Push Molds for Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay and Push Molds FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

From general information about polymer clay
to specific molding tips and techniques,
you'll find many answers here.

Q.

What are Push Molds?

A.

The term Push Molds, as used on this site, refers to resin molds manufactured by American Art Clay Company, Inc. By pressing softened clay into a mold, dozens of highly detailed impressions can be made in minutes. This simple process allows even novice crafters to create pieces that look like they took hours to make.

[Push Molds Packaging]   AMACO® has licensed 19 of Judi Maddigan's designs, which include flowers, fruits, vegetables, berries, hearts, shells, birds, bunnies, bears, and angels. Each of these molds measures less than 4" across and has multiple impression areas. These molds have been discontinued by the manufacturer, however you can view scans of all the molds on the Order pages.
Q.

What modeling materials mold well?

A.

A variety of modeling compounds can be molded, such as air-dry clay, bread dough, and polymer clay. A simple way to make your own bread dough is explained below.

Fimo® and other brands of polymer clay work especially well in the molds because they retain all the detail of the impressions. After removal from the mold, polymer clay can be baked, making it hard and permanent. Molded oven-baked clay can be used on a wide variety of jewelry, craft, and home decor projects.

Q.

What is polymer clay?

A.

“Polymer clay” is the generic term for a family of manmade modeling compounds. Brand names include Fimo, Sculpey III, Premo, Cernit, Formello, Modello, Modelene, Creall-Therm, Du-Kit, and Jonco. It is available at many retail arts and crafts stores and through mail order and online sources. It remains pliable until baked in a conventional home oven, at which time it becomes hard and durable. It comes in many vibrant colors which can be blended or mixed for an unlimited color range.

The clay can be shaped by hand and molded prior to baking. Once hardened, pieces can be wet-sanded, drilled, carved, buffed, glued, and painted. Polymer clay is versatile and can be used for jewelry items, miniatures, dolls, figurines, and many craft projects. It should not be used on surfaces that come in direct contact with food.

Q.

How do you prepare to mold polymer clay?

A. Before filling a mold, polymer clay should be conditioned by warming in your hands until it feels like smooth, firm putty. To prevent sticking, use a soft watercolor or make-up brush to dust the mold generously with cornstarch. The cornstarch will act as a release agent. Tap the mold upside down to remove excess cornstarch.

Instead of dusting with a powder, which has to be done every time, Marie Segal from the Clay Factory suggests spraying the mold occasionally with Armor All protectant and wiping out the excess.

If the mold has a deep area, such as the nose on a face, you need to form your clay into a sharply pointed oval or a teardrop with a sharp point. Press the point of the clay into the deepest area of the mold first. Then, fill the mold from the center out. Only press clay to the edge of the impression area. If any clay goes beyond the edge, push it back in.

Q.

How do you remove polymer clay from the molds?

A. There are several methods for pulling polymer clay from the mold. If the area is shallow, you can usually roll a corner of the clay back and peel the molded piece up.
 
Smooth ball of polymer clay with mold Filling shallow mold with polymer clay Removing polymer clay from shallow mold
Using a soft brush,
dust the mold with cornstarch. Turn the mold over and tap it to remove the excess. Roll a smooth ball of clay smaller than the selected impression area.
Flatten the clay into the mold, filling it from the center out. Spread the clay to the edge of the impression, not beyond it. Coax the clay back from the edges toward the center of the mold. The clay should roll up at the edge so that it can be lifted from the mold.

Deeper impressions need to be lifted straight up to prevent distortion. You can leave excess clay on the center back to use as a handle. Lift the clay by its handle, let it rest for about 10 minutes to firm up, then trim off the excess clay with a blade or scissors.

 
Pointed oval of polymer clay with mold Filling deep mold with polymer clay Removing polymer clay from deep mold
Using a soft brush,
dust the mold with cornstarch. Turn the mold over and tap it to remove the excess. Roll a pointed oval of clay smaller than the selected impression area.
Push the clay into the mold, filling it from the center out. Spread the clay to the edge of the impression, not beyond it. Some clay should extend above the mold. Grasp the clay and pull straight up to remove. If the clay does not release easily, wiggle it. Use scissors or a sharp blade to trim off any excess clay.

