Arte Es Vida

Picture Frame Pins by arteesvida
December 21, 2006, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Clay Jewelry, Mixed Media

A version of this article appeared in the magazine Polymer Cafe!

Your possibilities are limited only to your imagination and current copyright laws when it comes to this project! I used the fabulous collage minis from Revolutionneart, an angel company* that sells great collage sheets. You could use rubber stamps, your own art, or even family photos (this project would make a great gift for family members!

My biggest concern with this project was how to imitate the look of a glass frame without the weight or fragility of using real glass. I was recently reading about oven-setting Future over poly to strengthen the durability of it’s finish, and the article noted that the heat-setting also makes the finish significantly shinier. With some experimentation I found that shinier also translates to more glass-like with thicker application!


Mini sized picture (anything printed on regular computer paper is just fine!)

Black** polymer clay

Translucent liquid polymer clay

Silver paint

Future floor finish

Clay-dedicated roller (or pasta machine) and clay dedicated cutting and smoothing tools

Small paint brush

Disposable work and bake surface such as wax paper or tin foil.

Pin back

Jewelry adhesive such as Jewel Glue or E6000

Convention or Toaster Oven (preferably clay-dedicated)

Trim your picture to size (since these images came on a sheet with other images, I used a x-acto knife with a self-healing mat underneath my image to get a neat cut.

Condition and roll out your clay to about 1/8th to 1/10th of an inch thick. Place your image over your clay and cut out around the image so the clay backing neatly matches up with your paper image. Use a small, clean paintbrush to brush on a thin layer of translucent liquid polymer clay over back of the image, and place the paper, image side up, back onto the solid clay. Press gently to ensure a smooth seal, with no bubbles or crinkles in your image.

Take another bit of your conditioned solid clay and roll it into a thin snake about 1/4 of an inch in diameter. (Pretend you are back in Kindergarten with me…. snakes were the ONLY animals I could make in clay!).

Wrap the clay snake tightly around the picture and smooth the seam where the two ends of clay meet. You can leave the “frame” as is, or shape it to create different effects with your clay tools or small rubber stamps. I used the smoothing end of one of my clay working tools to create a “hand-hammered” look for the pieces seen with this article.

Cover the image inside the frame with a thin coat of the LPC taking extra care that it doesn’t become streaky or bubbly. “Translucent” is a bit of a misnomer with polymer clay, in that the effect is slightly milky and opaque rather than perfectly clear, so you don’t want the LPC to look milky over the image…it won’t bake significantly clearer than it looks unbaked.

In order to get a nice protective coating of clay over the image I did two very thin layers, baking one layer at a time. You can also make it bake more clearly, and with less air bubbles, by putting the clay into a cold oven rather than a preheated one during baking.

After the second thin coating has baked and cooled, paint the surrounding frame silver (or the color of your choice), taking care not to get any paint on the image itself. (Although if you do, you should be able to wipe it away with a dry cloth without harming the baked LPC if you do so while the paint is still wet.)

After the paint is dry, place the frame on your disposable work surface and onto the baking sheet that will go into the oven if you have not done so already. This will minimize the jostling of the piece lower the chances of any air bubbles forming.

Paint a coat of Future over the frame itself, and pour Future into the frame and on top of the picture, enough to fill the frame but not run over the sides. Place the tray into your cooled oven, and check for any air bubbles in the Future, pricking them carefully. Oven-cure the finish at the same temperature you baked the clay at. You may have to refill the frame with Future and bake again in order to get the proper “glass” effect. I made several different pins and they each took different amounts of Future and numbers of oven heat settings to get the effect I wanted. Although you will not harm the clay or the paint, you will have to continue to watch for bubbling in the Future since you are using it in such a thick amount.

After the front, including your “glass pane” is baked and cooled, turn the piece over and paint and seal the back. It isn’t necessary to heat seal the Future you use on the back since this part of the pin will not be seen.

Attach your pin backing with a clear drying jewelry adhesive and let it dry according to manufacturer’s directions.

(To give this pin as a gift, you can loop a small length of ribbon through the pin back and attach it to the outside of a larger wrapped present or even hang it up as an ornament!)

* If you are not yet familiar with the terms “angel companies” or “angel policies”, they refer to companies that produce images (rubber stamps, collage sheets, ephemera items) for sale and the company copyright policy allows buyers to use these images in works for sale. Some angel policies give the buyer free rein, others have certain qualifiers. Any of these items that you use on products that you will be selling (as opposed to anything you make for personal use) make sure to be well informed of the companies angel policy first!

** While you can use any color clay, including leftover scrap clay, I often use black clay under metallic paints, so should the paint wear, the black showing through appears as an aged patina on a metal surface…it saves on touch-ups in the long run!

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