★ Creative Polymer Clay Tutorials & Techniques For Beginners | DIY FIMO, Sculpey & PMC Craft Projects ★
How to Use Clay and Mold It into Fun Shapes
Polymer clay is a wonderfully versatile material to work with. It is available in many colours and it can be sculpted into pretty much any shape or pattern, then baked to turn your creation solid.
On this page you will find many tutorials and project inspiration, plus beginner's advice on how to start working with clay.
You don't need much to get started; just clay, your hands, a smooth work surface (plastic, ceramic, glass or stone), a baking tray, baby wipes for cleaning and an oven (not a microwave!).
There are more tools you can use on top of these basics of course, including a roller (acrylic roller and/or a pasta maker), sculpting tools, cutting blades (e.g. ripple or tissue blades), sandpaper, paint, craft knife, clay sealant, gloss etc. but you can add these to your collection once you learn more about this creative hobby.
I hope you find this page fun and informative :)
Polymer Clay Canes
Polymer clay canes are long lengths of clay which are the same all of the way through - so that when you slice it anywhere along the length, the same design appears. You can make all kinds of designs including animal faces, fruit slices and abstract patterns (see the tutorials listed on this page for details).
Photo and canes by P's Design Miniatures.
Top-Rated Polymer Clay Instruction Books
A must-have for any beginner, 50 techniques are explained in this book including those for beginners and those looking for a challenge.
This spiral-bound book covers all of the basics of clay craft, including tool and supplies, plus beginner project instructions.
Expert guidance, secrets and tips as well as jewelry projects and tutorials for making millefiori, image transfers, and faux dichroic glass.
Talented artists offer knowledge for a range of interesting advanced surface techniques and much more.
Fun how-to book for showing you the steps for making cute food charms - with designs including cupcakes and cinnamon rolls.
Introduction To Polymer Clay
Summary Of The Craft
Polymer clay is an extremely versatile craft material that is available in endless different colors - you can even get interesting clays that look like granite or are glow-in-the-dark for example. Clay can be sculpted into almost any shape you like and there are many techniques you can learn in order to get the most out of the material; including embedding different products in the clay, simulating other materials like lava rock or wood, and combining different colors of clay together to produce an amazing array of patterns.
The main brands of polymer clay are Sculpey and FIMO. When you buy clay it will be fairly soft to start with but before you shape it you will need to 'condition' it to make it much more pliable and easy to work with. Conditioning can either be done with your hands or can be done by repeatedly passing clay through a pasta machine (which isn't being used for food). If done by hand, you simply knead the clay continuously so it becomes warm in your hands and is stretched and squashed until it gets as soft as you want it.
Once it has been conditioned you can shape it as it is or blend different colors of clay together to form a custom color before you manipulate it. Colored powders can also be blended into clay to color it, and you can add many materials to create different appearances including glitter, chalk, art sand and ink. Clay is ideal for making into jewelry charm designs, beads, models, sculptures, dolls, miniature food, doll house ornaments, home décor items and many art projects.
Polymer clay is baked in an oven when it has been shaped in order to harden it (following the guidelines on the clay packet). Once it's baked it can't be reshaped, but can be finished by being sanded, painted or glazed.
It's best to buy a non-stick mat or tile to work on so you can roll the clay around without it sticking to, and marking, a table's surface, and you'll also need a rolling pin or something like a glass jar to roll the clay into flat sheets. You can use tools like cutting blades, molds and cookie cutters to shape the clay, and to make textures on the surface of clay you can use all kind of regular items including buttons, cocktail sticks, bubble wrap, leaves, sponges etc.
When you're not using the clay, it is important to wrap each color up separately and store it in a cool dark place.
I hope you enjoy learning to use clay, and remember that you don't have to always follow instructions to the letter; experiment, be creative and have fun!
Techniques & Beginner Lessons
- Quick Skinner Blend
Use the teardrop method to speed up this technique.
- Getting Started
The basics tools and equipment you may need to begin.
- Further Equipment Information
A few more tools and products which may come in handy.
- Beginner's Advice
From the types of clay available to how to condition it.
- Handmade Texture Tools
How to create your own texture tools from buttons and more.
- Clay Beads
How to make beads from polymer clay canes.
- Engraving Using Plaster
Use a cutting tool like a burr to engrave your chosen design in plaster.
