Color Changing Polymer Clay With Heating Wire

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There are many interesting applications to be found when color changing clay and electronic components meet. In this tutorial, you'll be working thermochromic ink into the substrate of polymer clay and embedding resistive wire. When the wire heats up, either through conceded battery leads or with the aid of an Arduino setup, the clay with change color. The possibilities of shape and configuration are open for your imagination. In this instance, we'll be using the form of a tile.

Tools Needed:

  • Thermochromic ink powder
  • Polymer Clay
  • Clay working tools
  • Clear Ruler
  • Rolling pin (clay only)
  • Tin foil
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven
  • Resistive wire
  • Alligator clips
  • 9v battery

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Step 1: Work in the Ink

  1. Find a non-porus surface.
  2. Begin to warm up your light colored polymer clay so that it is workable.
  3. In small doses add the thermochromic ink powder into your polymer clay kneading and rolling the clay until the powder is incorporated.
  4. Continue step 3 until your desired tone is achieved. Tip: Have a cold surface available to test the color of your clay. The clay will become warm while your hands work with it and therefore appear lighter than the ending color.

Step 2: Embed the Resistive Wire

  1. Make a groove for the wire to sit into. Consider that the wire will be the core of your heat and apply it accordingly. This pattern is intentionally evenly spaced so as to heat the square consistently.
  2. Using a sharp clay tool poke the wire into place, covering it in clay so that it does not come loose.
  3. Once the wire is in place, leave ample room and trim the ends.
  4. Score the back to assure the the wire will be embedded in the clay.

Step 3: Bake

Follow the instructions on your polymer clay's wrapper. Cover the baking sheet in tin foil so as to avoid undue contamination.

Step 4: Heat Your Tile

You're done!

Attach a 9v battery with alligator clips to each lead, it'll heat the tile and the color will change.

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