Last Friday, I posted about a few projects I have on my radar. Well, last Thursday’s snow day gave me a chance to tackle one of them, so I decided to experiment with some Sculpey clay and try out Sarah Johnson’s “marble” coaster project. My main project, however, was to make a plant pot to match our wall art (it’s from Ikea because we are very cultured). This was my first time working with clay since high school ceramics class, and I’m pretty happy with the results:
But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself. Because the pot you see in that picture is the result of a lot of rolling, frustration, and baking. Making a tie-dye polymer clay pot using Sculpey clay is actually not as hard as I thought it’d be, and I’m going to share a few tips with you to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes I made.
Here’s what you need:
- Sculpey clay. (I got a variety pack. You can browse different variety packs here.)
- Oven and oven-safe pot to use as a mold.
- Small knife and rolling pin.
- Clean work space.
Step #1: Choose your colors. From my variety pack, I chose dark purple, red, orange, yellow, and white. Each block of Sculpey has four bars; I used all four bars of each color. Beginning with the lightest color, kneed and roll each color until you end up with a smooth ball.
Tip: Why don’t I have a white ball in this picture? My white clay didn’t make the final cut because I worked with the white right after working with the red. I’m an idiot. The red completely stained my hands and turned the white pink. So, if you’re using white, make sure to work with it first or thoroughly wash your hands before touching it.
Step #2: Roll each ball into a long string. If you want your colors to remain fairly bold, keep the strings pretty thick. If you want your colors to blend more with one another, make them thinner. I wanted mine to stay pretty bold.
Step #3: Pair each string up and twist them together to go from four strings down to two. It doesn’t really matter which ones you choose to twist together. Then, roll them out so they’ll look more like this:
Step #4: Do the same thing again to go from two strings down to one.
Step #5: Fold your long piece of clay in half and twist it together; then, roll it until it’s smooth. Do this once more to ensure the colors create some interesting patterns. Then, mash the clay down into a flat circle using a rolling pin. (I used a round bottle of vinegar because we don’t own a rolling pin.) The colors will bleed more as you do this.
Step #6: Mold your clay to your pot.
Here’s where things got significantly less fun. I’d wanted to use my ceramic pot as a mold by putting the clay on the inside of the pot and baking it. But, that wasn’t working out very well, so I used the outside of the pot as a mold instead. To ensure there weren’t any air pockets, I cut a small hole in the bottom of the pot (top of the pot in the below picture).
Step #7: Smooth out the exterior by rolling out the clay while it’s on the pot. Remember, you’re going to bake the clay on the pot. Using a small knife, trim the top to make the lip of the pot even.
Step #8: Just as pictured in step #6, set your pot and clay in your oven and bake according to your clay’s instructions. I baked my Sculpey clay at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch thickness. When it’s done, pull it out, let it cool, and gently wiggle the clay off of your pot mold.
And with the remainder of the clay, I made the coasters! They seemed much easier after battling the pot mold. I used the top of a cup as a “cookie cutter” so I didn’t have to hassle with cutting them in a perfect circle.
Some lessons learned:
- They aren’t kidding when they say not to bake for longer than the recommended time. I think I did, because I ended up with a crack on the side of my pot that I’ll have to seal with some glue.
- I really underestimated the amount of clay I’d need, so my pot ended up being a lot shorter than I’d hoped it would be. Remember, it’s much easier to cut excess clay off than it is to add more clay while also keeping the tie-dye pattern.
- If you have a pet, check your workstation, hands, and clothes even after verifying that all are clean. You don’t want to bake a pet hair into a visible spot. Also, make sure you don’t have any towel residue on your hands after washing and drying them. Those little bits will make their way into the clay and are impossible to get out.