- Plaster Carving
A tutorial following on from the tutorial above ^ showing DIY plaster carving tips.
- Zentangle Instructions
Abstract pattern art make with clay - an advanced technique.
- Skinner Blends
How to make gradients in your clay.
How to Make a Snow Globe
What You Will Need:
* Clean glass jar (jam jar/baby food jar for example); it must have a tight-fitting lid.
* Polymer clay; the amounts and colors depends on what ornament you will be making. I'll use an example of a Christmas tree, so I'll only be using green clay.
* Oven and baking tray
* Any clay sculpting and shaping tools you require
* Distilled water; either buy water ready-distilled or boil some water and then let it cool to make it yourself.
* Glycerin; this is the best choice for slowing down the glitter as it falls, making a lovely effect, however if you can't find glycerin, I've seen people use clear liquid dish soap or mineral instead. If you don't mind if the glitter falls very quickly, you can just leave this part out :)
* Waterproof epoxy glue e.g. E6000
* Small sharp scissors
- Condition a small amount of brown clay and roll it into a stick shape which tapers slightly towards the top. It should be quite thin but not fragile; maybe 1/2" - 3/8" across, and no more than 3/4 of the height of your glass jar.
- Bake this clay on a baking tray, according to the instructions on the packet. Let it cool completely.
- Shape a base for the tree from red clay so that it will be sturdy, well-balanced and flat on the bottom. Stick the brown trunk you have already made into this base so that it stands straight up. Bake, following the instructions as before.
- Roll a larger amount of green clay into a conical shape and use a suitable clay tool (or the end of a paintbrush handle) to make a hole up through the middle, but without coming out through the top of the cone. Put this clay onto the tree trunk and re-shape so that it looks as much like a tree shape as possible. Make sure the tree is small enough to fit inside your glass jar.
- Take your small scissors and snip up at an angle into the clay so as to make downwards-pointing arrow shapes. Practice on another bit of clay before cutting the tree so that you can do a neater job. The scissors snips should be done randomly over the surface of the green clay and it should end up looking a lot more tree-like.
- Now take a tiny little piece of yellow clay and make a star. You can use a craft knife, a specialist clay cutter or some other sharp edge for this.
- Put the star on top of the tree, check it still fits inside the jar OK, and then bake the whole piece in the oven.
- Sand the inside of the glass jar lid with sandpaper so it is rough.
- Make sure the tree has cooled completely and then roughen the base of the Christmas tree with the sandpaper, and make sure it stands upright.
- Use the waterproof epoxy glue to stick the tree to the jar lid. At this point you could cover the remaining inside surface of the jar lid by glueing glitter to the area around the tree base. Or you could decorate it with more clay. Leave the glue to dry overnight.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of glycerin into the glass jar and fill the jar half full with distilled water. Now add however much glitter you want; I would suggest 1 heaped tablespoon. Then fill the jar right up to the top with distilled water.
- Best doing this step over a sink because there will be overflow :) You could first add epoxy glue to the top of the jar lid at this point to to make sure the lid stays secure. Then turn your lid (with tree attached) upside down and push it down into the water. Twist the lid on tight.
Empty Snow Globe for DIYers
Instead of using recycled glass food jars, you could also buy a specially-made glass globe like this one. You will receive 2 glass globes with this product, complete with maple-finish bases. In total, they measure 3" tall.
Simply glue your mini clay creation onto the rubber section inside, then add the water and floating bits (which are included.)
Video Lessons for Absolute Beginners
DIY Polymer Clay Canes
- Fish Skeleton
Step-by-step tutorial for this fun design.
- Stroppel Cane
Lovely mosaic cane created with scraps.
Funky mind-bending patterns in the making.
- Heart Cane
A good cane design for beginners to try.
- Lace Cane
Classic pattern for canes.
- Pink Flower
How to make symmetrical petals.
- Paw Print
Sweet idea for dog or cat lovers.
- Swirly Brick Cane
Funky design in multicolour.
- Cat Face
A tutorial for composing an adorable cat face.
- Watermelon Slice
Colourful pattern representing the inside of a watermelon.
- Sand Dollars
One of my favourite and would make great jewellery charms.
- Cross Stitch
An excellent idea for making use of cross stitch patterns.
