Texture Sponges on Polymer Clay

If you want a perfectly smooth and glass-like finish on polymer clay, the best solution is to sand and buff (learn about that here). But sometimes you want a plain area, such as on the back of pendants and earrings. But if you leave an area plain, it will be easier to see all the normal little flaws such as fingerprints and those annoying little bubbles that often crop up. So what can you do? I’ve talked about using textures to hide flaws before, but I have one tool that I use more than any other. Here’s a clayer’s secret weapon comes into play. Use texture sponges on polymer clay!

small pieces of filter sponge
These texture sponges are really air conditioning filters and produce bin liners.

How to Use Texture Sponges on Polymer Clay

To use texture sponges on your polymer clay creations, just press the texture sponge onto the unbaked clay surface. The harder you press, the deeper the texture. And the more times you press down, the denser the pattern will be. Believe it or not, the texture sponge won’t stick to the polymer clay and you don’t (usually) need to wash it between uses. (That’s not true if your clay is super sticky or if you’re doing anything on white. White is a pain in the neck.) A single piece lasts for a long time but eventually does start to break down and shed a bit (after several years).

earring and brooch back showing texture
The backs of this earring and brooch are textured with a texture sponge.
earring with textured back
The back of these polymer clay earrings is textured with a fine air conditioning filter, used as a texture sponge to hide fingerprints. Notice how smaller pore size on the texture sponge gives a finer finish than the larger one in the photo above.

What are Texture Sponges?

If you do a search for texture sponges, you won’t come up with much. That’s because their “real” use is for something else. These sponge-like materials are also called “open-cell foam” and are typically used as either air or water filters. You may have seen something similar as a filter for your aquarium pump or window air conditioner.

air conditioner filter and produce liner sponge
Air conditioner filter and produce bin liner sponge make great textures sponges for polymer clay.

Where to Buy Texture Sponges for Polymer Clay?

When you buy a sheet of filter material, you’ll get more than you’ll need. This is nice when you want to share it with a friend. Get these from hardware stores or from marketplaces like Amazon. If you want small pieces and a variety of filter pore sizes, you can buy bundled packs from polymer clay suppliers.

From Hardware Stores or Amazon (US)

Sheets of this spongy foam sponge are sometimes sold in dollar stores as a liner for your refrigerator’s produce bin. If you can’t find them locally, you can buy them from marketplaces such as Amazon. The medium-sized “holes” on these texture sponges are a good all-purpose size.

You can also buy an air conditioning filter from the hardware store. I bought a larger-celled filter from Amazon here, and this one is smaller textured.

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From Polymer Clay Suppliers

Clayaround in the UK carries a package of texture sponges that has three sizes. The largest one is very coarse but gives a unique “light touch” to the clay.

pieces of texture sponge from Clayaround
These pieces of texture sponge are from Clayaround in the UK.

If you’re in the Czech Republic or Europe in general, you will want to check out these texture sponges from Namravka.cz.

texture sponges from Nemravka
Texture sponges from Nemravka for use with polymer clay.

In Australia, you can get this set of 4 texture sponges from 2Wards Polymer Clay.

This set of texture sponges from Leila Bidler is available on Etsy.

Clay-Yo sponges are the name brand of a set of these sponges originally distributed by Daniel Torres and Natalia García de Leániz. Donna Kato used to carry them on her Prairie Craft website, but they haven’t been in stock for a while. Happy Things does currently have them in stock, however.

Other Ways to Use Texture Sponges

You can also use these texture sponges to create areas that look like sand or stone. Try using a texture sponge over mokume gane or canework to give an interesting soft texture.

Here are some spacer beads made with textured, colored clay by Natalia García de Leániz. I think they look like terrycloth.

Untitled

How do YOU use texture sponges with your polymer clay? Tell me about it in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Texture Sponges on Polymer Clay”

  1. Alison Anderson

    Ive only just started making clay earrings and have rolled my clay out on a tea towell that has given a nice texture to the back.

  2. I bought aquarium filters at a pet store. They were too thick so I sliced them through with a pair of very sharp scissors. I run them through the pasta machine in front of clay for a nice finish. BTW, Premo out of the pack embeds itself in the filter material, so I leach it first for an hour or so and it goes through very nicely.

  3. Running your clay sheet through the pasta machine with a water misted sponge sheet multiple times on the same setting will build up the texture on your clay.

  4. Heidi McCullough

    I run my backing clay through the pasta machine with the sponge before cutting to shape and attaching with a smidge of liquid clay or Genesis Thick Medium. That way I only have to touch it up a little (including the cut edge) rather than trying to texture the entire surface.

    I’ve also used the sponge to texture a dome I made on a bowl, so now I can BAKE a curved piece with a textured back on that dome and not jeopardize my textured back. If I’m worried about it sticking, a quick pat with my cornstarch pounce bag will prevent it.

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