Powder Embossing

I’m back from vacation and ready to wrap up the last shows of the summer! This weekend we’ll be at the Mabee Farms Arts and Crafts Festival, so if you’re in the Capital District stop by for a visit. Following the show I’ll be starting on Christmas ornaments – never too early! – so expect a post in the next week or two with more information on commission guidelines.

I’ve just completed one of my largest commission orders and wanted to share the process with you all. At the Arts on Genesse show in early June, I was approached by Dayaprasad Kulkarni about a special project. Daya runs a nonprofit group called Aarogya Seva, which is focused on providing local, sustainable and comprehensive healthcare to marginalized communities in India, USA, Nepal, Rwanda, Mexico and Haiti for low or no cost. He hoped I might be able to make some magnets and pins for his company, being interested in a product more durable and refined than plastic, and having an interest in working with a local artist.

Large scale production is something I’ve been working my way in to slowly, to the point where I can now make batches of a single product fairly quickly. However, it’s very rare that I need to make each item look as similar as possible, and I tried a few methods out before landing on something that worked. Hand painting would have been entirely too time consuming, and image transfer (baking laser printed copies of the logo in to the clay) looked muddy and cheap. Finally, I decided to emboss, and approached Custom Made Stuff, a local maker who uses 3d printing to create clay embossing stamps:


From here, it was fairly simple to make multiple pins at once. I would roll out a sheet of clay:


Cover the stamp with tinted powders:


Press the stamp in to the clay:


And remove the stamp to trim the pin with cutters and a flexible blade:


Once baked, all that was needed was a finishing spray to fix the color.IMG_0905

I’m always happy with a project that lets me try out new techniques, but having one that also helps a very good cause made it even better.