Easy Polymer Clay Silkscreen Earrings for Beginners | Kathy Austin | Skillshare

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Easy Polymer Clay Silkscreen Earrings for Beginners

teacher avatar Kathy Austin, Owner of Bits of Joy

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Supplies and Prep

    • 4. Silkscreen Basics

    • 5. Paint, Clean, and Dry

    • 6. Cutting and Baking

    • 7. Glaze and Assemble

    • 8. Bonus Projects

    • 9. Closing Remarks

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About This Class

In this class, you’ll learn best practices on how to use silkscreens! This class is for anyone who wants to learn a new technique to use on polymer clay. By learning how to use silkscreens, your creative possibilities are endless. You can make so many different patterns and combinations by mixing different paint colors and clay colors to create fun looks for any holiday or season!

These skills can also be applied to make larger items like magnets and coasters. They would make great gifts!

Aside from basic polymer clay tools, you will also need some acrylic paint, silkscreens, and something to spread the paint with (if you don’t have a squeegee or paint scraper, you can even use an old credit card!)

Meet Your Teacher

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Kathy Austin

Owner of Bits of Joy


Hi! I'm Kathy and the owner of Bits of Joy!

Bits of Joy was founded in 2011 and is a small business featuring handmade polymer clay products! My favorite things to make are miniatures, food & dessert charms, and kawaii characters! 

Connect with me on any social media platform, shop supplies, and find out more here: https://linktr.ee/bitsofjoy

I was recently featured on H&R Block's Female Founders series. Read my article here!

                                                                       Photo by Holly Beasley.

