Using Invent It!
Body Sticker Tattoos
on Polymer Clay
By Tonja Lenderman
Thanks to my friends at the Polymer Clay Central Forum, a product by the Invent It! company has become a real favorite of mine. The product is called Body
Sticker Tattoos. These are special sheets of clear plastic you run through your inkjet
printer and then apply a 2-sided adhesive to stick them to the clay. Of course, being so
creative, we polymer clay artists cant be content with using them like normal people,
right? <G> So the following is a list of tips and hints to make using your tattoos
with polymer clay an easier task.
- Use any graphics program to lay out your images, leaving at
least 1/4 between images. I like to leave 1 around my images, because you
never know when that extra space will come in handy on a future project. Remember, the
sheets are only 5 1/2 X 8 1/2 , so set up and plan your images accordingly.
And ALWAYS print a test sheet first to make sure the images are going to come out
correctly. I wasted the first sheet I printed by not doing this simple thing.
- The tattoos can be applied to either raw or baked clay. This is the greatest
advantage of this product. Either way, I do recommend sealing the tattoo with varnish,
clear embossing powder, translucent clay or liquid translucent clay. (Instructions on each
technique to follow)
A simple fact - Once you apply the tattoo, its down for good. Ive tried
peeling them up and they dont look too pretty afterwards. So just be sure you have
your image where you want it before you start pressing it into place.
- Another fact Tattoos applied onto raw clay and then baked will slightly
crinkle as they cool down. Its actually a very cool aged look and quite handy with
some projects. So far, the tattoos Ive baked under a layer of translucent have not
been able to crinkle. And melting the clear embossing powder over the top of the crinkled
tattoo takes some of that effect away.
- Yet another little fact Because the tattoos are printed onto transparent
sheets you really need to apply them to light colored clay for the best effect. Medium
shades of clay work okay with images that are not overly busy. Simple is better in this
case. Dark clays will overpower the image.
- Applying the tattoos - Take one of your tattoos, prepared per manufacturers
instruction, and peel off the protective sheet from the adhesive. Now place one end of the
tattoo onto the surface of the clay. Slowly work your way from side to side to the other
end, pushing out any bubbles trapped under the tattoo. You DO NOT want any bubbles
under there, if at all possible.
- Sealing the tattoos - Here you have several options, which include using
varnish, clear embossing powder, translucent clay or liquid translucent clay.
- Varnish used on tattoos that have either been baked onto raw clay or applied
over baked clay.
- Clear Embossing Powder also used on tattoos that have either been baked onto raw
clay or applied over baked clay. I find that having a raised area, such as a frame around
the tattoo helps to keep the melted powder in place, but it isnt necessary. Just
sprinkle the powder over the tattoo and heat it in the oven at the same temperature you
your bake clay at until its clear. It may take anywhere from 10 20 minutes
depending on how thick the powder was sprinkled.
- Translucent clay A very thin layer of translucent clay can be placed over the
tattoo when it has been applied to raw clay. This method has not work properly for me when
doing it over baked clay. Apply the layer of clay like you did the tattoo, trying hard to
get all the bubbles out. They will distort the image if too many are left between the clay
- Liquid translucent clay Apply a very thin layer to tattoos that have either been
baked onto raw clay or applied over baked clay and bake at normal clay temperature for 15
minutes. More layers can be applied if desired. Several thin layers are much better than 1
thick layer. A thick layer will not be very translucent after baking, but where as several
thin layers will be nicely translucent. I do not say clear, because no translucent clay
will be completely transparent.
Using images for your tattoo - Be very careful what images you choose to use. Some
images will have a copyright and should not be used if you plan on selling your new
creations. There are many places on the internet where clipart, photographs, and old works
of art that are copyright free can be found and used with no worry. You can also use your
own artwork or family photos. Another choice may be to purchase books from Dover
Publications. A wide variety of copyright free images are available and are perfect for
If you are going to bake the tattoo onto raw clay, make sure
you secure the edges of the tattoo with a frame of clay to keep it from shrinking and
I tried a little experiment - I put 5 tattoos,
without the adhesive applied to them, onto a sheet of clay. One had trans clay over it,
one had Kato liquid, one has TLS, one I sprinkled UTEE (ultra thick embossing powder) over it, and the last nothing on it. First, I learned that UTEE blows all over the convection oven when you don't tent it with foil. <G> Second, that UTEE sprinkled over a layer
of Liquid clay gives a really cool effect after baked. <VBG> And last, but not
least, you can apply the tattoo to raw clay without the adhesive as long as you seal it
under translucent clay or liquid clay and clear embossing powder (that isn't UTEE). The
tattoo will scratch off the baked clay if you don't seal it. I did not have any luck with
the UTEE. It was everywhere except on the tattoo. It's like it pushed itself away from the
tattoo. I had only used a different (cheaper) brand of clear embossong powder over my
tattoos, but I couldn't find it so I used the UTEE instead. Bad choice, I guess. Or maybe
I needed to tent it to keep it from blowing around. I had to scrape off the glass on the
inside of the oven door to get all the UTEE spots off. LOL!
Thank you, Tonja! You can Email Tonja at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her
Body Tattoo Tips
From Sharon Bugni
Tip: "There are many websites offering miniature prints of wallpapers, flooring, rugs, movie posters, artwork & more for dollhouse and miniature enthusiasts. Should work well for this technique. One such site is www.printmini.com."
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