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Shoebox: How to Make Polymer Clay Ornaments

Make beautiful polymer clay ornaments with these steps from Pat Marhefka.

It was an entire show segment that Pat Marhefka of Mineral Point, Pa., sent to us when she sent in a beautiful polymer clay ornament along with step-outs and written directions.

We were intrigued with the ornament as well as the technique that Pat uses, so we called her on the phone and had her tell us herself how she makes them. If you heard Pat's explanation, then you know that she starts with a papier-mache ornament from the craft store...either a round or egg-shaped ornament...removes the paper covering, and uses scrap clay and purchased canes for covering and decoration. Those two items plus a goodly amount of elbow grease and patience go into making these beautiful and unusual ornaments.

Materials:

round or egg-shaped papier-mache ornament
drill
polymer clay scraps
polymer clay canes
pasta machine
bamboo skewer
oven
polyester filling
clay blade
400- and 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper
clay roller (optional)
buffing cloth
polyurethane
9" of 22- to 24-gauge craft wire
tassel
large beads
12"-18" of 1/4" ribbon

Figure A

1. Buy round or egg-shaped papier-mache ornaments at the local craft store. Remove the paper from the outside. There is a plastic form underneath (figure A).

Figure B

2. Drill a hole in the opposite end of existing hole with a drill (figure B).

Figure C

3. Cover with polymer clay scraps, which are put through a pasta machine on third largest setting (number 5). Cut to fit shape and smooth with fingers or acrylic rod roller, making sure to keep holes opened. Poke any trapped air bubbles to release them (figure C).

Figure D

4. Put ornament on bamboo skewer (figure D) and bake on a nest of polyester batting or fiberfill at approximately 265 F degrees for approximately 30 minutes and let cool.

Figure E

5. Slice purchased millefiori canes (figure E) very thin, about 1/16-inch thick.

Figure F

6. Apply the canes in any pattern (figure F).

Figure G

7. Condition about half a package of any color of polymer clay and roll through pasta machine on third-largest setting. Cut clay into stripes and fill in spaces around canes. Smooth with roller or fingers (figure G).

8. Place ornament back on skewer and bake again according to package directions for about 30 minutes and let cool. Bake on a nest of polyester batting or fiberfill.

9. Sand ornament with 400- and 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Buff with soft cloth and coat with polyurethane, clear gloss. Let dry.

10. Cut a piece of 22- to 24-gauge craft wire approximately 9" long. Attach a 3-inch tassel at one end, bending wire tightly. Attach spacer bead or bead of choice.

Figure H

11. Thread through ornament. Make a loop at the top with finger and wrap rest of wire around (figure H).

12. Cut 1/4-inch ribbon of choice to 12 to 18 inches long. Tie the ribbon in a bow around the wire and hang.

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