Saturday, May 7, 2016

Heat Gun vs Embossing Gun To Cure Kato Liquid Clay



I'd like to answer a question I get asked quite a bit about how I get my beads so shiny and what sort of coating I use to put on them.  The answer is really quite simple...Kato Liquid Clay (KLC) and a heat gun...but I would like to answer in more detail for those who are interested.

I started coating beads with KLC a very long time ago.  It started off as an experiment to see how it would affect the look of metallic clay and I have to tell you...it worked beautifully.  It seemed to add an extra depth to the bead which was just what I was looking for.  I experimented lots, I burnt lots of beads and I also had lots of successes.  Over the years I think I've worked out the right way for ME to do it.  Everyone is different and everyone has a different way of doing things so these are MY thoughts only.

For me, an embossing gun is simply not hot enough to cure KLC to a high shine (which is what I love by the way).  It can be done, although I much prefer to use my industrial heat gun for the curing process.   It took me a little while to master but nowdays I almost never burn beads and I can coat one bead with multiple layers of liquid time in an incredibly short period of time.  I could never do this with an embossing gun. 

Simply coat your bead with a very thin layer of KLC.  I say thin because it's easier to control.  The liquid clay will turn quite runny after a bit of heating and if you've over-coated your bead then you run the risk of getting drips and runs everywhere that are impossible to control.   I would rather have 5 coats of perfectly smooth liquid clay than one lumpy, bumpy coating.  Hold your heat gun about 10cm away from your bead and heat while rotating.  When it turns milky, simply pop your heat gun onto a high setting and zap over quickly to turn that liquid clay to a high shine. 

I've read quite a few articles, blog posts and comments about how you should never use an industrial heat gun to cure liquid clay but I'm telling you now it's what I do and it works beautifully.

this is my trusty faithful heat gun that I've been using for 8 years.

this is my new heat gun that now has a temperature control...both are incredible to use and both have dual speed.


ultra shiny coatings of liquid clay that looks lumpy and bumpy but in fact in super smooth to touch.

another bead with an incredibly smooth surface although it doesn't look like it.

my favourites...Image Transfer Beads using Lisa Pavelka Images again with a high gloss coating of multiple layers of KLC.

multiple coats of KLC on black clay creates a glossy, glass like finish.

and one of my new favourites...Kato Liquid Clay coatings over copper mylar - yum! Again, this bead is super smooth on the surface.

Remember this is purely my preference for curing Kato Liquid Clay.  I'm not saying this is the right way but this is definately MY way.

28 comments:

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    1. my pleasure Dakotah, thanks for reading.

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  2. I thought that was how you got your lovely distinctive shine and depth. I use Kato clear liquid sometimes and love to zap it with a heat gun in the same way you do only I am less scientific about it. . It smells horrible when it burns ;-). I've never tried layering it though, I will have a play with that at some point. Thanks for explaining your process a bit.

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    1. you are more than welcome Jon, thanks for reading.

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  3. Thanks Debbie for the informative discussion as I, too, have been in search of that glass-like finish as I have tried the clear embossing powders but, not quite satisfied ugh! hehe I will try your instructions with the KLC :D

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    1. Hey Marilyn, you are more than welcome my love. I've tried the clear embossing powders too and I'm with you, just not quite happy with them. Please let me know how you get on or shout out if you need anything. x

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  4. Thank you for this info.. Does it work with Sculpey liquid clay??

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    1. No it doesn't Natalie. The sculpey doesn't go clear like the kato does (unless they've changed the formula since I used it).

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  5. What does the bead feel like with the Kato liquid, Debbie? Is it rubbery or is it hard, like a varnish or resin?
    Love your amazing finish, btw!

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    1. Hey Carrie, sorry I missed your message here earlier. When the surface is still warm it feels rubbery but after it's cooled it's very smooth and hard.

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  6. wow Deb! This is great. Do you then sand and polish?

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    1. No Wendy, no need honey. All you need is the heat gun. Send me an email if you like and I can give you more info.

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  7. I know Debbie will probably respond to you both Carrie & Wendy... I been using this technique for some time but a little differently... so I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents...I hope Debbie won’t mind... to you Carrie the finished piece feels smooth as Glass...and to you Wendy...no sanding or polishing needed (you may sand your piece before coating if there are some imperfections) This is the beauty of this technique...with it you no longer have to spend tireless time sanding and buffing...

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  8. And to you Debbie great Article and thanks for sharing...haven't tried multiple layers and I do use an embossing gun...but I coat the piece and bake in the oven for 10 mins @300F and then I use the embossing tool to bring up the shine...on occasions I will put the piece bake in the oven for 10 mins for a second baking without re coating and that does seem to bring up the shine more...I'm going to try the Heat gun that I have and the multi-layer technique of yours...

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    1. You are more than welcome to reply here Brenda. As I mentioned in another blog post, the original inspiration for this was included in an article by Sharon Solly on using a heat gun to cure liquid clay on a round bead. I seldom work on flat pieces so the step of popping the piece in an oven for 10 minutes doesn't work, you need to cure from raw with a heat gun on a 3d piece. Perfect technique for flat pieces though Brenda.

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  9. Oh!...I forgot to mention that I've tried Sculpey Transparent...it does not give a high gloss shine but you get a Matte type of finish...I know some Artist who don't like the shiny effect and prefer a Matte look...plus the coating serves as a protective coating whether shiny or matte...

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    1. Yes, that's my experience too Brenda. Very good afterthought.

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  10. Thanks, Brenda. That's good to know!

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  12. Thanks Brenda and Debbie. I am gobsmacked! No sanding or polishing! This is something to look into for the Samunnat ladies. We get BIG orders for polished beads and this could make Them easier to fill!




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    1. As I mentioned in an earlier comment Wendy, just send me an email and I can give you more info. I think this could potentially cut down your time as well. I hate the whole sanding thing and this is just perfect if you want a high shine on your beads. Anyway we can chat more if you like. xx

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  13. Thank you the info! I've had a heat gun for about several years and only used it a couple of times. To be honest I've been afraid to use it! I thought I'd burn something up! This makes me want to try it again. Of course I will be careful!

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    1. Cynthia lots of people have said exactly the same thing and my suggestion would be to make a whole pile of "play" beads that you don't really care if you burn. Use scrap clay or and old bead you already have that you don't like and experiment with those. It took me quite a while to get the hang of it but once I did, it's awesome. You're lucky you have a heat gun, I'd be using it honey!! :)

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  14. Lovely for you to share this technique! I am assuming your KLC process is applied to pieces after the initial oven curing, but I thought I would ask. Thanks Debbie!

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    1. yes Laura, the KLC is added after the beads have been cured, sorry I should have mentioned that in the post.

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  15. I've heard you have a video showing this. Can you tell me where to locate it?

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  16. can you please tell me what to use. Thank you. Shirley Burg , symkbg@yahoo.com

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  17. what should I use to place my piece on when I use the heat gun? I tried glass but the heat shattered the glass. Thank you

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