Monday, May 11, 2015

The ABC's of Scratch Foam

Some metal clay artists have innate drawing abilities, and some do not. Those who do may find it easy to come up with illustrations for custom texture plates. Those who do not (like me) struggle and might feel they have no option other than to use commercial texture products. The ones who are 'art class' savvy are capable of creating beautiful sketches, doodles, and zentangles. The ones who were in choir instead (me again) turn out stick figures that are unrecognizable. But, there is hope for the challenged ones with template aided drawing!

Earring designs
Here are ten ideas on how you can create wonderful Scratchfoam textures using commercial 'helpers'.

10. Raid a childs' toy box and use their 'Spirograph' to etch nuclear, mid-century filigree.
9. Use decorative paper punches to completely perforate the styrofoam (see below).
8. Enhance a line drawing by cutting out simple shapes with a pointed craft knife, which will create a matching 'puffy' design in the metal clay.
7. Press hollow tubes, cookie cutters, and other metal shapes into the scratch foam sheet to create crisp, clean outlines.
6. Make outlines for specific pieces of jewelry by scribing the inside shape of drafting templates.
5. After pressing a specific shape into the center of the foam sheet, fill the rest of the sheet with additional designs.
4. Punch a ball burnisher through the styrofoam to form 'granules' in the clay.
3. Use a succession of ball burnisher sizes to develop tapering line widths.
2. Create sharp, thin lines with a pin (scribe lightly and slowly to avoid 'drag').
1. Draw a pattern on paper (or trace a copyright free illustration in a book) with a soft pencil, turn it upside down on top of the scratchfoam, and burnish with your fingernail to transfer the design onto the foam.

Design made with an oval cookie cutter,
 mini Kemper's teardrop cutter, straight pin
and cut outs. Texture tested with Silly Putty.
Basic tips:
• Use a ball point pen to press abstract lines, dots, and swirls all over the Scratchfoam (the ink helps the pen glide smoothly).
• Cut a large sheet of Scratchfoam into individual 4.5"x 2.75" pieces.
• Scratchfoam is very soft and will develop unintended marks very easily. Keep your texture plates pristine by storing them in an index card case.
• No matter what you do, Scratchfoam will eventually get scarred. If you love a plate you made, use polymer or silicone mold compound to make a copy of it.
• Use meat trays or to-go containers as a practically free Scratchfoam alternative!
• Test your Scratchfoam (and other) textures by pressing Silly Putty onto it.
• Scratch foam is very difficult to clean completely. Use separate texture plates for different clay bodies (silver, copper, bronze, etc).

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting!