Sunday, February 15, 2009

Basic Polymer Clay Tutorial

I am writting this guide because I sometimes get people asking how to use the polymer clay push molds I sell in my shops. I hope this guide will help to answer any questions you may have and even maybe give you an idea or two on creative things you can do with clay!

What types of clay can be used in polymer clay push molds?
You can use many types of clay in these molds. Here is a list of clays that can be used: Polymer Clay (Kato, Sculpey, Studio By Sculpey, Fimo, Premo etc...), PMC (precious metal clay), air dry clays, paper clays and paper mache/paper pulp mix, Craft Porcelain.

How do I keep the clay from sticking to the mold?
There are several ways to keep the clay from stickeing to your molds. I usually use talc powder lightly dusted on the clay or the mold itelf. Please note that if you are working with any color of clay other than white the talc will show on the surface and will not be able to be removed. Whe I am using a colored clay I like to use mica pigments or even old eyeshadows to lightly dust on the clay or mold instead of talc powder. This will make it easy to remove and also very pretty ;)
Other anti sticking agents you can try are: water on the mold itself before clay is applied, cornstarch or even spray sealing your molds (make sure they are clean and dry first).
Sometimes if you manipulate the clay too much before using it in the mold it can be hard to remove. If this happens, place the mold (with the clay still in it) in the freezer for a few minutes. This should do the trick!

How do I clean my molds when they get dirty?
After using your molds over and over they will sometimes get a tacky residue in them. I like to use either alcohol or a warm soapy water mixture and a nail brush to gently clean them and then let them air dry.

Is there a trick to pushing the clay into the mold?
As long as you push the clay from the center outwards you should do just fine. Try not to use more clay than you will need as it will make you have to do more trimming and forming when you remove it from thw mold. However, you will want to leave enough so you can easily remove it. You can also leave a small piece (like a handle in the back) to easily grip and remove it from the mold. You can always trim the excess/handle after you remove it from the mold.

If using Polymer Clay, How long do I bake it for?
Baking times are different for each brand so check the label before you put it in the oven. For reference, Sculpey and Studio By Sculpey bake at 275 degrees per 1/4 inch so if your item cast from the mold you are using is 1/2 an inch thick it will need to bake for 30 minutes.

Any ideas on ways to spice up my projects?
Absolutely! I love experimenting with polymer clay and have found some very interesting ways to liven up blah pieces! Here are just a few ideas:
1. Try adding different spices (yep spices!) mixed into transparent or even solid clay. I have gotten some awesome faux gemstone looking results doing this!
2. Add micro beads, glass cabachons or small glass seed beads embedded into your projects before baking... oooh la la!
3. Mix in some highly pigmented ink with your clay and see the swirly magic right before your eyes!
4. Mix gold, silver, copper (or all) leafing into your clay and see your art shine!
5.You can never have too much glitter mixed in... can you? :)
6.Colored sand works wonders. It adds color and texture... What can be better?
7.Odd pieces and doo dads... I love adding broken beads, sea glass, metal findings, twisty wire, mosaic tile pieces to my work... try it!
8. Don't forget! You can also paint, glaze and seal your projects after they cool from baking to create the look you want.

Any last advice?
Don't forget to have fun! The possibilities are only limited to what you can imagine! Good Luck!