How to Paint Faux Ivory

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Save some tusked pachyderms by making some realistic-looking faux ivory art pieces. Ivory is an attractive material popularly used in knick-knacks and jewellery, but if you use the right technique and colours, you can mimic it closely. Polymer clay can be manipulated and painted to get the same effect and striated look as real ivory, as it already comes conveniently in an off-white, ivory or 'light beige' colour. Acrylic paint in certain colours is used to finish off the effect.

Run a block of off-white polymer clay through a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Fold the flattened piece of clay into an accordion to create a stack of the thin layers. Real ivory has a grain with thin lines and striations just like wood, so stacking flattened layers of the clay will mimic the look.

Press the layers together slightly and slice the stack in the opposite direction as the way they were stacked to make pieces showing the striations that are about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut and mould the slices into the shapes you want for your artwork or jewellery pendants. Place them on a baking tray and bake them in a conventional oven for 15 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius to harden them. When the time is up, remove them with an oven glove and let the pieces cool for 45 minutes.

Mix a pea-sized amount of brown or burnt umber acrylic paint with some water to thin it. The colour needs to be transparent to give the ivory a natural look. Dip an old but clean toothbrush into the watered-down brown paint and brush it over the polymer clay pieces. The striations in the clay will collect the brown paint and enhance them. The thin brown colour will create a tint on the clay that will add a more natural look.

Wait 30 minutes for the paint to dry. Turn the piece over and repeat on the other side. Hang or display the faux ivory pieces.

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