How to use that polymer clay scrap!

Natasha Beads and Bargello Technique

Often through the process of creating beautiful polymer clay art, you end up with bits and pieces of leftover clay. Give that scrap clay a second chance at life! In this article I will show you how to create a Natasha Bead with that polymer clay scrap.  I will also show you how to create a beautiful Bargello pattern pendant with your leftover polymer clay scrap.

Some of my favorite pendants were created with leftover clay. So whatever you do, don’t throw away that polymer clay scrap before reading this article.

What the heck is a Natasha Bead?

Natasha beads are a super fun and easy way to use up your polymer clay scrap. There is no rule that says you need to use only your scrap clay for a Natasha bead. You could definitely also use new clay as well. But I have noticed using crap from skinner blend canes, jelly roll, or bullseye canes work best because they offer some detail. If you don’t know how to make a polymer clay skinner blend you could check out my tutorial “Polymer clay three part skinner blend“. For this tutorial I’ll be using polymer clay scrap from a flower cane I made recently.

You don’t need much for this project. You simply need some polymer clay and a clay cutter. Easy right! The first step is to roll the scrap clay into a ball. For this project I used half of the scrap pictured above.

Tip: To avoid air pockets in your piece be sure to really compact the clay.

After balling up your clay, roll the clay out into a tube/cylinder.

Once you have a few inches rolled into a tube start twisting the clay one or two turns. Once you have twisted the clay, continue to roll it into a tube. Repeat the twisting process. I like to only repeat the process one time. I find when I twist it too much the pattern in the end result is too fine/busy. Once you do it a couple of times you will get a feel for how you like it as well. Be careful to not over twist or you will possibly break the piece in two.

Now the clay is twisted. You want to compact/condense the clay from end to end. I just start at one end and slowly compact it to the other end. It will end up with a lumpy look. When this happens just roll the clay out to smooth it.

Once you roll it to smooth it out, the next step is to create a square shape or rectangle shape. I use craft sticks to create nice crisp edges.

 

Use the clay cutter to make a fine mark in the clay down the center. This will help you be sure to have an even slice. When I don’t do this I tend to cut one side thicker than the other.

Slice the clay right down the center where it was marked.

Now you have two slices of clay that are a mirror image of each other. Place the pieces side by side and pair up the corners. It can take a little adjusting but be sure to have them paired as closely as possible.

There you have a Polymer clay Natasha Bead!

What do I do with my Natasha Bead now?

My favorite thing to do with Natasha Beads are create pendants with them. One way is to use a clay cutter to cut out the shape, bake it, and finish it off with UV resin.

Examples of Natasha beads I have created

  

Another favorite of mine!

Another really awesome use for scrap polymer clay is known as the Bargello pattern technique. I enjoy making these so much because of the Southwest pattern they create. I’m a huge fan of the Southwest. The Bargello pattern is by no means exclusive to polymer clay. You may have seen the pattern in quilting.

Let’s see how to create this very cool pattern.

I’m going to be using scrap clay from two different canes I made. I’m going to use five half ounce balls of clay. Three from one project and two from another project. I will first ball up 5 separate sections.

Role each ball of clay into a tube. Then alternate the colors and lay them side by side. I snip the end off just to keep them uniform. It will make it easier to do the next step with a nice clean edge.

Use the roller to flatten the clay enough to be able to put it through the pasta machine. Run them through the pasta machine on the thickest setting.  If you started out with half ounce balls of clay, you will be left with a rather long strip of clay. You can cut it to the desired length.

  

Use your cutting blade and slice the clay to about a quarter inch width. The width you choose is optional of course. I Lay that slice of clay on a piece of parchment or waxed paper. The reason I do that is so it’s easy to maneuver once I’m done with the slicing process of the project.

 

Continue slicing pieces and laying them consecutively. As you place them lay them in an offset pattern.  This is what will create the Bargello pattern in the clay. You pattern will depend completely on how you place the clay.

Continue this sequence until your clay has all been used.

What should I do with it now?

Once I have my pattern complete, I use a clay cutter to create different shapes for my pendants. If you haven’t seen my post on How to create a polymer clay pendant in 6 easy steps, feel free to go check it out.

Here is a shortened version of how I create my pendants.

