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by C.A.Therien, Revised Method 7/5/04

Iridescent flakes are the key to this shimmering simulated stone. I've found two kinds of flakes that work really well: Rauch Sparkle Flakes (a Christmas decorating item commonly found during the holidays at Wal-Mart), and Arnold Grummer's Iridescent Paper Making Flakes (found at hobby and craft stores).

Supplies:

  • 1 oz. (Equivalent to half of a 2-oz pkg.) Premo Bleached Translucent polymer Clay (CFC06). (Note: you can substitute the bleached translucent with the regular translucent, but the results won't have as much clarity.)
  • 1/4" size ball of Premo Alizarin Crimson or Cadmium Red (Alizarin Crimson will make a warmer shade, Cadmium Red will make a cooler shade)
  • 1 tablespoon Arnold Grummer's Iridescent Flakes (more or less as desired) -OR- 1 tablespoon Rauch Sparkle Flakes (more or less as desired)
  • Optional: Coffee bean grinder (to chop the flakes into smaller bits) Baking surface (card stock, paper, polyester batting, ceramic tile, bead rack, etc.)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Oven thermometer
  • Container of ice water with plenty of ice
  • 3M Autopak Imperial Wetordry automotive sandpaper in grits 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000 Permanent marker
  • Container of warm water with a few drops of Jet-Dry dishwasher liquid in it
  • Paper towels or a hand towel
  • Optional: Dremel or other rotary tool, and #7144 Diamond Taper Point Engraving Bit Felt buffing wheel and rotary tool -OR- scrap of faded denim Water-based acrylic sealer (such as Future, Flecto Varathane, Sculpey Glaze, etc.) Small, soft paintbrush

Step 1: Squeeze the translucent clay between your fingers just until it is workable, then add the tiny bit of Alizarin Crimson. (This recipe makes a medium pink Rose Quartz. If you want your final color to be lighter or more or intense, add more or less red than is called for). Mix the colors together by twisting, folding, and squeezing-- but don't over mix. Now flatten the clay between your fingers to create a small pancake shape, approximately 1/4" thick (photo, right).

Step 2: Add the flakes
If you want your faux to have small flakes, then chop a few tablespoons of them in a coffee grinder (This is messy, I admit; the static electricity created can be a bit of a pain. But the smaller flakes are worth the effort. Be sure to wipe the grinder out very well afterward.) Sprinkle a pinch of the flakes onto the clay. Fold the clay in half and press the edges, or roll the clay like a jelly roll; however you choose to do this is fine. Knead the flakes into the clay until they are distributed throughout, again being as careful as you can about air bubbles. Pop them if you discover any. Adding the flakes a pinch at a time insures that you get the amount of iridescence you desire, and prevents large air pockets being developed from too many flakes in the center. When you have enough flakes, you should be able to see some just below the surface of the clay, and if you make a center cut, there should be some flakes visible. (A note about the Grummer flakes: they are quite firm and can poke when you are kneading them in, so work carefully. That problem doesn't seem to happen with the Rauch flakes though, because they are softer.)

Step 3: Shape and Bake
Place an oven thermometer in your oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Mold or shape your clay to the form you desire: cabochons, beads, buttons, sheets, etc. Place flat items on whatever your baking surface preference is. Beads can be baked on fanfold paper, polyester quilt batting, a bead baking rack, etc.

Be prepared for the possibility of the clay darkening while baking. Fold a piece of aluminum foil like a tent over your items, shiny side out. Bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes per 1/4" of thickness. During the last 5 minutes of baking, start your ice water. When the baking time is over, take your clay out of the oven and drop it right into the ice water. Let it sit there while you set up your sanding area.

Step 4: Sand and Polish

Sanding Supplies
The water should be warm to the touch and comfortable to put your hands in, but not hot. Add a few drops of Jet-Dry to cut the surface tension of the clay as it is sanded off. Tear a 3" square of 800 grit sandpaper and mark the grit size on the back with the permanent marker. Soak the sandpaper in the container. Do the same with the other grits so they are ready when you need them. Spread the hand towel or paper towels on your work surface to catch drips. Begin with the 800 grit sandpaper, rubbing gently but firmly over the clay in a circular motion. (Note: if you can feel bumps in your clay that aren't the flakes, then you might have to start with a coarser grit of sandpaper.) Work wet, keeping the sandpaper and clay moist, and rinsing often. Work for approximately 30 seconds per grit, depending on how rough your item is and how much you need to adjust its shape. Lay your wet sandpaper pieces onto paper towel and let dry overnight. They can be reused approximately 3or 4 more times. Just store them in a zipper baggie.

To sand beads, I use a couple of techniques: If I'm rotary sanding, I use a diamond-dust sanding bit in my Dremel. You will get sprinkled though, as this is a bit messy. I just gently 'screw' the bead onto the bit so it will stay put, but not so hard that it will crack. Then I wet my sandpaper only, and cup the edge of it in my fingers like a 'U'. I turn on my Dremel and press the sandpaper to the bead. I rock the paper slowly up and down for about 5-10 seconds. Pop the bead off, rotate it around so the sanded end goes onto the bit, and repeat sanding for another 5 seconds. Rinse the sandpaper and go to the next grit. This works great and can get a lot of beads sanded perfectly smooth in a jiffy.

The other option is very inexpensive and doesn't require electricity: snip the pointy tip off a wooden skewer and push the bead on so it will stay. Cup the sandpaper as before, but instead of moving the sandpaper, rotate the bead. Rub the bead against it back and forth, then side to side, for about 30 seconds. Repeat with the other side of the bead, then proceed to the next grit. This isn't as messy as the Dremel version, and results are every bit as good.

When the clay is smooth, rinse it well under running water and dry with a paper towel. For the best stone-like results, brush on a layer or two of acrylic sealer and let dry overnight; you may also heat-bond the sealer for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. (You should finish all your clay curing before doing the sealer, as it may bubble and darken at the higher baking temperature.)

Some sample items I made with the New Faux Rose Quartz recipe:

Spring Hat Pendant

Hair Barette

Drop Focal Pendant
C.A.Therien
©2004


Resource List:

Polymer Clay:
Premo Bleached Translucent, Cadmium Red, and Alizarin Crimson polymer clays
Polymer Clay Express

Iridescent Flakes:
Arnold Grummer's Iridescent Flakes
Michaels Arts & Crafts

Rauch Sparkle Flakes
Wal-mart (Dept. 18 Seasonal Christmas Item only)

Baking:
Oven Thermometer
Wal-Mart

Sandpaper:
#7144 Diamond Taper Point Engraving Bit (used in a rotary tool to hold the bead)
3M Autopak Imperial Wetordry Automotive Sandpapers in grits 800 - 2000
Wal-Mart

Buffing:
Dremel Rotary Tool (I use a Flex Shaft with mine)
Wal-Mart

Felt Buffing Wheel
Desiree's excellent tutorial on making your own buffing wheel

Sealants:
Sculpey Glaze
Michaels Arts & Crafts

Future Acrylic Floor Finish
Wal-Mart

Flecto Varathane Diamond Wood Finish (water-based)
Menards

We want to thank C.A.Therien for sharing this updated and revised lesson with PCC. If you have a tutorial or project that you would like to see on the PCC Website, then contact or and we will help you prepare your project for PCC.