sue heaser


This edition first published in the UK 1997 by Cassell Illustrated,

A Member of Octopus publishing Group Limited, 2-4 Heron Quays, London E14 4JP

Sue Heaser Pan Tutorial

This edition first published in the UK 1997 by Cassell Illustrated,

A Member of Octopus publishing Group Limited, 2-4 Heron Quays, London E14 4JP

Designed by Yvonne Dedman Photography by Martin Norris

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, " . recording or any information storage and retrieval system, • • without prior permission in writing from the publishers.

Distributed in the United States by Sterling Publisher Co. Inc. 387 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016-8810, USA

First paperback edition 1998 Reprinted 2000 (twice), 2003 Copyright © Sue Heaser 1997

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 0 304 35030 3

Typeset in Palatino by

Litho Link, Welshpool, Powvs,'Wales

Printed and bound in Hong Kong

Jewellery Transparent Images


Introduction 6 1 ♦ Materials and Techniques 2♦Beads 25

4 ♦ Animal Jewellery 57

5 ♦ Novelty Brooches 69

6 ♦ Metallic Effects 83

7 * Appliqué and Mosaic 101

Further Reading 127 Suppliers 127 Index 128


The last decade has seen the appearance of an exciting new craft medium. Called modelling clay or polymer clay, it is sold under several different brand names, including Fimo, Sculpey, Cernit and Formello. This wonderful material comes in a rainbow of colours and, once modelled, it can be permanently hardened by being baked in a home oven. There is no need for expensive kilns, and the initial outlay on materials is trifling compared with most other crafts. These colourful clays can be mixed with each other to produce further colours, and a multitude of different techniques can be applied to them. Once hardened in the oven, they can be cut, sawn, filed, sanded, glued, painted, added to and re-baked. They are clean and odourless to work with, and non-toxic.

The qualities of these new clays mean that they are ideal for making spectacular jewellery. Once baked, the clays are robust and long-lasting - 1 have some pieces of jewellery made from polymer clay that I have worn for over ten years and that show no sign of deterioration.

Jewelry Made With Translucent Clay

The most exciting aspect of making jewellery' using the new modelling clays is that you can create effects in your own home that until now, could be achieved only by metalworkers, silversmiths, potters, woodworkers, ceramicists and jewellers. If it is left unvarnished the clay has a delightful patina, but it can also be used to mimic most of the traditional materials used to make jewellery, such as precious metals, porcelain, wood and stone. A new medium really comes into its own, however, when it is used creatively to develop new techniques that until now have not been possible with conventional materials. Millefiori, metallic effects and porcelain-like flowers are all examples of polymer clay's extraordinary versatility.

Newcomers to the craft will find that the initial techniques are simple and use the skills developed in childhood of rolling and shaping clay or dough. For the more advanced crafter, there are always exciting new skills to try.

aterials and techniques


All the main brands of polymer clay can be used to make the projects in this book. The clays are widely available from art and craft shops and through mail order suppliers, although the availability of different brands varies from one country to another (see page 127 for suppliers).

Whichever brand you use, you will find a wide variety of colours and many brands have special effect clays, which include stone effects, fluorescents, metallics and translucents. The colours can be mixed with each other to produce an unlimited range of new colours. In addition, the different brands can be intermixed, although it is prudent to test samples first and this may affect the durability of the baked clay.

The texture of the clay is very fine, so that detailed modelling is possible, and it can be rolled into thin sheets and draped like fabric, extruded through a machine, or sliced, grated, modelled and sculpted. It can also be tooled and impressed like metal and leather, and colou red with metallic powders and chalks.

The clay remains soft until it is baked, and unused clay, carefully stored, has a shelf life of several years.

The clay is stable when it is baked, and there is very little shrinkage and virtually no colour change.

Once they have been hardened by baking at approximately 130°C (250°F) in a domestic oven, the finished items can be cut, sawn, added to and re-baked, glued, and painted with water-based paints. After hardening, they remain slightly flexible and are durable and robust. They do not reach full hardness until cool.


Fimo is manufactured by Eberhard Faber of Germany and is very widely available. The texture is firm, and the material has to be kneaded thoroughly before use to soften it. The firm nature of the clay makes it particularly good for detailed work. Once baked, it is opaque, fairly strong and slightly glossy; thin pieces are flexible. Other Fimo products:

♦ Mix Quick, which is a mixing agent that can be kneaded into the clay to soften it.

♦ 'Fimo Soft' clay is softer in texture than the original Fimo.

♦ Metallic powders in a wide range of colours.

♦ A variety of varnishes especially for polymer clay.

