Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tutorial -Making my 'ugly' molds for my Rustic Nature Polymer Clay Pendants

I have had a number of inquiries into my methods of making my deep molds for my Rustic Nature Polymer Clay Pendants. First, I will admit that my molds are rather homely, which is one of the reasons why I haven't attempted to sell the finished molds. I believe a pourable mold making product would make a much nicer looking mold, but my first attempt at a pourable product gave me molds that were softer and mushier than I liked so I will be looking into some other pourable products in the near future.

Meanwhile, here is my mold-making/pendant making system. Ugly, but sturdy.

In the prototype stage you will need polymer clay - I use up old early Sculpey stock for my originals. Early Sculpey is really not strong enough for serious jewelry work, but is great for making prototypes.

A clay rolling tool - I use a section of an old metal arrow shaft.

A pair of even thickness shims to act as your clay thickness guides - Some people use playing cards, matboard etc... Mine are just strips of 1/4 inch plywood.

A clay scraper.

Xacto, or other sharp pointed blade.

Leaves from your garden.

A selection of shape templates - I cut mine from heavy stock plastic, like the kind used in binders. Clear stock is nice as you can see the placement of the template on the leaves.


Roll your conditioned clay to the desired thickness - I like mine thicker since I like to drill my beading hole from side to side. Roll your leaf gently into the flattened clay.

Place the template over the leaf and cut around the template with the Xacto blade. Cut through the leaf and stem. Make sure your blade is sharp so it doesn't 'drag' on the stem and distort the clay. A small up and down 'sawing' motion when you reach the leaf helps too, rather than a pulling cut.


Cure the clay and do any edge finishing/sanding until the piece is the desired finish quality.


Now that you are ready to make molds you will need your completed prototypes.

The mold making product of your choice - I like Amazing Mold Putty but have also used Townsend Atelier's product Knead-a-Mold®

Measuring spoon - I like 1/2 tsp size.


Measure out two equals scoops of the molding product. Amazing Mold Putty comes in Part A and Part B. Usually the two parts are different colors and you knead them together until a consistent color is reached. I work in small quantities since the molding material tends to set up rather quickly. If you mix too much it will set before you can work with it all. I have also discovered through trial and error that trying to push an object into a large blob of the molding material creates a blurred/multiplied image.

Once blended evenly, and working quickly, flatten out your blob to the approximate dimensions of the 'face' of the piece, but not too thin. At least 3/16 inch thick, 4mm. Starting at one end of the piece and pressing in a gentle forward-moving fan pattern, ease the putty across the face and into the impressions. A flat application tends to trap air which will leave bubble marks on your mold.


Wrap the remaining mold material around the edges - I like to give the corners a little pinch as well. Silicone mold material sticks to itself so my next step is to build up the mold. Mix another blob and give the bottom another layer of thickness to make the mold a little more sturdy. I continue to mix material and wrap the edges and sides, trying to stay as even as I can with the top of the prototype. Trim the top edges with a blade if desired.


Now you have a finished mold and are ready to make some replicas.

You will need your finished molds.

Conditioned polymer clay.

A flat-ended tool for pushing the clay into the mold - I just use the end of my Xacto knife.

Clay scraper.

Freezer - I like to pop my clay into the freezer for a few minutes. You can then pop the clay out of the mold and use the same mold to do a new piece, making many replicas before curing.


Shape a piece of your conditioned clay into a piece approximately the size and shape as your mold, but slightly thicker than the mold is deep. When you put the piece in the mold it will bulge out of the opening a little. Taking a flat-ended object, gently push the clay into the mold. You are trying to make sure that the clay is forced into all of the recesses in the mold. You can leave the surface textured if you like, or trim off top with a clay scraper and smooth the clay. Place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes, then un-mold by gently flexing the edges and putting light pressure on the bottom of the mold.


Clean up the edges before or after curing. Cure the clay as per product instructions and finish as you prefer. I paint mine with heat-setting acrylic paint and sand lightly to give a rustic finish.

Let me know if you give the tutorial a try, and I'd love to see what you make with it!

48 comments:

  1. Oh, thank you for that! I too have been working on making molds lately. They are such fun! An addiction in itself!

    I am bookmarking this for further reference!

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  2. this is absolutely awesome. It has been 'pinned' on pinterest a lot of times today. Just wanted you to know that people appreciate your blog!

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  3. Thank you Roberta and Kathy! I thought it was time to do a little sharing. :^)

    Thank you Kathy for letting me know. Sometimes it does feel like you're wandering out there alone!

