Polymer clay, also known as plastic ceramic or cold ceramic, can be used to make different types of molds. Anyone can do this project, and mold making is extremely useful for craft projects. Once hardened, the molds can be used to mold raw doughs and other types of materials - even so, raw polymer clay can also be used in molds made of other materials. You can also create shallow templates - called texturing templates - and reverse templates that can be used as stamps. Most polymer clay molds, however, are of the "press" type, which creates a flat side on the piece. Still, it is also possible to create two-part molds for three-dimensional sculptures. Come on?
Part 1 of 6: Creating a mold with polymer clay
Step 1. You can create many different molds with polymer clay, and we'll teach you the most different types in this article
After baking the polymer clay to harden it, just press the dough of your choice against it to create the corresponding shapes and use them in different projects. Check out the "Tips" section to find descriptions of the types of molds and techniques in the image below).
Step 2. Condition the polymer clay until it becomes malleable
Usually it is necessary to heat and knead the dough a little for this.
Firmer putties usually result in molds that retain more fine detail, but be aware that any type of polymer clay putty can be used to good effect
Step 3. Make a smooth ball of dough, rolling it in your palms after conditioning
Then transform the ball into another shape if desired; for example, you can make a drop or a toothpick.
Step 4. Add some material that facilitates the removal of the object from the mold
If the object to be molded does not stick to the polymer clay, you can skip this step. If, on the other hand, the material sticks to the dough, it is important to use one of the following materials to facilitate its removal:
apply a little starch to the plastic ceramic or object to be molded using a soft brush. Another option is to place the starch in a muslin fabric, forming a small bundle and squeezing lightly so that the powder covers the object in a thin and even way. Apply until there are no pockets of cornstarch in the object grooves. Rest assured that it is easy to remove starch from the product later.
sprinkle some water on the cold ceramic or object to be molded. Be careful and do not use water if you are using polymer clay from the brands Fimo or Cernit, as they can absorb the liquid, making them sticky.
use metallic powders, chalk powder or something similar using a soft brush. Be careful as the colored powders will end up staining the polymer clay.
apply to the ceramic, very carefully to ensure adherence. As with powders, the sheet metal will change the color of the dough.
mineral oils can work, but they also make the dough too slippery. Release sprays also usually work, but the silicone in their composition can prevent clear paints and varnishes from adhering to the ceramic after it is baked.
Step 5. Press the object you want to use as a mold against the cold ceramic ball
Another option is to press the ceramic against the object. Do what is easiest, as the process depends on the shape and size of the object in question.
Step 6. Carefully remove the object from the ceramic
It is not always necessary to remove the object from the mold, as long as it will not melt or become deformed due to the heat of the oven. Although unusual, it is possible to leave the object inside the mold without any problems.
Step 7. Place the cold ceramic mold on a baking sheet or other ovenable container
It is important that the container is rigid so that it does not move too much in the oven and does not twist in the heat.
- Support the ceramic mold on a flat side. If it doesn't have any flat or thick parts, place it on a pile of cornstarch or baking soda. If you prefer, support it on some tissue paper. Rest assured, these materials are resistant to the heat needed to harden the ceramic.
- If the mold is too thin in any part, fill the inside of the mold with tissue paper or stucco filling; or, better yet, thicken it on the outside. Plastic ceramic softens slightly in the heat and may eventually deform if it does not have sufficient support.
- The polymer clay parts that are heated in contact with smooth surfaces - such as those on metal, glass or ceramic baking sheets - end up being shiny. If this is a problem for you, work around the situation by covering the surface with another material such as bond paper, kraft paper, wax paper, etc. Another option is to use an irregular material, such as a handful of tissue, foam padding, or a pile of baking soda. Unglazed tiles also work well and can be used without the company of a roasting pan. Be aware that none of these materials will alter the natural texture of the cured polymer clay, which is similar to paper. These tips are useful for any project with plastic ceramics, but you don't need to go through all that work right now, as you're just creating a mold that doesn't need to look perfect.
Step 8. Bake the polymer clay in a preheated oven
If possible, use an oven thermometer to ensure temperature accuracy, which should be between 130 °C and 160 °C - check the specific temperature instructions on the dough package. It is possible for ceramics to darken when exposed to high temperatures, but that makes no difference when it comes to mold making.
