Originally uploaded by faithwearspurple.
I am going to date myself horribly by saying I remember ShrinkyDinks. I thought they were the coolest things as a kid, and their fierce comeback pleases me inordinately. And I’m not the only Gen Xer who thinks so…I am seeing them used more often by adults than by kids…and jewelry designers are no exception. Shrink plastic is a great tool for making pins, charms, pendants, and earrings out of a virtually indestructible material…not to mention fun to work with! I recently bought a small sheet of it, and after a couple of trial and error pieces, came up with a basic pendent design that is going to look fabulous hanging on a choker length black silk cord.
For This Project You Will Need:
Shrinkable Plastic (I used Chunky Stamps brand…purchased from my local Wal-Mart)
An Ink Pad (I used black)
A rubber stamp (I used Stampabilities stamp #F1053, the Chinese character for “faith”…purchased from my local Hobby Lobby)
Acrylic paint, ink or colored pencils (I used Trans-Mix Media Brilliant Ink in Translucent Scarlet…purchased from my local Michael’s)
A hole making tool (I used a small hole punch) and a hole making tool if you wish to make a pendent or earrings
A pin backing and strong craft glue (such as E-6000 or Jewel Glue) should you wish to make a pin.
First you must cut your plastic to shape and size, keeping in mind that it will shrink considerably during baking (note the before and after shots accompanying this article). If you are quite incapable with a pair of scissors as I am, you can cheat and use a craft punch. I used a large round craft punch made by Marvy Uchida.
If you will be making a pendent or earrings, punch the hole for this now. It will be easier to center your stamp to a preexisting hole than properly center a hole after the plastic has been stamped. You must punch the hole before you bake or you are out of luck…shink art is not drillable like polymer clay is. Depending on the media you use to color the background, you may want to color first and then stamp to prevent smearing later on. When I stamped first, and then painted, the ink from the stamp smeared terribly even though I had let it dry for a long time before painting. If you are using paint or ink, make sure it goes on very thin, you want the final product to have a translucent feel to it. If you use colored pencils make sure the colors are blended very well. Any lines that show up now will be very apparent in the final product, as the shrinking process makes each color stronger and deeper (and each flaw more readily visible).
Let the paint dry completely, and then stamp your image, taking care to center it with your jump ring punch. Let the stamp ink dry completely as well.
Follow directions for baking and watch the shrinking begin. I used my craft dedicated toaster oven and a layer of tin foil underneath the shrink plastic. The original directions call for a piece of brown paper bag, and since I didn’t have one on hand, and being one for immediate gratification, I experimented with wax paper and tin foil and found the tin foil to work best. After removing the product and letting it cool, you can attach your jump ring or pin backing. With all the complicated jewelry making processes I experiment with, this one was quick, fun, and a refreshing change.
With a little web crawling, I came up with a couple of sites that could be of use to you should you decide to work with shrink plastic as well:
This company sells an ink jet printer version of shrink plastic that opens up a whole world of jewelry design possibilities, you can print out photos, drawings, or a host of other intricate images with a clarity you can’t get from stamping and painting.
The original ShrinkyDink folks have also recently introduced a printer safe version of shrink plastic, as well as offering free patterns for shrink projects on site. Lots to explore!
Rubber stamps are a great way for those of us stick-figured art skills to “impress” some amazing images in to our jewelry designs! I’ve included some great rubber stamping links, a huge list of projects from BellaOnline and a bunch of other websites, and links to the three stamping books I could not live without!
Stamping Info And Resources
Tons of great basic information and resources on using stamps with clay!
Excellent article with clay “recipes” and clear photo examples!
Get a 9 by 7 sheet of your own designs printed as a sheet of rubber stamps! If you request it, they will also send you the plate and the matrix that the sheet was made from (great for clay use!). For 32 dollars (which benefits the United Cerebal Palsy foundation) you can have your own sheet of designs!
Make sure you aren’t violating copyright policy on any rubber stamps you use on jewelry you make for resale!
Rubber Stamped Jewelry Projects
I’ve seen these faux typewriter key packages selling for ten dollars each at Michaels! Make your own version with rollabind disks and letter stamps!
This is a great starter jewelry project for paper crafters. It uses cardboard, stamps, and embossing enamel (Suze’s UTEE)
Easy stamped clay jewelry projects made with air drying clay and finished with acrylic paints!
This is a great idea! Do a polymer clay image transfer with a rubber stamp to make this pretty piece!
A great beginner’s metal embossing project! Note that this uses a very thin gauge of copper, so it will probably need a thicker backing to be worn as jewelry!
I’ve always been fascinated with handmade books…so this project incorporates two loves! You can use stamps to create the art on the pages and the covers!
A very cool use for galvanize step plates!
Have you been itching to try soldering? Here is a great walk through. (Hint: You can fake it with aluminum tape from the home improvement store, instead!)
