I was experimenting with dragons so I decided to make a necklace of dragon parts and then entered it into a contest for wearable art over at Polymer Clay Central. I didn't want to make the same bead over and over and over, but I wanted them all to be similar. To do this, I needed a mold that made a three dimensional bead, getting both the front and back of the item. Since there are no dragonhead bead molds out there, I had to make my own. You probably find yourself in the same position of needing a double-sided mold to manufacture multiples of one of your original artworks. In this tutorial, I hope to help you accomplish that.
Condition your clay first and that is accomplished by manipulating it. Fold it, run it through a pasta machine and/or mash it, twist it, work it until it's pliable. To test if it's conditioned enough, roll the clay into a fat snake and bend it in half. If there are no cracks or fissures along the bend, the clay is ready. If you have Fimo Classic, it will crumble at first. Just keep pressing on, it'll whip into line eventually.
1. The original bead is on the left. The molded bead is on the right.
To get a closer view of any of the following steps, just click on the thumbnail and the image will come up on another page.
2. Wad up about half of your junk clay and press it onto your work surface. Don't make it too thin, you want it at least twice as thick as the half of the item that will be pressed into it. Dust the top of the clay generously with cornstarch. Make sure you cover the entire upper surface. Use your needle tool and press some random lines in it. These are "guides" for fitting the two halves of the mold together. Press your item into the wad until it is embedded about halfway. Leave the item in the mold and bake at the recommended temperature for an hour.
3. Let the mold you baked cool, leaving the original item IN the mold.
Wad up the rest of the junk clay and dust it liberally with cornstarch and tap it on your work surface (or blow) to remove the excess. Dust the baked mold again with cornstarch with the item in it and remove the excess. Press the wad of raw clay on top of the baked mold half. Like the bottom mold, you want to be sure you have the top of the mold at least twice as thick as the top half of the item. Press the raw clay firmly to get into any nooks and crannies and to fill any folds. Instead of pushing straight down I started at one end and "rolled" the top half onto the bottom of the mold. Here I have made the top of my mold into a shape where I can get a good grip on the top half.
Make knotches or alignment markers (In the picture, you'll see I did both). Leave the entire set assembled and bake again for another hour.
4. After baking and cooling, pull the mold apart. You should see something like this picture. Remove your original artwork and set it aside.
Now you can make more. Just grab another wad of the clay you will be using for your copy and roll it into a ball. Lightly dust the clay and remove the excess. Starting at one end push the ball of clay into the mold with a rolling motion to fill in all the nooks and crannies without trapping air bubbles, making sure you have a generous amount humped up and overflowing.
5. Dust the top of the clay again with cornstarch. Place the top of the mold on top of the wad of clay and rock it back and forth while pushing down quite hard. Keep going until the top mold aligns perfectly with the bottom mold. Clay squishing out the middle is a good thing.
6. Open the mold carefully. This is what you should see. Now you will remove the UNbaked item from the mold.
7. Grip the smooshed part of the clay and gently work your item out. When it's removed, this is what you should see. Using your Exacto Blade or scissors, trim around the item to remove the excess clay.
Using your needle tool, roll it back and forth along the seam to blend it into the item and tweak the item as necessary. When you have all your copies made and tweaked, bake them at the manufacturer's recommended time and temperature!
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