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Sculpt a polymer-clay necklace

Turn flat polymer clay squares into three-dimensional jewelry sculpture

The polymer-clay pods of this necklace appear to spin as the wearer moves. To add to the dimensionality of the piece, a basic millefiori-caning technique — traditionally used for glass — was adapted to bring vivid color and dynamic patterns to the pods. Connect the pods with wire components to complete this lively, sculptural art-jewelry piece.

Below, you’ll find a material list for this necklace, as well as some tips on working with polymer clay. For full project instructions, download the free PDF here.

SUPPLIES

  • Polymer clay: 2 2-oz. (56g) packages, yellow; 2-oz. (56g) package, navy blue; 2-oz. (56g) package, white (optional)
  • Colored wire: 18 or 20 gauge (1.0-0.8mm), round, half-hard, about 88 in. (2.2m)
  • Jump rings, 10mm, 20-30
  • Sterling-silver wire: 20 gauge (0.8mm), round, half-hard (jump rings) (optional)
  • Glass seed beads, size 6/0 (optional)
  • Silver toggle clasp
  • Heavy plastic or glass work surface
  • Pasta machine
  • Tissue blade
  • Acrylic roller
  • Ruler or graph paper
  • Drill, drill bits (optional)
  • 2 nickel hat pins, or stainless-steel needles or skewers: 20 gauge (0.8mm), 10-in. (25.4cm) each
  • Convection oven or toaster oven (dedicated to nonfood use)
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers: two pairs chainnose or flatnose, one pair roundnose
  • Cocktail straw or knitting needle (U.S. #4)

INSTRUCTIONS

polymer clay necklace 1
Step 1

1. Form one log. Choose two contrasting colors of clay — one main color and one accent color. Condition two 2-oz. (56g) packages of the main color and one 2-oz. (56g) package of the accent color. Using the main color, hand roll a log 3 in. (76mm) long with a 1-in. (25.5mm) diameter. 

Roll out a sheet of the accent color using a pasta machine on setting #3. Wrap this sheet around the log, and blunt-cut the sheet on the log so its edges do not overlap. Hand roll the log, with the accent sheet in place, until it is 12–13 in. (30.5–33.0cm) long and the seam is smooth.

polymer clay necklace 2
Step 2
2. Form a cane. Trim the ends of the log scantily to conserve clay. Cut the log into four 3-in. (76mm) pieces using a tissue blade [STEP 2 PHOTO TOP]. Group the four logs together to form a quad [STEP 2 PHOTO BOTTOM LEFT]. Hand roll them together until the roll becomes one round log. Continue rolling until it is 12–13 in. (30.5–33.0cm) long. Trim the ends slightly, and cut the log into four 3-in. (76mm) logs [STEP 2  PHOTO BOTTOM RIGHT]. Group the logs, and roll them until they become one round log.
polymer clay necklace 3
Step 3
3. Repeat the process. The more you repeat the process, the smaller the pattern will become. Your finished cane should be 1–1 1⁄2 in. (25.5–38mm) in diameter and 6–8 in. (15.2–20.3cm) in length.

Wrap an outer layer around the cane. Roll out another slab of the accent color using a pasta machine at your desired setting. The layer’s thickness depends on your desired look. It is better to be slightly thicker, as the edges will become thinner as you square-up and reduce the cane in the next step. Wrap the layer around the cane, and blunt-cut it so its edges do not overlap. Hand roll the cane to smooth the seam, and trim the ends slightly.
polymer clay necklace 4
Step 4
4. Square-up and reduce the cane. Shape the cylindrical cane into a rectangle by gently rolling the top side flat with an acrylic roller. Flip the cane to another side, and roll it flat. Repeat until all the sides are squared-up.
 
While you are squaring-up the cane, reduce it so that one side of the cane remains 1–1 1⁄2 in. (25.5–38mm) square and the other side tapers to about 3⁄4 in. (19mm) square. This will enable you to make pods that are graduated in size.
polymer clay necklace 5
Step 5

5. Slice the cane into squares. Slice the cane into squares that are 1⁄4 in. (6.5mm) thick. If the clay is too soft, put it in the freezer for 90 seconds to make slicing easier. Slice consistent thicknesses by using a ruler and lightly scratching even lines on the cane with a needle. Optionally, place the cane on graph paper and line up a tissue blade evenly with the paper lines before slicing.

For complete project instructions, click here to download & print this PDF

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