Free Polymer Clay Project Instructions: Small Decorative Vases

A great craft project is decorating small vases with polymer clay. Instructions are for covering a small glass vase with a decorative swirl patterns.

Polymer clay is great craft medium with unlimited decorative uses. The clay is made of plastics so it is flexible and durable. It is cured (hardened) by baking in your home oven. You can make beautiful small decorative vases to match any room in your home using polymer clay. The clay comes in a multitude of colors. There are also special effect clays such as metallic and glow in the dark colors. Below are the instructions and supply list for creating your own small decorative vases in polymer clay. The instructions are for creating a multicolored swirl vase, with some suggestions for variations on this method. All the supplies can be found in any arts and crafts store. An important fact to remember is that even though polymer clay is non-toxic, it is not approved for use with food products. Any kitchen item you use with the clay such as a rolling pin, pasta machine, etc. can no longer be used for food products.

1. Small glass vase

2. Polymer clay in colors of your choice

3. White craft glue

4. Craft knife

5. Rolling tool such as a brayer, metal rolling pin, or metal dowel

6. Wet/Dry sandpaper, 800 grit and 1,000 grit

7. Cloth for polishing

8. Polymer clay lacquer or Future Floor Polish

9. Pasta machine (optional)

Step One. Choose a small glass vase to cover with the clay.

A glass vase will provide a solid support for the clay. Glass is preferable because the clay adheres well to glass and it can withstand oven temperatures of 375 degrees F when the clay is cured. You may choose a vase in any shape you wish.

Step Two. Cover the vase with white craft glue.

Cover the entire outside of the vase with the white craft glue and let dry. The glue will help the clay bond to the glass and lessen the chance of air bubbles forming between the clay and glass.

Step Three. Choose your colors for the swirl clay vase.

You may choose up to three colors to create your vase. Any combination of colors will work and produce a unique vase. Some suggestions are black, orange, and yellow for fall, or substitute glow in the dark for yellow for Halloween. Pretty pastel colors can be used for a spring vase. Red and green with one of the metallic colors creates a festive look for the winter holidays.

Step Four. Prepare the clay.

The clay needs to be warmed and conditioned so it is flexible. First warm the clay by holding it in your hands, placing it in your pocket, or setting the clay in the sun. Warming should take about five minutes or so. Do not place the clay in a microwave or regular oven to warm. Polymer clay is not approved for microwaves and it will start to cure if placed in a regular oven. Next the clay needs to be conditioned. Knead the clay in your hands like dough. Condition the clay for about ten minutes. Once the clay is no longer crumbly you can roll the brayer (small rolling pin like tool for clay), rolling pin, or dowel over it numerous times. You can also run it through a pasta machine numerous times to condition. In between passes with the rolling tool or pasta machine the clay should be turned over and folded for best conditioning. The pasta machine is not necessary to condition and roll out the clay. The rolling tool of your choice will work fine. However with a pasta machine the process is less labor intensive and easier to produce even sheets of clay.

Step Five. Mix and roll out the clay.

You will need a hard, non-stick surface to roll out the clay. Do not work directly on wood, the clay will stick and possibly stain the wood. Any hard surface can be used when wax paper is taped down first. This provides a good non-stick work surface. Warm and condition all colors you wish to use. Place all the colors of clay in your hands and twist the colors together. Do not over mix or the colors will be completed blended. Proceed to roll out the clay with a rolling tool or pasta machine. A beautiful swirl pattern will be created. If you are using the rolling tool squash the clay out with your hands. Roll the tool over the clay in a horizontal and then vertical motion. Lift the clay off the work surface and turn over. Repeat the rolling motions. Repeat these steps until the clay is large enough to cover your vase and is at least 1/4 inch thick. If you are using a pasta machine run the clay through the machine as many times as necessary to reach 1/4 inch thickness and the right size to cover the vase.

Step Six. Cover the vase.

Carefully pick up your rolled out clay and begin wrapping it around the glass vase. Gently press down as you go to eliminate air bubbles between the clay and glass. When the vase is covered you should have one seam where the clay started and finished wrapping around the vase. Cut off any excess clay with the craft knife at this seam. Gently press the clay together, using the rolling tool to smooth completely. The clay should mold together and the seam will disappear. Cut off any excess clay at the top and bottom of the vase and smooth the clay down. Check the vase and smooth over any visible fingerprints with the rolling tool.

Step Seven. Bake the vase.

To prevent the glass from breaking put the vase into a cold oven. To help prevent burning make a tent over your vase with aluminum foil. You can place the vase on a cookie sheet to bake. Follow the baking directions on your package of clay. Generally you will bake at around 375 degrees F for 30 minutes for every 1/4 inch thickness of clay. Let the vase cool completely before removing from the oven.

Step Eight. Sand and buff the clay.

To give your vase a brilliant shine and remove any slight imperfections or fingerprints you need to wet sand your vase. Wet the sandpaper with water and sand the vase first with 800 grit then 1,000 grit sandpaper. Dry off the vase then buff to a shine. A soft cloth or piece of scrap denim works great for buffing the piece to a nice shine.

Step Nine. Apply a finish to protect your vase.

To protect the vase you should apply a final finish. You can buy lacquers made especially for polymer clay. Or you can use Future Floor Polish. This provides a great hard finish and shine. Just apply with a brush and let dry completely.

You can create an infinite number of patterns and colors with the swirl method for your vases. As a variation you may also add texture and images by using rubber stamps. Prior to baking, when you have covered the vase with the clay, gently stamp an image into the clay. It can be one image, a border, or all over pattern. The images will remain after baking. You can use the stamps with the swirl method or use one solid color for the vase. You may also embed items such as glass beads, rhinestones, etc. into the clay before baking. Just make sure the items you use can withstand the baking temperature. Your options are limitless when creating polymer clay vases.

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