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Picture of Polymer Clay Vase
Do you find yourself in need of a specific table decor for a party, to hide that ugly burn in the center of the table caused by your Great Uncle Fred, or to simply spruce up that boring ol' living room?  Well, you can either fork over a fist full of cash( for something you may or may not only use once or twice a year) or for a considerable amount less you can MAKE IT!!

What's that!?! Make my own Vase? How!?! Where!?!? WITH WHAT!?!?!

I'll Tell you. Polymer. Clay. Two simple words that create an endless supply of creativity. You can sculpt with it, make your own jewelry from it, make molds with it, and even adhere it to certain items. Adhere it to certain items?!?  Intrigued?

With this guide I will show you how to create a fabulous centerpiece for your house.
 
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Step 1: Things to use!

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** First things first, and ABOVE ALL: Polymer Clay is rated Non-Toxic but should NEVER come in contact with Food, before or after its baked. If you wish to cover utensils, plates, or glassware make sure that they are placed in an area where they will not come in contact with foods or liquids.**

Alright, lets begin:

Materials Needed

1. Glass Vase -
                I used a square bottom vase about 12" tall. The flat surface is perfect for sculpting on but rounded surfaces work as well

2. Polymer Clay (I prefer PREMO! brand)-
               Copper
               Gold
               Antique Gold
               Black
               Raw Sienna
               Burnt Umber

3. Roller-
               I used an acrylic roller but you may substitute anything sturdy enough. For instance a glass bottle or crayola marker will work.
                ** Don't worry about thickness, because it doesn't matter.

4. Sculpey Bake & Bond-
               This is what allows the clay to adhere to surfaces it normally wouldn't.

-You'll need a few tools, if you don't have Clay specific tools, you can use almost anything. *Just keep in mind the no-touchy-food-rule.
I have here is a simple clay tool with a rounded end and a flat angled edge; A knitting needle ( these are just fabulous!); and an  Exact-o-knife ( if you're letting the kiddos help out here, make sure you do all the cutting). You'll also need a cookie cutter in the shapes of leaves. If you don't have leaf-cookie-cutters you can use real leaves as an outline. Just make sure they're not dried up.

Make sure that you have a clean work surface. You can see that I use tiles to work on, because the clay is easily removed from them, and wont ruin the table underneath.

I chose a Deer for my Vase because they often remind me of Fall, and Fall was the theme I was going for. Here I cut a sheet of Paper to fit the glass, and then marked on the paper where I wanted the deer to go, and drew from there.

Step 2: Getting started

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The colors listed are the ones used for the Deer .

Take 1/4 of each color( The clay is already divided out for you, just cut along the lines), except for Black, which you will need 1/2 of one bar.

Use your roller to flatten these little pieces out and place them next to each other, overlapping a small amount. It doesn't matter in which order you place the strips next to each other, because it will be completely blended by the time you are done. Fold the clay over horizontally ( so that the colors lay against themselves) and continue rolling until you can start to see the colors blend.

At this point you can determine if you want to keep this blend, keep going, or fold it a completely different way to get a different color. Here i folded it Vertically, and kept rolling, changing the fold ever time until I got something that i liked.

Step 3: Deer Time

Now comes the fun part!

*Take your flattened piece of clay, tear it in half and take one of those halves and roll it like a jelly roll( Mmm ). It doesn't have to be perfect because you're going to have to smoosh it around to get the shape you need. Just flatten it with the palm of your hand and start forming the body of the deer ( neck and chest ).

*You can lay your piece of clay against the image to make sure you're on form. ( Just don't leave the clay on the paper for an extended amount of time, because the paper will start to leach the polymer from the clay, leaving you with a dry, crumbly mess. D: )

*Take the rest of the clay and roll it into a ball by rolling it in your palms of your hands. Again, not looking for perfection. You'll want to be able to roll it into a cone next. ( Use your palm on one end of the ball to make it a cone.)

*When you line it up with the head of the deer you should notice you have quite a bit left, feel free to either pinch or cut the remainder off the cone and set it aside.

*Once you've gotten the head of the deer how you like it, you're going bring the two pieces together. Use your fingers or the knitting needle to smooth the edges to form one solid piece.

*Tear off a small piece of the left over clay and make a small rice-shape-ball with it. Then take your knitting needle ( or pencil, pen, anything with a tapered edge) and indent the clay with it. This will be the ear.  It helps to sort of round the clay almost around the point of the tool.

*Invert the ear and stick it to the side of the head of the deer. Use the point of your tool to stick it on, and then use the tip of your finger to apply pressure so its stuck on there nicely!

Step 4: Fine-tuning!


Lets give this deer some character!

* The eyes are the win.... eh, never mind.
           You can use almost anything you want here (Beads, gems, marbles,etc. Make sure it wont melt if you stick it in the oven. )And avoid light, pale colors or you'll have an undead Deer. I pushed the bead into the clay here, to make a pocket . A dab of Bake and Bond, and push the bead right back into the clay. 

*Take a little bit of the extra clay and make another rice-shaped-ball and apply it over the bead to make an eyebrow. This hides some of the edge of the bead, making it a bit more believe-able.

*I wanted the deer to be a little more decorated, and therefore couldn't leave his body plain. * You can if you want. I just added some lines to simulate wood grain, adding lots of curls and fun bits.

* The next step was optional. I didn't much like his nose so I carved out a bit of it with the blade until i like the shape.

