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).
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).
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
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:
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.