Many Uses for Plastic Food Wrap

PW O's Large 1

I published twenty uses for glass, ten in Part I and ten in Part II, in your metal-clay studio or work space. Now I will consider plastic food wrap. And, as I discover other ways in which plastic food wrap can help, I will add those.

Plastic Wrap goes by many names. And in my mind there are two kinds. One is plain ol’ plastic wrap, like Saran Wrap. Remember the Man from Glad? Then, there is Glad’s Press ’n Seal, which has a little adhesive on one side and a slight texture on the other side. 

You can also use a Ziploc bag as if it were plastic food wrap. Simple cut the edges of the bag so you have two separate pieces. This material is heavier than plastic food wrap, which reduces wrinkles. As it is heavier, it is more manageable. I’m sure there are reasons not to use it in place of plastic food wrap, too. I just can’t think of one at the moment.

In all cases, wrinkles are to be avoided by pulling a little on the plastic food wrap.

Storing Clay

Each time I use metal clay, I use plastic food wrap. You see, I store my clay in plastic food wrap. You can read how by clicking here — Storing Clay Long Term.

I also use plastic food wrap to store clay short term. When I am making a piece and need to quickly put my excess clay away, I will wrap it in plastic food wrap and slip it under one cheek. Yes, I sit on it. 

This way all the air is compressed out. It is super handy, should I need it again. Then, when I am finished using the clay, I put it away like I describe in Storing Clay Long Term.

Avoiding Fingerprints

First, you can use plastic food wrap to avoid fingerprints. Simply wrap it tightly around the finger you will be using. In the photo below, I’ve wrapped Press ’n Seal on my finger, to show its slight texture. If I were avoiding fingerprints and textures, I would use plain plastic food wrap.

You could instead wear lightweight latex or nitrile gloves, like those used in hospitals, but one needs to get used to gloves. Also to avoid wrinkles they need to fit tightly. With gloves though, one’s feel just isn’t the same. 

PW Late gloves

With plastic food wrap stretched wrinkle-free over one finger, you can press clay onto surfaces or itself and not leave fingerprints. As in the photo below, if I pressed my finger down, I would make a fingerprint-less divot.

You can extend this principle to other applications, such as helping a piece of wet clay conform to a shape. Below I have a round disc sitting on half a Ping-Pong ball. Without the wrap, as I pressed one side onto the ball, the other side popped up. So I covered the clay with plastic food wrap and tried to press the entire disc down onto the ball. I then helped the outer regions with a finger, going over the plastic food wrap.

PW Rounded

Here is another way to avoid fingerprints on a charm or thick piece. I needed to make a pine cone charm. I had a mold, an eyelet, a tweezers, plastic food wrap, and a small piece of Teflon at the ready. 

I pushed the clay into the pine cone mold, pressed it down by sliding the tissue blade over it, then plopped the pine cone onto the Teflon. Then I grabbed the eyelet with the tweezers in my right hand, and I held the pine cone with plastic food wrap in my left. I inserted the eyelet deep into the clay.

Making O’s

O’s are what I call small round pieces of clay. It’s always nice to have a supply on hand. I make them in two ways. I roll the clay. I use a small hole punch, sometimes a straw, and simply cut out O’s. When I use a straw, most often I have to blow the clay out of the cut end. Cutting like this results in O’s with straight edges. 

If I want O’s with a softer, round edge, I use plastic food wrap. Below I have rolled clay three cards thick, placed plastic food wrap over it, removed any wrinkles, then used two differently sized straws to cut small O’s. The red straw on the right is one of those straws. Then I picked up the plastic food wrap, and removed the excess clay, leaving the small O’s on the Teflon to dry.

PW O's

Here is an application for large O’s. I made large and thick O’s as above, using a piece of brass tubing.

PW O's Large 1

After I removed the excess clay, I let these dry then drilled and carved them into ladybugs. I doubt I could get this organic shape by sanding. I sell a lot of ladybug earrings and necklaces to a retailer in Brooklyn, and I am ever so happy to streamline this part of the production.

