Clay Casting Book Projects
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Basic Clay Casting Instructions 

ON THIS PAGE:
Click on these links (or scroll down this page) to see these topics:
                              What You'll Need to Make Clay Castings
                              Seven Easy Steps
                              Optional Techniques
                              Techniques for Special Effects
                              Glossary of Terms
                              Submit Your Own Clay Casting Project
                              Featured Craft Projects – FREE!

What you’ll need to make clay castings:

  •  1 or more Rycraft cookie stamps or paper casting stamps Creative Paperclay® 
          (a 4 oz package will make approx. 18 to 24 clay medallions)
  •  Rolling pin or large dowel
  •  Flour (or powder*)
  •  Paint brush for flour
  •  Cookie cutter or knife to trim around design (optional)
  •  Waxed paper
  •  Cookie sheet or drying rack
  •  Sandpaper (140–220 grit) or fine-grit emery board
  •  Optional: Glitter, glue, varnish, paints, brushes, decoupage finish, sponges or
          foam brushes, markers, ribbons, doilies and stiffener, scissors, silk or dried
          flowers, and other craft supplies to  enhance your claycast creations.


    You may substitute talc or baby powder for flour; however, if you plan to use your stamps for baking cookies after clay casting, be sure the ingredients in the powder you use are non-toxic.

     We suggest either a paring knife, a plastic picnic knife (for children), an X-acto® knife, or a cleaning tool for ceramics.

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Seven Easy Steps:

1. Prepare the clay: 

Open the package of Creative Paperclay® and break off enough clay to make one to three castings. Since this is a fast-drying clay, keep extra clay in a plastic bag while you are working. If the clay becomes too dry, it will crack or split when you finally trim it, so we recommend you work on just a few castings at a time. Choose one of the two methods below to prepare your clay for casting. Note: Do not flatten or roll the clay too thin, or there will not be enough clay to work into the fine details of the stamp’s design.
 

(1) Rolling Pin Method: On a washable surface or between two pieces of wax paper, roll out clay to 1/8" thickness using a rolling pin. This produces a flat surface on the back of the clay medallion which is useful for bonding to another flat surface. Remove the wax paper before Step 2. 

 

(2) Pressed Ball Method: Roll clay into a ball about 
1 1/2" in diameter. Slightly flatten with your hand or the bottom of a glass.


2. Apply flour to the clay and stamp: 

To keep the clay from sticking to the stamp, use a dry paint brush to lightly apply flour to both the stamp and the clay you've prepared.

3. Stamp the clay: 

Apply an even and very firm pressure on the stamp while pressing it onto the flattened clay. Make sure you press hard enough to get all of the details of the design imprinted on the clay. Then carefully remove the stamp.

4. Smooth the ridges: 

After you have stamped the clay, you will notice that the outer edges of the stamp left a round ridge in the casting. If you plan to create a shape that is larger than this ridge or if you will be using a cookie cutter, you must smooth out the ridge before trimming around the design. Dip your finger in water and carefully smooth out the ridge. Be very careful not to accidentally smooth out any of the details of the design. Note: If you plan to trim closely around the design inside the ridge, you may skip this step.

 

5. Trim around the design: 

Methods 1 – 3 apply to both the Rolling Pin Method and the Pressed Ball Method. Method 4 applies to the Pressed Ball Method only.

Method 1: Cut out the design using a cookie cutter. 

Method 2: Trim close to the design using a knife or tool of your choice following the outline of the design. Do not worry about rough edges or trimming exactly to the border of the design because you will sand it later in Step 7. 

Method 3: Create your own shape around the design using a knife or tool of your choice. Trim up to 1/2" away following the general outline of the design, or add extra points or shapes to enhance the original design.

Method 4: Do not trim the castings. Instead, just leave the edges as they are. This is a good method for children because it is so simple.
Note: Put all your trimmings in the plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. If they feel dry, sprinkle them with a little water before sealing the bag.

6. Dry the casting: 

Note: Skip this step if your casting will be applied to unfinished wood. 

Castings will air dry in 1 to 6 hours. Drying time depends on the thickness of the castings and the method you use to dry them. To prevent warping, dry your projects on a rack or screen which allows air to circulate under the castings. You can also place your castings on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper or foil, but you will need to turn them every half hour or so for the first few hours. This will allow the castings to dry on both sides and prevent warping. Although the clay does not need baking, it will speed up the drying process to place the castings on a cookie sheet covered with foil in a 200° to 225° F oven. Turn your castings every 15 to 20 minutes to prevent warping.

7. Sand the rough edges: 

After your castings are completely dry, sand edges and rough surfaces with sandpaper or an emery board. This gives them a finished look. If you plan to apply your casting to a flat surface, sand the bottom of the casting until smooth. We use a sanding block (a 6" x 8" piece of wood with 220 grit sandpaper stapled onto it).

