New stamps!

105053-299316-thumbnail.jpgSince texture is one of the most important elements in the designing of my clay pendants, it makes sense that I got bored with my stamps, over time. I've made several "batches" of stamps over the years.  Some great, others not-so-much. I've been needing to make more for a while now.

I'm happy to report that yesterday's stamp-making extravaganza was a mighty success! Makes me want to make more. But not yet. These have to be tried out first. I always get some duds. This time was no exception.

Let me tell you about the process for me. First, know that you can make stamps from many different substances. If I were making stamps to press into ink for decorating paper for, say, handmade cards, I'd use any number of foam and foam-esque materials from which to cut my stamp designs. I've tried it before and had marginal success. Stamps for clay, however, aren't made in the same manner. At least, the ones I make aren't.

The most successful stamps I've made have been created from earthenware clay and from polymer clay, a non-toxic, man-made substance that can be formed like clay. In the interest of time, this go round, (and most of the time, recently,) I used polymer. Instead of having to wait for a really, really hot kiln that can fire clay to the bisque state, which doesn't happen so frequently since you wouldn't fire a whole kiln with just a handful of stamps, I've learned that I can fire polymer stamps in an oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and voila, my instant gratification monster is beyond pleased.

So I found some polymer clay I've acquired over time - some with varied colors that I mixed and others105053-299318-thumbnail.jpg that has a sort of white person, flesh tone color that some of my friends and I have joked about looking like little limbs. Doll parts, really. And I think people make dolls from polymer so perhaps that makes sense. But anyway, I prepared the polymer (by kneading it a long, long time, until it's soft,) and rolled it into little balls and formed pieces that were appropriate for the size stamps I wanted. Then I depressed things into the pieces. I've found that you can basically use anything you like to make these designs, so long as the pressing of said item will leave an imprint. Among the things I've used to form my designs are drill bits, buttons, beads, the handle-end of a plastic swizzle stick, coiled wire...anything you like, really!

Here's a word to the wise: if you're making your own stamps for use in clay, make sure you don't skimp on the amount of clay or polymer you use. Meaning if you think you've left enough for a little "handle," be doubly sure you have. Yesterday I used some pretty small pieces, thinking I'd make my supply go further (really, polymer clay is not an expensive material to buy, especially when you pay attention to sales circulars and pick it up when it's discounted every few weeks, or use one of the readily available discount coupons from one of your local arts and crafts centers,) I did skimp on the amount. And now that the pieces have been baked, I can't get a great grip on a few of them. Fairly irritating, considering that I've tried out some of these stamps already and found more than one of the really successful ones to be difficult to grip. (Which means I'll grab my handy drill and put some holes in it and finagle a new handle from wire. Hm. I wonder if strong tape wouldn't do just as well? I'll let you know. If I remember.)

So in the end, I made more than 50 stamps which took longer than you might think. But it's well worth it. Even when the pieces that result aren't that interesting on the stamp, they can render some really fun new patterns in the clay. Which is what it's all about. And there's probably a little psychological lesson in there for me, if I cared to look. I get excited to try out my new little stamp creations and so I'm more likely to actually make new pieces. 

Which was really the whole point, all along. I have to get ready for some upcoming sales and festivals and I'm behind on the creation of my "new spring line." Tee hee. Maybe not for long!