Sunday, 11 April 2010

Friendly Plastic Tutorial

When I was asked to suggest a tutorial for my term as DT Member for the Altered Element, I immediately thought of Friendly Plastic. This is a product I have used quite a bit over the last few years, and I knew Lynne was going to be stocking it, but I also knew some of my very experienced crafting friends had a bit of a fear of it – even one friend who normally likes nothing better than a bit of smoking and burning! So I hope I can eradicate any fears – you will not get a serious burn from Friendly Plastic. Many techniques do not require you to touch the Friendly Plastic with your fingers at all. If you are using art moulds, however, you might get a nasty Ouch! moment if you don’t follow the simple rule of having a bowl of water beside you to dip your fingers in before you touch it, but otherwise you will be fine.

I had such a lot of material to cover that I am doing a two-parter, and I hope you will give it a go before I move onto jewellery in Part 2! When working with Friendly Plastic, you can either soften it to make an impression, or completely melt it for filling art moulds, etc. (I buy my Krafty Lady art moulds from the Stamp Bug and there is a huge choice). You can either use warm water at a constant 60 degrees C, using a thermometer, a griddle or oven, or a heat gun, but for the purposes of this tutorial I will be using a heat gun. When you buy your FP it will come in a strip, 17.5 cm x 3.5 cm, or in pellets, and there is a huge choice of colours and patterns, many of which are metallic, although some are primary colours:-

You are a little bit constrained by the size of the pieces at first, but once you get the hang of it you will be able to piece different colours together to create stunning effects, as with the beaded dragonfly art mould in Part 2. When you are choosing your colours of FP, you will notice that the name of the colour on the reverse of the tab has a secondary colour, and this is the colour of the back of your FP and it is often black, but can also be pink or blue, or a variety of colours. The reason I mention it is you can re-work all your little scraps of FP, but it will mean your secondary colour will be merged into your project, which can look very pretty, as with the touch of pink in the marbled heart. If you specifically want a project to just have the surface colour, just don’t rework it and use your scraps for another time.The only other specific tool you will need for this first project, other than those you will already have in your stash, is a marbling comb, which looks like this:-

You can also buy friller tools and pokey tools but I won't be using them on this occasion.

And a small cookie cutter such as a heart or flower. We will use this on the first item, which will be an embellishment for the box we are going to decorate:-

Marbled Heart Embellishment

1.    Cut strips of Friendly Plastic in a variety of colours to co-ordinate with your project, cutting across the width of the strip, about half a centimetre wide. Stick a piece of double sided tape to a heat proof craft sheet and place the strips as shown, so that they are touching each other, and held in place by the tape. I used Pewter/Black, Copper/Pink, Jade, and Light Blue. (The tape is to prevent the heat gun blowing the pieces away, but if you have the hairdryer type with less blow, you may be able to manage without).

2. Holding your heat gun about 6 inches away, and on the lower heat setting if you have one, start to heat the FP. After about 30 seconds the edges will start to soften and the surface will become crazed. You don’t want the FP to become completely molten for this technique so turn off your heat gun now.

3.    Gently drag the marbling comb through the warm FP from the bottom of the strip to the top to give this marbled effect. You can easily pull any stray bits off the comb to clean it.

4.    ‘Ink up’ your cookie cutter shape, which could be a small heart or flower or similar, with Versamark to act as a release agent, and press it firmly into the warm FP. Leave it for approximately one to two minutes until it is cool, then remove the cutter. If it doesn’t quite come away completely you can simply pull it from the sticky tape and cut around the outline with a pair of scissors.

5.   I quite like the waste piece:-

Here is the final heart:-

This will form our embellishment to cover the ends of the ribbon on the lid of our box.

Indented Lid Box with Stamped Friendly Plastic Lid

For this project and the next, you will need to choose a stamp design preferably in red rubber, that is big enough to cover the whole piece in one go, and has an abstract pattern. For this project I have used a favourite of mine, the border from Elusive Images Harlequin Rose plate. The rectangular indented papier mache box is from The Altered Element, as are the Lumiere Paints. These papier mache boxes are by Efco and I found them to be good quality compared to others I have tried. Sometimes I coat these items with
watered down PVA glue, to seal any fibres, and so you need less paint. On this occasion I didn’t need to and I found the Lumiere paint gave good coverage. It is best not to use a very wet paint as it can cause the papier mache to swell. If there are any rough edges (which mine didn’t have), give it a light sanding before you start. There will be a sticky label on the base. Use a quick blast of the heat gun to melt the adhesive to remove this cleanly, or use sticky stuff remover or again, a light sanding.
1.  Sponge the box inside and out with the Gold and the Green Lumiere paint, in streaks so the colours are partially blended, to give somewhere between a chartreuse and a verdigris sort of look.

