Sometimes you want to make a mold of an object and then make several identical items from polymer clay. An example of this would be if you found a great vintage button but only had one, but wanted to make enough of them for a cardigan you knitted. You could use the button to make a mold from silicone mold putty, and it would work very well. But silicone mold putty is expensive and can only be used once. If you don’t need to use the mold again, you waste the material. That also happens if the mold turns out badly. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a reusable mold putty? There is! ImPRESSive Putty might be exactly what you need.
What is ImPRESSive Putty?
ImPRESSive Putty is a non-toxic single-part mold material that melts in the microwave to form a soft dough or putty. While ImPRESSive Putty is warm, you can impress an item into the putty to make a push mold or press mold. After it cools, you can use it many times to cast things. You can make molds and texture sheets to be used with polymer clay, modeling clay, soap, and wax. Once you have finished with the mold, just melt it down to make another mold.
ImPRESSive putty is tan in color and when cool is flexible but firm to the touch. It feels sort of like a piece of rubber, but more organic. I get the impression it’s made from flour and sugar somehow, but with a plastic element to it. The website says it’s made of all-natural biodegradable polymers (which could mean anything – starch is a polymer.) It doesn’t have much of an odor. When melted it feels a bit like Silly Putty, but heavier. When you open the package, you’ll find a lump of putty inside of a special non-stick bag and tied with a recloseable cable tie. The package also includes instructions and a small bottle of “activator” liquid.
This activator isn’t like a chemical catalyst. Rather it’s the “juice” that keeps ImPRESSive Putty from sticking and drying out. This liquid is present on the surface of the putty once it cools and is present on the molds that you make. You might want to wipe it off your molds if it gets too goopy. I’m pretty sure that this liquid is mostly glycerin; it feels warm and sticky on your hands.
Melting ImPRESSive Putty
The use ImPRESSive Putty, just put a few drops of the activating liquid into the bag and close it again. Put the bag in the microwave to melt. I was stunned at how quickly the material got hot. It seriously only takes 30 seconds to a minute to melt the entire bag’s contents. The material will get very hot, so do make sure you use a towel or oven mitts to handle the bag. The putty will hold the heat for a long time, so set it aside until it’s a comfortable working temperature. It should take about ten minutes to cool enough to work with. You then massage the putty through the bag for about three minutes to make sure there are no lumps and the material is evenly mixed.
If you begin working with ImPRESSive Putty when it’s too hot, it won’t hold its shape well and will stick to everything, especially. Once it has cooled to where you can work with it, you’ll find that it’s a soft putty that feels a bit like Silly Putty, but with a heavy weight to it. It’s not as sticky once it’s cooled down a bit and typically doesn’t need a release agent.
Making Molds with ImPRESSive Putty
ImPRESSive Putty makes excellent press molds or push molds. Just push your item into the putty. If you’ve worked with silicone mold putties, you’ll already be familiar with the process. I found that you can also make texture sheets. It takes impressions remarkably well. ImPRESSive Putty isn’t the best material for making large or deep pour molds, but it can be done with careful planning and perhaps some support such as a casting box. ImPRESSive Putty is best for making molds from items that aren’t fuzzy, soft, or likely to be damaged by contact with glycerin or water.
One thing to be aware of is the tendency of ImPRESSive Putty to droop while it’s cooling. I found that it slumped away from the button I made test molds from. If you wait until the material is kind of cool before you create the mold, it won’t droop as much. Experience will help you know how long to wait. Be aware that if you wait too long, the material will become too hard to accept a good impression.
Once you’re pressed the master item into the mold material, you need to let ImPRESSive Putty sit for about two hours until it’s completely cool. Then remove your master item.
Using ImPRESSive Putty Molds
You can cast all sorts of things into your ImPRESSive molds such polymer clay, modeling clay, plaster, metal clay, candle wax, soap, and more. The ImPRESSive Putty material is non-toxic and biodegradable. When I cast epoxy resin into an ImPRESSive mold, I found that the resin turned white. I suspect this is due to the clear liquid that gradually oozes out of the molds. (Others have reported success, so your mileage may vary.) This clear liquid does make the molds non-stick for most materials, however, and you will most likely not need a release agent.
Because this material melts in the heat, however, you cannot bake polymer clay in the molds, nor cast hot materials into them.
ImPRESSive Putty is great for copying textures from your environment, and I found that it worked nicely for making texture sheets. It also works nicely if you need to “reverse” a texture sheet that you have (making an innie into an outie). Because the material is non-stick, I didn’t have trouble with it getting stuck in my texture stamps. If you do get it stuck, just wash with hot soapy water and a toothbrush; it is water soluble.
ImPRESSive Putty is not currently certified to be food safe. That doesn’t mean it’s not…it just means they haven’t paid for the testing. All of the ingredients are food safe. But a certified food-safe version of ImPRESSive Putty is in the works. Read more on this Kickstarter page, and join if you can. It’s also a cheap way to try ImPRESSive Putty. The $10 level gets you a small package of the stuff!
Durability of ImPRESSive Putty
Molds and textures made with ImPRESSive Putty are not durable for the long term. For one thing, storing them is a challenge because they continuously “sweat” or ooze the clear, sticky activator liquid. I think they will also dry out over time.
The molds and textures themselves are sturdy enough to give good impressions into Souffle and Premo polymer clay but might be too soft for the stiff nature of Kato Polyclay. The detail in the molds held up for my testing purposes, but I can see where the material would not withstand hundreds of castings. You can easily tear or pick apart the molds with your fingernail, for example.
When you have finished with your molds, I recommend cutting them apart and putting the pieces back into the non-stick bag for storage. I was able to chop mine up using my clay blade. Of course, you can easily make new molds anytime by melting the putty in the microwave and repeating the process.
Where to Buy ImPRESSive Putty
I’ve not seen this product in chain craft stores, but you might find it in a more traditional hobby shop. Cake supply shops are another possible source. Here is a list of local suppliers that carry it. Amazon sells it also.
You can buy ImPRESSive Putty in the larger 6-ounce size for around $30, or in the smaller 1.5-ounce size for about $14. (It’s also available in larger sizes.) This makes the initial cost higher than for silicone mold putty. But it is reusable, so if you make a lot of molds, this quickly becomes a better cost option. The 1.5-ounce size is plenty for making a small push mold or texture sheet.
Disclaimer: After some Facebook discussion with Stan at ComposiMold, he sent me some of this product to test and see how well it worked with polymer clay. As always with my reviews, I have lots of opinions and they’re all my own, regardless of how I received the product. I will be using this stuff with my clay in the future. You can bet on it.
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