There are other ways to cure cold pottery, but the home kiln is the most common and practical
Step 9. Bake for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the thickness of the mold and the brand of dough
The important thing is to allow the ceramic to fully polymerize, but be aware that the mass will be even stronger if it is heated longer. For best results, place the piece in the very center of the oven.
Step 10. Remove the mold from the oven and let it cool naturally on the baking sheet
Or, simply turn off the oven and allow it to cool naturally with the mold still inside.
Step 11. Once you get the hang of it, just repeat the Steps above and make as many patterns as you like
Step 12. Purchase ready-made rigid or silicone molds (optional)
If you just want to work with cold pottery, without creating your own molds, buy some ready-made models at craft stores or on the internet. You can find different models of different sizes and shapes such as body parts, flowers, textures, geometric shapes, etc.
Step 13. Mark the templates and templates to keep everything organized
Follow the Steps below to create models from your molds with plastic ceramic remnants. Mark them on the outside and keep them together so you know which mold produces which result. This organization will be very useful in future projects, especially those involving faces, as it will allow you to identify your patterns and not waste time.
Part 2 of 6: Creating a Model from a Mold
Step 1. Make a ball with polymer clay
Following the Steps taught above, form a drop, toothpick, or ball from the plastic ceramic. Choose the shape that best fits the mold and, if necessary, use a material to facilitate removal later. Firmly insert the plastic ceramic into the mold, focusing force enough in the center to fill all the grooves - if there is any deep or narrow depression in the mold, place the tip of the drop that formed facing in that direction. If you want to create a model with a flat or flat side, press the exposed part against an acrylic block or any flat, rigid surface.
Step 2. Bake the mold and take the model out of it
The model can come out easily, without any distortion, or it can simply come out completely deformed, depending on the shape, viscosity or heat of the ceramic. If there is excess dough on the outside, use it to pull the model out of the mold. If not, carefully pull on the ends until the model is released. Another option is to press a bit of soft polymer clay against the back of the model, pushing upwards. Allowing the ceramic to cool in the mold will harden it and facilitate removal as well; if possible, let it cool overnight or put it in the fridge for a few minutes.
Step 3. Add lighting details or give the models an antique look (optional)
Pieces created with polymer clay are usually treated to have a more dynamic look and draw more attention to detail.
- To give it an antique look, you should color only the recessed areas of the dimensional surfaces using brown acrylic paint (or whatever color you prefer) after baking the model. Lighting details, on the other hand, usually involve coloring only the reliefs with metallic powders (such as mica powder) and are done before baking. To apply the powders, place a little on the tip of a finger and rub it lightly in circles on the tops of the ceramic. Permanent paint does not normally need varnish, as does mica powder, as long as it is well applied. If you use real metal powder, however, be aware that it can oxidize and this can be prevented by using a varnish.
- Metallic sheets can also be used to age parts using a special technique, or they can cover the entire object. If the ceramic is not oily enough for the sheet to adhere, cover it with polyurethane or diluted white glue before applying the sheet metal. It is usually necessary to varnish the part, before and after hardening, to prevent the metal from oxidizing.
- In addition to powders, paints and sheets, you can use other dyes and materials to color plastic ceramics. Go to http://glassattic.com/polymer/stamping.htm (available in English only) for more information (see Raw Clay section on Basic Techniques page) To learn more about using sheet metal, go to http://glassattic.com/polymer/leaf.htm (available in English only).
Part 3 of 6: Using Templates Created with Templates
Step 1. Use your creations in different ways
Make the most of your creativity by thinking about how to use your object creations and replicas. Depending on the situation, the models may already be hardened or not after mold removal. Here are some examples of things that can be done with molds:
Props and adornments:
place models on ceramic surfaces or objects of other materials, including wood, metal, paper, votive candles, cell phone covers, Christmas tree balls, covers, cabinet knobs, light switches, etc. Your imagination is the limit!
Beads, jewelry and buttons:
create beads of all kinds, earrings and jewelry in general. Another option is to make props for existing jewelry or buttons (you can add eyelets or hooks on the back of the buttons, with them still in the molds).
Faces and body parts:
create parts for dolls or animal figures, including amulets, Halloween decorations, miniatures for mockups or hair decorations, necklace pendants, etc.
you can duplicate an object as many times as you like using the template, saving time and creating faithful replicas.
create molds and create replica spare parts for various projects. Plastic ceramic is very resistant and can be used for different purposes.
