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Do you ever have a project idea and know you absolutely have to make it as soon as possible? That’s exactly what happened with this polymer clay rainbow necklace tutorial!
I had the idea Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon I was crafting away. (In little chunks during nap times, at least.) The rainbow necklace idea came from a combination of thinking about St. Patrick’s Day and wishing for some sun. Hawaii may be called the “rainbow state,” but it’s very rare for me to see rainbows on the Windward side of the island. There’s too much rain and not enough sun! Winter on the Windward side means virtually nonstop rain for weeks, so I was definitely dreaming of sunnier skies and a few beautiful rainbows over the mountains during our fourth rainy weekend in a row.
Whether you’re looking for a fun St. Pat’s accessory or just want to live a bit more colorfully, this polymer clay rainbow necklace is super quick and easy to make!
You truly do not need any specialized polymer clay tools or prior knowledge to make this rainbow necklace. The closest things to a ‘special’ tool you’ll need is a hobby knife (“X-Acto knife”), but you can always sub some other type of blade. A box cutter or pocket knife could work, too. If you can can roll out little ‘snakes’ of clay à la kindergarten, you can make this polymer clay rainbow!
What do I need to make a polymer clay rainbow necklace?
- Polymer clay! As always, I recommend Premo! Sculpey, but any brand will work. Premo! and other ‘premium’ brands are more durable, which means your necklace is less likely to break. You don’t have to make a traditional rainbow – you can use whatever colors you like. If you want a wide variety of colors, a sampler pack like this one is a great place to start! (2019 update: At this time, the sampler pack listing is showing some strange options. Choose the “units” choice at the bottom of the dropdown menu for the normal price and Prime shipping!)
- I started by picking out ‘traditional’ rainbow colors and realized I didn’t like them together. I took a little artistic license and ended up with five colors I liked together + a shimmery white for my cloud. Feel free to experiment to fid the color combination you like best!
- You only need a small amount of clay in each color. I used abbot a chickpea-sized quantity.
- A hobby knife
- A glue on jewelry bail
- Adhesive. The usual recommendation would be for E6000 adhesive. It works well, but is pretty toxic. I’ve had success using Eileen’s Original Tacky Glue, but it may be slightly less durable. It’s also non-toxic, so I’m willing to make the trade off. The choice is yours!
- Cord, chain, etc. to hang your necklace. I used inexpensive satin ‘rattail’ cord.
- A piece of cardstock or paper, or a teflon crafting mat, to bake your clay on
- Piece of rough sandpaper, optional
- A piece of wax or parchment paper to work on, optional but helpful
Polymer clay rainbow necklace tutorial
Select your colors and make about a chickpea-sized ball of each one.
Roll each ball around, squish it, etc. to ‘condition’ the clay and make it nice and supple. I protect my clay by using a piece of wax or parchment paper to work on so it doesn’t get covered in random dust.
You can work on a piece of paper or cardstock, but paper/cardstock will start to leach the oils from the clay, making it more brittle, so don’t let an unbaked project hang out on a piece of paper for more than a couple hours.
Roll your balls out into ‘snakes.’
Try to make the snakes as similar as possible in width to one another. Use these rolls of clay (minus your cloud color) to make a rainbow, curling the ends on one side as shown, if you’d like. I found it easiest to work from the inside out while making my rainbow.
Use your hobby knife to trim all the ends on the non-curled side into a straight line. Gently press the pieces of clay together to help them adhere – you don’t have to mush them together too hard if they’re still warm and malleable from conditioning.
Roll/curl your remaining piece of clay to make a cloud.
Gently press it into place on top of the cut side of the rainbow. If you’re worried about it adhering well, you can add a bit of Bake and Bond, but my cloud has had no trouble staying put.
Bake you rainbow on a piece of cardstock or crafting mat according to the package’s directions. Premo! bakes at 275ºF for 30 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness. Base your baking time and temp on your clay and your rainbow’s thickness.
Bonus tip: If your clay got dusty, dirty, or covered in fingerprints use a q-tip and rubbing alcohol to ‘erase’ away these marks prior to baking. If you notice any finger prints after baking, a q-tip and nail polish remover can usually improve the situation.
Once your polymer clay rainbow has baked and cooled, you’re ready to attach a bail! To help the bail adhere, scuff up the pad with some rough sandpaper (100 grit works well). This is optional, but helpful. Don’t stress too much about finding the exact balancing/midpoint for your rainbow – remember that rainbows in nature usually aren’t perfect bows all the way across the sky!
Allow the glue to dry/cure fully (I know it’s hard to wait, but it’s for the best!). Once the glue is set, string your rainbow onto a piece of cord, chain, or whatever you’re using to make your necklace. I used a length of green satin cord:
To keep it simple, tie a sliding barrel knot for an easy, adjustable, and clasp-free closure. If you don’t know how to make a barrel knot, there are a zillion videos on YouTube. This drawing and video is a fairly easy to follow demonstration of the knot.
Your polymer clay rainbow necklace is now ready to rock!
This necklace is so much fun to wear! Unfortunately I can only really wear it while my husband has LG because it isn’t baby chomping friendly.
Don’t lose track of this tutorial! Pin it to your favorite crafting board now!
Last month I made several ‘teething’ necklaces to keep LG entertained and they’ve been a big success! I made all three for about the price of one purchased teething necklace, and I enjoyed making some more ‘unusual’ designs. Here’s a tutorial for the silicone teething necklace, and it has tips you can use for other beading projects!
More polymer clay projects
What have you made lately? Do you ever get the itch to create something specific and know you have to get started right away?
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