Tutorial: Make your own clay molds!

Howdy folks. I have been holding on to this tutorial for a couple of months. Why, you ask? Because I wanted to make a card with one of my hand embellishments before showing the tutorial and I did this morning, check it out:

 

I used a vintage button to make a mold {or mould} for the silver button on the card:

 

I tend to be a button hoarder, especially the really cool ones or really old ones I have saved from my grandmother. So I took the lovely buttons I could not bear to part with and made molds of them with scrap polymer clay so I can make as many as I like. Here are some of my handmolded buttons:

 

Scrap clay is the leftover scraps of polymer clay you save after you finish a project. Just toss them in a sandwich bag until you have a need for custom molds 😉 I store my scrap clay in a fish ‘n tackle style box:

How to make Clay molds. If you don’t have scrap clay you can use new clay.

Step 1. Condition the clay. Knead all of the various colors of scrap clay for about 10 minutes in your hands, it will turn a uniform grey-brown color. You can use a clay dedicated pasta machine to speed things along.

 

Step 2. select a button, bead, key or whatever you want to mold. Dust it with cornstarch or baby powder so the clay won’t stick to it.

 

Step 3. Press the clay on the object making sure to pull the clay up over the sides so you get a good deep mold. Don’t encase the object though, you then need to remove the item you are molding. If it does not look good just knead the clay again and re press the object in the clay.

Step 4. Bake the clay. I bake it at 275 for 15 minutes per 1/4″ thickness but refer to your package of clay when in doubt. Most of my clay scrap is Sculpey 3 so it has a shorter baking time. Finer art clays like Sculpey Premo have a longer bake time.

Step 5. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Then you can make as many of the embellishments as you like. For really detailed pieces you will want to dust the mold with cornstarch or Pearl-ex (if you want some sparkle!) so it doesn’t stick. Never bake the clay in the mold or it will stick for good!

I think making homemade molds and buttons is a great way to spend an evening!

Before I go I wanted to show you a variation of the new years card I made since I plan on mailing these cards and the buttons are thick. I found these great bottle cap stamps by inkadinkado months ago and could not find a use for them til now, I’ll hand deliver the clay button cards and mail the stamped bottle cap ones!

 

And in case you are wondering here is a list of the other stamps I used on my cards:

Mouse: Crafty Secrets

Banner: Pink Persimmon

Sentiment: My Sentiments Exactly

Numbers on banner: Personal Stamp Exchange (funny story here, I was getting ready to write this post and realized I forgot to stamp the year on the banners, Doh…ha ha, nobody’s perfect)

Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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24 Responses

  1. Wow- this is such a cool idea- I will start looking at everything in a new way- to see if it will make a good mold LOL!!! Happy New Year!

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  2. Love this, I’ve often wanted to try making molds as I have some white polymer clay but wasn’t sure how to do it. Thanks Lindsay!

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  3. Wow….what a great idea! Awhile back I bought some mold stuff from Rangers, but it was sooo expensive. Where do you buy the clay and does it have to be a special kind of clay. Thanks so much for sharing and have a blessed day.

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    • Hi Misty,
      You can use any kind of polymer clay. There is a new line from Sculpey called “bake shop” and it is around $1.30 a package and it works great. I generally buy that for craft projects with the kids. It only comes in a few basic colors but you can always mix it. Also I like to buy the variety pack of 24 (i think) colors from Sculpy3, it is about $20 but I use a coupon at Joann or ACmoore. These clays are great for general crafting. If I am working on a special piece like jewelery (other than just plain beads) I buy Sculpey Premo clay, it takes longer to bake and it is harder to knead and it is a bit more expensive but it is a little flexible when baked and much more durable and that is important if you are making any thin jewelery or art components. But ANY polymer clay will work. I like sculpey products and use them a lot. If you are a beginner sculpey 3 is your best bet, it is easy to work with and inexpensive but comes in a wonderful variety of colors. Good luck!

      Oh by the way the ranger mold stuff was probably a 2 part resin you mix together and make a flexible mold with. That is best for really detailed stuff (like the daliah bead above) or for making a mold you can use with more fragile materials like wax or soap. You can save that for the really detailed things you want to mold;)

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  4. Your buttons look wonderful. But, I just can’t imagine getting the clay you are molding out of a stiff clay mold. I’d think a mold would have to be pliable, especially to get the detailed buttons out of it. So, just by dusting the inside of your stiff clay mold with cornstarch you are able to get the clay you are molding out of it?

