For a while, I’ve been wanting to give polymer clay a go and make a leaf necklace for autumn. I put together this bright and beautiful fall leaf pendant using very dumbed down and basic techniques – my favorite way to craft, so that anyone can recreate it, even if you don’t quite know how to make jewelry yet! Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
When people ask me my crafting style, my answer is always… freeform. Unskilled. Just make it.
I like to hop from craft to craft, try new things, and see quick results. I need to see quick results. I’m not a “practice” kind of girl.
So when it comes to making tutorials for my readers I know I need a few things:
- Limited experience required
- No need for an extensive repertoire of tools for that hobby
- Quick results
This leaf necklace is the ultimate half-hour craft. You’re really making something from scratch, but you don’t have to have a huge stash of polymer clay tools.
You do need the basic jewelry making supplies (pliers, wires, chain…) You will need very basic clay equipment, but you don’t even need the carving tools that I used – you can use a toothpick.
And you technically need no prior experience, although with the thin chain I used, I did need to know how to make a very basic wrapped loop. See the video below for a tutorial on that (it’s not my video – just hunted one down for you that works!)
If you use a larger chain, you can use a thicker wire, and make a very simple loop.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself!
Back to the leaf necklace.
I painted some copper edges on my leaves once they were dry. I kind of messed up some – I didn’t take into account that the backs might show, so if you do it, paint one side at a time, allowing it to dry in between. I probably would have carved veins into the back too had I thought of that!
But hey, it’s okay to be an imperfectionist, isn’t it? I’m totally gonna make that a thing. I’m an imperfectionist. It’s cooler than just making mistakes, right? It’s, like, who I am, so it’s cool…
The copper paint I used is FolkArt Brushed Metal (they sent it to me for free to try out). I love how the half-painted ones look. I’m not a big fan of the one where I painted in the veins.
I sealed my piece with Sculpey glaze to give it a polished final finish. I definitely recommend doing that – it makes all the difference. I sealed it after I painted.
What you need to make a leaf necklace:
- Polymer clay (some of the colors I used came in the pack, some I mixed myself)
- Clay carving tools or a toothpick
- An oven
- Sculpey glaze
- A thin, flat paintbrush
- Optional: FolkArt Brushed Metal Copper Paint
- Chain thin enough to fit through your leaf holes
- A few inches of wire thin enough to fit through your chain holes
- A snap-on pendant bail
- A finished chain to wear your final piece
- Wire cutters, round nose pliers, chain nose pliers
How to make a cascading fall leaf necklace:
1. Form a leaf/eye shape from a small piece of clay. Repeat with approximately 5 appropriate colors.
2. Poke a hole at the top of your leaf. Make sure it’s large enough to fit whichever chain you have planned for it.
3. Carve out some veins in your leaf. Keep it simple.
4. Bake your leaves according to instructions on your package of clay. Let them cool.
5. Optional: paint copper accents on your leaves and allow them to dry completely.
6. Paint a layer of glaze on your leaves and allow it to dry completely. Make sure to leave the holes clear – remove any glaze that pools inside the holes.
7. Cut a piece of delicate chain a couple of inches long and thread it through your leaf.
8. Repeat with the rest of your leaves at different lengths. I did NOT measure, however I did lay them next to each other as I cut to see approximately how they’d fall in relation to each other.
9. Take a piece of wire that’s thin enough to fit your chain and a few inches long. Use your round nose pliers to bend up about an inch from the end, leaving a curve, not a neat fold. Start with your longest chain and string both sides onto the wire.
10. Continue stringing your chains onto the wire, making sure that the leaves all face forward (unless you repeated the design on both sides). Add them on so that the shortest ones sit on the outside. It just looks nice that way. Holding the wire with the round nose pliers by the curve, start wrapping the shorter end around the longer end to form a loop. I like to start it off with my fingers and then transfer to using pliers.
11. Continue wrapping the short around the long a few times to form a wrapped loop. Curve the top part of your wire and repeat to form a figure 8 twisted loop. Mine was really not perfect – I guess I just don’t focus on that when crafting for me!
12. Snap on your pendant bail by finding where it opens and sliding the top part of your figure 8 through.
String a chain through the bail and your leaf necklace is ready to wear!
Are you a perfectionist when you craft for yourself? What is your perspective on perfectionism in crafting? Who will you be making this fall leaf necklace for? Comment below!
Loved this DIY fall leaf necklace? Check out the cool crafts below!