Step 2. Cut the template into another shape before baking, if desired
Use blades or carving tools to cut the model into a square, disc, or some irregular shape, if desired. If the ceramic used in the mold extends beyond the edges of the mold, it can end up creating a "frame" in the piece. This can be visually interesting, but it all depends on your intention for the piece.
Part 4 of 6: Creating a Texturing Template
Step 1. Texturing molds are shallow and can be made with tough polymer clay or special putties that maintain flexibility after baking
This type of mold can also be made with two-part silicone pastes, or it can be purchased ready-made. Stronger polymer clay masses (see the "Tips" section for more information) are typically more flexible when kept thin and used as texturing molds.
Step 2. Follow the Method instructions above to create the traditional molds, but start with a flat ceramic slab to start
The thickness of the plate will depend on personal preference and the thickness of the object that will serve as the basis for the texture.
To prevent the ceramic from sticking to the surface you are working on, cover it with parchment paper. This way, you avoid problems and facilitate the separation of the mold and the textured part
Step 3. Apply a non-stick material and press a flat object against the ceramic plate
If the object is not flat, swing it on the ceramic, covering it completely; if the object is flat, roll it onto the ceramic with a wooden roller, creating a deeper and more consistent impression in the dough. Depending on the case, you can pass the object and pottery together in a pasta dough opener.
- Some examples of texturing materials: plastic canvas, textured packaging pieces, grating grids, paper sandpaper, tree bark, vegetable or fruit bark, salt, fabrics, lace, yarn, leaf backs, rigid bristles, bricks, textured wallpaper, etc. You can also create texturing materials by pressing objects onto a ceramic plate, as if they were stamps; in this case, you can use aluminum foil balls, pen tips, stiff bristles, or objects created from hardened plastic ceramics. Sharp tools, combs, etc. they can also be passed over the surface, texturing it.
- Most texturing materials can be applied directly to plastic ceramics, without having to transform them into molds or stamps.
- Another option is to buy flexible plastic sheets made for texturing or use different items you have at home, such as cutting sheets.
Step 4. Carefully separate the ceramic and texturing material
This is where the use of parchment paper or other material under the ceramic can help with separation, preventing the dough from bending and facilitating texture removal without distorting the result.
Step 5. Use part of the textured plate (or all of it) to create some piece and bake later
Or, bake the textured sheet now and use it later as a texturizing mold for raw pottery.
- To use the raw sheet, separate it into smaller pieces with a blade, creating the shape that works best for your project - for example, you can roll it to create a cylinder and make beads. Decorate it with more putty or other items, or use it with other textured pieces. Another option is to use the entire textured sheet to cover lids or boxes. Imagination is the limit, really.
- If you prefer, bake the entire plate and use it later to texture raw ceramic pieces. Be aware, however, that the depressions and reliefs will be reversed. If you want a flatter texturing mold, use a stiff, flat surface to bake it in the oven.
- Textured ceramic can be used as a background for other pieces or as a focal element, being attached to box lids or around bottles. You can also use it directly on raw pottery, covering fingerprints, creating animal textures, or giving textures to other pieces in general.
Part 5 of 6: Creating Inverse Molds with Polymer Clay
Step 1. It is also possible to create "inverse" molds with plastic ceramics
With them, you'll transform models into molds.
Step 2. Create a traditional or texturing mold and bake it normally, following the Steps above
Step 3. Press cold plastic ceramic against the mold, creating the opposite of the mold
Step 4. Separate the hardened ceramic from the cold and bake the raw one
These are similar to stamps in that they are embossed, whereas "traditional" molds are usually concave. There is no specific terminology to describe them, but they are worth making for some projects.
Part 6 of 6: Creating Split Molds
Step 1. Split molds can be used to create fully three-dimensional parts or to create one-dimensional objects
There are several ways to create a split mold, and we'll teach you two options below. The first one generates a "block" with two roasted ceramic halves, consuming more mass. The second uses less mass, but is not as presentable - even so, the result of the models is not affected by this, only the appearance of the mold itself.
Block or plate method
Step 1. Cut two thick plastic ceramic plates
Each of the plates must be twice as thick as half the thickness of the object that will be used as a mold.
