I love the colors of autumn, don’t you? It’s my favorite time for spending outdoors; the weather is perfect for day hikes. This has nothing to do with getting crafty, I know – but it certainly inspires new designs and ideas for projects! I made up this fall-inspired clay dish jewelry holder from polymer clay with a piece of nature imprinted into it, and painted it with a hint of gold. It’s perfect for holding small pieces, and it looks pretty on any tabletop.
- White Polymer Clay – you will need somewhere between 1-2 oz. depending on the size dish you’re making
- Parchment or Wax Paper
- Clay Knife
- Roller (this can be as simple as a large wooden dowel)
- Oven-safe bowl or dish that you use for crafts, and not in the kitchen (try picking one up at a thrift store or dollar store)
- Polymer Clay Press (optional)
- Gold Acrylic Paint and Small Sponge Brush
- Fresh leaf from outside
A few notes about working with polymer clay, if you haven’t before. You CAN use kitchen tools when you work with it, but it’s not food safe – so that means you should not re-use these tools in the kitchen after working with clay. Some of my favorite tools are cookie cutters and even rolling pins – but be sure to mark them crafts-only so that you don’t end up with polymer clay in your kitchen!
Polymer clay is harder than kids’ clay. It needs to be conditioned before you can roll it out to work with it. You can save time conditioning and rolling by using a clay press – which works just like a pasta roller. You’ll need to knead your ball of clay for a few minutes to get it softened up. I roll mine through, ball it, roll it ball it, a few times before I work with it. It’s also great for a nice uniform sheet. For my clay dish, I used the #1 setting, which is about 1/4 inch thickness.
You don’t absolutely need a clay press if you’re just getting started, though you will find it really helpful if you find that you enjoy polymer clay. You can also roll it out by hand, with a roller. You should aim for about 1/4 inch thickness, which will be sturdy enough, yet not take too long to bake.
Once you have a round shape rolled out for your clay dish, carefully place your leaf, vein-side-down, on your clay. It will help if you use a freshly-fallen leaf or pull one off the tree (I know, I know, it’s not nice to trees to do that, but it’s just one). Roll gently until it’s imprinted fully in the clay, but not so hard that the clay stretches and starts to pull the leaf apart. Then, use the stem of the leaf to pull it off.
Next, use a cookie cutter, or any round form to cut a circle for your clay dish. I actually used a cut glass bottle as my cutter – but anything small and round will work! Now, press it gently into the bottom of a small bowl, so that the edges are raised. Again – don’t use your kitchen bowls for this – but you should be able to find an oven-safe bowl at the dollar store, or even a flea market, garage sale or thrift store pretty easily. It’s totally safe to re-use the baking bowl for craft storage later, you just don’t want to eat out of it after putting clay in there.
Now, bake your clay dish according to the package directions. This will be at a low heat for about 30 minutes – this formula of Sculpey clay bakes at 225ºF for 30 minutes for every 1/4″ of thickness. If you made your dish thicker, like 1/2″ inch, you’ll bake it for an hour. You can bake it right inside the bowl. While it’s still hot, it will feel flexible, so be cautious not to over-bake it. When it cools it should be firm, but not browned or brittle. You can return your clay dish to the oven for a few more minutes if it still bends easily after baking.
When the clay dish is finished and cooled, you can lightly paint it with gold, to bring out all the lines and veins in the leaf pattern! Keep a slightly damp paper towel on-hand; if you get too much paint, you can wipe it off and start over.
I love the gold – it adds just a little bit of shine! When you’re happy with your paint job, just let it dry, and your clay dish is ready for the top of your dresser or night table to hold your rings, earrings, or necklaces before bed.
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Adrianne is a writer, artist, designer, wife, and mom of 2 kids. She blogs at happyhourprojects.com where the theme is tutorials and recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Her favorite projects are jewelry-making, paper crafts, and recycled crafts. She participates annually in ArtPrize, an international art competition, and she’s the author of the book DIY T-Shirt Crafts: 50 Ways to Recycle a T-Shirt (August 2015).