The gin transfer method with Kato Polyclay™

by Arbel, Publishing Group

: : : Materials : : :

  • Eye dropper
  • Gin
To condition your clay, cut a 3 ounce block into 4 thin pieces, flatten the clay with a clay brayer, then pass the sheets one at a time through the thickest setting of the pasta machine. Add one sheet to another, roll through again. Roll all the clay through the thickest setting of the pasta machine 20 times. We are using a mixture of 1/2 white and 1/2 pearl because the transfer will show well on a light color and the pearl gives the transfer a glowing magical look.
Make sure your clay is a little bit sticky, your finger should not slide across it but stick a bit. If the clay is dry, add the tiniest drop of liquid polymer and spread it evenly around the sheet of clay.
Use a laser print (not an ink jet print) to create the image you will transfer--the large printers used in copy places are laser printers, most home printers are ink jet.
Cut your image to the exact dimensions that you want to transfer.

Put your image ink side down on the wet clay. Using the image as a template, use your knife to cut the clay to the same dimensions as your image. Pick both clay and paper transfer up and place on a sheet of wax paper, burnish a bit with your finger. Then drop some gin with an eye dropper (yes, alcohol, unfiltered, the cheapest) onto the paper side of the image and wait until that absorbs into the paper.
Add a little more gin, you don't want a swimming effect, just enough to start removing the paper. Burnish in circles till the paper starts to roll off. Burnish from the middle out, so that you don't pull off the paper from the edges. When the paper becomes too dry, add small amounts of gin, just enough to wet the paper a bit (too much will remove the ink as well). When the paper is gone, rub on a bit of the Simple Solutions medium for polymer clay. Without it, the ink can rub off even after the clay is baked.
After placing the piece on a tile for baking, cover the tile with tin foil so that the polymer does not get into your oven. The clay should be baked at 300 degrees Fahrenheit; you should place an oven thermometer on the tile to be sure your oven is calibrated. I like to bake the piece for 20 minutes once the oven is at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, however, if you go over the recommended time your piece will be just fine.


The paper is sliding around when you burnish. The clay is too dry, add some liquid polymer, or the clay is too wet, add some more hard clay.
The ink is lifting off the clay. The clay is too dry or you have too much gin on the transfer, use a paper towel to lift some of the gin.

: : : Additional Resources : : :

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