Etching Premo Sculpey | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Etching Polymer Clay - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #254: “Years later… I finally figured out the missing steps!” ~Cindy Lietz

Years ago I read an article in a jewelry magazine (can’t remember which one), where the artist etched polymer clay and combined it with a metal clay project. It was gorgeous! Instructions were included, so I decided to give it a go. Well for the life of me, I just couldn’t figure it out.

The article had provided a lot of detail for some of the steps, but then completely skipped others. I’m guessing that the publisher only had a limited amount of room to work with… but at the time, I remember feeling like a complete idiot for not being able to wrap my head around the idea.

Now after having gained so much more experience with clay, I finally figured out the missing steps. And… I also came up with a bonus technique (sort of a 2 for 1) that I think you’re going to enjoy.

I love books and am always buying new ones. But much of the time I read them and say, “What the heck are they talking about?” With your videos, Cindy, there’s no ambiguity. After viewing your videos, I can go back to my books and usually figure out what the confusing sections are about. For those of you who don’t know this, articles and how-to’s in magazines are edited… and sometimes important steps or explanations are left out. This is also true in books, but I don’t think to the extent that it happens in magazines. ~Linda-K

Those “missing steps” Linda mentioned — so true! There ARE lots of gaps in those books and magazines! Cindy fills them with her step-by-step tutes… we get to see every move she makes, so we know what to expect, and how to deal with any problems that might occur. And of course, she’s here to answer questions if we have them. You never get that with books, magazines, or DVD’s! I’m very fortunate to have the ability to follow directions /instructions easily. I don’t usually need video to understand how to do a technique. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it! When I saw Cindy’s videos, I became a convert. It was so nice to have it all made so simple (and her tutorials are SO inexpensive!) I haven’t bought a book in a long while, because Cindy’s videos and the inspiration I get here at the blog offer a LONG list of ideas. The new Facebook Gallery adds even more, and really spurs creativity. I still “cheat” occasionally, LOL. I browse the web, and skim through books and mags to see what inspires me. And I would never ‘toss’ my old books. In fact, I now have a better understanding of the written techniques that did have “holes” or “gaps” in them — and that’s because of all the great things I’ve learned here. One last thing Cindy teaches you, is that it’s okay to make mistakes (but you’ll make fewer ones after watching her videos!) She gives you the confidence to practice actually open up that bar of clay… and play with it — you end up learning even more. A big “Thank you!” to Cindy Lietz! ~Phaedrakat

Coming up tomorrow (Friday, May 4, 2012) in the Polymer Clay Tutor Library (Video-048-1),  I’ll be showing a fun and easy way to etch polymer clay.



Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-048-1 Etching Polymer Clay:

  • Polymer Clay I used:

5001 White Premo Sculpey Polymer Clay
5042 Black Premo Sculpey Polymer Clay
5527 White Translucent Premo Sculpey Accents Polymer Clay

  • Toner Based Image. A photocopy that used toner ink or that was printed on a laser print. Inkjet prints will not work.
  • Pasta Machine (optional)
  • Bone Folder (optional)
  • Choices of Colored Mediums:

– Acrylic Paints
– Pigment Ink Pads
– Alcohol Inks
– Gilder’s Paste
– Antiquing Medium
– Colored Glazes
– Shoe Polish
– Oil Pints (Should be heat set)

  • Miscellaneous Supplies:

– Brush for applying medium
– Paper Towels
– Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol for removing excess non-water based mediums like alcohol inks or Gilder’s Paste.

By the way, many of the “shopping” links I provide for the various tools and supplies used in my tutorials, are “affiliate” resources. That means companies like Amazon and the other suppliers I refer, pay me a small commission if you click on the links and end up making a purchase at their site. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps in keeping the cost of my tutorials so low… at only $3.32 per month. And, the prices for products that you may purchase through my links, are exactly the same as what you would normally pay. So please do feel free to click away whenever you need to pick up a few things for your studio. Thanks so much for supporting this site :-)

Here’s a sneak peak of this week’s tutorial…

The full version of the “Etching Polymer Clay” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-048 Back Issue Package.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

The price you charge for your membership fee is almost free for what you offer. I still can’t understand how you can offer so much and charge so little for it… I like that you are innovative and forward-thinking because you help me see things in a different light. Growing is always a good thing and you definitely help me to grow in my polyclay endeavors. ~Angela-M

