Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tutorial Polymer Clay Embossed and Impressed, Part 1, Christmas gifts, DIY gifts

In this free polymer clay tutorial, I will show you how to create an embossed effect in polymer clay using stencils.  These stencils can be made out of paper or plastic, handmade or commercially-produced.

While the techniques explained in this tutorial may be used to decorate many objects (including jewelry), I decided to demonstrate their use for transferring a plain and inexpensive journal into a beautiful hand-made gift.

First of all, you will need a blank journal to decorate.  The ones I am using in this tutorial can be found in most craft stores (particularly, in Michael's) for about a dolar or so.  A journal like this is held together by a spiral, which can be easily removed to take the journal apart.  

Open the journal and rotate the spirals so that one cover could be removed, and then another.

You may have to gently pry open each loop as you free them up one by one.

 Spray-paint the covers.

This is better to be done outside. Cover the ground with old newspapers, place both covers side by side on the newspaper and spray them evenly.
Note: I recommend doing this step before you start working on your polymer clay veneer to give the paint enough time to dry.

For this project, you will also need a lever paper punch, such as the one shown in the picture.  These punches are available in every major craft store for about $4 each.

Besides snowflakes, you may find punches with a butterfly, leaf, heart, and other designs.

Prepare a card stock paper template for the polymer clay veneer and then use the lever punch to make decorative holes in this template.  Save the cutouts.

Please note that due to the design of these punches, you will be able to make decorative holes no father than about 1” from the side of the template.  Plan your designs accordingly to this limitation.

When you will press the obtained template into a sheet of polymer clay, the holes in the template will make embossed (raised) designs.  The cutouts glued to the template will make impressions in the clay.

Use just enough clay to attach the cutouts and do not allow the clay to show around the sides of the cutouts.  Wipe off any access of glue right away.

Set the template aside.

Condition polymer clay and roll it out into a sheet bigger than your template and about 2 mm thick.

Please refer to the page on my web site How to Condition Polymer Clay if you need additional instructions:

Transfer the obtained sheet of clay onto a smooth ceramic or glass tile on which you are planning to bake it.

This step has to be done slowly and carefully to avoid trapping any air under your polymer clay sheet.   Air bubbles expending during baking may cause unwanted bumps on a polymer clay sheet. 

To prevent this process, lay the clay sheet on the baking surface starting from one of its shorter ends and simultaneously use your roller to squeeze out any air from underneath it.

Place the template on top of the polymer clay sheet so that the side with the glued-on cutouts faces the clay. Roll it over with an acrylic roller.

Press the paper template hard into the clay using a roller or a brayer to make sure that you get a nice and clean design.

Carefully lift off the paper template to reveal the obtained design.

If any of the cutouts get stuck in the clay, you may carefully peel it off using a needle.

Note:  If you ever decide to use this technique in a smaller item (such as a pendant, for example), removing a cutout in a similar situation will be much easier.  All you will need to do is to lift the polymer clay pendant and slightly bend it right under the cutout.  The paper is stiffer than clay and tends to remain flat, so you will be able to separate it from the clay.  For the current project, however, you cannot use this approach, because picking up the whole sheet of clay will most likely distort it; plus you will risk trapping some air under this sheet of clay when you place it back.

Trim off the clay sheet following the lines impressed into the clay with your template. Use a metal ruler and an X-Acto knife for this task as shown in the picture above.

Bake the obtained polymer clay veneer according to the instructions for the brand of clay used in your project.  For additional information about baking polymer clay, please refer to the following page on my web site:

After baking, place the second ceramic or glass tile on top of the polymer clay veneer while it is cooling down.  This additional weight on top of the polymer clay veneer will prevent it from warping during the cooling process.

To remove the obtained polymer clay veneer from the baking surface, slide your metal slicer for polymer clay between the polymer clay veneer and the baking surface.

To continue, please proceed to the following posts:


  1. Thank you Eugena! As always I love your art work. Your tutorials are so easy to follow along with. Now on to part two. Thank you for sharing. Hugs ♥

  2. I haven't touched my polyclay for a few years now but you have made me want to go and play with it again. I love your clear instructions. Thank you


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