Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Polymer Clay basics and cloud necklace variations - Part 2 - and a Giveaway

I love my minimalist cloud. But I knew there was more to come for this little guy. Here he is with all his playmates, and my table almost looks like a (very strange) weather map! Today I'll just run down how I do a few of the clay effects and make some of the smaller pieces, and then I wax poetic (or maybe just rant) about varnish for a bit. And there's something extra special right at the end...

For part 1, including how to make the basic cloud form, please go here.

"Look for the Silver Lining"

"Look for the silver lining."-- this phrase kept coming through my head while making my clouds, so I dug through my clay box and sure enough, I had some silver glitter Fimo Effects clay. I pressed a silver flower cut-out to the back of a white one and smoothed the edges together before pulling it into a cloud shape. I couldn't decide whether to leave the silver side smooth or texture it, so did one of each. (I ended up liking the smooth one better as it shimmers a lot more.) I should also note- when I roll clay and cut it out I generally have a messy side, which is the one against the surface. This tends to be the 'back' for obvious back-to-front projects, and for these, I put the messy sides together. Bonus! When worn, I'd personally put the silver side at the "back", but this is a fully reversible necklace!

"Always on the Sunny Side"

For a sunny day, simply add a lightened sunflower yellow circle to the back of a cloud. I made the circle with a cutter but wanted it a bit bigger, so pressed it out a bit once it was cut. Be careful not to deform the cloud or let it sag once the extra clay is behind.

"Very Very Frightning Be"

For thunderclouds, mix grey with a very small bit of black, stopping just before they come together for a more dynamic swirly look. Use the craft knife to cut out a lightning bolt shape, and press it down slightly to give it a bit of geometric pop. Don't play with the bolts too much or the edges will soften- good for some things but you'll want the bolts to stay sharp. Put an extra hole in the bottom of your cloud to attach the bolt (and don't forget a hole in the top of the bolt, as well!)

For rain clouds, I mixed a lighter grey with some white, again stopping just before it mixed completely. For these, I made raindrops.

"Just a Little Black Rain Cloud"

For raindrops, make a small ball of blue clay, and press it gently into your fingers, but don't flatten it completely. Then, turn and pinch it, you'll see the tear shape form and can gently work the raindrop into shape from there. If you are getting too frustrated, start again with the press and pinch, and try not to play with it too much. And yes, I hung mine with the fat side down, even though that's not really how they fall. Status quo? Me.

"Singin' in the Rain"

My husband mentioned "Singing in the Rain" as an Etsy title for the rainclouds, and instantly I knew I had to do some with raindrop notes. The stem is pretty straightforward, but the flag can be a pain. Make a small sausage with one end pointier than the other. Gently coax it into an 's', flatten with your finger, then make finishing touches to your form if needed before pressing it onto the top of the stem. Be very careful when transferring these to the baking surface as they will fall apart very easily. Rather than lifting with the tissue blade, the craft knife may serve you better. 

Finishing your necklace-

Once you've made your designs and baked them, you can finish them with varnish before adding any jewelry findings. You don't have to, but items will be harder to clean if you don't. If you don't want the shine, but want protection for your items, look for matte varnishes!

Another quick note on varnish. This is what I use- a varnish made specifically for polymer clay. It gets very very sticky and can be the most frustrating part of the process for some designs. Where a design can come together very quickly and easily, varnish can knock you down a peg or two. 

For items like these clouds, make sure to varnish the back first. Leave them to dry until you can touch it without it sticking to your finger (about 10-20 minutes) and then do the other side. Once you've finished applying a round (front or back) of varnish to a batch, give each item a little nudge to make sure they aren't sticking to your surface. I would recommend leaving your clouds on the glass cutting board as they dry- to save your table and your designs! While you're applying a coat, keep your fingers either very clean of any varnish, or very wet with varnish, as otherwise you will stick to the varnish, it will stick to you, and imperfections in the varnish aren't always easy to fix. There are easier ways to varnish- but none are appropriate for these designs.

Once items are varnished, you can whatever jewelry findings you like. Don't poke holes in your clouds (apart from the ones you need for danglies) and you'll have a perfect little brooch, just waiting for a some strong glue and a pin back. I'll go over what jewelry-making tools I use, and some little tricks, in a future blog. 

And now, to reward you for reading all the way through! 


I have lots of these necklaces now, and they've just gone up on Etsy today in my brand new spin-off shop for non-foody designs-- Just Plain Awesome! Be one of the first to get one, and for free! Simply comment with the title of the cloud design you liked the most. That's all you have to do! I'll pick a winner on Sunday 8pm BST (that's 2pm Central) and you'll get your favourite of these sent to you. For an extra entry, 'like' my Facebook page, and then leave a comment here saying you did so. I'll ship to anywhere, and you can have it as a bracelet instead if you'd rather. You may not get the exact one pictured above, but it will be very similar!
EDIT: Because some people were having problems with commenting, I'm leaving this open until Monday the 24th at 8pm BST(2pm Central US) in the hopes that people will get more of a chance to comment. Good luck!
EDIT2: Congratulations to Megan- thanks to, you are the winner! I'll be in touch <3

Thanks guys, I hope you enjoyed this!


  1. I love them!

    Always on the sunny side is my favourite, so cheerful!

    How do you apply the varnish, with a brush? How do you clean it after? Random but whenever I've done anything with varnish it has ruined all the tools I've used.

    I didn't realise you'd launched a new shop, I'll look forward to having a look properly when I get my laptop out.

    1. I just launched it today so you're not in the dark ;)

      I use some old brushes I got at The Works. I'll have to post a photo of how my varnish brush looks, it's pretty unusable for anything else. The Fimo varnish isn't quite as stinky or harsh as other varnishes I've used before and I find it washes out pretty easily with hot water.

  2. I love the sunshine one too! These are adorable. :) I'll definitely be ordering again soon.

  3. Always on the Sunny Side is so awesome! Love Them all, though! Love your creativity and skill!

  4. I like the silver lining. The thundercloud is really cool too!