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Chinese cinnabar pendant

Make a smaller version of a Bead Dreams first-place piece in the polymer clay category

Using an additive process, create a bead that mimics carved cinnabar. Make the core, and embellish it to create your own artistic vision. Then apply the finishing touches with antiquing medium and glaze. 

Supplies

pendant 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) diameter

  • 2 oz. polymer clay (Premo! Sculpey, pomegranate)
  • antiquing medium (Sculpey, chocolate brown) or acrylic paint (brown)
  • satin glaze (Sculpey, optional)
  • 2-in. (5 cm) head pin
  • acrylic roller (optional)
  • craft knife
  • drill with bit same diameter as head pin
  • needle tool
  • pasta machine*
  • plastic wrap
  • assorted 1⁄4-in. (6 mm) shape cutters
  • 2 round shape cutters11⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) diameter1-in. (2.5 cm) diameter 
  • small stiff paintbrush
  • Superglue
  • tissue blade
  • toaster oven*
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters


* Dedicated to the use of polymer clay

Instructions 

chinese_cinnabar_pendant 1
Step a
chinese_cinnabar_pendant 2b
Step b
Using an additive process, create a bead that mimics carved cinnabar. Make the core, and embellish it to create your own artistic vision. Then apply the finishing touches with antiquing medium and glaze.

Core

1. Condition the clay. Set the pasta machine to the thickest setting, and roll out a sheet of clay about 3 x 3 in. (7.6 x 7.6 cm). Place a piece of plastic wrap over the clay, and cut out two 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) diameter circles (photo a).

2. Place the circles back to back, and gently press together so the rounded edges are facing out (photo b). Bake the clay following the manufacturer’s instructions, and let it cool completely.
chinese_cinnabar_pendant 3
Step c
chinese_cinnabar_pendant 4
Step d

Border

1. Set the pasta machine to a fairly thin setting, and roll a sheet of clay about 1 x 5 in. (2.5 x 13 cm). Trim the clay to 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) wide, and wrap the strip evenly around the circumference of the core (photo c). Trim the excess length.

2. Smooth the seam of the strip, and shape the edges of the clay in toward the center (photo d).

chinese_cinnabar_pendant 5b
Step e
chinese_cinnabar_pendant 6
Step f

3. Trim the excess clay with the 1-in. (2.5 cm) diameter circle cutter centered on the core (photo e). Repeat on the remaining side. Bake the clay following the manufacturer’s instructions, and let it cool completely.

Embellishment

1. Set the pasta machine to a fairly thin setting, and roll a sheet of clay about 2 x 2 in. (5 x 5 cm). Place a piece of plastic wrap over the clay, and cut out small, assorted shapes.

2. Place the shapes on the surface of the core, starting with the largest elements, and filling in with the smaller elements. Use the needle tool to create details and press the shapes to the surface (photo f). Fill in as much of the design area as possible. Roll tiny balls of clay to fill in the smallest spaces. Bake the clay following the manufacturer’s instructions, and let it cool completely.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the remaining side.

chinese_cinnabar_pendant 7
Step g
chinese_cinnabar_pendant 8
Step h

Antiquing

1. Using a stiff paintbrush, apply antiquing medium over the entire pendant, making sure the paint goes into the indentations (photo g).

2. Wipe off the excess antiquing medium with paper towels. Let it dry completely.

3. Apply a light coat of satin glaze, if desired, and let it dry completely.

Finishing

1. Drill a hole at the top of the pendant, about 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm) deep (photo h).

2. Cut the head off the head pin, and make a wrapped loop

3. Trim the remaining wire to 1⁄2 in. (1.3 cm), and glue it into the hole. Let the glue dry completely. 

4. String on cord as desired.

Tip!
• Bake the pendant on a wire bread-baking rack to prevent flat spots on the piece.
• Most of the intermediate baking periods can be shortened to 10 minutes, but the final curing must be at least 30 minutes. 
• Try this technique with other colors, like turquoise, black, cream, or brown, for gemstone, jet, bone, or wood effects. 
• Experiment with lighter antiquing colors for a whitewash look.
• Mix your own cinnabar color with 12 parts cadmium red and one part black.
FIND MORE: polymer clay

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