Shaped like rainbows, teddy bears, doughnuts and just about anything else you can think of, polymer clay earrings are among the quirkiest fashion trends to pop up as of late.
There’s no denying these eye-catching accessories are super fun and on-trend. In fact, there seems to be no end to people selling them on Etsy, Instagram, Amazon and lots of other places. That’s great if you want a quick earring fix. But making them yourself is actually pretty easy and allows you to put your own unique spin on them.
To get you started with this DIY trend, we will give you a simple, step-by-step guide to making and baking polymer clay earrings. And we’ll also share some important tips and a few of our favorite designs to give you some inspiration.
But first, let’s start with a question: what the heck is polymer clay?
What Is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is so easy to work with because it’s actually not clay at all. Made from a very pliable vinyl, it doesn’t crack or dry out like normal clay and can be easily molded into a ton of different shapes.
It can also be stamped, mixed with different materials like gold leafing and even polished or painted after being baked. No wonder crafters are having so much fun with this stuff! It’s like playdoh on steroids!
So what will you need to get started? Before we get into the step-by-step process, let’s go over the materials you’ll need to gather.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
To make your own polymer clay earrings, first, you’ll need to gather your supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Polymer Clay
Clay is obviously your most important material. We’ll talk in a little more detail about polymer clay later in this article. But if you’re looking for a quick recommendation, Sculpey Premo, Kato Polyclay and Fimo Professional are brands that experienced crafters often like to use.
Whichever brand you choose, buy clay in various colors to give yourself more creative options.
You’ll need a rolling pin to flatten your clay out. It’s best to choose an acrylic one instead of the wooden type you may have in your kitchen.
And hot tip: if you have a pasta maker, you can also use it to roll out your clay for a super even thickness.
You’ll need these to help cut and shape your clay.
While you can shape your own designs, cookie cutters and clay cutters are a quick and easy way to get the clay shapes you want.
Stamps are an optional tool, but they’re a super easy and fun way to add texture and detail to your designs.
6. Dotting Tool
This super useful tool will help you to add details to your designs. And if you’re really into earrings, you may want to consider a tool clay set.
If you don’t want to invest in too many tools, toothpicks can be used to add texture and make small holes for your jump rings.
8. Parchment Paper
Some crafters prefer to work on parchment paper which they can put directly into the oven.
9. Rubbing Alcohol, Cotton Swabs and Baking sheet
One thing about polymer clay is that dust and other particles get stuck to it pretty easily. Something you can easily remedy with a little rubbing alcohol and a cue tip.
You will also want a flat baking sheet. Any baking sheet that you use in your home oven will work; you don’t need anything special!
Pick out the best earring hooks for you. There is everything from statement earrings to dangling earrings to drop earrings, depending on what look you are going for. Creating new earring designs is a fun DIY craft because you can rock your earrings knowing they are one of a kind.
You really can’t make any jewelry without jump rings or jewelry pliers. You can pick both of these things up at your local craft store.
While you can make holes for your jump rings with a toothpick or clay tool, some crafters prefer to add these holes after their earrings are baked with a small drill.
13. Flexible Super Glue or Jewelry Glue (Like Loctite or Gorilla Gel Super Glue)
If you don’t plan on baking your posts into the earrings, you’ll need glue to add them after your designs are baked.
Making Polymer Clay Earrings Step By Step
Once you’ve gathered your tools, you can start making your own earrings. Here’s the step-by-step breakdown of how to make polymer clay earrings:
Prep Your Workspace
Polymer clay is generally safe to work with, but there are certain surfaces that it could stain. Be sure to protect your table with a baking sheet, wax or parchment paper or an acrylic plastic board.
Also, be sure to wipe down your working surface and tools to avoid getting any dust or other particles in your clay.
Condition Your Clay
Before you can roll out your clay, you’ll need to warm it up to make it more pliable. So roll it around and knead it with your hands. Once it starts to feel soft and stretchy, you’re ready to go.
Just be sure to wash your hands when you switch to a different color!
Roll Out Your Clay
This is where your acrylic roller comes in. You’ll want to be sure that the clay has an even thickness to it. Aim for about ⅛ of an inch throughout. If you have a pasta maker, achieving an even thickness is even simpler.
But if you don’t have that kitchen tool on hand, don’t worry. With a little practice, you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Pro Tip: Sometimes, air bubbles can pop up in your clay when you’re rolling it out. You can pop them with a needle and then smooth out the clay with your finger to get rid of them.
