Polymer Clay Fantasy Flower Brooch/Pin, Earrings or Ring Tutorial
Colorful Blooms to Wear Year-Round!
Many polymer clay tutorials exist for making either very basic or realistic flowers. I have designed something different: colorful, cheerful and fun polymer clay flower jewelry to wear all year long. These playful flowers will brighten your outfits—and your spirits—even during the cold, drab winter months.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to create your own whimsical polymer clay flowers in whatever size you wish and then turn them into brooches, pins, pendant, rings or earrings. Choose your favorite color combinations and add your own personal flair to the petals and centers to make your creations unique!
This project is easy enough for polymer clay newbies to complete successfully and also unusual and pretty enough to interest intermediate crafters who have experience with this material.
Note: All photos on this page were taken by the author and may not be used without written permission.
Will This Be Your First Jewelry Making Project?
Will this polymer clay fantasy flower jewelry project be your first jewelry making project?
Polymer Clay Fantasy Flower Jewelry Step-by-Step Tutorial
- Choose three contrasting colors of polymer clay.
- Condition them and create a modified Skinner blend sheet.
- Apply metal leaf to the sheet and crackle it.
- Slice the clay into strips and arrange them in a patchwork pattern.
- Create the backing sheet and apply the patchwork sheet.
- Cut out and shape the flower petals.
- Assemble the flower and embellish the center.
- Bake at the recommended polymer clay curing temperature.
- Glaze or varnish the front of the flower.
- Glue on a brooch or pin back, bail, ring or earring finding.
Step 1: Choose Three Contrasting Polymer Clay Colors
You Will Need Two Main Colors and an Accent Color
Choose two main colors of polymer clay for your fantasy flower. They should be strongly contrasting colors that mix nicely. For example, I chose yellow and red, which are high contrast colors and become orange when mixed. Yellow and blue would have been equally good choices since they contrast well and become green when combined. But green and red would not have been a good color combination because they become a muddy brown when mixed together. It is a good idea to try mushing together small amounts of the two colors you want to use to make sure you like the color they create when mixed.
Choose a third color of clay as an accent color that contrasts well with the two main colors and also with the color they create when blended. I chose a light wasabi green that contrasted well with not only against the yellow and red but also with the orange mixture they would create. You will need only a very small amount of this accent color.
Use a High Quality Clay
I recommend using either Premo! Sculpey or Kato Polyclay for jewelry making. Both are high quality formulas that are strong and not brittle after curing if they are baked according to the respective manufacturers' recommended temperatures. Premo Sculpey is easier to find and comes in a very wide range of premixed colors. It's what I used for this project. Kato Polyclay is great, too, but is firmer than Premo and needs more conditioning. FIMO Professional is also excellent, but I recommend it only for very experienced or professional users because it includes a very limited number of colors designed specifically for mixing custom color blends, which is not as intuitive when working with polymer clay as it is when mixing paints.
Tip: Don't use Sculpey III for anything except kids' projects! It's a much weaker formula that is more brittle after baking and breaks easily.
Step 2: Condition the Polymer Clay and Create a Modified Skinner Blend Sheet
Next, you will create a color gradient, using a slight modification of the popular "Skinner blend" technique.
- Condition the lighter of the main colors using a pasta machine dedicated exclusively to this purpose. (If you don't have one, see the alternate instructions for conditioning and rolling out by hand.) The amount of each color you need will depend on the size you want your flower to be. I usually condition half of a 2-ounce block of each of the two main colors to make sure I have enough for a large brooch/pin sized flower.
- Roll out the conditioned clay at the pasta machine's thickest setting (#1 on an Atlas brand pasta machine) and place it on a clean sheet of wax paper.
- Repeat with the darker main color.
Cut the Triangles for the Modified Skinner Blend
- Cut matching squares or rectangles (mine were about 2.5" square) from the light and dark color sheets.
- Cut each square or rectangle half diagonally into triangles.
- Take one triangle of each color and reassemble it into a square or rectangle, pressing the edges together where the two colors meet so that the triangles stick together as a single sheet, as shown in the photo below.
- Repeat with the remaining two triangles.
Stack the Two-Color Sheets
- Rotate one of the sheets so that it matches the other sheet.
- Stack them together so that the colors on the top sheet match the colors on the bottom sheet.
- Press the two sheets together so that they stick and become a single sheet twice as thick as the original rectangles.
Make the Modified Skinner Blend
- Fold the polymer clay sheet in half loosely and roll the folded sheet through the pasta machine.
