Last Christmas I wanted to make some earrings for my sister and since she loves turtles I decided that's what they should be. When I went the craft store to get earring making stuff, I spotted these sparkly, round, kind of dome shaped slider beads and thought they would make perfect shells for the turtle earrings. They ended coming out beautiful so later I decided to try again with different beads and ended up with more perfect turtles.
Here are my instructions on how to make these turtles. Depending the size of the bead they can be made into earrings, necklaces, or what ever you want them to be. The turtles can also be made into land, freshwater, or sea turtles by changing the shape of the legs and head. Here I am making a sea turtle.
1. Green and a little bit of Black Polymer Clay (I chose green but it can be which ever color you want)
2. Slider Beads (I got mine from the string bead section of Michael's)
3. Jewelry Making Supplies (I don't make jewelry often so I might have some of the names wrong so look at the image above focused on the blue sticky note for reference)
A. One Eye Pin (wire with a loop on the end)
B. Two tiny spacer beads (these will be the eyes so any really small bead should work)
C. One Jump Ring
4. A Necklace Chain
5. Super Glue
8. Polymer Clay Sealer or Clear Coat (Make sure it is Polymer clay compatible -> ask google)
9. Soft Pastels
Step 1: Choosing the Shell
The first thing you need to do is choose a shell for your turtle. What you want your turtle to be will determine the shape and size of the slider bead. Choose smaller beads for earrings and larger ones for a necklace or pendant. oval and tear drop shaped work better for water turtles and more circular ones are better for land turtles. Try to choose beads that are domed or slightly domed unless you want to make soft shelled turtles or pancake tortoises.
The most important thing is to make sure the slider bead you choose has a textured bottom. This helps make sure it securely glues to the turtle.
Step 2: Measure Out the Clay
Knead the clay until its very workable. Next your are going to roll out seven balls of clay. The size of these balls are going to depend on type of turtle and the size and shape of the bead. Mostly you just have to guesstimate how big they should be and its easy enough to add and remove some later.
The clay ball for the body should be big enough to be squished down and cover the whole bottom of the bead in about a 1/4 inch thickness of clay. Play around with the legs until you get them to about the size you want them. Since I'm making a sea turtle, the front legs are slightly larger than the rear legs. Do the same with the head and tail.
Add a tiny bit more clay to the head, tail, and all the legs because some is going to be lost in attaching them to the body. Here I usually role the legs back into balls so I can compare sizes and make sure both the front and both the back legs are the same size.
Once everything is about the right size, reshape the head, tail, and legs. Leave them all a little thicker than you want them because they will be flattened out as you attach and add texture to them.
Step 3: Putting the Turtle Together
Before you start putting the turtle together, gently flatten the body of the turtle into the shell. Be careful because you need to be able to pull it back out of the shell again without losing the imprint of the shell on the clay.
Once you are able to do this easily, you can begin assembling the turtle. flatten the body into the shell then start attaching the head, tail, and legs. Using the back of your nail, gently smooth the clay into the body until its attached. Be very careful not to put too much pressure on the body.
Now that everything is attached, you need to insert the eye pin so that the turtle can be attached to a necklace or earring.
Step 4: Attaching the Eye Pin
Now that everything is attached, you need to insert the eye pin so that the turtle can be attached to a necklace or earring. Place the eye pin on the turtle to see where it should be cut. Cut it about where it reaches the base of the neck and then using the pliers, to make a little hook on the end then flatten it. This makes it so that the pin can't just slide out of the turtle once its done.
Carefully slide the pin through the head of the turtle until only the loop is sticking out.
Step 5: Add Texture
Using a pen without the tip out, around on the turtle's legs, head, and tail to give it some scale like texture.
Step 6: Eyes
Now your turtle needs some eyes. I used tiny, thin beads I found in a jewelry making kit and pressed them in black clay to fill the centers. This gave the eyes irises and pupils. Other types of beads should work too just make sure they are oven safe.
Carefully position the eyes on the turtle and gently press them in one at a time.
Step 7: Remove the Shell and Bake the Turtle
Put a small piece of foil on a cookie sheet and preheat your oven to what ever temperature your clay says to set it to.
Before you do anything else, admire your beautiful turtle for a minute because if its going to be destroyed its going to happen in this next step.
Before the turtle can be baked you have to remove the shell. Start by very carefully pealing the turtle away from one of the edges of the shell. Keep pealing and working your way around very slowly and gently until the clay is free from the shell. Some times this is very easy and sometimes its not, either way the turtle should only be slightly misshapen when your done.
Lay the turtle down flat on the foil and reshape it to how you want it again. Try not to smooth out any of the imprints left by the shell. Once your turtle is how you want him again, try fitting the shell on. if it just slides on nicely its ready to cook if not do a little more reshaping. Don't push the shell on too hard, it should fit on nice and snug but you should still be able to remove it without squishing the turtle again.
Finally, remove the shell and bake your turtle according to your clay's directions.
As soon as your turtle is out of the oven and cool enough to touch without burning you, pop the shell back on. The clay is still a little flexible while its hot so this is a good time to make sure the shell still fits. If you aren't going to be adding color or sealer, go ahead and skip straight to step 9 now.
Step 8: Add Color to the Turtle
After the turtle was cooked and cooled, I used soft pastels and a paint brush to add some color and highlights. I used a red-brown and yellow pastels. Shave some off the sides of the pastels to make powder. Using the paint brush, dab this powder onto the turtle and swirl it a little to make it stick. Add it wherever you want to add highlights, shadows, and color.
Once the turtle is colored the way you want it, use a clear coat or sealer that is compatible with polymer clay to seal these colors on your turtle.
If you can't find a sealer that will work you can always leave your turtle the way it is and it'll be just fine.
Step 9: Glue on the Shell and Attach Earrings or Chain
Once you have your turtle baked, dried, and ready, its time to attach the shell for the final time. First see if the shell still fits without the glue. Once the shell is fitting good, remove it and smear a little bit of glue to the back of the turtle and then put the shell back on. Hold it on there for a a few seconds until the glue dries.
Be very careful not to glue your fingers to your turtle. The glue always seems to find a way out and you probably don't want a little turtle stuck to your finger forever.
After the glue has dried, you can attach your turtle(s) to the earrings or chain. Use the jump ring to attach your turtle and now you have your own fancy turtle jewelry!
Step 10: Show Off Your Homemade Made Turtle Jewelry
I hope you liked my instructable! If you make any Turtles I would love to see them so please post them here!
Thanks for reading!
Fifth Prize in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest