Is there paint to use on pre-baked Sculpy?
December 30, 2013 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I want to paint my Sculpy before baking it. That's because I want to paint designs on a rolled-out strip, let it dry, then roll it into beads, and then bake it. If I bake the beads first, it will be hell to paint the kind of itiny designs on the beads that I want to be there. (And I don't want to make the designs out of different colors of Sculpy - that's too difficult for me and not the look I'm going for.) I haven't, in my research, found any way to do this. Help?! (alternatively there is a product that is not exactly Sculpy that I can paint and then roll into beads and then either bake or get it to harden in some way other than baking?)
posted by DMelanogaster to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The page for Liquid Sculpey seems to suggest that you can mix paint with the liquid and safely bake it. Would that work? I'm not clear if it would dry before you could roll the clay into beads.
posted by corey flood at 11:13 AM on December 30, 2013

My first thought was to try porcelain paint. It gets baked to set, anyway. But the only thing I can think is that rather than the baking being the problem, you might run into some issues with cracking/flaking/etc when you try to roll it up. What you've put onto the surface isn't going to be as stretchy and flexible as the clay is.
posted by Sequence at 11:15 AM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sequence has the root of the issue, and stoneweaver another piece: I can't think of even one paint that will retain integrity during manipulation of a flexible, porous, moisture-bearing surface onto which it has been applied, and there are already only a few that can be baked without discolouring.

Your best bet is likely to be the potentially troublesome method of making the beads first and then painting them that you've already dismissed as too difficult. Consider maybe using a toothpick to stabilize the beads for painting.

If you wanted to make it more of an assembly line, you could get a piece of wood and use any small pick/awl-like tool to make a hole that a toothpick will fit in, make a row of holes with enough room between to move your brush and hand without smudging other beads, then insert toothpicks and drop on beads. You can use pieces of eraser or soft polymer clay at the end of each toothpick to keep the beads from falling off or even to keep them from rolling on the pick, if the hole diameter is greater than the toothpick.

I wish you luck - would love to see your finished project!
posted by batmonkey at 12:12 PM on December 30, 2013

Here's another way you might try to do this. Let's say you want black designs on a white background. Make your strip out of two layers of Sculpy: a thick black layer underneath, and a thin white layer on top. Then instead of painting, you could "draw" your designs by scratching away the top layer. After that, roll the strip into beads the way you originally planned.

Haven't tried it, can't promise it will work, but it might be worth a shot.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:26 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Paperclay Take a look at the Paperclay website. I love this stuff, you can paint it, and I find it much easier to work than Sculpey.
posted by effluvia at 1:51 PM on December 30, 2013

Completely separate from the paint question, I can't think of any way this process would work if you want spheres with an allover, continuous pattern. The surface you want to paint is flat, so to get it sphere-shaped you'd need to start with a shape like one of these. Those require a LOT of seaming, which would likely ruin the effect of the pattern. On the other hand, the natural way to make a ball with Sculpey is to tear off a chunk and roll it between your hands, but doing that will not preserve the intact exterior plane - the part you painted would get rolled and crumpled inside the ball.

You could do this with flat discs, or maybe you could paint a strip and wrap it around an unpainted sphere before baking, but otherwise I think you are stuck painting the spheres themselves.
posted by ella wren at 5:12 PM on December 30, 2013

Response by poster: This is all very informative, so thank you. Paperclay has to be painted afterward, I'm reading. Same with liquid Sculpey, which you can mix with paint, but you can't paint ON it in delicate patterns.

To give you an idea of what I"m doing (re: batmonkey, although the project is obviously still in progress) -- here is the evolution of the project:

I used to paint on copper, with metal paints. It's very hard, in the sense of LOTS of cuts on my fingers! difficult filing process (and, again, painful) I'm not "into that" anymore. I recently re-discovered a necklace of those painted copper pieces that I had strung to make a necklace, in a primitive fashion. It never "hung" well. SO....I glued the copper pieces onto flat pieces of Sculpey, cutting around the copper shapes and extending the Sculpey into beadlike (hollow) cylinders on the tops, for better stringing/hanging afterward -- and it sort of works --

Here are those now hybrid copper/Sculpey pieces (I put tiny beads on the ends, which I have mixed feelings about).

EXCEPT THAT: I don't love them (I strung them on elastic and they looked like Flags Of The World). So -- now what I want to do is make just the cylindrical beads, maybe a bunch bigger than the cylinders on the hybrid pieces are (like maybe an inch long, 1/2 inch diameter -- painting them in delicate patterns before I roll them.

Why am I telling you all this? Because my follow-up question (do I get a follow-up question?) is now: Is there some OTHER medium, besides polymer clay or paper clay, that would be good to paint as, say, a strip, with the kind of patterns shown here, that I could then roll up to make beads?

If I paint on paper, for example, could I make those into beads in a way that would repel the rain? Is there any other substance on earth I could paint or draw on and THEN make into beads that will last?

Again, any ideas appreciated.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:14 PM on December 30, 2013

You can use liquid sculpey to do image transfers. So I don't know why you couldn't do your own design on paper and transfer it in a similar manner. I have done the image transfer using scrapbooking paper with pretty designs. Liquid sculpey, if you haven't worked with it, is just a (thick) liquid plastic that sets at oven temps. This tutorial uses a heat gun, I think, which I never used. Maybe it could give you some ideas tho.
posted by eldiem at 5:30 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Paper beads are totally a thing! I'll bet you can find a way to make one of these methods work for your goals. You can make beads out of fabric in much the same way, but brushed with a stiffening solution beforehand.

Those copper pieces are really nifty. I know you're on the fence about the little beads, but I think they give kind of a jolly primitive feeling to the pieces. I see what you mean about the hybrids having a flags of the world effect, totally.

Thanks for sharing the details - I'll keep pondering in case something else is in my old noggin that might help you realise your vision.
posted by batmonkey at 6:26 PM on December 30, 2013

shrinky dinks? it's plastic that you can draw on which contracts and thickens when heated.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:27 PM on December 30, 2013

(Oh, they're cylinders! Sorry then, my previous comment doesn't apply, when you said 'beads' I thought 'spherical.')
posted by ella wren at 9:04 PM on December 30, 2013

Why not just use colored Sculpey and make canes and roll them out? Or roll them out and make them into tubes to string? You can also make beads.

Here's one on a box. Some people sell pre-made canes.

Here's another tutorial, this one for beads. Not quite the same bead shape you are looking for, but maybe it will inspire you to come up with something you like.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:10 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marie Mon Dieu: "Why not just use colored Sculpey and make canes and roll them out? Or roll them out and make them into tubes to string? You can also make beads."

That would be my thought — make a massive cane, slice it thinly with a tissue blade, then roll into a tube (or semi-tube, thinking of the example photo you posted) and bake.

The first entry on this page shows a huge cane at the beginning of its development. This review of a book about adapting quilt patterns to polymer clay shows some examples that might be interesting. And this page links to a video showing how one polymer artist makes mammoth canes (also links to a video about using texture sheets to create reverse impressions that might be useful).
posted by Lexica at 1:46 PM on December 31, 2013

Response by poster: It was hard to mark a best answer because really all the answers were so helpful, so thank you.

I have a LOT Of ideas now. I'm even thinking about drawing my designs on paper with fine markers, then making or even buying plain beads, then wrapping the designs around the beads and finishing with varnish or ModgePodge or something.

Or making Sculpey canes.

And experimenting with Shrinky Dink too.

I feel really inspired now!!!
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:25 PM on December 31, 2013

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