Pattern to Slab – Adding Dimension with Translucency

Sculpey Blog

Cindi McGee
Cindi McGee April 8, 2022

I have a bit of an obsession with translating patterns I see in fabric, photos, etc. into polymer clay. Whenever something catches my eye, my mind begins to ponder what techniques I can use to recreate the look. Sometimes, it’s silk screening or textures. Sometimes it’s colorings like alcohol inks or pastels. Sometimes it’s dimensional effects like molded or sculpted elements. Occasionally, it’s caning. Sometimes, it’s a combination of all of these! I never know until I see that next photo or pattern and that “AHA” moment begins.

When I created this “Organic Crochet” slab I wanted to capture the effect of the crocheted base yet maintain a light, airy feel. I tried it a few ways by using surface applications, but was just not happy with the result. The trick to finally getting the look I wanted was White Translucent Premo! By creating basic bubble canes with custom tinted pastel wrapped tubes of White Translucent in a variety of sizes, I got just the result I had hoped for. I sliced them thin and then created the base slab with the slices, clustering them randomly by outline color, again in an attempt to mimic the original shawl. When it’s baked, it is an airy background, that lets the handmade floral and vine accents truly be the star of the slab.

polymer clay floral slab before baking
This is the slab before baking
polymer clay floral slab after baking Note translucent background
AFTER BAKING: It’s gorgeous when the light shines through it making it a perfect option for not only jewelry, but home decor pieces like sun catchers.

When I created the original slab, I tried to emulate the original colors of the shawl. But then I could not help myself, I had to experiment with other colors of flowers and vines, using the same techniques. 

polymer clay floral slab with darker tones
This floral slab has darker tones.
The only thing I did differently for the two darker toned versions was wrapping the bubble cane tubes in a pale off-white/beige clay blend instead of the slightly tinted blends, and the bubbles themselves were larger. 

Another favorite of mine was this hand painted alcohol ink sunflower slab on a base of White Translucent Premo!. The bit of translucence allows the light to shine through the finished earrings just enough to add depth making them, in my opinion, much more eye catching than if it had been an opaque white background.

polymer clay floral painted slab
This is the finished slab before cutting and curing.
polymer clay floral painted earrings
A pair of the finished earrings.

Since discovering the beauty and overall dimension and depth that the translucent background can add, I’ve got more ideas brewing – like a striped background with layers of translucent clay with a less busy foreground of dimensional accents. Cut out areas of an opaque slab with translucent clay inserts of some type… stay tuned!

We encourage you to share your creative polymer clay ideas in your social media posts and use #HowDoYouSculpey, along with whichever clay you’re using (for example #premo, #liquidsculpey, etc.)