Making Polymer Clay Molds – Inspiration From the Sea

Polymer Clay Sea Urchins

A beautiful mold for polymer clay can be made using real seashells:

A cool trend I’ve noticed lately in polymer clay circles is the use of shells and sea shore finds as shapes to create molds for making polymer clay beads.

One very beautiful example of this idea is from Heather Powers of the Craftgossip Blog and Humblebeads. She uses sea urchin shells for making molds.

I’m guessing she must have made the mold in two parts to make a complete sea urchin bead, but whatever she has done they are gorgeous! I also think she probably used an acrylic paint as an antique finish to get that wonderful, realistic chalky look!

You can make your own polymer clay molds by pressing sea shells or other objects into a lump of raw clay and then baking the clay to harden the form. Remember to use a release agent like water or cornstarch on your shell to keep it from sticking. After your mold is baked, dust with cornstarch or spray the mold with water and press raw clay into your mold to form a bead. Don’t ever bake your raw clay right in the polymer clay mold, or they will bond together.

In a future post I will give you more details about how to make polymer clay molds, so stayed tuned. Meanwhile, give it a shot on your own and "sea" what you can come up with!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


  1. Cindy Lietz, 20 May, 2008

    Shells aren’t the only thing that make great molds. Buttons, small sculptures, leaves, keys or anything else that can leave an impression in clay can be used too. Experiment and let me know what you’ve made.

    Cindy’s last blog post..7 Tips To Avoid Leaving Finger Prints on Polymer Clay Beads

  2. chanelle, 16 July, 2008

    Try Tina Holden, beadcomber, she uses chalk to weather her beads and she has 2 free tutorials on her site

  3. Cindy Lietz, 16 July, 2008

    Thanks for the tip chanelle!

    I checked out Tina’s blog and she has some excellent info there. She also makes some really beautiful purple urchin beads with hollow backs that are worth checking out! I like her use of chalk for antiquing and will have to give that a try.

    As luck would have it, I ended up winning one of Heather’s Urchin beads in a comment contest at Art Bead Scene.

    The back of the bead is actually flat, so it was made in a one part mold not a two part like I thought. Also the antiquing was done with oil paint and not Acrylic.

    The surface is fairly smooth rather than bumpy and is quite a bit smaller than I expected, though if I would have looked at the measurements I would have known better. The bead looks very textured so I think it was possibly sanded after coating with paint to show the texture that was hidden by paint.

    It is a neat looking bead with the signature Humblebead ‘natural’ look and will be fun to make some wonderful jewelry with!

    Cindy’s last blog post..Polymer Clay Treasure Hunt Contest  – Win a Bead Making Course

  4. Anna, 17 January, 2009

    Hi Cindy, guess you know already I love the site! I was wondering if you could help me with a little project. I want to make a set of Icehouse pieces ( from polymer clay. They have to have specific dimensions and it would be nice if they were nestable/stackable like the plastic pieces.

    I have a plastic set that I could use to create moulds from, but my problem is how to stop the raw clay pieces from getting distorted before/during baking.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks! Anna…xxx

  5. Cindy Lietz, 17 January, 2009

    Hi Anna, yeah I guessed you liked it around here! :-)

    If you make a molds you could try making one for the outside and one for the inside. bake them and then make your piece from new raw clay. To keep the pyramid from distorting you could bake it in the mold but you would definitely need to use lots of cornstarch between the mold and the raw clay so it will come off the mold later.

    Alternatively, you could make triangles from sheets of clay and glue them together into pyramids after they were baked, which I think may be a lot easier. You’ll have to play around with it a bit.

    Let me know what you come up with. I’d love to hear!

  6. Anna, 18 January, 2009

    Thanks Cindy! I think I’ll try both methods and see which works best for me.

    And I’ll let you know how it goes!


  7. Natalie Herbin, 08 March, 2011

    Can I used Sulpey Flexiable clay to make molds? I did buy the two part silicone that comes in two tubers. but I thought I would ask about the possibility of using the bendable/ flexiable sulpey clay first.
    Thank for all your advice

  8. Cindy Lietz, 09 March, 2011

    @Natalie Herbin: You probably did not know that this topic has been discussed on the site before. But if you click the link by my name, it will take you to an article that should be helpful for you.

    Be sure to remember to use the search box at the top of the page for finding information. Almost everything you could possibly want to know about polymer clay has been discussed at one time or another.

  9. Cindy Hawsman, 28 July, 2014

    This might seem like a silly question but my dog was just recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and enlarged heart. We were told he has about 2 months and we’re devastated. This is really important for my family…. I’ve been researching polymer clays and thrilled to find your site! I’ve never used any before. I want to make my dogs paw print impressions for keepsakes. I would like something that will last forever, or almost forever, and is durable not breakable. What would you suggest?

    Thanks for any help!!!

