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A Polymer Clay Experiment Gone RIGHT!
By Barbara Reider

Make Polymer Clay Faux Opals so realistic that people will think they were mined in Australia!
(Click Picture for a Larger View)

Materials for Faux Opals:

  • 1/4 block of Premo Translucent 006
  • Kidney Bean sized ball of Sculpey Bright Green
  • Kidney Bean sized ball of Sculpey Bright Turquoise
  • Reddish/salmon colored glitter (make sure glitter is heat resistant)
  • Wet sandpaper in 250, 400 & 600
  • Tissue blade or other razor sharp knife
  • Pasta machine (this is necessary to get the thinnest of clays)
  • Flat glass pane or ceramic tile for baking
  • Ice water
  • Water based finish like Flecto Varathane or Future acrylic floor finish
Instructions for Faux Opals:
  1. Condition all the clay pieces. To condition, warm in hands, rolling around until the clay is pliable.

  2. Take half of the Premo translucent Polymer Clay and put through the pasta machine on the lowest (thickest) setting, creating a slab of translucent clay.

  3. Chop the green and turquoise Sculpey Polymer Clay into tiny bits and spread the bits out on your work surface.

  4. Take the slab of translucent Polymer Clay and press into the bits of green and turquoise Polymer Clay. Turn over and press the other side into the colored Polymer Clay. Remember that "LESS IS MORE" when adding the colored clay. Do not overdo as the colors should not mix too much with the translucent.

  5. Roll into a snake.

  6. Cut into small sections, each the size of a large pea, and make a coiled snake from each section of Polymer Clay. Each "pea" should be slightly smaller than you need, as the finished cabochon will have a bit more clay added to it.
  7. Roll the Polymer Clay into a round ball. At this point you can add more colored Polymer Clay if you have too much translucent, but you must then repeat Step 5 to mix the colors.

  8. Decide which part of the pattern is going to be seen. For best results, use a side with some translucent and some colored swirls showing.

  9. Dip the good side of the Polymer Clay ball into the glitter, so that the glitter adheres in spots. Remember that "LESS IS MORE" when adding the glitter. For best results, do not make the glitter very thick, as the variation in color and sparkle are a part of an Opal. Additionally, the color should be asymetrically dispersed, as is the color of real Opals.

  10. Take the rest of the translucent Premo and put through the pasta machine at the highest (thinnest) setting, making a very thin sheet of translucent Polymer Clay. I used the #7 setting.

  11. Carefully cover the good side of the Polymer Clay ball with a single layer of the thin sheet of translucent Polymer Clay. This should cover the entire Polymer Clay ball. Trim away any excess. Roll the ball in your hands to bind the thin sheet of translucent Polymer Clay to the ball of Polymer Clay.

  12. Press the bad side of the sphere into the glass pane. Shape the good side into an oval to make a cabochon bead.

  13. Bake at the recommended temperature and time.

  14. Immerse Polymer Clay beads in ice water immediately after taking out of the oven. This enhances the translucence of the Polymer Clay.

  15. Sand each Polymer Clay bead using the wet sandpaper, starting at about 250, then 400 and 600 grit. It is important to go to a higher number in order. If you like sanding, there is no reason not to go further.

  16. Coat with at least 2 thin coats of acrylic finish (Future or Flecto). Use a good soft brush to minimize bubbles. Dry between coats.
Your Opals are ready to be used for jewelry or as embellishments for other projects!

Barbara Reider
©January, 2001

Now that you've read Barbara's faux opal method, click here to see Linda Geer's alternative method of creating these beautiful jewelry pieces.

We want to thank Barbara for sharing her excellent method of creating faux opals with PCC! If you have a lesson or tutorial that you would like to see here on PCC, just email or or Sunni and we will help you prepare your article for the PCC Website.

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