Friday, October 9, 2009


I had someone email me asking if I would consider doing an on-line class. The person really liked some of my techniques. Because my style is so "improve" I figured I could never do anything that structured. However I don't mind sharing my techniques. Feel free to use these techniques and make them your own. I think of polymer clay as "Adult Playdough". Play with the techniques and learn from your mistakes. Some of my favorite discoveries were from mistakes. This is the second post to answer my fan's questions.

Rubber stamps aren't just for paper, and neither are other impression making tools.  Use anything that makes a nice impression.  I am a great fan of the on-line store Polymer Clay Express  They carry a very nice selection of rubber stamps, texture plates, texture rollers and "molding mats".  Since this is a store dedicated to polymer clay the stamps they carry are all nice and deep.  That is really important for getting a good impression in clay. 

Remember that you will get the reverse impression in the clay.  I like having a mix of both "iny and outy" stamps.  Polymer Clay Express even carries some stamps that come in both a positive and negative.

You need to use some type of release agent to prevent the clay from sticking to the texturing material.  I prefer to use corn starch.  I have never had it affect the clay.  Some people use water.  If you don't like how the impression turned out, just smooth out the clay and try again.  A couplt coatings/impregnations of the clay with corn starch has never been a problem for me. 

I am always hunting in craft stores, hardware stores and anywhere else for items that I can use for impressions.  I got in the habit of doing this many years ago after watching a Victoria Hughes video on Mokume Gane.  She used a wide assortment of objects to press impressions into her clay - phillips screwdriver, adding machine paper core, plastic carpet protectors were some of her favorites.  I now have a couple of drawers full of fun texturing tools.  Look for thinks that will push the clay, not cut it.  Anything with too sharp an edge will cut, not push and distort.

The best texturing plates I ever found are the Cuttlebug Embossing folders.  They are stiff plastic folders designed to emboss paper.  The paper is put in the folder and it is run through the Cuttlebug embossing machine.  What is so cool about this product is that it simultaneously embosses the front and back of clay.  One side is positive and one side is negative.  I purchased some of my folders at Michael's crafts, scrapbooking stores and on-line.  Hobby Lobby and JoAnn Fabrics may carry them also.  I just dust with corn starch and put a sheet of clay inside.  Then I run a roller over the outside.  Because the clay is sandwiched inside it can't slip so I get a nice clean impression.

Oh yeah - don't forget to try impressions in clay with an inked stamp.  You will have to use a archival permanent ink pad.  Do not use Dye Ink pads.  These do not dry.  Be careful, the ink may not try until the piece is baked.    I don't remember if they dry before baking, it has been quite a while since I did anything with an inked pad. I will have to try that technique again.

Here are some jewelry examples the incorporate textures.

This bead is a simple rubber stamp impression with an inked stamp.  You get a nice dark impression.  I don't think you would get the same amount of detail if you just stamped without ink and used paint later to antique it.  Because I stamped on to a flattened oval bead I got an impression only on the top flat surface.   I like the effect of the flat edge all around the impression.

  This brooch's squares texture was made using a Cuttlebug Embossing Folder.  It incorporates both the positive and negative sides of the clay.  I will discuss the coloration techniques in a future posting.

  Another way of getting a raised texture on clay is with a stencil.  Even a paper stencil will work.  Lay the stencil on the clay and run over it with a brayer.  The clay will puff up through the openings.  If you are using a metal or plastic stencil you can increase the puffyness by pressing down on the metal surrounding the openings.   The spiral on the pendant to the left was made with a stencil.  While the clay was still covered with a stencil I highlighted the spiral with silver mica powder.

And don't forget the impressions of Mother Nature!!  If you are using leaves look for ones with nice thick veins and take the impression from the under side of the leaf. 

You can also press items (leaves, rubber stamps, etc) into a thick sheet of clay and use it as a mold to reverse the image. Use the mold to get the final impression for your project.  These earrings were made from a mold I created by impressing a Queen Anne's Lace flower.


PM delights said...

Another sooooo inormational tutorial and how you make your works of 'art'. Your work is hands down, one of a kind. Beautiful beyond words. I wish I could just sit in your 'jewelry room' and watch you create! You're in a class all your own.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, thank you so much for the information !