Tutorial by C. A. Therien

Published January 18, 2007

This article was originally published in the Spring 2003 Issue of PolymerCAFE Magazine.


This article was first printed in the Spring 2003 issue of PolymerCAFE’ Magazine. The issue quickly sold out, and over the last few years I have had requests for the article to be reprinted. My thanks to Lisa Clarke for the opportunity to share this project with the polymer clay community once more. I’ve updated the instructions a bit since the first printing, simplifying the steps and adding a few hints.

The original barrette is here before me on my desk - I wear it in my hair often and always get compliments. If you don’t wear hair barrettes and think this project isn’t for you, feel free to alter the recipes and instructions - the techniques are straightforward and aren’t limited to just hair barrettes. You could cover a lightswitch plate, or a cookie jar, a pair of champagne flutes, a holiday ornament, or make a suncatcher - the project is only limited by your imagination!

Difficulty Level: Intermediate - familiar with conditioning and use of polymer clay, use of pasta machine, baking, sanding and polishing.

Estimated time to finish project: 6 hours

Barrette length: 3-1/2 inches
Barrette width: 2-1/4 inches
Barrette thickness: 1/8 inch


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Barrette base:
1 oz. (˝ pkg.) Fimo Soft Translucent

Outlining (“leading”):
1/4 oz (1/8 pkg.) Fimo Soft Metallic Gold

Flower petal recipe:
1/4 oz. (1/8 pkg.) Fimo Soft Translucent
Pinch (5mm cube) Fimo Soft Transparent Red
Pinch (5mm cube) Fimo Soft Transparent Yellow
1/8 oz.(1/16 pkg.) Fimo Soft Metallic Pearl

Leaf recipe:
˝ oz. (1/4 pkg.) Fimo Soft Translucent
Pinch (2 cm cube) flower petal recipe (above)
Pinch (5mm cube) Fimo Soft Transparent Green
Pinch (2mm cube) Fimo Soft Emerald

Background recipe:
1/8 oz. (1/16 pkg.) Fimo Soft Metallic Gold
1/8 oz. (1/16 pkg.) Fimo Soft Chololate
Leftovers from flower and leaf recipes

Pinch (2mm cube) Fimo Soft Black, for dots on petals

Glass ball ornament (oval 10cm diameter) -or- spotlight bulb with wide, smooth surface
9-cm oval stencil
Aluminum foil
Pasta machine
Craft knife
Aloe vera gel
Paper towel
Carbon paper
Pencil or pen
Clay Extruder gun with 1mm round-hole disc
Ball-pointed stylus
Liquid Fimo Decorating Gel
Soft paintbrush
Rustoleum Varathane Diamond Finish Interior Gloss
6cm hinged barrette clasp
Container of ice water
Wet/Dry sandpaper in grits 600 - 2000
Container of warm water with a drop of liquid dishwashing soap (not dishwasher liquid)
Hand towel


Step 1

Roll out and bake barrette base

Condition the 1 ounce of Translucent clay and roll into a sheet on thickest setting of your pasta machine.

Hint: if the Translucent clay sticks to the pasta machine, lightly wipe the rollers with a dab of pure aloe vera gel on a paper towel. Don’t use too much, and don’t repeatedly fold the clay and pass it through, as this will introduce moisture into your clay and cause plaquing to increase.

Lay the stencil over the sheet of clay and cut along the inner edge of the stencil with your craft knife. Lift off the stencil and set the excess clay aside for use later.

Step 2

Cut a square of aluminum foil and wrap around the ornament or light bulb. Smooth the foil down so that all the wrinkles are flattened and the foil is as smooth as possible. Center the oval of clay on top of the foil and gently conform it to the shape, making sure all the edges are pressed down flush with the foil.

Bake the clay for 30 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, at 265 - 275. Allow the glass to cool completely after baking before removing the barrette base.

Step 3

Copy the design onto the barrette base and lay the “leading”

Print out the tiger lily design onto printer paper, then place the printer paper over a piece of carbon paper (or rub a pencil heavily over the back of the design on the printer paper). Tape the paper onto the barrette base and trace the design.

Step 4

Extrude the Metallic Gold clay into long strips and set onto a sheet of foil. With a toothpick, trace a thin bead of Fimo Gel onto the design, following one of the lines.

Place an extruded section of the Metallic Gold on top of the Fimo Gel, following the tracing lines. Gently press the Metallic Gold in place, but be careful not to flatten it. Repeat this process following all the traced lines with Metallic Gold. Bake for 20 minutes to set all the lines.

Hint: starting at the center of the design and working out toward the outside is easiest. For tight curves, wait a minute or so for the Gel to bond to the Metallic Gold and then press in place with the toothpick. Work in stages to prevent accidentally flattening any of the “leading”, baking 10 minutes between sections.

Step 5

Mix the recipes and lay the colors between the lines

Roll the colors into thin logs and twist them together to get striations in the clay. Don’t mix the colors completely, but mix them enough so that they are nearly blended. Roll the colors separately through the pasta machine, through consecutively thinner settings until the sheet of clay is 1mm thick, without folding.

Step 6

Lay the flower petal color onto the baked barrette base, and press to make an indentation.

Step 7

Lift the sheet carefully off the base and turn it over; you should see an outline of the petal you will be filling. Carefully cut the shape out with your craft knife. Dip a toothpick in Fimo Gel and spread it around in the petal section, then place the cut-out petal shape onto it, pressing gently with your fingers to seal out air and conform to the shape. Press any petal recipe that overflows the shape back into the area defined by the Metallic Gold. Smooth as much as possible with fingers, and then move to another petal. Vary the shading on the petals, by choosing the blended areas carefully.

Repeat with the rest of the petal recipe until the flower is completely filled in, then smooth the flower with a little bit of aloe vera gel on your fingers, just enough to make your fingers moist and slippery, but not enough to be gooey. Using the small end of the ball stylus, poke indentations in the petals randomly. Bake for 10 minutes to set the clay, then repeat with the leaf mix and the background mix, smoothing with fingers. Bake for 30 minutes to set all colors.

Step 8

With a toothpick dipped in Fimo Gel, add a tiny bit of gel to each of the dots in the petals. Use your craft knife to pick up very tiny bits of black clay. Press some into each of the holes in the petals, and scrape off any excess black with the craft knife. Bake for 20 minutes to set the black clay.

Extrude enough Metallic Gold clay to create a finished edge around the outside of the barrette, or do a thin strip of Metallic Gold, whichever you prefer, to give the barrette an edging. Bake again for 30 minutes to set the clay.

Step 9

Add the hardware and do finishing techniques

Turn the barrette upside down and place a bit of Fimo Gel on the center of the barrette where the clip will go. Cut a strip of translucent clay to match the length and width of the clip, and lay that strip down on the barrette, centering it. Press the clip onto the strip of translucent, firmly enough that the translucent clay squishes up through the two holes at either end of the clip. Then cut 3 strips or shapes from the translucent, and place them in the center bottom and two ends of the clip, overlapping the edges of the clip and pressing onto the back of the barrette base to anchor the clip in place. Be careful not to press clay into the hinge areas of the clip. Bake for 30 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, and then immediately plunge in ice water to help clarify the translucent mixtures of clay. Let sit in the water for about 5 minutes, then remove and dry the barrette thoroughly, paying special attention to the clip hardware.

Variations/Final Thoughts

Sand the barrette with consecutive grits of sandpaper, and polish with a water-based gloss sealer. Alternatively, you could antique the barrette with a polymer-safe antiquing liquid, allowing the small dips and edges to pick up the antiquing.

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