The Lizard That Almost Wasn't

I decided to experiment with new techniques for the recent magnet swap. One of the things I LOVE about polymer clay is it’s versatility. One research rabbit hole on obscure techniques led me to the idea of combining shrink plastic with polymer clay and sort of melding the two together.

It didn’t go well.

I wanted to make a mosaic lizard with the shrink plastic as the tile and the clay as the “grout.” I used clear shrink plastic colored with alcohol marker and a fine tip sharpie for patterns.

Here was the original design on paper.

With the solid blocks of color added to the plastic plus some sharpie:

My first mistake:
Assuming a 50٪ shrink rate. It was closer to 70٪ leaving me with TINY pieces.

My second mistake: Getting anxious and not baking the plastic long enough. I did the time suggested on the packaging. That was wrong. I laid brown paper on top of the plastic to help with curling but some pieces still warped. I cooked them again. Slight improvement but some of my main pieces were still warped.

I threw out my design and just shoved pieces into clay as I felt like. Even the warped ones.

I baked the clay (which was supposed to adhere the plastic to the clay). What happened instead is that the plastic shrank again! Argh! I lt shifted, it pulled away. My mosaic was a mess. In frustration, I picked the plastic off the baked clay. And discovered the plastic had tattooed the clay in vivid colors and my sharpie designs had transfered as well.

I didn’t take pictures and should have. But here’s a pic of the tiny plastic pieces after that third baking with a coin for size reference:

I was about to throw out the baked clay when my daughter stopped me and said it was cool. So I glazed the heck out of it and the end result is something I kind of like. Even if it’s NOTHING like my original idea.


Your project turned out SO cool; it was a wonderful outcome even if it was a nerve-wracking journey. I feel like a lot of my projects are the same way. Lots of unexpected twists and turns, but satisfying in the end. Kudos!


I really love how it turned out! I understand the disappointment of it not being what you wanted, but you learned a lot and something cool came out of it anyway!

Thanks for sharing the process!


That was a real roller coaster journey to… success!


Ah! I have to admit that I didn’t see the lizard at first in the magnet swap thread…and it was still such a cool piece! Now that I see it I love it even more! Very cool idea that lead to a very cool piece!


Very clever! Love it!

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I was wondering how you did that mosaic! I know its not what you intended, but I agree with your daughter, still cool!


No mistakes, only happy little lizardy accidents!


Thank you! Sometimes the twists are more torturous than others :joy:.

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Thank you!

Such a rollercoaster! And normally I love rollercoasters :rofl:.

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I tell myself he’s a master of camouflage! I didn’t expect the colors to become as saturated as they did.

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Thanks! It was definitely an unexpected result.

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Heh. I have some projects that are such failures they’re hidden in a drawer, waiting to be cannibalized for parts at some future date.

But the clay imprinting was a fun discovery.