Beautiful polymer clay pendent with a gorgeous, decorative wirework bail!
Lots of innovative domino stamping ideas with directions!
Brings a whole new meaning to soda can recycling!
My Favorite Stamping Books
I admit, I have an awful lot of jewelry making books. I had too many before I started writing for Bella, but now that I get publisher freebies I have way, way, WAY too many. Some of them I could give or take, but these ones are permanent favorites that I use and refer to on a regular basis:
This book predates Rubber Stamped Jewelry by about a year, and isn’t dedicated solely to jewelry, but there are several jewelry projects and many other useful techniques and ideas.
Sherrill Kahn’s work is so vibrant and fun you can’t help but be inspired! Lots of great information on creating your own rubber stamps out of just about anything! Sherrill also has a fantastic technique for making shrink plastic beads that I haven’t seen anywhere but this book!
This is the book that got me interested in using rubber stamps in jewelry making! Several jewelry making projects, fantastic information about stamps and clay!
If any book takes rubber stamping from “crafting” to an “art form” this book is it. You have probably read Rice Freeman-Zachary’s many published articles and are already familiar with her work.
I was reading the book Wild Color by Jenny Dean which is all about making and using natural dies. The book mentions dyeing mother of pearl buttons, which makes me think, why not mother of pearl beads?
I did some experimenting, and I found out that while the highly polished and sealed mother of pearl buttons didn’t take very much dye, the raw, unpolished beads did. In fact they took the dye so well, I could sponge it on with a paper towel to give the buttons a more variegated look.
Now I was really curious…what else would work? Would the beads take inks? Could I stamp their surfaces? I used the eye stamp from the Magical Signs and Symbols set by Anne Fiery. Most of the stamps are smaller in size, making them perfect for stamping on flat-surfaced beads and I was thrilled to discover that that my rubber-stamped image, took beautifully and set immediately. Even without benefit of an acrylic sealant, that ink did not BUDGE. (Do note that I used a Memories inkpad. Memories and Staz-On are both permanent so they will work best for this project…I don’t know how well other inkpads would perform) Make sure you have your stamp positioned perfectly the first time…I had a bottle of non-acetone nail polish remover next to me in case I made a stamping error, and even when wiping immediately, I still had trouble getting off all the ink!
I used one stamped bead as a focal point for a choker, but there are many other ways you can use them. You can stamp several images to form a pattern, or stamp each bead with a letter to spell a word, name, or message! Have fun experimenting!
Use polymer clay and paint to fake a gorgeous tooled leather pendent!
Polymer clay in copper
Acrylic paint in burnt umber
Old paintbrush or toothbrush
Polymer clay dedicated tools for rolling and trimming clay
Polymer clay dedicated toaster oven
Rubber stamp (mounted or unmounted) with a fairly simple image
Non-yellowing acrylic sealer
Black silk cord for stringing pendent
Condition and roll out polymer clay to a fairly thick setting (1/8th to 1/4 of an inch). Impress your stamp into the clay to create the tooled leather image. (Note: The stamp I used was an unmounted stamp sent to me by a friend. I don’t know which brand it is, but if you recognize it please drop me a line and let me know so I can properly credit the artist and company that made it.)
Trim the excess clay from around the image and smooth and rough spots or fingerprints. Add a hole in the top for stringing.
Bake according to clay manufacturer’s directions.
Once the clay is cured and cooled, use an old paintbrush or tooth brush to rub paint (you can thin it slightly with water if it is very thick) into the crevices of the image. Wipe off excess paint, leaving the pigment mostly in the recessed areas of the pendent. This will create that slightly “burned” effect of leather tooling.
After the paint is dry, finish with a non-yellowing acrylic sealer.
You can also use this technique to make fabulous cuff bracelets and other leather-look gear! Although not as flexible as leather, it is a very inexpensive alternative and a very easy process!
Filed under: Beading, Clay Jewelry, Mixed Media, Rubber Stamping, Wire Work
The most difficult part of creating dragonfly jewelry is capturing the iridescent quality of dragonfly wings when they catch the light. Art chalks are wonderful to use when working with polymer clay because there are so many colors to choose from and they blend so easily without getting smudgy and dull. The only problem is the finished product comes out looking softer and more pastel than iridescent. However, with the right finish over them, art chalks can re-create the light-capturing quality of real dragonfly wings. This is achieved by “double sealing” the clay, first with a coat of Liquid Polymer Clay (LPC), which is cured and cooled, and then with a coat of shiny acrylic finish. I use Future Floor Finish because it heat sets in a way that makes it even more glossy and more durable then if you air dry it.
Pearl Ex powders and luminescent style paints work well but they are much harder to blend (especially for beginners), as well as being more expensive and difficult to find. One of the best things about this project is all the supplies you need to make it (with the exception of the LPC) can be found at your local discount super center, as well as any arts and crafts supplier!
