Polymer clay and rubber stamping work very well together. Rubber stamps can be used to create surface texture on soft, uncured clay or to add designs to the surface of cured clay. Rubber stamps can also be used in a range of interesting techniques to create stunning results.
In addition to the actual stamps, many rubber stamping supplies are also perfect for using with polymer clay. This means that many rubber stampers can start combining stamping and polymer clay projects with the minimum of additional materials. That said, there are, of course, a wide range of tools and supplies that can make crafting with polymer clay easier or more fun. However it is perfectly possible to produce great looking items with the absolute basics.
The Basics of Rubber Stamping and Polymer Clay
Here are some of the basics regarding stamping and polymer clay:
Types of Stamps for Using with Polymer Clay
The term 'rubber stamp' has become a generic description for many types of stamp – some of which are not even made from rubber! At one time, nearly all rubber stamps were mounted onto wooden blocks. The market has developed over recent years, however, and new types of stamps have been introduced. Most stamps are suitable for using with polymer clay.
- Clear Stamps - clear stamps are a new form of stamp that have gained an enthusiastic following. Unlike traditional rubber stamps, it is easy to see through clear stamps and this means that the stamped design can be accurately placed. Clear stamps are made from a polymer and feel clingy to the touch. These stamps will cling to an acrylic block for stamping.
- Unmounted Rubber Stamps – many rubber stamps are now available unmounted. They can be found as single stamps or in entire sheets which need to be cut before using. Rubber stampers often attach unmounted stamps to a self adhesive mounting foam that allows the stamps to be temporarily attached to an acrylic block for stamping. This is unnecessary when using unmounted stamps with polymer clay. Unmounted rubber stamps have three distinct advantages over mounted stamps. They are typically cheaper to buy, cost less to deliver and take up less space to store.
- Texture Stamps – some rubber stamps have been specifically designed to add texture to the surface of clay or other soft materials such as velvet, as well as being used for rubber stamping. These stamps are deeply etched and give deep impressions that are perfect for techniques such as polymer clay mokume gane and mica shift.
- Mounted Stamps – wood mounted rubber stamps are widely available and are available in many designs, from contemporary through to traditional.
- Foam Stamps – foam stamps often feature large and bold images and are not ideal for using with polymer clay.
Using Stamps with Polymer Clay
- Impressing Clay - stamps can be used to create an impression in the surface of soft and well-conditioned polymer clay. The effects achieved depend very much on the type of stamps used and the design of the stamp. The basic stamped impression can be left as it is to add texture and surface design or can be the start of further techniques such as inlaying other colors of polymer clay. Other techniques include mica shift, which entails stamping into metallic polymer clay and mokume gane, which is the technique of layering polymer clay and using rubber stamps to distort the surface.
- Surface Design - once cured, the surface of polymer clay can be stamped like paper or cardstock. Different inks will react in different ways, with permanent inks such as StazOn giving good, long lasting results. The image can be colored with marker pens, pencils, paints or other coloring methods and sealed with a varnish or other protective coating.
- Embossing - the surface of cured polymer clay can be heat embossed. Simply stamp an image onto the surface of the cured polymer clay using an embossing or slow drying ink and heat emboss as normal.
Rubber Stamp Release
The polymer clay can stick to the recesses of the rubber stamp. This can result in stamped impressions that are not crisp and clean. If polymer clay sticks to the stamp it can also result in the polymer clay being torn or distorted as the rubber stamp is removed. In order to avoid these problems it is important to use a 'release'. This will stop the polymer clay from sticking to the rubber stamp. There are many things that can be used as a release. The ink from an inked stamp will work with inked images, whereas a light mist of water will stop the polymer clay from sticking to the stamp where inks are not used. A light dusting of chalk or corn starch will also act as a release.
- Clean stamps after use with a needle or cocktail stick to remove any bits of clay.
- When impressing clay, practice on scrap clay to see the effects as the images will be recessed rather than inked and can have a very different look.
- Make up some small tiles with impressions of different stamps and keep these as a handy reference guide.