Polymer Clay: A Beginners Guide to Clay Wall Art | Ryann Scrafford | Skillshare

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Polymer Clay: A Beginners Guide to Clay Wall Art

teacher avatar Ryann Scrafford, take me on all your adventures

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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

5 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Polymer Clay Wall Art Introduction

    • 2. Class Materials

    • 3. Create Your Wall Art

    • 4. Creating Clay Bells

    • 5. Bonus: Creating Clay Earrings

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About This Class

In this class, surface designer and illustrator Ryann Scrafford will take you away from your typical medium of choice and take you step-by-step through the process of creating a beautiful piece of polymer clay wall art.  This class is beginner-friendly with a conscious effort to minimize the number of supplies you need to run out and buy.  Outside of your polymer clay most items used can be found in your home or local craft store (psst...you may even be able to snag it all in a Target run)!  The wall art pieces you will create are a perfect way to take a creative break from your typical creative process while creating something that you'll love, or even gift to a friend.  Follow along and make the exact pieces or create something of your own, either way, let's get our hands moving, our creative juices flowing, and make some stunning art in a few short hours!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ryann Scrafford

take me on all your adventures


Hello, I'm Ryann. I’m a firm believer that our surroundings not only influence the person we become but have the ability to provide us with a sense of boldness, wonder, and inspiration.  For those who know me, there is no question that I have my own unique style and have always sought out products that I felt were a representation of me.  Growing up in Salt Lake City I spent the majority of my time in the mountains and desert where I developed a deep love for both.  I headed off to Philadelphia for college where I earned my degree in Design and Merchandising and just as easily fell in love with the color, sounds, and bustle of the city.  When I created Charlie Rowan Designs my love for all three of these environments was infused into my design... See full profile

