Faux Ceramic Pendant
Ceramic jewelry has an earthy appeal, but because ceramics require a kiln, many of us find it impractical. Using the technique detailed below, however, you can transform ordinary polymer clay into attractive faux ceramics.
- White polymer clay
- Translucent liquid clay
- Alcohol ink
- Wet/dry sandpaper
- Cleaning supplies
- Alcohol, baby wipes, and paper towels are all but indispensible.
- Aluminum palette (useful for mixing colors of liquid clay)
- Needle tool (toothpicks will work)
- Ceramic tile (that fits into your oven)
- Pasta machine (if possible)
- Brayer or acrylic rod
- Texturing tools
- Stamps, texture sheets (bought or homemade)
- Craft knife
- Oven (plus aluminum foil tent, thermometer, mitt and timer)
If you're using alcohol ink to tint the liquid clay, you may want to do that first. Put a drop or two of the ink on top of the liquid clay and allow the alcohol to evaporate before mixing the color into the clay with a toothpick or needle tool. Apply the ink now and mix it in later on.
This "evaporation-wait" may not be neccessary, but it is generally recommended as an extra precaution to prevent unwanted bubbling in the liquid clay.
A little ink goes a long way, so use it sparingly. You can always add more ink later, if you want a darker color. If you accidentally add too much, you can lighten the color by adding more liquid clay. You can also mix custom colors by combining one or more colors of ink.
Condition the white clay.
Roll it through the pasta machine on the thickest setting. If you prefer an even pendant (as we did), double the sheet.
Use a needle or craft knife to pop any bubbles you see, and use the brayer to smooth and adhere the layered sheets.
Work directly on a ceramic tile that fits into your oven. The less you move this project, the less distortion you'll see.
Texture the sheet of clay.
Be sure to apply a release agent to the stamp or texture sheet. If you use water, as we did, be sure to gently pat away the moisture with a paper towel after the clay is textured.
Use a shape cutter or craft knife to cut into the textured clay.
If you have room to cut more than one pendant from the sheet of clay, do so. It's best not to try to fit too many too closely together, though, as it can be difficult to pull up the clay between them without causing distortions. (If there's just a small bit of clay that you can't remove, you can cure it in place and cut or snap them apart afterward.)
Pull away the excess clay, leaving the cut shape(s) untouched on the tile.
If desired, apply texture to the edges of the cut shapes. Now is also the time to place eyepins or cut stringing holes in pendants. A drinking straw cut into short lengths makes a great tool for cutting out large stringing holes.
Don't worry about any leftover traces of clay around your cut-out. Those you can't easily remove now can be quickly eliminated, later.)
If you want to make several piece at the same time, repeat steps 2 through 5 as desired until your baking tile is full.
Put the tile into a pre-heated oven, tent with aluminum foil (to prevent scorching), and cure at the manufacturer's recommended temperature for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tile.
When the tile has cooled a bit (or a lot-- there's no rush), remove the pendants from the tile.
If they tend to stick, pull a tissue blade under them until they pop away.
Temporarily remove eyepins and set them aside.
Sand the edges of the pendants under water as needed to remove jagged bits. Don't forget the edges of large stringing holes. Let the pendants dry (or pat dry).
(You may wish to wipe down the pendants with alcohol to remove any traces of skin oils, etc. that might interfere with the adhesion of the liquid clay in the following steps.)
If you haven't already finished tinting your liquid clay, do so now. If a color isn't dark enough for your liking, you can add another drop or two of ink. Let it evaporate a while, if you have the time to spare, before remixing.
(Here's an example of what the liquid clay might look like once you've thoroughly mixed in the ink. The orange color has been mixed, while the other two have not.)
Working on a ceramic tile that fits in your oven, apply a thin layer of the tinted liquid clay to the cured clay pendants. You can apply the liquid clay to just the tops of the pendants, or you can cover the sides and bottoms, too.
Use a fingertip or a paintbrush or other tool to apply the liquid clay. (This is a messy process-- especially if you're covering the sides and bottoms of the pendants-- so be sure to have your cleaning supplies nearby.)
Allow the "glaze" to settle into the low spots of the pattern or texture. If you have too much liquid clay on a pendant, wipe some away. You can also remove some in spots to reveal more of the clay base. How much glaze you put on will affect the final appearance of your pendant, so experiment to find what you like best.
Continue until all the pendants are glazed. Don't worry if the liquid clay drips or puddles slightly around the pendants.
Put the tile into a pre-heated oven, tent with aluminum foil, and cure at the manufacturer's recommended temperature for another 15 minutes or so.
Allow the shapes to cool on the tile, then remove as before, using a tissue blade to persuade pieces that stick.
Use a craft knife to carefully pare away any extraneous liquid clay (such as if you had puddling around the base of your pendant).
Leave as is or finish as desired. (You can sand and/or buff or apply a polymer-friendly finish, depending on the look you want to achieve.)
When you've finished all the curing you plan to do, superglue eyepins back into place. (Superglue deteriorates at curing temperatures, so save this step for the end.)
Idea by PolymerClayWeb