I’m absolutely obsessed with knit polymer clay earrings! Let me tell you how it happened…We decided to have our boys attend a Virtual Academy this past school year, and that is how I fell down the rabbit hole of polymer clay. Haha! Around Christmas time I started feeling a bit guilty that my boys weren’t getting the art experience they would be if they were doing in-person schooling. I reminisced on all my misshapen clay puppies and mugs and felt like my boys were missing out. So, like any sane person, I decided to do clay projects with them myself!
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I bought some polymer clay because, by some miracle, it was the only craft supply I didn’t yet own. Then I traveled down the never-ending rabbit hole of Pinterest to find some inspiration! On the way, I stumbled across a super speedy video showing someone making polymer clay into what looked like knit fabric! Just like my mother before me, I watched that video a couple times and thought, I can totally do that! And, after much trying and many failed attempts, I did! Good news for you, I’m here to show you ALL the steps without all the trial and error! Double good news, making knit polymer clay earrings isn’t that hard with all my tips and tricks!
Let’s talk tools
What you’ll need:
Clay – I used Sculpey polymer clay
Awl – like this one or other pointy object
Clay Cutter –these are like tiny cookie cutters and are so much fun
Small pan – oven safe
Clay: I used Sculpey polymer clay, but you could really use any clay you like. Just be sure you can harden the clay in some manner so that your earrings will be durable. The reason I like polymer clay so much is it hardens to a really durable finish after baking and that makes it great for jewelry! After I bought my clay, I realized that many polymer clay experts recommended Sculpey brand clay for beginners because it is softer and a bit easier to work with. I definitely found that to be the case. With a little heat from my hands, it was easily moldable and even my kids found it fairly easy to work with when they did their project! FIMO brand clay is also widely available and fairly easy to work with and would be great for this project as well!
Awl: This is the point where I’m going to need to tell you that you could spend hundreds of dollars on polymer clay tools and accessories. The most surprising part is not that they’re available, but that I chose not to buy them all! I’m usually in support of buying all the new craft tools, but I was trying to keep it inexpensive and simple so this tool is one that I just happen to have around the house. I found that the pointed end of my awl was perfect for cutting apart my long pieces of clay – more about that later – and for putting holes in the clay. If you don’t have an awl, my guess is you still have something laying around your house that could be used for these purposes. A plastic knife or even an old gift card would be great for cutting the clay into pieces. A toothpick, large paper clip or needle could definitely be used for putting holes in your clay projects. Just be sure that you’re either not too attached to the tools you choose to use or that they can be easily cleaned. I did find that sometimes my clay stained my hands, and I could easily see the color transferring to wooden tools. Also, I do not recommend using anything you use with food.
Clay cutter: This is one clay tool that I just couldn’t pass up. Since I’m not super great at cutting straight lines, and these were just so stinking cute, I did decide to invest in some polymer clay cutters. These are essentially tiny cookie cutters and you definitely could use small cookie cutters to make larger shapes out of the polymer clay. I do not recommend you mix items you use for food with your polymer clay tools. So please don’t take out your actual cookie cutters and use them for the clay unless you’re willing to have them forever be used for clay! These little cutters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and I found them to be super handy for making fun shapes in consistent sizes over and over again!
Oven safe tray or pan: This is another one of those tools and that definitely doesn’t need to be fancy. Head over to the dollar store or grab your oldest cookie sheet or metal tray and designate it for your clay baking! This can be any pan, but again, not the best idea to mix pans you cook your food on with pan’s you cook your clay on!
Oven: You can get clay ovens, but unless you get REALLY big into polymer clay, you can just use the one you’ve got in your kitchen!
Earring posts: If you want stud earrings like the ones I showed in the picture above, you need to buy the earring posts. These don’t have to be anything fancy, and they are widely available at most craft stores. Just make sure that the base at the end of the post is small enough to be covered by your clay but, also, big enough to securely hold your masterpiece! Earring posts come in a wide variety of finishes and materials. As I get older, I find that my ears are becoming more sensitive to metal. If you find that to be the case, you may want to make sure your posts are hypoallergenic. If your posts don’t come with backs, be sure to snag some of those too!
