Polymer Clay

Polymer Book Covers, Embellishments, and Jewelery

Class taught by Annette W. on 5/29/05

book cover with ropes

This book cover is made with transluscent clay twisted with neon green and neon orange and coated with paste shoe polish while warm from the oven using only my finger. The images are inked with pigment and stamped before the clay is baked. You can see that the top cover is smaller than the back cover. Look in the upper left hand corner to see the binding.

Both the front cover and the back cover are made from one piece of rolled clay, stamped, then cut down the center with a clay knife.

Link to gallery:

Polymer Clay Gallery on Flickr

LIST OF MATERIALS

  • Polymer clay: Sculpey, Fimo, Primo or any clay that requires heat to set (Annette strongly, strongly advises using an oven thermometer and a kitchen timer when working with clay–undercooked clay will break over time and overcooked clay discolors and warps).You’ll need 1 OR 2 with 3 and a sampling of items in 4.

    1) Rolling pin or a piece of PVC pipe, 2 rulers or 2 pieces of mat board the same thickness, masking tape

    2) A pasta machine

    3) A toaster oven or your kitchen oven

    4) Aluminum foil, waxed paper, damp cloth to wipe your hands, a knife/clay knife, pastry tools, small cookie cutters, scoring tools, stylus, UMs of any size, drinking straw to make holes, waxed linen thread and a needle to bind items together, E6000 to glue items or hot glue or white glue, paints, rub and buff or markers or anything you might use to decorate your clay, an oven thermometer (available in the baking section at the grocer) toothpicks to make beads, paste shoe polish, rubber stamps (mounted or unmounted), push molds and baggies to store leftover clay.

GET READY TO PLAY

Turn on your oven to the temperature listed on the package. Wrap a cookie sheet or doubled cereal box cardboard in aluminum foil. Set up your pasta machine or tape two rulers or two pieces of mat board parallel about 6 inches apart on a flat surface. Set out your tools and cookie cutters, rubber images, charms et cetera, so they’re close at hand.

STEP ONE –

Yes, sit on your wrapped clay to warm it so it’s easier to mold. You can also use your armpit or put the clay, wrapped, in your bra. It just needs to be body temperature. When in public, roll the clay, unwrapped, in your palms to form a ball. If it forms a ball easily, it’s ‘conditioned’ and ready to use. Keep the wrapper so you have a reference for temperature and time to bake the clay.

Have you turned on your oven and located your timer? 30 minutes baking time at 265 Fahrenheit for each 1/4″ of clay thickness is recommended for Sculpey III and Premo, I believe. 265°F is about 130°C. Do NOT use The Evil Fimo! Since my computer is on one side of the house and my oven is on the other, I keep a timer in my studio in case I don’t hear the timer on the oven in the kitchen.

STEP TWO –

If you are using one color of clay:

Roll out your clay or put it through your pasta machine on medium setting.

Fold it in half and repeat.

Make sure you start re-rolling from the folded edge or hold the fold vertical to flatten the clay. This will help eliminate air bubbles. Do this 2-3 times.

If you are using 2-3 colors of clay:

Roll 3 clay worms the same length and thickness.

Set your 3 rolls side-by-side and twist them. Roll out the twist or put through your pasta machine. You’ll have a long piece of clay. You can fold it in half and roll it again or us it as is.

step2.1

Here I’ve used a block of gold, 1/2″ block of turquoise and 1/4 block of black.

I put the entire block of gold through the pasta machine 2 times.

I rolled the turquoise piece into a chubby worm and placed it in the center of the gold square.

I broke the black in half and made two smaller worms and placed them on either side of the turquoise piece.

Here are the baked front cover and back covers.

step2.2

I ran the three colors through the pasta machine 4 times to blend them.

STEP THREE –

You’re making a front cover and a back cover

from this 1 flattened piece of clay.

