Steampunk Polymer Clay Starter Guide

After making several new listings for the Etsy shop, I decided to take some pictures and provide a bit of a starter guide for how I make the Steampunk items. So without further adieu, let’s get started.

1. So what is Steampunk, in a nutshell?

Before we can think about steampunk jewelry, we need to start by knowing what the basic idea of steampunk is. Steampunk is basically the answer to “what would the world look like if we hadn’t discovered electricity/ modern technology, if we depended on steam power?”. The aesthetic is a combination of 19th century technology, British Victorian fashion, and post-apocalypse, and it looks very cool and unique. Steampunk has become a popular genre of alternative fashion.

2. Metallic pigments are a must

So why not simply use silver and gold clay to make your pieces? They aren’t convincing enough, they don’t have enough color variation and dimension. That’s not to say I never use gold and silver clays in steampunk work, it’s just not the only tool I have in my back pocket. Actually, my metallic pieces are coated with metallic pigments, which I simply brush on the clay and bake. It doesn’t tend to fall off as much as glitter, but it is good to seal it in with some glaze; after that however there aren’t any issues with it I’ve come across. There are different products like this, but I included a link to the set I own up above, which includes a paint brush, medium (which I don’t use with the clay), a gold pigment, a silver pigment, a blue pigment, and a green pigment. I have really liked this set a lot and it is really what makes such a difference. The perfect combination? Black clay and metallic pigment, and absolute must for these projects. Metallic powder on black clay is going to give you the most convincing, beautiful look. These powders are blend able enough to create a bit of an ombre too, which looks very pretty.

3. Tips for adhering clay to metal

-use Sculpey bake and bond for pieces you can put in the oven safely, to reinforce the bond

-always coat finished projects with a couple thin coats of glaze, letting the glaze completely dry after each coat. Add more coats if needed

-reinforce or mend pieces by using a strong adhesive, such as heavy duty craft glue, super glue, fabric glue, etc. Practice caution with these products for obvious reasons, but also because these tend to be quite thick and can form bubbles, so use very sparingly

4. How to create convincing texture

I’ve discussed this a little bit in my Polymer Clay: A Primer post, but steam punk requires some more details. First off, keep in mind your most important (and free) tools are the ones you can find around your house. Look around and see if you can find objects with interesting textures, ridges, patterns, etc. You’re bound to find lots of goodies for creating unique textures and it wont cost you a dime. I have different random found objects I use, but a couple common ones you can look for include toothbrushes (which obviously would not be used in your mouth after using with clay), crumpled foil, sandpaper, lace, etc.

One tool set that I have bought though has come in very handy to create the steampunk-esque textures I use in my work, which is meant for metal etching and looks like this:

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Namely, you will see one little guy towards the right hand corner, which has a spikey texture. This one works really great for the steampunk pieces, but of course the other pieces have their uses. And if you can find an object around your house with a similar spikey texture, even better.

Add texture to any spots that need it, but of course not too much. The spikey tool above I like to use on ridges. To create the bumpy, zombie-like,  eroded texture you have seen in some of my other necklaces, I take a needle tool and poke holes, stir it in the clay, and mess it up to create the desired effect. The rest of the object I want to keep as smooth as possible to imitate metal.

5. How to get your hands on metal parts

Again, this consists primarily of looking for found objects, even thrifting. When that fails though, you can find larger quantities of parts that range from very expensive to very cheap. For gears I originally bought some larger ones from the scrapbooking section of the craft store, but these were a bit expensive. You can look on places like eBay and Amazon too, but one set that I like is the bag of assorted gears and metal parts I bought using the Wish shopping app. This set came with tons of different parts of different sizes, and was pretty affordable. And for projects like these, you really don’t need anything fancy.

Metal (for the most part) is safe for the oven, but I would recommend not baking (or at least being cautious) with antique metals, which may be coated with materials that are not oven safe. You can refer to number 3 on ways of adhering metal and clay, but as a general rule always practice caution.

6. Steampunk polymer clay artists you should note

I thought it might also be good to leave you with steampunk polymer clay artists you can refer to from here, so here is a list of some I thought you should know about:

Maria Jia

Monster Kookies

Audra Phillips

Artista

Christi Friesen

7. Easy gold snake tutorial

This little guy is super cute and easy to make. What you will need is a necklace, black clay, gold pigment, and a way to add texture to your creation

Start by rolling out a snake of clay, then twist to create the snake. Make sure that the center of the snake is large enough to string your necklace through. For the tail end, take a toothpick or needle shaped tool to create lines for a rattle. For the head, flatten the clay slightly and form a point for the mouth/nose area. Use your needle tool to poke two little eyes. Then its time to get messy with metallic pigment; simply brush on as much or as little as you like. Then add some texture (see number 4 for details). Bake, glaze, and wear

8. Easy corset heart tutorial

While you have your black clay and gold pigment out, let’s make a corset heart necklace to match. Start by rolling a ball of clay and flattening it. Use your fingers to pinch one end to create the bottom point. Next, take your needle tool and slide it part way down the center of the other end of your heart. After this you can shape the heart further, starting with creating the basic shape and then smoothing the whole thing with your fingers. Take your needle tool and slide it diagonally down the heart as shown in the below image to make your pattern. Once your netted pattern is complete, use your needle tool to poke little hole where each of the corners meet. Top it all off with some gold shimmer, bake, and glaze.




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