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   The Polymer Clayspot
       Polymer Clay FAQ

The Polymer Clayspot:

Welcome to Polymer Clay
Choosing & Mixing Clay
Conditioning Polymer Clay
Using the Food Processor
Using the Pasta Machine
Forming Clay Pieces
Firing Polymer Clay
Finishing Clay Pieces
Storing Polymer Clay
Using Stone Clays
Using Translucent Clays
Molding & Sculpting
Creating Surface Effects
Making Polymer Clay Jewelry
Safety & Cleanup
More Information Sources
How do I paint my clay pieces?

You can use acrylic craft paints on fired clay. (Don't use oils - they may react with the plasticizer in the clay, like some glazes.) Speed drying by placing the item in a warm (under 200° Fahrenheit) oven for 20 minutes. Unlike many surface treatments, paint doesn't require you to glaze the piece afterward to avoid having the surface rub off.

You can also use chalk or artists' pencils for special effects. Try using light colors on dark clay, dark colors on light clay.

How do I give my clay an antiqued look?

You can apply a patina with a dark color of acrylic craft paint. Try black, dark browns such as burnt umber, or charcoal gray.

  1. Paint the piece with a stiff brush, making sure to get paint into the crevices.
  2. Wipe it lightly with a paper towel. Yyou don't have to get all the paint off the surface; make sure not to wipe so hard that you remove paint from the crevices.
  3. After the paint dries completely, rub the piece with fine steel wool to remove it from the high surfaces.
  4. Buff the piece lightly to restore the high surfaces.

An antique patina is particularly effective on faux stones such as ivory, and on embossed or formed pieces with high and low areas; the dark patina remains in the areas after you rub ot off the high ones, bringing the pattern into sharp relief. For a "just-dug-out-of-the-ground" look, carve scratches and gaps into the clay, before or after firing, and then use a dark patina to bring out these imperfections.

How do I give my clay a metallic look?

There are a number of products you can use to "metallicize" clay, including metallic powders, leaf, and rubbing compounds.

Sheets of gold, silver, or colored leaf can be layered between thin sheets of translucent clay, used to wrap a cane, or placed on a sheet of clay which is run through the pasta machine to fragment the leaf. You can use composition (aluminum-based) leaf, which is much less expensive than leaf made of precious metals.

Metallic rubbing compounds are wax-based. You can use your fingertip to highlight raised areas of an embossed clay piece (use just a little, with a very light touch), or coat an entire piece in metallic colors for a different look. You need to glaze the piece afterward, or the metallic layer may rub off.

How do I use metallic powders with polymer clay?

Eberhard-Faber (Fimo) and Amaco (Friendly Clay) make loose powders for use with the clay, in gold, silver, and metallic colors. You can use these powders in all sorts of ways:

You must glaze the piece after firing to prevent the powder from rubbing off.

The powder is messy; be careful with it and don't use it in a breezy area, or it will get all over everything. To avoid this, work with very small amounts; you can dip a Q-tip into the powder, or put your finger over the end of the jar and upend it to obtain just a bit to rub onto the clay. It's made of aluminum, not a good thing to breathe; if you're working with metallic powder, it's a good idea to wear a face mask.  - Safety tip!

How do I create a rough or pebbled surface?

You can impress a texture into your clay before firing with a piece of coarse sandpaper. The clay will take whatever texture you impress into it; you can also try texturing it with burlap, interesting stones, or other textured objects. Rolling the clay through a pasta machine on the widest setting along with a piece of cloth or lace will make a sheet of clay with the cloth's texture.

Another method for creating texture, one that's easier when making beads and round shapes, is to coat the clay with ordinary salt or rock salt. Roll the object gently between your hands to press the salt into it. After firing, rinse the piece in warm water and rub lightly with a stiff brush to remove the salt.

 Next: Making Polymer Clay Jewelry

Jeanne A. E. DeVoto
Copyright © 1996-97 Jeanne A. E. DeVoto