Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adding Texture to Precious Metal Clay

Precious metal clay, PMC, is a versatile medium to use for crafting.  In an earlier blog post, I gave a basic overview of metal clay along with some guidelines on getting started with it.  Now I am sharing a favorite attribute of this material - its ability to accept texture.

  Texture is defined as: "the characteristic visual and tactile quality of the surface of a work of art resulting from the way in which the materials are used."
Textured items are very appealing to me.  I love their depth, feel, and visual interest.  In a pmc beginner course, I was introduced to texture tiles.  These are flat rubber stamps.  The instructor helped me create a necklace by pressing these tiles into the metal clay; leaving an imprint.  I was hooked.  I wanted to make more jewelry and I wanted it to be original.

A purchased texture tile
 My enthusiasm led me to create my own texture tiles.  Four things are needed to do this:
  • an object with small, raised or imprinted details - items found around the house are good to start with
  • distilled water in a spray bottle
  • two ounces of polymer clay
  • toaster oven *
*Home ovens are not recommended.  Polymer clay releases low levels of non-toxic fumes while heating.  These fumes can leave a residue in the oven which would be re-released when baking food.  Check into getting a toaster oven that will be designated solely for polymer clay crafts.  I found a nice one for $15 at Goodwill.

Create a texture plate:
  1. Assemble the materials.  Pinch off 1/4 of the polymer clay.  Condition the clay until it is soft and pliable. 
  2. Roll the polymer clay out like dough, leaving it at least 1/8 of an inch in thickness.
  3. Spritz the surface of the clay with distilled water - this prevents your textured object from sticking to it.
  4. Press the texture into the clay and gently remove.
  5. Happy with the results? If not, squish the clay and repeat steps 2 through 4.
  6. Place the texture tile on a plain index card and bake in the preheated toaster oven at 275 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes.  When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the clay inside until the oven is completely cool.  This strengthens the clay. 
A few of my homemade tiles

To inhibit the texture tile from sticking during use on metal clay, lightly apply a substance such as Cool Slip, olive oil, or Burt's Bees Natural Hand Salve to the surface before making an imprint.

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