You can buy pre-made molds for clay push molds anywhere, but with a re-usable mold making material you can make your own. Use an existing found object to create a mold or even sculpt your own master object and then make a mold of it. You’ll be creating duplicates of your sculpture in no time for much less than the cost of buying a mold every time you want a new piece!
Push molds are a simple and effective way of making 3-D objects super fast and easy. For example, buttons can be pushed into a mold in seconds flat using most types of polymer clays or doughy casting materials.
Here in Maine the craft show circuit gets rolling when the weather starts to warm. I made multiple polymer clay casts in my reusable mold making material and dedicated this project to all my fellow crafters. This project is meant to demonstrate just how quickly you can bulk up your inventory. I made 6 push mold casts in under 10 minutes. The baking and the actual beading takes some more time too but the star clay pendant is the easiest part to make on these fun window, sun porch, or garden decorations.
20 oz. of a reusable mold making material
(You want a relatively stiff version for the Push Mold Technique.)
Polymer Clay (I used Sculpey brand)
A decal of your choice to use as your master part
An Oven and metal baking pan to bake the clay
Miscellaneous beads and wire
1. Prepare your master part by securing it the bottom of a heat safe mold box. I used hot glue to ensure my piece wouldn’t float and chose a tupperware lid that was deep enough as my mold box. (You can also use tin foil as a mold box and create any shape you want.) As a precaution I also sprayed my master part with a shellac because it is made of a wood. I didn’t want any trapped air in the decal to escape into my mold and cause bubbles.
2. Melt the reusable mold making material in the Polymer clay cutters nz microwave or double boiler as per product instructions.
3. Spray your master part with mold release and then with a bubble reducing spray. I used a silicone Mold Release which is one of my favorites for non-food items. The Bubble Buster can be applied right over the top of the Mold Release.
4. Pour your melted reusable mold making material into the lowest surface of the mold box and let it rise up over the master part. This will lift and carry away any bubbles that may be in the melted reusable mold making material.
5. Let the mold solidify back to it’s original consistency.
6. Remove your master part and clean up any rough edges with a sharp knife or razor blade.
7. Work the polymer clay in your hands until it is soft and pliable. This may take some elbow grease as it comes out of the package fairly hard.
8. When I preform the push-mold technique I sometimes roll a ball in my hands and then press the ball into the mold, pushing the ball flat and into the edges as I go. I may also start with a shape that’s similar to the final cast shape. In this case I would make a pancake and lay it into the mold. Then I would add pressure to be sure it was filling all the details.
9. Bend the mold away from your newly pressed cast and let the cast simply fall out of the mold. Try not to warp the cast by forcing it out or bending the mold too much. Take your time on this step and you will have less clean up once the cast is completely de-molded.
10. Use a toothpick or similar tool to poke a hole through the clay casting. You will thread your wire through this hole when you create your hanging art pieces later.
11. Repeat as many times as you wish. The rubber molds hold up very well to push molding. You can make dozens of casts this way and you don’t need any mold release to make them.
12. Bake your clay per product instructions. The polymer clay manufacturers typically recommend 15 minutes at 275 F per each 1/8″ of clay. 15 minutes was perfect for these thin pieces.
13. After the clay has cooled you can begin assembling your hanging ornament. I’ve used a 20 gauge wire to create a loop that the rest of my decoration can be attached to. Use beads that you have laying around or you can make your own beads with by hand or in a another push mold.