Ancient Images Come To Life In Polymer Clay
When Gwen Gibson traveled to Havana, Cuba with her family
at the tender age of 6, she had no way of knowing that one
day the ancient images she fell in love with during that trip
would come to life using a very modern art medium: Polymer
"I have a passion for ancient images," says Gwen.
This passion has been her inspiration throughout her years
as a painter, art student, and polymer clay artist. In "Ancient
Images," the latest video in The Master Artisans of Polymer
Clay Series from Mindstorm Productions, Gwen shares that passion
In one hour you'll learn how to create a series of ancient
images using techniques such as Faux Enamel, Acrylic Etching,
Clay Collage, and Oil-Based Etching. Gwen's photo copy transfer
process is also known as the "tear away technique."
A complete and detailed review of all the tools and materials
you'll need is provided at the outset of the video. Once you've
gathered these tools and materials, you're ready to begin.
Your first project will be to create a pin using the Faux
Enamel technique. For this Gwen has chosen a goldfish from
a Japanese book of images as her design. You'll watch as she
creates a stencil from a photocopy of the design she's chosen
from the book.
And you'll want to pay close attention to this section because
this same stencil and photocopying process will be used for
all the projects you'll learn on this video. "Photocopying
can be difficult because there are many different types of
machines," says Gwen. "I suggest you try a variety
of machines and find the ones that work best for you."
Once you've completed your goldfish stencil, you'll place
it onto a translucent piece of clay. The translucent effect
is created by rolling the clay through the number seven setting
of your pasta machine. "If you've ever tried to roll
out at number seven," says Gwen, "you know that
what happens is usually a disaster! The clay gets stuck in
the rollers and it's very hard to get off." Relax. She'll
show you a technique to prevent this using a very common household
Once you've done that, you'll go back and color your stencil
using colored pencils. While she demonstrates this technique,
Gwen offers tips for using color and shading to make your
image look more realistic.
The next step will be to burnish this image onto the clay.
Then you'll bake it, add gold leaf adhesive, mount it onto
a white clay background, and add finishing touches to make
it look like enamel. Glue a pin onto the finished piece and
you're ready to show it off as a piece of jewelry.
"There are many different applications for this technique,"
says Gwen. "Just choose the images that really speak
As with most things in life, the first step is always the
hardest. But once you've mastered this first project, you're
ready to move on to the other projects on this video with
the same confidence and ease that Gwen displays while she's
The second project uses a drawing of an ancient Chinese pig
and black clay to create a negative etch. You'll follow the
same techniques you learned earlier to make your stencil and
burnish it onto the clay.
The negative effect is created by using black clay as the
background and white paint to fill in the engraved areas that
form the image of the pig. The good news is that when painting
you don't have to be at all careful. The point is to force
the paint down into the engraved rough areas. You'll then
use sandpaper to remove any excess paint from the surface
until only the paint inside the engraved area remains.
The final step for this project will be to treat it with
a variety of enamel paints until you achieve the desired look.
You'll then use this same technique to create a positive etch
using white clay as your background for the image.
Then it's on to the third project, using Gwen's Clay Collage
technique to create a petroglyph pin. The process will be
much like the ones you used for the first two projects you've
completed so far. In addition, Gwen shows you how to create
backgrounds for your images using scrap clay, and she talks
about the effects that temperature and humidity have on these
Your final project will be creating a distinctive piece of
jewelry using an oil-based etching technique. Since oil paints
tend to get messy, Gwen suggests wearing a rubber glove on
your holding hand while painting. She demonstrates how to
bring out your image onto the clay, paint it using a variety
of colors, and polish the surface as a finishing touch.
The video ends with suggestions for finding the images and
resources you'll need to develop your own projects using the
techniques you've learned. "People ask me where I find
my images," says Gwen. "I find them everywhere and
anywhere. In bookstores and libraries." She goes on to
display the books she uses regularly to create her ancient
images from polymer clay.
Gwen's closing words remind us of ultimate goal of every
artist, regardless of his or her level of expertise. "I
hope you'll have fun with these techniques," she says,
"and that they take you to new places."