From the JMD Archives and My Purse: A Fun Polymer Clay Jewelry-Making Mold Tip

We were riding back home from breakfast in the mountains on Mother's Day earlier this week when I heard my brother whisper to our mom, "Mama, why does she have a little thing of Play-Doh in her purse?"

Whenever he wants gum or something, I usually don't think twice about sending my brother into my purse. It's a scary adventure when a man ventures into a woman's purse, after all, but mine is generally a safe zone. He's more likely to question my sanity and/or maturity than be scared of anything he finds in there. And, as he fanned himself Southern-belle-style with a little folding fan I also keep in my purse, that's what happened with the Play-Doh.


Mama explained to him that if I'm out somewhere and see something with a unique pattern or texture on it, I can use the Play-Doh like a mold to capture the texture for my jewelry making. (Yay, Mama reads my blogs!) That was a good enough answer for him, surprisingly, and it reminded me that it's time we remember this great tip for making molds for any kind of clay jewelry–polymer clay, epoxy clay, metal clay–and maybe even for resin mold-making, though I haven't tried it yet. (Have you? Share in the comments below!)


Here's the tale of the tip, from the Jewelry Making Daily archives.

In a recent meeting of my local metal clay guild, someone shared the idea of using Play-Doh to make metal clay molds. It's inexpensive and readily available, it's hard when it dries, and it comes in convenient little sealed containers that are easily kept in your purse . . . because you never know when you'll need to make a mold of, oh, say, a ceiling in an historic building, right?

This set my mind to thinking differently, in what Pooh (or Dr. Seuss?) would probably call an upside-downside-inside-outside, negative-space sort of way. I'm accustomed to pressing things I own into metal clay–buttons, usually, but sometimes texture sheets and rubber stamps–and I enjoy electroforming or otherwise coating unusual things in metal to preserve their unique textures and appearance in jewelry, but the idea of making molds has somehow escaped me all these years. But now, Play-Doh is involved–don't you love the smell?–and I'm ready to capture the world around me in textures for use in clay jewelry making.

The one-ounce mini containers in the Play-Doh Party Pack are ideal because you can make a clay mold (or three, or more) out of each can, and they're easy to keep handy for all kinds of clay mold-making opportunities. You can write on the can what the mold inside was made from, so you'll always know. Play-Doh won't harm whatever you press it on, and in my experience, it doesn't leave any sort of residue or bits of dough behind. (If you're concerned about making a mold on precious fabric that you don't want to risk staining, use a layer of plastic wrap between the fabric and the mold-making material.)

Remember that some clays will shrink slightly, but in most cases, it's not even noticeable and hardly ever an issue in the end result–just something to keep in mind if you're making a mold that has letters or numbers, needs to be legible, or an exact accurate size match, etc. Remember to wait for the Play-Doh to dry hard and use a bit of mold release in it that you'd use for other types of molds.

Just imagine what you can capture by making molds and later using them to make metal clay or polymer clay jewelry. Capture the texture of the wooden bench in the park where your sweetie proposed and make him wedding cufflinks to match it. Copy the gorgeous wood trim on the antique dining room table where you had your anniversary dinner and turn it into a memorial bangle bracelet.

Press the Play-Doh onto the pretty iron doorknob of the historic inn you visited on a girls' weekend in Charleston and make all of you matching pendants from it, the sweetest souvenirs! Replicate wine labels, rock walls, nubby fabric, woodwork, etched glass, weathered wood, pitted iron, pressed tin, leaves and twigs, seashells . . . and then turn all of those memorable sights into metal or polymer clay jewelry.

Once you have all of those great molds for your clay jewelry creations, get inspired for using polymer clay in your jewelry designs with Ronna Sarvas Weltman's artistic polymer clay jewelry-making book, Ancient Modern Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry.

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