Karen has never used polymer clay in jewellery before so took up the challenge of creating a Jackson Pollock-inspired piece for this colour-themed issue using this unfamiliar material.
- Baking sheet or glazed tile
- Acrylic rolling pin
- Toothpicks or skewers
- Playing cards
- Oven thermometer (optional)
- Block of polymer clay
- Acrylic paint and brushes
- Grits from 400-1200
- Rotary tool sander (optional)
- Leather cord (or similar)
- If your clay is too warm, it can become sticky. You can either leach out some plasticisers by placing paper on the clay or you can use a light dusting of cornflour on your work surface and rolling pin.
- Air can become trapped inside folds when you re-roll your clay. Always roll away from a folded edge so that you can push out any air. Carefully check for surface bubbles before baking and pop any that you find.
- If you want your pieces to match, it’s best to do all the paint flicking in a single session.
- Varnishing can help to protect surface effects and give a glossy finish. You need to choose a varnish made especially for your brand of polymer clay.
STEP 1 CONDITION
To begin condition the clay by kneading it with the heel of your hand. Once your clay is warm, roll it out like pastry. To ensure that you have an even 2mm thickness, add seven playing cards on either side and roll across the top of them or use spacer bars if you have them.
STEP 2 CUT SHAPES
Cut out your shapes. Put cling film on top of the clay to get nice rounded edges on the top. Remove the excess clay. Use a toothpick to smooth out jagged edges left by the cutter, then prick any air bubbles and smooth over the resulting hole, using a finger. Beware of leaving fingerprints on the clay – dust your fingers with cornflour first if you want too as this helps.
STEP 3 BAKE
Use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is at the correct temperature and bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions (or monitor the temperature with an oven thermometer and adjust up and down throughout). Once baked and cooled, sand the clay to a silky finish using progressive grits from 400 to 1200. You can do this by hand or by using a rotary tool.
STEP 4 MIX COLOUR
Add some water-based acrylic paint to small pots and thin it out with a little water. You are aiming for a mixture with a consistency like milk. If it’s too thick, the paint will fall in blotches; if it’s too thin, the colour will be watery and washed out. It’s a good idea to gather lots of different types of brushes – small, large, round, flat, stiff and soft. Old toothbrushes are great too.
STEP 5 PAINT
Now for the messy bit! Put on some old clothes, head outside and start flicking paint. Experiment with the different brushes and remember to turn the clay periodically so that the paint hits it from different angles. If you don’t like the results, simply remove the wet paint with a baby wipe and start again.
STEP 6 DRILL
Once dry, varnish your clay to protect the paint then drill holes for your findings. You can pierce the unbaked clay, of course, but this can distort the edges, so drilling is simpler. Don’t try creating a pilot hole for drilling with a heavy hammer and centre punch (I did and it cracked the clay). A simple twist of the hand drill is enough. To finish, hang the pendant on a necklace of your choice.
Make a bracelet and earrings
The bracelet and earrings are super simple pieces that are just connected with jumprings. When you have decided what to use your polymer pieces for drill holes in the right places but make sure the holes are not too close to the edge as the polymer clay can break as you drill.
All materials can be sourced through companies advertising in this magazine (Issue 90)
Laurel Guilfoyle, Karen Caine
- Date 10th Mar 2017
- Tags Tips & Techniques
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