Make Your Own Polymer Clay Stamp
by Sunni Bergeron
== Materials: ==
- About a handful of polymer clay scraps or 4 ounces of any brand of polymer clay
- A pasta machine, a rolling pin or a glass jar - something to roll the clay flat
- A drawing or printed graphic on a piece of paper, trimmed closely around the design
- A tool to burnish with (optional) - the back of a spoon, a bone folder, credit card or whatever you have around the house.
- A sharp sewing needle
- Carving tools: toothpicks, embossing tools, craft blades, pencils, nutpick - whatever you have on hand (I used a porcupine quill!)
- Scissors, a knife and/or a blade for trimming excess clay away
- A "pounce" of cornstarch (powder tied in a small scrap of fabric) or a toothbrush and a small glass of water
- Flexible tissue blade for removing raised clay
- Calibrated oven - preheated to the temperature recommended for the clay you are using. If you are using two brands, go with the higher temperature.
- Aluminum foil
== Carving Instructions
1) Knead your clay or scraps until soft and thoroughly blended. If you are using a pasta machine, flatten the clay using the widest setting you have then fold it so your clay is a double thickness. If you are manually rolling out your clay, roll it about ¼ inch (6.35mm) thick. Get it as even as possible. I recommend you use guides to get a perfectly flat sheet of clay. 2) Place your design face UP on your clay and burnish it firmly - but not hard - just enough to adhere the paper to the clay. You can use either a tool or your fingers to seat the paper. 3) Outline your design by using the needle to prick through the paper along all the lines in the graphic, leaving wee holes in the clay once the paper is removed. 4) Using a craft blade or the needle, cut into the clay along the dotted lines. Cut no more than 1/8 inch (3.175mm) deep. 5) Using any of your sculpting tools (I used a sharpened common pencil and a round toothpick), carefully dig out the areas of the stamp you wish to be raised. Don't worry too much about how neat your digging is, just work on getting the clay thoroughly removed. 6) Once the design is dug out to your satisfaction, smooth the recessed areas nicely to get as clean a stamp as possible. Be sure to pay attention to the "walls" as well as the "floors" of each recessed area. 7) Once the finishing touches on the recessed area are complete, closely examine the area around your design. The tiniest of marks will print beautifully. Using your finger, stroke any scratches or gouges until they are perfectly smoothed out and the surface is unblemished. 8) When your stamp is pristine, you will have crisp lines. Your gouged out areas should range between 1/32 inch (.8mm) to 1/8 inch (3.175mm), depending on your design. 9) Using the scissors, knife or tissue blade, remove excess clay by trimming closely around your design. You can add any little embellishments at this point, too. I used the tip of a ball point pen to add the decorative dots.
10) Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes at the recommended temperature for the brand of clay you are using. If you have more than one brand, go with the higher temperature. Drop a scrap of aluminum foil - shiney side UP - on top of the clay, covering it completely - to prevent any scorching.
Following is a fun project demonstrating one of the many ways you can use a home made stamp.
== Project Instructions ==
Choose two or more colors of clay. Use enough so each color will cover the size of your stamp.
2) Roll out a sheet of clay for each color approximately the same size and shape. If you are using a pasta machine, use the largest setting you have. If you are rolling manually, use guides to roll each sheet about 1/8 inch (3.175mm)
3) For two colors stack the sheets and roll the two of them together through the pasta machine without changing the setting. If you are rolling manually, flatten them to about 1/8 inch (3.175mm) thick. If you have more than two colors, stack all the colors and roll them like the two-color sheet.
4) Cut the combined sheet in half. Stack one half on top of the other so you have doubled your stack and roll them together through the pasta machine without changing the setting.
5) Repeat Step 4) as many times as you wish or just cut the stack in half. Stack the two halves and press with your hand to make sure both combined sheets are stuck together well.
6) Pick up your pounce (if you don't have one, a make up brush or paint brush dipped into cornstarch works just fine) and dust the surface of the clay. Blow off any excess. OR you can dip your toothbrush into some water and scrub the surface of the stamp with it.
7) Press your baked stamp into the surface of the clay firmly. Don't be afraid to lean into it. I stand up and push hard. You want the deepest impression you can get. You can stop at just the one stamp or - like I did - stamp randomly all over the stack. As an alternative, you can place the stamp on the table and press the clay to the stamp that way. Again, don't be gentle. My preference is to press the stamp to the clay so the back of the piece stays nice and flat.
8) Pick up the flexible tissue blade and bend it into a loose "U" shape. Use the sharpest one you have. Using the bottom of the curve, very carefully slice off just the raised areas of the stamp. This will expose the layers hidden below the surface, giving an amazing is a simplified version of Jenny Patterson's Hidden Magic technique.
9) If you want a perfectly smooth stamped sheet, roll it out carefully going up and down the stack. Give it a quarter turn and roll up and down again. If you are using a pasta machine, set the rollers to the next thickest setting and roll the sheet through. Set the pasta machine one more step down, give the stack a quarter turn and run it through again. Voila, you have a sheet ready to be used for whatever creation you wish to make!
Polymer Clay Projects
Online Jigsaw Puzzles of my polymer clay projects or
Online Jigsaw Puzzles of photographs I've taken in Oregon
Different desktop backgrounds.
Different craft offerings for your enjoyment. My way of saying thank you!
1) Coathanger Christmas Tree
2) Coathanger Wreath
3) Origami Giftbox
4) Tiny Hinges
Copyright 2004-2013 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: February 20 2013