Thursday 11 June 2015

Well it was there last time I looked. . .

The other day somebody bought one of my cufflink sets on Etsy.

'Hooray!' I said and trundled over to the shelf where I keep my jewelry stuff and pulled out the most likely box.
Nope, not in that one. No worries, it will be in the box with my other cufflinks. . .
Nope. . . OK, well it should have been in that box, maybe I put it somewhere else, though I can't think why. .

Yeah well, you can see where this is going. The cufflinks weren't anywhere they ought to have been or anywhere they didn't ought to have been, and I still haven't a clue what happened to them. I looked everywhere. . About six times. . . Grrrr. . .

I shamefacedly contacted the buyer, apologised profusely and explained. I suggested I could try to make a replacement set, send a photo to see whether she thought the replacement was adequate, and if not give a refund. She said that was a good idea, so I set to.

As I set up the necessary bits and pieces, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to document the process as I hadn't tried that before, so I took shots of the various stages of my image transfer and nasty aging process and montaged them into a series of jpgs for your amusement. I hope you're easily amused. It's almost a tut, but would need work to make it coherent enough for that. It's more of an experiment. I might try documenting stuff again but with more care and a better set up.

1- cut out images from laser print/photocopy sheet.
2- cut out squares of polymer clay, thickest setting on the pasta machine.
3- trimmed images and squares.

4- place the images face down on the squares and rub gently with your finger to ensure contact.
5- add water and let it sit for a minute.
6- gently rub away the paper with your finger in a circular motion, adding water from time to time. Go easy as it can start to smudge after a while.
7- the image/soft clay will probably distort a bit if you aren't careful enough. I wasn't.

8- don't do what I did and forget to place the squares on a small tile to start with. I had to lift them off my work tile with a blade, which also distorts the shape. Not a big issue this time as I wanted a slightly irregular shape.
9- put small tile in oven. I did 25 mins at usual temperature.
10- baked squares. The camera angle makes them look more distorted than they were.
11- selectively attack with medium sandpaper.

12- results of selective sandpaper attack.
13- I painted the surface with greyish alcohol ink diluted with isopropyl - ratio 1 ink 2 iso p.
14- gently added renaissance wax, but rubbed it in too hard. see top right of left square, the blue has come off leaving purple/magenta where blue should be. Ren wax will take the image off if you aren't careful.
15- buffed with dremel thingy after ren wax had dried for ten mins or so.

16 - the final result. Overdid it, so I made another less messed up version.

This is a pic of the second, less messed up version I made. These made it to the stage of cufflinks. Check the pic below of the 'lost' original ones and see if I got close. The originals weren't quite as brown in real life as in the photo btw.
Let's hope the buyer gives the OK. ;-)
Jon x


  1. Great post and tutorial, Jon. I've never been very good at transfers, but I'll have to give it another go. I love your honesty! Anyway, I think they're fab and I hope the buyer did too.

  2. Great job. Thanks for the tute. BTW, where do you get your cuff link blanks? And how do you attach the clay?

    1. Thanks Cynthia,
      I get blanks from a UK seller on ebay, just standard cheapish but perfectly OK ones. I attach the baked clay with 2 part epoxy, then overlay a thin layer of polyclay over the back, texture it with sandpaper, then rebake the whole thing. I colour the back layer and then ren wax and buff it. . .

  3. My Man is a cufflink fanatic and I think these are brilliant! I also agree with Melanie - your honesty is exactly what we all need because nothing ever seems to go completely right every time does it?!

    I went looking for a pair of cufflink blanks yesterday and came across exactly one of them. Where the other one went to is surely a mystery. I know they sat on that shelf for a long long time!

    Hope your buyer loves the finished product. You know as soon as you ship these you'll find the others!

    1. Thanks ;-) The buyer was really pleased, so all good there. . .
      I hope your cufflink fanatic man approves of mine.

  4. What a lovely tutorial, enjoyed your tone of honesty and how approachable you made the process seem.

    1. Thanks Anon,
      I'm glad I made it approachable, I'm just stumbling along with everyone else really ;-) But having been a creative freelancer for many years I do have a certain confidence in my approach that allows me to feel OK about messing up from time to time.

  5. The finished cufflinks are terrific - the patina is scrumptious. Thanks so much for the tutorial - you are very generous to share it. I also love the webpage design!