Cernit Polymer Clay


Made by T - F GmbH in Germany, Cemit is a medium textured clay and needs some kneading before use. It is a semi-translucent clay with a porcelain-like effect. After baking, it has a slight gliK» and thin pieces are flexible and strong. Opaque white can be added to the colours for a more opaque effect if required. Other Cemit products:

♦ X.iture's Colours' granite effect clays


Sculpey III is manufactured by Polyform Products of Illinois, USA. This is a soft clay and requires little initial kneading to make it workable, although it may be too soft for more delicate projects. Once baked, it has an attractive matt texture, but is rather brittle and should not be used where a strong result is needed such as for buttons. Other Sculpey products:

♦ Granitex granite effect clays

Premo Sculpey

Also manufactured by Polyform Products in the ISA. Premo is one of the newer clays. It has a medium texture, kneads up quickly and is good for detailed work. It has an excellent range of colours that are highly saturated and are named after artists' paint colours - a useful attribute w hen mixing. The baked clay is strong and flexible.

Formello (or Modello in some countries) Manufactured by Rudolf Reiser in Germany, Formello has a medium texture. The colours are bright and opaque. It can be used for good detail but the baked clay is not particularly strong.


Manufactured in Australia, Modelene has a medium texture and kneads up quickly for use. After baking, it is extremely strong and flexible -useful qualities for jewellery.


A medium textured clay made in New Zealand by Creative Products. It comes in a good range of hues with a useful colour mixing chart. The recommended temperature for baking - 150oC (300°F) - is higher than for most other brands. After baking it is extremely strong and flexible.


Produced in Holland by Jonco, this clay is slightly firmer than some other medium-textured clays. It is of medium strength after baking.


Made in the L'K by Peter Pan Playthings, Prima is mainly marketed in boxed sets and kits for children. Slightly crumbly initially, it soon kneads to a soft texture and, after baking, has a chalky feel.


You will probably find all the basic equipment needed to work with polymer modelling clay in your home. As you become more experienced, however, you may want to acquire specialist modelling tools, although 1 have never found these essential. Because this is such a robust material, it is also possible to make your own tools from the clay itself should you require a particular shape.

The following list includes all the basic tools used for the projects in this book. When specific tools are needed for a particular project, they are described in the instructions for that project.

♦ Board - a smooth melamine chopping board to work on is ideal. Alternatively, use a formica table mat.

Craft knife - a rounded blade (as shown in the photograph opposite) is the most versatile shape. Blunt the blade slightly before use by running it over a steel because razor-sharpness is not necessary for most techniques.

♦ Ruler - you will need to check the size of balls, cylinders and other shapes.

♦ Blunt-ended wool (tapestry) needles - both a large and a small needle are useful. The points are used to make holes and mark lines, while the eyes of the needles mark feathers on a bird or even a clown's smile.

♦ Darning needles and pins - these are used for piercing beads.

Small rolling pin - a smooth barrelled pencil or pen is best for tiny rollings, while a straight-sided glass or small bottle can be used for flattening larger pieces.

♦ Pointed tool - a dried-up ball-point pen with a cone-shaped point is ideal for making eye sockets. Otherwise, a smoothly sharpened but blunted pencil, which has been dipped in varnish to stop the lead marking the clay, can be used.

♦ Artists' paintbrush handles - these are useful rounded tools.

♦ Razor blade - used for slicing millefiori canes; a two-edged blade can be given a guard by pressing a thin log of clay along one edge and baking.

♦ Nail varnish remover - clean your hands and the board with this.

♦ Talcum powder - use ordinär)' talcum powder for dusting the board and your hands to prevent the clay from sticking.

♦ Aluminium foil - used as a support during baking.

♦ Baking tray - line the tray with non-stick baking parchment.


1. Board

2. Rolling pin

3. Talcum powder

4. Razor blade

5. Aluminium foil

6. Baking tray

7. Artists' pastel

8. Metallic powders

9. Ruler

10. Craft knife

11. Paintbrush handles

12. Pointed tool

13. Pins

14. Wool needles

15. Darning needle

Cernit Polymer Clay

Other Equipment

Other items of equipment can bo adapted for use with polymer clay. Here are some suggestions, but you will find many ideas of your own by looking around your kitchen or home.

Biscuit cutters - use them to cut out regular shapes.

Rubber stamps - stamp designs on to sheets of clay.

Clay gun extruders - many craft and hobby shops stock these extruders which will produce lengths of different shapes. Garlic press - used to form long, thin pieces of clay.

