Polymer Clay and Wire Photo Frame
Learn how to make this cool photo frame, made from polymer clay and wire, by Michelle Ross.
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Materials and Tools
small shape cutter
1-3/4" x 2-3/8" thin cardboard
Kato T-blade or Nu-blade
Kato Polyclay Clear Medium
Kato Polyclay Repel Gel
flat or chain-nose pliers
wire or flush cutter
hand or electric drill
bench vise or hook
Kato Polyclay: 1 block of choice, 1/2 block white
checkerboard cane* or a simple square cane of your choice
shaping or smoothing tool for small spaces
3 lengths of Duncan coated, colored wire
14-gauge wire **
30"-36" of 20- or 22-gauge wire
optional: jewelers anvil, plastic mallet, small sticky notes
* See instructions at bottom of page to make a checkerboard cane.
** Cut wire in the following lengths:
two 4-3/4" pieces for the front legs
two 12" pieces for the front legs
13-1/2" piece for the back leg
1. Bend the pieces of 14-gauge wire to shapes you like. The two front legs should end up being about 6 inches long. Shape the back leg from the bottom up. It should have a straight piece about 3 inches long after shaping that will go through the bead on the back of the frame.
2. Secure one 4-3/4-inch piece of 14-gauge wire to each of the front legs using 20-gauge wire.
3. Twist three strands of the colored, coated wire together. Bend, shape and attach to the front legs with the 20-gauge wire. Be sure to leave some straight areas to attach the legs to the frame with clay.
4. Roll conditioned clay on a #1 setting on the pasta machine.
5. Cut a piece of clay that is 2" x 2-1/2".
6. Measure in from each edge a little more that 1/4 inch and cut out the center rectangle.
7. Roll a sheet of clay on the #5 setting that is a little larger that the frame you just made.
8. Put the cardboard piece that has been coated in Repel Gel on the #5 sheet. Then carefully center the clay frame on top. Gently press three sides of the frame to the backing clay, leaving the top open. Trim the backing clay.
9. Roll a #1 sheet of clay about 3-1/2" x 4-1/2". Put a thin layer of Kato Clear Medium on the back of the frame and press it in the center of the #1 sheet. Align it so the 4-1/2-inch-long side is horizontal.
10. Lay the two front legs right next to the sides of the frame on top of the #1 sheet of clay. Center the frame between the legs from top to bottom. Make sure the "feet" on the legs are level so it doesn't tilt when standing.
11. You need two or three strips of clay that are about 1/4-inch-wide on each side to hold the frame to the legs. Find areas that are between the bends or loops in the wire. To make these strips, cut away the bulk of the clay on the sides, thereby leaving the strip sections.
12. Bring the strips around and over the legs and secure them to the front on the frame. Trim excess clay.
13. With the whole assembly face down, cut a notch in the center of the top edge with the shape cutter. Decorate as desired with canes .
14. Make a tube bead on the skewer that is about 3/4 inch long. Flatten one side. Bake the frame and the bead for 45 minutes at the temperature recommended by the clay manufacturer.
15. Assemble the back leg by inserting the 3-inch-long straight wire in the tube bead. Coil up the protruding wire with the round-nose pliers.
18. Clean the flat side of the tube bead with acetone and the spot on the back of the frame it will be glued to. Using two-part epoxy, glue the back leg/bead assembly to the frame.
To make a checkerboard cane:
1. Use two contrasting colors. Condition and roll each to a #1 thickness.
2. Cut and stack the #1 sheets to make a double thickness of each color. A good size is 1-1/2" x 2".
3. Put one color stack on the other.
4. Cut four equal strips lengthwise.
5. Flip every other strip and reassemble into a checkerboard.
6. Reduce, cut and recombine until desired size is achieved.
1. Remove the cardboard spacer while the clay is still warm from the oven.
2. Use the pallet knife to help loosen the cardboard by sliding it in between the clay and the cardboard.
3. If putting decorative canes above the opening of the frame, slice them very thin and check to see that the opening is not blocked.