Cindy, I have seldom come across better teaching combined with creativity than yours. And, believe me, as a former teacher I know how hard that is. You are straight to the point, succinct and extremely down to earth in your presentations. And, just as important: You show great empathy and encouragement, and an ability to include everyone, not make anyone feel small. That is the art of teaching in a nutshell. I appreciate your blog and your tutorials immensely, and will continue to follow them closely. Thank you from Norway! ~Mette-S

Couldn’t live without your totally awesome valued tutorials, both inexpensive and expertise!~Denise-P

The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Etching Polymer Clay video tutorial:

  • See examples of components, beads and jewelry projects using the Etching Polymer Clay Technique in a variety of designs, shapes, colors and finishes.
  • Find out how simple it is to create this gorgeous technique, by just following along to the step by step instructional video.
  • Learn the reasons why you will want to follow the time limit suggestion in the video, so that you don’t run into the problems as discussed in the video.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique designs of your own.

The full version of the “Etching Polymer Clay” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-048 Back Issue Package.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Jocelyn, 03 May, 2012

    Can’t wait for tomorrow, those calla lilies are gorgeous!!!

  2. Monique U, 03 May, 2012

    So psyched for tomorrow! Been under the weather this week so it seemed Friday would never come. Cindy, your tutorials are always the best “medecine” LOL

  3. Teresa DeFilippis, 03 May, 2012

    Thi s technique looks really awesome.

  4. Bonnie, 03 May, 2012

    Is is Friday yet? This is beautiful and I have all the stuff. Those Brilliance ink pads are really great with polymer and yesterday I got my Guilders paste (it smells pretty bad) but they are pretty.

  5. pollyanna, 03 May, 2012

    Another great tute coming up. Have always loved calla lilies this makes them extra special.

  6. pattw35, 03 May, 2012

    What a lovely Calla Lily. The color and design are to die for. Can’t wait til Friday. This one will be extra special I know. Thanks in advance for your creativity and passion. It makes Fridays something wonderful to look forward to.

  7. Lesley Symons, 03 May, 2012

    This technique looks amazing, and I especially love those calla lilies! Just watched the sneak-peek and can’t wait to find out how this is done! Sooooo cool! ….

  8. Kerri C., 03 May, 2012

    I’m so excited for Fridays tutorial! I’ve always wanted to learn how to etch on polymer clay. Thanks to Cindy I know I will be able to understand how to do it.

  9. Dawn, 03 May, 2012

    I love those calla lilies too! This is going to be FUN! Thanks Team Lietz!

  10. Jocelyn, 03 May, 2012

    Guess what members? We have a Thurs nite treat, the video is posted!

    Cindy, I love this technique! And that calla lily pin. Hope we see that as a future tut.

    Just cannot get over how lovely the gold and silver inks show up on this product.

  11. Laura Reed, 03 May, 2012

    Cannot wait…I have tried and failed at this technique ;)

  12. Fran Y, 04 May, 2012

    Excellent tutorial Cindy. I’ve read about this technique, but it is so much better watching you demonstrate it and giving your tips and hints. All your tutorials are great but I particularly like the ones to do with surface treatments.

  13. cara letho, 04 May, 2012

    WOW!!!! thank you

  14. PATTY JORGENSON, 04 May, 2012

    hmm very interesting….. at first I kind of thought I was not interested then… in Cindy style she makes it come alive. very very nice. and wakes up the creative mind. Thanks

  15. pollyanna, 04 May, 2012

    This is so cool! love the two fer part also.

  16. Johnnie C, 04 May, 2012

    Soooo cool, Cindy! It is like embossed clay, kinda, except you aren’t limited by what embossing folders you have. I love it. Can’t wait to play. Thanks!!

  17. Sue P, 04 May, 2012

    Hi Cindy – the etched polymer clay – a great tutorial as ever, and a lovely finish. Just one thing – you show us how to make, bake and finish a flat piece, but at what point in the process do you curl it into something like the liy shape? – presumbly before baking? If so, do you then just use a very tiny brush to apply the paint finish inside?
    Best wishes

  18. Cindy Lietz, 04 May, 2012

    Without giving too much away Sue, my answer to your questions are Yes and Yes. I was thinking I could do a complete tutorial on the Calla Lily if enough people asked nicely. ;) Could show how that glass stamen was done as well. I am glad you enjoyed the technique!

  19. Cherie, 04 May, 2012

    Love the tutorial and yes, please Cindy would love to learn the Calla Lily and that glass stamen!!!

  20. pattw35, 04 May, 2012

    grovel, smile, oh please sweet Cindy could we PLEASE have a Calla Lily Tute?

