Lately I have been very into brooches. I’m not talking about jeweled brooches that you can get at a retail store or even a thrift shop. I’m talking about colorful, weird, attention getting brooches. Brooches much like these:
Brooches and pins are beautiful accessories that can complete an outfit. They pop and can be literal statement pieces when they have words on them. This tutorial will teach you how to make your very own brooches out of polymer clay, with tips on how to deal with polymer clay as well. There is a lot of leeway of course because these will be ALL YOURS.
Now, let’s begin! First, the most important things that you will need for part one of this tutorial: Polymer clay, a flat clean surface, a baking sheet, an oven, and a clock. Polymer clay is usually less than $3 at craft stores. As for the flat surface, I happen to have a slab of granite laying around my house. Any other flat surface is just fine as long as it is very clean! You do not want little hairs, dirt or dust particles in your final products.
The rest of the supplies are self explanatory, except please make sure that the baking sheet you use is ONLY for baking clay. If you want to use any eating utensils for your polymer clay projects please DO NOT reuse them when eating food. Put them in a separate place so you do not get confused.
The rest of the items in the photo are optional. The tube and purple utensils are polymer clay tools that I bought as a kit. They are useful but you can use many other things as substitutes. The razor blade can be substituted with a metal ruler, a (dull, to be safe) knife, and probably even big enough scissors. The baby wipe can be substituted with a moist paper towel or cloth. As for the cookie cutters, you only need them if you want a perfect shape.
Moving on! First, using your sharp object or your hands (if the clay is soft enough), cut off the amount of clay you would like to use. Now, sometimes polymer clay is soft and sweet in your hands, other times it can be very hard to deal with. I have found that hard clay sparkles and soft clay is a solid color. You want your clay soft, so you can shape it freely. To soften it, you must play around with it in your hands. Squeeze it, roll it around, mash it, etc. Although you can’t really tell, I began with a sparkly clay from Sculpey called, “Pearl.”
As you can see, it was a bit difficult to deal with at first but then it softened up. Once your clay is softened you’re going to want to flatten it to get a shape out of it. This is where my rolling pin/tube comes in handy. As a substitute, you can use anything that is longer than the amount of clay you are using and is in the shape of a cylinder.
You want your clay to be flat as possible. Especially if you are using a cookie cutter, or anything that you think can be used as one. If you do not have anything, keep reading, I made brooches without the cookie cutters as well!
When you use a cookie cutter with hard clay, you are going to want to make sure that the cutter is all the way down, pressing on the surface underneath the clay. With soft clay, it will go down smoothly. With hard clay, it may trick you and sit on the top of the clay without you realizing. So hammer it down if you think need to!
Once you are done, you have lifted the excess clay away, and carefully peeled the clay off the surface, you may see some excess clay around your piece. This makes the piece look uneven or plainly… not cute. You can scrape this away with your nails, razor blade, or other sharp-ish object.
And here is the final product with a cookie cutter. Nice and smooth!
After you are done with one color of clay, you’re going to need to wash your hands and clean your surface with your baby wipe or moist paper towel/cloth. If you do not do this, you are risking getting a color you may not want into your next piece.
Now, here we go without cookie cutters and two different pieces of solid colored clay. Even if the clay seems soft, you should still mess around with it a bit just to make sure it’s nice and flexible. The colors I used here were, “White,” from Sculpey and, “Pomegranate,” from Premo! Sculpey. What I did was press both my pieces together.
With polymer clay, when you do this the colors can become beautifully marbelized. I encourage you all to experiment with different colors when marbelizing. It gets very cool!
However, I wanted my clay to turn pink because I did not have any pink. So I continued to press the clay around until it was no longer marbelized and instead a solid color. Like so!
After I flattened my clay the way I wanted (flattened a ball of it). I decided on a shape that I wanted to make and went for it. Here is one of the times where you have plenty of leeway. I’m sure all you creative girls have fantastic ideas and can sculpt the heck out of this clay, probably much better than I can too! So think outside the box. Plain shapes, bows, flowers, faces, Venus symbols, try anything! Me? I went for a skull.
Look at that, a tutorial within a tutorial! You can see a bit, that my hands got a bit stained from the clay. The only reason why stained hands should worry you is if you do not wash them before using a different color clay. Otherwise, you should simply wash them to be sanitary.
After you are all set shaping your clay, it’s time for part two; baking!
Set your shapes a bit apart from each other on your baking sheet and prepare to stick them into a preheated oven.
All the clay packages have certain baking instructions, however, I have always struggled with them. Maybe my oven is too hot or maybe I have bad luck, but when I first started using Polymer clay, all my pieces would get burned! This was very frustrating and it took a few tries until I finally got it right. What works FOR ME is my oven set to 230 degrees and leaving the pieces in there for, the most, 8 minutes. Heaven forbid I leave it in for 10! If you are worried about this, simply make some silly, random practice shapes, and bake them according to me, according to the baking instructions on the packages, and then what you might think would be the best and record your results. Burnt Polymer clay pieces are SO not cute!
I added two extra pieces (TARDIS and an eyeball) that I made on my own which were a bit more work, but also self explanatory. It all has to do with imaginative sculpting. When you take the baking sheet out of the oven, you might want to lift up the pieces before they cool. This is to make sure they aren’t stuck to the sheet and it prevents them from heating any further because of the hot sheet. Not necessary, but something I do.
The clay pieces will look just how you left them. Only now, they will be hardened.
Now for the final part! Finalization and more leeway, with painting! Painting isn’t necessary, of course. You can even skip this part, if you wish. If you choose not to paint your pieces, simply glue your brooch blank onto the back of your piece and you’re all done! If you do want to paint it, paint it beforehand, wait for it to dry and then glue on the brooch blank.
Pictured above are things you will need for the third part. (Again, painting tools aren’t necessary). I used acrylic paints. These paints start at $0.40 so go crazy when purchasing them! There are also paint brushes, which are also pretty inexpensive. The most necessary items are the blank brooches and super glue. The one pictured is Loctite, “Extra Time Control.” The blank brooches can be found from craft stores, jewelry supply stores, Etsy, or eBay.
If you are going to paint the brooches, I suggest that you do not paint the backs because the acrylic paint may come off with the brooch that you glued on. For extra security when gluing the back without painting it, try putting some glue over the sides of the brooch. So that the glue is almost hugging the brooch down.
Once you’re all done with your brooches, you may want them to look shiny instead of dull. If so, I recommend using Mod Podge’s gloss. I think it worked very nicely. (It goes on white, but dries clear.)
I made a special brooch dedicated to The Pulp Zine and the lovely Pulp Babes.
All my final pieces are pictured way, way above. They are also available in my shop http://cocopourri.com. Hope you all enjoyed this tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it! Feel free to show us your brooches if you make any. We would all love to see your ideas!