Getting Started Polymer clay may stain. CLAY MAY DAMAGE UNPROTECTED FURNITURE OR FINISHED SURFACES. DO NOT USE polymer clay on unprotected surfaces. We recommend working on the Sculpey clay mat, wax paper, metal baking sheet, or disposable foil. Start with clean hands and work surface area. Knead clay until soft and smooth. For best results, clean your hands in between colors. Shape clay, pressing pieces together firmly. Bake on oven-proof glass or metal surface at 275°F (130 °C) for 30 minutes per ¼" (6 mm) thickness. For best baking results, use an oven thermometer. DO NOT USE MICROWAVE OVEN. DO NOT EXCEED THE ABOVE TEMPERATURE OR RECOMMENDED BAKING TIME. Wash hands after use. Baking should be completed by an adult. Begin by preheating oven to 275 °F (130 °C). Test temperature with oven thermometer for perfectly cured clay. For best results, condition all clay by running it through the Clay Conditioning Machine for several passes on the widest setting. Fold the clay in half after each pass and insert the fold side into the rollers first.
Condition 1/4 block / 1 section premo! White Clay, mix in a dime size piece of premo! Accents Gray Granite. Condition 1/8 of a section premo! Accents Bright Green Pearl mixed with about 1/8 section of above White/mixed Granite.
Roll out White Mix at thickest setting on Pasta machine. Repeat for Green mix.each both sections of clay separately for several hours to overnight. Leach: using plain white typing paper or cardstock fold in half and set clay piece into center making a paper sandwich. Lay paper sandwich under a heavy object. Oils will leach out of clay into paper to make clay more stiff.
Remove clay from paper after leaching. Recondition with pasta machine. If White mix is too crumbly add a little fresh White clay as needed. Goal is a stiffer White mix and a very crumbly Green mix of clay.
Green mix clay, sandwich between wax paper or glossy photographic paper and roll out on thinnest setting on pasta machine. #9 on my Atlas Pasta machine. Leave on paper. Goal is a very thin Green mix. Set aside. This will be the lichen well use later
After re-conditioning White mix, roll out on middle setting, which is a #5 Setting on my Atlas Pasta machine. Cut two circles with round circle cutter for earrings.
Using ceramic Brush roll edges around circles. Roughing up edges.
With a razor blade, create slashes horizontal from right and left edges towards center. Keeping slashes straight. Add a few smaller dashes randomly along center of circle.
Widen the edges of slashes with needle tool with the Sculpey clay needle tool. Cutting completely through clay circle at edges. Use T-pin or safety pin to create random sized dashes. I buried my T-pin in some scrap clay to make a handle making easier to handle.
Further widen the cut slashes at the edges with the plastic knife tool in the Sculpey Clay tool starter set.
Take the Green mix clay we set aside earlier, and cut piece and lay onto ceramic tile. Using razor blade, cut through clay repeatedly in random straight lines if all directions, repeating many times. Creates crumbled tiny sections. This is where a well leached clay works nicely.
Using razor blade edge, pick up crumbles of Green mix and lay in random areas of face of circle creating lichen. Using pointy edge of razor blade, poke the lichen randomly to secure on White clay. Optional: Use a bit of Sculpey Bake and Bond under lichen. Be sure well secured to White clay base as we will be sanding later and want lichen to have a good bond to the white base.
Using Ceramic Brush again, roll edges again of circle as we did earlier. Using very edge of brush, dab randomly across face of circle, then add scratches at top right and bottom left or where preferred.
Pick up circles with razor blade from tile. Lay onto copper pipe. (Copper pipe can be purchased at any hardware store, most stores will cut the pipe to size to fit in your oven as well. Use a few paper clips on ends of pipe to keep from rolling in oven). Bake in clay dedicated oven per clay baking instructions. About 30 minutes. Let cool.
Once baked and cooled, remove circles from copper pipe. Wearing rubber gloves (if you don’t want paint under your nails) use Raw Umber Acrylic and paint brush dampen slightly with water, paint face surface of circles to create stain. While paint is still wet, wipe off with paper towel. Important to use artist grade acrylic paint that is thick, sold in tubes creates a richer stain. Let dry, repeat with black paint. Use a little rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip removing any extra paint as desired. Bake again on copper pipe for about 10 minutes to set paint.
We can now call our circle “Birch”. Roll a piece of heavy tape, or masking tape and set onto acrylic rod. Set Birch onto tape to secure it. Using a file or dowel rod, cut a strip of wet dry sandpaper and wrap around the file or dowel, tape down. Sand face of birch piece to brighten birch. Trying not to sand off your lichen. (If you sand off your lichen you can repair/replace it repeating step 12 using Bake and Bond to help secure to baked clay).
Creating back of Birch piece. White mix clay, roll at #3 on Atlas Pasta Machine. Cut circle. Add to back of Birch face. Trim edges with razor blade. Using 1/4" dowel rod, wrap 20g sterling silver wire, cut with flush cutters creating handmade jump rings. Using round nose or needle nose pliers push jump ring into top of earring. Repeat steps starting with step 7 to create birch look on back of earring. Back will be slightly concave. Bake birch face down, back side up on ceramic tile per baking instructions. Let cool.
Repeat step 15 adding brown then black stain to backs of birch. Using mostly alcohol and Q-tip to remove excess paint. It is harder to sand back of birch due to shape, I do sand a little but not to the extent on the front.
Bake for additional 10 minutes to set paint. Finish polishing Birch on front and back with Renaissance wax and lint free cloth to protect painted surface.
Handmade earwire: Cut 20g Sterling wire 1 3/4" long, wrap around 3/8" dowel creating earwire shape, sand raw ends with cup bur to smooth. Using round notes pliers create small loop at one end, using needle nose pliers bend opposite end slightly outward. Secure earwire to jump ring to finish your lovely faux Birch earrings.