  21. Laura Reed, 04 May, 2012

    Asking nicely… would love to see a tutorial on those Calla Lily flower beads :)

  22. Francine C, 05 May, 2012

    Whoopeee ! I am also fond of this calla Lilly.
    Pleaeaease, Cindy, would it be possible for you to create the tutorial ;-) ;-)
    I am asking for it nicely enough ????
    The technique is great. I will be practising it very soon
    Best wishes

  23. Sue P, 06 May, 2012

    Hi Cindy – Sorry!! I didn’t mean to jump the gun there!! I will wait patiently and hope that you will show us how to curl the clay, or maybe even do the calla lily.
    Many thanks, it’s a great tutorial.

  24. Gail Mulder, 06 May, 2012

    I would love love LOVE to learn how to make the calla lilly and stamen…it’s gorgeous. I look forward to your video tutorials religiously since they make Fridays even greater than they already are!

    ..ever consider making an additional tutorial on Mondays? :)

  25. Catalina, 08 May, 2012

    Yea baby!!! Opps, I mean, yes, please!! :) Great technique. Just getting back to noraml. Sick for three weeks!! Colds stink! Haven’t had one in 24 years!!! I guess I was due.

    Cindy, ignor negative comments (seen it posted elsewhere) – better yet, can they be deleted? You’re an inspiration and LOVE your tutes!!!

  26. Linda K., 29 May, 2012

    Please, please, please! I would love to learn all about this calla lily. it is gorgeous.

    I’d never heard of etched clay before, so I had no idea what to expect. What I saw was truly magical! I can’t wait to try this out! I think this is going to be one of my favorite clay techniques ever.

  27. Dawn B, 04 May, 2012

    Wah! I don’t want to go to work. I want to play with this technique all day. Thanks Cindy for giving us this lovely technique. Again, oh the possibilities.

  28. Dorothy H, 04 May, 2012

    This was a really cool tutorial. One note though: When you do it with a design of music notes, you should reverse it first, because it comes out backwards and that drives musician nuts!!

  29. Cindy Lietz, 04 May, 2012

    Good eye Dorthy! I noticed that after it was too late to make another sample… I used to play the flute for years in an orchestra, so as soon as I saw the music was backwards it did bug me. I meant to mention that along with the words needing to be reversed, but forgot. No one I showed the pieces to noticed, so I thought it might slide through without anyone else picking it up. But I see you caught me! LOL

  30. pattw35, 04 May, 2012

    LOL – I knew SOMETHING was wrong with the notes ! Glad you fixed it Cindy. Don’t want any confused musicans do we ? haha

  31. pollyanna, 04 May, 2012

    lol I noticed that too…..such a little thing but can make or break a piece. Still very pretty base.

  32. pattw35, 04 May, 2012

    Can’t wait to try this. You are right, Cindy, this is limitless ! And the 2/fer is a bonus. What fun we will all have…….Thanks , thanks, thanks,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,;}

  33. Angela J, 04 May, 2012

    Dear Cindy,
    I am so amazed with this technique! Thank you so much!
    But, I have a question. How to put colour with alchol inks? Ink just spreads and I cant keep it i this little skratches.. Thanks!

  34. Cindy Lietz, 04 May, 2012

    Hi Angela, like I mentioned on the supply list, you can use rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl Alcohol) to remove the excess alcohol ink or gilder’s paste from the top surface. It also works if you have let acrylic paint dry for too long.

  35. Angela J, 06 May, 2012

    Thanks :-)

  36. Ella Moore, 04 May, 2012

    Great Lesson this week and always
    Would love to learn the Calla Lily and Glass Stamen
    Tks again

  37. Michelle A, 04 May, 2012

    WOW! My mouth totally fell open at the end when the image appeared after you added that color. That was soooooo cool. Great tut Cindy and I loved the sound effects Doug.

  38. Lesley Symons, 05 May, 2012

    Okay, here’s my vote for the Calla Lily tute (pretty pretty please with chocolate sprinkles and a cherry on top) :-)

  39. Tina A, 05 May, 2012

    I just found this on a Russian website but as always, seeing makes it much easier to understand ! Thanks !

  40. Angela J, 06 May, 2012

    Using new etching technique. Love it! Easy and sooo addicting. Thanks Cindy

  41. Johnnie C, 06 May, 2012

    Question: What kind of paper are you printing your image onto? It doesn’t sound or look like regular printer paper. It seems like wax or parchment paper in the video. Thanks.