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Optional Techniques


1. Apply primer: 

A thin coat of primer will seal the castings without filling in any of the crevices and details of the designs. Note: It is important to make sure your castings are totally dry before priming, or the primer will seal moisture in and cause problems.

2. Apply paint: 

Apply thin coats of paint. Thick coats will fill in the details of the designs and mask them.

3. Apply varnish: 

Apply a coat of clear acrylic varnish for strength and durability.

4. Add a hole for hanging: 

While the clay is still moist, use a toothpick, paint brush handle, or other object to create a hole in the clay. When the tool comes out of the clay, turn the casting over, and enlarge the hole from the other side. This creates an even hole.

If the clay is completely dry, use the tip of your knife or X-acto(R) blade to "drill" a hole – simply twirl it back and forth between your fingers. Again, drill from both sides of the casting.

5.  Apply Castings to Unfinished Wood:

(1) Before you apply any clay castings to unfinished wood, make sure the wood surface for your project is finely sanded.
(2) Use the Rolling Pin Method to create your castings because they will have a flat back and adhere well to wood (the Pressed Ball Method leaves a more uneven surface). Do not allow the castings to dry before applying them to the wood.
(3) Apply wet castings to the wood by dabbing a few drops of water on the wood and the back of the casting. Then put the casting on the wood and press lightly on the design to make sure it bonds to the wood.
If you prefer a blended edge on your casting, press the soft edges of your casting with the rounded end of a paint brush, a blunt tool, or your finger, sloping the edges down to the wood. Dab water on the edge of the casting if it resists blending.
Use a wet paint brush to smooth the area between the clay and the wood. Let dry.
Note: Be careful not to leave a lot of water on the wood. You will probably need to allow a day or two for this type of project to dry.
(5) After the clay is dry, sand the rough edges of the castings.
(6) Apply primer, varnish, and/or paint as desired to decorate your project.


6.  Apply glitter:

There 
are two methods for applying glitter*:

Method 1: Add fine glitter to your paint (using an acrylic gel medium if you like), or add it to varnish and brush it on. Let dry

Method 2: Coat the casting with varnish and/or paint. Let it dry. Then apply a coat of varnish or paint (only to the areas of the casting where you want glitter), and sprinkle the glitter onto the wet varnish. Let dry.

In both methods, you may want to add a sealer coat of varnish to hold the glitter on the surface.

*Note:  Ultra-fine and fine glitters are not recommended for children.

How to Stiffen Doilies:

If your doily is unstarched, saturate it with spray starch or a commercial fabric stiffner, and block as follows:
          (1)  Put wax paper on top of a board (styrofoam, corrugated cardboard, cork board, or a padded ironing board), 
                  and tape it down;
          (2)  Use pins to shape the wet doilies and secure them on the board. Let dry.
Optional:  After they are dry and stiff, make them permanently stiff by applying a coat of varnish and let dry.

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Techniques for Special Effects
Dry Brush Method

Use contrasting colors: a light color over a dark color (or vice versa) for the best highlights.  Experiment to get the look you prefer.

1.  Place a small amount of paint on a palette (plastic lids work well).

2.  Dab a sponge brush into the paint and then on the side of the palette a few times to spread the paint through your brush and to remove excess paint from the brush.

3.  Dab as little paint as possible on the raised surface of the design with a light pressure, or drag the sponge brush across the surface for a streaked look.







Tinted or Marbled Clay
Tinting:
When preparing your clay, add a few dabs of watercolor paint to the clay ball. Knead it in your hands until the color is blended throughout the clay. Add water as needed. Note: The color will get lighter as the clay dries.

Marbling:
Experiment with marbling the clay by striping it with several colors. Don't knead it too much, and see whaat kinds of special effects you can create. After your project is dry, all it will need is a coat of varnish, which will help to intensify the colors in the clay

Rub 'n Buff®

Rub 'n Buff® is a wax-based, metallic finish and is not recommended for children.

This method works best with a sponge brush (Spouncer™) or a piece of foam (you may use your fingertip). With very little Rub 'n Buff®, you can create a unique patina finish depending on the color of the base coat.

For faux finishes, we recommend a dark gray base coat for silver, green for copper and brass, and dark brown for bronze.




1.  Apply base coat, and let dry.

2.  Dab a small amount of Rub 'n Buff® from the tube onto your brush. Replace the cap immediately (Rub 'n Buff® dries very quickly). Dab nto the raised edgs of the design and let dry.


3.  Buff with a soft cloth.

Note: Rub 'n Buff® also comes in a variety of colors

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Glossary of Terms
with Helpful Hints

These terms may appear in our instructions above or 
in the various clay casting projects we feature each month.

Acrylic Gel Medium:
Mixed with paint or glitter before applying to casting. See Watercolors (below) and Optional Technique #6 - Apply Glitter (above).

Acrylic Paint:
Acrylic paint can be used straight out of a bottle or tube. You may wish to first coat the casting with primer to seal it. Let primer dry well before painting.

