03 August 2020

Faux Sea Glass Technique

To me, there's nothing more magical than walking on a beach and finding beautifully polished sea glassokay, maybe finding a perfect sand dollar, but sea glass is pretty high on my list of treasures. But, the times I've actually found sea glass are few and far between. There are places you can purchase glass that claims to be genuine sea glass, but who knows if that's true. And what do you do when you envision that perfect piece of jewelry that must have sea glass? You create it in polymer clay, of course!

There are many tutorials out there that explain how to create realistic sea glass from polymer clay. Recently, I've done done experiments of my ownsome turned out great, while others failed miserably. So, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I've learned about making faux sea glass out of polymer clay.

First and foremost, we need to discuss what kind of clay to use as the base. I tried regular translucent clay as well as translucent liquid Sculpey. Both bases had pros and cons depending on what I mixed in to create the sea glass colors. This article won't go into specifics of translucent clays, but I will mention that not all translucent clays end up the same after baking. To learn more about the variations, visit our friends at The Blue Bottle Tree.

This article is geared to the elements that you add to the base polymer clay of your choosing. Many times we find sea glass in shades of green, white, and brown. On some occasions, you'll come across sea glass that's turquoise, teal, purple, cobalt, and even gray. But, if you're really lucky, you can find some of the rarest sea glass in red, orange, and yellow. To achieve that authentic sea glass look, I experimented with adding powders, ink, and clay to my
translucent base.

I had a lot of success when I tried the translucent liquid Sculpeyspecifically the turquoise. I poured the clay into a silicone jewelry mold and baked it for about 15 minutes at 275°F. After cooling, the color looks pretty realistic. Compared to real sea glass, this faux version's color blended well. 

Next, I experimented with the translucent liquid Sculpey and added in color pigments. I tried stuff I had around the house which was a matte green eye shadow and some powdered china paint (don't ask me where it came fromit's just here). I thought I was only adding a small amount of pigment, each experiment came out too dark. (Note: I wasn't too concerned with shapes yet, only color.)

I then moved my experiments to using translucent clay (instead of the liquid). Here's where the brand comes into play and can be the deciding factor in your piece. Again, I used what I had around the house and tested my additives. First, I tested translucent Premo. I added in a pinch of claywhich ended up being way too dark and barely translucent. Next, I worked with Premo and a small drop of alcohol-based ink. As I worked the clay, I noticed the green tint of the ink barely appeared. I refrained and didn't add more ink! After baking, the results of the Premo and alcohol ink were pretty convincing.

My final experiments lead me to a brand of clay I haven't used muchPardo. I blended a piece of Pardo clay with a pinch (and I mean pinch) of the Souffle Lagoon. Although I think it's a little dark, I really like how this experiment turned out. In the other piece of Pardo, I added a small amount of the alcohol-based ink. As with the Premo, I worked the ink into the clay until it was well-blended. I think this was probably my most convincing piece out of all the experiments.

So, as you explore the possibilities in making faux sea glass out of polymer clay, remember that the base clay matters. You want something that will be translucent and have a frosted appearance. Vary your shapesnot all sea glass is round or oval. And play with color additives such as colored clays, pigments, and alcohol-based inks. You never know when a piece of sea glass will be that final touch your piece of art needs!

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