The most popular compound for making clay art jewelry today is polymer clay. This versatile, durable modeling compound is not actually a clay at all, but is made of plastic materials. It doesn't dry out, remaining pliable until you cure it in your home oven, creating a permanent, durable piece. The durability of polymer clay, along with its ease of use, makes it ideal for jewelry pieces. The wide variety of colors, textures and finishes available can even let you create clay bead jewelry and pendants that look like stone, glass or ceramic. Here are some tips to get you started making beautiful polymer clay jewelry pieces.
As with most modeling clays, polymer clay must be worked and softened before you can use it. The easiest way to do this is by breaking off a small piece of clay and working it in your hands, as the heat from your hands will help soften the clay. For larger quantities of clay, some polymer clay artists choose to use a small food processor to chop and work the clay to get it started. This saves some effort, but keep in mind that once you've used the processor for clay, it can't be used for food anymore. You should work the polymer clay until it is very soft and pliable.
Clay bead jewelry can be whimsical and colorful, it can be subdued and sophisticated or it can be anything in between. The sky is the limit when you're creating beads from polymer clay.
The simplest beads are created by simply rolling a bit of clay into a ball, then poking a hole through the ball with a toothpick. You can also make beads that are quite elaborate, incorporating different colors, shapes and textures. Don't be afraid to experiment and be creative. To help your beads keep their shape while curing, you can thread them onto a skewer or thick wire, and lay it across a baking sheet.
Here is where your creativity can really soar. There is a little more leeway with pendants, as they can be larger than beads, and are generally the focal point of your finished jewelry piece. To make flat disk shapes to use as a base for your pendants, you can use a pasta roller to flatten your polymer clay, making it perfectly smooth without much effort. You can then cut out your desired shapes and embellish them as you wish.
Putting It all Together
Once you have created beads and pendants from polymer clay, you will need to assemble them into finished pieces. There are various strings, wires, clasps and findings available at your local craft store, to help you turn your handcrafted clay pieces into beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, key chains and more.
Polymer clay is generally safe to use. If you're concerned about letting your children handle it, understanding how it's tested and labeled could put your mind at ease.
Modeling clay can be made into almost anything, and hardening varieties allow you to create functional or decorative objects for your home.