2. Cut a piece of Friendly Plastic 10 cms long to fit the indented part of your box lid. The width will be just right.

3. Soften the piece using your heat gun until you have a crazed appearance as before, with the edges starting to soften. Ink up your Harlequin Rose Border stamp with Versamark and stamp into the FP, using even and firm pressure as you would generally when stamping. Leave the stamp in place for approximately two minutes until cooled, then peel it away.

4. Rub Gunmetal Metallic Rub On (from Earthtones No 2) or Rub N Buff from the Altered Element into the embossed design with your finger.

The design will become more defined. Stick the piece to the lid of your painted box using Red Line strong
double sided tape.

5. Stick co-ordinating ribbon or trim around the lid and base of your box, and around the indented area around the edge of the Friendly Plastic piece, using strong glue. Use pegs as you go along to hold each section in place whilst it dries.

6. Finally, add your Heart embellishment to cover where the ribbon meets on the lid, and as extra embellishment.

Here is another colourway in the same box, using Chameleon Friendly Plastic and the Blue and Purple Lumiere Paints:-

Friendly Plastic Frame

This next project is surprisingly easy. You will need Silver Friendly Plastic, strong double side tape such as Red Line, a suitable stamp (I have used one of my favourite Harlequin stamps from the Artistic Stamper, Glossy Accents, and Metallic Rub Ons, No 1. The image is from Crafty Individuals Flowers and Butterflies image book.

1. Take a 5 cm square piece of chipboard, mountboard, or strong card, and neatly edge it with narrow Red Line double sided tape (I have left the red backing on so it shows in the photo but remove this now).

2. Cut four narrow strips of silver Friendly Plastic to fit exactly onto the tape and adhere, so that the strips touch each other.
4.    It should look like this now.

5. Holding your heat gun about 15 cms away, on the lower setting if you have one, heat the edges evenly until they soften slightly into each other and there is a crazed appearance evenly across the surface as shown. This will take about 30 seconds or more, depending on the heat of your heat gun. Don’t over-melt and cause it to lose its shape.

6. Ink up the Harlequin Stamp with Versmark and stamp right across the whole frame, and leave to cool before removing.
7. Choose image and adhere to centre of frame.

8. Apply Green rub-on to the frame with your finger:-

9. Add a gem to the butterfly and apply Glossy Accents to centre of frame, to cover image. Leave overnight to dry and keep elbows away!

This is the final frame:-

This is a selection of art moulds made with Friendly Plastic, to whet your appetite for Part 2!


  1. Hey Lucy, you did it ! Great tutorial so far and the little frame looks super. Have some and have only used it twice on small brooches. Will dig out my stash now !

  2. Great tutorial Lucy! I don't have it anymore as I sent it off with a flea in its ear to live with Jack coz she'll give it a good home lol!

  3. Wow - great tutorial and such beautiful pieces! I had never heard of friendly plastic before, but it looks really fun. Thank you for such a detailed explanation and lots of pictures!

  4. excellent tute...never tried this material before but now Ive seen this, I might give it a whirl!Thanks Lucy

  5. Brilliant tutorial Lucy! You've definitely inspired me to get my FP out! xx

  6. Thanks so much Lucy! At first when I saw that it wasn't a video tutorial I almost ignored it. So glad I didn't!!! Great information and you made it sound so easy that I may just have to give it a try!!! Thanks again! Willow

  7. Haven't played with FP for a couple of decades - thanks for the reminder! Love the inset box project!

  8. Oh my goodness! This brings back so many memories from the 80s. I bought a second hand electric fry pan and made friendly plastic into just about anything. I had jewelery to match every outfit!!! The pink didn't work out. It just looked like bubblegum!

    Now pop back to this century and I sure hope i saved some of this! Your tutorial is great and I can't wait to pull some out again!!! Actually, I probably have some of the old jewelery I could alter!!!


  9. Very gorgeous and very these Lucy, thanks for the TUT xx

  10. I love FP and use it lots, on and off but rarely combine it with other things, tending to make just jewellery! Off to buy some more now as the Guides used all mine up for Mothers day! Great ideas here!

  11. Excellent explanations and tutorial Lucy, it is lovely to see other people excited by Friendly Plastic. Have you checked out the Freindly Plastic blogs and video tutorials yet? You can link to them from my blog

  12. Thanks so much for the excellent tutorial on Friendly Plastic - we couldn't have said it better! If your readers are interested in additional tutorials or projects check out the AMACO website at

  13. Thank you for the brilliant tutorial. I've played with FP before but didn't really know what I was doing. I now feel inspired to have another go.

  14. thanks for this excellent FP tutorial. I am one of those people who has been wary of using this ever since I heated it too much and it went into a right gooey mess..very funny at the time as I couldnt stop laughing

  15. What a fab tutorial! I'm looking forward to getting my moulds out for the next part.

  16. I am sure many crafters will find this useful. Lynne x

  17. Wonderful tutorial! NOW, I have to go look for some here in Canada. DRATS I gave my old stash away.