Marbled Polymer Clay Pen Tutorial

Sculpey Clay Tutorial: Learn how to use a marbled, polymer clay cane to make a beautiful twist pen.

In the crafting world, things don't always go as planned. Last week I showed you how to make a couple of quilt block inspired polymer clay canes. My intention was to use one of those canes in this pen tutorial, and then I had a craft fail. I tried to reduce the cane too quickly and the quilt block turned into a quilt blob.

As I was smooshing up the leftovers of my mistake learning experience, I realized that in my frustration I was making a lovely piece of marbelized clay. What a happy mistake! We'll call this marbled clay pen tutorial Plan B, but I think you are going to love it.



Make sure to protect your work surface. Sometimes the colors can stain. I like to use a piece of parchment paper if I am working at the table. I also have a cutting board dedicated to clay crafting.

Squish, swirl and smoosh 2-3 colors of clay until you get a nice marbelized piece.

Shape the clay into a square cane that's about 3/8 of an inch in on each side and at least 2 inches long.
Use a cutting blade to cut the cane into thin slices (about 1/16 of an inch or less). For the best results, make sure your slices are an even thickness.
Cover each brass tube from the pen kit with the clay slices. At this point, it's okay if there are small gaps between the slices.
Gently roll and press the clay to fill the gaps, conceal the joins and make sure that the clay has the same thickness all the way around.

Use a blade to trim the clay at the ends of each tube.
I made three pens with different colors. (That green one used to be my beautiful quilt block cane.)

Once the tubes are completely covered with clay, they can be baked according to the manufacturer's instructions.
After the pieces come out of the oven and cool completely, you can use a piece of sandpaper to buff out any imperfections or irregularities if necessary.

I wanted a glossy finish for my pens, so I added a couple coats of glaze to each tube.
When applying the glaze, I like to run a skewer through the pen tubes and balance them on something like a plastic container so I can coat the pieces evenly and avoid smudging them with my fingers.
Once the glaze has dried completely, It's time to assemble the pen.

If you plan to make a lot of pens, it would probably be wise to invest in a pen press. However, you can get good results by using a rubber mallet instead.
The tip of the pen goes into the end of one of the tubes.

Again, make sure to protect your work surface. I am using my (non food) cutting board to avoid dents in the table as I tap the pen pieces together.
Next, the twist mechanism gets tapped into the other end of the tube.
Finally, the end cap and clip get tapped into one end of the other tube.
Now that the hammering is done, slide on the center band then  insert and twist the ink cartridge into the twisting mechanism, and slide on the pen top.
Of course, you could use a decorative polymer clay cane to make a twist pen in much the same way. But if something goes awry and you have a craft fail, don't be afraid to embrace your mistakes and use up your scraps to make something more random and beautiful.

Sculpey Clay Tutorial: Learn how to use a marbled, polymer clay cane to make a beautiful twist pen.

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Gentleman's Fancy Polymer Clay Cane Tutorial

Learn how to make a quilt block inspired polymer clay cane using Sculpey clay.

Earlier this week I showed you how to make an easy, quilt block inspired, polymer cane called Friendship Star. I have one more to show you that is a little bit larger, and more intricate called Gentleman's Fancy.



The only extruder disk you need for this project is the right triangle. I cut all of my extruded lengths to 3 inches, but you can make yours longer or shorter depending on how you will use your cane.

Extrude 8 light colored triangles, 12 medium colored triangles and 16 dark colored triangles.
Press together a length of medium and light colored clay to make a square. Make four of these squares.
Press together the four squares to make a block that has the medium clay at the center and the light at the corners.

As you may be able to see, to create this cane we are going to work from the center out.
Next, make 4 dark colored triangles by pressing two triangles together, side by side.
Add the dark triangles to the block.
Next, using two medium colored triangles and a light colored triangle for each piece, make 4 trapezoids.

(This may be the first time I have used the word 'trapezoid' in a blog post.)
Add the trapezoids to the block.
Make 4 more large triangles using the dark clay as before.
Add the corners to the block.
Once this block is assembled, it's easiest to compress the pieces together with a roller.
After the block is completely compressed, you can use reduce the cane and use it in your work as desired.

Learn how to make a quilt block inspired polymer clay cane using Sculpey clay

If you make a project using this cane design, please share a picture on my Facebook page or tag me, @thechillydog, on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr.

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Friendship Star Polymer Clay Cane Tutorial

How to make a simple polymer clay cane inspired by the Friendship Star quilt block.

You don't have to be a quilter to appreciate some of the stunning designs and motifs used in traditional quilting. One of my favorite quilt blocks is called the Friendship Star. And yes, many years ago I even made a quilt using this design. Today however, I am going to show you how to make a polymer clay cane that incorporates the Friendship Star motif.



