You may or may not have seen from my earlier post that I’m a member of the Creative bead chat group… they have recently formed a new social network called Artisan Whimsy. It’s a great place where like minded people gather to share their knowledge, help each other out, show off and generally have a good time.
As a member of the ceramics team, I was asked to write a blog post about something to do with clay. For those of you who missed it, or aren’t a member, here’s what I wrote about…
Making stamps & moulds
Despite being a complete sceptic, I’m a typical Aries, which means although I’m creative, I’m also lazy and will find the easiest way to do something. I think that’s why I love clay so much, you can be as impatient as you like with it and still create something great!
So in my quest for less effort and to produce consistent results, I’ve been trying out different ways to make stamps for impressing textures and designs in to clay and generally speeding up the process of filling my big kiln. There are loads more ways of creating stamps and texture sheets, but here’s a few I’ve tried for my designs…
My first try was with plaster of Paris, making a master form in polymer clay, then creating a two sided mould for pressing beads. To make them, I used the small, deep really useful plastic boxes. Fill up to an inch with plaster and as it starts to harden pop the master in so it’s sitting half way in. Once this side has dried, top up the box with plaster so the master is completely covered. While the plaster is still wet, use a paintbrush to rub over the design inside the plaster. This will remove any air bubbles and give you a nice sharp design. Once the top’s dry, pop the whole lot out and the two sides will separate. Pop out the master and leave to completely dry for a couple of days.
These worked great and transferred detail really well, but broke easily and took a few hours to make. They last a long time if you’re gentle with them though.
Then I tried polymer clay. Making a form, then a mould from the form, baking to harden and then using with clay. My first attempt with using the mould failed miserably, I didn’t dust the mould with anything to release it, so ended up picking all the wet clay out and washing and drying it again before I could use it. Once I’d sorted out how to use it properly, it worked really well. I have a few that I made over a year ago that are still going strong. They transfer detail perfectly and are rigid while you’re using them so you can wedge your clay in easily to make sure you fill it up properly, but as I mentioned earlier… make sure you dust them well to get your design out in one piece!
Next I tried a new product ‘Oyumaro’ It’s a mould making compound that works by dropping one or more of the plastic sticks in to boiling water. After a minute it becomes squidgy and can be pressed onto anything you wish to make your mould from. It sets as it cools and holds detail fairly well, but can be a bit fiddly to use. It’s better for making texture plates than a full shaped mould, and great for making a quick reverse image of a stamp. It will stay in the shape you have made it until you drop it in hot water again. Great because it’s re-usable, can be cut and can produce huge sheets by melting lots of sticks together!
And finally, I tried styrofoam. I got this in sheets from a craft supplier. This makes more of a stamp than a mould. To use, I printed my design on to a sheet of paper, then cut a piece of styrofoam to fit. Put the paper with design facing up onto the foam and draw around the lines with a ball point pen. This will transfer a light design on to the foam which you can then deepen using your pen or a stylus tool (don’t press too hard and rip the foam). To transfer, put it on your clay and give it a quick roll over.
The finished design is fairly detailed, but not fantastically neat. For a rustic style, I’d say it’s ideal. A quick whizz over with a wet paintbrush will neaten everything up.
I don’t know how long these will last, the styrofoam is quite brittle, but it holds the shape you have carved in it really well. I think thicker blocks, carved with a sharp knife would create some great, more solid designs.
So there you have it… some quick, and not so quick ways of getting your unique and original designs on to clay.
I hope this has been useful and maybe saved you a bit of time and effort!