- The sheet must be folded as shown below so that color 1 touches color 1 at one end and color 2 touches color 2 at the other end.
- Make sure you fold the sheet exactly the same way each time. Do not change the orientation of the sheet or the direction of the fold.
- Adjust the pasta machine rollers to the next-thickest setting (#2 on an Atlas pasta machine).
- Fold the sheet again, exactly the same way, and roll it through the pasta machine again. Repeat the folding and rolling approximately 10 times.
- Adjust the pasta machine rollers to a medium-thick setting (#3 on an Atlas machine) another 10 times or more, until you are pleased with the blend.
Don't worry if it seems like nothing much is happening after the first few passes through the pasta machine. You'll probably start to see some strange patterns after about 10 passes. That's normal!
- Continue folding and rolling until the color gradient is as smooth and gradual as you would like.
- The exact number of passes required to achieve a color gradient varies, but usually it takes at least 20 passes to get a smooth blend. You will start to see fairly distinct bands of color that will start to blend with the adjacent colors gradually with each pass through the pasta machine rollers.
- Place the modified Skinner blend sheet on a sheet of wax paper.
Modified vs. Tradition Skinner Blend
In Judith Skinner's original Skinner blend technique, the two ends of the final color gradient remain the two original colors used to make the blend. Since I didn't want any of the pure yellow or pure red to be included in the color gradient for my polymer clay fantasy flowers, I modified the technique by assembling the two-tone triangles with the diagonal edges aligned.
If you would prefer to have some of the two original colors remain visible at the ends of your gradient sheet, you can make a traditional Skinner blend instead. When you abut the diagonal edges of each pair of triangles, offset the edges a little so that a corner of each triangle extends a bit past the ends of the seam. Trim off the bits that extend past those edges to square up the sheet. Repeat with the other two triangles, then follow the instructions above to stack the two-color sheets and create the gradient blend. The following video demonstrates this method, except that it doesn't stack the two two-color sheets.
Cindy Lietz's Teardrop Blend
Cindy Lietz from the wonderful Polymer Clay Tutor site created a simplified variation on Judith Skinner's original Skinner blend technique. Instead of rolling and cutting triangles and butting them together, she rolls balls of conditioned clay and uses an index finger to shape them into fat teardrops and then sticks them together side-by-side, alternating the points of the drops up and down. She demonstrates her teardrop blend method in the following video.
Alternate Polymer Clay Blending Method if You Don't Have a Pasta Machine
Making a blended color gradient sheet is much faster with a pasta machine. But if you don't have one, you can try using the Cindy Lietz's manual teardrop blend method. Use just two colors to get the same look as in my photos, and roll the finished blend between 5-card stacks of playing cards. Cindy demonstrates this method in the following video.
Step 3: Apply Metal Leaf to the Polymer Clay Sheet and Crackle It
Next, you will apply a sheet of metal leaf to the Skinner blend sheet and then roll out the metal leaf-covered clay sheet to break apart the metal leaf and create a crackle effect.
- Open a book of variegated metal leaf. (If you don't like the look of the variegated leaf, feel free to substitute gold, silver, or copper metal leaf.)
- Flip the tissue paper separator sheet to the right side, exposing the back of a sheet of metal leaf.
Apply the Metal Leaf
- Place the Skinner blend sheet on the back of the metal leaf sheet (the left-hand "page"). The metal leaf should adhere readily to the clay.
- Close the book from right to left. Then, holding the book closed, flip it right side up.
- Open the book to where the metal leaf-topped clay is.
- Cover it with another separator sheet or a square of tracing paper or baking parchment.
- Use the outer edge of your hand to smooth and burnish the metal leaf onto the polymer clay sheet, working from the center out toward the edges to avoid trapping any air between the metal leaf and the clay.
- Don't worry if the metal leaf tears as you are burnishing it onto the clay. Just patch any bare spots with small scraps of the leaf.
- Carefully tear, slice or use sharp scissors to remove the excess metal leaf from around the edges of the clay.
Crackle the Leaf
Sandwich the metal leaf-covered clay between pieces of wax paper and run it through the pasta machine at a slightly thinner setting than the one you used to roll out the Skinner blend (#4 on an Atlas pasta machine). If you are rolling by hand, roll between stacks of 4 playing cards each.
