When I started looking at photo booth props, I was in love with clay versions that were for sale. I was not in love with the price, however! Plus, being the DIY kinda lady that I am, I really wanted to take a crack at it myself. I’m so excited to finally share this with everyone!
- Polymer Clay – I prefer Sculpey. It’s very important that you pinch the package in the store, because some packages are softer than others. It’s difficult to work with older, harder clay so dig for what you want.
- Gloves (Optional) – I find the clay stains my hands.
- Clay/Sculpting Tools – I got a cheapo set made of plastic at the hobby store. I really like the ones that have a curved bit on the end because I used those a lot for making rounded edges and smoothing.
- Wax Paper – Protects your work surface and does not stick like paper
- Parchment Paper – To protect your baking sheet from the clay
- Rolling Pin or Fondant Roller
- Baking Sheet
- Dowels – I found pre-cut dowels in a bag at the hobby store. They were quite cheap. The diameter is up to you.
- Wooden Finials – These are sold in the wood section at your hobby store with the little cutouts, buttons, etc. that are made of wood. Make sure you get finials with the same sized hole (or slightly larger) that your dowel so they fit together nicely. These are completely optional but I really thought it would be cool to spruce them up even more. It’s what sets mine apart from the others online. =)
- Gloss Glaze (Optional) – If you decide you like the look of shiny lips. You will also need a paintbrush.
- Hot Glue
- Felt (Optional)
- Do not use any tools that you use with food. If you do, protect the surface from the clay using parchment paper.
- Protect your work surface with wax paper because it does not stick to the clay and it is easy to see-through.
To Make Lips:
- Tear off a piece of clay (one rectangle of Sculpey). Work it in your hands until it begins to soften
- Roll into a pill shape using your hands.
- Press flat with the palm of your hand.
- Pinch the ends to make the corners of the lips.
Press the middle of the top lip to create the dip (lookin sexay)
Holding the curved end of a clay working tool at an angle, begin to make the opening of the lips. I found it best to move the tool in little bounces down the length of the lips. If you don’t want your lips to open, do not push all the way through the clay. Also, do not cut all the way to the ends of the lips. Because the tool has beveled edges, you should have a nice, rounded edge to your lips. If not, use the tool to press along the lip opening to make it more rounded.
If you are opening up the lips, separate them carefully and smooth any rough edges.
To make teeth, lightly press a thin layer of white clay to the back side of the lips.
Finally, to make them look more realistic, lightly scrape across the surface of each lip to make the lip print. Remember to have the lines radiate outward from the center.
To Make Mustaches:
Unless you are massively talented (I’m not), you will need a pattern. I found many patterns on Google images and enlarged them until I was happy with the size. If you want to make your own pattern, I suggest folding a piece of paper in half and drawing half of your object first. Then, you can flip over the pattern and see the other half to copy it. When you open the paper you will have a symmetrical pattern across the fold of the paper.
Make sure you are happy with the size and shape by checking the pattern against your own face in the mirror.
Method 1: Lay your pattern below the wax paper. Work the clay in your hands to make it pliable. Using small pieces, fill in the pattern by pressing onto the wax paper. Using fingers or clay tools, smooth the surface and edges until you are happy. Using a skinny tool, lightly add details. The object should be be ~1/3″-1/2″ thick.
Method 2: Protect your surface with wax paper. Work the clay in your hands to make it pliable. As you would with dough, work the entire piece of clay into a ball and press onto the wax paper. Top with another piece of wax paper and roll out like dough using a rolling pin or fondant roller. 1/3″-1/2″ thick is pretty good. Remove the top layer of wax paper and lay the pattern on top of the clay. Using your clay tools, cut out around the pattern like a cookie cutter. Smooth the edges if desired and add details using a thin clay tool.
Lay your pieces out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Follow the manufacturers instructions for baking the pieces. I found that if you go a little long it won’t matter (it doesn’t really burn). You can check the pieces by cooling them and then lightly trying to bend them.
Once all the pieces are cool, attach them together (in the case of things like hearts) using hot glue. Attach the dowels using hot glue. You may want to test out how you will hold them before committing to a dowel location. If the prop goes over the face, you want the dowel toward the edge of the piece so it won’t attract too much attention. You also want to put the dowels at an angle toward the outside of the piece so that they can be held off to the side and not block the user’s face with dowel or hand, but still allowing the prop itself to be level.
If desired, glaze anything you want to be shiny (like lips). Be aware, however, that this may cause a glare for the camera. It depends on your setup.
If you want to make the back of the piece look prettier, use the object itself as a pattern to cut out similarly colored felt. Attach felt to the back (over the dowel) using a bit of hot glue.
So there you have it! It was so much easier than I thought it would be to get really good looking results. While still a little expensive, they were nothing compared to the pre-made ones I found. Plus, I got to add my own finishing touches and really personalize them to what we wanted.