the secret life of toilet paper in my polymer studio

TPpot1      TPpot2

So, what do these two little art vessels have in common?
Yup.  Toilet paper.

I have found toilet paper to be a very useful tool in my studio.  For example, with these two vessels (and others similar), I used a wad of wet toilet paper (use regular water, silly… what were you thinking?), squeezed to compact it into a damp, but not wet, ball.  Then I worked the clay around it, and baked with the toilet paper core intact.

After baking it’s a simple matter to pick the tp out of the center leaving a hollow core.  (psssst…get the tp wet again so it comes out muuuuuch easier.)

pull out tp

But wait, there’s more! With this amazing product, you can ball it, wrap it, and scrunch it!  Act now!  For just a small payment, you too can have rolls and rolls of this wonder supply in your own studio!  Call now, operators are standing by!

Or, well, you can just go in your closet and get some.  I think that’s another reason I like using toilet paper in the studio – it’s cheap, everyone has plenty, and it’s very adaptable.

propped    ball    mummyWrap    

As you can see, it can push up to hold a shape, roll into a ball to hold up ends that might get droopy in the oven, or even ‘mummy wrap’ an entire piece to keep things where they should be with gentle support.

Yeah, i said ‘in the oven’.  That’s another wonderful thing you can do with this stuff – all the toilet paper support goes right into the oven with the clay.  Paper doesn’t burn or scorch at the temperature that clay bakes.  

So, have fun with that next time you clay play.  One of the most wonderful inventions of the modern world, lives a secret artsy life… and now you know about it.  Spread the word.

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About christifriesen

I am an artist because I must be. My mind wanders and my fingers follow. Just feed me a little more chocolate and I'll be fine.
This entry was posted in creativity, Polymer In Progress, Studio Time, tips&tricks and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to the secret life of toilet paper in my polymer studio

  1. This is a great tip. I tend to be accident prone, so I hesitated to use TP in my oven. I’ve tried supporting with aluminum foil, but it leaves marks on the surface of the piece. Thanks, Christi!

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    • Linda Williard says:

      Thanks, Christi! What a great and inexpensive idea. Then when I use up all the tp I recycle the cardboard tube for cute clay stuff as well. No waste!

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  2. You’re welcome Sandy! So far I haven’t burnt down my studio using paper in the oven, so I think us ‘accident-prone’ folks (i am one too) can be trusted with this one!

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  3. Rose Anne says:

    Great tip, Christi! However, when you say everyone has plenty, you have never been to my daughter’s to dog sit for the weekend. It seems that with three bathrooms I should be able to find more than half a roll.

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  4. hahahahahaha! Rose Anne – I will pass that on to my hubby! cuz he says i’m ALWAYS using up all the tp! hmmmm, what is your daughter doing with hers? (i know what i’m doing with mine!!) ;-D

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  5. Shannon says:

    I’m happy TPs true purpose has finally been revealed. I know the TP itself is happy that folks now know how versatile it can be.

    (Wish I’d known this a few weeks ago when I baked my Groot. He could have benefited from the mummy wrap technique…)

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  6. Gloria McKinney says:

    Your post from Australia made me so happy. You travel the way people should travel – with joy and fascination.

    Thank you for the toilet paper idea – it opens up a whole load of possibilities.

    I am a faithful reader.

    With appreciation, Glo

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    • Thank you Gloria! I’m on a “World Tour” teaching trip this year – I leave on Monday for the UK and Paris! wheeee! I promise to keep my sense of joy and fascination, and to continue share the experience with you all on fb!

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  7. I bow to the Wizard of Poly! So many things I have learned from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rhonda Magee says:

    You amaze me, woman! Who woulda thunk it? You definitely think, outside the box! 😉

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  9. or in this case, inside it! hee hee

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  10. Rhonda Magee says:

    I LOVE all of your steampunk creations! I’m really into, your seahorseand all of your dragons!