Acrylic Primer:
For durability, it is a good ida to apply a coat of primer to your projects. Acrylic primers for wood, or acrylic paint, or gesso are perfect for this job. The primer seals wood and clay from moisture and adds strength. It also gives your projects a uniform surface color.

Casting:
The handcast piece of clay which has a design imprint made from the stamp's being pressed into it – the end result of the clay casting method.

Clay:
As used throughout these instructions and in our craft projects, the word "clay" means Creative Paperclay®.

Crochet Doily (Stiffened):
Crochet these yourself or buy them, stiffened or unstiffened. Refer to stiffening instructions above.

Decoupage Finish:
This product can be found in craft stores.

Dry Brush Method:
This technique is described above.

Emery Board:
Designed for filing finger nails, a fine-grit works well for sanding clay castings.

Fabric Stiffener:
Use either spray starch or a stiffener sold in craft stores. See instructions above for stiffening doilies.

Faux Finish:
A patina which has not occurred naturally over time but has been reated by using a painting technique. We recommend Rub 'n Buff® to create a faux silver, brass or bronze finish. See instructions above.

Foam Brush:
See Sponge Brush.
Glitter:
We use an ultra-fine glitter for many of our projects; however, since children tend to get glitter in their eyes and mouths, we recommend a larger-size glitter for children that is easier to brush off the hands. See instructions above for applying glitter.

Glue:
We use 5 different glues in our projects: hot glue, low-temp glue, white glue, tacky glue, and a glue stick. A glue stick should be used only for paper. Low-temp glue is a must for tulle and safer for children. Tacky glue and hot glue have the strongest bond for attaching castings to projects.

Knife:
Use either a paring knife, a plastic picnic knife (for children), an X-acto® knife, or a cleaning tool for ceramics

Linter Paper:
Pure 100% cotton fiber, acid free and non-toxic (click here to order linter in our paper casting kit
refill, or by the pound).
Markers:
Watercolor markers are safer than permanent markers for children, but colors will run if held on the casting too long.

Paint:
See:  Acrylic Paint, Acrylic Primer, Faux Finish, markers, Rub 'n Buff®, Wash, and Watercolors.

Paper Edgers®:
Scissors with a variety of cutting edges, made by Fiskars®.

Papier Mâché Box:
This is a lightweight craft box found in most craft stores. You may substitute a box made of wood, stiff cardboard or even plastic.

Patina:
Greenish cast to old bronze; all forms of mellowing with age.

Pearl Glaze:
For a pearlized finish we used two different products:

     (1)  Pearlcote™ pearl glaze spray is a varnish-type finish that is sprayed on after the casting is painted to give a frosty pearl-like finish to the colors.
     (2)  Pearl white acrylic paint, when mixed with regular acrylic paints, softens and frosts the colors you have painted on your castings. Several brands are available.

Pearls:
Pearls are available in a strand or in a floral spray.

Pressed Ball Method:
See Basic Instructions for Clay Casting, Step 1, above. 

Rolling Pin Method:
See Basic Instructions for Clay Casting, Step 1, above. 
Rub 'n Buff®:
See Faux Finish, as well as instructions above.

Scissors:
Any scissors that have a god point and are sharp would be fine to use for cutting paper for cards or trim. We used 5" Fashion Accent™ scissors by Fiskars®.

Sponge Brush:
May be found at craft stores, or substitute a foam brush, a piece of sponge, a piece of foam, or a Spouncer™ by PLAID®.

Spray of Pearls:
See Pearls.

Tinting:
Refer to instructions above on how to tint clay under Techniques for Special Effects.

Trim/Fabric Trim:
Any type of manufactured trim for clothing or crafts (woven, beaded, braided, metallic, etc.).

Varnish:
Varnish will strengthen and protect your projects so they can be cherished for many years. There are many varnishes on the market. We prefer an acrylic varnish or polyurethane. it comes in matte (dull), semi-gloss, or gloss (shiny) finishes -- choose the one you prefer. You can use either a spray varnish or a liquid varnish which is brushed on. Drying time depends on the type of varnish, the amound used, and the weather.

Wash:
Watered-down acrylic or watercolor paint applied in thin coats. Put a teaspoon or more of water in a mixing tray, and add pure color until you get the effect you like.

Watercolors:
Watercolor paints will not adhere to acrylic primer; howver, you can add an acrylic gel medium to your watercolors so that they will perform almost like acrylic paints.

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For a treasury of clay casting project ideas...

. . . be sure to order our book The Art of Clay Casting


Cast your own handmade clay castings and create 
unique decorations, holiday ornaments and gifts. 

Learn to use Rycraft cookie stamps to make charming claycast creations with the special techniques, complete project instructions, and full-color photos included in this book. Make beautiful picture frames, tie pins, wreaths, greeting cards, gift tags, napkin rings, serving platters, decorative boxes, and much more. The handmade gifts and keepsakes you create will bring as much enjoyment as the cookies you and your family have come to love. 


Contact us with any problems or questions.




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