Polymer Clay Tips - Why Aren't My Stripes Like Her Stripes?

Presented by Lisa Pavelka, Award-Winning Artist, Author and Instructor,
Instructions by Ian, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Learn the basics of how to make stripes with polymer clay in this step-by-step jewelry-making tutorial hosted by award-winning mixed media artist Lisa Pavelka.
Condition black and white polymer clay by hand kneading or running through a poly roller until soft and pliable.
Separately, run both the white and black conditioned clay though a poly roller machine on the third largest setting to get two large sheets of equally thick clay. Place the larger of the two sheets of clay down on the workstation then gently smooth down the second sheet of clay over the first, from one end to the other, so no air gets trapped. Keeping the blade straight up and down, use a clay blade to trim away the excess clay, leaving both sheets the same size with straight and clean edges.

  • It's important to have a nice clean sheet with no folds or crevices to ensure there is no interruption in the stripes
  • The thickness or thinness of stripes is a matter of personal taste. They don't have to be the same thickness depending or only two colors depending on your preference for the design.
Lift the clay sheets from the workstation without stretching them by shimmying the clay blade under the sheets at an angle from one side to the other. Run the stacked sheets through the poly roller on the thickest setting.

To get a better idea of how thick the combined clay sheet is, use the clay blade to cut a thin strip from the edge. If thinner stripes are wanted, run the combined clay sheet through the poly roller one size down until it is the desired thickness.

Tip: Do not worry about any specs of contaminating clay attaching to the sheet from the poly roller, they will soon be covered by another layer of clay and will not be seen.
Use a clay blade to cut the combined clay sheet in half then gently stack the halves on top of each other by smoothing down one sheet over the other without trapping air between them. Be sure the colors alternate when stacking.

Free the clay sheets from the workstation by shimmying the blade underneath them.

Repeat three to four times until there is a sizable stack of alternating colors.

Tip: Do not compress the clay sheets together too hard when stacking them or the stripes will deform.
With the stripes laying horizontally on the workstation, use a clay blade to slice one side of the striped block evenly, revealing clean striping underneath.

Slice off an approximately 1/8-inch thick slice from same side of the block of striped clay.

  • Any contamination or residue on the blade can cause distortion in the stripes; it's important to make sure your blade is clean and very sharp
  • Cutting the cane with the stripes positioned vertically will cause the stripes to bow and distort
Place the sliced sheet onto a piece of TeflonĀ® paper then run both the sheet of clay, so the stripes are oriented vertically, and paper through a poly roller on the largest setting. Hold onto the Teflon sheet until the clay is caught in the roller or the sheet may crumple and disfigure the clay stripes. Repeat once more, passing the clay and Teflon sheet through the poly roller one size lower to make the clay slightly thinner.

  • It is normal to have distortion on the top and bottom of the clay sheet after running it through the poly roller
  • If the striped clay is run through the poly roller with the stripes horizontal, you will get a zebra effect rather than clean striping

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