A lover of handmade jewelry, Donna has been crafting (and wearing) unique pieces of statement jewelry since she can remember.
Craft Your Own Stick Pin From Beads and Clay
Ornamental stick pins have been used for centuries for practical dress reasons and as fashionable decorations. A stick pin can be used to fasten a scarf or shawl in place by sliding the stick through the two ends of the shawl and holding it closed. Stick pins are also used to decorate a woman's hair when it is put up in a bun or upswing style.
Stick pins can be made from a variety of materials, but I wanted to make one using some basic craft materials and tools that are easy to find. I chose to use a decorative glass bead and some polymer clay to make my beautiful and handy pin.
What Kind of Clay Should You Use?
I used Sculpey polymer clay to make the stick part of my pin. Polymer clay is a good choice for this project because it is easy to mold and handle, but it becomes quite hard once it is baked. Baking the clay only requires a conventional oven or toaster oven set at 275°F.
The clay can also be painted after baking with most craft paints. Polymer clay comes in a wide variety of colors, which is nice if you don't want to paint your finished piece. You can also blend colors together to get a marble-like effect.
What About Air-Drying Clay?
You may also be able to create a similar stick pin using air-dry clay. I haven't used air-dry clay much. I think the finished texture might be different (Model Magic, for instance, is a more foamy consistency), and I think the surface looks different when painted.
The tools for this project are pretty basic.
- Modeling tools: If you have ceramic or clay modeling tools, great! If not, a wooden popsicle stick, wooden skewer stick, or a plastic knife would be helpful.
- Work surface: A paper plate is a great surface to work on.
However, I would not recommend using any tools or items that you use in your kitchen. Even though the clay is non-toxic, you should not use any of your tools for food preparation after you have used them with the clay.
You will also need the following supplies:
- A decorative bead with a hole in at least one end: Pick the color, size, and material of your choice.
- Some type of superglue: I used Quicktite Instant Adhesive Gel, and it worked great for this project.
- Acrylic paint and a small brush if you want to paint your stick pin.
- Soft wire (or embroidery floss or ribbon) and needle-nose pliers if you want to add wire decoration to your pin.
Step 1: Make a Clay Ball, Then Shape It Into a Cone
To start, make a ball of clay that is about 1 1/2 " in diameter and start to knead it in your fingers. Once it is soft, put it down on your surface and start rolling it into a cone shape. Keep moving your fingers up and down the length of your clay, but apply more pressure on one end so it gets smaller and starts to form a point.
Step 2: Roll the Cone to the Length and Diameter You Want
As your cone gets longer, cut the length back, keeping the end with the point. Continue to roll your piece with the point until it is the length and diameter you want. To use as a stick pin, you want the diameter of the thickest part (up by the bead) to be about 1/4". The length is more flexible. I made my stick about 5 1/2" long.
Step 3: Shape the End of the Stick to Fit Your Bead
Once your stick is pretty much shaped, roll the thick end just a bit so you can cram it into the hole in your bead. How much clay you want inside the bead depends on the size of the bead. This will be your gluing surface, so make sure you get enough clay in there to hold your bead. You can also form a bit of a clay base where the bead and stick meet to hold the bead and make an attractive joining point.
Step 4: Flatten the Stick Slightly or Add Texture (Optional)
Once my base was set and the stick was the size and shape I wanted, I used the flat side of one of my tools to flatten the roundness of my stick a bit. This is optional. I wanted my stick to have a bit of a whittled look to it, so I flattened it some on each side. You could also use stamps or other tools to add some texture and decoration.
Step 5: Bake the Stick Pin (Without the Bead)
Once you are happy with your stick pin, bake it according to your clay directions, without your bead attached. I used my toaster oven. I like to use my toaster oven tray, covered in aluminum foil. This way, I know my piece will bake flat and not show any marks for the oven racks.
Step 6: Decorate and Finish the Stick Pin
Let your clay stick cool completely before decorating or adhering your bead. If you want, once cooled, you can give your clay stick a light sanding using some fine grit sandpaper. Be sure to go outside to do this and wear a mask.
I painted my stick using acrylic paint in the colors of the swirl of my bead. I let my paint dry overnight, then I glued on my bead using the Quicktite Adhesive Gel. This glue is a gel formula, so it doesn't drip all over the place, but it also gives you a little bit of time to adjust your pieces for the right fit.
Make sure you are sticking your bead on in the position you fit it when you made your clay base. I used a colander to hold my stick while I glued my bead and let it dry.
Step 7: Add Wire Decoration (Optional)
I added some thin copper wire at the base of my bead as decoration. This is optional, but it's a great way to hide your join between the bead and stick if it is not pretty. If you don't have or want to use wire, you can also use embroidery floss or some ribbon.
I first hooked my wire around the base of the bead and twisted the wire firmly, yet somewhat loosely around the top of my stick. I made sure to cover and hide the starting end of my wire in these wraps.
Once I had the number of wraps I wanted, I cut my wire leaving about a 4-inch tail. I then used my needle nose pliers to tuck the end of my wire up under my wraps and pull it to the front. I did this several times, creating a few vertical wraps.
When I was happy with how it looked, I cut the wire with a short tail and tucked the end under my wraps. I used my needle nose pliers to give all my wraps a little squeeze to hold them in place. If you use thread or ribbon instead, you might want to secure it with a dab of fabric glue.
Show Off Your Pin in a Shawl
I just finished this shawl and I love how my new stick pin looks with it. It adds just the right amount of interest and decoration without distracting from the pattern of my shawl. And if I had long hair, it would look great in an upturned 'do, too!
Questions & Answers
Question: What size is the bead you used in this tutorial?
Answer: I used a handmade glass bead of irregular shape. The bead is about 3/4 of an inch long and 1/2 an inch wide. However, you can a variety of different beads for this project and just adjust the size of the stick.
© 2013 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 17, 2015:
Hi Denise - I'd had this beautiful bead for years and always loved it, but didn't really have the right project to use it. It worked perfectly on this shawl stick and I wear it all the time. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Good luck making your own shawl stick pin!
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 17, 2015:
Lovely idea. I've got to run right into my craft closet and make one for myself. Thanks.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on October 15, 2013:
Hi Jaya - You're lucky to have such lovely long hair. If you decide to make your own hair pins, I would suggest doing some samples with different brands of polymer clay. Fimo, for instance, is a firmer clay than Sculpey and would probably make a stronger pin to hold a lot of hair in place. Good luck with your project! Thanks for reading and commenting!!
Sanghita Chatterjee from Kolkata on October 15, 2013:
Really inspired! I have super-long hair and always need a big pin to keep it in place! Now I know how to make my own hair-pin all by myself!! Thanks for the post!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on October 10, 2013:
Hi CraftytotheCore - I love using polymer clay for different projects. For this shawl stick pin, it worked well because I could mold it to fit my bead. So glad you like it :) Thanks, as always, for your comments!!
CraftytotheCore on October 10, 2013:
I'm so amazed at your talent. That shawl and stick pin are gorgeous. I never thought of making a stick pin out of clay. They are often used in greeting cards and scrapbook layouts. Wonderful!