Maureen Carlson from Weefolk Creations fills the molds so that the backs are even with the surface of the mold. She takes a separate piece of the same clay (larger than the original piece) and forms it into a wedge shape with a flat bottom. She presses the wedge against the back of the filled mold. The wedge extends straight up, and the flat bottom is about 1/16" to 1/8" inside the edges of the impression area. The molded clay sticks to the wedge so that it can be lifted. Maureen then peels the wedge off the back This eliminates the need to trim the handle, as in the method above.

 
Pointed teardrop of polymer clay with mold Wedge of polymer clay with filled mold Removing wedge from back of polymer clay
Using a soft brush,
dust the mold with cornstarch. Turn the mold over and tap it to remove the excess. If the mold has a deep area, form the clay into a sharply pointed teardrop.
Flatten the clay into the mold, filling it from the center out. Form a second piece of clay into a wedge. Press the flat bottom of the wedge against the clay in the mold. To remove, first pull the wedge straight up to lift the molded clay. Then gently peel the wedge off the back of the molded piece.

After molding, use a soft, clean brush to remove any excess powder from the surface of the clay.

Q.

What is Blu-Tack and how do you use it with clay?

A.

Blu-Tack is a reusable adhesive sold in stationery and drug stores. Since it is sticky, you can roll a ball of it in your hands to clean them before working with clay. Small pieces of Blu-Tack will hold small baked clay pieces for displays such as shadow boxes or dollhouses.

Another way that Blu-Tack comes in handy is in pulling clay from the molds. Follow the illustrations immediately ahead of this question, substituting a wedge of Blu-Tack instead of the extra clay wedge. The Blu-Tack will stick to the clay impression long enough to pull it from the mold. The adhesive wedge can then be peeled off the back of the clay without marring it.

Q.

How do you prevent soft polymer clay from sticking?

A. Firm clays such as Fimo mold well. FIMOsoft, a softer version as the brand name implies, also works nicely in the molds and releases easily. Softer clays such as Sculpey III may stretch or stick, especially on hot summer days, but that doesn't mean you can't use them. Refrigerating the clay or popping the filled mold into a freezer for two or three minutes will make soft clay easier to remove.

After repeated use, the molds sometimes develop a sticky residue. They can easily be cleaned with rubbing alcohol. For additional ways to prevent clay from sticking, check this separate section.

Q.

How do you assemble and bake pieces?

A. You can bake all the molded pieces at one time, or you can mold some parts of the design first, bake, add additional molded pieces, and bake again. This prevents damaging areas you have already done. Allowing the assembled design to rest overnight before baking sometimes helps the molded pieces to bond together. After the final baking and cooling, pry up any loose pieces and reattach them with Arts & Crafts Goop or cyanoacrylate glue.

Always remove the clay from the molds before baking. Never put the molds themselves in the oven. Follow the clay manufacturer's recommendations for baking.

Q.

How do you paint the pieces?

A.

Acrylic paints work well on baked polymer clay. The next section of this FAQ discusses a variety of painting methods and techniques. It also shows step-by-step photos and gives details for reproducing some of the examples illustrated on this Web site.

Q.

Is there an easy recipe for bread dough?

A. A simple recipe for bread dough starts by removing the crusts from a slice of white bread. Break the bread into pieces and put them in a disposable cup or other container. Add one tablespoon of a tacky white craft glue. Stir with a craft stick until the mixture sticks together, then knead it until smooth and no longer sticky. If desired, acrylic paints can be added during the kneading process to tint the dough.

Store unused bread dough in a self-sealing plastic bag. Mold the dough as directed above and allow it to air dry. The pieces will shrink somewhat as they dry. Dried pieces can be painted using the techniques on the next page for painting baked clay.

Q.

Is it okay to sell items made with the molds?

A. The purchase of a mold entitles the owner to make items from it for personal use or to sell in one-of-a-kind creations. This use has been surpassed when items are made by employees or sold through commercial accounts. For permission for additional use, contact AMACO, American Art Clay Co.

Push Molds and Judi Maddigan's original designs are protected by copyright laws. Mass production of slightly altered designs or derivative molds is prohibited.




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