Polymer clay is ideal for making a variety of tiny treasures including dollhouse miniatures, fairy garden accessories, and jewelry charms. I’ll show the supplies you’ll need to get started and walk you through the basic steps.
If you ready to dive in and made something, this DIY fairy pond lily pad tutorial is a good beginner project.
Polymer Clay Crafts for Beginners
Here’s the first thing to know about creating tiny trinkets with polymer clay: it’s much easier than you think. There are many wonderful artists online sharing their how-to tutorials both on blogs and YouTube videos and I’ve included a few at the bottom of this post.
I’ll be posting some super simple projects for complete beginners so you can decide if this is something you want to get into.
If you have tweens or older children in your life, you might also get them interested in making charms (if they aren’t already).
The possibilities really are unlimited: fairy garden accessories, tiny cookies and cupcakes, favourite video game or book characters—or create your own, animals, insects, flowers, dishes, and so on. They are perfect for necklaces, bracelets, and keychains.
You can make things as simplistic or realistic as you like. Many simple charms (like these fairy pond lily pads) take 15 minutes or less to sculpt which means you can make quite a collection in just one afternoon.
Related: How to Make a Clay Cactus in a Pot
How to Make Cool Stuff with Polymer Clay
1Choose a design. Use a photo or tutorial to guide you.
2Cut, warm (with your hands), and sculpt the clay.
3Add any color accents you want.
4Bake the clay according to package instructions. Premo clay (¼” thick) takes 30 minutes at 270 °F/132 °C.
5Allow to cool (this is when it hardens).
6Add paint accents and / or sealant if desired.
Materials & Supplies
I’ll show you what I have in my polymer clay toolkit. There are commercial tool sets available (intended for natural clay and not quite perfect for polymer work) but you may already have much of what you need at home.
You will not need everything listed here. This is just an overview of what may come in handy.
Clay and Bonding Materials
- Polymer Clay – popular brands include Premo, Fimo, Sculpey III.
I like Premo multi-color starter packs. Be sure to get the clay that requires baking, not the air-drying clay.
- Sculpey Bake & Bond (this bonds both raw and baked clay, also adheres to wood, paper, and canvas).
- Translucent Liquid Sculpey “TLS” (for transferring images to clay, adding colour to clay, and as an adhesive).
- Super Glue can also be used to attach small pieces (after baking)
- Smooth piece of white ceramic tile or piece of laminated shelf or smooth acrylic board.
You want something that the clay won’t stick to.
Clean As You Go
- You need to keep the work surface and your hands clean when switching between clay colours or the colours will muck up.
- Homemade hand cleaner: 1 part salt, 1 part sugar, 1 part liquid soap, 1/2 part olive oil.
For example, 1/4 cup each of salt, sugar, and liquid soap plus 1/8 cup of olive oil. Combine and store in jar with a lid.
- Rubbing alcohol and a clean, white rag will keep your work surface clean.
Craft Project: Make a Papier-Mâché Bird
Clay Cutting and Sculpting Tools
- The clay is firm when first unwrapped. It will warm up immediately as you rub it with your fingers.
- Cut the clay with any of these: utility knife, or razor blade. I use an old paint scraper with a fine edge.
- Roll the clay flat with an acrylic roller. I use a small aluminum water bottle. Choose anything that works and doesn’t stick.
- For sculpting you’ll want some fine-tipped tools and others with round ends.
Options include sculpting tool kits for clay pottery as well as tiny screw drivers, pins, toothpicks, bamboo skewers, ball stylus tips, and the wrong end of fine paint brush.
- Texture the surface of the clay with items like sandpaper, clean old toothbrush, and textured tool handles.
Colour / Paint / Finishes
- Chalk pastels and/or oil pastels (used to tint clay before baking).
- Acrylic paints (after baking the clay).
- Polyurethane or other clear-drying sealant.
- Many other special effects are possible with items including dimensional paints, inks, and Mod Podge Dimensional Magic.
- Toaster oven (get one at a yard sale and dedicate it for craft use only). Read about any safety concerns before choosing to use a conventional oven.
- Parchment paper on baking tray.
- Resealable plastic bags for storing the clay (air tight).
Wires and Clasps
You’ll want these if you are making charms for necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or rings, as well as more intricate projects where wire may be used to shape clay pieces.
- Headpins or other jewelry clips, earring posts and nuts, ring backings.
- Wire (22-26 gauge depending on how it’s used).
- Fine wire cutters
- Needle-nose pliers
- Scents and spices. You can use items like cookie-dough scent for tiny chocolate chip cookies or real spices for faux pumpkin pies!
And that’s the list. Scroll down to see some polymer clay videos.
Here’s a super quick beginner tutorial: make lily pads for a fairy pond.
Stay tuned for upcoming polymer clay tutorials for miniatures and other charms.
Watch Polymer Clay Craft TV
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