Image Transfer on Liquid Clay
This lesson teaches you the basics of transferring a laser-printed image onto liquid clay to make a translucent, flexible image. What you do with this fun technique is up to your imagination! I used Fimo liquid clay but, even though I haven't tested them myself, other liquid clay brands like Sculpey should also work in the same way (although please note that Fimo liquid clay creates the 'clearest' results). If you have used another brand, or if you've tried using a colour image or inkjet image for this method, please let me know...I'd love to learn what works and what doesn't :) In the tutorial I just make a quick Fimo Soft clay frame to turn the transferred picture into a little ornament, and then cover it with silver micro beads. This is just one simple idea, but there are so many other things you could make. 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 U . S . :
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.