Friday, July 14, 2017

Easy Polymer Pastry Pendants

Yes, this entire project started with a pun.
A few weeks ago my kid's Sunday School teacher had them all making stuffed donuts out of socks.
Why donuts, you ask? Because the Bible tells us "Donut be anxious about anything..."
Goofy, to be sure, but it stuck in all of our minds. My middle girl, Grace (age 6) definitely struggles with anxiety. She's the one who has nightmares, is scared of shadows in her room, stays awake worrying about random things, and gets really uptight about anything she might not excel at. (In other words, she is most definitely her mother's daughter!) So this week I decided to make Philippians 4:6-7 our family memory verse.

To help drive it home, we made donut pendants from my huge stash of polymer clay. As hoped, it was easy enough that the kids could make their own, and we made a bakery-full!  Grace is eager to give them to all her friends at church this coming Sunday.

I hesitate to classify this particular project as "quick and dirty" because there are quite a few steps involved over and above the fun part of making the clay pastry. Also, the "dirty" part is more literal than in most of my crafts: polymer clay can be difficult to get off of your hands, and you definitely don't want it in your carpet. That said, it is still far less than complicated, so don't let it spook you!

Here's what you'll need: 

1) Polymer clay* in several colors: base, frosting, and hopefully some sprinkles.
2) Clear nail polish, or a purpose-made sealer from the craft store.
3) (optional) Cord or ribbon to make necklaces, and findings of choice


1) Dedicated cookie sheet (get one from the Dollar Tree), or tinfoil to line the one you use for cooking
2) Oven
3) Purpose-made clay tools with cutting and poking ends, or pencil and a toothpicks (which work just as well.)


  1. After protecting your work space with a tray or plastic, soften a grape-sized lump of clay in the donut color between your palms. Once pliable, shape into a sphere, then gently and slightly flatten between your thumb and forefinger. 
  2. Using a sharpened pencil or clay tool, very gently poke a hole in the center of your flattened ball, just until you barely break through the other side. Turn your donut over and poke again from the opposite side. Work your donut around the pencil until the hole is smooth and centered. 
  3. Now, soften a much smaller portion of clay in your frosting color, and flatten it into a thin pancake just slightly wider than your donut. Don't try and make it perfect: you want your frosting to look natural.  (Hint: If you're using a very light color, clean your hands - maybe with a diaper wipe - before switching.) 
  4. Just like on your donut, poke a hole in your frosting, working from both sides. Position your frosting on your donut and smooth down with your fingers. 
  5. Believe it or not, sprinkles are the hardest part! A few tips:
    * Use a harder variety of clay, like Fimo, to avoid smearing and stretching.
    * Take the amount you need, cut it in half, and then cut it in half again.
    * Glass seed beads could be a reasonable substitute - don't use plastic!
    * Pre-making a bunch of sprinkles and baking them (for no more than 5 minutes) would be a great strategy if you're going to make a bakery-full of donuts. You can use them more like "real" sprinkles this way. 
  6. Time for baking! Preheat to 275 F, then bake on a foil lined sheet for 15 minutes.
    Do Not over-bake! Burned polymer clay is Noxious! (Don't ask me how I know this...) 
  7. Allow to cool fully, then paint with clear nail polish or commercial sealer. Aside from making it shiny, it'll help keep the sprinkles attached. 
  8. String on cord or ribbon, attaching fasteners or the like as desired. 
  9. Package and give to all your friends! 

* Polymer clay comes in several brands and styles. I've used most of them, and while you can make this project successfully with any, there's no denying that they are different.

Your cheapest options are original Sculpey, with the Michael's store brand coming in even slightly under that. Both of these clays are super soft: they're ready to go straight out of the package. On the flip side, sometimes they are too soft and sticky for fine details. They also tend to bake up with more of a matte, even chalky finish. Durability is less than more expensive brands.

On the more expensive end is Original Fimo, a much harder clay that takes a lot of working to get pliable enough to shape. It will be a challenge for littler kids, and you can expect crumbs all over the work surface - not to mention the floor! On the plus side, it bakes up with much shinier finish, and is considerably more durable.

In between is everything else. Fimo has a variety called "Fimo Soft," and Sculpey has a variety called "Primo." Both of these middle-of-the-road options worked well for this project (see photo above.) If you are mixing and matching, use a softer option for the frosting, and a harder one for sprinkles and donuts.

And here's a fun fact for anyone who stuck with me this long: 20+ year old Fimo Still Works! Really! I assumed I would be replacing my ancient stash a few colors at a time - I mean, I was buying this stuff as a teen when $2.50 per block still felt really steep. But it still softens up and bakes just as nice as when it was new. Fimo: The eternal substance! :)

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