Step 2. Flatten the sheets well with a wooden roller or glass jar
Step 3. Apply a generous coat of cornstarch or baby powder over one of the polymer clay plates using a soft brush
Step 4. Press the object that will serve as a mold on the plate, until it is half "submerged" in the dough
Add marks on the sides to facilitate the fitting of the two parts of the mold when creating the models. Press the handle of a brush against the sides of the plate or insert a rigid, ovenable object into the dough, leaving it in place permanently
Step 5. Bake the first half of the mold
If the mold base object cannot be baked at 135 °C or may end up fusing with the ceramic during heating, remove it from the plate first and bake separately. Otherwise, leave it inside the mold while baking the ceramic.
If you need to remove the object, you will need to put it back in the mold before using the second plate. For this to work, shake it slightly before removing it so that the mold is slightly larger than the original object
Step 6. Cover one side of the second plate with a generous amount of cornstarch or talc to prevent the two plates from fusing in the oven
Then press it over the first flame (already roasted), covering the original object in a way.
If you are replicating an oven-proof object, carefully remove it and bake the second plate separately
Step 7. Remove the two plates from the oven and let it cool well
Then, separate them and remove the object from inside (if it has been in the oven).
Step 8. Do some tests to find the right amount of plastic ceramic to create the desired model
Try different approaches, until you find the ideal amount to fill the mold with the dough and what is the ideal format for it to be placed inside the mold.
- Cover the mold surfaces well with cornstarch or talc, add the plastic ceramic to one half of the mold and cover it with the other half, lining up the marks on the sides you made earlier.
- Then open the split mold, remove the ceramic model from inside it and bake it separately. If any burr remains, trim it with a razor blade or smooth it out with your hands.
dough piece method
Step 1. Follow the Steps above as normal, but instead of using two sheets of dough, use any leftover dough in the shape you want
Leave the top edges of the piece of dough uneven or add marks to make it easier for the two pieces to fit together.
Step 2. Use a second piece of dough on top, as if it were the second plate
In the end, your mold can be any shape you want. This technique saves mass as you will only use enough to wrap the object to be replicated.
- Polymer clay objects created from molds are usually called models, castings, "molds" (confusing, isn't it?), etc. Objects used for creating templates are often called templates.
- It is important that the "walls" of the molds are not too thin as they can break or deform during the curing process. Add more raw dough on the outside to thicken the mold before baking it, or start the process over from scratch, better distributing the dough over the surface.
- Undercut objects cannot be fully replicated with traditional molds. To replicate them, use a split mold.
- The ideal is always to use a polymer clay that will become resistant after curing, but creating molds consumes a lot of material. To save money, create your molds from wholesale pastes, which are usually less resistant, even. The strength issue will not be an issue in most cases, it will only affect the result in thinner areas; to work around the situation, support the thin parts against flat, hard surfaces to be able to press the batter from the inside. Other options are to thicken the mold, use firmer dough or mix two types of dough. Also know that using a firmer mass is ideal for creating textured molds. The weakest polymer clay is usually traditional Sculpey, followed by Super Sculpey and Sculpey III. The firmer options are Fimo Classic, Cernit and Super Sculpey-Firm.
- You can use other types of ceramics to create molds as well, but be aware that most natural hardening ceramics shrink on drying and are not as smooth as plastic ceramics. Furthermore, the molds won't retain as much detail, won't be as strong and will need varnish. However, epoxy putties work well and do not shrink and are good substitutes for polymer clay.
- Mold making is fun and can be considered an "addictive" activity by artisans. You will probably make a lot of patterns and it's good to start identifying them early so you can find what you're looking for later. For example, use green putty to create items from nature, such as leaves and shells, blue putty for molding body parts or faces, red putty for geometric shapes, purple putty for miniatures, etc. The choice is completely yours, and these are just suggestions. A good idea is to use translucent Super Sculpey plastic ceramic and color it with some solid colored putty; this way you will create colored molds, slightly translucent and very firm. Another option is to create ceramic models and number them before baking them, creating correspondences between the models and the molds, facilitating the identification of all the pieces.
- In the first Step of this article, there is an image with a gray background showing several molds and models made from them: four green faces, a skull and a Celtic pattern, above their respective molds; other random templates; some flat texturing patterns (red, blue and wine); and several baked models that were illuminated before being hardened with metal powder (pictured, golden mica powder), although some were completely covered with the powder. In the lower right corner, three sides of a rectangular school rubber were carved to make three molds; each side was used to create different models, also covered with golden mica powder. The skull is an example of a model that has been "aged" with brown acrylic paint on the carvings.