Historically, cameos were the jewellery of royalty and fashioned out of shell or agate, and sometimes even turquoise. Today, it is possible to make your own cameos with a mould, some polymer clay and a warm oven. Don’t expect perfect cameos on the first attempt: it takes time to determine the right amount of clay, the colours that are most pleasing, and the brand of clay preferred.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Polymer clay in two colours
- Cameo mould
- X-acto knife with sharp blades
Select two colours of polymer clay. Ivory is the traditional colour used for the 'face' of the cameo, while the other colour will serve as the background.
Dust the mould lightly with a paintbrush dipped in cornstarch to prevent the clay from sticking to it.
Roll out a small piece of the background clay slightly larger than the mould. Gently press the mould into the background clay to outline where it will be cut. Cut out the piece of background clay with the X-acto knife. Set aside.
Take a small ball of ivory clay and press it into the mould. Use the end of the paintbrush handle for precision. Go slowly and work carefully, capturing every detail of the mould. Add more clay as needed to fill the 'face' part of the mould.
Clean up the edge of the face design. Use the X-acto knife to carefully remove any clay that has spilt over the edge of the face part of the mould. Later, after removing the clay from the mould, the edge of the ivory face must be crisp and clean and the only time to ensure a clean edge is when it is still in the mould.
Leave the ivory clay in the mould and lay the piece of background clay on top of the ivory clay.
Tamp very gently, using less pressure as you move toward the centre of the mould. Try not to make any depressions, but keep the clay uniform and level. Add any additional clay necessary to level it off.
Trim any overflow clay before curing or sand the edges after the cameo has come out of the oven.
Cure the cameo in an oven set at 110 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure you can set your oven to such a precise temperature.
- Different clay brands require different curing temperatures. See Resources for more information.
- If you plan to regularly make jewellery out of polymer clay, consider having an oven reserved for polymer clay baking. The oven walls will absorb the fumes from the clay, thereby causing it to smell each time the oven is used to cook.
- While polymer clay is labelled non-toxic, its fumes have been known to harm birds. It is a good idea to keep children and pets away from the kitchen or craft area while the clay is curing. See Resources for more information.
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