Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grace Whip Cream Clay Discovery

There are so many different clay products out there to explore. I love playing, and discovering, the wonders of each. Today, I'll be writing more about the Grace Whip Cream Clay.

This is definitely not a new product. The one that I'm currently using has been with me for years - and I am not surprised if it's 2 years or more. I only use a bit each time, so one tube of this lasts a very long time.

It's not difficult to guess what this clay is used for, as the picture on the box would have given you an idea. Basically this has a whip cream texture, so you can use it to create highly realistic fake whip cream effect for cakes, desserts, ice cream, etc.

You can mix acrylic paints or oil paints into it to create different whip cream "flavors". It air dries naturally and no baking is required.

This clay is extremely sticky to touch when it is just freshly opened. To use this, simply prepare a ziplock bag, or piping cream bag, or your self made piping bag ready when you are about to open a fresh tube. Once you cut open the tube, simply squeeze the cream into your piping bag. It is ready to use!

Once the tube is opened, use a firm paper clip like below to secure the package opening. Then, put it in a ziplock bag, and store into an air tight container.

I will say this though: The above way described to store the clay will prevent it from drying out, but it doesn't mean it won't dry out forever. It will still dry up, just more slowly. 

So what happens when it dries up?

From its fresh sticky state to drying up does take a long while. My 2 year old or more whip cream clay is possibly a good example. The current state is soft but non-sticky - AND definitely still usable. Think hearty, but a bit more elastic. :)

This is how my 2 year old whip cream clay feels like and looks like now. I purposely pull and stretch the clay a bit more just so that you can observe its texture. The fresh clay out from the tube obviously doesn't look like this - it's way more sticky and wispy when you try to pull the tails of the whip cream clay.

I just have to use it differently now which I am totally fine with.

I also tried to re-warm or re-heat the clay just to see if it can go back to its original texture.

I put some whipped cream clay into a ziplock bag. Meanwhile, I boiled some hot water. When the water is boiled, I pour some into a container and put that ziplock bag into it. Please note that due to the hot water, your ziplock bag may melt a little. After a few minutes you may check the texture of the whipped clay.

So, below is the comparison of the re-heated whipped cream and the old whip cream clay. On the left is the re-heated whip cream clay, and on the right is the older whip cream clay.

After re-heating, I touched and feel the texture with my fingers. It feels 90% similar to its original texture. Also, please note that the reason why the re-heated whip cream clay looks "ugly" is because, it was so sticky and stuck to my fingers a lot. Removing it from my fingers was a bit of work. If one wants to do any piping work, they should work immediately right after the whip cream clay is re-heated, as that is the best time to do it. 

To summarize this though, although the whip cream clay may dry out during your time of owning it, knowing its different texture change during its "life span" does help you to decide how best to use it during its different drying stage. Re-heating it will help to soften its texture significantly, if you wish to do piping work, but reheating won't bring it back to its original texture a hundred percent.

On the other hand, one may never even encounter such issues, because it all depends on how large your projects are. If you are purely making life size items, then you should be using the clay more quicker than those who are making purely dollhouse miniatures.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flower Power: Upping the Challenge for Miniature Workshops

Over the years, one thing stood out prominently as I asked for feedback from my students, and that is - they find that flowers are the most difficult thing to make in dollhouse miniature scale. Not only does it take twice or thrice much more time, one has to stay very focused during the whole entire task. One is actually training the mind, really.

For a change from my traditional course offerings, I would like to introduce a flower/garden theme piece.   It was made slowly, bit by bit over the past year or more, and I am working hard to make it available by next year. The flower/garden theme piece will be targeted for intermediate to advanced students.

Although flowers are difficult to make, and I'm sure this will only appeal to those who really have a lot of patience and love flowers, I believe it is the way to go.
I firmly believe in the healing power that flowers and plants have.  Looking at the beauty of well-crafted dollhouse miniature flowers, even for that slightest moment – relieves stress right away.  Enabling students to create a magical flower/garden miniature scene that they can hold onto forever and have that little world to escape from their day-to-day stress means a lot to me.   I know it helps for myself, and hope it will do so for others!
So please stay tuned and look out for it. 

Before I end my blog post, I just want to say that I'll be extending 2 more weekday slots to my workshop teaching schedule for the remaining year of 2013.  Available weekdays are Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, from 1:30pm to 4pm if anyone is interested to come take a workshop sometime this year. It will be based on first come first serve basis, so just email me to confirm your slots. If you have not noticed, I've included a Workshops/Craft Classes tab to this blog on the top for easy access to my offerings. 

That's all, now I'm going back to work!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Experimenting with light teal color

I love playing around with colors. In fact I find great joy in painting my dollhouse miniatures with different types of paints, colors, whatever I can get my hands on and seeing the effect.

I remembered trying out the teal color for the first time a few months ago, and boy I hated it. It was very pigmented, heavy and sort of dark. I usually fall for teal/turquoise, but this was a teal that I didn't like. At that moment, I lost interest in it totally and kept it aside.

I found a picture in one of my favorite japanese decor magazine which inspired me and I whipped up a dollhouse miniature screen. I've not finished making it into a folding screen yet, but will soon continue with it. As I worked on it, I decided on how I would utilize the light teal color. With the help of a lot of water, I  dilute the color, and I was immensely pleased to see this. 

The screen on the bottom is the result of the heavily diluted teal colour without any texturing. You cannot imagine how heavy the original teal color was. The screen on the top was further textured.

This light teal color just pops! 

I'm happy I got these colors to work now. Today I'm going to do more work on these....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Clay Miniatures Workshop - Let's Bake Macarons!

I'm pleased to present my newest clay miniatures workshop entitled “Let’s Bake Macarons”.   Its inspiration is an imaginary vision of a baking table scene filled with all things related to macarons. 
For years I’ve held onto a baking table in my collection stash.  I’ve had many small ideas over time for how I wanted to use it, and finally nailed down a completed vision for it 2 months ago.
I painted the table white, and did not want to change the color scheme.   Because of my love for colourful macarons, I decided to do a macaron baking scene. 

I estimate that this 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures workshop will take a minimum of 10 hours to complete. The macaron tower itself, will take 2 hours or more.  Some wood work, along with sculpting work will be taught in this workshop. 
Because of all the details included in this miniature baking scene, I am confident that this will be something that you can enjoy holding onto and looking at for the longest time when it is completed.

More details of the "Let's Bake Macarons" workshop can be found here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Experimenting new paint for dollhouse miniatures

Part of what I really love doing is constantly experimenting new products, such as air dry clay or paints. So whenever I chance upon something I think is interesting to use for my dollhouse miniatures, I'm excited to try and see the effect. Not everything works, but that's part of learning ;)

I'm kind of obsessed with colours, especially with paints. So I was really happy to give this new colour a try. It's called "dressing table blue". What a beautiful name! And it comes with an equally beautiful soft shade of bluish green.

I worked on a new 1:12 scale kitchen island table right after I finish making a white dessert hutch for a customer. Since I was already in the mood, and the lessons were fresh in my mind, I quickly put together this kitchen island table.

Here, I've a photo to showcase the height comparison of the dessert hutch and the kitchen island table.

The blue kitchen island table is a tad shorter, but it looks cute, I think :) I imagine it to be used as a side table to display your goodies, in a kitchen setting, or bakery, patisserie or even a gift shop!

Altogether, there are 3 surfaces to display your stuff, that should be fun!

 I love how smooth and creamy the paint is. No lumps or anything. Painting has always been an enjoyable activity for me, and this is even more so with a good paint.

The new 1:12 kitchen island table is now available in my store under Miniature Kitchen section.