I love trees, which you frequent readers already know. Nature is so beautiful. I was thinking over the weekend about some nature-inspired jewelry, and while this look isn’t all that earthy, it’s an easy technique that you can implement really inexpensively with some polymer clay and leaves.
What you will need:
- Small leaves
- Polymer clay and roller, possibly a clay cutter depending on your design idea
- Jump ring and chain
- Optional acrylic paint and sealer (like Sculpey Gloss Glaze)
You only need just a little bit of clay for this project, so leftovers work great. If your clay is new, though, you will need to condition it by rolling it for a few minutes until is softens. I like to work with clay on wax paper or parchment paper to protect my work surface.
Roll it out to about 1/4 inch. press your small leaf into the clay, vein side/backside toward the clay, then flip your clay over and roll it out a little. The reason I suggest flipping it over is so your leaf can’t move. I learned not to try to roll your clay out any flatter here – it will break your leaf apart and make it harder to remove. I was still able to work with it, but keeping it intact is neater and faster all the way around.
Now, peel your leaf off. You can see where mine wasn’t able to stretch when I rolled my clay, so I just had a little extra work to gently remove all the pieces. Use a toothpick if this happens to you.
Now, trim your clay to the size pendant you want. I opted for a 1 – 1/2 inch circle. This is actually a cookie cutter that I snagged for my clay supplies – kitchen and cookie utensils work awesome for polymer clay with one disclaimer: once you have used them for clay, do NOT use them for food again, they are no longer food safe. I recommend you hit up thrift stores or yard sales for an old rolling pin or cookie cutters to play with clay – it’s much cheaper than the new supplies you will find in the clay aisle of your craft store and work every bit as well, but don’t use your regular kitchen gear to play with clay.
When I cut it, I went for an offset look. You can center yours is you like – I just liked this!
Poke a hole in your pendant with a toothpick (or a drink stirrer also works well) and lay it on a baking sheet. I would recommend the same thing here – repurpose an old baking sheet just for your clay projects to be safe!
Now, bake it according to the package instructions. This will vary by brand, but what you can expect is that it will take about 30 minutes for each 1/4 inch thick your pendant is in a low-temperature oven.
Once it’s baked and cooled, you can add some paint if you like to help add contrast! I didn’t bother with a paintbrush, I just used a bit of paper towel to coat my pendant with paint (making sure all the cracks were totally painted).
Then, with a bit of damp paper towel, I wiped off the excess pain from the surface, leaving the paint just in the leaf veins. If you wipe off too much, just try again. :) You can add some Sculpey Gloss if you want to seal it with a shiny finish, but that’s totally optional.
Then, when it’s dry, just add a jump ring and chain! Now you can wear a little bit of nature!
You could try this same technique with flowers or other types of leaves, or turn these into gift tags or other kinds of jewelry, too! There are a lot of ways to use a beautiful natural imprint!