Between the viral dances, the WitchTok videos, and the puppies, my TikTok For You Page is filled with DIY polymer clay earring videos. Coming in all shapes, colors, and sizes, polymer clay earrings are essentially earrings cut out from clay and baked to harden and become wearable, everyday accessories. The sheer artistry some creators have demonstrated in these videos is both bewildering and inspiring. In all honesty, I’m one polymer clay how-to video away from blowing a paycheck on 100 different clay colors and tools, despite fully having no idea what I’m doing. If that sounds like you, let’s walk through the process of how to make polymer clay earrings together, so no money, clay, or potential is wasted.
In terms of tools needed to do this, you will, obviously, need polymer clay ($25, Amazon), which is a type of clay that doesn’t harden until you bake it. This means you can store all the clay you want for a rainy day. You’ll want to make sure the clay you purchase isn’t too moldable, especially if you’re creating a more involved design. Here’s what you’ll need as a beginner, alongside the clay: earring backs and posts ($9, Amazon) (or hooks, if you prefer a dangly earring); jump rings ($5, Amazon); parchment paper ($15, Amazon); a baking sheet ($15, Amazon); jewelry pliers ($7, Amazon); toothpicks, an X-Acto knife ($6, Amazon), a clay cutter set ($8, Amazon); superglue ($12, Amazon), and an acrylic rolling pin ($9, Amazon). Oh, and you’ll want to ensure you have a flat, clean surface to work on. (Make sure to wipe down your surface so no particles attach to your clay.)
1. Condition your clay.
According to SarahMaker.com, this essentially just means you need to knead and soften your clay before you start, so it’s pliable and so it doesn’t crack or break when you bend it a certain way. You can do this by squeezing the clay several times in your hands until it’s easy to push, mold, and flatten — the same way you’d need dough.
2. Choose your colors & earring style
Apologies to any of you indecisive folks out there (read: me), but before you just dive right in, it’s best to decide on a color story for your earrings and the style of earrings you want. If you decide you want to go for monochrome earrings, you can move right along to the next step. If not, choose two or three colors to start with. (Save the intense, multi-colored options for when you’re an expert jeweler.)
Once you choose your colors, choose your earring style. Do you want simple round studs? The classic small circle with an upside-down U hanging from it? A simple rectangle? The sky’s the limit. Just make sure that your earrings aren’t too bottom heavy and that there’s a clear spot you can either attach an earring post to or make a small hole in for a jump ring later. If your earring will have multiple parts, choose which color(s) you’ll want for each part.
3. Roll out your clay.
Just like you roll out a pie crust, take your acrylic roller and roll out your clay until it’s approximately 1/8 to 1/16 inches thick, according to Paper & Stitch. If you’re keeping each part of your earring only one color, you can move on to punching out your shapes. But, if you want a portion (or all) of your earring to have a pattern, this is when you can create it.
For example, you can create a marble pattern by lightly kneading two colors together and then rolling it flat. You can also create funky patterns by starting with one flattened color, adding small shapes on top, and then using your roller to flatten it into one layer. Whatever you decide, just make sure your clay is even across.
4. Cut out your shapes.
Here’s the fun part, where you can use all your stencils and cutting tools to feel like an expert artist. To make things easy, there are tons of shape cutters and clay cutter sets ($24, Amazon) you can purchase online. Both Sarah Maker and Paper & Stitch feature a few different shapes you can try.
If you’re just beginning this journey, starting with a simple large, circular stud is easy. Just use a circular clay cutter to stamp out a perfect circle. And since this is a stud, you don’t even need to punch a whole to connect a jump ring. Another easy earring style to try is a large circle hanging below a smaller circle. After cutting those two shapes, use a toothpick to poke a hole near the edge of the bottom of the small circle and the top of the large circle. (You’ll connect the two shapes through this circle using a jump ring.) If you plan to connect the earring to an earring hook, poke a hole at the top of the small circle where you’ll connect that, too. Wiggle your toothpick around just a bit to ensure the holes are large enough for a jump ring to slide through.
5. Bake your shapes.
The moment of truth: the bake. Pre-heat your oven based on the instructions on your polymer clay. (This will likely be around 225 to 275 degrees.) Line a baking sheer with a flat layer of parchment paper, and carefully transfer your shapes atop the parchment paper. In terms of how long to bake them, again, it’s best to follow the instructions provided with the clay. A general rule of thumb is to bake them for 30 minutes for every quarter-inch thickness. Meaning: Earrings of 1/8-inch thickness should only need about 15 minutes in the oven.
Sarah Maker’s prime tip for baking includes making a tent over your earrings out of aluminum foil, which can help prevent any discoloration in the oven. When they’re done baking, take them out and let them cool until they’re completely hard. Make sure that you keep any tools used for polymer clay separate from all of your food cutting/baking tools to prevent contamination.
6. Add on your hardware.
Home stretch, people! If you’re just using an earring post and its corresponding back, use a heavy duty (but still malleable) super glue to secure it, hold it firmly for at least 30 sections, and allow the glue to dry fully before you take your earrings on a night out. If you’re using jump rings to connect certain parts together, use jewelry pliers to carefully open the jump ring, lace it through the necessary holes, and gently use the pliers to close the ends back together. Repeat this process to connect an earring hook to the top of the earrings using a jump ring, if that’s the style you chose.
Because I’m a bit of a worry-wart, I suggest letting your earrings sit overnight to let everything set, juuuuuuust to be safe. Beyond that, throw on your jewelry, and be prepared to triumphantly tell everyone you made them when they inevitably ask. However, if this process is a little above your pay-grade, peep some gorgeous polymer clay earrings from some talented creators on Etsy below:
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