How to Make a Cute Polymer Clay Mermaid - FeltMagnet - Crafts
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How to Make a Cute Polymer Clay Mermaid

My first Sculpey Mermaid

My first Sculpey Mermaid

When I was in college I was really in love with sculpting. I took at least 3 courses that allowed me to work with clay and on weekends, when everyone was out partying, I was enjoying the peace and quiet in the ceramics room. Yeah, I'm weird, and kind of antisocial--but that's beside the point.

One of the saddest things about graduating was not having 24-hr access to a studio and kiln and no longer having a limitless supply of materials.

Fairly recently, however, I was introduced to polymer clay--a clay that is essentially made of a magical plastic that hardens very nicely when baked in an oven. I may not have access to a kiln--but I sure have access to an oven!

My first try with polymer clay was okay. I couldn't experiment very much because I was teaching an art class and spent most of my time helping my students develop their ideas.

I didn't give it another try until a few days ago when my husband bought me a pack of Sculpey III Brights.

When using new materials--or starting anything new really--I like to see what I can come up with first by myself, and then I gradually seek out resources to learn new techniques. This way I feel I can build on my own ideas instead of just copying things I've seen. So, I've been just playing around with the clay for a few days and so far, I've made a few charms that I've liked but none are completely finished yet.

My favorite one is my little mermaid which I enjoyed making so much that I thought I should share. It is pretty simple to put together and the result is really cute.

So let's begin!

Materials & Tools:

Materials:

  • You'll need Sculpey III Brights or some other clay.
  • Wire

Tools:

  • An oven
  • Aluminum foil
  • A place mat or paper to protect the surface you're working on
  • wire cutters
  • tweezers
  • a flat small paint brush (optional)


Mix Your Colours

One thing I really love about the polymer clays that you just can't do with natural clays is blend colours. This was a lot of fun to do--it's just like mixing paint!

The colours in the Brights pack are pretty and, indeed, very bright--but they were just a little *too* bright for me to work with happily. Plus, I needed a skin tone for the mermaid.

  • I blended purple, orange, yellow, and a little white for the skin.
  • Purple & orange variably for the hair
  • Orange & Yellow for the seashell bra
  • Green & blue for the tail
  • and Green & yellow for the fins
I started with the tail.

I started with the tail.

To make sure the fins wouldn't fall off I put a small piece of wire through the tip of the tail.

To make sure the fins wouldn't fall off I put a small piece of wire through the tip of the tail.

Then I added the fins.

Then I added the fins.

Next I took a ball of the clay for the body flattened it on one side and pressed it on to the tail--blending the edges and creating a cone shape.

Next I took a ball of the clay for the body flattened it on one side and pressed it on to the tail--blending the edges and creating a cone shape.

I rolled out two little coils for arms and one ball for the head.

I rolled out two little coils for arms and one ball for the head.

I attached the arms then put a small piece of wire on through the neck to make sure the head would stay on.

I attached the arms then put a small piece of wire on through the neck to make sure the head would stay on.

Then I attached the head.

Then I attached the head.

I messed up this one's hairline a bit--it seems she has a widows peek!  To try to avoid doing that I did mark off the hairline very gently with some wire.

I messed up this one's hairline a bit--it seems she has a widows peek! To try to avoid doing that I did mark off the hairline very gently with some wire.

I didn't want the hair too be too uniform so I blended a few shades of the rose purple to work with.   I then broke it into little pieces and rolled those tiny pieces into coils.

I didn't want the hair too be too uniform so I blended a few shades of the rose purple to work with. I then broke it into little pieces and rolled those tiny pieces into coils.

I attached the coils to the top of the head and curled the ends gently. (This was my favorite part)

I attached the coils to the top of the head and curled the ends gently. (This was my favorite part)

I already had a shell to use for her hair, but for the purpose of this demonstration I made a new one with orange and purple coils.

I already had a shell to use for her hair, but for the purpose of this demonstration I made a new one with orange and purple coils.

I twisted the coils together tight...

I twisted the coils together tight...

...then rolled them out until they were inseparable.

...then rolled them out until they were inseparable.

Then I curled the coil up

Then I curled the coil up

All done.

All done.

I then pressed the shell firmly but gently in the hair to secure it (in my first one I put a bit of wire to keep it secure first but I don't know if that's completely necessary).

I then pressed the shell firmly but gently in the hair to secure it (in my first one I put a bit of wire to keep it secure first but I don't know if that's completely necessary).

Here's where it starts to get tricky. Roll two tiny balls, and 4 even tinier ones.

Here's where it starts to get tricky. Roll two tiny balls, and 4 even tinier ones.

Using your tweezer place and press the tiny balls onto the body of the mermaid.   I then used the back of my tweezer to shape it into more of a shell shape.

Using your tweezer place and press the tiny balls onto the body of the mermaid. I then used the back of my tweezer to shape it into more of a shell shape.

I then placed the four even smaller balls on either side of the shell are a little extra detail.

I then placed the four even smaller balls on either side of the shell are a little extra detail.

draw some lines in the shells and there you have it! I did not do this (because I can't find my paintbrushes) but with the paint brush you can gently smooth out any fingerprints you may have left on the clay.

draw some lines in the shells and there you have it! I did not do this (because I can't find my paintbrushes) but with the paint brush you can gently smooth out any fingerprints you may have left on the clay.

