Introduction: Sea Life Triptych

About: I am an artist, author, and collector of smiling frogs.

People have a junk drawer. I have a clay drawer. I rummaged around until I unearthed some scraps of blue clay. The different shades of blue reminded me of the sea. The leftover colorful clay could become sea creatures, which of course they did!


scraps of polymer clay

clay conditioning machine

acrylic roller

12" ruler

piece of acrylic or smooth surface

thin blade/slicer

clay sculpting tools: needle end pointer, flat spear head knife, triangular blade, curved cleanup tool, rounded point tool

Sculpey gloss glaze

small paintbrush

glass baking dish (used for clay only)

oven mitt (used for clay only)

cookie rack (used for clay only)

sheet of waxed paper

3"x3" mini canvas (3 needed)


1 sheet plain paper

Step 1: Preparing Clay

Select 4 different colors of polymer clay.

Run each color though a clay conditioning machine until you have 4 thin pieces of clay as shown.

Step 2: Cutting Clay

Using a thin blade, make a square from each color of clay and cut away the excess.

Cut each of the 4 squares on the diagonal and fold to create 4 triangles.

Place the triangles as shown to form one rectangle (approximately 41/2" x 2 1/2").

Step 3: Blending Clay

Insert the rectangle into the clay conditioning machine and turn the handle to flatten clay.

Fold the flattened clay lengthwise, insert into the top of the machine, and roll again.

Repeat this process, making sure you fold the clay the same way each time, until a pleasing blend is achieved.

Step 4: Preparing Mini Canvas

Put the blended clay over a 3" x 3" mini canvas.

Using your fingers or the acrylic roller, smooth sides and corners of the canvas.

Turn the canvas over and cut off excess clay.

Step 5: Drawing Sea Creatures

Draw three 3" x 3" squares on a piece of paper.

Sketch the silhouette of a seahorse, starfish, and tropical fish.

Cut out silhouettes and place them on the canvas until you get a pleasing arrangement.

Step 6: Making the Seahorse

Roll out some clay.

Place the seahorse silhouette onto the clay and cut out.

Step 7: Adding Dimension and Details

Add clay to the seahorse clay silhouette, rounding the clay to form a three-dimensional look.

Cover the fin with a different color to make it stand out and add fin marks with the needle end pointer.

With a rounded point tool, press into the seahorse to add texture on the body.

Roll a small black clay ball for the eye. Add a smaller ball of white to put on the black eye.

Step 8: Starting the Starfish

Roll out a long log of clay.

Cut five pieces of clay into 1 1/2" segments.

Step 9: Assembling Starfish

Roll the ends of each piece into points.

With a triangular blade, cut the other end as shown to make an arrow shape.

Fit the five pieces together to form the starfish.

Step 10: Adding Details to Starfish

Roll very thin logs of clay.

To decorate the starfish, gently place the tiny pieces onto starfish using the needle end pointer.

Step 11: Making the Fish

Roll out the clay and cut around the silhouette. Remove excess clay.

Add more clay to the fish to give it a three-dimensional look. Smooth.

Step 12: Finishing Fish

Roll out long, thin logs of clay for the stripes.

Add 2 more fins (one lower fin and one over the stripes). Add trim and press lines onto the fins.

For the eye, tear off a thin blue piece of clay and place on fish. Then add a ball of black clay with a small ball of white on it.

Step 13: Adding Sea Creatures to Canvas

Place each finished sea creature on a clay-covered canvas. Gently press in place.

Step 14: Adding Sea Grass

Roll long thin logs of green. (I used two different shades of green)

Gently pull off a small piece of clay and press onto the canvas as shown.

Continue adding pieces of clay until you get the effect you want.

Step 15: Bake and Cool

Bake clay at 275 degree F for every 1/4" inch of the clay's thickness.

This project took approximately 50 minutes to bake.

Using oven mitts, carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven.

Place hot dish on a cookie sheet until the pictures are completely cool.

Step 16: Add Gloss

With a small paintbrush, apply the gloss to each canvas.

Allow to dry.

Step 17: Display Finished Project

Hang the sea life triptych on a wall or display pictures individually on small easels if desired.

Either way, you'll immediately be transported to a tropical, underwater fantasy!

Scraps Speed Challenge

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Scraps Speed Challenge