Introduction: Sculpted Skull Earrings
This fun and easy craft is great introduction to making unique jewelry that you can customize to suit you! I'm going to walk you through how I made mine but feel free to modify any way you want. Once you know the basics you can make anything you want so don't be afraid to get creative and have fun with it.
- Polymer Clay/Sculpey
- Aluminum Foil
- Jump Rings
- 20 Gauge Wire
- Earring Hooks
- Sculpting Tools (optional)
Step 1: Base Shapes!
- Take your aluminum foil and make a ball and a cone. These will be the base for your skull and hat.
- Using the foil as a base helps keep the earring light and cuts down on the time it takes to set in the oven.
- Remember that the clay will add a lot of bulk, so you'll want to make your foil base smaller than you want your finished piece to be. Once you've made your base, cover it with clay. Don't be afraid to add too much at this stage, it can give you more to work with in the detail sculpting and can always be removed later.
Step 2: Loops!
- Now you'll want to make your wire loops for connecting your pieces. It's a lot easier to sculpt around them than it is to try and embed them when you're done.
- Take your needle nose pliers and clamp onto the end of the wire at around the length you want your loop to embed in the earring. The closer to the tip of the pliers the smaller your loop will be.
- Bend the longer end of the wire down, then under the shorter end, then wrap around 2-4 times and cut using the wire cutter.
- For this project you'll need three loops for each earring:
- One for the top of the hat
- One for the bottom of the hat
- One for the top of the Skull
Step 3: Sculpting the Hat
- Once your loops are embedded you're ready to start sculpting! This is where your sculpting tools come in handy, if you have them, as they can make detail work much easier. If you don't have any on hand, feel free to get creative with what you can use to get those details you want.
- For the hat I first bent the clay into the general shape I wanted, then scraped downwards with a rounded tool, smoothing out the bumps as I went. Then I bent the tip of the hat a bit more to add some character and added a fold in the crook of the bend using a needle-like tool.
Step 4: Sculpting the Skull
- The skull is a little more detailed, so it can help to lightly carve where you want your features and work from a reference. You can also refine your basic shape and paint on the features later if you prefer. Feel free to simplify and exaggerate the features as you please- at this scale we're going more for readability than realism!
- I started with a ball stylus to carve out the nose and eye sockets before switching to the needle tool to sketch and carve out the teeth. Then I continued to carve and refine until I was happy with the sculpt.
Step 5: Baking
- Preheat your oven to 275 degrees
- Put your earrings in for fifteen minutes to start, then for five minute intervals until they've set. I put mine in for three five minute intervals.
- Make sure you let your earrings cool between each five minute interval so you can test them without burning yourself.
Step 6: Painting
- For the painting portion feel free to go wild and really make it your own!
- I used a combination of gouache and acrylic paint, but any paint you have around the house should be fine.
- Since I had orange clay I did one coat of Brilliant Red gouache on the hat
- Because gouache paint is water soluble it can be difficult to do multiple coats, so I used white acrylic paint as a base coat. Then I added black gouache to the nose, eyes, and teeth before painting the rest with a mix of white and orange gouache.
Step 7: Assembling
- Once your paint is dry you're ready to piece it all together!
- You'll need two jump rings and two earring hooks.
- Using your pliers, open your jump ring just enough so you can fit your wire loop through
- Put your skull through one end, then your hat through the other.
- Make sure they're facing the way you want them to before you close the ring again, using your pliers to pinch the ends together.
- Then, open the loop on your earring hook and hook your hat through, closing with the pliers.
- Now your new earrings are ready to wear!
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