Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Food Processor for Mixing Polymer Clay


Mini Food Processor - AKA My New Toy


I love sculpting in polymer clay, however the process of mixing clay can be VERY tedious. This is especially true when mixing clay for a sculpture for a number of reasons. Using a pasta machine (my old method) for mixing clay takes FOREVER with a somewhat extensive preparation process. Light and fresh clay has a tendency to pick up lint, dust, dirt, anything and everything that happens to be around at the time.
Thus the longer the mixing process, the long the clay is exposed, and the more 'dirty' the clay turns out. The final sculpture looks less 'professional' if it is studded with lint.
And my newer issue with the pasta machine, is the difficulty in adding liquid polymer clay. I've discovered that conditioning some liquid clay into the mix makes it softer and more malleable, however, this was disasterous in my pasta machine meaning I had to do it by hand.
This is especially difficult with my injured hand/thumb (from military deployment)

The old Mixing Process

Preparing the Clay to be mixed (I chose random scraps for this demo)

Each 'blob' of clay has to be slightly conditioned and shaped to fit into the pasta machine

Each blob of clay is run through the pasta machine a few times for a somewhat uniform sheet

The colors to be mixed are stacked, and run through the pasta machine again, and again

and again

Until a uniform color blend is achieved

This process isn't too bad for a smaller sculpture or color combination, but this can take the better part of an hour for something as large as a 3 Inch Bunny

Old vs New

Enter the Food Processor

I've read about artists using food processors for mixing clay, and finally decided to treat myself (Under $20 on amazon) I purchased the Proctor Silex 1-1/2-Cup Food Chopperideal for a small to medium magical sculpture

Does it measure up?

I decided to do my first mixing trial with camera at hand
Preparing a mix of clay to be blended: Sculpey Living Doll and Premo Translucent. I will then add some TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey)

I roughly shredded the clay and dropped them into the food processor

Power ON, and WOW!!


I then added a generous few drops of TLS

Total Preparation + Mixing Time: TWO MINUTES,
Level of pain to my injured hand: ZERO

Foreseeable Benefits:

The first and most obvious is TIME. I have essentially cut an hour out of the sculpting process.
On a personal level, this takes the stress of mixing off my hands, ideal for people with hand injuries
I can 'store' the unused clay in the processor. I typically mix up more clay than required. I'd rather mix too much of a clay color, than to run out mid-sculpture and have to try copying the color combination and consistency
The clay keeps CLEAN!! the processor is so tiny, I don't see the need to remove the clay, I will simply store the entire unit on my craft-cart and take out bits of clay as needed. And if a few days pass in between uses I will simply power it up for a few seconds and recondition (re-soften) the clay.
I am in love with my new toy!!

Edited 11 July 2012
Thanks to the comments below regarding the danger of storing clay in the food processor I will only keep the clay in during sculpting and then store in another container so as not to destroy my new toy

21 comments:

  1. Genius. I wonder if you would have to do smallish batches so the motor doesn't heat the clay but still that's nothing compared to having to condition a ton of clay by hand. Now I have to buy a new toy :)

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    Replies
    1. Mckenzie,
      I ran the processor for less than a minute, and clay is still soft now as I work with it. No risk of burning out the motor
      (don't overdo the amount of clay though, keep it within a few ounces otherwise it packs down)

      Delete
  2. I'm ordering one right now! woo hoo!

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  3. Wow what a great idea. When I first started Etsy years ago I was fiddling with clay beads and I was doing the pasta machine way haha. I dont do anything clay anymore but this would have been a great idea for then.

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  4. I've used a food processor for YEARS. Here's a tip though. Have TWO...one for DARK colors and one for light colors. The colors tend to "stick" to the outside and can be VERY tough to get out. I HATE a green tint to my white clay. Wonderful post Leah.

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    Replies
    1. Katie that is great advice, I will certainly keep that in mind (and perhaps NOT use this one for darker colors)

      Delete
  5. wow !!!! Amazing !!! Thank you for sharing your work progress. I'm sure it will help you much more with less work time :) Enjoy !! XO Rachel

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  6. On Carol Duvall, we used mineral oil to revive and loosen older clay.

    And I hope your readers know to never use a kitchen tool for food once it has been used with clay!

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  7. Wow, this saves you so much time! That's great.

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  8. Wow, who knew a food processor has so many uses?

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  9. DO NOT store clay in your processor bowl! The clay and the plastic will react over time. The clay will eat into the surface of the bowl, and then the bowl will turn gooey. I know this from personal experience.

    Also, don't clean with alcohol, as exposing the plastic bowl to alcohol repeatedly will make it brittle. Instead, use mineral oil on a papertowel to remove all clay. Store it instead in either a ziplock, sandwich baggy, or any "milky" plastic container (film canister, bead box, etc...).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Gillian this is great information, I did not know that
      Thank you so much for sharing, I will look into getting a milky container as suggested. Good thing it's only been a day, hope I didn't ruin it yet

      Delete
  10. Great post. Good for you to make your life easier.

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  11. Thank you for that bit of info. I've been cleaning mine with alcohol without realizing it would harm it. Mineral oil cleaning it is from now on!!!

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    ReplyDelete
  13. I love mine as well! But I cannot get it clean. HELP! Any secrets to share?

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  14. Just got a small one JUST for clay, $3.95 new in Box and Goodwill! SCORE! :)

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  15. Your images aren't working for me so I'll try again later. I have an old prossessor I might be able to put to good use! :)

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  16. Your images aren't working for me either but I got a pretty clear idea. I picked one up at a yard sale for a whole $1. I will not store my clay in it and I will use mineral oil to clean it, as soon as I look it up and see what it is, and I will keep my eyes open for another one for just white!
    You guys are great! Thanks for all the information, this newbie can use all the advice she can get with these arthritic hands and body!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your images aren't working for me either but I got a pretty clear idea. I picked one up at a yard sale for a whole $1. I will not store my clay in it and I will use mineral oil to clean it, as soon as I look it up and see what it is, and I will keep my eyes open for another one for just white!
    You guys are great! Thanks for all the information, this newbie can use all the advice she can get with these arthritic hands and body!

    ReplyDelete