Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tutorial - Stamped Crystal Clay with Pigment

AT LAAAAAST. Another tutorial.

My mom cautions me that since I sell my jewellery, I shouldn't give away all of my production secrets. I agree with her, but I also want people to know how much work I put into my epoxy clay creations. I find the more professional they look, the more people ask me whether I've made it or whether I've bought the pendant and just put it on a chain (aaargh). However, since my blogging days have increased, I get this question less and less. Hurrah!

Besides, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve that I don't share. :) You will never knowwww.

Anyways. Tutorial. Time to learn!

I say 'Crystal Clay' but I actually used Apoxie Sculpt for this project. Again, I've been meaning to make a post comparing all three epoxy clays but as you all know by now, I make lots of promises about posts that I don't keep. (although really, it's more like I wrote half the post, decided it sucked, and deleted it).

I'm also still experimenting with all three brands (DeCore, Crystal Clay, Apoxie) to see exactly what their pros and cons are. Plus there's a new epoxy clay by the ETI company hitting the market, so it'll take some time.

Stamped Epoxy Clay (with pigments)
Materials Needed:
- Epoxy Clay (Apoxie or Crystal Clay. I haven't attempted to stamp DeCore yet)
- rubber stamp
- ink pad
- crystals
- cloth or paper towel, soaked in water
- applicator with beeswax tip
- toothpick
- rubber gloves
- bezel
- dark ink looks better for impressions
- experiment on paper first before you stamp your clay
- make sure you clean your rubber stamps properly after stamping! Otherwise any clay on it will dry rock hard and then you will be sad.
STEP 1: Your workstation
The first thing to do, of course, is to set up your workstation with all the required materials!

hot chocolate is essential.
Your beeswax applicator, Q-tip, and damp paper towel

Stamps, pigment (I used eyeshadow), ink
Bezels and clay

STEP 2: mix your clay and put it in your bezel
Just follow the basic procedure for preparing crystal clay. Measure out equal amounts of colour A and B and mix them up. You want just enough clay so that it sits above the edge of the bezel but you also want the surface to be flat, not rounded. This makes stamping your image easier. 
When you are done mixing your clay, place it inside your bezel. Note that I've already selected my stamp and made sure that it fits inside my bezel. As previously mentioned, the ideal clay surface for stamping (for beginners anyway) is a flat one.
STEP 3: prepare your clay for stamping
Note: You can either add your powder/pigment before you stamp, or after. Both ways yield slightly different results. For this tutorial I stamped first and added pigment later.
Smooth out any bumps in your clay by dipping your finger in some water and rubbing your finger over the surface of the clay. You want an especially smooth surface in order to get the best impression and so the added powder later will look good. If there are any fingerprints, the powder will highlight them and make them look very obvious.
TIP: Let the clay sit for about 5 minutes so the water can dry. If you stamp wet clay, you will get a blurry picture, and your ink might dilute, affecting the colour.
STEP 4: stamping your crystal clay
Select your ink and ink your stamp. Make sure the colour is even. Check your stamp to make sure there isn't any stray ink where you don't want it. There was some ink on the corner of my stamp so I cleaned it off with a wet Q-tip. See below:
Then, to put it simply, stamp your clay! Press the stamp down firmly, making sure the stamp is evenly placed. Don't wiggle your stamp around, it will make for a blurry and uneven impression. It's a good idea to stamp a piece of scrap paper first, to see how the stamp will turn out. Just stamp it firm and quick, as you would paper. Remember: stamp with confidence! Whenever I hesitate my hand shakes and I mess it all up.
Ta-da! Just yank the stamp out (again, with confidence) and you should have a nice impression in the clay.
Tip: If you mess up your stamp, it is best to dig out your clay, re-mix it until the ink disappears, and then put it in the bezel to be stamped again. It's a pain in the butt, I know, but if you try washing the mistake off, it's much more time-consuming.
STEP 5: cleaning up the stamped image
I like keeping my tools clean. Press your stamp into the damp paper towel to get the ink off it. Check your stamp very carefully for any bits of clay and dig them out with a toothpick.
If you don't want clay to stick to your stamp, add the pigment/powder to the clay FIRST, then stamp (with or without ink, depending on what you are designing). However, I advise you to experiment as the order in which you do these things yields different results. Examples will be posted later.
 My stamp left a mark in the clay! I used the wet Q-tip again and smoothed it over.
 STEP 6: Adding pigment!
Adding pigment is a great way to make your clay shimmer, or make it look metallic.
Now, there are two types of pigment that you can get. The craft kind. Or the makeup kind. I'm not a spokesperson or sponsored so I have the liberty of being honest: before you spend 4$ per jar on PearlEx powder, or powdered mica fragments, or anything like that.... just dig around in your makeup bag and get some eyeshadow.
It's a cheap (and less wasteful) way to experiment with pigments and epoxy clay. Then if you like the effect, go ahead and buy the crafting pigments.
Tip: don't try blush. It looks horrible on the clay. Stick with eyeshadow! Also, use eyeshadow that has glitter or shimmer. For obvious reasons.
There are two ways to add pigment: with your finger, or a paintbrush. I find that if you want a little bit of shimmer, use a paintbrush. If you want a LOT of it, pile it on your finger and rub directly on the clay. Try out both ways, to see the different affects. 
Add some pigment to your finger:
Gently stroke the clay until you're happy with how it looks. If bored, pretend you are petting a hamster or similarly cute animal.

I got a bit of the pigment on the ink, but that's okay, it adds dimension. See how the surface of the clay is all shimmery now?
 Try adding different shades of pigments to the same clay. Try adding glitter. In short, be creative! Go nuts!
And now we add as many crystals as we can! 
 I added some more pigment after the crystals were placed... some of it got on the crystal chatons but that's fine, I can wipe it off later with a cloth.

Let your creation dry for 12 - 24 hours.

When the clay has fully cured, take a soft cloth and polish your pendant. The powder will come off the crystals very easily:

And there you have it! A stamped Crystal Clay pendant. :)

Update: Add me on Pinterest for more tutorials and updates! http://pinterest.com/poeticrice/my-tutorials/


  1. Hi Helen! Thank you so much for posting such an informative tutorial! Did the pendant turn out waterproof? Or do you need to seal it with something to make sure the pigment and the ink stay in place?

    Ana from Fruitlook

    1. Thanks Ana!

      I've worn my crystal clay rings (pigmented) while washing dishes just to see what would happen, and it appears that the pigment is permanent without a sealant.

      I've seen crystal clay sealed with glaze before... I'm not sure if I like the effect, it looks so artificial and all the beautiful texture is gone.

      Not too sure about the ink though. But that is a very good question! I'm going to test this out right away and see what happens. :)

      - Helen

  2. wow!!! thank you for the great tutorial!