Polymer clay is a wonderful non-toxic material that lends itself to all kinds of uses. It can be used to make jewelry, decorative and functional objects, and imitate natural materials. There’s seemingly no end to the creations you can make from polymer clay.
Everyone in the whole family can get involved in making polymer clay projects and gain satisfaction from making something that looks complex, but is easy to make.
Getting started with polymer clay is easy. All you need is a few packs of clay, a rolling pin or pasta maker, a slicing blade, cookie cutters or clay cutters, and an oven. Your finished pieces go into the oven for baking at low temperatures, but you may wish to use a toaster oven that’s dedicated to the use of baking clay only. Otherwise, you can quickly get started experimenting with polymer clay and seeing what it’s all about.
Start without stress
Not sure of where to get started? Don’t panic. Tutorials for polymer clay basics are readily available online to get you started. They provide you with step-by-step instructions to help you achieve an effect, make a useful object, and take advantage of the clay’s properties.
If you’re a beginner, tutorials will help you master basic techniques and foundations that you’ll build from. Advanced polymer clay artists get to push their limits and do something completely different with tutorials from well-known polymer clay artists.
You’ll learn how to create endless shapes, designs, and finished objects in polymer clay, as well as how to use exciting finishes that include mica powder, acrylic paint, and alcohol inks..The following is a list of 25 polymer clay ideas that range from simple to complex, easy to advanced, and everything inbetween.
Get your hands dirty
All right, ready for some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite polymer clay tutorials.
1. Faux ammolite
Ammolite is a type of opalescent/iridescent ammonite fossil that’s beautiful and costly. It features flashes of green and red with a little bit of yellow in the background.
This fun tutorial for faux ammolite shows you how to make your own version of ammolite without the expense and all the fun of making your own finished sheets.
2. Polymer clay faux lampwork glass pendant
Making a lampwork pendant is normally a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, but it’s one you don’t have to undertake with this tutorial from Clayboutique. You’ll learn how to prepare your clay and blend it to create a translucent appearance, then roll it with a glass tile for the final form.
The tutorial also shows you how to decorate the finished pendant with rhinestones for extra sparkle.
3. Covering an Altoid tin
If you enjoy polymer clay and Altoid mints, this tutorial is for you. It shows you how to cover an Altoid tin, or a similar type of tin, and turn it into something functional and decorative.
The tutorial shows you how to make the right thickness of sheets, tips for decorating the tin further, and even shows you how to make feet for the bottom. It also guides you through the process of baking the clay and the tin in the oven, and how to open up the clay for the hinges.
4. Clay incense holder (lotus flower shape)
This tutorial shows you how to make a 3-D lotus to hold a stick of incense while it’s burning. The design is big enough to catch the ashes of the incense as it burns, and gives you the opportunity to have a unique incense holder when you’re done.
It’s an economical tutorial because you only need to use one package of clay for the entire piece. You can also use your scrap clay or let your imagination go wild and put together patterns and colors for the final piece.
5. Hollow beads using an extruder
This insightful tutorial shows you how to make lightweight beads with interesting textures on the surface. The resulting aesthetic is eye-catching and the textures keep the eye on the beads.
It’s a simple technique that shows you how to hollow out a bead and use your extruder to create strands of clay. Then you turn them into braids and twists so you can apply them to the surface of the bead. The tutorial uses a single color for each bead, but the tutorial lends itself to using multiple colors for each bead.
6. Orsons Original Too Funky Tutorial
Learn how to use cold enamel with polymer clay and make a pop art mod-style bracelet that shows off your unique style. You’ll learn how to make the shells, decorate them with cold enamels and designs, and turn your work into earrings, bracelets, pins, and vessels.
The tutorial contains over 80 pages and about 250 pictures to help you learn how to do each step.
7. Millefiori flower cane tutorial
Millefiori is Italian for a thousand flowers, and it’s also a foundational polymer clay technique. Refresh your millefiori cane making skills with this tutorial, or learn how to make them and explore the unlimited possibilities that come with making this type of cane.
After you’ve gotten comfortable with making millefiori, check out the following tutorial for one of their uses.
8. Kaleidoscope cane and decorated baubles
This is sure to push your cane-making skills to the max, but the end results are worth the effort. Making kaleidoscope canes in polymer clay is time-consuming, but it’s easier than you think, and this tutorial shows you how to make, cut, and place your slices onto an ornament, then how to properly bake into a finished piece.
You’ll be proud to put the end results on your Christmas tree or hang them from an ornament hanger throughout the rest of the year.
9. Faux abalone bowl
This tutorial features both a video and a written version and shows you how to create the slices that you’ll need to cover a bowl and make it look like real abalone. You’ll learn how to make a Skinner blend in the colors that mimic abalone, then make a block for slicing into sheets that shimmer and undulate like the real thing.
The tutorial also walks you through the steps to place your sheets on the bowl and do the finishing touches.
10. Embroidered polymer clay earrings
Get out your shape cutters and embroidery floss for this mixed media project and brush up on your Skinner blend skills with this video tutorial. The tutorial is easy and straightforward in terms of accomplishing each step, but you get a beautiful flash of color to wear when all is said and done.
You may prefer to stick with the leaf shape that’s demonstrated in the tutorial, or adapt the technique to a different shape to make the final work in your own style.
11. Faux glass polymer clay head pin
If you’ve ever wanted to have colored head pins to make your jewelry special, now you can with this liquid clay headpin tutorial. The process itself is easy and straightforward, but you’ll need special tools to achieve the effect.
