Whether you’re looking for holiday jewelry for yourself or as a cute DIY gift for someone special, these polymer clay Christmas tree earrings might be just what you’re looking for!
***This post contains affiliate links to products and supplies I highly recommend for making this project. As an affiliate of Amazon and other merchants, I may make a small commission from sales made through these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support! ***
Need some big shiny earrings to go with that crazy ugly Christmas sweater? You can make them yourself!
This project is about as easy as rolling out holiday cookies, and can be adapted to different levels. Even kids can get in on the fun of crafting these adorable tree earrings!
Consider this polymer clay jewelry making project as an activity for small groups, families, or even as a fun money-making project for those holiday craft fairs.
Even if you’ve never worked with polymer clay before, I will walk you through each step of the way in the following tutorial. You will need to stock up on a few supplies, if you’re a beginner, though seasoned crafters may already have some clay making supplies on hand.
I am also providing links to suggested products you may want to purchase online for the project. These are products that I already use and/or can highly recommend. I want you to be successful and have a great time making these festive polymer clay Christmas tree earrings!
Let’s get started!
- What is Polymer Clay?
- Gathering Your Materials & Supplies
- Jewelry Findings and Embellishments
- Work Surface:
- more fun supplies…
- Short on Supplies? Go Ahead and Improvise!
- Step One: Condition the Clay
- Conditioning the Clay by Hand
- Conditioning the Clay Using a Pasta Machine
- Step Two: Roll Out the Clay
- Step Three: Cut Out the Shapes
- Step Four: Give it Some (Garland) Swag!
- Step Five: Add Clay Ball Ornaments
- Step Six: Add Holes for Jewelry Wires
- Step Seven: Bake the Clay
- Step Eight: Attach Earring Posts
- Step Nine: Connecting the Baked Clay Shapes
- Step Ten: Show Off Your New Earrings!!
- Share Your Work!
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a modeling clay that remains soft and pliable until baked in a low temperature oven. Many different crafts can be easily made at home with polymer clay, as it’s easy to work with and doesn’t require a kiln or high temperatures for curing.
You can easily shape small figurines or all kinds of interesting jewelry items with polymer clay,. Once shaped, simply bake it in your home oven according to package directions. (Some brands will have varying temperatures and time required to harden properly.)
Baked polymer clay is fairly indestructible with normal use, yet is surprisingly light and easy to wear as jewelry.
Gathering Your Materials & Supplies
These Christmas tree earrings can be made with just a few basic supplies. That said, there are other clay-making tools and supplies that I will suggest that will make the process easier and more efficient.
I will also offer alternatives; tools to use in a pinch, and also extra supplies that just might add a little more “bling” to your finished project.
It is important to note here, that if you use kitchen tools as substitutes for clay tools, they need to be dedicated to clay use only. Once they have been used on polymer clay, a non-food substance, they should not return to use with food.
- Polymer Clay in 3 colors: Green, Gold or Yellow, and Red. One package of each color will be enough for about 4 pairs of earrings.
- There are several different brands of polymer clay; the main two are Sculpey and Fimo. While there are different varieties of Sculpey clay, they are generally a little softer to work with than Fimo. Fimo is harder after baking, and also costs a little more than Sculpey.
- Choose whatever shades of green, gold or yellow, and red that you prefer. Christmas trees can be traditional forest green, primary green, neon green, sage green, whatever makes you happy!
- Yellow or gold clay is for the garlands and th star on top.
- Red polymer clay is for the tiny red ball ornaments.
Jewelry Findings and Embellishments
- Sculpey glaze (optional; makes earrings extra shiny!)
- Sculpey Bake & Bond
- Tiny “hole-less” seed beads in silver or color of choice (for adding more “bling”, looks like tiny white Christmas lights!
- Clear Flat Back Rhinestones (for even more bling!)
- Flat Round Earring Posts with Backs
- 12 mm jump rings – to attach the tree piece to the star piece
- Embossing powder in gold or other metallic/shimmery color (optional; for adding more shine!)
Before getting to work, you’ll need to prepare a work surface that’s clean, smooth, nonporous, and nonfood. Some suggested working surfaces include:
- Acrylic sheets
- Baking parchment (lay it over the baking pan, you’ll be all set to bake!)
- Ceramic tile (I use one large square tile purchased at a home improvement store)
- Cardstock or poster board
- Acrylic Clay Roller – This is an 8 inch by 1 inch diameter acrylic rod that is used both to condition and roll out your clay. I started this project using a brayer with a smaller acrylic roller attached, and it also worked fine. I soon also purchased the longer acrylic roller you can find here, which I love. But as I like to say, use what you have!
- Pasta machine (or “clay conditioning” machine, pretty much the same thing) Optional, but VERY helpful in conditioning your clay!
- Clay Extruder – I highly recommend one of these for creating the super thin ropes of clay “garlands” that will adorn your Christmas tree earrings.