Peel away the wax paper; the clay sheet will be a little larger in one direction, and the metal leaf will have crackled a little. Smooth out the wrinkles in the wax paper sheets and sandwich the clay between them again. Turn the pasta machine rollers to the next thinnest setting (#5 on an Atlas), rotate the wax paper and clay sandwich 90 degrees, and pass it through the rollers again. (If rolling by hand, use stacks of 3 playing cards each.) The sheet will be a little larger in the other direction and more of the colors in the Skinner blend sheet will be visible behind the metal leaf, as shown in the photo below.
Step 4: Slice the Clay Into Strips and Arrange Them in a Patchwork Pattern
The next step is to arrange the strips in a patchwork pattern with the colors along the gradient staggered on each new row.
Slice the Strips
Start by slicing the crackled metal leafed sheet into narrow, even strips with the clay blade. Separate the strips slightly on the wax paper so they don't stick together.
Make the Patchwork Pattern Sheet
To create the first row of the patchwork pattern, trim the end of one of the strips neatly at a 90-degree angle. Trim one end of another strip somewhere in the middle section of the gradient and butt it against the end of the first strip. Press the butted ends of the strips so they stick together firmly.
To start the next row of the patchwork pattern, add another strip on top of the first row, placing it so that the colors along the gradient do not line up with the colors of the strips underneath. Trim the end of another strip and butt the ends of strips together, pressing them together firmly as before. Then press the second row against the first row so all four strips stick together firmly. Note: Because I wanted a more subtle patchwork pattern, I trimmed most of my strips so that the ends that butted together were fairly close in color so that most of the rows look like continuous gradients.
Continue to add more rows to the patchwork pattern, trimming the strips at different spots along each gradient and staggering the colors between the rows as much as possible, until you have used most or all of the gradient strips and you have a single sheet of patchwork. The ends of each row will be sticking out in staggered lengths; use the clay blade to trim the left and right edges flush, as shown in the photo below.
Cover the top of the patchwork sheet with wax paper and roll across it in both directions with a clay roller to ensure that the strips are firmly adhered and form a single sheet.
Step 5: Create the Backing Sheet and Apply the Patchwork Sheet
Condition more clay, if necessary. I mixed together some of my darker color clay (red) with a small amount of my lighter color (yellow) to create a pretty coral shade for the backing sheet, but you can use either of the colors you used by themselves if you prefer.
Roll out a sheet approximately the same size as the trimmed patchwork sheet, using a medium-thin pasta machine setting (#5 setting on an Atlas pasta machine). If rolling by hand, roll between stacks of 3 playing cards.
Carefully peel the wax paper from the back of the patchwork sheet and place it lightly on top of the backing sheet. Then smooth the stack, running the edges of your hands from the center out to the edges to avoid trapping any air bubbles between the layers.
Cover the top of the patchwork sheet with wax paper and roll across it in both directions with a clay roller to ensure that the patchwork layer is firmly attached to the backing sheet. Take care not to use so much pressure that you thin the stack.
Step 6: Cut Out and Shape the Flower Petals
Cut the Flower Base and Petals
Cut a round base from the same color clay as the backing sheet, rolled out with the pasta machine on a medium-thin setting (#5 on an Atlas pasta machine) or with a clay roller at 3 cards thick.
Cut five petals from the patchwork sheet with a small teardrop shaped clay cutter or aspic cutter. I cut mine so that the rows of the patchwork pattern created horizontal stripes because I wanted the maximum number of rows to show on each petal, but you can orient the cutter differently to create vertical or diagonal stripes if you prefer.
Shape the Petals
You can leave the petals shapes as is, or elongate them (like the two petals at the far left of the photo below) by rolling them out lengthwise under a sheet of wax paper.
Next, pinch the point of each teardrop shape between your thumb and forefinger so that the edges of the petal curl inward.
Then press the round end of each petal between your thumb and fingers to curve it and then pinch the edge into a point.
Step 7: Assemble the Flower and Embellish the Center
Arrange the petals on top of the round base with the wider ends of the petals facing the center. Press each petal onto the base to attach it securely, taking care not to crush the petals.
Add the Center Embellishments
You can embellish the center of your flower any way you desire, using leftover scraps of clay in the two main colors and/or the backing color, plus a little of the accent color. Here's how to make yours look like mine.
Roll out a very small amount of leftover backing sheet clay very thinly and cut out a small circle with the cutter. Center the circle on the flower so that it just covers the inner edges of the petals.
Next, roll a small ball of the darker color (in my case, red) of leftover conditioned clay. Carefully slice it in half without flattening it. Press one of the halves onto the small circle you just applied. Then use a small ball-end burnisher to press down the edges of the circle in between the petals.
