Arte Es Vida

Fabulous Fakes With Polymer Clay by arteesvida
December 12, 2006, 2:11 am
Filed under: Clay Jewelry

The thing I like best about polymer clay is its ability to “be” most anything else. While you can do amazing things with beads and wire, there is still never any doubt that what you are working with is beads and wire. Polymer clay, on the other hand, could outclass any odd assortment of shape-shifting aliens from Star Trek. Not only available in solid and liquid forms, it is available in just about every color under the sun, can be blended to make new colors, stamped, painted, chalked, pearl-exed, and image-transferred. And that is just the short list.

I recently was sent a copy of the amazing book Creating Your Own Antique Jewelry: Taking Inspiration from Great Museums Around The World by Cris Dupouy and have been working with it a bit obsessively. The book has been out of print, but my most recent search of shows that they are getting new copies of it in soon! After creating some of the projects from the book, I used some of the techniques to make some more “modern” styled pendants of my own. Designed to mimic the style of hand hammered antiqued metal, you can use paste gems, glass pebbles, or actual stones (so long as they have a relatively flat back) with this project. For the pendent featured below, I used a light purple glass pebble to mimic the look of an amethyst stone.


Black polymer clay

“Precious stone” for setting…the sample piece uses a glass pebble

Acrylic paint in metallic silver sterling and charcoal gray

Non-yellowing clear acrylic sealer

Clay dedicated roller or pasta machine

Clay dedicated tool with a rounded end for smoothing and “hammering” the clay

Clay dedicated tool with a cutting end for trimming clay



Work surface to keep clay from sticking and to catch paint and sealer drips (I use a sheet of wax paper)

Paper towel or paint rag

Oven for baking clay (I use a clay dedicated toaster oven)

Paint the back of your stone with the metallic silver sterling and give it ample time to dry.

Condition your clay, and roll out a piece of clay to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Since this will be the base of your pendent you want it thick enough to withstand wear. If your clay is too thin, it will be more susceptible to breakage, even after baking and sealing. You may want to sketch out the shape you want your pendent base to be, then create a template to cut around. For this piece, I cut the shape freehand and then smoothed the edges with the rounded end of my clay tool so the piece would look balanced but not overly uniform. Make sure your stone will fit in your pendent shape! I pressed my pebble into my sheet of rolled-out clay and cut my pendent base around it.

Using the same 1/4-inch thick clay cut a band of clay to make the pendent top. Fold the length of clay over the middle of your clay working tool, a pencil, or mandrel to make a loop that you will slide your cord or chain through on the finished piece. Press the unlooped ends together and attach them to the back of your pendent base. Use the rounded end of your polymer clay tool to press the clay pieces together and smooth the seams away.

If you have not done so already, center your stone on the pendent base. Roll your remaining clay about 50% thinner (1/8th of an inch) and cut a ribbon of this thinner clay and wrap it around your stone to create a setting. Using the rounded end of your polymer clay tool to press the setting into the pendent base and smooth away any seams.

Use the rounded end to “beat’ into the clay giving it a hammered look. You can also use this end to smooth any fingerprints you may have left in the clay.

Bake the pendent according to manufacturer’s directions. After the clay has baked and cooled, paint it with the metallic silver sterling. You will probably need two coats to get good coverage and a true color. After the silver has dried, thin a dab of the gray paint with water and brush it over the silver. Using a paper towel, or a paint-dedicated cloth, wipe away most of the gray, leaving it mostly just in the crevices where you “hammered” the clay, these are the places where silver would naturally age first. If you accidentally wipe away too much you can always apply more after that layer dries. Better to apply too little than too much and have the piece end up so dull you have to start over with a new silver base coat. Make sure you paint both sides of the pendent to keep up the illusion of hammered silver!

After you have the pendent “antiqued” to your liking, let it dry and apply at least two coats of a non-yellowing acrylic sealer.

You can thread the pendent onto your favorite beading floss and bead around it, or the opening is big enough to thread it through a chain or cord and wear it by itself!

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