Die Cutting Polymer Clay: My First Experiments

I did some research into die cutting machines and chose the Silhouette Portrait. My research indicated that the Silhouette has the ability to cut quite intricate images. Not many devices have this ability. The Silhouette uses software to tell the machine what images to cut. It does not use physical shape dies. I really liked this feature, because I can cut images I designed. The reason for buying a die cut machine? I heard rumors people were cutting Precious Metal Clay (PMC) with a die cut machine. “Hmmmm, interesting”, I thought. “I bet I can cut polymer clay, too.”

portrait

Sound theory, but it took some experimenting to get it right. First off, when PMC dries it becomes somewhat leathery feeling and firms up. This is not the case with raw polymer clay. It can be down right squishy and sticky in the best of situations. The first cut I did was terrible. LOL The clay was pushed and pulled and dragged. A complete mess and the blade was packed full of clay.   After some thought, my solution was to place a piece of plastic deli wrap over the sheet of clay before I cut it. Plastic deli wrap is not to be confused with the waxed type of deli paper.  They are completely different. The deli wrap keeps the cutting blade from getting all clogged with clay and helps it glide over the surface of the clay, so you get a smoother cut.

This is the deli wrap

deliwrap

I also found that polymer clay does not like to release from tacky adhesive side of the cutting mat that came with my Silhouette Portrait machine. So don’t use that side. 🙂 You can leave the protective sheet on the tacky side and use the back to die cut your clay, but I chose to purchase some inexpensive “cut your own” stenciling sheets to use to die cut my clay. They are made of the same material so they work great in my Silhouette.

Here is my first cut, the one I couldn’t get off the tacky side of the cutting mat. I destroyed the clay getting it off. LOL

istcut

Another issue I had was getting the clay sheet thin enough to die cut. Even using the thinnest setting on my pasta machine ( I tried both the Makin’s Machine and the Atlas Marcato) did not get the polymer clay sheet thin enough. I used a piece of the “cut your own” stenciling material to run through the pasta machine with the clay and Ta-Da, it was finally thin enough to die cut. 🙂 I used the next to thinnest setting on my Makin’s Machine.

Here are the successes  I have had so far die cutting raw polymer clay.

leafy pendants diecutfiligree

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