If you know me, you know that I love the Sculpey Tools™ Etch n’ Pearls. Those odd little metal pokey things that are sold in a set of 3.
Most of us bought them before we really even knew what they did – besides poke holes. But it is the magical cupped end that is really the workhorse of our tool box. I have lost count of the times that I’ve announced at a clay retreat (ahhh, the days…) that I’m going to do a EnP (Etch n' Pearl) demo and artists would exclaim, “Ohh! A new tool!” And when I held them up, they would run back to their tables and get theirs from their toolbox while saying, “I’ve HAD THESE but didn’t know WHAT to do with them!”
Well, yes, they are nice pointy tools for making holes, but it is the OTHER end that is really a dynamite tool.
Now a little mold release is needed when you use the “pearl” end of these tools. For a long time, I tried dipping them in water first, it worked, but was a little messy. Then, since I was an old print retoucher, I licked them! That was perfect, but GROSS.
One day I was looking for a bottle cap or something on my (very) messy work area and I found a little bit of sponge that was still damp from my washing out the paint I had daubed on another project. I poked the pearl end into the sponge and then into the clay and VOILA! My EnP mold release dilemma was solved.. Since then, I’ve had a great clay friend provide me with a sponge in one of those little aluminum spice keepers – perfect for travel and the sponge stays damp almost forever!
The thickness of your clay layer you use the EnPs on will make all the difference in what you create with this versatile tool. A thin layer will yield polka dots. These were laid onto the sheet of clay and then flattened further with the pasta machine.
While a thicker layer will yield “pearls” or little round bumps. (The tutorial for these pendants can be found at: https://www.sculpey.com/how-to/sculpey-souffle-synspin-graduated-color-pendant)
The blue dots are made with a thin layer and the little “pearls” are made with a thick layer.
Did I tend to get carried away with my EnPs – Sure from time to time - as you can see by that ginormous pile of pendants above!
Oh! Those wonderful bumps can also be pressed into a Sculpey Cabochon Mold to create super cute patterns.
So what else can you use these for?
Well, you can use the medium Dual End Detail Tool to create a “doubled pearl” by creating a cup in a large or medium pearl that you can drop in a smaller pearl. (really pretty with a Large Gold pearl and a smaller pearl in a rich color like Cayenne.)
You can use the flat chisel tool to make a cross in a pearl to create a faux screw head.
You can use the smallest Dual End Detail Tool to poke a hole in the center of a large or medium pearl to create a rivet.
All three of these details are excellent to enhance detail in your designs or even cover seams.
Why not use them to build a bezel around a faux stone?
Or you can get COMPLETELY carried away like I tend to do with them!
A few more tips for using my favorite Sculpey tool –
I often will punch these out on a smooth tile when I need bunches of pearls for a project. Just punch a batch and peel the remaining sheet of clay from the tile. I will also work on paper when I want to “scuff” or scrap the pearl into my tool again to position it on my design.
I clipped about 1/2 inch off the pointed ends on my travel set of EnPs so that they would fit my tool kit. BONUS! I can use that clipped end to punch a hole in a piece of sheeted clay for assembling after baking. Since the point is blunt and no longer tapered, it makes a super clean hole all the way through the sheet of clay.
Share with us how you use your Etch n’ Pearls by using the hashtag #HowDoYouSculpey