Finishing touches

I'm going to add a wire loop to turn this into a charm (once I decide how I want it to hang) then I'm going to fire this.

I read somewhere that place a sheet of aluminum foil over your work when firing helps the process and when I have done this it does seem to be true. So that's most likely what I'll do for my mermaids as well.

Once they're baked I'll add faces and paint on any further details :) (I really wish I had some glaze to make them shiny grr)


When they're done I'll be sure to share! In the meantime I'd love to see what any of you can come up with!


UPDATE: Didn't expect to get Hub of the Day so I thought I better share some of the tips on how I eventually finished these charms!

Waiting until after the charm was baked didn't end up being the best idea. I used sharpie markers to finish off my design, which I hear fade over time--but so far I haven't had an issue.

Here are some better ways I learned to finish them:

The one I've come to prefer the most is rolling out tiny specs of clay--two flat dots for eyes and a skinny long one for a mouth then placing and pressing on to the clay.


You can also add features using Sculpey glazes before baking--or even craft paints. When it bakes it stays solid.


Best of luck everyone!

Comments

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on February 12, 2014:

Love it! My wife actually made one of these!

DommaLeigh on February 08, 2013:

I love your mermaid. I haven't played with my clay in a while but I think it would be worth digging out to make a few of these. One tip you might want to add is to wear crafting gloves as the oil in your skin will change the color of the clay when baked. The warmth from your hands still transfers through the gloves when softening your clay without leaving any mess on your hands. I also change gloves when I change colors.

PURPLECANDY from ANYWHERE on October 03, 2012:

I love this, and I am definitely going to make it!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on September 12, 2012:

I love this hub. Very creative and the mermaid was so cute. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

Prasetio

L Brander from Canada on September 05, 2012:

Haha ok, I'm sure you'll make a cute friend for your mermaid.

Samantha Harris (author) from New York on September 05, 2012:

No, but I can give a merman a try and see what I come up with!

L Brander from Canada on September 04, 2012:

Cool Hub, very well presented. Did you every try making mermen too?

Laura Izett-Irwin from The Great Northwest on September 04, 2012:

Very cool. I made things for and with my daughter out of this clay and baked it too. But yours are way more detailed than what we made. Very creative.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on September 04, 2012:

This is so adorable. Cogratualation for being the HOTD.

Mike Pugh from New York City on September 04, 2012:

Congrat's on your awesome hub of the day, I love the creativity here, and I too was antisocial in a way many years back, but thanks to the Military it helped me get rid of being so shy, and now I enjoy socializing with folks.

I love the craft you've mastered here, it looks so fun, and I will share this for you everywhere I can, lovely job! Thumbs up and out!

v1p3r on September 04, 2012:

amazing

Jenn from Pennsylvania on September 04, 2012:

So adorable! This seems like it was a lot of fun to make.

Nice job. :-)

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 04, 2012:

My wife made one of these a few years ago!

Joanofark from South Africa on September 04, 2012:

Totally amazing, wow!

kaikai from TX on September 04, 2012:

Omg so cute, already follow u

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on September 04, 2012:

Wow, what a great hub. I have never heard of this clay but it sounds like a great way of making cute models. Your step by step guide is really helpful.

Congrats on hub of the day - voting up and awesome.

dbuddhika on September 04, 2012:

Nice Project & beautiful mermaid. Congratulations on Hub of the day

HubTub on September 04, 2012:

Love your colorful, brilliant photographs and all your step-by-step instructions. I love fiddling with clay. I may have to try this. Most importantly, congratulations on Hub of the Day!

Samantha Harris (author) from New York on September 04, 2012:

I added some tips at the end on how to finish this since I sort of left it open ended when I wrote this! Hope that helps!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 04, 2012:

this is so cute. Your pictures are the BEST. This step by step model of how to construct this form is excellent. Thank you so much for sharing.

I cannot wait to make a merman with my grandson. I will make a mermaid with his help and then we will make the little merman. Cute, cute stuff .

Samantha Harris (author) from New York on September 04, 2012:

Oh wow! Thanks everyone!

Natasha from Hawaii on September 04, 2012:

Super cool! I've always loved all the polymer clay colors, but never been able to make something worth having. Thanks for the great instructions and congrats on hub of the day!

Rituu from Mumbai on September 04, 2012:

Nice Hub ,voted useful , Congrats for Hub of the Day award.

Robertgillbert from UK on September 04, 2012:

Nice hub...

Zoelle from Southern California on September 04, 2012:

What a cute and fun hub! Congrats on the hub of the day award!

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on September 04, 2012:

Wow. Nice job! Very creative and fun. :) Congratulations on the Hub of the Day!

MAGICFIVE from New York on September 04, 2012:

This is so adorable! I love the way you show everything, step by step! I think even I could make this! (I love the colors of the Sculpy Bright)!

Samantha Harris (author) from New York on August 18, 2012:

Thank you!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on August 18, 2012:

It's so cute. Loved the photos as I can picture how it is done from start to finish. Thanks for sharing :)

Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination. See it this way https://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hub/HubNuggets... and be sure to read and vote!