Arte Es Vida

La Luna Poly Pendents by arteesvida
December 17, 2006, 2:04 am
Filed under: Clay Jewelry


Polymer clay in white (sculpey, fimo, etc scrap clay is fine so long as it isn’t too grungy)

Art chalks

Rubber stamps and/or cookie stamps

Ink pad (optional)

Clay dedicated tools for rolling clay, cutting clay and punching holes

liquid polymer clay OR non-yellowing acrylic finish (such as Future Floor Finish or Krylon Kamar Varnish). You can use both for extra durability and wear but both are not necessary.

A paintbrush if using liquid polymer clay or a brush on sealant such as Future Floor Finish

Clay dedicated cookie sheet or wax paper/tin foil to cover

Regular kitchen oven or clay-dedicated toaster oven

Jump rings and jewel glue (optional, alternative to piercing a hole in the clay)

Leather or silk cord for wearing

Although polymer clay is non-toxic, experts agree that it is safer to not return any items to food preparation use once they have been used to work with clay. Therefore if you use a rolling pin, knife, or cookie sheet to do this project, it is better that they are set aside for art use only. Alternatively, if you don’t have a cookie sheet to spare, you can cover it with tin foil or wax paper to protect it from the clay. Even with a clay-dedicated cookie sheet, I use wax paper under my polymer during preparation and baking.

Some clay artisans feel strongly about not using their kitchen ovens to bake poly-clay. If you have a toaster oven you can dedicate for clay use, that is certainly the most risk-free option. Many people use their kitchen ovens for clay baking on a regular basis with no adverse affects (and the clay packaging information does state that this is perfectly safe). If you are concerned about clay residues being released during the baking process, you can line your oven with tin foil, and even make a tin foil “tent” to go over your stove top to capture any airborne particles that are ventilated during the baking process.

If you are new to working with poly clay and don’t want to invest in tool sets manufactured specifically for clay use (they call us starving artists for a reason!), there are many household items you can use that will work just fine for this project. Toothpicks will work very well for poking holes in the clay, an x-acto knife or even an old kitchen knife work fine for cutting and trimming uncooked clay. The smooth butt-end of a knife works well for smoothing out rough edges and indentations in your pendent. If you find you need to roll your clay out somewhat before stamping, any object you no longer need for food use will work just fine…an old wine bottle, juice glass, rolling pin, or soda can will all do the job. If you find you like working with clay, it is worth the investment to purchase some clay working tools, including an acrylic clay roller that does the smoothest job I’ve ever seen.

For the purpose of this article, I used a rubber stamp with the Chinese symbol for “moon” and a clay-dedicated cookie stamp with a triple moon image, both purchased on ebay. Rubber stamps can be used inked or un-inked in poly clay (the piece done for this article was inked to better demonstrate the technique and photograph with the best clarity. However there are other un-inked stamped poly pendants on my web site if you want to see the difference).

An un-inked impression gives you more wiggle room to flub. You can always roll your clay back out and try again. If your stamp is inked, and you need to re-roll and res-tamp, the clay will only absorb so much ink before it looks “dirty”. In comparison, a cookie stamp remains un-inked and instead of impressing the image into the clay, leaves a 3-D image that will stand out from the clay. Because a cookie stamp has an image that is caved INTO the stamp rather than OUT OF the stamp, the image pops out rather than pushes in.

Begin your project by conditioning your clay. All polymer clays need to be “worked”, or warmed up and softened a bit before they are easy to work with. You can massage the clay, knead it, leave it in a sunny windowsill, or put it in a baggie in your pocket. Just about any method will work, and you will find it much easier to roll and stamp if it has been conditioned first.

Both pendants were made by rolling a small ball of clay and stamping down into it to flatten it out and make the image. The act of pressing the stamp in will push conditioned clay into a round shape automatically. If you want your pendent to be another shape, you can roll it out and trim it before stamping. (Tip: If you want a square shape just bigger than your stamped image, you can flip your mounted stamp over onto a sheet of rolled out clay and cut along the outline of your wooden stamp block; it is much easier than guesstimating or measuring and it is guaranteed to fit the final stamped image)

When rolling out clay, you want to make sure the clay isn’t rolled too thin. Thinner clay is more prone to breakage with long term wear. Thicker pieces may not be as dainty, but they will last much longer.

Use a tool with a sharp endpoint (a toothpick works in a pinch) to make a hole at the top for stringing your pendent (alternatively, you can bake a jump ring into the side of the dough at the top).

Using art chalks, paint the unbaked clay whatever colors you desire. The art chalks blend nicely so you can use several colors to give your pendent a textured, blended, or even tie-dye look.

If you are using liquid polymer as a sealant (or as a first sealant) brush a thin coat over the chalked pendent now. If you don’t use liquid polymer, you will need to seal it after baking. Use a small paintbrush to apply the liquid polymer, and make sure it doesn’t pool in any of the stamped crevices (it can bubble during baking, therefore won’t dry completely clear and will ruin the look of the stamped image).

Bake according to directions on the clay package. Liquid polymer does have a slight smell during baking, but is just as non-toxic as the regular poly clay.

After baking and cooling, seal your pendent with a non-yellowing acrylic based sealer. Future floor finish works really well, and is very inexpensive. Krylon also makes several non-yellowing sealers (such as Kamar Varnish), including some with a matte finish if you don’t want you pendent to have a glossy sheen. If you didn’t use a liquid polymer this final step will go far to protect your pendent; even if you did use the liquid polymer as well. I double seal all my pieces so they will wear as long as possible.

Your pendent is done! You can string it on a leather or silk cord or hang it from a picture nail as a touchstone. Thinner pieces don’t wear well as jewelry but make great embellishments for mixed media art projects. Let me know how yours turns out, I would love to see pictures!

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