Push Molds for Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay Painting Tips

Molded polymer clay pieces can be painted
for a variety of lovely effects. This page
gives step-by-step directions.


What do you need to consider before starting to paint?

A. Follow the directions in the main FAQ for molding and baking polymer clay pieces. Any color of clay can be used in the molds. However, if you plan on painting your pieces, clay color is an important factor to consider. When using light washes of paint, choose pastel clay colors because they accentuate the translucency of the paint. For example, pick a lighter color such as Champagne when molding an apple. The baked clay apple can be coated with a wash of red paint, and a bit of paint can be removed with a damp cloth for a highlight. This gives a much richer, livelier finish than molding an apple in red clay and painting a white highlight on it.

What type of paints work well on baked polymer clay?

A. Acrylic paints are a good choice because they do not react with the clay. Delta Ceramcoat Soft Tints have been used on many of the samples shown at this site. For a broader color selection, regular acrylic paints such as Ceramcoat can be used. Delta's Color Float helps break down the paint's surface tension. Depending on the color, two parts regular acrylic paint can usually be thinned with approximately one part water to make a wash. Put a small puddle of Color Float on your palette and dip the tip of your brush into it before picking up the thinned paint. Otherwise, the thinned paint has a tendency to bead up on the surface of the clay.

What is the basic painting method?


Judi Maddigan's molds were designed with textured areas to hold the paint. For example, the roses have lines at the base of each petal. You can start with a baked rose in pastel pink clay. Paint the entire rose with a wash of burgundy paint. Use a damp cloth to remove the paint from the raised areas along the edges of the petals. The paint will stay in the crevices. If you wipe off too much paint, just add more and wipe again.

Three Floral Brooches

As a final touch, you can add a few highlights by dry-brushing white paint along the petals' edges. Dry-brushing means to pick up some unthinned paint on a dry, flat brush. Wipe the brush on a paper towel until only a hint of paint remains in the bristles. Apply the paint sparingly to the raised areas of the piece. Besides highlighting, dry-brushing can also be used to add a contrasting color, for example, adding pink paint along the edges of a yellow clay rose to make a two-toned Peace rose. You can see examples of painted flowers on other pages at this Web site, including:


How do you use transparent glazes?

A. The basic method for layering transparent paints on pastel colored clay is shown below. For this example, Delta Ceramcoat Clear Faux Finish Glaze Base was added to regular Ceramcoat acrylic paints to make transparent glazes for Steps 2 and 3. When dry, these paints are permanent and require no additional finish.
Wing Step 1 Wing Step 2 Wing Step 3 Wing Step 4
Step 1. Start with a base of baked pastel polymer clay. This sample shows Fimo Flesh. Step 2. Paint entire piece with a darker wash and immediately wipe with a damp cloth, leaving paint in the recessed areas only. Step 3. When first color has fully dried, apply a wash of one or two additional colors to the raised areas, blending as desired. Step 4. Add details and finishing touches with unthinned paint.

How do you paint faces?

A. Faces made with the Butterfly Angel Push Mold can be painted according to the instructions below. Remember that it is easier to add more paint later than it is to remove too much paint.
Cheeks and Lips Eyelashes and Eyebrows Eyes Details

Cheeks & Lips. Before baking, brush cheeks with artist pastels (chalk). Or, after baking, dry-brush a hint of color to the cheeks. Use a liner brush to apply thinned paint to the lips.

Eyelashes & Eyebrows. Thin some golden brown paint. With a liner brush, paint eyelashes and eyebrows. Apply paint sparingly, darkening it later, if necessary.

Eyes & Highlights. Paint each iris the desired eye color. Paint each pupil black. Use a toothpick to dot a tiny spot of white for a highlight in each eye.

Details. Dot a tiny spot of pink to the inner corner of each eye for the tear duct. Note that each iris is not a full circle since part of it is hidden by the eyelids.

Hair Variety Smiling Eyes Clay Color
Hair. Paint the hair with thinned paint. Highlights can be dry-brushed with a lighter color on the raised areas. The recessed areas should be darker. Variety. Changing the eye color and hair color will give an entirely different look using the same mold. This example shows green eyes and burnt sienna hair. Smiling Eyes. You can leave the eyes with only the lash lines painted for "smiling" eyes. This gives a different expression and is an easy variation. Custom Colors. Clay colors can be mixed together for custom skin tones. Made in Fimo, this example shows Flesh clay mixed with Terra Cotta and then molded.

Are there more painting tips?

A. Step-by-step photos for painting a bunny are shown on the Bunny Switch Plate project page. For any of the animal molds, you can use a light color of clay, such as Flesh, even when painting a relatively dark color, such as a golden brown for a teddy bear. It also works well to mold an entire bird in the color of clay that you want for the beak and feet, and paint the feathers as desired. Use Liquitex Glossies Black acrylic enamel for the eyes, allowing it to dry before using a toothpick to add a tiny dot of white paint for each eye highlight.

Soft Tints paints stay workable for several hours. This comes in handy. If you don't like the way a piece is turning out, you can wash it off with soap and water and start over. Soft Tints must be dried for several days before they are sealed—and sealing is required. Fimo matte sealer (not water based) works well. Thinned regular acrylic paints dry quicker and seem to hold up well enough on their own without a sealer, especially on pieces that will not get much handling.

To summarize: Mold in a pastel clay color, paint entire area with a wash of a darker color, wipe with a damp cloth to remove paint from the raised areas, and add optional dry-brushed highlights.

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