January 18, 2011

Friendly Plastic Masterclass ~ Day Two

day 2 ~ making patterns and playing with surface texture

Hello again...welcome to the second day of Friendly Plastic play. Yesterday, we had a very simple introduction to FP, and i went easy on you so anyone who hadn’t played before could have a go and create a little something. Today...i want to work you a bit harder! ;0) We’ll be using the heat gun today, which heats the FP with a dry heat and is a bit more difficult to control...but when you get the hang of it, you’ll soon see it has definite advantages.
Right, so now we know how to join small pieces of FP together we can now move onto making our own marks and patterns in the plastic...and there are lots of ways of doing this!

Technique two ~ making stripes and variations on them

By combining 2 or more coloured sticks and cutting them into strips we can create stripey pieces of FP in all manner of styles...think thick stripes, thin stripes, a mixture of the two...and as many colours as you like!
Simply cut your strips with sturdy scissors, align them in a pleasing fashion on a piece of non~stick sheet and heat gently for a few seconds with the heat gun until you see the edges soften and the pieces join together.

As you’ll see from the photo, this method of joining gives a beautiful curvy shaped surface to each stripe, which i love {the bottom piece in the photo}...but you can get rid of this if you want a smooth texture by simply placing an acrylic block gently on top while the FP is still warm {the top piece in the photo}. Leave the block in place until the piece cools and hardens and it will simply fall away.

Using an acrylic block to gently *squash* the FP is an excellent way to thin it too {which we’ll come onto tomorrow} and to give yourself a sturdy piece of stripey plastic with no gaps in it. Sometimes you might want gaps though, in this case simply place the unheated pieces slightly apart or at angles to each other...and then heat to bond where they touch.
Of course you don’t have to stick with stripes to use this method, try triangles and squares for a patchwork look...and you can even cut up your stripey strips, realign them, and create a patchwork effect that way too...just play!

Technique three ~ swirling and marbling colours together

Another fun and simple way to make interesting patterns is to marble several colours together. This is done just as before with shapes cut and heated gently to meld together. While the FP is still warm you can gently swirl with an embossing stylus to create interesting patterns {the top piece in the photo} or gently drag a marbling comb through the top surface of the FP first left, then right, to create the patterns illustrated {the bottom piece in the photo}.

You can see that i overheated the marbled piece slightly and so the plastic became a little too molten, making it spike and stick at the edges...i’ve shown you this...so you’ll know what not to do!!
While the FP is warm you can also use your embossing stylus to make indentations, small holes, and to stretch out shapes as i’ve done on the edges of this example...this is a really useful way to create fun shapes as you’ll see later in the week.
Whenever using tools to shape your FP you will need to dip them in a little cooking oil to prevent them sticking to the hot FP.

Technique four ~ creating surface texture with rubber stamps

You’ll probably be aware of my love of rubber stamps, so i guess it will come as no suprise to find out that i use them with FP too :0)

The simplest way is to literally sink your stamp into warm FP, leave it to cool, and gently prize it away {this is not usually difficult, unless you melt plastic onto the wooden block too!} All types of stamp can be used: wood mounted/unmounted/acrylic, as they are created under high heat pressure...they won’t come to any harm from a little Friendly Plastic encounter. The advantage of acrylic stamps is that you can see directly through to gauge how much pressure you are achieving...the advantages of rubber stamps is that they are often more deeply etched...so you can get a deeper impression.

You can do this technique with a permanent ink too for a different look. Notice how much more obvious the pattern is when i’ve applied Brilliance Graphite Black ink to the same stamp before using it. The stamp is by Judi Kins for anyone who likes it :0)

An alternative to stamping with ink is to increase the contrast after its cooled by rubbing a little Stazon ink over the design or a little dark acrylic paint, or Stickles to add some sparkle.
As always have a play with what you have on hand...and you don’t need to limit yourself to actual stamps either...have a go with buttons and nail heads or anything you feel won’t melt, and can preferably be dipped in oil to aid release...you might be suprised what you can find that will create an interesting texture for you...and if you find something marvellous...do share it with the rest of us, eh? :0)

Of course...you don't have to stamp into a a single colour piece of FP...you can stamp into your stripes and swirly designs too! I think that might be enough for today...so i'll leave you have a play and practice these techniques before we move onto some new ideas for tomorrow. I couldn't leave you without a few ideas of what you can do with your practice pieces though...so below i've created a necklace, a phone/bag charm, an enamelled brooch {covering the piece totally in glossy accents and leaving it to dry overnight}, and a card topper with a little bling and few liquid pearls...now go...create beautiful things!

A note about cold water

If you are a speedy or impatient crafter you can immerse your hot FP into a bowl of cold water to harden it instantly with all these techniques...i don’t tend to bother as i just wait a couple of minutes and work on another piece...but it works brilliantly if you’re in a hurry! Simply dry them with a soft towel when you take them out :0)

Answers for Alexa:

1) How many times can the same be re-heated/moulded? Is it just once?

you can actually reheat and remould a piece of FP several times...possibly infinitely and i often reheat it several times in the process of one project...the thing to be mindful of is disturbing the foil coloured coating and ruining your patterns/colours. FP can be recoloured and we will talk about this later in the week :0)

2) You pressed a flower into yours to get it to stick. If you press something in and then remove it, will it hold the mark - like a mould?

funny you should ask this today...as that is just what i've been doing...if you still have any questions about this just shout :0)


Glen said...

Some really beautiful creations Alix. TFS. ~Glen~

Anonymous said...

Pretty pendants. :)

Linda Elbourne said...

Lovely stuff ... very well written and easy to understand too ... which is essential when you get to my age :0)

Rosie said...

Fascinating - I've got some of this somewhere, and if I can find it I'll pass it on to you!

Sarah (UKS Smelly) said...

Wow Alix, you are opening my eyes to a whole new craft. I cant wait to get some friendly plastic.

Claireliz said...

Alix, they are amazing.

Scrappy~Sarah said...

some beautiful work here. thanks for the info

sutty said...

You have made some gorgeous creations with the FP....you are tempting me to get some and have a go :)


alexa said...

Thank-you, Alix, for taking the time to type up such clear answers - much appreciated. I can see how well they FP holds the mould shape now. Brilliant!