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1. Polymer Clay Wall Art Introduction: I'm Ryan's referred, I am a surface designer and illustrator. And while today's class is completely different than those two things, typically I'm working digitally or with paints and paper or ink and paper. Today I were gonna do a palm your class, this is polymer clay. It's easy to find, it's easy to use. I kept the supply is really simple so that this is attainable for any money. You don't need to go out a bunch of things in order to get started. The idea of this class is really just to explore your creativity in a different medium. It's also, if you're stuck, this is a thing that I use all the time. I step away from the medium I'm used to using in my professional life. And I just do something different so I can get those creative juices flowing. And this is also a great class for a lady's night. Or even forgetting the pieces we're going to make are taken from inspiration from anthropology, are now betters. West Elm, those types of stores. They look great in your home. There really artwork that you'll want to keep around. So it's a fun class. These projects will be broken up lesson by lesson. Each one is just a couple of hours you can complete from start to finish. And I really just hope you find value in them and are able to get your creative juices flowing or nothing else. Have a really fun creative afternoon. 2. Class Materials: In this class we're going to make a wall hanging using our polymer clay and then some basic items. A lot of these things you'll probably already have on hand. And you're welcome to improvise with anything you might have. So to start with, I've got some rope here. You could also use twine or leather. I have a dowel, but again, you could use a branch or a stick, whatever you prefer. I also have this plastic straw. You could use an acrylic roller. Probably want to stay away from your wood roller that you use for food, but this just helps me smooth out the clay. Have an exact dough knife for cutting, and then I just have a basic colored pencil for punching a hole into the clay and smoothing that out. So the butter knife I have here is just an old butter knife I like to use for texturizing. And then these circular punches are just different sizes. Again, you can use whatever you have around the house, a lid, a soda bottle cap, anything like that, will work just fine. And then you'll also want obviously your polymer clay. I have this sculpture a three here, but you're welcome to use any brand, the scope E3 I picked because it's the most easy to find. You can find it at any local craft store. Target sometimes halves it, Joanne's or Michael's. There are other people who use Palmer regularly and we'll recommend using the souffle or the primo of these. But honestly, I think for just diving in, it really is about what you have access to and what you can easily find. So in terms of clay, use what works for you, test things out and then you'll also want parchment paper. You don't have to have parchment paper, but it just makes it easier for clean up and getting things into the oven. Um, and I just prefer to use it, so that's all the supplies you'll need. I've also created a supply list that you can find in the class projects. So if you have any questions, feel free to rewind or take a look at the list. Like I said, this should be easy and stress-free. So use what you have around the house. Pick up the clay that you can find in your craft store, and let's get started. 3. Create Your Wall Art: Let's dive in, in this class, I'm going to show you how I made this wall hanging out of the polymer clay and simple rope. As you can see, I love texture, I love organic looking beings. I use white clay to give it more of an earth tone, neutral feeling. Get as creative as you want. And remember that this is about having fun and exploring your creativity, everything we learned in this class, you could also use to make this sort of wall hanging. This is a little bit different than the other one, but again, simple shapes, nice textures, just using Clay wrote. This one is mounted using a stick. So let's go ahead and dive in. The first thing we're going to need to do for our project is gathered some inspiration. Pinterest is obviously a great place to start, but also I recommend looking at your favorite home decor sites as you'll find some good ideas for what shapes you're drawn to and the arrangement of the shapes. But I also recommend that you get out a paper and pencil and start playing around with layout. Before I start, I like to quickly just sketch some ideas of what I'm thinking. For me. Wall hanging so that I have a game plan. Before I even get started. What I wanna do, I wanna do something like that. If I want something like this. I mean, really, you just want to start playing with different shapes and get an idea before you start working with your clay. And we could do like little tassels, don't hear something. My rope. The other thing is you'll want to decide. Some wall are I'm sure you've seen will be like this. And then I'll just have the hook there. And then there could be like a rainbow shape. And then the hooks. In some sort of shape, this is really bad. So that's just if you're going to want to use hooks to hook it together or if you're going to want to use your rope to do it. You don't want to think about how you want to do that, how big the hole is going to be that you punch there? You'll either need it big enough for the hook or for your rope. So make sure you plan that in advance. Could also do one that just uses the dowel or the stick and has a bunch of circles hanging off of it. That different like textured circles, tiny circles. These would be like just rings that aren't filled in that circle and fill, fill that whole space up. Anyway. And then this you could decide where to tie your rope if you want to hang it that way or you could just hang it with nails here and set it on it. But there's all sorts of fun shapes you could do. You could do something really cool like this and do the like holes here. And just like your rope, loose frayed ends down here. And then off of this, you could do I mean, really anything. And you can just keep it simple like that. Do something like that. A lot of people are doing rainbows, which are great. And this would be like one role of clay right there, another raw clay right here, and then another row of clay