Friday, March 11, 2011

Polymer Clay Coffee Bean Button Tutorial

I posted pics of my FreshPrinceFrenchPress over on Ravelry and a couple of people said that they cared about me posting a tutorial (because I said I'd post one if anyone cares), so here I am! This is so ridiculously easy, I feel almost embarrassed to have taken pictures, but here you go. I'm not even going to list tools because if you've been doing clay for even longer than maybe a day, you probably already have this stuff on hand. If not, then you need to go buy the stuff.

Supplies: Raw Sienna and Black Premo polymer clay

First of all, you need to mix a 50/50 blend of the raw sienna and black clays to come up with this completely yummy espresso color. I've seen some people who do a 50/50 of burnt umber and black to get a coffee color, but I really prefer this color for coffee stuff. You can tell it's still brown, and it might be technically lighter than the real coffee stuff, but we're going for more of suggestion of coffee than actual coffee. I mean, for heaven's sake. No actual coffee beans are this big, and certainly none of them could make buttons this well. But I digress. I'll be succinct and professional from now on.

Once I have my blend, I use one of my little square cutters and cut two squares from a sheet rolled out on the thickest setting of my pasta machine. I use the cutters to make sure that I'm getting the same amount every time so that my buttons are mostly the same size. If you don't have cutters, or your cutter makes too much when you cut from a sheet this thick, then run the sheet through on a thinner setting to get less clay with each cut. Just so long as you remember what your settings are so that you can get consistent sizing.

When you figure out how much clay you want per button, form it into a ball shape in your hands, and then make it more of a fat pill shape, like this:

I was analyzing actual coffee beans and noticing that most of them are not football shaped. They tend to be kind of straight-ish, with a rounded end. So I'm changing my original instructions from "football shaped" to "fat pill". Hopefully it translates. ^_~

I squash the fat little coffee pill against my tile with my palm so that one side ends up flat and one side ends up domed, like this: (Don't worry about prints for now. We'll take care of it later.)

I then use my tissue blade to peel the little pre-bean off of my tile and place the domed side against my palm in my non-dominant hand, preparing to indent the flat side.

I use a needle tool of some kind to make this mark in the flat side of the bean. (Now it's starting to look like a bean, but it's not magical yet. Just wait.)

The real magic happens now... Squeeze the sides of the bean in just a bit, squashing the line slightly, and lay it on your tile, flattening it again just a bit, still squashing a bit. At this point, I use my fingers to gently wipe away any prints off of the back of the bean.

Use your tissue blade to pick it up again and... VIOLA! How cute is THAT!? It looks just like a huge coffee bean. If only they were actually this huge, huh? Then you could get more coffee. Maybe it would cost less. Well, it probably wouldn't. But a girl can dream. Ack, professional and succinct. Okay. I got it.

Lay the bean down with the lovely little indent facing you. Use a needle tool to poke down into it as it's against the tile. It kind of looks like this. Note on holes: you can pierce longways or horizontal for beads, but because of the dome shape on the back, the holes won't really be perfect. You can experiment with it. But I also love to poke just one hole towards one end so that it can become an impossible to resist little coffee bean charm.

Because you listened to your Sensei and did the poking against the tile like I told you, you have these weird little not-quite holes on the other side. Poke through them from the other end now, widening the hole as you see fit.

LOOK at how it makes a perfect little hole. Repeat with the other hole.

Bake them flat side down on cardstock on a tile in your oven according to the manufacturer's directions. (Usually 275F for about 30 minutes.) Once they're done and they're all cooled, sand them gently with wet dry sandpaper and plenty of water with 400 grit, then lightly buff them on your shirt or your pants or your couch. Not a lot of sanding because they don't need it. It just helps them look and feel SO much better. You won't regret it.

And that's the tutorial... once I finish sanding all of the buttons I made, I'll post what they look like all finished and in their cute packaging as they're ready to sell over at Tempe Yarn and Fiber. I guess go crazy with these. Make as many as you want and sell them, too, if you're lucky enough to be able to. Just send lots of love my way. ^_~

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