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  11. oh yeah, I LOVE the steampunk look! i’ll blog about that soon, i think!

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  12. Terry Gaicomini says:

    You must be baking in a full size oven when you are using toilet paper, right? But in a toaster, or at least smaller oven, is when it is more likely to catch fire I would think. Right? I have used tissues and paper towels for support. But it never occured to me to use tp or to wet it. (I know, Duh!) But wet and squeezed into a shape to fit under what it is supporting you wouldn’t have to worry about it collapsing half way through. And since tp is made to biodegrade, getting it wet and letting it sit will make it really easy to get out. Cool! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

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  13. I’m using a tabletop oven – so about 10-12″ interior size. You can use the smaller ovens too (although they do tend to burn the clay because the heating elements are so close to the pan and the spikes of temperature usually scorch the clay), as long as the tp is not closer than an inch or so from the heating elements, they won’t get too hot and thus, no inferno!
    And yeah, getting the tp wet just makes it a breeze to remove!
    Who knew, huh?!

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  14. Too funny, Christie!! You gave me a real laugh. Back in 1956, I started using toilet paper to learn to make roses that eventually became little masterpieces. I also use dry tissue, Kleenex, toilet paper if-you-will to support my clay that will be fired in the kiln. I don’t have to remove it as it will burn out. Fabulous stuff, isn’t it?

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    • Cherie – I love hearing that others have been using tp in their art too! I wondered if it would burn off in a kiln! interesting!!!
      I think you get the prize for longest-continuous-use-of-tp, though!!!

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  15. Alice ONeil says:

    I am a ‘newbe’ with clay. I am using my kitchen oven to bake. In time will it ruin it with left over fumes? I love the idea of the TP, what is a safe temp? I have been using 235 degrees for 15/20 minutes. As I said, I am a ‘newbe’ and really am not sure what I am doing!!!! But, I am having fun and I have bought a clay pasta machine and will use it soon when I get my ‘guts’ in gear!!!

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    • Alice – no problem at all using it in the oven (which is a much lower temperature than what Cherie is talking about!) BUT you do need to bake your polymer at a higher temperature if you don’t want it to be fragile/breakable – check the package of the brand you’re using, but usually it’s around 275ºF!! AND bake longer!! it should be 20-30 minutes PER quarter inch, measured at the thickest part of your piece – so for most pieces, 30-60 minutes!
      Just keep any paper away from touching the actual heating elements in the oven, and you’ll be fine. Oh, and yes, polymer does build up over time in the oven – many folks put their clay pieces inside an oven roasting bag and fold the opening closed to trap most of the fumes/residue. Let it cool completely before opening the bag.
      These are about the “trickiest” parts to creating with polymer, so as you can see, it’s an easy material to get used to. You already know how fun it can be! Keep up the creating!

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  16. Thank you thank you thank you Christi Friesen! I’ve been using cheesecloth for my wrap-style support, but you can imagine the problems inherent in this. Your tip has given me a true “Doh!” moment. Look to the experts for the simplest, most effective solutions.

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  17. you are soooo welcome Karen! I have those “doh!” moments often too, and for the same reason – doing something that seems ok until a better way is casually tossed into my life! another reason to all share with each other as often as we can, i think!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Polymer Clay Tip: Kleenex! - The Blue Bottle Tree

  19. Holly Cole says:

    Great idea but if I use wet TP as support, won’t it dry out while baking and therefore my piece would become unsupported?

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    • Surprisingly, no! Get it wet and then wring it out – this makes a rather compact tp wad which just sorta hardens in the oven to remain supportive without attaching to the clay. Getting it rewet after baking makes it soft enough to remove.
      Only one caution – if you use it for a core without any holes (ie: covering the tp wad completely with clay), it will steam and crack the clay, so leave air vents or don’t cover 100%.
      It’s a great sculpting trick, you’ll love it!

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  20. Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for supplying this information.

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