Intro: Colorful Polymer Clay Egg
This instructable will show you how to make a colorful (or monochromatic, or whatever chromatic it's your egg after all) polymer clay egg. This is one of those things that's actually quite easy to do for the casual crafter but you can spend a lifetime mastering it.
Step 1: Materials!
What you'll need for this instructable:
1: Polymer clay of varying colors
2: Blown out eggshell
Everything else just makes things easier, but having said that they REALLY make things easier so I'd make an effort to include them in your attempt at trying this out.
3: Polymer clay roller
4: Flat blade
5: Protective surface
The polymer clay should be the same consistency if not the same brand. Different consistencies will move around at different rates, and some brands cure at different temperatures so you're just making life harder for yourself (or more interesting, if you're that kind of person) by mixing things up too much. In my case, I chose three primary-ish colors with mica particles that give them a pearly sheen.
I use blown out eggshells because I have a bunch of eggs I blew out. Some people use solid wooden or plaster eggs, but why buy eggs that you can't even eat? I advise you 1: blow out an egg by piercing a hole at the top and bottom and blowing out the innards 2: use said innards in delicious baked goods or scrambled up and 3: clean out an dry the eggshell to later be used for crafting.
Polymer clay rollers, aka pasta machines, are indispensable if you're going to work more than a couple of times with polymer clay. For real, get a coupon or something and buy one of these suckers. Clay right out of the package can be very crumbly and stiff, and running it through the machine is so much faster than mashing it with your hands. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can still roll out the clay by using a rolling pin (while placing the polymer clay between two pieces of waxed paper so the clay won't get all over your pin) Ah that reminds me, DO NOT USE POLYMER CLAY WITH INSTRUMENTS USED FOR FOOD, especially if it's porous like wood. Don't use the machine to make pasta even if you think you cleaned it really well, because trust me, you missed some. You'll find that out if you clean the machine after rolling black clay and then roll some white clay after.
I didn't include a picture of a flat blade, because if you don't know what a flat blade looks like you really shouldn't be using one. Actually I just forgot to post a picture, but still, be careful. Remember rule number one is to not bleed on the artwork.
Waxed paper works great to cover up your table surface (polymer clay can do horrific things to wood finish, ask me how I know) plus it helps keep things clean all around. I used aluminum foil which works just as well, and can be used for the curing part.
Step 2: Laying Out the Scraps
After rolling out your clay to whatever thickness you like (don't go with the thinnest layer, yes you save clay but you're doing that "making things harder on yourself" thing) lay the pieces on the egg to see if you have enough clay to work with. If you have a bit of excess then you're good to go. If you don't have enough, or the colors aren't in the proportions you like, then now is the time to fix that.
Grab a chunk of your clay and slap it on the egg, then cut it into a pleasing shape. There's all sorts of funky blades out there that can be used for fun patterns, but you can get into that AFTER doing the simple version first.
Step 3: Fitting Shapes Together
There's two ways to fit together shapes that are too large for what you want.
Version 1: This works best when you have a clean edge on the piece you want to add. Lay the color you want on top of the color you want to get rid of. Use a blade or point to lightly score a line on the base color. Remove the top piece so you don't damage it, then cut on the line you scored. Or hell, just whack at it with the blade and maybe you'll luck out and get a perfect fit. It's not so easy to do on a curved surface like an egg though.
Version 2: This works best when you have a clean edge already on the egg and a chunk of clay that needs to be cut to fit it on hand. Lay the piece in your hand on top of the edge of where you want it to go and lightly rub on it to make an impression of the shape you need. Lift it off and cut along the mark that was left on it.
Fit the pieces as close together as possible, but don't freak out if they aren't perfect. There's going to be some squishing of clay coming soon that will fix small cracks and joins.
Step 4: Finish Putting All the Pieces in Place and Start Rolling
You might have to do some fiddling and tricky cuts but get the whole egg covered. If the scraps you have seem too small or are the wrong shape then fear not! Just grab all the bits that are the same color, mash them together, and run them through the clay machine a couple of times.
Once everything is covered then place the egg between your hands and roll it around while pressing lightly. Some people have good luck with placing it on a flat surface and rolling it in small circles while pressing down, but I'm not one of those people so I use both hands like a barbarian. Just keep checking to see how the edges are melding and stop when there's no more indents where they meet. This process will likely make the colors look dull as they get smudged, but that will be fixed with the sanding step. You'll be cursing that step soon enough.
Once everything is smooth, stick a pin in the hole from blowing out the egg, or make a bigger hole if you want to put a string through it to hang as an ornament, and bake it as per the polymer clay instructions that are on the back of every package of clay you have. The reason you poke a hole into the egg is to keep it from exploding, so be sure to remember to do that.
Step 5: The Never Ending Sanding
So here's the thing, once your egg is done curing and cooled off you don't want it looking all grungy, so break out the wet sandpaper. I was foolish and grabbed a toothier grit than I should have. The nice thing about this is that it cleaned off that top layer of smudged color in no time! The bad thing is that I had to use finer and finer sandpaper to remove all the gouge marks it left on the egg which dulled the colors.
Again, this is important so I'm going to capslk land, USE WET SANDPAPER. You do not want to be breathing this stuff in, it is not good for your lungs, eyes, mucous membranes, or clothes for that matter. Either sand it under running water, or have a container with a few drops of soap in it to keep dunking the paper and egg into so things get rinsed off as you work. In case you didn't know, there's a special wet/dry sandpaper that you should be using, typically it's black and it will say it can be used wet on the back of each sheet. Automotive stores tend to carry it.
So sand, sand some more, sand until your hands get pruny and fall off and sand with the nubs that are left. The final effect is really worth it for that kind of sanding, so keep at it! You can spot-check by drying off the egg and blowing on it to dry it faster. Any scratches/flaws will stand out and need to be sanded. Because you're not done sanding yet. And won't be. EVER.
Step 6: DONE!
Once you're done sanding (or are lying to yourself and saying "good enough") buff the egg by rubbing it against a soft cloth like your pants leg and watch the colors pop!
Step 7: SUPER BONUS ROUND!
Hey want to go even easier? Go with one color! Just roll it to the right thickness, smash it onto the egg, fill in the cracks with scrap clay, and roll it around until smooth! Then have fun decorating it with stamps, glass beads, carving it out or even putting more clay on top of it, have fun playing with it.