Intro: How-To Polymer Clay Coffee Mug Earrings
A perfect little pair of earrings for all the lovers of coffee and handmade trinkets everywhere!
These polymer clay coffee mug earrings are so fun and affordable to make.
They are very light weight, and super cute!
I think they are the perfect jump start into the world of polymer clay crafting, or at least they were for me, and I hope they can be for you too!
Step 1: Gather the Materials!
The list of things you'll need
- Wire cutters
- Round nose pliers
- 2 Earring hooks
- 2 Head pins
- 2 Small pieces of wire
- Any type of clay cutting tool or knife
- A couple of paper towels
- A ball of red clay (about 17 mm in size)
- Optional* a ball of white clay for whipped cream! (about 10 mm in size)
- A ball of brown or black clay (about 6 mm in size)
- A piece of cardboard or a tile for the baking and forming process, I've heard parchment paper will work as well.
- A small toaster oven or a regular kitchen oven will do great!
- Cup of ice water
- Sand paper (I used 400 grit, waterproof sand paper)
- Polymer clay glaze
- Soft bristle paint brush
Step 2: Conditioning the Clay
Roll it - Flatten it - Smush it - Warm it up and work it out
Conditioning the clay will make it easier for you to use!
I suggest doing the white clay first, it tends to stain very easily. Mine turned pink because I did red first, but I just rolled with it and it ended up turning out alright!
After you're all done conditioning the clay roll them back into balls for the next step!
Step 3: Cutting and Forming the Shape
Cut the small balls of white and brown clay in half and set them to the side.
Then take the red clay and roll it into a tube like shape, cut a small piece off the end and sit it aside with the other clay. (this extra clay with be for the coffee cup handles in Step 4)
Keep rolling and shaping the red clay until you get a feel for the right thickness and shape that you'd like to have for your mugs!
After that, take your cutting tool and cut right in the middle of the tube, it's ok if it isn't perfect! Roll both pieces and make sure they look the way you want them to.
Step 4: Adding the Coffee
Note* if you'd like to add whipped cream on top of your coffee mugs it's ok to skip this step!
Sit both pieces of red clay aside for a moment and grab the two small balls of brown clay.
Roll both pieces around and then gently smush them down on whatever kind of flat surface that you're using, this should make them both into flat circle shapes.
Pick which end you'd like to use as the top of your mug, then take your clay cutting tool and use the edge of it to scrape up one of the flat brown circles and place it on top of one of the mugs.
Do the same with the other one as well, and try to aim for the middle. After that roll and flatten them out until the brown clay is smoothed into the red and they are back to the coffee mug shape that you'd like to have!
Step 5: Making the Handles
This part always seems to be a bit tricky, but there will be extra clay so if you mess up it's totally cool to start over, however many times it takes to get it to look the way you like it!
Grab the two small pieces of wire from the group of materials.
Then start rolling out the small ball of red clay that was put to the side in step 3. Making it into a long thin rope, try to aim to make it two to three times thicker than the two small pieces of wire you have.
Once that's done take your cutting tool and cut two small pieces of the red clay rope, making them a few millimeters shorter than the wire, take the small piece of clay in one hand and the wire in the other and slowly push the wire through one end of the clay, kind of like stringing a bead. Push it through until the clay is in the middle and both ends of the wire are sticking out.
Holding both ends of the wire and gently bend them until they resemble a small U shape, you can push the clay around slightly as well, if the wire at both ends seems too long you can cut them down to make them shorter. But leave enough to ensure that it will stick into the side of the coffee mug and be able to stay securely.
Take the small U shaped clay and gently push it into the spot of the mug where you'd like your handle to be, how does it look?
It's alright to take the handle back off to make adjustments or if it wasn't placed in the right spot!
Step 6: Placing the Head Pins/ Adding Whipped Cream
Grab the two head pins from the group of materials and slowly push one of them up through the bottom of one of the coffee mugs, aiming for the middle, and then do the same with the other one.
Optional* If you want whipped cream now is the time to do it!
