Do you like to make earrings? Would you like to learn how to make jewelry with polymer clay? Today guest artist Betsy Strebe shares with you her tutorial on the versatile medium of polymer clay art.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Sculpey Souffle polymer clay – 1.7 oz. package. I am using white, but here is where you select your choice of color
- Roller – acrylic, wood, or you can use a straight sided glass.
- Cardstock – a small piece, just big enough to draw the shape of one earring.
- Pen or Pencil
- Craft knife (like X-acto)
- Oven proof pan with flat surface (or ceramic tile)
- Parchment paper (or wax paper, or deli wrap) – two pieces about 6” x 6”
- Acrylic paint – again in your choice of color – to compliment the color of your clay. You will only need a small amount.
- Small Paintbrush
- Carving tool or optionally use two colors of paint instead of carving.
- Earring findings – 2 ear wires, 6 small jump-rings. (Commercial or if you make your own – great!)
- Jewelry pliers
- Create the shape template
How to Make It!
Step 1. Draw the shape for your earrings.
Draw own shapes or use a small cookie cutter; however, when drawing your own, again, makes it more yours. Using the construction paper, ruler and pen, draw a simple unilateral triangle with the shown measurement. Thenflatten the top by drawing a line ½” down from the peak.
Step 2. Using either your scissors or craft knife, cut out the shape. Preparing polymer clay to work with is called “conditioning” the clay. Conditioning the clay makes it softer, easier to work with and stronger.
NOTES FROM BETSY: I chose to use Sculpey Souffle’ because it is easy to condition by hand, and even lighter weight than other polymer clays. It is a new and exciting line from Sculpey.
Step 3. Using your craft knife, place the block on its side and slice in half. (Be sure to store one half in a plastic bag or wrap to keep from drying out). Slice the remaining half in thin slices.
Step 4. Condition the clay by combining a few slices at a time and working with your hands combine all until softer and well combined. You can also roll it on your work surface to help condition.
Step 5. Using your roller tool, roll the ball of clay into a sheet, the desired thickness of your earrings. This sheet is about ¼” thick.
Step 6. Place your cutout shape on the sheet of clay and cut out 2 pieces. Store your leftovers with the remainder of the package for next time.
Step 7. Using your craft knife, cut a slice at the top of each piece wide enough to hold a jump ring.
Step 8. Insert the jump ring in the sliced area, and pinch the clay together using a toothpick. Be sure the bottom of the jump ring is completely covered and secured.
Polymer clay is cured by baking in a home oven. This process hardens the clay. Different clay brands have different curing conditions, so you always want to check the package. It is a good idea to use an oven thermometer to check your oven temperature to determine how accurate it is and adjust accordingly. Too low a temperature may make your piece brittle, too high could burn it.
Step 9. Place one sheet of parchment paper on a flat oven-proof pan or ceramic tile. Place the polymer clay pieces on the parchment paper. Make sure the pieces are nice and flat. Cover the pieces with the other sheet of parchment paper. For Souffle, preheat your oven to 275°F/130°C. Then cure (bake) for 30 minutes per ¼” of thickness. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Step 10. Using a toothpick as a handle, paint all the clay surfaces of the pieces. Let each side dry completely. Apply a second coat if needed to completely cover the clay. This step takes patience!
Step 11. Using your carving too (yes! That is a polymer clay handle on Betsy’s!), cut a design into the piece exposing the white clay. Optionally, instead of carving you could use a second color of acrylic paint, and paint on a design.
Step 12. Assemble your earrings using one or two jump-rings on each earring depending on how you want the earrings to position when worn – facing the front, or facing the side.
Polymer Clay Resources
There is so much information available on polymer clay it is hard to choose what to include, so here are some of Betsy’s favorite places.
- Great book for beginners http://www.amazon.com/Polymer-Clay-101-Step—Step/dp/1589234707/
- The best prices I have found online for polymer clay and tools http://www.sunnydaycrafts.com/
- Great polymer clay facts, advice and tutorials/projects http://thebluebottletree.com/ and also http://www.sculpey.com/
- Fun an online retreat with fabulous instructors http://www.onlineartretreats.com/join-retreat/
- If you have an etsy shop, visit the team shop for the Polymer Clay Artists Group of Etsy https://www.etsy.com/teams/6466/polymer-clay-artists-guild-of-etsy-team
- Search “polymer clay” on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, … any of your favorite spots and sit back for an amazing ride!