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    • Hi CC, The clay comes out easily but do not bake the clay in the mold or it will fuse together. The molds are hard as a rock. Simply condition the clay, dust the mold with cornstarch or pearl-ex, press the clay in the mold and pull it out. Easy peasy!

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  5. Thanks for your reply. I bought some polymer clay a while back wanting to make buttons, but have not tackled the job yet. I had been researching molds and ways to make them and just wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. You’re way certainly makes it easy. Thanks for sharing your results!

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  6. You have the best ideas! I love the button suggestion.

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  7. You are such a smart lady. I also read your post on making your clay. These ate beautifully. buttons.

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  8. If you’re using Premo, you can spritz the mold with water, and it acts as a great release. You don’t have to dust the molds with cornstarch. I do not use the Sculpy clays. They are very brittle and aren’t worth the effort, IMO. I don’t even use them with kids, because the kids are so disappointed with the breaking and cracking. And if you use a super glue to “fix” what broke, it gets expensive. Kato or Fimo also work well. I just cannot recommend the Sculpy clays for art or anything else.

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    • I think it depends on what sculpey you are using, I had a really hard time with the traditional original sculpey that came in the 1lb box, too dry and crumbly to work with but I like sculpey 3, we use it all the time, it is soft enough for the kids to knead and they make pins, ornaments and beads with no problem or breakage but we do not use it to make stuff thinner than 1/4″ inch. Premo is made by sculpey and I use it for jewelry and stuff that needs to be thin as it has more flexibility than sculpey 3 BUT it is really heard to knead and condition so I don’t like to use it with the kids. If your sculpey is breaking it may be the original or maybe not conditioned long enough. I have used sculpey 3 a lot and have not had problems.

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      • I use Super Sculpy and then paint with acrylic paint .It is a flesh color and only comes in a green and white box.The white 1lb.box is very crumbly I would not use it just because of that.The colored Sculpy in the small pkgs.I like it must have more plastic in it?

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        • I had purchased a box of the white and it was super crumbly, I could not use it at all, I think it was “truck baked” because I tried everything to condition it. I find that the sculpey3 and fimo clays go on sale for $1 a 2 oz brick several times a year at ACmoore so I usually get the colored stuff. I love premo for jewelry (also made by sculpey) as it has a bit of flex to it.

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  9. Love this. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. How do you get the clay out of the mold if it sticks and not ruin the design

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    • If it is really detailed I dust the most with corn starch or peal ex before pressing in my clay. If I can’t pull it out because the clay is too warm, soft or sticky I pop it in the freezer fr a minute and it hardens up and pops right out! You can also spritz the mold with water before pressing in polymer clay becasue the clay and water do not mix. Do not use water if using paper clay, matha stewart clay or play doy like clays, Remeber you baked the mold so the mold will be fine:)

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  11. I used to use it to make food for dollhouses. I have a bunch of old buttons I glued to dowels for working iwth real clay to texture it. This would be great to make embellishments.

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  12. This is such a great idea! Is it ok to use your cooking oven or should you try to use a designated ` craft’ oven?

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    • You can use your regular oven but use a clay dedicated pan or line a pan with aluminum foil if you intend to use the pan for food again, this is fine of occasional use. If you are making a lot of things with clay consider getting a dedicated oven. I use an old toaster oven for my clay:)

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  13. I have a question. My dog passed away and all I have is his paw print in a mold. I am wanting to make it to where I can have a flat paw print to stamp on paper. Can I use clay or mold to fill in his print to do this?

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    • I would try to ink up the ornament with washable black ink so you get an impression of the reverse (the pawprint would be white and the surrounding would be black and take it to a stamp maker and shake them to make a rubber stamp of it. Let them know that this is a negative and you wna tthe pawprint to stamp, not the background.

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  14. I didn’t see what you used to make the actual buttons, was it just more clay? Also, what did you use to paint them?

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  15. […] Tutorial: Make your own clay molds! | Thefrugalcrafter’s … – Dec 29, 2011  · Thefrugalcrafter’s Weblog. Entries RSS | Comments RSS. Blog Stats. … How to make Clay molds. If you don’t have scrap clay you can use new clay. … […]

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