by syndee holt
You'll be surprised how something so small can totally change the look of a room and capture so many compliments!! I'm talking polymer clay embellished light switch covers here and I'll warn you up front: You thought the clay itself was addictive - just wait until you do your first switchplate. This is no lie! Since I've run out of room in my own house for decorated plates, I actually sneak into my neighbor's houses and replace their dull, boring white plates with my colorful clay plates. (Fortunately I live on the street I grew up on, so they are rather used to me!) Don't overlook the holidays either - that Goundhog Day plate of mine is a local favorite!
You will need a switchplate cover to use as the mold. I prefer to use a brass plate cover, since I can keep reusing it for years to create my own Sculpey plates. NOTE: If you wish to use a plastic plate, please put it in the oven, set at baking temperature, and check before covering it with clay. If it's still there in 5 minutes, it's safe to cover!! If you are using a brass plate for the first time, you need to REMOVE the plastic sheet the manufacturer puts on it to protect the surface.
- A Sculpey clay blade or Exacto blade to trim the clay.
- A sharp pointy thing like a bamboo skewer to help poke the holes for the screws.
- A clay-dedicated pasta machine or something to make the clay flat.
Now you are ready for your embellished plate. Stamp it, drizzle TLS, texture it, cover it in Pearl-X, paint it, color it, cover it in millefiori...
- Make a flat sheet of clay, approx. 1/8" thick, and place the cover face down on the clay. Trim to ¼" inch around all four edges. How thick a sheet of clay you start with is really up to you. If you are adding another layer to your plate, you will want to start thinner (#3 on the pasta machine). If you are using this layer as your main layer, don't go below the second widest setting on your pasta machine (Fig. 1).
- Wrap the edges of the clay up around the sides of the plate and trim the extra clay off EVEN with the back of the plate (Fig. 2)
- Still working from the back of the plate, trim out the area for the switch and poke small holes to indicate the screw placement.
- Turn the plate over and use a large needle tool to place the screw holes. Roll the edge of the hole, to make room for the screws. DON'T FORGET THESE HOLES! I can't tell you how many times I have!! (Fig. 3)
Once you have your design in place, bake according to the package directions for your clay. Allow the plate to cool and just gently work the clay until it pops off the brass plate. Grab your cordless screwdriver (a necessity for this addiction), and put your new plate up.
Switchplates are a great place to practice techniques, to try that new design that came to you at 2AM before you invest a lot of time and clay into it, even practice your color combinations. Plus, as an extra-added bonus, you have something that is useful and doesn't take up table space.
...ah, I have to go, just got another idea for a switchplate...
Thank you syndee holt! You can email syndee at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see syndee holt at Polyform: http://www.sculpey.com
From Barbara Hanson
"After baking clay on switchplate ( any material) make sure you pop off the clay and glue it down. It will be a perfect fit and you will never get a complaint that it fell apart years later."
"You don't have to use metal plates..I have been doing this for years and have always used the plastic plates. The low temp you cook it at won't melt the plate."
From Kim Cavender
"If you're covering plastic switchplates with clay and want a quick and neat way to remove the clay from the holes where the screws will go, the pro needle tool (the silver one) made by Kemper is absolutely the perfect size and fit. Just insert the needle into the clay-covered hole as far as it will go. Give the handle a little twist, pull out the needle tool, and remove the little bit of clay from the base of the handle. You'll have a hole in your switchplate that looks as if it had been punched out with a hole punch!"
From Sheri Anne
"Tip #1: You don't need to buy a brass plate - the chrome metal ones
are half the price and work the same.
Tip #2: Buy 1 plate each of the
single and double switches to start. You WILL need to purchase extras as
you become addicted to making them and can't wait to start on the next
project while the previous one is either still baking or cooling down.
Tip #3: Be careful with using raised embellishments beside the actual switch
hole. It makes flipping the switch harder (especially on those late night
forays to the bathroom).
Tip #4: An easy way to create the space for the
screw to fit flush is to create the screw hole first with a piercing tool
through the back and then using the top of the screw on the front side (as
you twist it, the excess clay comes up with it) to make the flushed
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