In a recent meeting of my local metal clay guild, someone shared the idea of using Play-Doh to make metal clay molds. It's inexpensive and readily available, it's hard when it dries, and it comes in convenient little sealed containers that are easily kept in your purse . . . because you never know when you'll need to make a mold of, oh, say, a ceiling in an historic building, right ladies?
This set my mind to thinking differently, in what Pooh (or Dr. Seuss?) would probably call an upside-downside-inside-outside, negative-space sort of way. I'm accustomed to pressing things I own into metal clay–buttons, usually, but sometimes texture sheets and rubber stamps–and I enjoy electroforming or otherwise coating unusual things in metal to preserve their unique textures and appearance in jewelry, but the idea of making molds has somehow escaped me all these years. But now, Play-Doh is involved–don't you love the smell?–and I'm ready to capture the world around me in textures for use in metal clay jewelry making.
The one-ounce mini containers in the Play-Doh Party Pack are ideal because you can make a metal clay mold (or three, or more) out of each can, and they're easy to keep handy for metal-clay mold-making opportunities. You can write on the can what the mold inside was made from, so you'll always know. Play-Doh won't harm whatever you press it on, and in my experience, it doesn't leave any sort of residue or bits of dough behind. (If you're concerned about making a mold on precious fabric that you don't want to risk staining, use a layer of plastic wrap between the fabric and the mold-making material.)
Remember that the clay will shrink slightly, but in most cases, it's not even noticeable and hardly ever an issue in the end result–just something to keep in mind if you're making a mold that has letters or numbers, needs to be legible, or an exact accurate size match, etc. Remember to wait for the Play-Doh to dry hard and use a bit of the mold release that you'd use for standard metal clay molds.
Just imagine what you can capture by making molds and later using them to make metal clay (or even polymer clay) jewelry. Capture the texture of the wooden bench in the park where your sweetie proposed and make him wedding cufflinks to match it. Copy the gorgeous wood trim on the antique dining room table where you had your anniversary dinner and turn it into a memorial bangle bracelet. Press the Play-Doh onto the pretty iron doorknob of the historic inn you visited on a girls' weekend in Charleston and make all of your matching pendants from it, the sweetest souvenirs! Replicate wine labels, rock walls, nubby fabric, woodwork, etched glass, weathered wood, pitted iron, pressed tin, leaves and twigs, seashells . . . and then turn all of those memorable sights into metal clay jewelry.
For dozens of metal clay projects and tips–including ways to use all your great new textured metal clay pieces–don't miss our special publication dedicated entirely to metal clay! Save $5 on Easy Metal Clay now, from Zinio.
In Easy Metal Clay, you can learn or refresh metal clay skills with experts such as Hadar Jacobson, Holly Gage, Noel Yovovich, Arlene Mornick, Celie Fago, and more. Learn to make metal clay bails and bezels; to incorporate dichroic glass, gemstone beads and crystals, and more into your metal-clay jewelry designs; to create textures and negative space with metal clay; to mix metals; and more.
P.S. After you've made a bunch of metal clay molds and textures, "piece" several of them together in this Metal Clay Quilt Pendant by Hadar Jacobson, originally published in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.