- Cute Face
Cartoon pink and purple face.
- Magic Rainbow Swirl
Artistic and colourful mulitcolour spiral cane.
Clay Wall Ornament
Oven Baked Clay Projects
- Alphabet Containers
DIY pots shaped into letters - perfect for personalised gifts.
- Clay Flowers
Make a bunch of flowers in graduated colours.
- House-Shaped Pots
Charming clay pots to hold small flowers or cacti.
- Geeky Crochet Hooks
Fun designs including Harry Potter and Doctor Who themes.
- Imprint Stamps
Use polystyrene packaging to make easy stamp designs.
- Giant Spike Earrings
Faux gauge earrings for fashionistas.
- Oven Bake Clay Charms
Stamped leaf pendants with added paint embellishment.
- Key Holder Magnet
Keep your key handy on your fridge door.
- Mini Geometric Plantpot
Tiny little pot with geometrical facets.
Sea Glass Clay Pebbles
Tutorials for Clay Creations
- Mother's Day Garland
Sculpt shapes and letters to spell out messages.
- Garden Stones
Clay pebbles to mark out plants or herbs.
- Thumbprint Ornaments
Personalised decorations you can put on the Christmas tree.
- Simple Candleholders
Minimalist clay holders which are an easy make for beginners.
- Skinny Bangles
Use a metal bracelet to reinforce the narrow clay.
- Rhinestone Bear Charm
Cute and blingy keyring.
- DIY Catch-All Plate
Perfect for making sure you know where your keys are.
- Lego Trinket Box
Fun and geeky jewellery box idea.
- Braided Clay Bracelet
Pretty bangles - I especially like the speckled grey clay.
- Letter Stamped Tags
Thoughtful gift tags with paint added to make the words stand out.
- Clay Star Garland
Adorable Scandinavian style garland for festivities.
Lace Clay Brooch
Creative Things to Make
- Lightswitch Cover
A great idea, and you can really let your imagination go wild with this make.
- Faux Ceramic Pendants
Very pretty textures and they would make lovely necklaces.
- Micro Flower Earrings
Stunning tiny flowers used for making drop earrings.
- Faux Lapis Lazuli
Very realistic clay stone for making beads and charms.
- Rainbow Stripe Bangle
Colourful bracelet design in graduating colour shades.
- Christmas Embossed Ornament
Stamp embossed hanging decoration, spray painted silver.
- Underwater Scene
Sculpt your own mini coral to create attractive art.
- Gold-Dipped Bowls
Add a touch of glam and luxury with gold paint.
- Bling Strawberry Necklace
Eye-catching turquoise and gold design.
- Owl Sculpture
Detailed owl tutorial for an impressive ornament.
Scrap Cane Bangle
More Fun How-Tos
- Bird Ornaments
Minimalist and classic style birds with stamped letters.
- Halloween Eyeballs
Eyeballs in a jar prop for a scary party!
- Quirky Sitting Flowerpot
Adorable flowerpot idea which is very quick to create.
- Puppy Dog
How to create a simple dog shape.
- Stoneware Robot Head
Use powder to make a stone effect surface.
- Candy Apple Sticks
Add a fun twig character to your candy apple skewers.
- Turkey Sculpting
Thanksgiving day clay make - great for magnets.
- DIY Clay Nursery Mobile
Cute mobile, ideal as a baby shower gift.
- Egg Carton
Replicate the classic cardboard egg carton for a cute container.
80's Geometric Rings
Projects for Kids
- Arts & Crafts Bangles
Fun stripey clay bracelets.
- Silly Spider
Instructions for making a cute spider with googly eyes.
- Christmas Decorations
Simple ideas including wreaths and stars.
- Cookie Cutter Snowflakes
Cookie cutters are an easy way for kids to make neat shapes.
- Garden Mushrooms
Let your little ones decorate your garden.
- Monster Face
Fun idea and great for the imagination.
- Sailboat Pencil Holder
Decorate a glass jar with simple designs and shapes.
PMC Robot Ring
Precious Metal Clay Instructions
Metal clay is very clever stuff; it looks and feels like clay and yet is actually made from particles of pure silver mixed together with binders.
It allows you to make fine jewelry at home without the need for lots of tools, time or equipment, and because it is made to resemble clay, it is really easy to shape it with your hands and mold it into the exact design you want.