PW O's Large 2

16-1221b sm

17-1235a sm

Rounded Corners on Cut Outs

Likewise, you can do the same process for making any shape. Below I’ve used a cookie cutter on plastic-food-wrap-covered clay and made a teardrop shape that will now dry with a rounded edge on top. It’s an edge that would be difficult to achieve by sanding.

PW Rounded Corners Firm

Then, what if I do not have a cookie cutter or what if I have a template that is not firm? I can still do this by simply pressing on the template around the cut-out. Below is a funky heart cut into stencil paper. The lavender thing is a tool I am using to press around the border of the heart. When I picked up the plastic food wrap, I then used a pointer tool to cut on the line left by my pressing.

PW Rounded Corners Soft

Handling Floppy Pieces of Clay

I was making a ring on which I would add clay and build up layers and add elements. Therefore, I wanted a band that was kind of thin with which to begin. As you know, when you are making a ring band, you often wish you had three hands — two to bend and hold the clay around the mandrel and a third one to cut where they overlap. To help me with my desired foundational band, I rolled the clay directly onto plastic food wrap. Then, I tapered the ends at the length for the size ring that I wanted.

PW Roll on 1

Then I cut the width and misted the clay with water. I picked up the plastic food wrap and placed one tapered end on my ring mandrel (pre-oiled).

PW Roll on 2

Then, I turned the ring mandrel with my right hand, while applying the band as it unwrapped from the plastic food wrap.

PW Roll on 3

At the end, I left the wrap in place and used a rubber finger to smooth the seam. Again, this was a band that would be covered, so plastic food wrap wrinkles were okay. I would have to sand the inside when dry.

PW Roll on 4

Rolling for Hinges and What Not

Kind of along the same principle as the ring above, one can use plastic food wrap to help make a hollow tube, such that is used in a hinge. I may or may not have rolled the clay on the plastic food wrap. I placed the brass rod or hole placeholder (oiled) onto the clay toward the flat end I wish to roll over.

PW Hinge 1

I began rolling the plastic food wrap over, holding the hole placeholder as close to the clay’s edge as I could. Rolling the plastic food wrap also rolls the clay over. In a way, this is like rolling a cigarette or a sushi roll.

PW Hinge 2

Then I placed my blue thickness slats under the hold placeholder ends, which makes my hollow piece uniform. I then took a straight edge and pressed the meeting of the two pieces of clay. You can see the plastic food wrap is tight and helping shape and join the clay.

PW Hinge 3

I unwrapped the plastic food wrap and took a tissue blade to cut right beneath where the top rolled clay met the bottom clay.

PW Hinge 4

Keeping Pieces Separated

Here is the tube I rolled above, cut into three parts. When it was ready to apply to my creation, I stabbed plastic food wrap onto the brass tube, which separated the hinge elements, as shown in the below photo. This way, I could add wet clay and water where the tubes joined the creation’s pieces, and they would not join together where they touched. You can just barely see in the second photo below that the middle part of the tube hinge is covered in plastic food wrap. This allowed me to join this piece to the front and the two other tubes to the back, separately and cleanly, keeping the three parts of this hinge in place with the brass tube.

As you go about making more complicated pieces and are presented with how to attach an element without contaminating another part of your piece, remember . . . plastic food wrap.

4 Hinge w plastic wrap between
4 Hinge ready to add 1st hinges 2

To Hold a Piece of Dry Clay Sheet or PMC Paper in Place

I lifted the photos below from the Internet so don’t tell.  If you ever find the need to hold a flat sheet of dry clay in place, then sandwiching it between two pieces of plastic food wrap works well. Especially if one or both of the plastic food wrap pieces are Press ’n Seal.

PMC Artist Wanaree Tanner developed a technique for cutting rolled and dry flat pieces of metal clay on the paper cutter, the Silhouette. She attaches the sheet of dried clay to the cutting matte using Press ’n Seal plastic food wrap.

I’m sure this has an application sans Silhouette, but I’ve yet to discover it. 

PW Silhouette
PW Silhouette 2

If you have any other uses for plastic food wrap, do share!

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations

© Kris A Kramer 2019