Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Designing Jewelry in Polymer Clay

Polymer clay jewelry can be incredibly strong. Weaknesses usually come about because of flaws in the design of the piece. It's always good to make a prototype and wear it under all kinds of circumstances. If there is a weakness, you'll soon know. However, a little thought beforehand can save you from wasted effort. Areas of attachment often need extra support, as do areas with very different thicknesses next to each other. Two examples follow:

The Burlesque Blend is here used to create a beautiful Japanese-styled pendant. These are two left-over pieces from the sides of the "Meandering Path" pendant (tomorrow) The pearl is suspended between the two legs by a brass wire making for a tactile, kinetic piece (the pearl spins) This little attachment area helps stabilize the two legs of the pendant. Where the Burlesque Blend legs attach to the upper black branch, there is a need for support. The black branch is composed of two pieces of polymer clay stacked together with flattened wire paddles in between that extend down and into the Burlesque Blend legs. This is a very strong yet relatively thin piece.

Orbital Bling:

Support is needed at the three corners of this bracelet. This bangle is reversible and only 1/4" thick and the corners are inset on both sides, making the corners only 1/8" thick. Wire would be a pain to work with in this piece, so the strength here is supplied by paper.

Having been a paper-maker for over 40 years (from scratch, pounding different plants from my garden and surrounding fields) I've come to be amazed at the strength of paper made from the right kind of fiber. For example, thin copy-weight paper made from only processed crocosmia leaves cannot be torn by hand! In this particular case I chose to use manila paper (shape cut from a manila file folder) Both sides of the manila paper shape were covered with white glue and allowed to dry. The clay adheres to this PVA glue when it is baked. Scrap clay is applied to the top and bottom of the paper shape, then the surface pieces inlayed with Burlesque Blend were added. The result is a very strong bangle.


  1. Who'd have thought it! Thank you for this tip - and thank you for such an intersting blog, discovered thanks to PCD!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Carrie. It's amazing what insights we can bring from one creative discipline to another. I'm glad you like the "tip" and I try to put these in when I think of them as I write. For some it's old hat, but for others it's a new idea.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Neena. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.