The clay extruder comes with a bunch of different shaped disks. For this project you only need the square and the right triangle.

I cut all of my extruded clay into 3 inch lengths, but you could make them longer or shorter depending on how you plan to use your cane.
With the triangle disk, extrude 4 pieces of dark colored clay, 4 pieces of medium colored clay and 8 pieces of light colored clay.

With the square disk, extrude 1 piece of medium colored clay.
Press together a dark clay triangle and the light clay triangle to make a square. Repeat to make a total of four square lengths.
Now make four squares using the medium and light clay.
Next, make three rectangles by placing the square strands together as shown.
Carefully stack the left rectangle on top of the right.
Then stack those onto the last rectangle.

Carefully press or roll the entire stack together.
Once your block is completely compressed, you can reduce it and use it in projects just like any other cane.
Later this week I'll show you how to make another quilt block inspired polymer clay cane called Gentleman's Fancy.

Quilt block inspired polymer clay canes

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10 Things to Love About Slow Fashion

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater

The Slow Fashion movement is gaining popularity around the world. Quite simply, the idea is about choosing more sustainable clothing alternatives such as eco and fair trade fashion, second hand buying, swapping and repairing existing wardrobe items.

As a crafty girl that puts a lot of time and effort into design and making, I can definitely appreciate the fact that quality is better than quantity. So, when my husband's favorite sweater was in need of some TLC, I decided to take the time to repair it instead of just chucking it in the trash.

My husband keeps this sweater in his office and it has likely been worn every work day for the last five years. Unfortuantely it had developed two problems. First, the zipper pull broke off in the laundry. Second, one of the pockets was detached and beginning to unravel.

The good news about the zipper was that my husband never actually uses it. Also, there was already a redundant set of buttons in place, just in case. This meant I was able to simply remove the zipper and restitch the facing. Easy peasy.
The pocket presented a slightly larger problem, but one that I was able to solve thanks to my knitting experience. Since the pocket was unravelling I needed to re-knit the stitches. Fortunately the yarn was not damaged. After that I used a piece of scrap yarn from my stash to graft the pocket back into place.
So, what did I learn from this slow fashion experience?

1. Slow fashion is empowering!

In just a couple hours, I was able to at least double the life expectancy of this garment. That may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I feel like I accomplished something pretty amazing.

2. Slow fashion discourages a throw away culture.

It is so easy to just throw away a cheap item knowing that you can pick up a replacement at the local big box for a few dollars. Is that the type of lifestyle we really want to embrace and model to our children?

3. Slow fashion is a way to practice creative skills.

This little project gave me a chance to flex my creative muscles. I had to figure out how to make a sturdy repair that looked nice and was functional. I was able to incorporate my engineering, knitting and sewing skills. Just look at those neat little handmade stitches!

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater

4. Slow fashion saves time.

This may seem counter intuitive because fixing this sweater took a couple hours. If I had thrown it away and purchased a replacement we would have driven to the mall to browse a number of different stores or spent time online searching for the perfect replacement sweater. And of course there is the time spent working to earn the money to pay for a new sweater.

5. Slow fashion saves money.

I used a seam ripper, needle, thread, knitting needles and yarn to fix this sweater. I already had all of the tools and materials in my sewing room, but even if you consider the full price for each of theses items, it would add up to less than the cost of a new sweater.

6. Slow fashion is a way to express yourself.

My repair was fairly basic, but I have seen other mends that involve patching or embroidery and they can be a beautiful way to incorporate new color and texture into an old garment.

7. Slow fashion creates less waste.

It's well known that the fashion industry creates a lot of waste in the production process. My repair minimized the need for the waste from producing a new sweater and kept the existing one out of the landfill.

8. Slow fashion shows you care.

I took the time to fix this sweater, in part because I know my husband really likes it. I hope that every time he wears it he feels the love that I put into every stitch.

9. Slow fashion makes you appreciate the importance of a job well done.

Of course I am proud of my own repair work and glad I took the time to do it right. While I was working, I also noticed the well-thought design elements from the original construction. Who ever chose to add a sturdy facing to the sweater opening was a genius. It was more expensive to manufacture the garment with this feature, but if the facing had not been there, removing or replacing the zipper would not have been an easy task.

10. Slow fashion generates quality time.

As I sat at the table making repairs, my husband sat with me and we were able to savor a cup of coffee, chat about current events and just enjoy each other's company. Definitely time well spent!

10 Things to love about slow fashion: What I learned from mending a sweater
How do you incorporate the concept of slow living into your daily routine?

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