Right after placing the head pins through the middle of your coffee mugs set them down and start rolling out both balls of white clay into a thin rope, about the same size or slightly smaller than the rope we made for the coffee mug handles.
Grab one end of the white clay rope and place it on the out side rim of one of the mugs, slowly rotate the mug and push the white clay into place simultaneously making a whipped cream look, push it down and shape it carefully with your finger tips.
Once you're finished placing the head pins and adding the whipped cream, stand them up on whatever material you choose to bake them on.
Give them one last over look, if you see anything that is out of place it will be easier to fix it now than it would be to try and fix it after they get done baking!
Step 7: Baking Time!
Ok! Now that your tiny coffee mugs are finished and sitting on the material you chose to bake them on they are ready to be put them into the oven!
Note* make sure to check and be sure the brand of clay you're using doesn't have different baking instructions.
I put my little coffee mugs in a small toaster oven for 30 minutes at 275°f
Make sure they aren't in the oven longer than 30 minutes or the amount of time it says on your clay package, burning your tiny master pieces is never fun!
Once the earrings are done in the oven, it's time for the next step!
Step 8: Ice Bath
I bet the little coffee mugs are super hot, so it's time to cool them down a bit.
Get a small glass of ice water and an oven mitt or towel so you don't burn your hands while you get them out of the oven and plop them into the cup of water.
They may seem to stick a little to the material you baked them on, if so you can take a free hand and grab the top of the head pins and give them a pull in the right direction.
It doesn't take long for them to cool off once they are in the ice water so you don't have to leave them in there for more than a minute or two.
Step 9: Optional* Sanding
See any imperfections?
You can fix them!
I use 400 grit water proof sand paper and it seems to work quite well.
Get your coffee mug and sand paper wet, and then start sanding!
Run both the mug and sand paper over water (or dip them in) occasionally to keep the little bits of clay dust from getting in the way of being able to see your progress and what parts of the mug you're sanding on.
Step 10: Loop and Hook
Grab your round nose pliers, wire cutters and the earring hooks!
Pick up one of the coffee mugs and hold it tightly close to the top, firmly but cautiously take the end of the head pin and fold it over so it's bent at a 90° angle.
Take your wire cutters and cut the head pin so there are a few millimeters left to make a loop, try to cut both of them at about the same length so you can have the same size loops. You can make them longer depending on the size of loops you'd like to have.
Then take the round nose pliers and hold the end of the bent wire tightly with them and slowly turn it with your wrist, you can help guide where the end of the wire goes with your other hand by slightly adjusting the coffee mug as you form the loop with the pliers.
If your head pin breaks while in the process of making the loop, take your wire cutters and grab the bottom of the broken head pin to pull it out and then you can replace it with a new one!
After you're finished making the loops take your pliers and open the loops on the earring hooks and link them together. Make sure the loops are all tightly closed!
Note* If you'd like to you can wait to do this step after you glaze the mugs (in the next step). I was impatient so I went ahead and did it but having the long end of the head pin to hold may make the process of glazing them slightly easier. Round the end with your pliers so you can still hang them up to dry after you finish glazing them!
Step 11: Finishing Touches
Note* The glazing step is also optional, but I do believe it gives them a bit more protection from the oh so hard life of being a pair of super cute earrings. Plus having shiny things is always great, in my opinion. ;)
Grab the glaze and a paint brush
Find a good place you can hang your coffee mugs to dry after they have been glazed, I used my coffee mug stand that I keep in the kitchen. But you could use a cork board or a straw balanced between two cups, really any kind of place they can hang is great!
Add a couple of coats of glaze to your earrings with a soft bristle paint brush (if you don't have one with soft bristles, I bet a regular paint brush would do just fine.)
Glazing your earrings gives them a nice and shiny finished look, feel free to put on as many coats as you'd like to, letting each coat dry for at least 30 minutes before adding another. The suggested amount is about two coats, but personally I only add one thick coat of glaze and it seems to get the job done!
After that, hang your freshly glazed earrings up to dry for 24 hours and then wear them until your hearts content!
Thanks for reading my first jewelry making tutorial!
Made with love, by Brittany Hadley, owner of Strings Attached Jewelry.