I don’t wear much jewelry, but as an artist I love making jewelry. One of my favorite pieces of jewelry to make is pendants created from polymer clay. I make a line of pendants titled,” Women of the World”, named for the shades of skin colors and colorful scarf head wraps adorning the pins. While at first glance these pendants look complicated and difficult to make, I assure you with a little practice, one can be an expert in no time.
The supplies needed are simple and inexpensive; Polymer clay in assorted colors, a pin back, contact cement, polymer glaze. Equipment need is an oven, not a micro wave, a sharp knife or instrument for cutting, a rolling pin or pasta roller dedicated to polymer clay, a baking tray dedicated to polymer clay or covered with aluminum foil, and a brush for the glaze. Rubber face molds are available at the craft store with the polymer clay and may be helpful when starting out.
Begin by conditioning the polymer clay. This is an important step, don’t skimp on it. To condition the clay, either knead by hand or run the clay through the pasta machine several times, until it is soft and pliable. Proper conditioning gives the clay strength and will keep your finish piece from cracking or breaking. I keep my clay under clear plastic wrap after conditioning to keep it from drying out as I am working.
Make the face by pressing conditioned clay into the face mold, or roll a ball and form the eyes, nose and mouth by hand. The great thing about working with polymer clay is if you don’t like the face, roll it up and start over. Don’t be too critical. My faces are each different and none of them are perfect. That’s what gives character to these pendants…that’s what gives character to a woman’s face.
Now for the fun part. Chose three complimenting or contrasting colors. Roll the three colors together by hand or through the pasta machine to form one sheet of clay. Its fun to see what comes out. I twist and turn and re roll the dough until I have a “fabric” I like. A word of caution, too many passes through the machine and the clay colors will bend together into one color, something we don’t want.
Place the sheet of clay on a cutting board and place the face onto the clay. Trim around the outside edges to remove any rough edges. Gently bring the clay fabric around the face and head to form a scarf. Sometimes I show the entire face; other times I cover part of the face. Depending upon the way the clay fabric is draped, the woman could be from Africa, the Middle East or Central Europe.
When the face pendant has the desired look bake according to the directions that come with the polymer clay. Allow to cool completely before glazing with polymer glaze and attaching to a pin back with contact cement.