I especially like this particular design of a clay extruder tool. It’s a strong, stainless steel tool, not like the plastic toy extruders made for kids’ soft play dough.
Some models require you to use super-human strength to press the clay down through the tube. This one I bought on Amazon allows the rotating action of the metal arm do the work gradually, easing the pressure on your hands!
The clay extruder is similar to a cookie press. It includes a set of small disc attachments, each with different size and shape holes for the clay to squirt through. I love that it makes long strands of clay in various shapes and sizes, long strands of perfectly consistent thickness.
Not ready to purchase a clay extruder? Not a problem. You’ll just need to roll your clay into really skinny snakes to use as garlands on your tree.
- Stainless steel clay cutters or cookie cutters in 2 shapes: a Christmas tree and a mini size star, for the post part of the earring.
My Christmas tree shape was a plastic cutter from a children’s set of clay tools. It worked ok, but a steel cutter would’ve been better. Plastic doesn’t cut as cleanly; therefore, I needed to clean up the rough edges of my tree before baking it.
For any specific shape you want to cut in clay, just find the image of the shape in the size you want, and print it out. (Or draw it, if free hand drawing is your thing!) Cut out the shape, lay it over your flattened clay, and trace around your ready-made template!
Moving on to
more fun supplies…
- Clay Blades – These straight blade cutters look like oversize razor blades, but never fear, they’re not quite that sharp! Still, keep away from small children.
This Sculpey Clay Blade set includes one long, rigid blade for straight cuts or edges, a flexible blade for curved cuts and edging, and a wavy blade for decorative cuts and edging. Each blade has a set of easy snap on handles that come assembled on the blade.
I use a set of plain straight cut blades, but that newer set of blades by Sculpey sure looks fun!
- Awl or needle point tool (a toothpick will do!) to make tiny holes for jump rings. (rings for attaching the star to the tree, so it dangles nice and pretty!)
The Activa Activ-Tools Clay Tools Set, mentioned below, also includes a needle point tool for making those tiny holes for jewelry components.
- Various blunt clay tools for shaping, edging, trimming. The Activa Activ-Tools Clay Tools Set from dickblick.com includes a rough cut blade, a needle point, a smooth cut blade, and a roller cutter. I used a similar set that I’ve used for many years of clay crafting.
Short on Supplies? Go Ahead and Improvise!
You could also improvise by using various household items as clay tools. Plastic table knives, toothpicks, craft sticks and random plastic toys scavenged from the kids’ toy box can also be used in a pinch.
You will Also Need:
- Baking pan – Be sure to use parchment paper between the clay and the pan’s surface, both to protect the clay from burning and to keep your pan safe for food use. If you have a dedicated pan for clay use, even better!
- Oven for baking the clay pieces Your kitchen oven will do just fine. You need to bake the clay at a low temperature, according to the package directions. (Different brands require different temperatures.)
Some like to use a toaster oven dedicated to craft use. I have a small kids’ craft oven for baking just a few pieces at a time.
- Sanding block – This is great to have for smoothing out any rough edges on your clay piece after it’s baked. This block is basically a rectangular piece of foam with a fine grit sandpaper surface. It’s flexible so it allows you to squeeze into those hard to reach spaces and finish things off nice and smooth.
If you’re looking for a small craft oven that’s more energy efficient and specially made for polymer clay, this Amaco Polymer Clay & Craft Oven would be an excellent choice. It’s handy and small and even has a 30 minute timer to prevent overbaking.
- Jewelry pliers or needle nose pliers
Ok, got your supplies?
Let’s make some holly jolly polymer clay Christmas tree earrings!!
Step One: Condition the Clay
Polymer clay is a plastic material made of polymer fibers. When you first open a package of polymer clay, it feels cool, firm, and rather rigid. Those polymer fibers are all jumbled up like uncombed hair. The fibers need to be smoothed out, going the same way in order to feel pliable and to form shapes easily.
That’s where conditioning the clay comes in.
Conditioning the Clay by Hand
A great way to jump-start conditioning your clay is to stuff a pack of it in your pocket for a few minutes as you get set up. Your body heat will begin to soften up the clay.
Once you’ve opened the clay, break off a section and begin rolling it in your hands. Roll it into a ball, and then a long skinny snake. Fold it in half to make a ball again. Repeat until the clay feels flexible.
Conditioning the Clay Using a Pasta Machine
Using a clay or pasta machine is especially helpful when your clay has been sitting unused for a long time, or is unusually rigid or crumbly.
To begin, slice off a thick slice of clay. Roll the slice through the machine. Fold it in half and roll it through again, sending the folded edge through first to force the air out, preventing bubbles. Repeat until the clay feels soft and stretchy, and the sheets of clay come out with smooth edges.
