Introduction: Fabric Printing With Polymer Clay!

About: I haven't failed, I've just found 1000 ways that don't work.

So, we meet again Instructabillians. Apologies x 10000000 for my extended, extended absence, but I finally return with a brand new ible!
When I saw this on Threadbanger (a craft youtube channel FYI) I knew that I was eventually going to have my own anchor printed t-shirt, and what better way to do show than in an instructable? I noticed the Play with Clay contest and immediately had an explosion of excitement! I've been working with polymer clay for almost a year, and it's my time to shine! I also noticed the printing and dye challenge. Combine them? Yes please!

Today I'll show you how I printed a t-shirt with polymer clay. This is an alternative to printing with potatoes and I'll explain the difference a bit later. Let's get started!
This whole process took less than 3 hours.


Step 1: Sculpting the Stamp!

I didn't really want to have a bajillion thousand steps in this instructable, so I'm going to break each step down.
For this step, you'll need:
- A fairly sizeable hunk of polymer clay, I used scrap clay. The amount of clay you want is all depending on how big you want the stamp.
- A scalpel, x-acto knife, blade or any other sculpting tool
- A rolling pin or pasta machine (make sure both are dedicated to clay, food and polymer doesn't mix)
- An old toothbrush, a stiff paintbrush or a texturing brush
- A reference image, optional
- A q-tip and acetone or nail polish remover

Here's how it goes:
Take a large amount of polymer clay and roll it into a ball.
Then press that ball flat against your work surface. You should now have a dome-type shape.
Take some more clay and roll it out (thickest setting of a pasta machine) then fold it over. You now have a thick sheet of clay.
Press the sheet to the flat side of the dome of clay and cut away any excess.
Grab your blade and lightly indent your design, checking the reference image if necessary.
Now you know what you want and where, cut deeper and pull away the excess clay.
Use your fingertips to flatten the negative space.
Gently press stamp onto work surface so that the design is flat.
Take the q-tip and dip it in the acetone. Swab the whole anchor/design. This makes it super smooth and ready to be textured.
Take the brush and texture the whole design. This helps the paint stick to the stamp when printing.
(I took some extra clay and made a handle for the back of the stamp so I could hold it while printing.) 
Pic heavy step, sorry :0

Step 2: Bake Stamp!

I baked my stamp longer at a lower temp for more durability. It depends on the brand and amount of clay.  I baked mine at 120 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Prepare the Stamp!

You'll need:
-Fabric Paint
-Palette knives and paint brushes
-Your Stamp
-Spare paper

First, sand back the detail of the stamp so it is perfectly flat. If your stamp is even slightly rounded the design will get warped.
!CAUTION!: Inhalation of Polymer clay dust is VERY bad for your health. Sand in a well ventilated area and wear a dust mask.
Once your stamp is flat, here comes the fun part! Mix together whatever fun colours of fabric paint you have or just go with a plain colour. You could even try ombre if you wanted!
Next, take your brush and dab it onto the stamp, I find this works better than actually brushing it on.
Remember to practise on a scrap piece of fabric or paper to get your technique right.  

Step 4: PRINT :D

You'll need:
- A smock or old shirt you don't mind getting paint on
- The actual shirt you'll be printing on
- Your fully painted and ready to stamp stamp
- A piece of cardboard

Wear the smock to protect your clothing.
Take the cardboard and place it between the two layers of t-shirt to prevent seepage.
Pull your shirt out flat, you may even want to iron it before.
Take your painted stamp and press it flat into the t-shirt where you want the first design to be.
Press for 3 seconds, then wiggle gently and remove.
Ta daa! I was so excited by this that I actually shouted "SUCCESS!" (My mum was a little confused)
Now it is open to whatever you like. Change colours, make new stamps, keep printing etc. The printing world is your oyster!

I chose to tint each layer of the design and repeat like so. I also dip dyed to bottom corner and sleeves. It's up to you!

Step 5: Final Notes/Comparison

Comparing this technique to potato printing I'm going to have to say I like the clay one better. (Entirely my opinion, you can choose either)

Easier to texture and holds the paint better
Easy to fix mistakes before baking
More precision in cutting
You can make it as large as you like
-Takes a little longer

Less time
- If you make a mistake you need to start again
- A bit softer
- Doesn't hold paint as well

- Also, the potatoes don't last as long.

Print & Dye Contest

Second Prize in the
Print & Dye Contest

Play With Clay Contest

Participated in the
Play With Clay Contest