Cut Out Your Designs
This is where the real fun begins! Now you can use your clay shapers, cookie cutters and stamps to make your very own designs. Time to let your imagination run wild!
Pro tip: If you find that you get fingerprints on your clay during the process, you can smooth them out with a little bit of rubbing alcohol and a cue tip.
Make Holes for Your Jump Rings and Other Hardware
If you’re making a simple pair of studs, you won’t need to make any holes in your earrings. But if you are making a drop or two-piece earring, you will. This can be done with a toothpick or a clay tool to get the desired earring shape.
But again, if you plan to get serious about earring making, you may want to invest in a Dremel, which will allow you to drill the hole after the earrings are baked. Experienced crafters love the clean results this gives them.
Attach Your Posts (Optional)
If you’re making a pair of stud earrings, there are two ways to go about it. After the earrings are baked with jewelry or super glue, you can attach the post. Simple.
But if you want to ensure that your posts are extra secure, you can bake them right into the earring itself. To do that, first, position the post on the back of the earring. Next, add a thin layer of clay around the bottom of the post.
Now bake them in the oven together, and you can be sure your post will never detach!
Bake Your Clay
Now it’s time to place your earrings on parchment paper and a cookie sheet and put them in the oven. If you’re already working on parchment paper, even better!
Remember that different brands of clay require different temperatures and baking times. Be sure to read and follow the directions carefully. And while you may want to experiment with different brands, be sure to use the same clay in each batch so that all of your designs bake at the same rate.
If you find that your earrings are brittle or chip easily, it’s probably a case of underbaking. So again, pay close attention to the directions and make sure your oven is at the proper temperature.
One of the benefits of polymer clay is that it’s very durable and doesn’t need to be sealed after it’s baked. When your earrings come out of the oven, let them cool completely. Once cool, you can drill the holes for your jump rings if you didn’t add them before baking.
Now glue on your posts, add your jump rings and, ouila, it’s time to rock your earrings!
A Few More Words About Clay
Although brittle earrings are often a result of underbaking your clay, sometimes the problem is with the clay itself. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right brand.
Here are a few that experienced crafters rely on:
Sculpey Premo is often recommended for beginners because it’s strong but flexible and can be used for various projects. This clay has a medium firmness which means it’s easy to shape by hand but firm enough to hold details.
That being said, be sure not to confuse this clay with other varieties from the Sculpey line, which are too soft and mushy, including Sculpey III and Sculpey Bake Shop. While they may be suitable for other projects, they don’t hold shape well for jewelry making.
This professional-level clay was developed by artists. Though it’s firmer and takes longer to condition than Premo, it’s excellent for holding details and for making sharp lines. This clay is also very strong once baked and holds its color well (meaning the colors don’t darken once they’re baked).
One drawback is that this clay comes in fewer colors though they can be mixed to form new colors.
Fimo professional is one of the firmest clays and tackles longer to condition. However, it’s excellent for holding detail, is strong and very durable and holds its color well when baked.
It also comes in primary colors, which are perfect for mixing and creating your own custom colors. Just be aware that this clay can be a little stiff and crumbly when you take it out of the package. But once conditioned, it’s great to work with.
What to Avoid
In general, you want to avoid polymer clays that are too soft. While they may be perfect for other projects, these clays don’t hold shape well and can also be brittle after they’re baked.
So when it comes to jewelry making, you may want to avoid Fimo Soft, Fimo Kids, the Craftsmart brand and Sculpey Original, Sculpey III, Sculpey Bake Shop and Super Sculpey. It’s usually better to steer away from multi-packs of no-name clay as well.
Need a Little Inspiration?
Now that you know the basics of making polymer clay earrings, here are some fun ideas to try. Be careful, this DIY jewelry trend might turn into a full-on addiction, and you might soon have clay pieces and earring backs scattered throughout your house.
Blending colors with this marbling technique is actually pretty simple and looks fantastic.
Stamping is a great way to add some personality to your earrings. And look how simple it is!
Check out this super cool technique that makes your earrings look like snakeskin!
Check out this simple technique to add texture to your own clay earrings.
Looking for something a little more whimsical? Check out these cute mushroom earrings.
These geode earrings are flat-out fabulous! I bet you have never seen a pair of earrings that are homemade look this chic.
There you have it, friends. DIY polymer clay earrings are not only fun to make, but they give you a chance to explore your artistic side. With clay and a few simple tools, you can let your imagination run wild and create one-of-a-kind accessories that no one else will have.
Who knew baking could be this fashionable? Let your polymer clay jewelry journey begin!
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