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Elvenwork Forum

This forum has been a way to provide a public exchange of questions and answers for polymer clay sculptors. But, as I said in my final post, there comes a time when all things must end. That doesn't mean the forum used as an archive has nothing to offer. Indeed it is still loaded with questions and answers that remain relevant and which are searchable! For that reason, I'm keeping it available, though no new posts can be added. If after searching the forum your question isn't addressed, Join me on to ask it. As always, you'll find me there as Katherine Dewey. Hope to see you there. --  Katherine

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Hello everyone! I have not been on this forum in ages. If ever I have a question I know this is the place to come. I was stuck in the rut of only using polymer clay for my figurative art. Recently I decided to be brave and try paperclay. I am loving it but would love any advice that can be given. I have sculpted a doll head and coated it with rabbit skin glue as someone suggested to me. I have my first coat of oil paint on it and drying. I sure could use some tips on painting. I did a small swatch of paperclay to use as a tester. I tried oils, acrylics, water color, chalks, china paints etc. I like the look of the oils the most but it takes so long to dry and I am not that patient. LOL. Any way, I have done some research and see that some people do several layers of different colors. Anyone have any tips on any of this? Thanks.

Re: Paperclay

Hi Debbie,
I was hoping someone would answer this because I am as inquisitive as you are about techniques for painting paper clay. I do know a bit about oil painting techniques. Yes, they do take time to thoroughly dry. That can be days for earth colors(i.e. pale yellow ochres and dark umbers) and paints with a low oil content (Prussian blue, ultramarine, flake white, and titanium white). Paints with a medium oil content dry within about five days include cadmium reds and cadmium yellow. It depends on the nature and saturation of the pigment. Still, the buttery consistency and easy blending can make for a beautiful finish.
There is one rule you should be aware of when painting with oils: Always work 'fat over lean' to compensate for drying times of multiple layers of paint.
'Fat' oil paint is oil paint straight from the tube. Mixing it with an oil makes it even 'fatter' and increases the length of time it takes to dry completely. It may feel dry to the touch, but is still drying beneath the surface.
'Lean' oil paint is oil paint mixed/thinned with more turpentine (white spirits) than oil, or oil paint mixed with a fast-drying oil (copal or Japanese Dryer--don't use them!). 'Lean' oil paint dries faster than 'fat' oil paint.
Lower layers absord oil from the layers above them; every layer should be a little 'fatter' than the previous one, or have a greater proportion of oil in it.
Follow this rule and you should be fine. If the paint appears dull and chalky the next day, don't apply more paint to revitalize the surface color and sheen, spray it with a bit of "Retouch", a special blend of fat rich varnish. The colors will brighten and you continue working. Use "Retouch" as a temporary varnish until the paint is fully dry (a month to 6 weeks) and your painting, or painted surface won't crack.
Hope this helps,

Re: Paperclay

Painting Paperclay Test:
Here is the test that I performed so far. This is all on paperclay without the sizing (Rabbit Skin Glue) and then sealed with Liquidex. I am working with the paints that I had available so the colors were all slightly different.
The following were used at “full strength” or as Kathy says “fat”(not thinned or thinned very little):
1. Genesis Heat set paint
2. Water color pencils
3. Water Color (Flesh & White mix)
4. Windsor Newton Acrylic (Mix of Rose, Raw Sienna and White)
5. Folk Art Acrylic Paint (Georgia Peach)
6. Folk Art Acrylic Paint (Skin Tone)
7. Windsor Newton Oil Paint slightly thinned (mix of P. Rose, C. Orange, Flesh Tint & White)
8. China Paint (Dry- just “blushed” on)
9. Chalk (Dry- just “blushed” on)
My favorites from the above are the Windsor Oil Mix, the Water Color mix, the Chalk mix, and the Acrylic Georgia Peach in that order. Mostly because of the color.
Using the exact same as in the list above, I thinned all of the paints to almost a water consistency (or as Kathy called them “lean”). My thoughts on this are that the paperclay will absorb the paints a little better this way. I even added water to the color pencils, china paint, and chalk. I also tried the Windsor Newton Water Soluble Oils this time (forgot them before). They all worked beautifully this way. My favorites doing it this way are the Windsor Newton Oils and the Chalk and I am not sure which one of them I like the best. But any of the above list of paints look very good on the paperclay this way. If you like very fair skinned then you may only need this one layer of paint. My next test may be to build on this with thicker paint to see how it looks. And I may also try this exact same test with the sizing on first.
I am almost wishing I had not put the Rabbit Skin Glue on my doll. I like the way the paperclay took the paint on my sample much better than on my doll. But I was told I needed the sizing because the paint would soak into the paperclay too much and I would have to put several coats on. That is not what I found with my test. What I am wondering is if I can use the Rabbit Skin Glue as a sealer on top of the paint?

Re: Paperclay

My sister uses watered down acrylics, and just layers them, letting each layer dry thoroughly before applying a new layer.

Hannie Sarris, who passed away this past May was really evolving in her work this past year with great details, she used acrylics also:

She says you can actually water it down for an airbrush, Golden paints make great acrylics for air brushing also.

I would think the Windsor Newton water based oils would be great also.

Many of the dutch artists that are members of DABIDA would probably know some more techniques, one uses automotive paints in layers.

Katherine, you are such a fountain of knowledge, i will have to check out the 'Retouch'. I never thought of varying each layer that way.

Hope this helps.

Re: Paperclay

Thanks Joanne. I will check out DABIDA's website to see if they have info.