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Mystic collage clay pendant

Combine rubber stamps, colored pencils, and polymer clay to discover the artist within

Looking at familiar objects in new ways is a concept I often preach to my students. For many years, I have been collecting and using rubber stamps in my graphic design work and as tools for teaching basic design to my high school students. By manipulating the stamped images with a photocopy machine, it is possible to create an endless supply of design elements. A group of insect wings might become a wonderful column; an open window might reveal a world filled with floating flowers. Ordinary images can take on a very mysterious, almost mystic, quality when collaged. What do the signs say? What do the symbols mean? What stories are they telling?


  • Plain-paper black and white photocopy of collaged art
  • Rubber stamps, clipart, drawings
  • 1 Package of translucent Sculpey III
  • 1 Package of Black Premo Sculpey
  • Piece of smooth-surface mat board
  • Quality colored pencils, such as Prismacolor
  • 1 Sheet composition gold leaf
  • 1 Goldtone head pin, a few beads (optional)
  • 1 Pin back
  • X-acto knife 
  • Tissue blade
  • Wooden burnishing tool
  • Pasta machine
  • Zap-A-Gap Glue Gel
  • Transparent tape or white glue
  • Tracing paper
  • Toaster or convection oven




After creating a collaged image and photocopying it at the desired size for your pin, you color it then transfer the colored image to unbaked polymer clay. Baking fixes it so you can finish the pin with black clay, beads, and gold leaf. 

1. Gather your rubber stamps, clip-art,and drawings. Stamp images and manipulate them by enlarging and reducing on a copy machine. You’ll use these pieces to create a collaged image. Remember, you don’t have to use an entire image. Cut things away, white them out, or add lines with black marker. Cut the image pieces carefully with a sharp X-acto knife. Glue or tape in place on a blank sheet of paper. Make a photocopy of your collage. The size you have is the size your pin will be, so reduce or enlarge as desired.

2. Once you have a good plain-paper photocopy, color it with Prismacolor pencils (PHOTO A). Blends and shaded colors look good on the finished work. Set the colored collage aside.

3. Roll out a slab of well-conditioned translucent Sculpey III on the #3 setting of your pasta machine. Place the slab on a clean piece of flat mat board.

4. Trim the colored copy to the desired pin shape. Add a 1⁄4-in. (6mm) border around the image to accommodate the trim edge that you’ll add later.

5. Turn the copy face down onto the translucent polymer clay and burnish in place. Trim the excess clay around the paper (PHOTO B). Set the piece aside for at least 15 minutes to give the plasticizer time to leach the image from the paper. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the manufacturer’s suggested temperature.

6. Cure the paper, clay, and mat board sandwich in the oven for 15-20 min. When you take it out of the oven, carefully remove the paper from the clay (PHOTO C). Let the piece cool.

7. Using well-conditioned black Premo Sculpey, roll a #3 slab for a backing sheet. Set it aside on tracing paper.

8. Roll another #3 sheet of black Premo and attach a sheet of composition gold leaf to it by slowly peeling away the backing paper as you roll the leaf onto the sheet. Burnish the leaf to the surface. Then roll the leafed clay through the pasta machine again on #3. Cut it into 1⁄4-in.-wide strips and set them aside on tracing paper (PHOTO D).

9. Place the sheet of plain black clay on a piece of mat board and put the translucent transfer piece on top. Trim, leaving about a 3⁄4-in. (2cm) border of clay around the entire shape (PHOTO E).

10. Mark the placement for a beaded headpiece, if desired, as well as the top of the translucent piece (PHOTO F). Remove the translucent piece.

11. Thread a few beads on the head pin, lay it in position on the backing, and press it in place. Cover the bare metal with a piece of #5 thickness black clay and press it down (PHOTO G).

12. Replace the translucent piece. Slice the backing clay on each side of the headpiece to the cured collage piece. Then fold up the edge of the backing clay, pressing it against the side of the cured piece (PHOTO H).
13. With a tissue blade, trim the backing clay level with the cured piece (PHOTO I). Trim off the clay behind the headpiece.

14. Roll the sides of the piece against tissue-covered mat board until they adhere well (PHOTO J). Retrim as needed.

15. Place the piece face up on mat board and lay a strip of leafed clay along the top edge. It must also touch the uncured clay edge (PHOTO K). Press it in place. 

16. As you continue framing the piece with strips of leafed clay, you can miter joins or cover them with strapping pieces (PHOTO L). Lift the unleafed cut edges and make sure they adhere to each other.

17. If you wish, add small cane slices. Place the piece face down on matboard and cure it in a preheated oven at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature for 25 min. After it is cool, attach a pin back to the top third or higher, using Zap-A-Gap. 
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