20 December 2009

tear-away troubles

for years i've been struggling with the tear-away technique. for non (or new) metal clayers, the tear-away technique is a way to create your own texture surfaces so you don't have to rely on commercially made ones. it involves a ridiculous amount of attention to detail...timing, burnishing, lights positioned a certain number of inches from a surface. that kind of attention to detail is very hard for me.
the gist of it is this (look elsewhere for a really detailed clear description of how to do this, if you want to try)....
*create/find a design and photocopy it with a TONER copy machine (not your run-of-the-mill digital printer). i have only found this type of copier at my local grocery store (old and always out of order) and 5 towns away, in a little library (can you say inconvenient?).
*roll out a skinny slab of metallic polymer clay. put the copy face down on the p.c.
*burnish for 90 seconds.
*put it 7" under a warm lightbulb for 7 minutes.
*burnish again.
*under the warm lightbulb again.
*burnish again.
*rip copy off p.c. QUICK like a band-aid.
and with quite a bit of good luck, the p.c. particles will have attached themselves to the toner on your copy, so there will be a lovely little sparkly relief version of your original design. after baking the paper in a 240 farenheit oven for about 30 minutes, you can press that pattern into metal clay to make a texture.

this only very infrequently works for me. usually, the p.c. and toner bond together with heat and friction, but the toner ends up on the p.c. slab instead of the p.c. ending up on the copy. if it does appear to work, the p.c. starts chipping off after just a couple of uses. like this....

i really would like to make some more tear-away sheets early this winter. leafy, branchy, flowery ones i think. i could commit to being very focused on the specifics of the process. i'd love to hear tips, if anyone has them. i also heard a rumor about a SPECIFIC photcopier to use. i wonder if my friend marly that i met last summer would have some inside info on that subject?!


STUDiO 28 Waterloo said...

Hi Holly,
We've just returned from Montreal where we had a wonderful Christmas get away! I read your blog this morning and saw that you had a question for me in your piece about tear away. Yes, tear away can be very tricky but the results are so beautiful when it does work. When we took a course with Celie Fago she recommended getting a Canon PC 170 copier or any copier in that series that uses that particular toner. Apparently, it has more iron in it which helps the polymer clay to attach more easily . The 170 retail price is around 150.00. We have had the most success with tear aways with copies from this machine. It's very small and portable and comes in handy for other photocopying, too! Hope this info helps! Happy New Year!

holly kellogg said...

thanks marly! i knew you'd probably respond eventually! glad to hear your holidays were wonderful...mine too!