Introduction: Claytastrophe

About: Geeky artist. MUST. MAKE. STUFF. More stuff at:

These are excerpts from my miniature clay cap (as in ball cap) tutorial. Here are the parts I usually keep to my self, including the zombie brain catastrophe above.

For the actual miniature cap instructions go to:

Back to the Future Miniature Cap

Step 1: I Made These Really Cute Caps and Then...burnt Them.

Well, I burned my hats. I pretty much always burn my clay. This time I used my well-calibrated digital oven and a kitchen timer and I still burned them. But I'll be coloring over the clay, so hopefully it won't matter much.

(I was wrong.)

Step 2: And Then This Happened

My original plan was to use liquid Sculpey and add color to make the tie dye (if you do this, let me know how it went!), but my liquid Sculpey was not a liquid anymore. It was as solid a regular polymer clay blocks. I tried to soften it in the microwave, which did work somewhat, but not enough to paint with.

Step 3: So I Had Another Idea

I got out my alcohol inks. I figured the colors would bleed together and drip just like tie dye, but all I got was a big reddish mess and stained fingers. My cute hats looked like road kill. Fortunately, I had alcohol ink thinner and was able to remove a lot of the worst spots.

After: This actually left the caps very dark which made the painting a lot harder. I had to cover the color without filling in all the details. This would have been okay on a larger project, but was really difficult on this scale. And, boy were they ugly.

Step 4: That Brain Should Really Be IN the Cap

I made a little tie dye puddle of paint by squeezing out a few drops of each color and mixing with a toothpick. Then I dipped my finger in the paint and dabbed it onto the cap. At this point my caps pretty much looked like tiny colorful brains with brims. Must keep painting.

I also tried dipping directly into the paint, but the caps were too small for this to work well. The paint filled in all the details and had to be wiped off.

Then I had to let the paint dry and I was able to go over the ugly spots. This probably would have been much easier if my clay was nice and white. Like it should have been before painting. I wanted everything to be lighter. Next time I'll start with the acrylics and not use dyes. And not burn my clay. I hope.

Step 5: But It All Worked Out in the End

So, I figured out how to make this project work. But what I thought would be super-easy and looks super-easy, turned out to be a mess. I hope you enjoyed this, because my next tutorial is going to be all perfect. No matter what I go through to get it that way.

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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Just a tip for next time - NEVER put any form of polymer clay in the microwave. It's hard for me to understand how you burned it, but try covering with foil when you bake, this can help.

    3 replies

    Oh darn, you're right. I forgot I tried to soften the clay in the microwave. It was just a few seconds. But don't anyone else do that.

    Thanks for the foil tip! I never put any kind of clay in the microwave and it's good to clarify for people new to polymer. I don't know how I manage to burn all my polymer - my daughter uses the same oven and pans and her projects are always beautiful : )

    No problem. Perhaps I misunderstood what you said in your Instructable. I thought you wrote that you put your liquid Sculpy in the microwave.


    2 years ago

    Great failures can lead to great success !

    1 reply

    They turned out great. If you had never admitted the mistakes, I would have thought you put the dark base coat on intentionally to give depth to the colors :) Good luck!

    1 reply