Stamp Care and Use Tips for All Clay
Looking for tips on stamping all different kinds of clay? Look no further.
I sell both bisque and polymer clay stamps online in my Etsy shop (GiselleNo5.etsy.com). Many of my customers ask questions about using my clay stamps, so I used to include huge amounts of information in each listing. I’ve decided to post this information here instead so it can be read only by those who come here looking for it.
IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH CHILDREN: Some of my stamps are very small and should never be given to children without supervision, especially if they are toddlers who explore everything with their mouths. Please note that I have allowed my son to use my bisque and polymer clay stamps extensively since he was two years old and he has never yet broken a stamp of either material.
GENERAL USE AND CARE:
All stamps can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush, then left to dry thoroughly. Clay buildup can cause sticking, and different colors of dried-on clay may flake off during use and affect your current work.
When stamping a slab, press firmly down with even pressure. A slight wiggle to the stamp often pushes clay into all the details for a more defined design. Practice on a slab of waste clay with a new stamp before taking the item straight to your work.
If a stamp of either material is chipped, any rough edges can be sanded off with fine 200 grit sandpaper before further use. Any broken stamps should be discarded. Please contact me with any questions.
Please scan down the page to find specific tips about stamping with the material you personally work with.
POTTERS AND CERAMIC ARTISTS:
If your stoneware clay is sticking to a stamp, I recommend starting with number one on this list and then working your way down the list till you find what works for you:
- Allow your clay to dry a little longer before stamping. Overly wet clay will suction onto stamps.
- Lightly oil with olive oil or any other vegetable oil.
- Wash the stamp in warm soapy water and a soft brush and allow to dry before using again.
- Lightly dust the stamp with corn starch.
Dark colored clay will stain the stamps, but if you rinse and dry your stamp between uses they shouldn’t carry the color over to light colored clay.
I have found that it is often best to stamp a slab BEFORE putting it into a slump mold. Then, rather than pushing the clay into the mold, I thump it firmly on my tabletop a few times. I can then smooth the rim without touching the stamped portion.
When stamping wheel thrown work, or other work that does not lie flat, keep your fingers behind the layer of clay to support it, pressing against the outside pressure from the stamp. This may take some practice to get just the way you want it.
If polymer clay is sticking to a stamp, try the following, starting with number one:
- Allow the clay to cool before continuing work. If I’m in a hurry I’ll put it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.
- Allow overly soft clay to leach some oil out into layers of copy paper overnight so it's easier to work with
- Dust with baby powder before stamping
If you’re not getting very much detail in your design, your clay may be too hard or rolled too thin to pick up all the detail.
If you’re using a hard, crumbly clay you can add clay conditioner to soften it or warm it in your hands before working with it further.
If you’re stamping a very thin piece you can use a thicker slab of clay and press down harder to thin the clay with pressure while still getting all the detail you want.
COOKIE DOUGH, PASTRY, FONDANT, AND OTHER FOODS:
Please contact me to special order cookie stamps. These must be fired a second time to 2200ºF
DO NOT use polymer clay stamps on food items.
DO NOT use stamps for stamping both food and clay.
PRECIOUS METAL CLAY JEWELERS:
I recommend my polymer clay stamps only for PMC, NOT bisque, as the ceramic will suck up all the moisture from the PMC. I am currently producing only very limited number of my designs. Feel free to contact me with any questions at madebygiselle[at]gmail.com.
If your metal clay is sticking to a stamp, lightly oil the stamp with a vegetable-based oil. I've heard that spray cooking oil works nicely for this purpose. Be sure to clean with warm soapy water and a soft brush afterward.
AIR DRY CLAY, PLAY-DOH, PAPER CLAY
The dye in Play-Doh will almost certainly stain the stamps, but it will not damage them or carry the color to your future projects as long as you clean the stamps with a soft brush and warm soapy water between each color of clay.
If your air dry clay, Play-Doh, or paper clay is sticking, try one or more of the following:
- Allow the clay to sit for awhile so the moisture on the surface evaporates a bit (this tip is not for Play-Doh)
- Lightly dust the stamp with corn starch or baby powder before each use.
- Wash the stamp in warm soapy water and a soft brush and allow to dry before using again