How to Use Extruded Clay to Make Fun Patterns and Projects

Who here has a clay extruder sitting around gathering dust in their craft room? A year ago, I would have raised my hand sheepishly and said, “I do.” Well, my extruder harbors dust bunnies no more! With some imagination and practice, extruding clay has become one of my most treasured tricks for adding interest to my polymer clay projects!

The possibility for creativity with clay extrusions is truly endless. I primarily make clay jewelry, and I’ve found dozens of ways to put my extruder to good use just for my pieces, and I know there are multitudes of other projects that are made easier and more exciting with the addition of extruded clay. I’ll highlight some of my personal favorite makes today, and I hope they’ll spark some ideas for your own Sculpey projects!

pop art polymer clay jewelry on bright pink background

One of the trendiest and seemingly simple patterns in jewelry right now is the classic black and white checkerboard print. Although it seems fairly straightforward to create, it can be pretty tricky to get clean, straight lines. One slip of the tissue blade and you’ve got a crooked strip that will throw your entire project off balance. Enter the extruder! Using clay extruded through a disc with a thin rectangle opening, the stripes needed to create the checkerboard pattern are made for you easily. Pictured here, I used the rectangular strips of Sculpey to form the checkerboard and then added thin extruded cylinders to outline the shapes and add a fun punch of color! I then used the scraps from my checkerboard slab and extra extruder cylinders to create an abstract slab to complete the collection.

Another fantastic use of extruded clay is to form canes! Having a variety of extruder discs will make your caning experience so much easier. I’ve used discs of triangles, rectangles, squares, circles, half circles, and many more in my cane work. Here are two recent examples of jewelry I created using extruded clay formed into canes and then sliced into thin veneers. I used the veneers to cover old scrap clay, transforming it into pretty new necklaces and earrings. A few more ways I love to use extruded clay are adding it to existing projects as an embellishment and creating pieces with loose ends for movement. I’ve been using my extruder quite a bit while preparing for the upcoming holiday season. A small cylinder of extruded clay makes a perfect pumpkin vine! Thin extruded snakes left unattached on the ends create a ghost with flow and movement. These styles of extrusion use can be adapted to so many projects limited only by your imagination! Some additional ways I enjoy putting my extruder to work are shown below in a holiday collection I made last winter. I love to use small bits and pieces of extruded clay to create patterns on a solid clay slab, make funky slabs with colorful extruded snakes, and form cozy knitted looks with different shapes and sizes of extrusions.

Getting creative with your trusty extruder is such a fun way to clay! With the wide variety of available discs, multitudes of Sculpey colors, and a bit of imagination, you can create such unique and wonderful projects with ease. I hope you’re feeling inspired by these ideas to pack your extruder with some polymer clay and make something amazing!

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