  42. Cindy Lietz, 06 May, 2012

    It is just regular paper Johnnie. Mine may be a little thinner than normal (I like to use recycled content paper in my office), but the paper itself is just plain paper, no coatings or anything. You can use any type of printing paper. What you are seeing that looks waxy is the oils soaking through. You’ll see when you do the technique.

  43. Lawrence, 06 May, 2012

    Great technique Cindy. I would love to learn the Calla Lily and glass stamen!!!

  44. Sherry W, 07 May, 2012

    Your timing could not be better! I am in the process of cleaning the great room downstairs and found our old printer down there and was ready to tell my hubby that it had to go but now I think I will let him keep it. Its a toner copier. What are the chances? Lol. It s like the clay Gods were watching over me. I cannot wait to get started. I receive a Dover email newsletter and they always have sample clipart that you can save to your computer. I have been saving them a long time and waiting for a rainy day project. Ta Da… has arrived. Thanks Cindy. Cannot wait to see what I come up with. Got to go play with my clay.

  45. Monique U, 07 May, 2012

    Glad you saved that printer from the trash bin, Sherry W. I bet it will be in good shape, too. If anyone is needing a new machine, by the way, you should seriously look at buying laser versus ink. I worked in an office supply store for five years. Guess what topped the list of returned items? Yep, sorry to say, many inkjets never even lasted the 30-day return period, brand notwithstanding. Replacement ink was often more costly than the printer itself. And unless used regularly, the liquid ink would dry on the cartridge heads and be impossible to “clean” without using a whole lotta ink in the process! And don’t get me started on the printing quality.

    A laser (toner) machine is often a bigger investment (the operative word being “investment”), though small machines, both colour or B&W, go on special regularly. While replacement toner cartridges are also a little more expensive, they last much longer, don’t have housekeeping issues and produce superior prints. I have a little Samsung CLP-310 (colour laser) bought 5 years ago for $99., with starter cartridges included. It’s been to university with one son, then sat for over a year, and it’s working fine. Just bought the first replacement cartridge (black). It’s a workhorse. Just sayin’…

  46. Elaine Faulks, 07 May, 2012

    Just back from the wilds of Wales and couldn’t wait to learn about etching technique. Brilliant Cindy, so brilliant I had to watch it twice. Yes, I also love the cala lilys with crushed glass stamens so hope we get to learn how to make them soon.Now who do I know that has a laser printer or toner photocopier, might have to put it on my birthday wish list……………………………cheers xx

  47. Peggy Barnes, 07 May, 2012

    Woo Hoo, Love the tutorial just watched it. My computer wouldn’t Play the tutorial and husband was so busy over the weekend I didn’t have the heart to bother him. Still busy but I couldn’t wait any longer and he got it working for me about 15 minutes ago. Love it and I can’t wait to try. Just like so many of your tutes Cindy just endless possibilities. I just love that about you Cindy. Your tutes can be used again and again and again with pieces being so different. This is going to be so much fun. Thank you once again. I am so happy to be back. True therapy with so much enjoyment.

  48. Phaedrakat, 11 May, 2012

    What a cool technique…love the two-fer, as well! I’ve wondered how to do this, so I am super-psyched about this tutorial! Such beautiful examples, too. Most importantly for me…I have everything I need on hand to make some lovely etched pieces! I’ve been extra poor lately…so no $ to spend on all those cool Wilton tools you’ve been using in some recent tutes (or a die-cutter.) I’ve enjoyed seeing the gorgeous stuff you’ve made with them, though, and of course, the amazing techniques you’ve developed. I admit, I’ve been feeling pretty envious (drool, drool…) Now I’m inspired, eager to start etching!
    Whoops, guess I don’t have everything. But I will soon — gotta get toner copies made from my ink-jet printouts, LOL! (Wish I’d thought to buy “laser” when I needed a new printer couple yrs back…) Anyway, thank you so much, Cindy — you are the best! :D

  49. Elke V, 12 May, 2012

    hello Cindy,
    thanks a lot for a great video. I really enjoyed it.
    You mentionned where we could get copyright free images but i couldn’t quite get it.
    can you send me the name please?


  50. Jocelyn, 12 May, 2012

    Elke, think Cindy mentioned she used Dover Clip Art:

    Lots to select from here, hope you find something you like.

