Yay!! it’s finally time to sit with my Lucy Struncova texture stamps and play with some polymer clay processes. I’ve had these stamps for a couple of years now (huge thanks Lucy) and have pulled them out every now and then to work with but treated them like any other texture stamp and jumped in way too quick!! I couldn’t quite get them to do what I wanted them to. I guess I was frustrated with myself for not being able to use a product which is seemingly, very simple to use!
Time to Start Fresh
I had a few free days in the studio so decided it was time to start fresh with these stamps. I needed to look at them in a completely different way. Whenever I start a new process/design/technique/challenge I always clear away my table. Absolutely everything gets packed away so I can start completely fresh with nothing else “looking at me” to interrupt my thoughts! Note taking is an important part of my exploratory process so scrap paper is always on hand. I tend to jot down a few things I “think” I would like to try make a few notes on that and lastly I prepare clay. I make sure to include both soft and firm clay, different thicknesses, inclusions etc. Anything I can think of!!
Taking a Closer Look at the Stamps
I have a variety of Lucy Struncova texture stamps and this is my observations of them when first opened.
- Each stamp has approx 8.5cm square of design area.
- They are incredibly sticky when the plastic protective sheeting is removed.
- Some of the stamps are incredibly shallow – not all of them mind you.
- Many stamps have geometric designs, others organic – there’s a good mix of both.
- Each stamp has a design sheet attached to it so you can see, without question the exact design.
- The stamps are clear so it’s easy to see your clay underneath to position correctly (if needed).
- Each stamp is hand designed by Lucy herself.
How Do They Work
I’ve played on and off with these stamps and haven’t had any success. That’s because I treated them like all the other texture stamps I have and didn’t consider they would have different properties. When I say this, I’m referring to the “deepness” of these stamps. I can say with confidence now, I used the wrong clay in the past and got incredibly frustrated when I couldn’t use a tool which was seemingly, very easy to use.
- It’s important to coat these stamps well with baby powder/cornflour etc to remove the stickiness prior to using. I found the more I used them the better they became. Powder is definitely the best release agent to use.
- Clean up is definitely with a baby wipe or alcohol based product. Lucy tells me these stamps swell when left in water too long so I would avoid using water on these stamps.
- Soft clay is essential (in my opinion) when working with these stamps. I’ve used kato in the past and as we all know this is a very firm clay – it wasn’t good – hence my frustration.
- Lucy does have a “stamp press” which she sells to use with these stamps but I found covering with a firm acrylic block, then rolling over with an acrylic rod or similar a great way to produce a nice texture.
What Makes These Stamps Special
Ok, all stamps are special and we all have our favourites but there are some things these stamps do which is incredibly handy (for me anyway).
Note 1: If you look at the images above you’ll note the stamp I’ve used (Christi Friesen – and a very cool stamp) creates large uneven areas on the reverse side of the stamp when used on a ceramic tile. If I did the very same thing with one of these Lucy Struncova stamps this wouldn’t happen. I’m assuming it’s because the stamp doesn’t have many large recessed areas and is relatively flat. One very big advantage here, especially when creating texture on your clay which has been adhered to a ceramic tile.
Note 2: Another big advantage of these stamps is the ability to create double sided mokume gane pieces. Because the images are so shallow, I found it really easy to embed some clay between two stamps, shave each side then simply cut out my shapes.
Note 3: These stamps were also brilliant to use for sanded mokume gane. Again because of the shallowness of the images, sanding was a very easy process and almost instantly achieved great results.
There were a few other “special” ways I used these stamps which I won’t be sharing here as the process has been used in one of my paid tutorials so this is unfair to all those who have paid to learn the process.
I really loved using these stamps. It took me a while to understand the right clay to use and the right techniques to use but once I did I had fun exploring many different processes. I love the “gentleness” of the texture and some of the designs themselves are really beautiful.