|Entire Daffodil Cat Collection is now available at MelodyODesigns at Etsy|
|The daffodils in our garden that inspired me thriving beneath the Palo Verde tree|
I recently tried staircase or ramp curing, as recommended by both Jana Benzon Roberts and Tony Aquino (the chemist at Van Aken, the company which manufactures Kato) and I've found it very helpful. One puts the clay piece in a cold oven and cures at the lowest temperature for 20 minutes and then raises the temperature to 200 F for 20 minutes. Then, without opening the oven gradually increase the temperature 50 degrees every 10 minutes until the target temperature is reached and start timing of the actual curing time. For me, ramp curing seems to help a lot with PREMO, but not so much with Kato. I've seen an increase in the problem with both PREMO and Kato since they changed their formulas and I've noticed it's worse with mushy clay that needs leaching.
When I first encountered the problem, about 3 years ago, I contacted Tony. He suggested a "work around", but at the time it wasn't practical to use it with my designs. This week, when my newly designed Daffodil Cats began sporting roaring cases of acne, I knew I'd either have to find a solution or discontinue using Kato, even if it meant changing my design. I am pleased to direct your attention to the Daffodil Angel Cat hanging ornament below. Look ma, no acne!
|Daffodil Angel Cat Hanging ornament|
The following temperature recommendation and timing are for a piece of Kato clay that is the thickness of #1 Atlas or #5 D.R.E.A.M. pasta machine, roughly 1/8" (3.1mm) and must be adjusted according to the manufacturer's recommendations when using other brands and thicknesses.
Condition the clay any way you like. You don't even have to be TOTALLY meticulous about not introducing air into the clay, though it's a good idea. Place your flat clay item on a piece of regular copy paper sitting on a ceramic tile, ideally cut to size. Place a slightly larger piece of paper on top of the clay item. Using your fingers, gently burnish the paper onto the top surface of the clay. If you rub too hard you risk distorting the shape of the clay. If you rub too little the paper won't totally adhere to the clay. Place in a pre-heated oven at 300 F for 30 minutes. 15 minutes into the curing time remove the paper from the top surface (careful, HOT!) and finish curing for the remaining 15 minutes. Once the piece comes out of the oven release it from the paper on the bottom (careful, HOT!)so that it doesn't curl as it cools.
According to Tony, "What is occurring is the paper is suppressing the ascent of the rising air bubbles and creating a detour. If there's not an outlet for it, it will not rise above the surface. It also mattes down the sheen, but sanding and buffing will provide an excellent gloss." I have found that using laser paper, which has a smoother surface than regular printer/copy paper lessens the matte occurrence and allows more of the characteristic Kato gloss to show without my having to take the time to sand and buff.
|Daffodil Cat worn as brooch|
|Readers tell me they enjoy seeing studio photos, so........|
|here is a photo of some of the various components that go into the making of the Daffodil Cats|