White polymer clay
Translucent liquid polymer clay
Future Floor Finish
Art Chalks (I used greens, blues, and purples)
18 gauge art wire in purple and green
Dragonfly rubber stamp OR Wings Template
Pin backing with a safety clasp
Clay working tools for cut and smoothing
Large needle or small wooden skewer
Foam applicator brush (I use a make-up sponge) for applying and blending art chalks
Small paintbrush for applying LPC and Future Floor Finish
Clay dedicated oven or toaster oven
Needle nose or round nose pliers
Jewelry grade adhesive such as E-6000 or Jewel Glue
Make The Wings:
Designing the wings doesn’t have to be difficult at all! You have a couple of different options. You can mold the wings from a rubber stamp of a dragonfly (I used StampCraft Stamp Number #440D78), or in order to have better control over the size of your dragonfly wings, you can use the pattern below. Either copy or scan the wings pattern and adjust the size to meet your needs. Impress your stamp or pattern into a ball of conditioned white polymer clay. Trim around the wings and smooth any rough edges or fingerprints. If you used the pattern, you will have to add the detail to the wings free hand using a needle or carving tool. Skewer the wings through the middle so you can thread them on to the wire body after baking.
Most artistic chalk sets come with foam applicators similar to eye shadow applicators. Either these, or a foam make-up sponge are excellent applicators for this project since they very subtly blend the colors of the chalk. Apply shades of green, blue and purple randomly over the wings. The sponge will do most of the blending work for you, so the edges shouldn’t smudge and become murky.
With a small-headed paintbrush, apply a thin coat of liquid polymer clay over the wings. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions for the clay. If you put the clay in a cold oven, instead of preheating, the LPC is less likely to plaque or bubble.
After the clay is baked and cooled, add a coat of Future Floor Finish, and put it back in the oven to heat-set for a few minutes at the same temperature you baked the clay at. You will get a glossier finish (and a sturdier one!) than if you let it air-dry.
Make The Head:
Roll a small ball of clay, but instead of leaving it perfectly round; leave it slightly oblong on the ends. This will be the head of the dragonfly
Roll two smaller balls for the eyes and press them in to the head. I gave the eyes texture by pressing them in to a window screen after I attached them to the head. (And yes, for the record, my neighbors did think I was nuts.)
Puncture two holes in the top of the clay head for the antennae, and one in the bottom to attach the head to the wire body. Do no push any of the holes all the way through!
Use the same technique to apply the art chalks, and then add a coat of LPC over it before baking. Heat set a layer of Future Floor Finish over the head as well.
Make The Body:
Cut 2 ½ to 3 inches of the green art wire; curl one end up in the spiral, leaving approximately 2 inches of straight wire. The spiral will be the “tail” of the dragonfly and they remaining two inches will be the body.
Assemble The Dragonfly:
Choose several glass beads in complementary colors with holes big enough in diameter to string over 18-gauge wire. String two to four of them on to the wire body.
Cut a piece of purple art wire about 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Loosely wrap it around the green wire body of the dragonfly above the beads you just strung. Cut off any excess wire with your wire cutter and file and rough edges.
Add one more bead, then the finished dragonfly wings. Add at least one more bead to the top and then glue on the finished head with a strong jewelry grade adhesive.
Cut two pieces of green wire approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Curl one end on each piece in on itself to create the antennae. Attach them to the top of the head using the same jewelry grade adhesive.
After the head and antennae have dried completely, glue on a pin backing across the back of the wings (which are the center of gravity on the piece, even though they are not in the middle, because of their weight). Once the glue is completely dry on the pin backing your pin is ready to wear!
When I first became interested in polymer clay a few years ago, I checked out every book in the library that was available about it. Out of the big stack of books that my library carried, there were only two that I was really impressed by, and one of them was Stamping In Polymer Clay By Barbara McGuire. Even if you aren’t interested in incorporating rubber stamps into clay work, the basics section is an excellent one. There is a huge two page spread of art reference chart that discusses the different art materials that can be incorporated into clay work (such as gold leaf and pigment powders). Since so many projects both in books and online use these materials, this is a wonderful reference if many of these products are new to you!
The book covers a wide variety of projects, including many jewelry projects. All of the techniques Barbara covers can be utilized for jewelry making projects. For example, both of her button making techniques can be altered in order to make unique stamped pendants and lapel pins.
Over the years, I have gotten a lot of inspiration from the jewelry making projects in the book as well. The jewelry making projects including an antique style pendent (that gave me the idea for my faux antique leather project), texture bracelets, disc beads, a bead and wire pin, an embossed pendent, mokume gane type projects, and painted clay butterflies that would make lovely pins as well. Barbara McGuire is an expert and using stamps to create texture and pattern, as well as layering different stamped patterns in order to create completely one of a kind pieces.
Whether you are new to polymer clay or have been working with it for a while, this is a wonderful studio resource for you. I refer back to my copy on a regular basis!