  51. Monique U, 15 May, 2012

    Just wanted to pass on the contest at Dover. If anyone used their copyright-free artwork in Etched PC, I think this would be a great way to introduce Cindy’s tutorials in another showcase:!/dovercrafts

  52. Keenya R, 31 May, 2012

    This etching technique video is AWESOME!!!! OMG, I’d been trying to find out how to etch on clay for the longest time. Peace out!

  53. Vedia E., 03 June, 2012

    Hello Cindy,
    I have to say, I continue to be amazed at the things that you can accomplish with clay. The etching that is done here is just … Wow….. Thank you for the constant ideas and opening my eyes to the endless things that can be done to clay…..

  54. Karen R, 25 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I love your tute on etching and love the calla lily you did. I know there was mention of a tute possibly in the works for that one (yes!) but in the meantime, can you tell me if the clay you used was all translucent or translucent mixed with another color? Or translucent with a coloring on the etching? I love the subtle see-through of the translucent but find myself really intimidated to use both frost or regular because I don’t know how to get the look I want in the color recipe. If you want me to wait for these details for the tute that’s just fine but I thought I’d ask.

    Another good idea for a tute would be to show the differences in frost translucent and regular translucent, and both in various stages for one particular color recipe. Like one part translucent, vs two parts translucent, etc. Does that make sense? :-/

    Thanks again for your fabulous work!

  55. Cindy Lietz, 28 January, 2013

    Thank you Karen! I actually did do a Large Calla Lily Tutorial if you want to get that one for your library. To answer your question, the color can be added to the clay or just the etching, that is really up to you and the look you want to get. Translucent doesn’t change the color much at all so don’t worry about it too much. It can add a lot of depth to your colors since it allows that light to get in a little deeper. I think it is especially effective when making flowers.

    Don’t be intimidated by anything in polymer clay. If you are not sure how it will behave, take a chunk of clay and throw in some trans/frost and fire it in the oven to see how it turns out. If you don’t like it, add more or less trans/frost to your next test swatch. Its just a hunk of polymer. It won’t come out and berate you for making it look bad. Besides if it does get mouthy you can always just throw it in the garbage, and say “Be gone with you”!! lol

    The more mistakes you make, the more you’re trying. The more you’re trying, the better you get. It is a simple as that. So never let a supply get the best of you. You’re the boss! :)

    Oh and thanks for the PcT Testlab suggestion for comparing Trans and Frost aka White Translucent. That is a good one. I’ll add it to the list for a future video.

  56. Karen Reshetar, 30 January, 2013

    That both “picked me up” and made me laugh! :-)

  57. Cindy Lietz, 30 January, 2013

    Oh I’m glad Karen… I wasn’t sure if I was coming off as a little nuts or not. :)

  58. Trish Z, 21 February, 2013

    I made a pendant design inspired by my polymer clay hero, Cindy Lietz and this Etching Polymer Clay tutorial, along with the Faux Dichroic Glass Lesson. It’s been lots of fun combining the two ideas into one, while adding my own spin. Cindy, thank You for for always inspiring me to think outside the box. I couldn’t have done it without you.

  59. Tantesherry, 18 March, 2013

    Hi Cindy does the age of the photocopy have any bearing on how well the technique will work?

  60. Cindy Lietz, 20 March, 2013

    Maybe Sherry. I always tend to use fresh designs I have just printed on my laser printer so they never have been very old. You may just have to test it to see.

  61. Tantesherry, 20 March, 2013

    Thanks Cindy – I’ll try and remember to date each sheet
    and post any results to our group:)

  62. Doreen Neilley, 05 November, 2016

    Do you find that the laser prints can be too old for this technique to work well? Or does it not seem to make a difference? I have access to a laser printer at work, but I only have an ink jet at home. So I would have to “think ahead” doing this technique.

  63. Cindy Lietz, 07 November, 2016

    I have done laser transfers on copies that were a few years old, so you should have plenty of time to use copies you have from work…unless you work really far away! lol

  64. Kelly Beavers, 23 May, 2017

    I was looking through my video library today and played the etching tutorial. I was wondering if you have tried to use the pages from the adult coloring books to do the etching? I don’t know what type of printer they are done on, does it have to be a laser? I bet they aren’t ink jet, as it would run easily (the coloring book pages), but anyway the images in some of mine are stunning and I would like to try the etching. What do you think?

  65. Cindy Lietz, 25 May, 2017

    Hi Kelly, I haven’t tried using a coloring book for etching, but it may be possible, since a lot of printing is done with toner inks these days. However if they used some sort of finish or coating on the paper it may not work. It would be something worth testing though. Let me know if you try it and if it works out. Now you have me curious! :)

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