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Glossy polymer clay pendant

Art deco-inspired pendant gets its shine from sanding

This art deco inspired pendant owes its high polish to systematic sanding. With a little patience and wet/dry sandpaper used in successively finer grits, you can give polymer clay a soft sheen. The extra step of buffing brings the surface to a glasslike luster. Add color and depth to a pendant and necklace slide with your own cane, or purchase a premade cane from a supplier.

Read on for project instructions, or click here to download the free project PDF.

Materials

  • Polymer clay: 2 oz. (56g), black
  • Cane: premade, rectangular or square, millefiori or other pattern, 1 1⁄4-in. (32mm) diameter, 1⁄2-in. (13mm) length
  • Liquid polymer clay
  • Rubber cord: 2mm, 24 in. (61.0cm)
  • 2 beads: 2mm holes

Tools & supplies

  • Tissue blade
  • Acrylic roller or brayer
  • Pasta machine* (optional)
  • Latex gloves or finger cots (optional)
  • Knitting needle or smoothing tool
  • Ceramic tile
  • Oven*
  • Sandpaper: wet/dry; 800-, 1000-, 1200-, 1500-, 2000-grit; 2500-grit (optional)
  • Fine-tip paintbrush
  • Cornstarch
  • Upholstery needle
  • Electric buffer, buffing wheel, stitched muslin buff (optional)
  • Flex shaft or rotary tool, bit to fit two thicknesses of rubber cord
  • Cyanoacrylate glue

*Dedicated to nonfood use.

Instructions
Glossy polymer clay pendant 1
Photo 1

Condition the polymer clay. Use a tissue blade to cut a 2-oz. (56g) block of black polymer clay into 1⁄4-in. (6.5mm)-thick slices. Using an acrylic roller or brayer, flatten the slices, and then run them through a pasta machine until the clay is soft and pliable. Or, knead the slices by hand. 

[1] Make the pendant base. Wear latex gloves or finger cots to avoid leaving fingerprints on the clay. A smooth surface is easier to sand, so it’s easier to obtain a shiny finish.

Shape the conditioned black clay into a half-cylinder that is 1 3⁄8 in. (35mm) long, 7⁄8 in. (22mm) wide, and 3⁄8 in. (9.5mm) high. Use a knitting needle or smoothing tool to smooth the surface of the pendant base.

Bake and refine the pendant base. Place the pendant base on a ceramic tile, and bake it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the pendant base to cool completely.

Fill a bowl with tepid water, and dip the pendant base and 800-grit wet/dry sandpaper in the water. Sand the surface of the pendant base, making eight to ten swipes. Repeat, using wet/dry sandpapers in progressively finer grits. A 1000-, 1200-, 1500-, and 2000-grit sandpaper progres-sion gives the polymer a high shine. For best results, frequently replenish the bowl with fresh water.

Select or make a rectangular millefiori cane. You can buy premade millefiori cane from some craft suppliers. To learn how to reduce a cane or make your own, click here for the project PDF. Select a square or rectangular cane that has at least a 1 1⁄4-in. (32mm) face.

Shape the cane. Keeping the edges crisp, shape the cane so that it mirrors the rectangular shape of the pendant base.

Cut two cane slices for the necklace slide. Use a tissue blade to cut two 1⁄16-in. (1.5mm) slices from the cane. Set them aside to use in step 5.

Wrap the cane in black clay. Run black clay through the pasta machine on a very thin setting, or roll the clay to 1mm (1⁄32 in.) thick. Wrap this sheet around the cane. Chill the cane in the refrigerator to make it easier to slice without distorting it.

Attach a cane slice to the pendant base. Cut a 1⁄8-in. (3mm) slice from the cane. Place the slice on the pendant base, leaving 1⁄8 in. (3mm) of the pendant base visible on the left and right sides. Smooth and shape the slice to match the contour of the pendant base. Gently remove the slice, and use a paintbrush to apply a small amount of liquid clay to the back of the slice. Return the slice to the base, and smooth the surface.

Glossy polymer clay pendant 2
Photo 2
Glossy polymer clay pendant 3
Photo 3

[2] Make a tube bail. Roll black clay into a 1-in. (25.5mm) snake with a 1⁄4-in. (6.5mm) diameter. Apply cornstarch to an upholstery needle, and insert the needle halfway through one end of the snake. Remove the needle and insert it into the opposite end. Gently push the needle all the way through the snake. Rotate the needle to form a hole that is large enough to fit the rubber cord. With the needle still in the tube, gently roll the tube on your work surface to smooth the clay. Trim any ragged ends. 

Make a clay bridge. Run a small amount of black clay through the pasta machine at a medium-thick setting, or roll it out to 1⁄16  in. (1.5mm) thick. Cut a 1⁄2 x 1⁄2-in. (13 x 13mm) square from this sheet.

Attach the tube bail to the pendant. Coat one side of the clay bridge with liquid clay. Center the tube bail on the top edge of the bridge [3]. Dab liquid clay on the pendant where you will position the bridge. Attach the pendant to the bridge, abutting the top of the pendant against the tube bail.
Glossy polymer clay pendant 4
Photo 4
Glossy polymer clay pendant 5
Photo 5

Gently press the bail, bridge, and pendant together [4]. Bake the pendant according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and allow it to cool.

[5] Make the necklace slide. Roll black clay into a 1⁄2-in. (13mm) tube with a 3⁄8-in. (9.5mm) diameter. Place the cane slices you set aside earlier around the tube, and trim any excess clay. Smooth the seam. Make two pea-sized balls of black clay. Flatten the balls, place one at each end of the tube, and smooth the seams. Bake the slide according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and allow it to cool.

Glossy polymer clay pendant 6
Photo 6
Glossy polymer clay pendant 7
Photo 7

[6] Sand and buff the pieces. Sand the pendant and slide using the same sanding progression that you used to sand the pendant base. For additional shine, use brief, light pressure to buff the pendant and slide with an electric buffer fitted with a stitched muslin buff.

[7] Drill a hole in the slide. Mark the center point of each end of the slide. Usea flex shaft or rotary tool with a drill bit that will make a hole just large enough to accept two passes of the rubber cord, and drill halfway through the slide. Turn the slide over, and drill through the other half. Move the drill bit back and forth to slightly elongate the hole, creating an oval hole. The cord should be snug but able to be gently pulled through the slide.

Glossy polymer clay pendant 8
Photo 8

[8] String the cord. Thread one end of the rubber cord through the tube bail. Even up the ends, and thread the ends in opposite directions through the slide.

Finish the cord ends. Use cyanoacrylate glue to adhere a bead with a 2mm hole on each cord end.

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