Glue: If you choose to go with earring posts, you’re going to need some glue to attach your clay to your earring post. While there are fancy clay and jewelry glues, I just used an extra strong glue I had in my junk drawer and it’s worked fine so far! The only regret I have about this glue is that it dried white and can be seen a little bit through my earrings. I’m sure I’m the only one who notices, but it’s something to think about when you’re choosing your glue!
Hooks & jump rings: If you prefer a dangly earring, you’re going to need earring hooks and split jump rings. Earring hooks are simply the metal hook style of earring that goes through your ear. There are several styles of this type of earring finding, and almost all of them will work. Choose whichever you like best. Just like the earring post though, you may want to make sure the hook is hypoallergenic if your ears are more sensitive. To attach your clay to your earring hook, you may need a split jump ring. A split jump ring is simply a metal ring with a break in it that can be twisted apart to attach the clay to the earring hook. You’ll also want needle nosed pliers to open and close your earring hooks and jump rings.
Don’t have all the supplies you need just yet? That’s okay! Click on the picture below to pin this post so that you can come back to it once you’ve got all the supplies!
Making your knit polymer clay earrings – full video tutorial below
This may sound like a super, fancy-pantsy technique, but, really, it just means smashing the clay around a little bit. When it’s sitting cold in its block, the clay can be a bit hard to work with. If you smash, stretch, and roll it in your hands a little bit your heat from working it with your hands will make it easier to shape. This is the perfect time to mix colors if you want to give that a try! Mixing colors isn’t an exact science but if you’re adventurous, it’s fun to try blending some colors and seeing what happens! There are lots of great guides out there on Pinterest on how to mix colors to get new colors. Just keep in mind when you’re mixing it is a bit of an adventure and not an exact science. Most of the colors, even the ones that look primary, are not necessarily true colors and may not mix to be exactly what you’d expect. I’ve had a lot of fun mixing colors. It’s fairly low stakes since the clay is inexpensive. Some of the colors I have created turned out just as I imagined, others not so much!
Roll out your clay
Now that your clay is nice and soft, go ahead and break or cut it into pieces about the size of a dime. The size doesn’t necessarily matter, but working with too much clay at once can be cumbersome. Then roll it into some nice long, thin strips. Some might say roll them into snakes, others might be terrified of snakes and would not say this at all – ha ha! Depending on the size of your earring, you will want to make these pieces have a fairly thin diameter and be as uniform as possible. For my tiny earrings I was shooting for about the size of a piece of spaghetti. When you’re making a teeny tiny earring, you need to fit several of these pieces in to make it look like the knit fabric. If you make these pieces too big the technique loses its effect.
Cut your pieces
Now that you’ve got unifor long, thin pieces, go ahead and cut them into 3-to-4-inch lengths. Especially if you’re just making a small set of earrings, you don’t need a massive length of clay. If you’re making several pairs, go ahead and make them longer.
Twist, twist, twist!
This is where the magic happens! Take two pieces of the clay, line them up next to each other and twist them away from you. Then, take two more pieces of the clay and twist them towards you. I didn’t count the number of twists, but you want the twists to be mostly uniform. Line the twisted pieces up next to each other, and you’ll have the start of your knit polymer clay fabric! Keep twisting and lining up pieces alternating between twisting towards and away from you until you have a large enough clay fabric to make your earrings. Gently press the twisted clay together, making sure that there are no large gaps. If you have gaps that are too big, your earrings won’t stick together when they’re baked and will fall apart when you go to assemble your earrings.
***After wearing my earrings I’ve found that it would be helpful to roll a thin, flat piece of clay to layer under your faux knit layer to help give them stability.
