Intro: Ladybug Earrings (Polymer Clay)
These are one of my favorite earrings I've done for my girlfriend. They are quite simple to make and they are perfect for a summer or spring outfit.
I will guide you step by step in this tutorial and I will try to leave tips and notes so that you can make a similar pair of ladybug earrings even though you may not have experience in making handmade accessories from polymer clay.
- Difficulty: 3/10.
- Time to complete: 60-70 minutes.
Step 1: Materials
- Red FIMO Classic (no. 26) 
- White FIMO Classic (no. 0)
- Black FIMO Classic (no. 9)
- Glue (example) 
- Transparent Varnish (example) 
- Silver-Plated 8mm Flat Pad (example) 
- Bullet Clutch Earrings Backs (example) 
- Tinfoil or aluminium foil 
- Art Knife (example) 
- Paintbrush 
- Piece of glass 
- Toothpick 
 I like to use surgical gloves because they are cheap, flexible, tight on your hand and doesn't leave fingerprints on your polymer clay.
 I used FIMO Classic because I had a few left over from other projects, but now Fimo Classic have been replaced with FIMO Professional. Also you can use other polymer clay's like Sculpey or Cernit.
 I personally use BISON's Universal Hobby Glue because it's cheap, transparent, strong and works good with metal and polymer clay. It glues a lot of materials like wood, glass or ceramic.
 I prefer the matte version because it offers protection against dust and water without the glowing effect, so the earrings look more natural. If you like that glowing effect, you can use the glossy one.
 I like the 8mm instead of the 10mm ones because I have other projects where a 10mm diameter is just too much.
 You can use other small earrings backs, but I like these ones because they offer a better area of support for the ear.
 I got mine from a 80% cocoa chocolate (yummy!). The tinfoil is good to place your polymer clay earrings onto because it doesn't heat when you put it into the oven.
 I like the metallic blade instead of the plastic one because I use my art knife to cut paper too and the polymer clay doesn't stick to it.
 You can choose whatever paintbrush you like: flat or round.
 The piece of glass if for kneading the polymer clay. I like glass because it's transparent and I can put sheets of paper underneath to spot impurities right away, it's rigid, the clay doesn't stick to it and it's easy to clean.
 The toothpicks are used to shape the wings of the ladybug, but you can use other tools.
Step 2: Preparing Your Work Area
Before you start working, make sure that:
- you plan ahead
- make time to think about what you need for your project (materials, tools, etc) and how much time it will take you to complete it (example: for this project 1-2 hours strait).
- a good planning saves you time and eliminates surprises along the way (like: "I don't have enough materials" or "I don't have enough time to complete it today")
- make sure you have your materials and tools close by.
- after you worked with a tool or material, put it where you found it.
- make sure you don't have dust or dirt on your work area or tools because this will affect the quality of your end product.
- also make sure you clean your tools and working area of any excess material along the way.
- tip: I use 3 pairs of gloves. One for white Fimo, one for light colors and one for dark colors.
Step 3: Making the Body
- Take the red Fimo package (no. 26). Every package is stock delimited into 8 equal segments.
- Cut a segment with a wide cutter blade and then cut that segment in half.
- You will only need one half segment for both ladybug bodies (approx. 2.5x1.5x0.7 cm) so put the other half back into the package and seal it. You can now put away the sealed red Fimo package.
- Roll the half segment into your palms until you get a nice sphere (tip: knead the fimo before you start rolling to soften it)
- Cut that sphere in half.
- Roll each half sphere into 2 little spheres (each little sphere has approx. 1.4 cm diameter).
- Gently press with your fingertips the little spheres onto the glass until you get a nice flat base and a round top.
The body of the ladybugs is almost done so put it away but keep it close by. Now it's time to turn our attention to the head of the ladybugs.
Step 4: Making the Head
This process is similar with the one for making the body of the ladybugs.
- From the black Fimo package (no. 9) cut a segment, then take 1/4 from that segment (as seen in the first picture).
- Cut the 1/4 segment in half and from those 2 halves make 2 black spheres (see the first picture).
- Note: the 2 spheres shouldn't be higher than the body of the ladybugs.
- Cut 2/3 (two thirds) from each sphere and unite them with the body of the ladybug. Gently push the head of the ladybug onto the body until you get a shape similar to the one in picture 2. You need to unite the flat side of the head with the body of the ladybug.
- there's no need for any special glue to bind the head to the body because if you push the head to the body, they will automatically stick one to each other.
