Saturday, January 24, 2015

Making Polymer Clay Ring Bowls.... a tutorial

I love making canes! I think it is my favorite thing to do with polymer clay. I try not to make my canes too big though.... I like to use them up fast so that I can make more! But still I have my share of old canes, ones that either didn't turn out the way I wanted or ended up being bigger than I needed. But for whatever reason I have too many and wanted to get rid of them. I didn't want to just throw them away though so it was time to experiment. I've used hard clay before, you can see those tutorials here and here, but I wanted to do something new. My first ring bowl turned out really cute and so I made a couple more and decided I would take some pictures and show you how I did it. Let's get started!

Step 1. Chop up your cane with a ripple blade. You could also use a straight blade if that's all you have. I used a blue and white star cane that was about 4 years old and chopped it up really small on a piece of white paper just to help contain all the pieces.



Step 2. Take a piece of conditioned clay, it can be scrap or new as long as its well conditioned and soft. Roll it into a ball. I used some scrap clay that was about 1 inch in diameter. This amount will make about a 2 inch bowl.


Step 3. Flatten your clay into a disk shape, not too thin and press it into your pile of chopped up pieces until completely covered on both sides and around the edge. Make sure the pieces are sticking well and covering as much as possible.


Step 4.  Place your disk onto your work surface (I use my glass table top) and start pinching/pushing the sides towards the center. Keep turning and pushing, keeping a round shape, until it looks like a dome. Its hard to tell from the picture but the center is starting to rise and take on an upside down bowl shape.


Step 5.  Turn it over and press down in the center with your thumb. This will flatten the bottom. Then begin pinching the sides making them thinner and enlarging your bowl. At this point you may notice some cracks forming. You can simply fill them in with some more of the chopped up clay or leave them and fill them in later.


Once you are happy with your bowl's size and shape it's ready to be cured. I place mine on a clay tile and bake it for the recommended time and temperature for the brand of clay I use.

After your bowl has cured and completely cooled you have some options.

A) You can leave it as is. You're finished and your bowl is ready to be used!
B) If you still have cracks (from step 5) you can fill them in. You may need to use a little liquid clay to get the pieces to stick.  Then you will have to cure your bowl again.
C) Paint it! I like to use dark acrylic paint to give my bowl a weathered look. Just paint it on and wipe it off, leaving the paint in all the cracks!
D) Decorate it! This is what I love to do. I use slices from some of my "good" canes and have fun!

I decided on options D and C above and used white acrylic paint on this one.

Here are a few others I have made. I just love them! They will soon be listed for sale in my Etsy shop. Aren't they cute?!


But you aren't limited to making just ring bowls with this technique. If you're a jewelry maker then try pendants. Or "paint" a picture, filling in areas with different colors: green for trees and bushes, blue for the sky! Just thinking about the possibilities has me anxious to get started!

I hope this tutorial has given you some ideas on how you too can give new life to your old canes. If you have any questions please ask in the comments below. I would love to hear from you! Happy claying.....