Some clay artists use larger items of kitchen equipment, such as a food processor for the initial kneading of the clay or a pasta machine for rolling sheets, but this is only worthwhile if you are producing large quantities of clay work, because they should never be used for food use as well, and you will need to buy duplicate equipment.

When you use kitchen equipment with clay, remember that you should never use the same utensil for food that you use for clay. Although the clay is non-toxic, it should, nevertheless, never be allowed to come into contact with items used in the preparation of food. Keep your clay tools exclusively for that purpose.


Varnish gives the baked clay a brilliant shine and intensifies the colours. It is, however, not essential to apply a coat of varnish because the clay does not need it for protection as it is durable enough on its own. Many people find that the matt finish of the clay has its own charm, so use varnish only where you require a gloss finish. Matt varnish is available and is useful for protecting painted areas such as faces without giving a shine.

Do not use ordinary enamel-based varnish, which will not dry on the baked clay. The manufacturers of some of the main brands of polymer clay make their own water- or spirit-based varnishes, and these are excellent. Alternatively, water-based acrylic varnish, which is available in craft shops can be used.


Polymer clay can be successfully painted after baking, but you must first remove all traces of grease from the surface of the clay by brushing it with methylated spirit or nail varnish remover.

Do not use enamel or oil paints, because they will not dry on the baked clay. The best paints to use are water-based acrylics, either artists' or hobbv paints, which give the most permanent results. Ordinary water-based paint can lift and stain in time, even under a varnish. Protect painted areas with matt or gloss varnish.

Powder Colours

Metallic powders give some really spectacular effects when they are used with polymer clay. Fimo and Cernit both produce a range of metallic powder colours, and although they are quite expensive, they are very economical to use and the results are far superior to metallic paint.

The powder is brushed on to the surface of the unbaked clay with a soft artists' paintbrush. After baking, the clay is varnished to protect the powdor.

Other metallic powders of the kind sold in craft shops can be used, and it is even possible to use eye shadow colours, although they vary in their ability to coat the clay, so you need to experiment Artists' pastels are effective when they are applied on light coloured clays. Rub a little colour on to paper first to release the powder for brushing.

Metallic effects are described in detail in Chapter 6 (page 83).

J/]\s\c techniques

In order to avoid constant repetition, the individual instructions for each design assume that you understand these basic techniques. You must, therefore, read the following section before you attempt the designs in this book.

General Hints

Always clean your hands thoroughly before you begin working with clay, because the smallest trace of dirl will be transferred to the clay and stain it. Wiping over with cleansing wipes or nail varnish remover should be sufficient. Remember to cleanse again between colours.

Try lo avoid poking and patting the object you are making. Once a piece of clay has been added, do not try to reshape it, or the result will be messy. II you are not happy with it, remove the piece and •¡tart again.

It is not necessary to squash pieces together to effect a join - gentle but firm pressure is all that is needed - they will weld together when they arc baked in the oven.

Softening the Clay

Before use, always work each piece of clay in your hands to soften it. The amount of kneading required to make clay soft and pliable varies not onlv between brands but also between colours made by the same manufacturers. Insufficient kneading will result in bubbles and irregularities on the baked surface. If you need a large piece, cut small amounts off the block and work them individually before combining. In cold weather warm the clay gently on a hot-water bottle until it is more pliable. If the clay is crumbly, you have not worked it enough. Fimo, which is one of the hardest of the clays, may be quickly softened by the addition of Mix Quick.

Making Balls

The clay ball is the starting point for many designs, and perfectly round balls are essential for making beads.

Squeeze the clay into a rough ball and then rotate it between your palms, heavier pressure first and then lighter as the ball takes shape.

Many of the projects start with a clay ball of a particular diameter. Using your ruler as a guide, shape a ball roughly the right size and pinch off or add clay as necessary.

Making Cylinders or Logs

Making cylindrical shapes is an important part of working with clay.

Practise rolling clay into even logs of different thicknesses. Start with a ball of clay and roll it between your hands. Place the resulting oval on your surface and roll it smoothly, making sure that your hand keeps moving back and forth along the length of the log and that you do not press tot) hard. Lay logs on a ruler to check that they are the right thickness. Trim off the rounded end and then cut off equal slices with your craft knife to give identically sized pieces of clay.

Because polymer clay is a relatively new craft medium, it has had to develop its own terminology, and the cylindrical shape has been called many different things by different writers, including 'sausage', 'roll', 'log', 'snake' and 'cylinder'. The favoured word appears to be 'log'.

