We're a week into the new year -- how are those resolutions coming along? If you need a little reminder to keep you on track, try these easy polymer clay resolution reminders. Make them into magnets, bookmarks, or whatever works best for reminding you about what you want to do.
Step 1: Print ItUse word processing software to format your resolution in a font and style you like. You might want to study a product like Quote Stacks to get ideas for formatting -- for example, make key words larger, use shadow effects, etc. Once you're happy with your quote, print it to a laser printer, or copy it using a toner-based copier. Don't forget it needs to be in mirror image.
Step 2: Transfer ItThis is the method I use for polymer clay image transfers.
- Cut out the image to be transferred, leaving a little white space around it. This makes it easier to peel the paper away from the clay later.
- Use a pasta machine (or rolling pin / brayer) to roll out a sheet of conditioned polymer clay at least as large as the transfer. Thickness of the sheet depends on how you want to use it: thin long sheets make great bookmarks, while thicker sheets are sturdier for magnets or stand-alone plaques.
- Place the transfer face down on the clay. To avoid smudges, be careful not to move it once it's in place. Smooth the paper down to insure all the ink is in contact with the clay. Then apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol or gin to the back of the paper -- still being careful not to move the paper. Let the alcohol dry, then apply more and allow it to dry again.
- Carefully peel the paper off, a little at a time. If the paper seems to be sticking to the clay, try applying more alcohol (don't let it dry this time) before continuing to peel.
Step 3: Make It OriginalAdd some embellishments to make it your own:
- Add something that matches your resolution's theme -- for example, I added some yummy-looking fruits and vegetables to the food resolution.
- Borders add a touch of class. I used Shade-Tex texture sheets to create a textured margin on mine. Then after baking, I rubbed on Rub 'n Buff (for the time resolution) and acrylic paints (for the food resolution) in the textured area.
- You're not limited to clay. Use bottle-caps, fibers, beads, or pretty much anything else. If you're concerned that something might not be oven-safe, wait and glue it on after the baking is done.
As you're working, be careful not to touch the transfer -- the ink can still smudge until you bake it.
Step 4: Bake & Use ItBake the clay according to the manufacturer's instructions. If there's any warping during the baking process, you can place it under something heavy while it cools.
After it's cooled, glue a magnet to the back (I use super glue) and put it on your refrigerator. Or prop it up somewhere you'll see it often. I have several plaques propped up along the edge of my shower -- since the transfers are water-proof, it's a great place to get a daily reminder.
A couple of extra tips:
- Since these transfers can be large, it's easy to trap air bubbles between the paper and the clay. This is a problem since the ink won't transfer if it's not completely touching the clay. To avoid air bubbles, try starting in the middle and smoothing outwards. If there's a stubborn wrinkle, see if you can nudge it into a space between words to minimize the problem. Or, make it easier on yourself and cut the paper into smaller segments before you transfer.
- Having trouble transferring? Another method that often works well is to put the clay and paper together into the oven, then let it cook for 3-5 minutes before peeling the paper off. Put the clay back in the oven to finish curing.
- If you're still having trouble with transfers, don't get frustrated. There's a ton of things that can affect their success. Let me know if you have a question -- or check out these handy resources:
- Glass Attic's transfer page lists a bunch of methods and tips.
- Dotty's Picture-Perfect Color Photo-Transfers uses T-shirt transfer paper (this method can be used with ink-jets).
- If all else fails, start going down Polymer Clay Cyclopedia's list of Transfer Variables. Hopefully it'll help you identify the problem.
Not only are the reminders themselves helpful -- but I think just the process of making them reinforces your resolution. As you spend time on the project, you're really committing yourself to your goal. And thinking about how to format it and what embellishments to add can help you think through what the resolution really means to you.
Best of luck with your goals!