Remember: you’re going to stamp your images before the covers are baked

and

wedding image

you’ll embellish, paint and decorate after baking.

book cover with window

Trim the flattened clay with a clay knife or sharp blade.

step3.3

This is a clay knife. It’s really a flat razor blade and it’s ever so sharp. I put a piece of reinforced red packing tape on the edge that I can touch without getting cut. It’s a safety technique that I urge all Stampers to adopt. You can use a knife, but be sure to cut straight down or the clay will warp and you’ll not smile.

Trim you clay to the size that suits you. This one piece will be both the front and the back covers. When you don’t like the result, flatten the clay and start again.

Stamp images along the entire surface of the clay keeping in mind that

the RIGHT side of your clay is the FRONT cover.

The LEFT side of your clay is the BACK cover.

Trim off excess clay and reserve it.

STEP FOUR –

Cut down the center of the flattened clay from the top to the bottom.

step4.1

You can see the narrow slit in the middle of the picture.

These are the inside front and back covers.

Turn over the clay to the outside covers.

Keep the front cover on your left and the back cover on your right.

Stamp images as you wish. Be sure to use pigment ink to ink the images before stamping of you’ll run the risk of tearing the clay when you remove the image.

Use clear pigment if you don’t want a colored image.

Now is the time to cut out a ‘window’ in the LEFT piece of clay if you wish. Use a small cookie cutter or a bottle cap. Reserve the cookie and use later to embellish you front cover if you wish.

broken book cover

Note: This cover broke because it was undercooked.

You may leave the cover shape as it is or trim as you wish. Just be sure that the left edges of your front and back covers align.

STEP FIVE –

You have 2 halves.

The left half is your front cover.

Take the right half, your back cover, turn it over and place it beneath the front cover like two pieces of bread in a sandwich.

The straight edges should be on the left. This is where you’ll punch your holes with a straw. The holes will shrink during baking, so they should be at least double the size of your binding threads or fibers.

Be sure that the stamped sides are facing out and the smooth sides of your clay are on the inside.

STEP SIX –

Be sure that you poked the drinking straw all the way through because you’re going to be sewing the book together using the holes you’ve made. Two holes work, 3 work, 4 work, 5 work…it just depends on how large your book is.

DON’T stitch yet.

I make 3 or 5 holes equidistant from top to bottom and then I use a running stitch down and back up again unless I make a necklace book, then I make 2 holes, left and right. Be careful to have your holes at least ¼ inch from any edge. ½ inch is a bit too far, but better than having the holes too close to the edge. We’ll sew after we bake.

Should disaster strike and a hole get too close to the edge, poke the clay back into the hole, smooth it over and repoke. No problem.

STEP SEVEN –

Those of you planning to add an embellishment or more to the outside front cover:

press the embellishments into the clay now. Remove the embellishment during baking.

These flat marbles are transparent so they work nicely to pop an image.

step7.1

STEP EIGHT –

Lay your clay covers, stamped sides up, on the foil covered baking sheet.

Use your leftover clay trimmings to make a smaller book or a necklace book if you wish.

A necklace book is fun because you can make an accordion fold out book on the inside. Make only 2 holes for the necklace book.

For beads:

Roll out your leftover trimmings and cut into rectangles,

step8.1

The beads were rectangles rolled onto round toothpicks.

squares and

step8.2

These beads were squares rolled from one corner to the opposite corner on round toothpicks.

triangles.

step8.3

These beads were triangles of leftover clay rolled from the side opposite the longest point to the point itself. Leave beads on the toothpicks during baking.

Make round beads from the last dregs of clay. Make a ball, thrust a toothpick through the ball and it’s a bead.

step8.4

STEP NINE –

Use foil to cover the entire baking sheet with your unbaked clay creations inside.

Bake according to package directions. SET THE TIMER!

Sculpey III and PREMO are baked 265 degrees F for 30 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness.

SET THE TIMER!!!!!

STEP TEN –

While the clay is baking, you have 30 minutes to play with more clay.

When the clay has cooled…You can run it under tap water to cool it, then dry with a towel.

1) Use one of your covers to trace a template for your signature. (For those new to bookbinding, a signature is a set of papers inside a book). I tend to use the larger half of the clay book cover to trace the template but you’re free to choose what suits you.

