This DIY tutorial shows you how to make a hanging sugar skull ornament using image transfer and embroidery techniques. First, we'll condition and roll out the clay, before transferring a laser printed picture onto the clay, cutting it out, baking it, and then adding a decorative blanket stitch border to finish. Easy enough for a polymer clay beginner to make, and it looks great when finished! You could use any image you want to, including Christmas or Halloween images. The skull image I used can be found here:
But you can find your own images by searching for creative commons/royalty free/copyright free images and free clipart. Hope you have fun giving this project a go, and thanks for watching :)
What You Will Need:
- Images printed with a laser printer (not inkjet)
Print onto regular printer paper, and try to find images with strong black outlines for the best results. You must print a mirror image of what you want the final design to look like, since the transfer process involves reversing the printed image.
- Polymer Clay
I used white FIMO Soft clay for this demo.
Other types of clay would probably work too, but I have only tested polymer clay.
- Ceramic tile
To work with and bake the clay on
- Clingfilm (plastic wrap)
This gives you the domed finish on the clay charms. If you want a flat finish instead, you don't need clingfilm.
- Clay roller
This is for conditioning the clay and flattening it out into your chosen thickness. I'm using a simple acrylic roller but you can use your own preferred method for this (e.g. some people use a pasta roller).
- Clay cutting blade
You can buy these very cheap; I got mine on Ebay.
- Cookie cutters
Or whatever else you want to use to cut out the clay charm shapes. I used aluminium cookie cutters in a series of oval shapes for this demo.
- An oven
- Narrow drinking straws
To make the holes in your clay charms.
- Sandpaper/varnish/a clear protective spray coating, and any other products you want to use to add the final finish to your charms (optional)
F i n d P o l y m e r C l a y S u p p l i e s o n A m a z o n :
1) Cut your images out so that they easily fit inside your cookie cutters or whatever you're using to shape your charms.
I used 2 different sizes of cookie cutter, so I had to use 2 different image sizes (see above).
2) Condition the clay to make it more pliable and easy to work with. This involves kneading and rolling it for at least a few minutes. For more details on how to condition your clay, please click here, here, here and here to visit some excellent tutorials on other websites.
3) Roll the clay out on the ceramic tile to make a flat piece of clay the same thickness as you would like your charms to be.
Always make sure that your hands and any surfaces are clean whilst working with clay.
Note: The parchment paper in the photos is there because it stops the back of the clay from being shiny, but I would not use it again because I actually prefer the shiny back, and the paper is hard to work on. Also, sanding can be used to remove the shine anyway.
4) Take your cookie cutter and use it to make a faint imprint near the edge of the clay.
5) Cut at least a couple of mm around the outside of that imprint to separate that area of clay from the rest, as shown above. This is so that whilst shaping this piece of clay, none of the other clay is distorted/squashed accidentally.
6) Use a clean finger to slightly wet the surface of the clay. To do this I dipped my finger in water then lightly spread a few drops of water over the surface. Don't rub hard, or rub with a dry finger, because you'll end up marking the surface of the clay.
7) Carefully place one of the printed images face down on the slightly wet clay surface so that it lies flat and sits within the indent you made as a guide in step 4.
Once it is positioned, don't try and move it as this could result in a blurred image.
8) Use your finger to add a few drops of water to the top of the paper; just enough to saturate all of the paper, but not too wet because you don't want much excess water. Make sure all of the paper is in contact with the clay.
Use a dabbing motion with your finger rather than rubbing your finger across the paper so that you avoid causing the paper to slide.
9) Repeat steps 4-8 as many times as you wish. I made 8 clay charms for this demo but you can obviously make as many (or as few) as you want.
10) Leave the clay to one side until the paper dries; 1 or 2 hours usually, depending on the environment. Don't be tempted to leave the clay much longer than a couple of hours (especially not overnight) as I've found that this makes the paper difficult to remove.
11) Whilst the paper is still stuck on the clay, take a small piece of clingfilm and lay it flat over the top of one of the clay pieces. Make sure it is smooth and doesn't have wrinkles in.
(If you prefer not to use clingfilm you can skip this step.)
12) Take your cookie cutter and position it on top of the clingfilm, making sure it lines up with the indent you created in the clay earlier.
13) Press the cookie cutter down all of the way through the clay. If you're using clingfilm, you'll notice it stretch over the clay and create a domed effect.