* Turn the deer over and start adding criss-cross lines all over the back of him. This will give the "glue" something to hold onto. Again, don't push too deep or you could ruin the front of the deer.

* While the deer is still turn over, add the "glue". Add a thin line around the outside of the deer and squiggly lines inside. **Don't overdo it with the "glue" or the deer will just slide down to the bottom of the vase.

*Press the Deer onto the glass where you'll still have room to embellish above and below.



Step 5: Embellish

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Time to turn our Doe into a Buck!

Once again, I opted for a more "fanciful" look then traditional. If you like traditional, then by all means, go that route.

* Take any remaining brown clay used for the body of the deer, and a little of unmixed Copper and swirl the two together.

* Use your fingers to reduce the size of the roll. make sure to apply even pressure over the length of the roll, or it will be lumpy.

* Just keep rolling till you get the right size for the antlers.

* Once you've gotten enough pieces, start laying them out against the top of the deer. Do this one piece at a time, because once you've gotten it where you want it, you'll have to pull it up, apply the "glue" and then lay it back down. Its much easier this way, but you could put the bake and bond on first, and then lay them down. ( The baked "glue" scratches off the glass if it smeared out from under the clay)

*Keep adding your pieces this way until you are happy!



Step 6: Foliage!

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Lets cover up those odd bits!

* Start by rolling out some clay in these colors: Antique Gold, Gold, and a combo of the two or Antique and Brown. Tear off strips of these vertically, roll into a snake, and then flatten them.

* Save time by using a Scrubby Pad to indent the back of the clay. This will give the back of the clay enough texture for the "glue" to hold. ( And keeps you from having to draw criss-cross marks all over the back of these tiny strips of clay!)
    ** Don't try to cheat and use this technique on the back of your deer, or you'll lose all your hard work on the pattern.

* Once you've got the line on the front of the strip drawn ( this makes it look more reed/plant like ) add the "glue" to the back and attach to the glass. Get creative here. The more colors you have, the more dynamic the piece will be. It also keeps all the blades of foliage form blending together and looking like one big hunk of clay.

* You can curl the tips in, down, or even in a spiral to give it character. Overlapping and under lapping blades will also create depth. Just remember the clay will bond to itself, so if you make curls push them in against themselves. Keep in mind too that you don't want anything sticking out, try to keep it as close to the glass as you can. Though durable when baked, Polymer Clay can still break.

* Now's your opportunity to go crazy! Add as much foliage, as tall or short as you want; add beads, glass gems, marbles, whatever! It's all up to you. But this is the most time consuming step, because once you've fill in the spaces around the deer, you wont be able to lie the vase down anymore.
   ** If you add a glass gem or a marble, the "glue" alone wont keep it in place. You will need to create sort of an anchor for the gem. Place a dab of bake and bond on the back of the gem, press against the glass, and then wrap a coil of clay around the gem. This will keep the gem from popping off.

* I added a tree on the back because to have leaves we must have a tree.. right!? Just use more of the brown and copper swirl mix, or even brown and gold. Whatever you want! Flatten the logs like you did the leaves, press the scrubby pad in the back, and ta-dah! Insta-tree!


Step 7: Leaves!

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Don't worry, these ones you wont have to rake up!

* I used the remainder of my gold for this step. Roll it out flat, turn it over and cover the back with scrubby-pad-imprints. 

* After the back of the clay is textured, turn it back over and use your leaf cutter ( or leaf) to cut out several leaves. I had a few leaf cutters here, so I could have a variety. Once you've gotten all the leaves out of the clay that you can get, roll it up, and flatten it out again. You can keep doing this until you can no longer get at least one leaf out of it.

* Use your knitting needle or tool to draw the leaf veins in the clay. Use just a small amount of pressure to get a deep groove in the clay.

* Once you've gotten all your leaves done, turn them over, add a bit of bake and bond and apply to the glass however you see fit.

Step 8: Bake and Paint!

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Time to cook!

* Before you preheat your oven, set your oven rack to where your vase will fit without touching the sides or the heating coils. (I used my Kitchen Oven because this piece was so large.{ You can use your craft oven for smaller pieces, if you have one. Otherwise Kitchen oven is fine.})  Set the temperature for 275 F and cook for about 45 minutes.
   ** If you're going to be doing some serious baking with clay, i highly suggest you purchase a four dollar oven thermometer. This will tell you what temperature your oven is currently running at, and keep your stuff from burning!

*Let the piece cool completely before you start poking it. ( The glass was still hot an hour or two after baking, so be careful when handling ).

* Now to add the paint. This step is optional, because your piece will look fantastic with or without it. These are just regular craft acrylics, available at any craft store and are fairly inexpensive. This is a mixture of dark brown and copper/red.

* Brush on the paint mixture on anything you want to give depth to and then wipe it off. This step is best performed in small bits, so you can wipe off some of the paint while it is still wet. A sponge or paper-towel will do nicely. If the paint dries too quickly or  before you get a chance to wipe it off, a paper towel with some rubbing alcohol will remove the paint.
  ** If paint gets on the glass, don't fret, just wipe it off.

* Once you've done this on all four sides... take a breather, because you're done! Let it dry completely and find some nice flowers to fill your vase!




bajablue10 months ago

Absolutely GORGEOUS work!!!!

sabu.dawdy3 years ago
loved your work .. you made an awesome piece.. it really is a beautiful piece of work