Rolling Sheets of Clay

Some designs require flat sheets of clay, and these arc surprisingly easy to make. Form a thick log of clay and press it down on the board, then roll out the clay wih your 'rolling pin' as if it were pastry. You will need a bottle or jam jar as a rolling pin for larger pieces, but small pieces are best rolled with a smooth pencil or pen barrel. Keep some talcum powder handy to dust the surface of the clay if necessary to prevent it from sticking. Larger sheets of clay are best rolled out between two pieces of baking parchment.

Craft Knife Orange

Using a Craft Knife

A craft knife with a curved blade is an invaluable tool. Not only is it useful for cutting clay to the required size, but it can also be used as a delicatc tool for moving pieces of clay when your hands would soon distort them. Thin slices and tiny strips of clay are best applied by scooping them up on the tip of the knife. They should adhere sufficiently to the knife for you to turn over the blade and place them as required. You can then use it to press them down lightly. This technique is covered in detail in Chapter 7 (page 101).

^lay colours

Tlic clay used to make the projects illustrated in this book was Fimo, but you can use any of the other brands instead. Because the different manufacturers use different names for the colours in their ranges 1 have used descriptive rather than proprietary names. The photograph of coloured discs (below) shows all the colours of clay used in this- book so that you can match the colours of the brand of clay you want to use.

Mixing Colours

Polymer modelling clays are available in a wide range of colours, and these can be combined to make other shades. This means you can create .1 large palette of clay colours in much the same way asan artist mixes paint. Making new colours is a simple process - work two or more pieces of coloured day together until all streakiness has disappeared and the new colour emerges. It is often better to mix a small quantity first so that you can judge proportions.

Many of the colours used in the book can be mixed from a few basic colours, and some suggestions are listed below. Do not be reluctant to mix your own palette of colours; for example, if you have dark brown and white clays, there is no need to buy light brown because it can be mixed simply by combining brown and white. Instructions for further blends of colour are included in the projects where necessary.

Colours Used in the Projects

1. White

2. Transparent

3. Black I

11. Turquoise

12. Leaf green

13. Light brown

14. Ochre

15. Grey

16. Orange

17. Golden-yellow

18. Pink

19. Flesh

All of these colours, or their close equivalents, are available in the main brands of polymer clays. For economy, colours 11 to 19 can be mixed from the first 10 colours as follows:

11. Turquoise = green + blue

12. Leaf green = green + trace of brown

13. Light brown = brown + white

16. Orange = yellow + trace of red

17. Golden-yellow = yellow + trace of orange

18. Pink = white + trace of crimson or red

19. Flesh = transparent + trace of brown + trace of red

When a precise colour mixture is needed in a project, the proportions of the different colours of clay required to make a particular colour are given in the instructions. For example, pink = 1 red + 8 white.

This means you need to mix 1 part red with 8 parts white. To do this, roll a 6mm (Kin) log of red and another 6mm (Kin) log of white. Cut eight equal lengths of white and one, the same length, of red. Mix these together to create pink.

Where no proportions are given, the colour balance is less critical, and you should mix to your own taste.

When you are mixing pastel shades, add small quantities of coloured clay to white until you have the colour you require; you will need far more white than colour. Remember that darker clays are stronger and will dominate. For example, you will need far less red than yellow when you are mixing orange.

Some lovely effects can be obtained by mixing a transparent white with a colour to create a translucent effect, rather like porcelain. Cernit has this translucent effect in all colours.

Mix smoky shades by combining a colour with a small quantity of black.


This is an easy technique that will enable you to produce some stunning results. You can combine bright colours for a flamboyant effect or mix subtle colours with black and white to represent semiprecious stones. First, form logs of the colours you want to marble. Press, then roll, these logs together to make one long log. Now fold this up several times and roll again. Continue until the resulting stripes are as thick as you want but do not continue too long, or they will disappear completely into one new colour.

Try out different combinations of colours and different proportions of each. If you coil a marbled log and form it into a ball, for example, this will give curls and loops among the stripes. Transparent colour mixed with opaque also looks very effective, but experiment because the variety is endless.


Polymer modelling clay has a shelf life of several years - I have eight-year-old clay that is still workable. In time it will dry out and become crumbly, and heat and light will accelerate this process. Unopened packets should be stored in a cool, dark place, while opened clay is best kept in a tin or wrapped in plastic bags. Unbaked clay will exude plasticizer, which can damage polished surfaces or plastic, so take care where you leave your clay.