The tutorial lays out the tools you’ll need and how to use them as you work the clay onto your wire. The end result looks like you got out the glass torch and went to the trouble of making real glass headpins.
12. Transluscent hollow bead
Have you ever wondered how to get polymer clay to look like Murano glass? You can learn how with this tutorial that shows you how to make a translucent hollow bead. It’s more complex than the other hollow bead tutorials on this list, but if you’re up to the challenge, the results are worth the effort.
You’ll need to use liquid clay around a form in order to achieve the effect, but it’s a nice change from making sheets.
13. Faux cloisonne technique
Cloisonne is a technique that consists of using wire soldered to a backing, then filled with crushed glass and melted at a high heat. This tutorial shows you how to use the same framework for the design, then use polymer clay to fill in the designs. The process is labor-intensive, and you need to be comfortable working wire into a desired shape.
The results are breathtaking and let you imitate real cloisonne with much less effort. The tutorial is designed for beginners and advanced polymer clay artists alike
14. Brass channel bangle with polymer clay
Are you looking for a way to use up your extra canes, or just want to do something simple, yet have a stunning finished piece? This brass channel bangle tutorial fulfills these needs and more. It shows you how to form a square cane into a channel brass bangle and finish it to your liking.
The tutorial includes nine pages and large color photos to show you how to achieve the desired look.
15. Napkin transfer tutorial
Have you ever come across a paper napkin with a print you wanted to preserve, but didn’t know how? Now you can with this transfer tutorial. You’ll learn how to prepare your polymer clay to receive the print, then how to transfer the pattern on the napkin to the clay.
When you’re finished, you can trim the clay to your desired shape or use your clay cutters to create shapes.
16. Polymer clay bangle tutorial
Clayboutique shows you how to make a basic polymer clay bangle, then decorate it with slices from a cane.
There’s not a whole lot to making a bangle from polymer clay, but it’s another foundation technique that opens up endless possibilities for color combinations, decoration, texture, and applying just about anything else you can think of.
17. Openwork polymer clay bangles
The techniques taught in this tutorial show you how to make openwork polymer clay designs that look organic. It’s an original technique that’s offered by the artist who created it, and comes with multiple techniques for you to learn and enjoy.
The tutorial features 34 pages and over 90 pictures to show you how to do each technique and the materials you’ll need. The finished work creates fascinating effects that have an organic feel.
18. Marble clay ring stand
Ring stands are a practical way to keep your rings in one place, and this tutorial shows you how to make the ring stand into something that’s a piece of art all on its own. The tutorial is a great way to learn how to create a marbled look in clay, and can be used in just about any application you can think of.
Making a stand is easy, and it’s something you’ll find that you’ll make a lot of for yourself and for others as a gift.
19. Ballpoint pen cover
Learn how to turn your ballpoint pen into something fun and exciting with this video tutorial by Sher Bears Whimsical Gifts. This 10 minute video shows you how to make a cover for a ballpoint pen that can be used over and over again, or given away as gifts. It shows you how to make a base for the pen, then cover it in slices from your cane.
There’s plenty of room to put together patterns and designs, or put your name onto it to prevent it from walking away.
20. Faux burl wood jewelry box
Polymer clay’s ability to imitate natural materials is put to good use in this tutorial showing you how to make a jewelry box that looks like it’s made from burl wood. You’ll learn how to create each section of the box and how to form it so the clay keeps its shape during baking.
You’ll also learn how to create an inlay that looks like it was made from real metal and wood. You get the look of a turned wooden jewelry box when you’re finished.
21. Hollow heart bead tutorial
Learn how to make hollow heart beads with a unique technique that avoids the use of fillers. It includes both a PDF and a video tutorial for you to follow, and also shows you how to texture the surface of the beads.
The advantage of this technique is the fact you can make larger beads that are lightweight. Reviewers strongly suggest that you use both the PDF and video to get the most out of the tutorial.
22. Miniature tea set
This tutorial comes from a Korean artist, but there’s no language barrier to get around in this video. The artist provides clear, step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, so you can create a delicate miniature tea set that looks like the real deal.
You’ll learn how to make a tea pot, cups, bowls, and a tray, as well as how to put together the canes for the pattern used on all pieces.
23. Making faux agate geode slices
Natural geode slices are wonders of nature that are beautiful to look at, and you can make your own versions with this tutorial. The tutorial shows you how to use a variety of colors and textures to create a geode slice that you won’t worry about using for a coaster. It also shows you how to make jewelry and other types of home decor items out of your slices.
It’s a fun way to add a punch of color to your home or wardrobe.
24. Simple polymer clay buttons
Sometimes you have a project where you can’t find a button to match it to save your life. This fun tutorial for simple polymer clay buttons solves the issue handily by showing you how to make your own custom buttons.
Blend your colors, stack them up into layers, or make random smash-ups of scrap clay to get the results you’re after.
25. Faux carnelian jasper cabochons
Learn how to make realistic jasper cabochons using translucent polymer clay and alcohol inks. This video tutorial shows you how to make the base for the cabochons, then instructs you on how to apply and blend together alcohol inks to achieve the color of carnelian jasper.
Finally, the tutorial guides you in the shaping of the clay into a cabochon shape that looks like the real deal.
Shaping your future
These tutorials enable you to learn about the various techniques that take advantage of polymer clay’s inherent properties of elasticity and strength. If you’re just starting out with the craft, start with the tutorials that are easy and help you understand how to use polymer clay.
The clay requires preparation before you can use it, and you need to create your colors before you put them together into your piece.
Once you’ve learned how to start the clay for working, you’re free to let your imagination go wild, or use the above tutorials to learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to try, but never knew how.