Category Archives: Jewellery
When I was thinking about the next most important tools to have for working with Polymer clay I realized it all depends on what you want to do.
For instance if you are making beads you will need a piercing tool or a drill to make holes, but if you are making canes to cover pens then a smoothing tool would be much more useful.
I like to do a variety of things, such as making canes and beads for jewellery, covering drinking glasses, and combining polymer clay with leather to make cuffs.
So with that in mind I thought I would share with you what equipment I find the most useful, in addition to the essentials I mentioned in the last post.
I use biscuit cutters, pen lids, pieces of copper pipe, and anything else that when pressed hard will cut a shape .
It is possible to cut all your shapes with a paper template and craft knife, but certain shapes such as circles are much neater when you use a cutter.
You can buy texture sheets specifically for polymer clay, but I make my own with lino, some green material called adigraf, erasers and a lino cutter.
I also occasionally use stamps that are used normally in card making.
Ialso make some great patterns and textures using materials that are free .
I use leaves, odd earrings, bolts, screws, onion bags, scraps of material, pizza trays , and corks that I cut patterns into with a craft knife.
Just look around and see what you can find. You will be surprised at how many odds and ends you can find.
This is very useful if you are making beads or want to put holes into pendants before curing .
I use a large needle which I have pushed into a cork )and a cocktail or a kebab stick, depending on the size hole I want.
I made one from a foil tray and kebab sticks. If you want finer holes for the beads then you would need to thread them onto wire, instead of kebab sticks
BASIC JEWELLERY TOOLS . If you are wanting to make polymer jewellery then you need to have a pair of round- nose and flat- nose pliers, and a pair of wire cutters at the very least.
I have not used these that much, as I have not done that much modelling with my clay,( although I want to do more) but if you want to make figures or flowers then they are essential.
They are also useful for drawing into the clay, for smoothing edges, and adding textures and stuff. You can pick up ones for cake making really cheaply.
A FEW OTHER USEFUL ODDS AND ENDS
1. Sandpaper – for smoothing edge of cured clay, or for creating effects
2. Glue- for adding brooch backs , and earring posts
3.Paints , chalk, metallic powders & eyeshadow -all great for creating surface effects
4. Wet wipes- for keeping tools, hands, roller, and work surface clean
So that is my list of what I think are the most useful things to have when starting out.
There are many other items that I have not mentioned, but I would suggest rather than going off and buying lots of shiny equipment, start off with the essentials. Have a play around and once you know what you want to make then just get the tools you need for that.
Also be imaginative, and see if you can use tools you might already have.
When I got back into working with polymer clay a couple of years ago, I went off to buy some basics. As well as clay and some cutting blades, I bought a bead roller that was hanging up saying BUY ME !
I thought it would be useful, as I knew I would be making jewellery .
Well ,after the initial excitement of playing with it wore off, it went into my tool box and has hardly seen the light of day since.
It makes small uniform beads in 3 shapes, which I find quite limiting .
I tend to like my beads a bit bigger and more individual than the roller allows, and I get better effects using my hands, a piece of Perspex, shape cutters, and a kebab stick .
As with most things, the more equipment you have does not mean the better your finished piece will be.
In my opinion that comes with time, practise, experimenting, and using your imagination.
This week I was told about someone who was interested in doing a polymer clay workshop but thought that if she enjoyed it, it would mean she would have to pay out loads of money on a kiln to make it a hobby .
This is not the case , although I can understand her thinking that.
When you see the word clay , it probably takes everyone back to school days, and of making pots out of grey or terracotta sticky worms of clay, which the teacher packed into a big kiln. This was then left on for hours until the pots were “fired”
Polymer clay does not need a kiln – it is not fired, it is “cured” in a conventional electrical oven at about130 degrees C.
Any way I thought I would briefly explain what equipment you need to start creating with Polymer clay, and show that you don’t need to a spend a fortunate to create something beautiful and original using this material.
There are many brands, but they all do a similar job and are similar in price. Here in Portugal I have only found FIMO SOFT clay. To start out I would recommend buying a RED, BLUE, YELLOW , BLACK and WHITE . From these colours you can make many variations, and get an idea of what colour preferences you might have. It is also a good way to learn about colour mixing .
An electrical oven is needed to cure or bake the clay. DO NOT USE A MICROWAVE OVEN
A small toaster oven is ideal . I think you can pick up a small one for around 20- 25 euros ( and a second-hand one for less)
I would recommend having one just for polymer clay. If you decide to use your regular oven DON’T CURE CLAY AT THE SAME TIME AS COOKING FOOD ! and seal the clay inside two foil trays when curing
3 CRAFT KNIFE
There are some blades that are made specifically for Polymer clay ,but they are very expensive. To begin with I would buy a small width craft knife that has the extending snap off blades . The blade is great for most cutting tasks , and when extended it can be slid under rolled clay to separate it from the work surface.
A non porous smooth work surface is essential. I tend to use a large ceramic tile or a piece of plate-glass , but you could also use a formica board or a table mat ( as long as it is smooth and non porous).
5. A ROLLER There are rolling pins made for polymer clay work, but again they seem quite expensive ,and I have not seen them for sale here in Portugal . I use a heavy piece of steel pipe that I smoothed off at the ends. You can use any other smooth non porous round object. I know some people use jam jars.