Before baking, remove your designs carefully from the board by slicing under them with the craft knife. Place the clay on a baking sheet that has been lined with baking parchment. All the polymer clays listed should be baked in the oven for about 20 minutes at 130°C (250°F), but always check the manufacturer's instructions first. Larger pieces will need longer, as will designs, such as buttons that you wish to be particularly strong. The instructions for the projects suggest baking times.

It is advisable to check your own oven's temperature with a special oven thermometer to make sure that the temperature setting is accurate Oven thermostats vary quite widely, and if clay is baked at too high a temperature, it will burn and may give off toxic fumes. If the temperature is too low, the clay will take a long time to harden or tea, remain fragile.

Clay will not harden until it is completely cool, but it can be replaced in the oven and baked again I if you are not satisfied with the hardness. There may be a slight discoloration of pale colours after prolonged baking.


Polymer clays arc all made from fine PVC particles suspended in plasticizers, and it is these that give the clay its malleability and softness. Baking the clay causes the particles to fuse together into a permanent plastic, which is a stable product, but there may be traces of plasticizer left, and these may continue to leach out. All the proprietary clan are called non-toxic, but, as with any art and craft medium, it is sensible to follow some basic precautions as listed below.

Never allow the clays to overheat. When they burn, they produce toxic fumes. If you accidentally let the clay overheat, turn off the oven at once and ventilate the room thoroughly. Avoid breathing any fumes. Always wash your hands after using polymer clays.

Do not allow polymer clays to come into contact with foodstuffs, even after they have been baked.

Do not use the same utensils for polymer clays and for food.

Supervise young children when they are handling the clays.

Jewellery Findings

I hidingsan- the bits and pieces of metal that you attach to your designs to make them into wearable pieces of jeweller)'. The terminology can be bewildering, so some of the most useful items arc illustrated on page 18 to help you choose exactly what you need.

Class and metal findings can be attached before hardening if necessary, because they will not be harmed by the baking process, but anything made of plastic or acrylic must be added after baking.

findings are made with various finishes, of which silver plated or gold plated are the most readily available. These are indicated by SP or CP in Ihe projects. Solid silver and gold findings are also available. The most economical way to buy lindings is by mail order from one of the specialist jewellery companies, which advertise in craft magazines. Fimo produces a range of findings, and these can usually be found on sale with the clay and include some that are specially designed for using with polymer clay.

In addition, there arc many other findings av ailable - including key rings, stick pins, bracelets and lie pins - that can have a clay design mounted i« lo them.

General Findings

♦ Eyepins - these are useful for embedding in tlu- clay before baking to provide an attachment point for earrings and pendants.

♦ Headplns - mainly used for threading beads on to earrings.

♦ lump rings-small split rings, available in various sizes, for attaching clasps, pendants and so forth.

♦ S-iittings- useful for linking jewellery and attaching pendants.

» Peg and loop - glue into a hole in the clay to provide an attachment point. ' Triangle bails - another useful type of attachment.

♦ Pendant mounts - used to attach pendants to chains or thongs. Squeeze the prongs together into a hole in the clay.

♦ Pendants - milled or plain cup designs into which clay can be pressed.

♦ Brooch backs - various lengths and designs are made. A useful size is 2.5cm (lin). Glue to the back of brooches.

Chain - available in various lengths and styles, such as curb, trace and so on.

Wire - comes in various thicknesses and finishes, of which 0.6mm or 0.8mm are good all-purpose sizes for linking beads and making loop earrings.

♦ Hair clips/barrettes - various sizes are made. Designs can be glued on to create attractive hair ornaments.

Kings - adjustable rings with flat pads or milled cups.

Necklace Fastenings

Bolt ring - used with a jump ring to fasten a necklace.

♦ Torpedo clasp - screw clasp for fastening a necklace.

Calotte crimp - used to enclose the knot at the end of a string of beads and to provide an attachment point for the clasp or jump ring. Spring end - squeezed on to the end of cord or leather thong to provide attachment for clasps and so on.

♦ Lace end - used in the same way as a spring end.

♦ Hook - useful for fastening leather thong; attached to spring or lace ends.

Necklace Stringing Materials

Leather thong - useful for stringing large beads and pendants, this is available in several colours and thicknesses. Can be knotted to finish or use spring ends and hooks as a fastening.

Cord - comes in a wide range of colours and is used in a similar way to leather thong.

♦ Threads - beads can be threaded on any strong thread e.g., embroidery thread, beading silk and nylon or synthetic bead thread. Remember that clay beads tend to be fairly heavy, so use strong thread.

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  • eija
    How to make flat sheets in clay?
    9 years ago
  • kati
    How make own plastic clay?
    9 years ago
    What does translucent clay mean?
    7 years ago

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