Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Mommy and May" or" How I Learned to Love the Extruder Again"

For my latest project I am going to do another portrait.  This time it is of a friend and and her new born baby, May.  I have been wanting to do a duo portrait and since my children haven't given me any grand children (although I remain hopeful) I had to borrow from my good friend.  I think the photographer (I have her permission to use this photo) did a wonderful job and I knew when I saw it that I wanted to see if I could capture this in clay.  

For this project I knew I wanted to go back to the extruder.  I would need around 4000 pieces to complete this picture.   Today's post is all about the czextruder.  This is the new extruder that comes from Lucy tools in the Czech Republic.  Here is a link for the site in Europe.Lucy Tools.   The distributor here in the USA is Kimi's jewelry and gifts.

I bought an extruder from Kim quite awhile ago.  To tell you the truth I didn't love it.  I had put it aside and pulled out my handy green makins if I needed anything extruded.  My last portrait of my son Kevin wasn't extruded but I planned on using the extruder for my latest portrait.  I knew I was going to be cranking out a lot of extruded pieces I thought I'd give  Lucy's another try.  I am glad I did.  I had much better results this time and I owe it all to this little jar of lubricant.

Now it's been a while since lubricant gave me such pleasure, but that's not a story for this blog.  How can lubricant be so great in this instance is that it makes the czextruder work like it's suppose to.  When I first tried the extruder I found three major problems.
  1. It was very hard to hold in your hand.  I tried putting it into a vise but I was afraid I was bending the barrel.
  2. When I tried using the drill with it, the end cap got very hot and I had to work the drill very slowly.
  3. While using the crank I found that the end cap would tighten up to the barrel so much that I had to use pliers to get the cap off.  And I times I was afraid it wouldn't come off at all.
As I said I had purchased my extruder from Kim.  I also bought the conversion from the T-handle to the crank handle.  Kim knew of my massive extruded projects and also included the newer model.  Now to be honest I never figured out which is the newer model but I knew I had both a crank type and a T-handle version.  The crank version is the one that kept getting the end cap stuck so I haven't tried it again.  But I did give my pink T-handled extruder a try.  Armed with the small jar of lubricant (I applied some lubricant to the long screw shaft of the extruder) and another important addition -  the extruder vise, I gave it another go.

I frankly don't see how you could use the extruder without this little clamp.  I just screwed mine into a piece of wood and then clamped the wood to my work table.  I started out slowly using the T-handle to extrude my clay.  I then got brave and pulled out the drill.  SUCCESS!

I sometimes have to use my pliers to take the extruder off of the vise but it's not that hard.  The one thing I still don't like about the czextruder is that the "plunger" is a separate piece.  This means that you have to take the whole thing apart every time.  there are times that I may only want to extrude an inch or so of clay.  Well you can't just back up the extruder and inch and load the clay.  The plunger will not back up into the barrel since it is not attached.  Here is a picture of my extruder ( I have the larger one), my clay ready to go into the barrel, the separate plunger, the T-handle and the other item I recommend purchasing, the cleaning brush.

To help clarify here is a picture of the crank handle version.

Now I need to get back to work on my portrait.  Here are some of the containers that I have filled with slices taken from the extruded clay.  Wish me luck.....


  1. I have faith, it will be wonderful, I can't believe the detail you get out of your canes. I really like my CZExtruder, but agree on the Plunger being a separate piece, but I can work around that. I use a smaller version of a drill and have no problem with it going too fast (yes, I had to use a socket adapter to get it to the smaller drill "bit", but it works great and I don't have the weight of a HUGE drill to have to hold on to. Great review and I can't wait to see the cane. Smiles

  2. Oh my! So many tiny pieces. I am surprised they aren't longer pieces. I would get lost in the sea of monotone. You are amazing. Thanks for the nice review on the CZ extruder.

  3. I have to get some of that lubricant for the CZextruder. I have the same opinion of the plunger part, but to be honest it works so much easier than my latest Makins, that I have gotten hooked. Great review, can't wait to see the finished product. How long does it take to put one together after you get the canes extruded and cut and baked? I'm sure it depends some on the size of the picture, so how big are they usually?

  4. Thanks for the review. So glad you like it now. The czextruder has been upgraded even more to HD. You can get just the hd upgrade for yours if you would like.

    Now all czextruders in the USA come with the lubricant and brush as a kit. Also gloves so that if there is any air pressure tightness the gloves open everything. The hd also has a new cap upgrade. Im so happy with the hd I think you would love it. Thanks Julie for sharing and hope to see you soon. Kim Idalski. Usa Lucy Clay Tools

  5. Thank you so much for the detailed article