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Re: BOOK_ARTS-L Digest - 12 Jan 1998 to 13 Jan 1998

>Could someone please explain the term brayer?  And before the image has
>been transferred onto the clay - has it been bisqued already or do you let
>the toner soak in first and then bisque?  I have not worked with polymer
>clay only porous, so imagine there are differences in handling.  I've
>noticed your using the term bake - so is polymer clay baked in the oven and
>at what temperature.

Hi, Colette,

A 'brayer' is just one of those small rubber rollers with a handle, like
the ones used by block printers to spread the ink.

I think the posts you're referring to were talking about 'polymer' clay
(like Sculpey or Fimo), which is *quite* a different animal from regular
ceramic clay!  Polymer clays are just that, a plastic, petroleum-based
material, mixed with pigments.  They harden when baked at LOW
temperatures in an ordinary kitchen oven.  (At the temperatures involved
in a pottery kiln, they'd just vaporize, emitting toxic fumes...)

I believe it's the petroleum base in the polymer clays that provides the
'solvent action' for the toner transfer.

With ceramic clays, different methods are needed.  You'd have to APPLY a
solvent to transfer the toner.  I've heard acetone suggested, and I've
also used a silkscreening material called "Serascreen".  (Both these are
highly toxic, wear a mask and gloves!)  You place the photocopy
toner-side to the piece to receive the transfer, possibly taping it in
place.  With a tablespoon reserved for ONLY this purpose, you then apply
solvent to the back of the photocopy, and briskly rub it (in a circular
motion, as if making a block print) over the whole image area.  (Bisque
the piece first, greenware might break down under the action of the
solvent and rubbing.)

Of course the organic parts of the toner will vaporize when you
high-fire the piece, leaving only whatever inorganic pigments there may
have been, behind.  Different pigments would give different effects.
You might want to experiment with oil-paint transfers, to get a wider
palette...?  (Note that the color of a *fired* pigment may have little
relationship to what it was unfired, this is also affected by whether
the firing was in an oxidizing or reducing atmosphere.)

There's also a material called "paper clay" (not the commercial product
of that name, though).  It's just a mixture of paper pulp (about 30 to
50%) with stoneware or porcelain slip.  The paper fibers give the
greenware incredible strength, you can roll out very thin slabs and
manipulate them into sculptures, vessels, etc.  The sheets are even
strong enough to survive a trip through an etching press!  (Which allows
some incredible embossing and intaglio inking effects to be done.)  The
paper burns out in firing.

All this has potential in non-traditional book arts... go wild.

The book "Ceramics and Print", cited in an earlier post to this thread,
talks about all of these things in more depth.


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