right here. And you could even, you'll want to put a hole here so that you could hang it. However you hang it. And then you could even dangle like cute little like almost palm, palm S off of here. Or you could do like little quote, you could do a cloud that might be kinda cool. Instead of doing those may be dangle something off. That's kind of a funky Cloud. But let's see. And things like that. Anyway, you're gonna wanna take a minute and sketch out your design. So go ahead and do that. And then when you have an idea, we'll get going with our clay. Okay, so after doing a bunch of different sketches and shapes, I'm really leaning towards these like different ones. I think I might do something like this. Will go with or something like that. I'm going to start here, I think, and see how it starts to go. So next step, after I know what I'm doing is I'm gonna get my clay from the Open it up and I'm going to start needing it. So I've gone ahead and sped this up for you. But I just take my piece of clay and I'm going to work it back and forth. You want to watch out for air bubbles. I usually do one block at a time. It's just easier for me to handle. You just want to make sure that your clay is soft and ready to work with. Now I'm just rolling the clay out again. I'm just using my plastic straw. I'm really get to about an eighth of an inch, but you can have it as thick as you want. I probably wouldn't recommend going much thinner just so it doesn't break. Now that the clays rolled out, I'm just going to use this coffee mug as a template for a circle. I'm going to cut it out with my exacto knife and then you'll just see me year smoothing the edges down. I'd take that strong kind of roll it around it or use my fingers to press it. I'm not overly concerned about getting it super smooth as I like variation in the clay. Next, I'm just taking the clay and rolling it out. When you do this, I recommend using the palms of your hands so you don't get fingerprints and I'm just kind of molding it and shaping it. These are going to be the arches. So you'll see I'm just kind of elongating it here. If you roll with your palm versus your fingerprint fingers, you won't get in dense as you roll. And then I'm just pressing it out because again, I like that texture. I like it to be dips and valleys in the clay. And then I'm just going to make another piece of clay here again to mirror what I just did so that I can have a bottom arch as well. And then I know when I was showing you my sketches, I said I was going in a different direction, but as I got working with the clay, they shapes. We're curious to me, I was curious about these. They looked interesting and so I just kind of went with it. So you'll see me here trying to figure out the placement of where I want that circle to fall within the arches. And then I'm just going to press down the clay and mirror what I did on the other side. Once I have it where I think I want it, I am going to take this butter knife and put some textures. In, again, it's just a nice way. A hides your imperfections. You don't have to worry about having a really smooth surface. But it also makes the piece a little more interesting. I'm going to do the same thing, a different type of design and just pressing the knife in around this and giving it, it's almost like a confetti in print when you look at this. But again, I've spent sped this up for the sake of time that you really just want to take your time and play with your clay. And if it doesn't work, you can always roll it back up into a ball and start again. Once I have all this texture and I kind of look over it and make sure it feels balanced. The next thing I do is I take my pencil and I am putting a hole for my rope. So big thing you wanna do here is make sure that the whole is large enough to fit your rope through. I'm using a smaller one, which I wish I hadn't have done in hindsight on these sides, I was a little worried the pencil was going to push the clay through. And originally I thought I was going to use these rings. But as you'll see when the piece comes out of the oven, I went in a different direction. So again, Azure building, you'll want to be aware of how big of a hole you need to connect your clay pieces together. It's not the end of the world. You can always change it on the fly, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. Now we're ready to bake our claims. So we're just going to transfer the parchment paper onto our baking sheet. And then, depending on how thick your quiz, you'll bake it for every quarter inch. They say about 10 to 15 minutes. So you'll just want to keep an eye on it and you bake it at 275. And then I always bake it a little under than I think and give it time to cool. And it usually seems to harden anywhere in the range of ten to 30 minutes based on what I'm making. Once your clay comes out of the oven and cools, you're ready to attach the pieces. You can see originally I was going to use these gold jump rings that are sitting here. But once I put them on, I realize I needed to on each side and I just aesthetically didn't really love the way that looks. So I tried out the white embroidery thread and I'm wrapping it through three times. You can kinda see me struggling getting the needle through this whole. Again, that's why I strongly suggest that while you're making your pieces, you ensure that the whole is large enough to get to whatever material you're using through just makes your life easier. Here. I'm just going to tie it off on the back and trim these threads as you're never that sense, it'll sit against the wall. Next step is just taking my rope and attaching my center circle with my rope. This step seems to take me longer than probably it would take most people, but I really like to play with it and see what kind of not I want to use, how I want to adjust it. I always take off the end so that they don't fray while I'm working with it. And then I'll just kind of play around with it. I'll play with the positioning. I'll play with how I like the rope draped over the top. What kinda not. Typically, I will do some sort of slipknot at the top just because I don't usually have a specific spot in mind that I want to hang the piece and this gives me some flexibility as I can adjust it up and down and then I'll just not it here and Fray the ends. I also decided that I thought if I frayed the rope and replace that embroidery string with a rope I was using. You can see here it just gives it more cohesive look and felt a little more natural to the piece than that white embroidery string. So as you're going along, don't hesitate to make changes. And it's just part of the process and see what you come up with. Let's take out the piece on the wall. I added this additional rope detail to help balance it. Sometimes you're just not going to notice things like that until it's on the wall. So don't hesitate to make any last minute adjustments. That is it for this video. I hope you love your wall hanging. And as always, I'd love to see it in the class projects, so be sure to post it. In the next video. We're going to do one more wall hanging. So I hope to see you over there. 