(I also use a pasta machine for lots of my rolling but this is not essential !)
So those 6 I would say are the absolute essential pieces of equipment you need . .
As you can see the equipment needed to start with is pretty inexpensive.
In my next post I will look at what other tools and other bits and pieces I think are very useful.
For the last few weeks I have been busy sorting out a programme of workshops for this Autumn have not had as much time in my workshop . I finally managed to get the information on the workshop page ( HURRAY ) and so I can get back into creating , which is much more fun !
I have been messing around with my new little extruder tool and seeing what it can do.
First I played around with different thicknesses of round ” worms and used them to make some patterns on flat clay and around small beads of clay.
I liked the way the beads came out , they looked quite earthy and textured. Before I baked them , I brushed some green metallic powder on them to enhance the texture .
I think it’s not bad for my first necklace using extruded clay.
After my last post , I was pretty busy getting everything ready for my exhibition which started on July 1st, and did not have time to write.
Everything was ready in time , and I was satisfied with how it looked for my first show.
I was also pleased that it started before my parents arrived on the 4th July, as once they arrived all making and creating ( and blogging) came to a stand still.
My workroom has been my bedroom for the last few weeks, but today it is back to being a work room again. I am looking forward to getting back in there tomorrow.
Since my last post I have started a Facebook page called Art & Craft Portugal where I will be posting regular updates on what I am up to. Please take a look by clicking on the Facebook link to the top right hand side of this post. Don’t forget to ” Like” my page whist you’re there.
A friend gave me an off cut of thick Perspex this week, so I thought I would have another crack at making lentil beads.
A lentil bead is a round flattened bead, with a slight convex surface (like a chocolate minstrel)
I saw a blog or pinterest page showing someone making them with a plastic CD cover a while back. As I had a CD case( but no Perspex) I had a go but after a few
failures attempts,I managed to crack the cd and decided to leave it ’til I had a bit of Perspex.
So with my perspex in hand I checked out a great tutorial at
and had a go.
Basically you take a ball of clay, and roll it between a piece of Perspex and the table in a clock wise circular movement.
The more turns you make the swirlier the pattern becomes. The harder you press the more flat it becomes.
The Perspex worked better than the cd case.
I still have a way to go to get them perfect, but they came out better than my earlier attempts.
WHAT I LEARNED
1. Don’t press down too hard, until the bead pattern is almost how you want it, otherwise it becomes a lentil before you’re ready
2. Be patient. I was expecting the colours to swirl after 20 or so turns, but it took more like 150 !
3. If it goes wrong,try to keep the pattern on the top of the clay, make it back into a ball and have another go
4. If you turn the bead over then you must move the Perspex in an anti clockwise motion
5. You can use any odd bits of clay for the ball, as long as you cover it over with some nice coloured clay.
6. When you make big circle motions the bead becomes more pointy ( known as a bi- cone shape)
7. The smaller the circles the more flat and smooth it makes the bead
8. It is possible to make holes in the bead before baking, but it alters the edge shape
9. It is hard to know how the colours and patterns will turn out
10. it is addictive !
Once they are baked , I think it is going to be a challenge trying to drill them edge to edge… but will have a play and let you know !
I have been using copper and brass wire in my polymer jewellery recently.
I had some scrap wire that I had bent wrong when learning to make wire bails, so with my recycling head on, I thought I would use it in some pendants, and brooches. I re bent the wire into organic shapes, hammered it flat and pressed it into the clay.
I have also been trying out ways of attaching pieces to each other with wire, and had another go at bail making (the piece that attaches the pendant to a cord or wire)
Like most( creative) things, the more I played, the more ideas I had, and the more I learned.
It will be interesting to see what else I come up with using wire and clay.
I’ll keep you posted !
When I was deciding which of the 5 sketches to follow-up, I discarded my page of pegs at first.They looked rather pathetic, and I couldn’t see me being able to do anything with them.
However, I must have felt I needed a challenge as I ended up choosing the pegs for the same reason I had discarded them.
I doodled and cut out some peg shapes in coloured paper, and they looked like possible pendant shapes, so I decided to play with my polymer clay, and make some peg inspired jewellery .
I was so happy to be using my polymer clay again, that I got a bit carried away mixing colours and making simple canes.
I wasn’t really sure what direction I was going in, and after most of the morning had gone, I was no where nearer to having any definite idea in mind.
After rolling some thin slices of my canes into some green clay I had some nice patterned clay, and after pressing some left over curtain tape into it, it looked like fabric.
I liked the link between a peg and fabric and so used it to make a peg shape along with some textured gold clay, and made a brass bail based on a peg spring .
I then made some other bits and pieces with the remaining clay, which was not peg inspired
I made a second peg pendant using my left over clay, which when mixed together was a sludgy olive colour. I textured it, brushed some eyeshadow on to bring out the texture, added some silver and gold bits to give it a more man-made feel, and finished it with another peg spring bail.
They look a bit rough and ready as I have not sanded and tidied up the edges, but hopefully you get the general idea.
I am not over the moon with these two pieces, but they are a good starting point. They have given me some ideas on playing around with pendant shapes, and on trying out more fabric effects with the clay.
It also showed me that ideas can come from an unlikely start.
Enjoy your week-end.