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Colorful capsule pendant

A metallic polymer-clay column nestles amidst metal-clay end caps

Dimension, depth, and motion are a few sensations that aesthetically intrigue the human mind. Akin to an old scroll in a case, sand slipping through an hourglass, or a thin vial of perfume, this polymer- and metal-clay capsule pendant arouses the curiosity. Its removable end caps and interchangeable columns urge you to reach out and touch it, take it apart, and discover just what magic concocted such an arresting piece.

In the following instructions, you’ll learn how to turn polymer clay into a palette of soft swirls resembling cirrus clouds, sand drifts, or ripples across water. You’ll also discover how to give polymer clay an ice-smooth finish for a completely new look. Then, you’ll add a touch of antiquity to the colorful polymer with flawlessly fitting, patinated, metal-clay end caps. As icing on the cake, you’ll discover how to secure sterling-silver dangles to the bottom of the piece.

Once you’ve learned the techniques presented here, you’ll be tempted to make an array of polymer-clay columns and metal-clay end caps to mix and mingle the pieces for dozens of different looks.

SUPPLIES

  • Scrap polymer clay, 1 ounce (28g)
  • Metallic polymer clay: 3 colors, 1 ounce (28g) each
  • Black polymer clay, 1⁄2 ounce (14g)
  • Liquid polymer clay
  • Metal clay, 18–20g
  • Metal clay slip
  • Sterling-silver chain: 1.5mm width, 6–8 inches (15.24–20.32cm)
  • Scrap wire: 26-gauge, 2 inches (5.08cm)
  • Small nut or large bead
  • Sterling-silver chain: 2.4mm width, approximately 25 inches (63.50cm)
  • Sterling-silver clasp
TOOLS
  • Pasta machine*
  • Toaster oven*
  • Wet/dry sandpaper, 220- and 440-grit
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits: 3⁄32-, 1⁄8-, and 3⁄16-inch (2.4, 3.2, 4.8mm)
  • Rubber stamps (or other textured objects)
  • Tissue blade
  • Professional three-way nail buffer
  • Variable speed buffer
  • Olive oil
  • Heavy plastic work surface
  • Acrylic roller
  • Playing cards
  • Craft knife
  • 3⁄4 *3⁄4-inch (1.91*1.91cm) square cutter (optional)
  • 3⁄8 *3⁄4-inch (.95*1.91cm) rectangle cutter (optional)
  • Emery board, fine-grit
  • 2 small paintbrushes
  • Hotplate (optional)
  • Kiln, kiln shelf, and vermiculite or alumina hydrate
  • Stainless-steel brush
  • Tumbler with steel shot and burnishing compound (optional)
  • Liver of sulfur (optional)
  • Wire cutter
  • Roundnose pliers
  • Two-part epoxy

* Dedicated to nonfood use

INSTRUCTIONS

Polymer-clay column

Colorful capsule pendant 1
Step 1
1. Form the core of the column. Use either new clay or scrap clay to form a core that will be covered with a decorative veneer made of new clay.
Condition 1 ounce (28g) of scrap polymer clay. Form a long rectangle, which will be the pendant’s core [1]. The length of the pendant is entirely up to you; however, the core of the pendant shown measures a little less than 13⁄4 inches (4.45cm) long by almost 1⁄2-inch (1.27cm) square. The core will be wrapped with a veneer, which will increase these measurements slightly. Your end caps should match the finished size of the veneer-coated core.

Bake and sand the core. Bake the core according to the manufacturer’s instructions in a toaster oven dedicated to nonfood use. When cool, run the core under cold water. Sand all four sides flat and even using 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper.
Colorful capsule pendant 2
Step 2
2. Drill a hole in the core. Use a 1⁄8--inch (3.2mm) drill bit and power drill to make a small indentation—no deeper than 1⁄8 inch (3.2mm)—in the center of one end of the core. Change the bit to a 3⁄16-inch (4.8mm) and re-drill the hole to widen it. This hole will encase a small nut or large bead to secure the fringe embellishments to the bottom of the pendant.
Colorful capsule pendant 3
Step 3
Colorful capsule pendant 4
Step 4

3. Make a polymer-clay veneer. This decorative veneer will adhere to the scrap clay core. Make a modified Skinner blend by doing the following: Condition three metallic colors of polymer clay, 1 ounce (28g) each. Run them each separately through a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Cut a strip from each color measuring 3⁄4 inch (1.91cm) wide by 4–5 inches (10.16–12.70cm) long. Overlap the three strips in a blending order that appeals to you [3].

4. To add a shadowy effect. Place a thin sheet of black polymer clay—rolled out to the thinnest setting on your pasta machine—over the three metallic colors [4].

Colorful capsule pendant 5
Step 5
5. Run the clay through the pasta machine on the thickest setting. Fold the slab in half lengthwise and run it through again. Repeat this process until you start to see a nice gradation of colors [5]. When you are satisfied, run the blend through once more, without folding it, on the middle setting.
Colorful capsule pendant 6
Step 6
Colorful capsule pendant 7
Step 7

6. Create a design in the veneer. Cut a 3*3-inch (7.62*7.62cm) section from the blend you made. Lightly spritz a deeply impressed rubber stamp with water. Press the clay strip firmly into the stamp, making sure the clay fills all spaces [6].

7. Peel the stamp from the clay and place the clay textured-side up on a flat surface. Use a tissue blade to carefully slice off the raised areas, skimming the surface of the clay and cutting toward you [7]. Discard the skimmed clay.

You will begin to see a pattern caused by the mica shift of the metallics. Run the piece through the pasta machine on the third-from-thinnest setting. Fold the slab in half horizontally, design-side out, and run it through again. The clay should become very smooth, and you will start to see a “dreamy” patternization. Cut this slab to 1 7⁄8 inches (4.76cm) on one side and square-up the top and bottom sides; you will cut to length in the next step.

Colorful capsule pendant 8
Step 8
8. Adhere the veneer to the core. Paint the core with liquid polymer clay and place it at one end of the veneer. Wrap the veneer around the core by rolling the core from one end of the veneer to the other, making sure it is tight with no air bubbles. Start and stop on the same corner, trim the excess clay, and smooth the seam with your finger. The veneer should extend beyond the core on either end by 1⁄8 inch (3.2mm) or so; this slightly flexible flange will act as a compression point to hold on the end caps. The veneer-covered core is now a column.

Bake the column. Bake the piece according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Colorful capsule pendant 9
Step 9

9. Sand and shine the column. After the column is cooled, wet-sand it with 440-grit wet/dry sandpaper and buff it with a professional three-way nail buffer. Start with the coarse side of the nail buffer and work your way to the finest side (the “shine” side). It is crucial that you progressively file from coarse grit to fine grit; you will not get a high gloss if this step is not done properly.
Buff the column to a high gloss on a variable speed buffer [9].

Measure the ends; use these measurements to create the end caps. Ideally, they should be identical. If they’re not, adjust the sizes of your end caps to match the column.

For complete project instructions, click here to download & print this PDF

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