Ever wondered about the process involved in making our splendid clay imprints? If you’ve had clay imprints done at Crafty Monkey, or indeed anywhere else, then you’ll be aware that it can be up to four weeks before they’re ready for collection. Read our step by step guide to find out why!
First of all, gather your equipment. For the first part of the process, you will need:
a. A happy baby
In fact, it’s not essential that the baby is happy, any baby will do. By the time we’ve pressed their little hand and feet into clay, we can quite often transform ‘happy baby’ into ‘utterly bewildered’ baby, but that’s just part and parcel of the imprint fun…
Cut a lovely piece of earthenware clay with a wire cutter. It needs to be about 2cm thick and around 20cm squared, depending on the size of the child’s hands and feet. Roll it out beautifully, taking care to watch out for pesky air bubbles and general bits of fluff that may fly out of nowhere onto the clay.
Hold baby in a peculiar ‘Superman’ type position and get those little hands and feet pushed into the clay, taking care to roll up sleeves and trouser legs beforehand. You need to press quite hard to get a decent imprint and although it may look like you’re torturing the poor child, it doesn’t hurt them as they’re being pushed into a soft surface (honest!)
Check for any imperfections and smooth them out with a little water on your finger if required. Cut the clay into a shape. Most of our imprints are cut into a rectangle with rounded edges, but some people prefer a wavy or square shape. Use a sharp craft knife and finish by wetting your finger and running it around the edges to smooth down any bumpy bits. If the piece isn’t to be framed, then pop two holes in the top using the end of a paint brush so that it can be hung on the wall with ribbon or wire.
Leave the clay to air dry on a flat surface for around 10-14 days. You can do other things during this time as it doesn’t need watching or petting, it just gets on with its own thing.
When the clay has lightened and is completely dry, pop it carefully into a kiln and cook it!
Anytime after it’s been removed from the kiln, it’s time to get on with painting it with pottery paint. This is the real fun bit and you wrestle with trying to get rid of brush strokes and get the colour even all over the prints! It’s a good idea to use two coats of watered down paint and then use a wet, very soft brush to get rid of any brush marks and even out the colour. Do this approximately a million times until it finally looks splendid. Decorate with a sponge border or whatever you require. Use a pottery paint pen to write the name and age and anything else you may want on there.
Glaze the piece with specialist bisque glaze and pop back into the kiln for the second round of cooking!
If the imprint is to be framed, then choose a lovely deep set box frame. Cut a piece of thick card and stick the imprint to it using specialist strong glue. When it’s dry, clean the glass of the frame and pop the imprint in and close the frame catches. It’s essential at this point that you undo the frame and do it back up again at least ten times owing to various bits of fluff and streaks on the inside of the glass.
Pop your finished piece onto the wall, prepare to astound your visitors and lap up all the compliments about your amazing work of art!
See our blog post on clay imprints and plaster outprints.