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Kathy and I am the owner of bits of joy. I make and sell cute, creative and custom polymer clay products to people all around the world. I'm best known for my Hawaiian magnets sets, earrings, and ornaments. I have been working with polymer clay for 10 years now. It's a versatile medium that allows me to make just about anything I can picture in my head my favorite things to make, our food items and desserts. I've also been in online ESL teacher since 2017. So my experience in teaching online will ensure that you'll have a fun and engaging class. In today's class, you'll learn how to make easy and beautiful polymer clay silkscreen earrings. This class is great for beginners who have never tried silk screening before, or for more advanced and intermediate clay makers who want to learn a new technique, you may be familiar with the concept of silk screening. If you've ever bought a tote bag or a t-shirt with a fun printed paint design on it. Screening is very similar to screen printing. Silk screens are extensively method in which you gently force paint through mesh onto a surface. Silkscreens allow you to embed designs onto your clay in just a few seconds instead of spending your precious time hand painting designs over and over again. There are so many things that you can make with silkscreens. You can use them on fabric, ceramics, glass, wood, paper, walls, metal, and even stone. But one of my favorite projects is making earrings and experimenting with different colors of clay and paint. Let's get started. 2. Class Project: If your clay hearing designs need an extra boost or you want to instill a little more life into your designs, try adding silkscreens. They are reusable, easy to use, and feature very intricate designs that are hard to replicate with clay alone. So extremes are a time-saver because you don't have to create these patterns yourself. They golf, they give off of very professional look and are versatile. You can mix and match designs, use more than one color and experiment with different types of clay colors for even more looks. Before you begin, make sure you have a clean workstation with everything prepared, you will need quick access to a stink. Make sure to grab paper towels and have your paint colors and clay picked out ahead of time. By the end of this class, you'll be familiar with this silk screening process on polymer clay. You'll also have a few finished pair of earrings that you can sell where for yourself or give to a friend or a family member. I can't wait to see what you create. Please share your favorite silkscreen earrings with me in the class project gallery. Of course, you'll probably have some leftover non-matching pieces. But don't worry, I'll share a few projects you can make with your leftover clay pieces. 3. Supplies and Prep: Let's go over what you'll need for this class. Please see the project and resources section for a list of supplies if you prefer, or paper handout. Today you'll need to pick your favorite colors of clay. It doesn't matter which brand you use. You'll also need some earring findings and jump rings, as well as some pliers. You'll also need silk screens, of course. Some paints. And a rubber or plastic squeegee or an old credit card. You'll also need a paintbrush and some varnish to glaze your pieces. As well as an exact dough knife, a handrail, and some cutters. You can use metal shaped cutters, plunger style cutters, or even 3D printed cutters. Now let's talk paint. I highly recommend using heavy body acrylic paint. My preferred brand is plaid folk art sign shop, acrylic stencils and paint. This provides more coverage than thinner, watery paints and is easier to use. Make sure that you are using acrylic paint for this project. I've also provided a list of places where you can purchase silkscreens. Please know that I have not purchased from all of these suppliers or sellers and they are purely recommendations. I've seen. I am not responsible for any damages or problems that may arise if ordering from the sellers and have no direct affiliation with any of them, you can find a list of these sellers in the project and resources section. Let's begin by looking over our silkscreens and deciding what you want to make. Think about your overall aesthetic. Do you want to make statement earrings with bold Aztec designs? Or do you want to make something simple, understated like polka dots? How big or small do you want your earrings to be? Feel free to sketch out some designs if it helps you visualize your creation. Think about the shapes you'd like to create and grab some cutters or freehand it. Today we'll be using cutters to keep the process easy. 4. Silkscreen Basics: In this next part of our class, we'll be talking a little bit about silk screens. Silkscreens can be found at a variety of retailers and small shops online. They usually range from about ten to $15 per design and come in a variety of sizes. Think about what you'd like to make before purchasing. If you are making earrings, it may be better to purchase smaller, more intricate screen, silkscreen designs over those with larger graphics that may not fit your desired earrings. Xyz silkscreens are created with a fine mesh fabric and can be used for many years if cared for properly. Make sure to follow the manufacturer. Care instructions that come with your silkscreens. Silkscreens can be used with a variety of mediums on clay, including acrylic paint and mica powders today will be using acrylic paint. I like the Folk Art, permanent central paint. The most important tip I have to give you is to make sure that you wash your silk screen as soon as possible after you are done using it, you do not want your powders or paints to clog your fine mesh as it will affect future prints. You can also damage your silk screen. If the paint dries. Use cold water. Silkscreen should not be rubbed or scrubbed with any abrasive cleaners. The best way to clean the screens is to lay the silk screen back on the plastic backing. It comes on and rinse it with a kitchen sink spray nozzle. I like to have mine on a paper towel afterwards, then dry it back on the provided plastic screen. If you do not have immediate or easy access to a sink, you can leave a bowl of clean cold water to the side and gently soak your silk screen in it until you are able to get to, uh, think. Also, staining is normal, especially with darker paints. So you can see here that I used black. This should not affect future Prince if cleaned properly, but do know that staining is normal. 5. Paint, Clean, and Dry: Next up, grab your unbaked clay and roll it out using your acrylic roller or pasta machine. Today I'll be using my acrylic roller to flatten out the clay. And then I will send it through my pasta machine. Think about the thickness you'd like to use for your earrings. I usually like to make mine at least two to four millimeters thick. Once you lay your clay out flat and sure that any air bubbles are pot or smoothed out. If you find an air bubble, you can use a sharp dotting tool or a needle and then smooth out your clay. You can also apply firm but steady pressure with your fingers. This step is important because it allows you to ensure the paint goes onto the clay where you want it and it doesn't leak through the rest of the design. Once you lay your clay out flat and ensure that any air bubbles are popped or smoothed out. We are going to burnish our silk screen onto the clay. So first off, peel off the plastic backing. The silk screen will be slightly sticky. Go ahead and set your silkscreen on top of your clay and burnish it well with your finger. This step is important because it allows you to ensure the paint goes onto the clay where you want it and it doesn't leak through the rest of the design. When you're ready, grab your paint and you're spreading tool. Apply a thin line of paint onto the top of your silk screen. And scrape the paint with medium pressure onto your silk screen. Try to make sure that your layers are even. And you're also able to go over sections as needed. Apply firm but gentle pressure. Once you're done, gently peel away the silkscreen from the clay. I find it best to start at a diagonal corner. Look how beautiful this design is. Once you're done with your silk screen cleaning. If you need to go ahead and put a paper towel and then put it immediately onto the plastic backing and let it dry. 6. Cutting and Baking: After about 10 minutes, your silk screen should be dry to the touch. As long as you're not