Serendipity in Sculpey

I will be taking a precious metal clay jewelry class in a few weeks and so I have been practicing on polymer clay to get comfortable working with clay and sculpting jewelry pieces.

My first attempts were with white Sculpey. I used rubber stamps to create texture and applied powdered pigments to enhance the raised areas. I used my ring finger to apply the pigment, with rather good results.

Powdered Pigment on White Sculpey

Here is the same texturize-and-pigment technique, but on black FIMO. I applied the pigment with a brush which gave a heavier coverage and didn’t highlight the raised areas in the same way as applying it with my finger did. It wound up giving an overall shine and sparkle to the pieces, but less definition.

Powdered Pigment on Black FIMO

It was fun playing with the clay like this but I wanted to move beyond rubber stamps to my own original designs. I tried sculpting a cameo on a pendant and learned that sculpting faces is hard!

To get better at faces, I took some more white Sculpey and started playing with it to create some fanciful creature faces. I felt much more free to experiment since I wasn’t trying to get a realistic human face.

Now, I wanted to bake them and had been seeing these little polymer clay craft ovens online and in stores, which just seemed to be a glorified toaster oven. I didn’t want to heat up my whole oven again like I had for the pendants, so I thought, “Why not?” and popped my creature faces into my toaster oven.

I went into my craft room to work on a few things and soon smelled a very strong clay smell. The extremeties on both the faces had begun to burn after about five minutes in the toaster oven.

Sculpey Creature 1
Sculpey Creature 2

I don’t have ‘before’ pictures, but the ears and horns were once all white and then burned to this toasty brown color. I really like the color, though. I had thought about painting the faces but now I don’t really have to. The burnt parts look really natural, more so than paint would, so my improvised craft oven made some very nice results.

I rescued the pieces early enough so they didn’t catch fire or get completely burnt, so all in all it ended well. I think burning the clay probably compromises its strength, and I am not sure the pieces got baked all the way, but maybe controlled browning on an already-baked piece could add a neat touch. It might be worth a try. Next time I have a coupon, though, I think I will get a proper polymer clay oven!

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