Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Polymer Clay Valentine's Magnet Tutorial #1

Before I start, let me just say a couple of things.  First of all, this tutorial is really long but don't let that fool you.  The project is really simple.  I just like to make everything as clear as possible.  Also, these photos are really lousy 'cause my clay table faces a window so the main light source is behind the item being photographed most of the time.  I am in the process of rearranging things so hopefully future tutes will have better photos.

So I've been wanting to do a tutorial for something really quick and simple for Valentine's Day and this is what I came up with- heart magnets.  There are three different ones and I will post the tutorials for them separately.  This one is the simplest- just a 3-dimensional hearts on a flat background.  So, here we go...

3D Heart Valentine Magnet Tutorial
Supplies needed:
pink clay
beige clay
gold metallic powder
iridescent glitter

Tools needed:
tissue blade
pasta machine
stamp with the word "love" or blunt needle tool

Step 1: Make the hearts.
Condition all of the clay you are going to use.  Marble together some beige and pink clay...

...and make a ball of it about 3/4 inch in diameter.  Make sure to roll all of the seams out 'cause they will show in the hearts otherwise.

Form the ball into a sort of fat bone shape.

Lay it on the table and cut in half at an angle as shown below.  If you can't get it perfectly even, that's okay- I personally like my hearts a little lopsided; it gives them character.

Now turn one of the halves around and stick the cut sides back together so that the fat parts and the skinny parts line up.

Voila!  You have a heart.  Now, use your fingers or other tool to smooth the seam a bit.

Lay the heart on its side and cut in half as shown in the picture below.

Now you have two 3D hearts with flat backs.  One side of each heart will probably be a little flattened a little from the cutting so reshape them a bit to give them back their curve.  I also like to curl the points to one side a little as well.  (Somehow I ended up without a photo of that part.  I'm sure you get the picture.)

Step 2:  Prepare the background.
Take the rest of your pink clay and roll it through the pasta machine at a medium to medium-thick setting.  (I have three cheap pasta machines and the numbers are all different on them so I'm not even going to try to guess what number you need to use.  My dream is to someday have a pasta machine that doesn't need replacing every year... *sigh*)

Now cut an uneven four-sided shape.  (Something is telling me that I should know the name of this shape but I can't quite put my finger on it.  And I think I'm qualified to homeschool... What was I thinking? LOL)

Use your "love" stamp at this point or use your needle tool to carve the word "love" across the bottom of your shape.  I'm extremely rubber stamp-challenged right now so I carved the words with my needle tool.

Step 3: Put it together.
Get out your gold metallic powder (I'm using PearlEx- I think it's the antique gold.)  and very gently touch the surface of the powder with your index finger.  You just want a micro-thin layer of the powder on your finger.  Touch the pink clay with your gold-plated finger a few times.  Keep touching the powder and then the clay until you have a sort of splotchy gold design on your pink clay.  I made the gold fingerprints a little thicker around the letters to make them stand out more.

Use a little gold on your hearts as well.

Arrange your hearts on your background and press down gently to adhere them.

Now you get to add the glitter.  What Valentine is complete without glitter?  I still remember the smell of the white glue and the sound of the glitter pouring out of the jar onto the paper and how pretty the classroom carpet looked when someone spilled glitter and the vacuum couldn't get it all... ahhh, those were the days!  Oh, sorry, lost track there for a minute.  Okay, so you need to make sure that the glitter you're using is not the cheap plastic stuff- that will melt in the oven.  Mine is a fine scrapbooking glitter that I've had for several years so I can't even tell you the brand name.  Anyway, if you haven't tried your glitter in the oven before, I recommend doing a test run with a scrap piece of clay first.  Alternatively, you could do the glitter after baking or just leave it out entirely.  Now, I don't use my glitter dry.  What do I mean by dry?  At some point in the last couple of years, somehow my bottle of mineral oil leaked into my little container of iridescent glitter and mixed with it.  Now it's sort of a grainy paste that I absolutely love for applying to raw clay.  The oil makes the glitter stick better and it is much easier to control where the glitter goes.  So, you can either add a drop or two of mineral oil (or liquid clay would probably work) to your glitter, or you can figure out how to apply the glitter for yourself.  If you figure out a better way, let me know- I love to try new things.  (Could I ramble any more about glitter? Here's the photo...)

Step 4: Bake your piece.
Okay, if you've made it through all of my ramblings and actually found the instructions in all of that- congratulations!  Now it's time to bake.  Put your piece on something flat (I have several pieces of broken stone tile that I can bake small things on.)  and bake at 265 degrees (or whatever the clay manufacturer recommends) for about 30-45 minutes.  I like to err on the side of caution and bake longer than may be necessary.

Step 5:  Stick a magnet on.
So now you're ready to add the magnet to the back.  I'm just using what I have on hand, which is some of that thin, flat, rolled-up magnetic strip with the sticky back.  This is not my first choice but as the magnets are light and I seldom hang stuff on the fridge with my magnets, it will suffice.  I cut a piece slightly smaller than the back of the magnet, peeled off the paper, and stuck it on.  If I were to sell these, I would use the stronger round magnets and adhere them with a suitable glue. (And here you get a preview of the other two magnets I'm going to tutorialize- Is that a word?)

Reverse side...

There you go!  Make a bunch and give them away for Valentine's Day or keep them for yourself.  If you do, feel free to send me pictures and I will post them here.  I think I might give mine to my sister who has a magnet collection dating back to her junior high school days.


P.S.  Do yourself a favor and don't sell any of the stuff you make from my tutorials.  When people buy handmade, they want a story and "I followed some instructions online" is really a lousy story.  Do feel free to use my ideas as inspiration or a "jumping-off point" for your own creations.  Besides, if anyone is going to make money off my ideas, shouldn't it be me?  :)

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