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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 can’t 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.
  1. 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.


  2. 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)


  3. A simple fact - Once you apply the tattoo, it’s down for good. I’ve tried peeling them up and they don’t look too pretty afterwards. So just be sure you have your image where you want it before you start pressing it into place.


  4. Another fact – Tattoos applied onto raw clay and then baked will slightly crinkle as they cool down. It’s actually a very cool aged look and quite handy with some projects. So far, the tattoos I’ve 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.


  5. 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.


  6. Applying the tattoos - Take one of your tattoos, prepared per manufacturer’s 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.


  7. 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 isn’t necessary. Just sprinkle the powder over the tattoo and heat it in the oven at the same temperature you your bake clay at until it’s 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 and tattoo.

    • 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.

  8. 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 this technique.


  9. 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 curling.


  10. 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!
©2003-Tonja Lenderman

Thank you, Tonja! You can Email Tonja at tonjal@polymerclaycentral.com or visit her Website at http://www.tonjastreasures.com/


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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