Clay Molds & Stamps

Tomorrow I head back to Victoria County Creates, to spend the day doing a Pop-Up Studio in their utterly gorgeous art gallery space.

Victoria County Creates in Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Victoria County Creates in Baddeck, Nova Scotia

While I had a fantastic time there – very productive, wiring up items for four hours – it turns out that wiring up items for four hours plus two hour-long drives was really hard on my hands. So this time I wanted to vary the time I spend there. I’ll be bringing my sketchbook, some items waiting for wire, and while I can’t work with raw clay in that space, I figured I could bake up some items that I could paint and patina while I’m there!

So, out came the Sculpey yesterday. I decided to work deliberately instead of randomly, so I pulled floral / botanical stamps that came from similar plants to make some necklace / earring sets. I used my amazing Mona-Kissel-adapted clay machine to condition the clay and, again deliberately, used cutters to get exactly the same amount of clay for each pendant / earring ball, and started squishing!

The edges of a ball of clay come out nicely smooth when squashed against my flat molds, but there’s still a bit of an edge there; and it makes the pieces look bulky, and heavier than they really are (polymer clay is SO light). I decided to try shaping the edges after the impressions were created. They’re now full of fingerprints but I like it anyway! It makes the pieces seem softer, and more delicate.

After the sets were baked, I used the rest of my block of clay to make up some larger pendant focals.

These will all be coloured tomorrow using alcohol inks! Excited to see how they come out.

My second plan was to work on my Impressed line – the tangled stamps I hand-carved a while back – and bring the component blanks with me to VCC as well. But… well… I got a little excited and sorta… finished them :D Whoops?

Adding patina to pieces is always something I find hard to stop. I am sure these changed look and colour and theme at least a dozen times. Just this one alone went from galaxy to green with white highlights to purple and orange and white with black highlights!

I like how it went, though. Adding the Milky White oxide dye into the crevices and darkening the highlights – when I would normally do the opposite, darkening the crevices and lightening the highlights – turned these into really interesting pieces. I love ’em!

I even ended up with some earring pairs, and despite these being huge I think they’ll work out.

I realized when I began that using white for these never works out – I had a mess on the backs from all the varied inks and patinas I was tossing about that I had to cover up later – so I switched to black clay for the next batch. And, yet again… I couldn’t wait. In this case I had an excuse! The Pan Pastels I’d ordered had just arrived in the mail, and they HAVE to go on raw clay… so of COURSE I had to try them out! And oh my gracious they’re delicious.

This time, I took a few process photos for posterity. First, the clay was conditioned and rolled flat. Here I used a single sheet of black, and then used my dad’s plumbing mallet (sorry dad, mine now) to carefully pound my carved rubber stamp into the clay (both sides are carved on this one). Using my hands has never yielded consistent results – but a solid whack with no bounce across the whole surface left perfect impressions.

Next, using plastic wrap to soften the edges, I cut circles in the clay sheet, removing an inner hole as well to make these into offset donuts.

It was time for the Pan Pastels! Oh heavens, they’re delicious. They come with these “sofft” tools and you can use them to verrrrrrry lightly brush the tops of the clay. Right from the first touch, I was in love. The tools plus the pressed mica powder – practically dustless and messless, a new for me – were brilliant for grabbing highlights only, especially on my very thin, not-super-deep carved tangle lines.

I really, truly adore these! I used mixed metals on the pieces to liven up the final result. Even unbaked and unfinished, they were gorgeous:

After baking and with a coat of PYM II (the only spray sealant that doesn’t melt polymer clay), the sheen on these is absolutely divine:

I think I’ll make a batch of these for sale as components, in addition to putting them in my own designs. Tomorrow’s VCC jaunt will also include the carving of a new Impressed stamp, so keep an eye out for that, as well.

Stay creative!



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