  10. Cindy Lietz, 06 August, 2014

    Hi Cindy, so sorry to hear about your dog. :( You can definitely make prints of your dogs paw. Just press it into a thick slab of Premo polymer clay and it should work quite nicely. Spray a little water on the clay first if it is warm or the clay is sticky. Then you can use a cutter if you want and then bake it. Just do a search on baking polymer clay, and on anything else you might need to know, by using the search box at the top of the page. Good luck!

  11. Michelle Partak, 23 May, 2019

    HI there! I LOVE your tutorials and I’m hoping you can help with some of my questions. Recently I lost my dog unexpectantly and have her clay nose and paw prints that I am wanting to paint. Currently they are not baked as I see alot of things require you to decorate/paint before baking. With the very small detailing of her nose and paw prints in the clay what do you suggest using as a finish to give a shiny/gloss look and also what do you suggest using for the actual colored paint/medium? Would products like liquid sculpy, gold leafing, alcohol inks, mica powders, mica spray watercolor be ok to use without ruining the prints? I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do to make them stand out the print themselves from the rest of the clay thinking I want them shiny/metalic but do you have suggestions to help?? I saw your sealing video and thinking the PYM2 or Acrylic glazing liquid gloss unless something would be suggested? totally new to the clay thing but am a crafty person in general and of coarse have high hopes and one chance to do it without messing up . The only thing I’ve done to them so far is rubber stamped in letters for her name and using water and a brush/finger to get out tiny lines and cracks around the prints. The nose print one I’m wanting to somehow put a saying under the print since it’s a big empty area unsure what’d be the best way of doing that. ( Sorry for being a giant mess of ideas and unsure where to go from here if some of the ideas can even be done on something like this. LOL)

    Thank you soo much in advance!!!

  12. Cindy Lietz, 27 May, 2019

    Hi Michelle, sorry ti hear about the loss of your dog. :( Since you are new to polymer clay, and this project is very important to you, I would suggest you take some extra clay and experiment with baking and finishing, before you try and do your nose and paw prints. I would also suggest that you bake your piece without any finishes first. You can paint it after if you wish… but any mistakes that you make can be removed from a baked piece, much easier than from a raw clay one. I have a lot of videos on paints and finishes that are compatible to use on polymer clay. But I would practice first, so that you know that your project will turn out well, since there is no way to get another nose print. Good luck!

  13. Katie K, 11 March, 2020

    I’m hoping you can help me. I know next to nothing about clay, but I received a polymer clay pawprint impression when we had to put our very senior kitty down a couple weeks ago. It’s a disc about 3/8″ thick (varies, it wasn’t super even) and 4″ in diameter.

    I followed the printout instructions that came with it (bake no longer than 20 minutes at 275F, paint with acrylics and finish with Sculpey glaze if desired), and it seemed set after taking it out (mostly – if I pressed hard with my fingernail I could leave a small mark). I am not sure now about the final step(s). I have polished it, painted it and applied a few layers of Sculpey glossy glaze, but some places I look online suggest re-baking it afterwards to strengthen it (waterproof it??), other people say don’t overbake or you will burn it, or whether you can bake it depends on the glaze…

    I searched for relevant websites/videos and I gather it should be ok to re-bake it at a low temperature for a short amount of time (200F for 10 minutes was one suggestion?), but I’m very worried about ruining it somehow. I saw your video suggesting in general to use a thick pan with the bottom lined with thick paper, and a thin metal baking tray over the top. Does this all sound like it should go OK, and/or do you have any suggestions about different baking temp/time and about how I could be very careful not to damage it?

    I would be so very grateful if you can help me. I’m not a clay hobbyist or anything but this one thing is very important to me to get right. Please let me know if I can compensate you for your time via PayPal or anything, also, I know you probably get a lot of questions from people!

  14. Cindy Lietz, 13 March, 2020

    Hi Katie, sorry for the loss of your pet. I can understand why you are worried about ruining your special print.

    You can bake your piece again, even with the finish on it, in fact we heat set our finishes all the time. You do want to make sure you have a separate oven thermometer in your oven, because most ovens are incorrect and polymer clay needs to be baked at the right temperature in order to properly cure. Baking at a lower temp won’t help. Also the instructions for not over baking past 20 mins is because they don’t want you to burn your piece in an oven that is hotter than you think it is. So they have you underbake your piece just to be safe. Just so you know 20 mins isn’t long enough to cure either. I bake all my pieces for an hour to give them added strength. As a long as the oven is at the right temp, it won’t burn.

    What I would do is get a baking dish and put multiple layers of paper on the bottom and lay your piece in there. Then cover your piece with a tin foil pan. This will protect it from scorching should you have any temperature spikes. It sounds like you saw that video.

    Then using an oven thermometer I would preheat my oven to 275F and I would bake my piece again, for 40 mins. Then after it is cool, you could paint it if you like. Polymer clay is plastic though, so there is no need to waterproof or protect it. So you don’t have to put any paint, sealer or gloss on it at all if you don’t want to.

    Good luck!

  15. Katie K, 16 March, 2020

    Thank you so much for your help! I will follow these instructions to the T. ^-^

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