- don't throw away the 1/3's that are left over from the head, we will need them in the following step.
Step 5: Making the Details
- Take the 1/3's that were leftovers from the head of the ladybug and roll them between your palm and the piece of glass until you get a long round line like the one in picture 1.
- Cut small pieces from the line and turn them into micro-spheres (approx. 1-1.5 mm diameter) as seen in the first picture.
- Gently take the micro-spheres with the tip of the art's knife blade and place them onto the body of the ladybug (picture 2).
- Press the micro-spheres onto the body of the ladybug with the side of the art knife's blade (picture 2). This way you will get a nice flat round "dot" similar with the ladybug's dots.
- Place as many micro-spheres (dots) onto the ladybug's body as you like (I prefer placing around 8 micro-spheres per body).
- Note: try not to place the micro-spheres in the middle of the body, because you will have to make the wings in the next step.
- With a toothpick, gently press in the middle of the body starting from where the head unites with the body (see picture 3). This will create a nice curve, thus making the ladybug's "wings".
- Note: be sure to have your ladybug on the piece of glass when you do this step so that the body's base would remain flat.
Step 6: Making the Eyes
- Cut a small piece from the white Fimo (no. 0) - approx 1x1x0.7 cm.
- From that piece make 4 small white spheres of around 2-3 mm diameter (2 for each ladybug).
- From the leftover black fimo from the previous step make 4 black micro-spheres of around 1 mm diameter.
- Gently take 2 small white fimo spheres with the tip of the art knife's blade and put then on the ladybug's head, as shown in the picture above.
- With the side of the art knife's blade, gently press the white spheres onto the head, until they get round and flat (similar to the process for the "dots").
- Now take the black micro-spheres and put them in the center of each small flattened white sphere (one black micro-sphere for one small white sphere).
- With the side of the art knife's blade gently press onto the black micro-sphere until it flattens. Take a look at the picture above to get a general idea of how the eyes should turn out.
Step 7: The Baking
Congratulations! Your ladybugs are almost done. Now you need to bake them so that the fimo will harden. Once they finish baking, the fimo will be hard as rock.
- Gently put your ladybugs onto the aluminium foil and put it into the oven to bake.
- Note: the aluminium foil is ideal because it doesn't heat in the oven and you can get it out with your bare fingers without getting burned.
- Check the recommendation on the package to learn how long and at what temperature your polymer clay needs to be baked.
- My polymer clay needs to be baked at 110 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes.
- Tip: If you don't have an oven which doesn't show temperature, you can cook them in a classic oven, in the middle tray, at maximum temperature, for 20 minutes if the oven isn't preheated or 15 minutes if the oven is preheated.
- Note: You can tell if the polymer clay had finished baking when it starts to smoke and has a strange smell. You if let the polymer clay for too long in the oven, it will burn and turn black and you have to make the ladybugs all over again.
- Info: Right after you take out your ladybugs from the oven, they will still be soft, but don't get fooled, they are baked. After 10-15 minutes they will cool and be hard as rock.
Step 8: Last Touches
Mounting the silver plated flat pad:
- Put a drop of glue on the flat side of the silver pad and a drop of glue on the flat side of the ladybug's body (see picture 1).
- Let the glue to rest for about 3-4 minutes.
- After the glue has rested, unite the silver pad with the ladybug's body and press firmly. Do the same thing to the other ladybug.
- Note: try to combine the silver pad with the body so that the silver pad should be concentric to the body (see picture 1).
Applying the varnish:
- Take the soft and thin paintbrush and insert it into the matte varnish
- Apply 2-3 thin layers of varnish to the ladybug, on all of it's sides, with top to bottom moves.
- Tip: wait for the first layer of varnish to dry out before applying the second layer of varnish.
- Note: in it's liquid form, the matte varnish it white, but when it dries out it will become transparent.
The varnish is optional, if you want you can leave the ladybugs as they are, without applying any layer of varnish. But if you choose to do so, the ladybugs will get dirty and in a short time they will look ugly.
I recommend using the matte varnish because it keeps the original colors of the fimo. The glossy one can hide some details in the presence of a light source.
Step 9: The Final Result
If you respected the steps of this tutorial, you should have 2 ladybugs similar with mine.
I hope this tutorial was useful to you and I await your suggestions and critics in the comments below (and why not, pictures of your completed ladybug earrings).
If you want me to continue making this kind of tutorials please let me know (the next one would be Minions earrings).