Place cling wrap over the clay.  Lay cutter over cling wrap.  This will help create a nice rounded edge on your pendant.

Finish the pendant off with some resin and a nice ribbon necklace and you have a beautiful piece of jewelry to wear.

Begallo pattern keychains

Conclusion

In conclusion, now I have shown you two techniques to use up your polymer clay scrap.  No need to throw it away.   These and other techniques can be used to create some beautiful artwork and jewelry. I hope you enjoyed learning how to create the Bargello pattern and Natasha Beads.

If you have any questions or if there is a polymer clay topic you would like me to write about, let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to follow me on Instagram where you will see some of the projects I have created using these methods and others.

Fun Fact!

When you work with the clay for a while creating that masterpiece, the clay can get very soft.  When this happens, you can put the clay in the refrigerator or freezer for a short time and firm it up again.  Rendering it easier to slice.

20 thoughts on “How to use that polymer clay scrap!”

  1. I really enjoyed this post as never heard of polymer clay. I’m so impressed with your designs and love the pendant made from the bargello pattern. I also like the natasha beads and the beautiful colours and designs. This is certainly a very creative craft and one that has huge potential in jewellery making:) Thanks for sharing:)

    Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Thank you for visiting my site. I am really glad you enjoyed the information.
      Yes, it’s an amazing and fun art/craft.

      Take care
      Teresa

      Reply
  2. Hi Teresa. I love your art pieces! If you don’t tell me, I won’t know they are made from leftover clay. You are really creative.

    I somehow can imagine how excited you will feel while looking forward for the end work design turn up..:-) This is the wonder of nature!

    Reply
    • Hi Janet, you are so right. I get excited for the outcome even before I opened the block of clay!
      The journey to the creation is so exciting and fun.
      Thank you so much for visiting my site.
      Take care,
      Teresa

      Reply
  3. This is such a creative idea. I never thought of using it in this way. To think I have been wasting it all these years. Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will definitely be doing this in the future.

    Reply
    • Hello Catherine, I’m glad you were able to learn something new today. That’s awesome!
      Thank you very much for visiting my site.

      Take care,
      Teresa

      Reply
  4. I had never heard of polymer clay before your article. I really like the look, the earthiness of the clay jewellery. Making my own jewellery with polymer clay is definitely something I might try. Thanks

    Reply
  5. Oh wow! I’m amazed by the creativity you have! I personally love art and creativity so I just might give this a try (:

    Reply
    • Hi Emily,
      You wouldn’t regret it. Creating all of my jewelry has been so rewarding and fun!
      Thank you for visiting my site.

      I wish you the best of luck!
      Teresa

      Reply
  6. I don’t want to lie, it was my first time hearing of polymer clay and making beads out of it, lucky enough I was reading this post with my teenage daughter who is the creative head in the family she liked the Bargello pattern pendant and she is frantically searching where to buy the materials in Johannesburg. I notice your blog is very neat and well arranged, user-friendliness is the first thing I look for in a website and I give 10/10 in that. Thanks for your thorough explanation as well you never leave the reader ahead because experts in most fields tend to do that, they get you buried in jargon so much you get lost within the sentences.

    Thanks for sharing the tips.

    Reply

    Reply
    • Hello and thank you so much for visiting my site. I am so pleased you enjoyed your visit here.
      I really hope your daughter can find the “ingredients” for this craft. It’s just so much fun
      and seriously it is not difficult to create a beautiful piece of art.
      Thank you for your kind words regarding my site layout. I appreciate that feedback.
      Best of luck to your daughter and thank you again,
      Take care,
      Teresa

      Reply
  7. Goodness, the items you created are absolutely beautiful… took a quick detour to your eBay store and saw a bunch of other awesome pieces of art. I just came across this site for the first time, the designs here are on the feminine side which makes sense, but do you have examples of uses where the finished products are more masculine?

    Reply
    • Hi Bob, thank you for the kind words and for visiting my site and checking out my Ebay store.
      I have not really thought about creating more masculine pieces, but that being
      said, I sure will consider it moving forward. I really appreciate the suggestion.

      Thank you again,
      All the best,
      Teresa

      Reply
  8. Interesting and very detailed article. I like how you gave all of the steps and explained everything the way you did. It helped to make the process clear.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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