4. Creating Clay Bells: In this class, I'm going to take you step-by-step in learning to make these wall bells. They're made out of clay, so obviously they're not going to read, but they're a wonderful visual piece to add to your space and a great creative exercise. So let's dive in. For this lesson. We'll be using the same materials we used for the last. So you'll want your polymer clay of choice. Again, I'm using the skull be three and this is about two of those small blocks that I'll need for this project. Something circular to use to punch out or trace whatever rope or courting new bike, a hole punch and then again something to roll your clay out with. I'm using this reusable plastic straw, but you can use anything you like, your exacto knife and then something like a butter knife to make some interesting textures with. And I always like to use parchment paper as well. So we're going to go ahead and dive in. You're just going to start meeting and warming up your clay. Again. The more you need it, the easier it becomes to work with that. Just be aware of air bubbles and try your best not to get those and pop them if you see them. We're just going to roll our clay into a ball and then we're going to use our thumbs and basically start making up pinch pot. If you made those when you were a child. But we're just going to push our thumb in and gently push between our thumb and our fingers as we stretch the clay upward. You'll just want to be aware that you don't punch a hole through the top of what would be your bell. And then you can see I'm just kind of smoothing it out, looking for any imperfections, getting it as, even as i 1, again, I like my pieces to look organic. And so I'm not overly worried about inconsistencies. I'm just gonna go ahead and put a little texture into the bell. I like the depth it gives the piece. And again, it kind of helps hide any of those flaws and make them look more intentional. So you can see, I'm doing this like half-moon shape again, but really the options are endless, so don't hesitate to use different tools and see where it takes you. Once you've settled on a texture that you like, you're going to flip your bell over and punch the hole for your courting. You'll see me here kind of just smoothing out the clay around where the hole was punched. And then as always, double, triple check that your courting will fit through because it's fixable now, but as you get further along and bake it, it won't be fixable. The next step is we're just going to roll out another piece of clay to use as the round disc that will hang inside of the bell. So you can see I'm just working it back and forth, popping any air bubbles that are eyes and smoothing this out. And then I'm gonna take my circular cutout and cut this out with my exacto knife. Smooth out your edges again, rolling it out. Again. This doesn't need to be perfect, so just get it to a spot where you like. And then I'm going to add some texture here. I'm doing a repeat of what I did on those arches and kind of doing that confetti. I wanna do this on the front and the back because I'm not sure which side will hang when the bell hangs and it just gives it a little more flexibility. After I do that, I'm going to need to also punch my holes in this piece. So I am not concerned about making this as big as the other hole on the bell because I'm going to do something a little different with a rope where I'm going to string it through as it's frayed. So after that, we're ready to go on. I'm making a second bell here. We're going to repeat the same steps this time I'm doing the inside disk first and I'm going to do instead of a solid circle, I'm gonna do more of a ring. So I'm just used my circular piece to trace that. It's a little larger as I'm pressing down and getting some of that texture that I like, the flat and the ridges. And then I just keep trying it inside this other bill because I know my second bell will be similar in size. So here we go with making our second bells. Same thing. We're going to roll a nice smooth ball. Again, press r thens, and we're going to work this just like a pinch pot, pressing and stretching it out. As you watch here, I'm kind of stretching this and realizing as I'm doing it, it's getting pretty thin and also pretty wide and that's because of the hand and I'm holding the claim is pretty loose and letting that clay stretch out. They don't really love the wide belt. So don't be afraid to start again. Just crumple it up, roll your smooth ball again and you can start over. That's the beautiful thing about polymer clay as you get second shots. So we're just going to roll it out, pinch it out. Again. You can see I'm cutting my hand titer which will give it a tighter, more elongated shape than not wide stretched out. Once I get to the bell to a spot I'm happy with I'm checking my inside circle again, it needs to be a little bit smaller. I'm just going to cut those pieces out and adjust it. It looks like that might be the right size. So after that I'm ready to texture may bell, a lot of times I'll take a small piece of clay and you just saw me. I'm just practicing different textures. I like rather than doing it on the bell. So you don't have to start again. For the texture on the second vowel, I just drag my knife across the bell to create some linework and some texture with leftover clay. I had a role these simple balls and punched a hole all the way through, smooth them out. And this will just give me some additional pieces to play with as I'm assembling the bells. Now you're ready to bake your claim. Again, you're going to want to bake your client 275. I baked these valves for 30 minutes and then let them cool completely. At the time will vary depending