Tool Talk By Pat Evans – USA
ArtWay Tools Gear Shape Frame Sets
Gears are a popular motif in jewelry these days, especially for Steampunk style creations. After trying several ways to create this shape, I was happy to come upon ArtWay Tools’ line of Gear Shape Frame Sets. I tested the Small Gear Set 5, which has three different sizes of gears, all shaped alike. Gear shapes formed with Shape Frames interlock neatly, so combinations of sizes can be interconnected for different designs.
Each Gear Shape Frame consists of an outer frame that shapes the contours of the gear plus a base with a raised center that creates the hole in the gear. After the clay, is sandwiched between the outer frame and the base, is it allowed to dry (if using metal clay) and then is pushed out of the frame with the Pusher Plate. It’s quick and easy to make multiples. A video on the product website demonstrates the process and clear, illustrated instructions are included in the kit.
These three-piece acrylic Shape Frames also can be used to mold polymer clay; in fact they were designed for that purpose originally. As a result, they are designed to create fairly thick molded pieces. The developer of the shape frames told me that artists who want to mold thinner shapes that use smaller amounts of metal clay can line the molds with an even layer of polymer clay and then fill the rest of the mold with metal clay. I like the flexibility this idea allows. For base metal clays I use the full thickness of the molds; for silver clay sometimes I will line the molds with polymer to make thinner shapes.
These Gear Shape Frame Kits are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, along with other shapes such as shrines and geometrics with available button-hole templates. I prefer the smaller sizes for use with metal clay. Gear Shape Frames are available from www.polymerclayexpress.com. Retail prices for the sets range from $25 to $68, depending on size and number of Shape Frames included in each set.
Imagepac Stampmaker Kit
Some time ago I reviewed the Imagepac Stamp !t kit, and although it was a good enough way to make stamps for use with metal clay, I concluded that photopolymer plates were a more efficient way to create unique textures for metal clay. Now that Imagepac has come out with the Stampmaker Kit, I’m a convert!
I found it easier to use the newer kit, with its magnetic frame for holding the design to be copied against the pack of photopolymer gel, than to put together a sandwich of traditional photopolymer plate material, glass, backing, and artwork held together with bulldog clips. With the Imagepac Stampmaker Kit, activation under a UV light took only seconds and washout was simple. The finished stamp had good, clear lines. What I really like is the softness and flexibility of the finished stamps. I prefer them to the ones I’ve made with plastic-backed photopolymer sheet material, which has a tendency to harden and to curl up at the edges. I also like the depth of the impression I was able to get. The instructions in the kit are easy to follow. Although the price of refills is slightly higher than for a similar quantity of photopolymer plate material, I think the ease of use and finished quality is worth the few cents’ difference, especially for anyone who is new to making photopolymer stamps.
The kits come in a variety of configurations. If you already own a UV light and a printer or copier, all you need is the basic kit, which is called the Imagepac Bare Photopolymer Kit at Art Clay World and the Imagepac Stampmaker Basic Kit at Metal Clay Supply. Even if you need a printer, I’d suggest you purchase one separately, since inkjet printers can be bought on sale for next to nothing at big box stores and office supply stores. Imagepac Stampmaker photopolymer kits cost between $55 for the Basic/Bare kit and approximately $200 for a complete kit that includes an HP 1000 inkjet printer and a UV light. Find the Imagepac kits and refills at www.ArtClayWorld.com, www.CoolTools.us and www.MetalClaySupply.com .
Pat Evans (a.k.a. The Tool Diva) keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA. She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC Certifications. Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools.) You can find Pat online through her website: http://patevansdesigns.com/