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Re: modeling clay fixative??


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Dec 07 2004 - 08:19:19 PST

>You know that non drying modeling clay that comes in sticks that the
>schools like to buy? Well, can you put something on it to preserve
>students' work (to make it hard/non moveable)? Thank you.
> ~ Kathleen

An interesting question. I am unaware of any product that is
designed for this. However, with some experimentation, I believe we
can invent a solution. Plasticine stays soft because it is made from
clay mixed with non-drying oil. Pottery clay is mixed water.

One approach would be to brush on a volatile solvent that combines
with the oil near the surface to get some surface drying and
hardening. This may need to be repeated daily for x number of days.
Paint thinners for oil base paints would be solvents. Some give off
bad fumes as they dry - so apply and dry away from people. This
would allow the oil to dry and the clay to form a hard crust.

After a week or so, if the surface seems drier, but still too
fragile, the dry crust might be coated with a paint, varnish,
fixative, or cheap hair spray to protect the dry clay surface. An
oil base paint or varnish might be the most compatible with the
remaining oil in the clay.

I have not tried this. Your mission, should you choose to accept it,
is to tell us what happens.

For what it is worth, I share this advice from Peter Voulkas, one of
the most creative artists of his century. Pete advised his students
to use their best artwork for their most daring glaze experiments.
Never pretest a glaze.

Taking artistic risks is good. Taking health risks is bad. I apply
sprays outdoors with wind at my back unless I have a really good
exhaust booth. As a consequence, (or by good luck) I still have most
of my internal organs and a bit of my brain.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before."
... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.