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Polymer Clay Acrobat

Judy Belcher shares step-by-step instructions for making these unique acrobat figures from polymer clay.

Thanks to Judy Belcher for this project.

Materials and Tools:

Kato NuBlade
2" piece of 3/16" dowel rod
two 2" pieces of 22-gauge wire
black, white, red heat-set paint
Easy Cutter woodcutter
4" string
acrylic rod
fine-detail paintbrush
220-grit sandpaper
two 1/2" x 9" pieces 3/8" basswood
wood glue
Super Glue
pin or needle
craft knife
clear plastic candy paper
clay-dedicated pasta machine
clay-dedicated baking sheet
round-nosed pliers
drill with 1/16" and 3/16" bits
Kato Polyclay: black, white, magenta, turquoise
Kemper cutters: 3/8" square, 3/16" round, 1/2" round

As with all polymer clay projects, condition all of the clay well (hand-knead or slice thinly and run through a pasta machine until soft and pliable). Recondition as needed.


1. Cut 2" x 4" rectangles of white and black clay, rolled on the thickest setting of the pasta machine. Stack the sheets and roll through the pasta machine on the same setting. Cut in half lengthwise and stack (2" x 4"). Cut in half again and stack (2" x 2"). Adhere all layers using an acrylic rod.

2. Slice three sheets of striped cane approximately 1/8-inch thick;

lay side-to-side to form a rectangular sheet of striped clay. Set the rest of the cane aside to use for hair in step 7. Roll with an acrylic rod to adhere pieces together.

3. Roll through the pasta machine, stripes running vertically, beginning with the thickest setting (#1 on an Atlas). Roll at incrementally smaller settings, ending with a sheet approximately 1/16-inch thick (#6 on an Atlas).

4. The PDF link below shows a pattern you can use as a template. Lay out the arm and leg templates from this pattern and cut two of each with a craft knife.

       Click here for pattern

5. Using a pin, pierce the clay at the top of the arms and legs and two holes at the hands. Set pieces aside to bake.

6. Cut a 1" x 1" square of white clay and a 1" x 2-1/2" rectangle of black clay, each rolled on the #5 setting of the pasta machine. Lay sheets end to end and adhere with the clear plastic candy paper.

7. Embellish the black sheet of clay using the Kemper cutters and replacing the removed pieces of clay with magenta and turquoise clay rolled on the #5 setting.

Adhere the clay using the clear plastic candy paper. Judy did a checkerboard pattern with alternating colors of small circles.

8. Position the body template (from the PDF, above) so the head is on the white square of clay. Cut around template using a craft knife. Pierce the body, as shown on the template, with a pin.

9. Reduce the remaining striped cane using an acrylic rod until the stripes are very thin. Cut and stack to form a cane to be used for the dolls hair. Thinly slice the cane and position on the head to form the hair.

10. Bake all body pieces as per directed on the clay package. Judy recommends 30 minutes at 275 F degrees, as Kato Polyclay becomes stronger with longer baking times. Allow pieces to cool.

11. Using heat-set paint, paint white hands, black ballet-type shoes on the feet, and a faint blush on the cheeks. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Allow pieces to cool.

12. Using the round-nosed pliers, curl each length of wire at one end into a spiral to act as a knot. Thread the wire through one leg, the body, and the other leg, and curl the other end of the wire to hold the pieces together. Do the same with the arms.

13. Cut two 3/8" x 1/2" x 9" pieces of basswood and one 2-inch length of 3/16-inch dowel rod.

14. Drill two holes, using the 1/16 bit, 1/16 inch from the top and 1/4 inch apart, on each of the basswood pieces.

15. Using the 3/16 bit, drill half way through, 5-1/4 inch from the top (two holes are at the top), centering the drill bit. Mark your drill bit with a piece of tape so you will only drill half way through the wood.

16. Sand all pieces well with 220-grit sandpaper.

17. Glue dowel rod into holes using wood glue and allow to dry.

18. To string doll to wood frame: Lay the doll upside down (hands above head, feet farthest from the wood frame). String through bottom hole of wood piece, bottom hole of each hand, and bottom hole of other wood piece.

String back through top of each piece. Tip: Use a small amount of super glue to stiffen string at one end.

19. Tie a secure knot, making the string taut but not bending the frame. Glue the knot for added strength. Add a clay embellishment from leftover clay to hide the knot.

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