A gingko leaf was among the first of the stamps I carved years ago for use with my pottery many years ago. I’ve updated the design a bit for use at a smaller scale with bronze and copper clay. Beth, over at Hint, showed us how she uses her art work made into stamps for molding her silver clay charms. You can see the video she made here. Actually, if you haven’t, you should check out her “behind the scenes” series which gives a lot of great detail on her process.
I use a similar process to Beth for molds, except that I don’t use the stamp itself as a mold. I use it to make a model and then make a mold from that. There are a lot of reasons why I work this way. But in fact it boils down to, yes I will admit it, I am a control freak and bronze and copper clay seem to be very particular in how they get handled. And for me, this method works pretty well.
So here’s a little 8 step instructional (is that a word?)
1) Tools. My tools for making the mold are simple. I’ve got a cookie cutter, a stamp made from my little sketch, a lump of conditioned polymer clay, and a rolling thingy with a thickness gauge on the ends.
2) I roll out a thin thickness of polymer clay and press that into the rubber stamp.
3) This picks up a raised pattern of the gingko leaves. I like bas relief. I almost never use impressed designs. That’s just me.
4) For this particular design, I used the burnishing tool to add detail to the gingko leaves. I like the burnishing tool because it’s got a very fine round tip and I can get quite a smooth line out of it without undercuts. Once, I’m satisfied with the piece I bake the model in the oven according to the directions. This, by the way, is the only thing I know how to do with polymer clay. I do love this stuff for how it picks up detail.
5) Once the model is cool, I use 2 part RTV compound to make a flexible silicon mold. This time I used the compound from Hobby Lobby. It is not my favourite, but what I had available. Cool Tools has a very good RTV compound but I didn’t have any and I wanted to do this right now.
6) This stuff uses equal parts of the yellow and white, and equal for me is what looks sort of equal. That seems to work. It gets kneaded together until there are no swirls of white in it. That is important. I know from experience that you can not skimp on this step.
7) My little clay model is stuck down on my work surface with a dab of polymer clay. Then the RTV compound is pressed over the model. The directions say to let it set up for 20 minutes. I usually let it set up for an hour, even overnight.
8) Once the RTV compound is cured, I pop out the model and voila! There is the mold that I can now use with the bronze and copper clays. This mold is just a wee bit over an inch in size.
A little note on rubber stamps. I’ve used a number of different companies to have them made. But this time, I used rubberstamps.net, as suggested by Beth. Now I’ve usually been statisfied with the stamps I’ve had made. But hands down, these are the best stamps ever. The detail is incredible and the cuts are sharp. My koi was made by a different company and if you look closely it just does not have the same level of crispness as the gingko stamp. The secret? They laser cut their stamps. They cost a little more but I think it’s worth it and it saves me a lot of time in the modeling process. Thanks Beth! This is a huge improvement in my studio practice.