Clay or pasta machines usually have a knob on the left side with different size settings, numbered between 1 and 7. On my machine, 7 is the thickest and 1 is the thinnest setting. I like to try to use the thinner settings for conditioning the clay, then save the thickest for when I’m preparing to roll and cut the clay.
If you are conditioning by hand, simply knead, condition and blend clay until soft moldable.
For this project, you will be using 3 colors of clay. I like to just condition one color of clay first and continue working with that color until completed. Switching from color to color requires cleaning up your tools in between, to avoid getting specks of other colors on your clay.
Step Two: Roll Out the Clay
Use an acrylic roller (or a clay machine) to roll the clay out until it is an even sheet and a little less than ¼” [.6 cm] thick.
Step Three: Cut Out the Shapes
Use small cookie or clay cutters to cut out green Christmas tree and yellow (or gold) star shapes. You will need 2 trees and 2 stars for one pair of earrings.
Step Four: Give it Some (Garland) Swag!
Roll out very skinny yellow (or gold) clay snakes as garlands to decorate the tree. These can be made by hand. Simply roll and lengthen a lump of clay in your hands until it becomes a skinny snake that resembles a swag of garlands.
If you are using a clay extruder, be sure to select an attachment with small holes that will match your tree size. Follow the directions given for your particular extruder tool. If your clay has sat and cooled for awhile, you may want to condition it again before pressing it through the extruder.
Drape your clay garlands back and forth across your trees, gently pressing them into place, without flattening their shape.
Step Five: Add Clay Ball Ornaments
Break off tiny pieces of red clay and form them into small red ball “ornaments”. Press them lightly onto your trees.
Dab a tiny bit of Bake and Bond glue on the back of small flat backed rhinestones, adhere to unbaked clay, as shiny ornaments. Or, dab some Bake and Bond on your tree and sprinkle on some tiny seed beads or other shiny embellishments. Just be sure they can withstand the 230 degree heat of the oven.
Step Six: Add Holes for Jewelry Wires
Use a small stylus tool to create a hole in the top of each tree, and at the bottom of each star. After baking, you will be inserting a small jump ring through these holes to connect your star to the tree.
Step Seven: Bake the Clay
Inspect your clay pieces carefully before baking. Smooth out any rough edges. Pick off any specks of other colored clay. You can remove any tiny particles of dust or hair by touching it up with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
At this point, if you want, you may choose to brush on a little gold embossing powder, which will melt in the oven to create a shimmering effect.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper, place clay pieces on top. Bake your shapes for 30 minutes at 230°F (110°C).
You may want to crack a window if you’re worried about fumes from the baking clay. Typically, as long as your clay doesn’t burn, it doesn’t make a smell. (So stay close by so it doesn’t overbake!)
Turn off oven, allowing clay to cool before removing from oven.
Examine your baked clay pieces. You may use a sanding block or fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges. If you prefer a glossy finish, paint on a little Sculpey Glaze to finish your pieces. Be sure to let them dry 30 minutes before attaching the jewelry findings.
Step Eight: Attach Earring Posts
Once the pieces are baked hard and have completely cooled, it’s time to add the earring posts. For most decorative gluing purposes, like the rhinestones we glued on earlier, it’s fine to use Bake & Bond glue. For jewelry pieces that get a lot of handling, however, like earring backs, I prefer to use the heavy-duty, E6000 jewelry glue.
E6000 is a superglue type of substance that adheres super hard to any surface. For this reason, and because it also smells a bit, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area with no kids or pets within touching distance. (Its vapors can be harmful; just use a tiny bit, keep your space well-ventilated, away from others, and you’ll be fine.) 😀 It will also take extra time to cure; best to give it 24 hours to dry and permanently bond.
Turn your stars face down and prepare to attach the flat earring posts. Place a tiny drop of E6000 glue on the back of the post, and lay it on the clay star. Press it down gently yet firmly. Repeat on the other baked clay star. Allow to dry overnight.
Step Nine: Connecting the Baked Clay Shapes
Attach a jump ring to the hole in the top of the tree shape. Then add the star shape to the jump ring to complete your dangly earring.
TIP: To open and close a jump ring, simply grasp the jump ring on both sides with chain nose pliers (or needle nose) and twist the ring open, from side-to-side. Never pull the jump ring which can cause distortion.
Step Ten: Show Off Your New Earrings!!
Try on your finished polymer clay Christmas tree earrings! Now that you’ve learned how easy it is to make these fun festive clay earrings, you might find yourself addicted!
These large dangly polymer clay earrings will make great gifts or conversation pieces at your next holiday party. Pair them with your favorite Ugly Christmas Sweater and you’re ready to get jolly!
Share Your Work!
How did your clay earring project come out?
Did you do things differently, or find other household items to use as tools?
Any questions for me? Let me know in the comments below.
Feel free to share a photo of your finished Christmas tree polymer clay earrings. I’d love to see them!
Did you pair them with other holiday jewelry for a fun party look? Awesome!!