Once you have created the clay shape, you should refine the piece as much as you can do so that amendments don't need to be made later when it will be more time consuming and difficult. Then you leave the clay to dry thoroughly before firing with a torch (or a kiln if the piece is relatively thick).
The firing eliminates the binder within the clay, which cause shrinkage (about 10-15%) and means that what is left is just the silver particles - which fuse together because of the heat, leaving you with your design in 99.99% fine silver. The final step is finishing, where the piece is tumbled/polished/buffed etc. to produce the final finish you are looking for.
PMC is not as strong as cast metals, but it offers people the chance to make fine silver jewelry in a much shorter timeframe, and even beginners can have a go.
You can also find gold, copper and other types of metal clay.
- Metal Clay Basics
What you need to get started.
- Beginner's Spiral Pendant
Easy shape to make for beginners to the craft.
- PMC Project Guide
A list of ideas for jewellery to create.
- Origami Lily Earrings
Fold metal clay sheet into gorgeous silver lilies.
- Video Tutorial
A series of videos detailing the firing process.
- Rubber Stamped Jewelry
Oxidize the silver with eggs to accentuate the details.
Precious Metal Clay
This packet of metal clay (which is available on Amazon) has a 5-star rating, is great quality and is easy to work with. So if you're looking for supplies, or you're a complete beginner and you want to experiment, this product is an excellent choice:
Hanging Gingerbread Ornaments
DIY Clay Makes
- 9-Hole Buttons
DIY buttons to add to clothes or use in crafts.
- Sculpted Octopus
Use wire to hold the clay shapes in place.
- Geometric Pendant
Necklace for the fashion conscience.
- Clay Conifers
Classy clay pinecones for table ornaments.
- Baby Footprints
Preserve your child's footprints in clay.
- Textured Jewelry Dish
You can use all kinds of things to make interesting textures.
- Pin Heads
Decorative clay toppers for straight pins.
- Faux Agate Slices
How to create a very realistic agate rock effect.
- Bird in a Cage
Artistic decoration - with a really cool crackle effect.
- Simple Stud Earrings
Add a pop of colour to your day with easy peasy earrings.
Quirky Bear Sculpture
Jewellery Ideas & Techniques to Try
- Sculpey Beaded Bracelet
Summery surfer style fashion accessories.
- Papercuts & Clay
How paper cuts can be used to emboss clay.
- Petal Cuff Bracelet
Detailed how-to for creating wavy edged petals.
- Marble Pens
Embellish plain pens by blending together slices of clay.
- Beaded Necklace
Layers of colourful beads of graduating sizes.
- Pretty Plates
Use lace to imprint feminine patterns onto plates.
- Shark Pencil Holder
Make a fun shark mouth container for your desk.
- Glittery Faceted Beads
Use a craft knife to make the sharp angles, and add glitter fo a bit of glam.
- Antler Earrings
Join in the stag craze with these eye-catching earrings.
- Marbled Dish
Mix 2 colours together partly to make a cool effect.
- Faux Lava Rock
Create the interesting holey look of real lava rock.
- Banana Chips Necklace
Circle clay beads in a yellow gradient pattern.
Contemporary Ombre Necklace
Filigree Clay Bangles
Food & Doll's House Stuff
- Cake Tutorial
Make realistic sponge cake.
- French Baguette
Instructions for making realistic bread.
- Ice Cream Bowl
Useful technique to know to make a neat bowl shape.
- Tiny Orange
Smallest man-made orange creation which looks great when peeled.
- Mini Cupcake Charms
Complete with pink icing and a cherry on top.
- Faux Mini Doughnuts
Includes a handy recipe mix for the icing.
DIY Polymer Clay Tiles
Ideas & Inspiration
- Precious Metal Clay Flickr Gallery
Lots of PMC creations to inspire you.
- Christmas House
Lots of info about how each part was created.
- Nativity Scene
Make lovely clay Christmas characters.
- DIY Clay Feathers
Dainty ornaments you can display around your home.
- Faux Wood
Use layers of different coloured clay to create an interesting look.
- JooJoo Creatures
Examples of creatures made by my favourite clay sculptor.
- Snow Globe
Make the inside designs of snow globes out of clay.