getting any paint on your fingers, you should be also good to go. Now for this next part, think about what you would like to make. Do you want to make big statement, earrings, something small and dainty. This will help determine what kind of cutters you'll use today. I think I'm going to use a circle. And maybe these teardrops. When you're ready, grab your cutters and start gently pressing your shapes into the clay. You can use a small twisty motion if needed, to help release the clay. Next step, I'm going to use some 3D printed cutters. Now I'm going to angle this a little bit differently. That way I can try to use up more of the excess space. We're going to do two of these. Do one right here and another one right here. There's some extra space here, so we'll use a skinny one here on the end, and then one right below it. I have a little bit of room left here. So I'm going to take this cute Aztec shape here and do another one right next to it. I'm also going to take a plunger and use up the small spaces. Okay, right about now we have the majority of our silkscreen slab cut. There's maybe about an inch and a half of space, which may not be enough for full cutters. So what we can do is use our excess space and make stud earrings. I like to use up as much clay as possible. That way I don't waste anything. Don't worry about matching things up right now. We'll be doing that after our pieces bake. For now, just try to use up as much of that extra space as you can. Right now, I am using a plunger tool. And I think I can make two more circles here. Now that I've cut a few circles out, I'm noticing that there's some extra space in between my shapes that I previously. So I'm going to use up those areas with a small plunger. And it looks like I can make two more. What we'll do now is gently peel away our way. Don't worry about the scraps just yet. Go ahead and just put them off to the side. If you need. You can also use an exacto knife to help lift a smaller areas. You guys are doing great so far. Don't forget to upload a picture of your finished cut pieces before assembling them to the project gallery, I'd love to see what you create. So next up we're going to peel some of our pieces off of our title. If you notice that there are some jagged edges, what you can do is smooth it out with your finger. Or if necessary, you can always take your exact dough knife and help press down or trim off any excess clay that you see or don't want. You can also use your exact dough knife to help lift your shape if it's stuck. Go ahead and transfer these over to your baking sheet. Once all of your clay pieces are loaded onto your baking tray, go ahead and preheat your oven to about 275 degrees. You'll bake your pieces for about 30 minutes. In the next part of the class will be assembling and finishing our earrings. 7. Glaze and Assemble: All right, friends. Once you take your pieces out of the oven, go ahead and let them cool for at least 20 minutes. Make sure they're cool to the touch. And go ahead and match up your shapes. So here are the big leaf droplets I made that little Aztec designs, the chevrons from our scraps, some circles and these little guys here will be made into sets of studs. So before we do anything, we are going to varnish our pieces before we start drilling holes and assembling them. And that's because this paint will sometimes scratch off if they are not sealed. I have tested a number of varnish and Diego art Americana dura clear gloss varnish is by far my favorite. It's Apollo urethane gloss varnish that brushes on very thinly. I usually do about two coats, the front, two coats on the back, and then two coats on the side. And I like to wait about five or ten minutes in between coats to make sure that everything is completely dry. And once you varnish your pieces, they should be pretty scratch resistant. To varnish your pieces. Go ahead and get a piece of scrap plastic, plastic plate, or even a sheet of paper. Open your varnish and pour a couple drops onto your surface. Grab a paintbrush and go ahead and gently start brushing the surface. Your clay pieces. You don't need to do a heavy coat. Because we are going to be doing two coats. Now sometimes it's really difficult to glaze small pieces. So what I like to do is take some scrap clay, press it down onto my surface and push the clay pieces that are finished on top of them. And this allows you to glaze your pieces. Without these little pieces shifting everywhere. Once your earrings or dry, go ahead and drill your earring holes and match them up as best as you can. Assemble your earrings using pliers. Make sure to share your finished projects with me in the class project gallery. I can't wait to see what you create. If you go ahead and notice that some of your pieces aren't perfect or there's some jacket clay sticking out. Don't worry about it at all. Go ahead and grab a sheet of sandpaper and gently sand your sides. When assembling studs, make sure to sand the back of your clay piece, as well as the earing posts itself. Wipe those off and add here using your preferred brand of glue. 8. Bonus Projects: Now you may be wondering, what do I do with all of this scrap clay? Do I have to throw it away? And I like to do is repurpose my clay scraps from my silk screen earrings and two more earrings. So with today's color palette, I went with black and white. I have some silver leaf foil that I think would go really well and complement these colors. So what I'm going to do is mix in some silver leaf. Now because I used permanent acrylic paint, I am unable to wash off this design. If you are using paint that might be washable, you may be able to wash the paint off of your clay and reuse it for another project. Now you'll be able to see that I mixed in the silver leaf foil. And it actually blends in really nicely with the white. So you can't even tell that there was a pattern in there before. I think it would look really cute to use chevrons for this. So I'm going to go ahead and cut in a few chevron shapes. And again, this is kind of like making cookies. So try to use up as much space as you can so that you don't have to re, roll your dough or in this case, your play. If you don't want to roll your sheets flat. Another thing that you can do is create a clay cane with your scraps. Another thing you can do is take your scraps and rolling until a long or a square shape. And then simply slice through it like a cane. Roll another sheet of clay out and put your cane slices on top of your slab. When you're done using up your clay. You can go ahead and roll this through the pasta machine and then cut your shapes. Okay, so now that I have rolled out my scrap clay onto another sheet of clay, I think this looks really cool. So it kind of reminds me like a galaxy, night sky. So I'm adding some Micah powders. Before I cut shapes into this. Pretty, let's go ahead and repurpose these into star magnets instead of earrings. So what I'm gonna do is take my cutters, use up as much space as possible and cut. So here are a few of our bonus projects. Remember earlier in today's class, I mashed up some silver leaf foil and ran it through clay make pasta roller. I cut some chevrons out and I assembled these really neat pairs of earrings here. I also created another secondary slab from the Chevron scraps, added some Micah powder and created these really cool stars. 9. Closing Remarks : Take a look at our project hall. These are all of the earrings that we created with our polymer clay silk screening technique. I hope you had fun. Thank you so much for joining in my class today. Today we learned about the basics of silk screens, where to get them, how to use them and some do's and don'ts. We also talked about what we need to do to ensure a smooth as silk screening process. We applied our silk screen onto our clay and brainstorm designs while our paint dried. And once our paint was dry, we created really cute shapes. We also learned how to prepare our pieces for baking and varnished, our clay pieces. With all of our pieces, we made really pretty earrings and we also had some leftover pieces that turned into some bonus projects. I can't wait to see what you create. Please share your favorite silkscreen earrings with me or your bonus projects in the class project gallery. Thank you so much for watching. If you're on Instagram, please tag me at, at bits of joy crafts and I'll re-post your project on my stories. If you enjoyed today's class, please check out my other Skillshare classes including how to make polymer clay GO dangle earrings.