2) Place your traced, UNcut template on a stack of paper you will use for your signature.

3) STAPLE the stack on 4 sides. 4 staples will do or you can use bulldog clips. Bulldogs are those alligator type clips that are black with silver handles. This stabalizes the stack with the template.

You will cut ONCE and get several layers of papers for your signature. May I suggest that you cut inside the lines of your traced template so it’s not too big when you’re finished… Discard your template.

4) Place your cut signature inside the book covers, align the left edge and mark the holes on the top sheet of your signature.

5) Remove your signature, punch holes in all papers, re-place the signature inside the book covers.

6) Thread your needle with a piece of fiber at least 3 times longer than your book cover is high. If your book is 4″ high, 12 inches of thread is the least length you’ll need. I always cut more than I know I’ll need because I can never cut something longer….LOL It always winds up shorter when I cut it.

If you have more than 2 holes:

7) Start at the top hole. Go in the BACK and out the FRONT.

Go down to the next hole. Go in the BACK and out the FRONT.

Go down to the next hole. Go in the BACK and out the FRONT.

Continue to the last hole at the bottom.

Return going UP.

Go in the BACK and OUT the FRONT.

Go up to the next hole and

GO in the BACK and OUT the FRONT.

When you get to the top, tie it off twice, ADD your beads and trim off the excess fiber.

book cover with window

Two-hole binding…

If you have 2 holes:

7) In the top hole: Go IN the BACK and OUT the FRONT 3-4 times, add beads, tie off and trim excess fibers.

In the bottom hole: Repeat the binding used in the top and add beads if you wish.

STEP ELEVEN –

Look at your book.

Does it need more color? If it does, use markers, paints, dab inks with a sponge, smear rub-n-buff, do whatever suits your fancy. When you’re pleased with the results, glue on the embellishments you pressed into the clay before baking.

Step back.

Look at your book again.

Modify anything you want to change.

STEP TWELVE –

Sign the inside back cover of your book. You’re an artist and artists sign their work. “:O)

Congratulations! You have created a keepsake. All that’s left for you to do is decorate the pages of your signature.

VARIATIONS

Take 3 contrasting colors of clay and make 3 long worms. Sculpey III and Premo are scored into 4 sections. Take 1, 2, 3 or 4 sections of each color and make your worms. Lay the worms side by side and braid them or twist them into one rope. Flatten your rope with a rolling pin or pasta machine. Continue rolling to achieve a single piece of clay that is approximately 4″ x 6”. Try to get the clay to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. If your covers come out too thin and you fear they’ll break, glue them to matboard and poke your binding holes in the matboard. You can cover the matboard with washi before gluing the covers to the boards.

inside rope book cover

To meld the different colors of clay together, make ropes of each color about as big around as your pinky finger. Lay them side by side, then twist together and roll out or put through your pasta machine. Remember: make holes in the left margin if you want to bind the front and back covers together.

Coloring clay:

Use paste shoe polish

Rub n Buff

Markers

Acrylic Paints

Just about anything paint will work with the clay. Heat set in the oven or using your heat tool.

Add Diamond Glaze or Future Floor Wax for a shiny cover.

To bind your covers:

Use fibers (wrap tape around one end like a shoestring end to make a needle of the fiber) and start at the top hole. Leave enough waxed thread or fiber to add your clay beads. Go in from the back with your fiber and out the front. Go down to the next hole and in from the back and out the front. Continue down the spine to the end and then back up again. Remember: In the back, out the front. This is called a running stitch.

Your option if you made two holes, top and bottom:

Use your fiber to go in the back and out the front of the same hole several times, then tie off and cut. Repeat with the second hole. Leave enough fiber for your necklace.

book necklace

One Response to Polymer Clay

  1. Deborah says:

    Hi! Your work is original excellently first rate. Thank You so very much. I am just getting started with polymer and I Love It! I am going to make this book cover right away. I am embarking upon a mosaic with handmade tiles etc. journey a multi-media project! wish me success! Thanks again!

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