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  4. Lynn: Just letting you know that your tutorial has been re-pinned from my pin over 20 times...and I wasn't the first to pin it! It's a great tut!
    Kathy Weaver

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  5. Really a great tutorial you have shared with us. I also found you on Pinterest(smile). OK it's probley me just being dence but in the above picture the blue template, in real life would be on top of the leaf.... WAIT Hold the Phone found my glasses :/ it's a Clear Blue Template....Any Who - I'll be trying this soon and I'll send you a picture :)

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    1. Yes! You've got it. I used a see-through template to show how it allows you to position it nicely on the leaf. :^) Looking forward to seeing your results! Thanks for visiting!

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    2. I make molds also I use poyo putty from smooth on. It lasts alot longer than the stuff you use. Its 100$ for 8 lb but lasts a long time. Just though you would like to know

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    3. Thanks. I was planning a trip to Smooth-on today! I will ask them about it.

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  6. What a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this with us all. Huge congratulations on the Polymer Clay Daily Feature.

    With kind regards

    Pippa

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    1. Thank you Pippa!... and thanks for heads up on the feature. :^D

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  7. So wonderful of you to share. Tyanks so much!

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    1. So happy to share! Thank you for dropping by, Alice! :^)

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  8. Thanks for being so generous, Lynn. I will have to try this.

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    1. Have fun! Let me know how it works for you! Thank you for stopping in Deb!

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  9. Thanks for all your work in making this tutorial so visually clear. Terrific.

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  10. Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing your excellent and so easy to understand tute. I love your work, especially your nature inspired pieces.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment! :^)

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  11. How perfect that I found this today! I have made molds before & was trying to figure out the way to make a perfect pendant shape (the sides, ya' know ...) as I am making some robot pendants for nephew's birthday party this weekend. Your pictures help clarify for me what I need to do. Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you Karla! I'm so glad you found the tutorial helpful! Hope the pendants come out great...I'm sure they'll be a hit!

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  12. What a wonderful tutorial. I can relate with the "ugly" molds, but I've always felt that if they work then that's all that matters. I look forward to trying this out. Thank you for sharing your Insights into your process!

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  13. Do you apply the heat setting paint after baking the clay or before ? If after, how do you heat set it? Great tutorial. Congrats.

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    1. Hi Ruth, Thank you for stopping by! I cure the polymer first, then paint with heat setting acrylics. Look in your art/craft store for the acrylics that are used on glass, or are labeled 'enamel' acrylics. Check the instruction label. Usually there are instructions for baking when using on glass. That lets you know it's a heat-set acrylic.

      The change you would want to make is to bake as you did when you cured the clay. Most of the paints call for you to place in a cool oven, bring to 350˚F and bake for 30 minitues... that would of course burn up your polymer. I pre-heat the oven to the clay curing temp and bake for 30 min.

      Have fun!

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    2. Thanks for your help. I wonder if they work on metal too? I work in silver and some non-precious metals.

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  14. This looks fun, easy and looks great. Thank you for sharing!

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  15. Your ugly molds are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Wow, thank you sooooo much for sharing this lovely idea!!!

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  17. great job on making polymer clay daily! Told you lots of people were noticing!! Cynthia loves Pinterest.

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  18. hi..i think you are incredibly generous to share your wonderful techniques! thank you so much! i'm trying this out right away!
    lucia

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  19. I apologize for my bad english.
    Thank you so much for your share. I'll experiment it soon.

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  20. wow, that is a ton of work! So cool to see your processes, Lynn. I hope to try this some day. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing your technique! As a polymer clay addict who gardens I've been trying to make 'flora' molds for quite a while. It looks like you figured it out! Now I'm off to the garden to give it a try.

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  22. I really enjoyed this and found it highly inspiring! Thanks for taking the time to take such great photos and to share with us all!

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  23. Thank you for sharing , I have done some molds for my silver clay and its just as much fun playing with the clay

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  24. How awesome are you for sharing your technique!! Thanks so much, this looks like fun and I can't wait to try it:)

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  25. Thank you very much for sharing your technique, it has been very helpful to me. You are very generous

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  26. Hi!
    Congratulations for amazing work!!
    I like it so much!!

    Hugs.

    Marta♥
    3de2-cat.blogspot.com.es

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  27. Thank you everyone! I hope you've all made some lovely pieces!

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  28. Your pendants are so beautiful. You have inspired me to try this!

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  29. Hello!
    Do you bake your prototypes before making mold?
    Best wishes

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    1. Yes, they are cured (baked) before making the mold.

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  30. Hi Lynn, thanks for the post! Do you know if these molds can be used for making soap?

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