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When you think of carving or mark making maybe an Ozark Mountain Folk Artist wood carver comes to mind or maybe even a wood block printer.  Let’s think outside the block so to speak and turn to polymer clay.  Some of the very same tools can be used.  For example, wood block carving tools like a V groove or U groove make excellent designs in polymer clay especially before curing the clay (cuts just like butter). You can layer different, contrasting colors for an interesting pop to your design.  Mark making by carving, indenting, gouging, scraping, and impression making can add a variety of unique designs to your works of jewelry, collage, and sculptures in polymer.  Antiquing with acrylic paint or brushing on powders can enhance your intricate details.

Of course, wood carving tools are great but so is a screwdriver, Phillips, or flat head.  How about those knitting needles in a variety of sizes for dots or angle gouges?  A credit card or a ruler make interesting straight lines that really show up well when using an acrylic wash over them and pulling the excess paint off (antiquing).  A roller marker for sewing can resemble stitch lines around pieces making it appear to be quilted.

Carving tools for wood cuts

Have you ever searched about your studio for “mark making tools”?  Imagine using these “tools” to make interesting marks in your clay.

Found object tools, knitting needles, toothpick, drill bit, pen, dental tool, credit card, comb, skewers, wire, paper clips, screwdriver, sewing marker, etc.

Sgraffito (Italian: “scratched”), is used in the visual arts, a technique used in painting, pottery, and glass, which consists of putting down a preliminary surface, covering it with another, and then scratching the superficial layer in such a way that the pattern or shape that emerges is of the lower color.

Layered colors of clay, wood V groove tool, needle tool (sgraffito style)
Lines with credit card indent, mica powder applied
Lines with knitting needle, needle tool or paper clip indents, knitting needle indent
Carved Lines on the bottom with v groove tool

Also, it is possible to carve or design your own rolling and texture plates in polymer using the same tools.  These can make some wonderful “uniquely yours” designs.  

Designed texture rollers from polymer
Hand designed texture plates from polymer

All the discussion is about altering your polymer clay surface and being more creative and enjoying the process.

(Article and works by Marlene Gremillion)

The next Polymer Art Summit (online), Surface Exploration is August 6 & 7, 2022

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Instructors along with the classes will be announced shortly.