on how thick your clay is. So quarter-inch, remember about 15 minutes every additional quarter inch. And then after that, once they're cooled down, you're ready to start stringing your pieces together. You saw me tape off the courting I have and that's just to help prevent the fraying as I'm stringing them through. This really is just about experimentation. You'll see me String pieces and then undo them as I'm working with it. Sometimes I like to add a not take away a knot and it just seeing how the pieces fall and a lot of times that just takes some trial and error. So go ahead and play with your pieces, rearrange them, try fraying the row. Try different assortments. Maybe you want to belt strung together. Maybe you don't want them on separate chords, but really just take some time to experiment. Okay? Thank you. Once you have both pieces assemble, you're ready to hang them. Again. I like to do a slip thought so I can adjust them and stagger the height. But I really love how these turned out. They feel special. And so I hope that you've created something you love. Please share it in the class project. I'd love to see it leave any comments you might have. And I really hope you enjoyed this class. 5. Bonus: Creating Clay Earrings: Now that we've finished our wall hangings, I wanted to do a fun bonus class. We're going to make some polymer clay earrings. This is a great way to utilize leftover clay. You can also add in multiple clay color ways if you want and get creative as you want on these. So the supplies are pretty simple. You'll need your polymer clay. I've got some acrylic paints here. These are actually my kids that you can find at Target. So if you want to paint your earrings, that you can paint them before or after they bake either way. And then I've got some straight back earring studs here that I just you can find those at Michaels or Joanne's. Your went to some flexible glue that's E6 1000 that I'm using. Again, my straw for rolling my exacto knife, a shaped cutter, and then those are just earring backs and as always, my parchment paper. All right. Let's go ahead and get started. I enrolling out this clay, I'm gonna make a pair of hoop earrings. But as always with polymer clay, the options are endless. So you can do a quick search on Pinterest and get some ideas of silhouettes or shapes or combinations of colors that you're liking. And then you'll just want to go ahead and get started. A role that way white clay. And then I took this turquoise and I'm just adding bits to it. And once I put the bits on the white, I just roll it in. It doesn't take a lot of pressure to smooth in the clay, but I'm just making sure it has enough color when I make the hoop so the sections won't be very big. So you can see I'm just adding in additional color once I have it to where I think it looks good, I'm cutting two equal links to make my hoop earrings. And then I'm just going to go ahead and shape them. And it's as easy as that. With this leftover clay, I'm going to mix it together. I added a little additional white tier. You'll see it gives us this really cool marbling effect. I'm just going to roll it out. Beware of any air bubbles I get and pop those. And then I'm going to use my circle punch to punch out the clay, making sure I place it in a spot where I liked the marbling. And then instead of keeping these as just circle studs, I'm gonna make this half-moon shape by just doing an additional cut-out. You can see there. And then just like we did in the wall hangings, I'm going to smooth it out. Take your time, get it to where you like it, and then really just start playing with things. The options are endless. Remember that you can paint your earrings. Well, you can't beat them before you bake them. I've always painted mine after. If you do decide to paint them before, you'll want to do a test piece and make sure that your paint won't change color under heat. But other than that, take some time to play with your earrings and I'll see you at the next step. Good people. We're going to do. All right, So these are the shapes that I settled on. You can see I did some rainbows. They did some with textures, and then I went ahead and just punched holes in the ones that I want to connect together. So you can see with the rainbows, I have a hole in those and then a hole in the circle above it. And I'm just going to use a jump ring to attach those together. So I didn't mention that in the supply list, It's not necessary, but if you want your earrings to dangle, you can get jump rings at any local craft store and they come in a variety of sizes. Jump rings aren't very thick, so you can just use a needle to punch these holes. Again, measure and make sure that your jump ring we'll go through before you bake your clay and then you're just going to make your clay again at 275 for about 15 minutes. These aren't very thick, so it won't take long to bake them. You also probably don't want to make these extremely thick so they're not heavy on your ears. Once your pieces come out of the oven, you'll want to make sure you let them cool completely and then you're ready to begin assembling them. A, typically start with connecting any of the pieces with the jump rings. That will be my earrings that dangle. And then once I have that completed, I'll move on to cluing the facts on. Good. For this said I decided that I wanted to add some color, so I'm just going to paint the bottom portion of these that were white with your acrylic paint. This like I said, it's just kids acrylic paint that you can find a target. It's not super thick, so it's going to need a couple of coats. So don't be afraid to paint these. It adds some fun color and texture without having to buy a different color of clay. Now we're ready to go ahead and glue the studs onto our earrings. You'll just want to drop a glue here. Be mindful that you don't use too much or it'll be a mess. And then you'll want to make sure that you let these dry for a couple hours. I know from experience that if you try to where your earrings too soon, when you go to take the back off to remove your airing, it can pull the step away from the clay and then you'll need to glue it on. So that's the last step and you have some cue earrings to wear and you've used up all that extra clay. I really hope you enjoyed this class. I hope that you've made pieces that you love for yourself or that you'd love to pass on to someone special in your life.