Condition a very small amount of your accent color clay (in my case, wasabi green) with your hands and roll it into a ball. Place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. and use your fingertip to roll it into a very thin snake. Wrap it around the base of the red half-sphere. Trim the ends where they overlap and smooth the seam until it disappears, using your fingertip.
Use a small ball-end burnisher to make little dimples all over the red half-sphere. Also make dimples around the green snake, which not only is decorative but also helps ensure that the snake is firmly attached to the clay underneath.
Touch the tip of your forefinger very lightly to the surface of some and tap off the excess. Then rub your fingertip lightly over the center of the flower to add some sparkle. Applying just a hint of mica powder this way subtly highlights the raised areas of the center embellishment while letting the color show through in the recessed areas. Jacquard Pearl-Ex mica powder
Tip: Touching your finger to the thin layer of mica powder that clings to the inside of the container jar helps you pick up just the right amount.
I forgot to take a photo of the flower before baking it, but the close-up photo of the cured and sealed polymer clay fantasy flower below shows a good view of the center embellishment.
Step 8: Bake at the Recommended Polymer Clay Curing Temperature
STEP 8: Bake at the Recommended Polymer Clay Curing Temperature
Place the flower onto a nest of polyester fiberfill batting in a Pyrex glass custard cup and bake it according to the manufacturer's instructions. I used Premo Sculpey for this project, which should be cured at 275°F (130°C) for 30 minutes per 1/4 inch (6 mm) of thickness. If you use Kato Polyclay, bake your piece(s) at 300°F (150°C) for 30 minutes.
- IMPORTANT! Please visit my article on How to Make Polymer Clay Mokume Gane Cabochons for Jewelry for more information about baking / curing polymer clay safely!
Step 9: Glaze or Varnish the Front of the Polymer Clay Flower
Apply a polymer clay compatible glaze or clear water-based polyurethane coating to the front of the flower to seal the metal leaf and prevent it from tarnishing. Stir the glaze or polyurethane clear coat slowly to avoid creating air bubbles. Then apply it in a thin, even layer with a good quality synthetic bristle brush for acrylics and watercolor paints. Choose a brush with a flat, "bright", angular or filbert shape brush head and apply the glaze or polyurethane clear coat in slow, even strokes to avoid creating air bubbles. Allow the glaze or polyurethane to dry completely. I used just one coat to seal my polymer clay flower, as I didn't want it to be too shiny. However, if you want your flower to be shinier, feel free to a second, thin coat after the first coat is fully dry, then allow the second coat to dry completely before moving on to Step 10.
Polymer Clay Compatible Glaze / Clear Coat / Varnish
Not all clear coatings are compatible with polymer clay! To be safe, I recommend sealing your pieces with either a glaze made specifically for polymer clay, such as Sculpey Glaze, which comes in a choice of satin or gloss finish, or with Rust-Oleum Varathane Crystal Clear Water-Based Polyurethane (formerly branded Varathane Classic Clear Diamond Wood Finish For Floors, Gloss), Apply two thin coats and allow each coat to dry completely. I usually allow each coat to dry for several hours (or overnight) to get the best results.
The Varathane water-based polyurethane is much more economical than Sculpey Glaze. It's also more versatile and can be used for many different types of projects. It's a low-odor clear coating that cleans up easily with soap and water. A little goes a long way, and a small will last a long time. I have a hard time finding the 1/2 pint size in stores, so I order mine from Amazon. 1/2 pint can of Rust-Oleum Varathane Crystal Clear Water-Based Polyurethane
Tip: There are many varieties of Rust-Oleum Varathane. If you're buying it for use with polymer clay, make sure to get the crystal clear water-based polyurethane.
Step 10: Glue On a Brooch or Pin Back, Bail, Ring or Earring Finding
Then Glaze or Varnish the Back, if Desired
Attach a pin back, bail, or flat pad earring finding to the back of the flower with two-part epoxy glue or E-6000 glue, placing the jewelry finding approximately one-third the way down from the top of the flower and following the manufacturer's directions on the glue packaging. If you are making a ring, center the flower over the ring base finding when gluing it.
Allow the glue to cure thoroughly according to the epoxy package directions.
If you wish, you can add a coat of polymer clay glaze or polyurethane clear coat to the back of the flower now. Seal only to the polymer clay areas (not to the metal jewelry findings).
If you attached a pendant bail, hang your flower pendant from a leather or fabric cord or a chain.
Enjoy your new polymer clay fantasy flower jewelry!
© 2013 Margaret Schindel