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Guest Post: Stenciled Paste Softening with May

Guest Post: Polymer Clay Pendants with Jan

Today Jan is going to show you how to make polymer clay pendants using Balzer Bits!  Balzer Bits are small (under 4") masks.  You can see all the Balzer Bits designs here.  

I'm thinking of using Jan's technique to make some embellishments for the cover of my art journal.  You could also make some pretty cool scrapbook page embellishments using this technique!  What are you going to use Jan's technique for?


When Julie posted a request for her readers to share a stenciling technique, I challenged myself to try something I had not done before with stencils. The end of this summer my sister introduced me to polymer clay and got me hooked. Slowly I have been purchasing tools and clay, so I decided to play with stencils, clay, and alcohol ink to see what happened. I like creative experimenting. So after playing around a bit, these are the basic steps I used.

After conditioning (making the clay soft enough to work with) and rolling out a piece of clay to between an 1/8” and 3/16” thick, I used a brayer to impress the Tree Bits Stencil by Balzer Designs into the clay.

Inatickle photo 1
Then I dabbed an orange colored alcohol ink onto a piece of felt attached to my alcohol ink applicator along with alcohol blending solution and lightly touched the top of the clay in random fashion.

Inatickle photo 2
I continued to add red, yellow, and green alcohol ink to make beautiful fall colored leaves on the tree branches. Using a thin paintbrush I lightly dabbed brown alcohol ink into the stencil impressed tree branches. This piece of clay was then set aside for the alcohol ink to dry.

Inatickle photo 3
After it dried, I put the clay between two sheets of wax paper and rolled my brayer back and forth across the top to smooth it out. The wax paper kept the slight residue of alcohol ink from collecting on my brayer.

Inatickle photo 4
After rolling it smooth, which also made the clay piece larger and thinner, I cut out some shapes with metal cutters (like cookie cutters for clay.)

Inatickle photo 5
I baked the clay shapes on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the oven according to the clay manufacturer instructions.  The baking process made the colors a little lighter.

Inatickle photo 6
Using the Burlap Bits Stencil by Balzer Designs, I impressed another sheet of clay. This time I dabbed pink and blue shades of alcohol ink into the impressed clay. I did not fill it in completely with color, leaving more white clay showing in the stenciled impressions. When this piece was rolled thinner after drying, I cut out more shapes. The result reminds me of a gelli print.

Inatickle photo 7
I also used the same ink colors on another piece of clay. This time I covered the piece completely with ink, dropping the ink directly from the bottle instead of dabbing with an applicator. This produced a very different look as you can tell from the picture below. The white and lighter portions of clay appeared after the ink dried and the clay was rolled out smooth leaving the stencil impressed areas darker.

Inatickle photo 8
In the following experiment (which was actually the first one I did when I started playing around with the idea), the whole piece of clay was covered in drops of ink like the one I just showed you. However, I think the ink was dryer when I rolled it smooth. The white lines that showed up around the stenciled squares are wonderful.

Inatickle photo 9
This time I started with yellow clay as my base and covered it with a couple shades of green alcohol inks.

Inatickle photo 10
In this last piece, I started with a yellow clay base, impressed the Tree Bits Stencil, and filled the impressed branches with red alcohol ink. When that was slightly dry, I impressed the clay again with the stencil and brushed more alcohol ink lightly over the whole piece. The alcohol ink was not completely dry when I rolled it smooth, but I like the way it turned out. It looks like a forest of bare trees.

Inatickle photo 11
I won’t claim to have any scientific proof, but I would venture a guess that the softness/warmness of the clay and the amount of humidity in the air may affect the kind of results you get in doing this creative experiment.

My next creative adventure is learning how to make jewelry out of my clay creations!

Supplies Used:

Inatickle Jan headshotMy name is Jan Johnson and I live in a tourist destination in Missouri. When I was a little girl, I didn’t have a huge amount of toys, but I had a huge amount of opportunity to be creative. I had a friend that always had the latest toys. It was fun to play at her house, but she usually preferred to play at my house because my mom let us make creative messes! We made doll houses and furniture out of cardboard or whatever we could find. I learned to sew making doll clothes. My sister and I created costumes and sets and performed plays for our parents on our patio. Whether it was paper crafts, embroidery, crocheting, quilting, sewing, drawing, or painting, I was eager to learn everything, and that desire continued into my adult life. If I don’t know how to do something and want to, I will figure out a way to learn to do it!

In college I took a few courses in the creative arts, but that was not my major. If I had it all to do over again, I would major in graphic design and take every art course available. For some reason, art did not seem academic enough for school- where did I ever get that idea? I guess I thought creative activities were only to be hobbies, not careers. However, like the quote below, creative endeavors are what makes me come alive!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

~Howard Thurman

After my job of several years came to a sudden close, I started venturing out to pursue what makes me come alive. And in the course of that, I hope to help other people find what makes them come alive, as well. My daughter and I started a blog, in a Tickle, to do just that.

I have three awesome children who I spent many wonderful, busy years homeschooling, taking on field trips, transporting to dance classes and performances, and swim practices and competitions. I guess I managed to instill some of the creative things I loved into my kids…my son pursued the arts and is a freelance artist/photographer. My middle daughter pursued theater and my youngest daughter majored in English and loves to write. Both of my daughters love sewing, knitting, crocheting and any other craft they can fit into their busy lives raising my six active grandkids. My husband is an accomplished  entertainer/actor/singer/musician, who says he doesn’t work for a living- he plays! So I guess you could say creativity is a way of life in my family.