The Environment and sustainability are something that is important. It's important to me. It's important to my business.
When I was writing my sustainability pledge I went into a bit of a research rabbit hole. I naively concentrated on my packaging. It was recyclable. The tape was not but I found a great alternative. A plant-based and biodegradable tape.
Then I dug a little deeper. The clay. Polymer clay. It's non-toxic to me my consumer and the environment. Job done right? But further digging. Polymer clay is essentially plastic. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before I guess I didn't make the connection. I assumed the clay was natural its clay right, but no.
So then I continued down the hole. Is there polymer clay made from recycled plastics? No.
Is there an alternative? Yes...Well... Maybe...?
Let's find out.
There are a few potential alternatives.
Air-dry clay. Paper clay. These are the ones I wanted to try.
I had a lot of things I wanted to try and see if the clay can do.
I don't mind giving up on a few techniques for the sake of going green and sustainable but I still wanted to be able to do enough of them to create fabulous pieces.
So I wanted to be able to marble, mix colours, screen printing, emboss, add glitter and be able to drill into to make holes can it be sanded does it need sanding?
Air Dry Clay;
So air dry clay doesn't need to be electric to cure as it... yes you guessed it; it is air dry so it cures in the air. Its made from natural materials no plastic.
I bought white which turned out to be grey. Pink and blue. I liked the fact it comes pre-coloured because a lot of the eco alternatives aren't coloured and was concerned about how I could colour it.
So I tried a few things. I started with the big block of white. Though it was not really white. It was sticky and not very easy to work as I balled it up and squished it up it became a little more workable. But I still couldn't use any of the cutters or try any of the techniques.
I opened the coloured think it would be the same, but the coloured was sorry for this moist (yeah ew) but more foamy easier to work.
So now I've got something workable I got to work trying something.
Cutting: The clay cut into shape very well. Clear and defined lines
Mixing: I mixed the two coloured together and it mixed well to create a lovely light purple-blue colour.
Marbling: Again nice marbled together nicely.
Cane Marbling: I tried another marbling technique. These did not work.
Paint/Screen Printing: This seemed to work okay. Definitely not perfect but the print held okay.
Embossing: The embossing worked really well maybe even better than polymer clay. The image was clear and defined and removed easily from the folder.
Glitter: I liked to mix glitter in so the glitter doesn't come off once it's time to wear it and the glitter stayed in well.
Tools: It rolled well with the rolling pin and the pasta machine and worked okay in the extruder.
This is clay made from natural clay and recycled paper.
I was looking forward to this but I was very disappointed. It was very wet and again unworkable.
So overnight they dried. The Coloured air dry set into a very lightweight foaming consistency kind of reminded me of Haribo fried egg with sweet consistency and feel. The paper and the grey dry clay were hard and kinda what I expect. But dried has not really changed my mind on these.
So What Now?
Well as you can see from the title this is part 1. I still think sustainability is important, so I will keep playing with them and thinking about how my business can evolve to be more green but I still don't want to compromise the quality or style of my pieces.
So how I thought I was going to end this blog was I have chosen to move forward with (name your clay here) and my future this will be incorporated until I run out of polymer clay. But for now, nothing is changing which is sad but I haven't given up I will keep reading researching and experimenting with different clay and I will update you as that happens.