have changed and the chemicals in the pigments (which used to be toxic) now have to meet certain health standards in order to retain the "non toxic" rating.

I also have a question about making clay that's too soft more firm, anyone know? If you can help me with it I'll sculpt you something.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 18th, 2011, 03:24 PM       
Oh, one more thing to add: the reason I'm using oil in the first place is to get rid of fingerprints. The scale I'm working in makes them really show up and a single thumb print can mar a figures's face.
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ThrashO ThrashO is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 01:28 AM       
Whenever I have that problem I usually just kill myself.
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Supafly345 Supafly345 is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 03:03 AM       
I had a set of flat tools of varying widths that I got from michael's to do this very thing. Getting a cheap set of sculpting tools may not solve the problem if you have an entire sculpture of brush damage, but it helps a ton smoothing out any of the detailed areas or corners.
I don't know much about brush maintenance meant for mineral oil, but it sounds like you might just need to buy a more finely bristled brush.

The ideal solution would just to learn how to work faster.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 06:41 AM       
Thanks, Supafly.

I think one of the problems featuring here is that I don't know how to distinguish between the different bristle widths of synthetic brushes. For example, there's nylon and taklon in several colors ranging from white, to gold, amber, and red. They appear to be different somehow, but I'm not sure which is supposed to be the stiffest, and I don't want to buy four sets of brushes to find the one that works best for this application.

Another problem, which I kind of created for myself, was that because there is no ventilation getting to the room and the lights heat it up like a glove box, I have to add wax to the clay in order to firm it up enough so that the mineral oil won't reduce it to peanut butter-like consistency. Most of the time it's just fingerprints that I want to wipe out, and that makes the surface softer every time. The wax made it really sticky, causing even the tools that were soaked in mineral oil to tear the model up. Clay is weird because you can smooth it with spit, but not tap water...and spit is kind of gross, so I'd like to use a chemical with a PH composition close to it.

Edit: If you smooth oil clay with a brush, you can use a baby wipe to clean it off. That doesn't solve the problem at its root cause, but it's a start and maybe useful to you.
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  #6  
Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 12:29 PM       
Here's a sculpt in Sculpey III and Super Sculpey (same thing in the GB chat thread, but this time in color.



If I could get my Van Aken clay that easy to work with, I would be super happy.
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Kitsa Kitsa is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 01:19 PM       
I use sculpey exclusively. I know nothing about oil-based clays.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 02:27 PM       
Sculpey is great, but it is hard to animate because of its brittle nature. Even so, out of all the characters I've sculpted over the years, my favorite ones were made of Sculpey III. It is by the far the least greasy clay I've found.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:00 PM       
Fun stuff.

I wonder what adding beeswax would do it? Or even paraffin. Both plasticine and polymer clays have a mineral oil base, which for you chemists out there is made of short chain carbon molecules. (microcrystalline wax has long chains, making it more sticky and flexible).
Paraffin would make the clay more brittle, but maybe in really small amounts it would improve it a little.
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Shyandquietguy Shyandquietguy is offline
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:17 PM       
I still don't get how you got THAT out of Zhukov's picture. Other than being a tedious little pussy.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 12:11 AM       
You have a right to your opinion. The fact is, it's hard to sculpt with this stuff. It's not the clay I prefer. If I had the right grade of hardness in the clay I normally use, I would show you something.
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Shyandquietguy Shyandquietguy is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 12:28 AM       
Riiiiiight.
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ThrashO ThrashO is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 02:19 AM       
It's really not that bad, how do you get all of those little details to look so neat, Pram?
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 09:41 AM       
My fumbling fingers. I forget that when I was a kid, I had much smaller hands. Getting back to this stuff so many years later, I have to use tools to get into the little crevices that I used to be able to get into with my fingers (don't you DARE).
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ThrashO ThrashO is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 01:22 PM       
lol jus kiddin I didnt care
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 02:01 PM       
Meh.
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  #17  
Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 01:54 AM       
For Zhukov.



I couldn't figure out what it says on his helmet, so I left it blank. The sculpt is based on several reference images, so it's not exact.
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Zhukov Zhukov is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 03:21 AM       
I hope that took an extremely long time, and possibly a fair amount of money.
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Pram Maven Pram Maven is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 04:07 AM       
I don't know who you think that is, but it's Sigourney Weaver wearing a bike helmet.
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ThrashO ThrashO is offline
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 09:06 AM       
Jesus Fucking Christ.

I don't know what I despise more.

The clay. Or the rape.

CLAPE.
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  #22  
J. Tithonus Pednaud J. Tithonus Pednaud is offline
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 10:43 AM       
What is the brand. Not Monster Maker I hope?

When mineral oil doesn't work, I often try vegetable or even olive oil. Downside of that is that the clay can get really wet really fast.

Sounds like you are sculpting some small scale stuff. That's the hardest stuff to do - especially with oil based products...especially with Monster Maker.
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ThrashO ThrashO is offline
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 05:23 PM       
It's not worth it dude, he left, and this time he said it's FOR GOOD (so like 2 weeks)
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Colonel Flagg Colonel Flagg is offline
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 11:25 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pram Maven
The pigments in plastalina are heavy and the clay is saturated so when you touch it, the colors gets all over your hands. Do you know a way to draw out the d[y]es without affecting the consistency of the clay?
Are you trying to re-emulsify the dye throghout the clay, or are you trying to get it to the surface of the clay? Either way, I believe your best bet is to gently soften the clay, then once soft, mix it around with your hands. As I said before, use nitrile gloves - they're cheap and nontoxic, and they also don't hold a stain, which should include the dyes within the clay. The downside is a loss of tactile sensation, but when the clay is properly mixed you may be able to ditch the nitrile.

Again, you may already have thought about this, and think this is stupid advice, but given what I have for a basis (zero knowledge of artist's clay) this is the best I can do.

I'm officially AWOL on this topic, as of right now. (And I mean it. )
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Pentegarn Pentegarn is offline
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 08:32 AM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Flagg View Post

I'm officially AWOL on this topic, as of right now. (And I mean it. )
May as well be now
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