When I've finished carving, I harden the clay (curing polymer in the oven, firing stoneware in the kiln or air drying - depending on the clay) and then I get to the fun part - testing the design! I use water as a resist for polymer and olive oil for other clays, then press in clay to see my work. Sometimes it's a lovely surprise, other times, its a deep sigh, knowing it will have to be made over, with modifications. This piece is good and I'm pleased with the depth and little details. From this point, production begins and either soft wax or metal clay can be used to press into the stamp. I use both materials, depending on what metal I want to end up with. I used to use just metal clays, until the price of silver clay tripled, making it too expensive for production.
This type of mold wears out eventually, so one can only pull a finite amount of copies. I have mixed feelings about this aspect. It's sort of precious, only getting so many copies, but since the mold is the master, its also a little distressing. I'm very much like a dragon and like to have lots of piece, in case I might run out.