Polymer Clay Gallery

For a larger picture and more information about the particular scope, click on the thumbnail.

Desert Trails Kaleidoscope

Dimensions: Length=7.5" Diameter=1.5"

I made this kaleidoscope using micashift techniques I learned from a great class I took with Grant Diffendaffer. (He should have a video coming out soon and I would highly recommend getting it or taking one of his classes) The surface of the clay is completely smooth - all the texture you see is from the way the light reflects off the shifted mica particles.

I used my digital camera to take a picture of what you would see when you look into the kaleidoscope. It doesn't show the whole image beacause the camera could only capture part of it but you can get an idea of what it looks like.

For the object chamber, I used a few plastic gems, a yellow gemstone bead (citrine, I think), some pale lavender and blue glass shards, some small glass beads, and some yellow, green, and clear crackled mini flat-backed glass mosaic marbles. (I crackled them by baking them in the oven and then submerging in cold water).

Mini Faux Ivory Kaleidoscope

Dimensions: Length=2.5"

This is a similar kaleidoscope to the first miniature one I ever made. I still used fern leaves for the impressions in the ivory but I used a lighter wash of burnt umber paint to antique it.

I also used my knife to make small slices as though they were cracks in the ancient ivory. And I made dots here and there with my needle tool for more interest.

Another Metallic Leaves Scope

Dimensions: Length=2.5" Diameter=1"

This kaleidoscope also uses the Pearlex leaf masking technique explained by Mike Buessler but the areas of color are more distinct. I used a coarser grit sandpaper to texture the black clay around the leaves.

Mini Faux Jade Kaleidoscope

Dimensions: Length=2.5"

I gave this mini kscope a rounded barrel shape. I don't remember the exact recipe I used for the faux jade but it was basically a tiny pinch of green to alot of translucent. I mixed in ground black pepper for the inclusions.

Forming the rounded shape of the body required more manipulation of the clay than usual and I think that helped with the placquing effect. (You can see the effect in the light colored ovals and circles in the jade.)

Mini Metallic Leaves Scope

Dimensions: Length=2.5" Diameter=1"

This kaleidoscope uses the Pearlex leaf masking technique explained by Mike Buessler. I started with a layer of black Premo and a number of small leaves. I pressed the leaves into the clay and then textured over the rest of the clay with a rough piece of sandpaper. Then I used different colors of Pearlex powders to highlight areas of the texture. I then removed the leaves and lightly highlighted the areas of clay which had been covered.

Once the kaleidoscope was baked, I gave it a couple coate of Future to protect the powders and then set the Future in the oven.

WARNING!! Do not put Future in the oven at more than 200 degrees. I had a problem on a different piece where it developed little bubbles in the Future when I had the temperature too high. I'm assuming it was because the Future wasn't quite dry and the water boiled.

After the Future was dried and set, I assembled the kaleidoscope. This scope (and all of the mini scopes) has first surface mirrors which gives a much nicer image.

Mini Faux Marble Scope

Dimensions: Length=2.5" Diameter=1"

This kaleidoscope was actually a happy accident. (Happy and unhappy accidents are common as you're working with polymer clay and are all part of the learning process.) The marble was actually scrap clay - a failed image transfer, which was translucent clay and black toner, and white clay. I was going to use it as a lower layer for another kaleidoscope but liked the pattern so much that I made it into a top layer instead.

Once the kaleidoscope was baked, I wet sanded from 400 grit to 1500 which made it really smooth. Then I buffed it with a muslin wheel on a bench grinder which gave it an almost glass-like shine. A couple coats of Future gave it even more gloss and completed the polished marble look.

Mini Blue Green Filigree Scope

Dimensions: Length=2.5" Diameter=1"

This miniature kaleidoscope took me a long time to make because of the painstaking care needed to do the filigree so small. The kaleidoscope is only a little over two inches long so that should you give you an idea of how thin the strands were. I first covered the barrel with a thin layer of clay and then made the coils and arranged the strands by hand using the Balinese Filigree technique. The clay was a mixture of blue pearl and green Premo.

This kaleidoscope also has first surface mirrors for a better image and brass endcaps. It was cured with the endcaps to get the length and shape correctly but without anything in the barrel. Once it was baked I removed the endcaps and gave it a couple coats of Future to improve the shine (which you can't see as much in the image since all the ones which show the shine have too much glare).

Once the finish was dry, I assembled the mirrors, lenses and object chamber.

Mini Faux Ivory Scope

Dimensions: Length=2.5" Diameter=1"

This was my first miniature kaleidoscope. It has first surface mirrors (which makes the image much clearer) and brass endcaps. I was trying for an ancient ivory look so first I prepared my ivory mixture. This was layers of transparent and very pale off white clay. I cut slices of it and made a sheet which I wrapped around the barrel of the kaleidoscope. I then pressed fern leaves into it and made marks and scratches to mimic age. I baked it with the endcaps to hold the correct shape but without the mirrors and objects since some of them were plastic gems.

Once it was baked I removed the endcaps and antiqued it with raw umber acylic paint. I hand buffed it with a cloth to give it a sheen and assembled the mirrors and the objects.

The wonderful thing about the mini kaleidoscopes is that they can be carried in a pocket or a purse or brought to work without taking up much space on a desk. This one had a mix of plastic gems (which added bright color) and tiny polished semi-precious stones (which added depth and a natural quality) in the object chamber.

Filigree Blues Scope

Dimensions: Length=8" Diameter=2.5"

This was my second kaleidoscope. This time I used pvc pipe for the tube since the cardboard had been a little too flexible. I used two different types of pvc endcaps to hold the plexiglass lenses and the objects for the object chamber. One endcap was almost completely open but had a small lip which I could put the lens into. It became the object chamber. The other endcap had no opening but I drilled a small one for the eyehole.

This kaleidoscope was also assembled before it was baked. I used pieces of glass and glass beads as well as flower petals and shells in the chamber. I used Sobo glue to tack the lenses into place, once the mirrors and objects were in the pipe.

WARNING! Do not ever use super glue on plexiglass - it creates a white frost which will ruin the lens.

Once the kscope was assembled, I covered it with a thin layer of clay and then began the long process of applying thin clay snakes for the balinese filigree. I put small pieces of blue and white clay into my clay gun to extrude the snakes. This created a blending effect between colors and gave me the different shades of blue.

PineCone Scope

Dimensions: Length=7.5" Diameter=2"

This is the first kaleidoscope I ever made and it was made completely from scratch. The mirror is ordinary craft mirror and the tube is a cardboard paper towel tube. I covered it with a layer of clay and individually applied scales made from a Skinner blend of green pearl to gold. I was trying for a dragon scale effect but when I showed it to people, the first thing they said was, "Oh, it looks like a pinecone." Oh well.. It is now the PineCone Scope.

The lenses are plexiglass and the objects in the tumble object chamber are pieces of green, blue, and white glass. The image has a very pretty mosaic pattern to it, although I think it may be a little busy. I assembled the kaleidoscope before baking it, since everything could withstand normal baking temperatures. After it was baked I gave it a couple coats of Future to improve the shine.