Ananda37's Crackled Leaf Polymer Clay Pen Tutorial

Making a Crackled Leaf Polymer Clay Pen

 Finished Pen

Supplies Needed:


Step 1) Condition your clay and roll it on the thickest setting of your pasta machine into a sheet approximately the size of your sheet of leaf.

Sheet of Clay

Step 2) Apply the leaf to the clay, or the clay to the leaf. If your leaf is not paper backed like mine is, you'll want to leave the leaf laying on the table and apply the clay to it. You get a much better coverage and the leaf will be easier to handle this way!

Applying the Leaf

Step 3) Cut off the excess clay around the edges of the leaf.

Edges Cut

Step 4) Apply inks to your applicator. Put on random dots of colour, I used 5 different colours in this example. Do not let the inks touch each other when you apply them to the felt. When you start applying the inks to the leaf they will saturate the felt and you will get full coverage.

Applying Ink

Step 5) Start stamping the inks onto the leaf. Work fast, alcohol inks dry quickly!

Inking the Leaf

After you completely cover the sheet, let it sit for a few minutes just to be sure the inks are dry. They can be sticky when they are still damp and the ink will stick to the rollers of your pasta machine, causing the leaf to come off the clay and stick to the rollers as well.

Fully Inked Sheet

Step 6) Cut the sheet into 3 sections, you can cut them just slightly smaller than the length of the one of the barrels. Since you will be running this through the pasta machine a couple more times, it will end up being wider.

Cut Sheet

Step 7) Turn the rollers down a notch and run the sheet through your pasta machine, long edge to the rollers first. After you run it through, turn it a quarter turn and put it through again. At this point it should be around 1mm thick. If it's still too thick, turn it another quarter turn and put it through again a notch lower on the machine, though you'll probably need to cut the length down to do it.

1st time through the PM

Your finished sheet should look like this:

Crackled Sheet

Step 8) Flip the sheet over and carefully cut the end of it with your zigzag blade. Try to make this cut as straight as possible across the sheet.

Zig Zag Cut

Step 9) Hold the sheet up with the zig zag cut at the top and place the pen barrel across the zig zag. Get it as straight as you can, then lightly adhere the clay to the barrel. Put the sheet back down on your worksurface with the barrel end away from you, then roll it towards you, do not use any pressure. Roll the clay all the way around the barrel until the zig zag part touches the sheet, then roll it back a bit. You will see a line on the sheet where the zig zag touched the sheet. Also, some of your leaf may have come off onto the sheet, which helps you to see where to cut ;o).

Applying to the barrel

Applying to the barrel 2

Applying to the barrel 3

Step 10) Line the zig zag blade up with the line showing on your clay then move the blade just a *tiny* bit back towards the barrel, maybe 1/2 mm off the marking on the clay. This will help the seam to match up better without a bunch of excess clay.

2nd Zig Zag cut

Step 11) Pick the barrel up and start 'zipping' the seam together. You want the 'hills' on one side to go into the 'valleys' on the other side.

Zipping the Seam

Step 12) Once you've fully zipped the seam, put the barrel down on your work surface and carefully roll the barrel until the seam blends together. Use the Poly-Tools Tube Bead Roller without the base to get a perfectly smooth pen.  The 9mm roller works perfectly with the 7mm barrels of the Twist pen kits.

Zipped and Rolled

Once you have the seam smoothed to your satisfaction DO NOT TOUCH THE BARREL! Put a bead piercing pin or a bamboo skewer through it to pick it up. You might notice extra clay on the ends of the barrels, don't worry about that for now, you'll take care of it after baking. Place it onto your baking tray, if you don't have a baking tray, you can use the lid of a shoe box and bamboo skewers as a baking tray. Just cut notches on each side of the shoe box lid for the bamboo skewers to rest in.

Repeat steps 9 through 12 until you've used up your full sheet - unless you only want to make 1 pen in which case you'll only want to repeat this once. You can make yourself some jewellery or something else with the leftovers!

Pen barrels ready for baking - as you can see I got 8 pens out of this 1 sheet.

Pens on rack

Step 13) Bake the barrels according to clay manufacturer instructions.

Step 14) After they've baked and cooled, trim the ends of the barrels. I do this by spiralling down with my blade until I nearly reach the brass barrel. My hubby always yells at me because of the way I'm holding the tissue blade, but I don't actually move the blade so I'm not cutting toward myself, instead I move the barrel - spinning it against the blade. When you're close to the brass barrel, stop cutting and sand the rest of the way to the barrel. This will eliminate any small gouges around the edge of the barrel which show the brass when the pen is put together - doesn't look too good!

Cutting the Excess off

Step 15) After you've trimmed all the excess clay off, you're ready to varnish! You *must* have some sort of seal on these pens because 1) the alcohol inks will come off on your hands or 2) the foil will come off the clay.

When varnishing I use a drywall anchor (used for putting screws into drywall) to hold the barrel while I put the varnish on. That way I can hold it and varnish the entire barrel.

When I've finished putting the varnish on, I push a bead peircing pin back up through the barrel, then I use my fingernail on the edge of the barrel to push it off the anchor and down onto the pin. I put them back onto the baking rack to dry for an hour.

Removing the Barrel while wet

Now that your barrels are all dry, lovely and shiny, it's time to assemble the pen!

I have a pen press, but you can also use a vise or a hammer for this part. Just make sure that you protect the finished parts of your pen. You can use a folded up piece of paper towel (kitchen roll) or felt to protect the parts.

First, look at your two barrels, does one of them have a more obvious seam? If so, use that one for the bottom half of the pen, as you can cover up most of it with the pen clip.

Once you've chosen which barrel you want to use for the top half of the pen, fit the tip into the barrel and press or lightly tap it with the hammer until the tip goes all the way into the barrel. Be very careful as sometimes the tip will try to go sideways which can bend the barrel out of shape and you'll have to start all over again from step 1! Make sure you put the tip on before the twist mechanism or you'll push the twist mechanism in too far.

Putting on the tip

Next, insert the twist mechanism. There is an indented line on the mechanism, do NOT insert the mechanism into the barrel any farther than that line. If you do, your ball point won't recede within the tip of the pen when the pen is closed. Again, be careful that the mechanism doesn't try to go sideways while you're inserting it into the barrel.

Twist Mech

Next, put the middle ring over the twist mechanism, then screw the pen refill into the mechanism. You really can't mess this part up ;o).

Middle Ring

Lastly, insert the end cap into the clip, then put the end cap into the barrel and press/tap it in. Try to make sure the clip is where you want it (over the seam) before you tighten it completely. You *can* move the clip after you've got it all the way on but it can sometimes scratch the barrel.

End cap and clip

Put the two halves together and voila - you've got a pen!

Finished Pen 2

Email me @ valerie@polymerplay(spamfree) (remove the(spamfree)) if you have any questions!

Monday, January 15, 2007, Valerie Wallace