Leaf-Imprinted Clay Necklace

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.

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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.

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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!

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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!

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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).

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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.

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

Then, when it’s dry, just add a jump ring and chain!  Now you can wear a little bit of nature!

Leaf-Imprint Polymer Clay Pendant at happyhourprojects.com

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!

Adrianne

Comments

  1. Adrianne – how gorgeous! I really need to give clay another chance dont I? Wow!!!
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  2. Wow! this looks like something I could also do with my daughter, there is nothing she loves more than a good leaf walk :)
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  3. I love this! Great for boys as well with a leather cord. I see a summer project coming on!

  4. Marilyn
    Twitter:
    says:

    Adrianne, this is simply GORGEOUS!
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  5. That is GORGEOUS, Adrianne! I want it! I may have to invest in clay and all sorts of other baubly-bits in order to make my own.
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  6. This is beautiful. I love the way that you painted it. I have a yard full of trees, various types, and will have to give this a try some day.
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  7. Very cool but simple

  8. Erica says:

    I freaking love this. So simple, so beautiful. xo

  9. Marilyn
    Twitter:
    says:

    Adrianne, I just LOVE this necklace more and more every time I see it! Simple yet elegant! I have a “nature buff” friend who would definitely love getting one of these!
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  10. this is just lovely, what a great idea and thanks so much for sharing your technique
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  11. Someone post this on facebook, how fabulous, very simple and inspiring.

  12. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I wonder what else you could imprint in a fun way like this…
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  13. john w says:

    nice idea, i was able to get my 10 year old boy into this project. we are working on a gift for mom’s bday. raspberry leaves and mint leaves are working well. we decided to write the name of the plant next to the image. should be a success…..

  14. Very pretty — thanks for the inspiration!

  15. JAMES R. says:

    This is so cool!! 8 )
    Q: Since I have never worked with clay, I’m wondering just how permanent the paint is that you used?

    The midwestern summers can be hot & I worry about the paint getting wet from sweat & running…

    Also, this Polymer Clay, just how durable is it?
    Is it as durable as the “regular” clay?
    I’m sorry for the Questions, but I know absolutely nothing about working with clay of ANY kind.

    • Okay a couple of notes – polymer clay is very durable, but it is more like plastic. It is lightweight and almost flexible. So it will certainly last.

      Acrylic paint is water-based, so I would not advise wearing it while you’re doing anything wet or sweaty, etc. there is another product you can coat it with after the paint, Sculpey Gloss (I’m pretty sure that is what it’s called) that will help a lot with protecting your paint, so you will probably want to add a coat of that.
      Adrianne recently posted..Happy Hour Friday 08.23My Profile

      • JAMES R. says:

        and this polymer clay can be bought….at any craft shop? online? both?

        This project of yours has me thinking of all kinds of different ways to give gifts to friends of mine….not just for holidays, but “just because”…

        I’m anxious to try my hand at this. 8 D

  16. Wow, that is just gorgeous!! I love the way the paint stays in the veins. I’m thinking that these would also make wonderful Christmas tree ornaments. Thanks for sharing! :) Lisa
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  17. I wonder if I could find some holly leaves that were small enough to do this with, add a few tiny red balls of clay for berries and use for Christmas ornaments?

  18. I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your necklace! You can see it at funfamilycrafts.com/leaf-imprinted-clay-necklace.

    If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!
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