Do you love polymer clay? I love working with polymer clay to create my own charms, tags, and designs. (Have you checked out the polymer clay category already? I’ve got several projects to give you ideas if you’re looking to try a new craft!) I recently shared this tutorial over at Crafts Unleashed, and in case you missed it, I want to show you today how you can use stamps and household items on your clay to create your own unique jewelry.
There are SO many household items you can use to create beautiful designs in polymer clay. Think lace, buttons, leaves (I have a recent tutorial using leaves if you want to check that out!) or like I used above – coffee beans! You can also use regular rubber stamps, too!
Supplies needed to make your own personalized DIY bracelets:
- Polymer Clay. This assorted kit is perfect for beginners because it has a small quantity of several colors. It’s also great for jewelry projects because a little clay goes a long way, and you will have lots of color options to match any style!
- Clay Tools. I want to note that at some sites, you will see tutorials showing kitchen tools (like cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc) being used for clay projects. While they certainly work well (I actually love fondant tools for my clay projects) please note that polymer clay is NOT food safe and if you use your kitchen implements for a clay project, you should NOT use it for food again, even if you wash it. It’s worth the investment for a few small tools that are for clay use only to keep your family safe.
- Alphabet Stamps for name bracelets, or other interesting household items.
- Acrylic Paint and Basic Brushes (optional).
- Coordinating Beads.
- Jelly Cord
You will probably want to lay out some wax paper to protect your work surface. New clay will need to be conditioned to work with it. You can speed the process up by running it through a clay roller (also called a pasta roller, because they work the same) a few times, or you can also work it by hand, it just takes a little longer. Just flatten it out, fold or roll it back up, and flatten it out again several times; it just needs to be kneaded until it’s soft enough to work with.
Once it’s ready to work with, just roll or flatten it out to approximately ¼ inch thick. Experiment with your stamps; you may find it’s easier to stamp first and then cut your blank, or create your blank first and then decorate it. I do both. When I use the alphabet stamps, I usually stamp it first and then cut it to make sure it’s exactly centered.
For all-over shapes like the coffee beans, there’s less need for precision. And don’t forget, if you don’t like how it turns out, you can just roll it up and flatten it back out again for a clean start!
You can use small cutters (again – fondant cutters work wonderfully) or just a basic clay knife to cut your blank freehand to the basic shape you like. Because it’s clay, it’s easy to round corners or adjust your shape until you get it exactly how you want it. Then, you can use a toothpick or drink stirrer to add a couple of holes so that you will be able to tie on your beaded cord. You can use just one hole on each side, or add as many bead strands as you like for the size blank you’ve made. I like the looks of two, but more or fewer is up to you!
Now – bake your clay according to the package directions. Sculpey clay, like what I am using here, bakes for 30 minutes in a low oven (275F) for charms ¼ inch thick. Different brands may bake differently, though, so be sure to read the instructions!
Now that you have your stamped blank, you can work with it as-is, or you can add some contrast to your design with acrylic paint. Just paint all the way into the recesses of your stamped letters or designs, and use a damp paper towel to wipe off excess paint. A note: acrylic paints won’t wash well, so your bracelet should be removed before bathing or swimming if you paint it.
(You may notice that my finished blanks are slightly arched. I actually bake them flat, and bend them slightly when I first take them from the oven, as soon as they are cool enough to handle. They will be slightly flexible when hot, and will retain that slight curve when they are fully cooled. This is not a necessary step, and really isn’t recommended if your kids are working on the project! Don’t burn yourself trying to curve your blank – I just wanted to mention how I achieve that curve for those who may be wondering. If you have a curved surface to bake them on, like an oven-safe craft bowl, that would be ideal!)
Once it’s dry – you can begin beading! Just string coordinating beads onto some stretchy jelly cord, and tie the ends through the holes you made in your bracelet blank. There’s no secret to the knot – a double or triple knot should hold just fine. You can check your length against your wrist as you work. You want just enough beads so that it doesn’t stretch when you wear it, but not so many that it hangs loose. It should be a snug fit. For the coffee bean bracelet, I used 4mm crystal bicone beads. For the bracelet I made for Raya, I just found some random plastic beads in my stash I thought she would enjoy – projects like this make for excellent stash-busters!
You can see that this made two totally different styles of bracelets using the same technique, and you can personalize them in any way you like! What would you add your your bracelet blank? Are you a sports fan? Nature lover? Would you put your kids’ names on yours? I’d love to hear what you make!