Cut your shapes
I found several clay cutters in lots of fun shapes, and I want to make knit polymer clay earrings out of all of them! They made cutting the clay into uniform shapes super easy. Just like a cookie cutter, gently push them into the clay and separate the cut pieces from the rest of the clay. If you’re more artistic than me, you could try cutting the pieces free hand! Once you’ve cut all of the shapes you’d like, it’s important to smooth the edges a little bit. Now is a good time to make sure that all of the edges are touching one another. I even found that smoothing the bottom edges of the clay with my fingers to make them smoother than the texture of the twists would normally make was a good way to be sure that all of the pieces of the clay stayed solidly together after baking. Handle your pieces gently. Too much pressure can leave fingerprints or lines on the clay that are hard to remove.
Make sure gaps like the one on this piece are smoothed together.
If you are going to make your earrings dangly, now’s the time to put a hole through your clay piece for the earring hook or jump ring to go through. I used an awl to make holes in my clay pieces but you could really use anything small and pointy. A toothpick might be something you already have laying around your house that could do the trick! Make sure that you find a happy medium between putting your hole too close to the edge that it’s in danger of breaking your earring or getting it too far away that your earring hook or jump ring won’t span the distance. Also, be sure to turn your earring over and make sure the hole is the same size all the way through the earring. Sometimes the back side can end up a little smaller making it tricky to fit your earring findings through. You do not need to put your earring hooks through the clay now. That will be done after you’ve baked your clay.
This step is both simple and complicated. Place your clay pieces on a pan, preferably one that you don’t also use for food. Bake your earrings per the instructions on your packaging. If your instructions were like mine, it may say something like bake for 15 minutes per ¼” of clay. These vague instructions made me very nervous the first time I baked my earrings! What if I bake them too long and they burn? What if I didn’t bake them long enough and they just fell apart? My experience has been that the minimum time suggested is plenty of time. You’re not making a giant dinosaur statue, just some teeny tiny earrings. It doesn’t take them long to bake!
Add earring findings
No matter if you chose post earrings or dangling earrings, once your earrings have cooled, it’s time to add your earring findings! If you choose post earrings like I did, simply use a strong glue to attach them to the front of your earring post. I’m going to say again, for those who are skimming, – no judgment – be careful if your earrings have small spaces between the clay. My earrings did and I chose a glue that dried white. While it’s not super obvious, if you look closely, you can see some of the white through the clay piece. I wish I had paid more attention and chosen a glue that dries clear like this one. It doesn’t take much glue to attach the clay piece to the earring post, so don’t go too crazy. I imagine that some sensitive ears might be irritated by industrial glue next to their skin.
If you have chosen to make dangly earrings, use needle-nose pliers to twist the loop of your earring hook open. Then feed it through the hole you created on your clay piece and twist the loop back closed. If you find that your earring is hanging in the wrong direction, add a jump ring between your earring piece and your earring hook to change their orientation.
That’s it; you’re totally done! Congratulations! When I was making my first pair of earrings, I thought that I probably needed to seal the earrings before they would be finished. After some research I found that since the clay I used is polymer clay – polymer means plastic (which I totally should have known because my husband is a polymer chemist) – once the clay is baked, it’s as good as any other plastic and should be fine without sealing.
I totally love my polymer clay earrings! I found them to be the perfect accessory almost every day! I hope you enjoy making your earrings too! These earrings would make a fantastic gift for anyone, but especially other yarn craft people in your life! I don’t know about you, but I have an amazing local yarn shop, and I think these earrings would be a great gift for the amazing owner who works very hard to make sure that our yarn community continues to flourish!
Knit Stitch Markers!
Now that you’ve got all the supplies and skills, you can go crazy and make all sorts of clay knit things with your supplies! Make a single clay piece and turn it into a pendant! Add another layer of flat clay to the back for reinforcement and make a keychain, Christmas ornament or decoration! Make a million more little earring pieces, put a hole in them and turn them into stitch markers! I’d love to see all the beautiful things you make! If you share your makes on social media, be sure to tag me so @sekhandmade that I can see! Happy crafting!