Spice Up Your Polymer Clay

polymer clay beads and jars of spice
A few weeks ago I was inspired to add some matcha to translucent polymer clay. I loved the lush earthy green color I got. But I only made three test beads, because I wasn’t sure what would happen to the color during baking. As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, I knew I needed to make more. And to try other spices too.

This weekend I made a bigger batch of matcha beads. And then I tested three other spices: tumeric, cayenne, and cloves. Delish. No, they don’t smell like the spices once baked. (Oh but wouldn’t that be divine?) Once again, I only made a few testers from each spice, and once again, I wish I had made more. Glorious colors.

Adding inclusions to polymer clay is not a new technique. Pretty much anything that can withstand the heat at which the clay cures can be mixed in. One limitation is that too much of some inclusions can make the clay brittle and prone to cracking. That’s what happened with the clove and cayenne beads I made.

Unlike the matcha and tumeric, which are finely milled powders, the cayenne and cloves are grainy and gritty. With the matcha and tumeric, a scant sprinking was enough to impart an intense hue. To get a more intense color with the cayenne and cloves, I had to add lots more.  And at some point, more becomes too much for the clay.

Polymer clay beads tinted with tumeric powder.

Tumeric makes a vibrant sunshine yellow when mixed with clay, just as it does in curry.

Polymer clay beads tinted with cayenne powder.

Cayenne mixed with clay creates a spicy orange with flecks of red.

Polymer clay beads tinted with ground cloves.

Ground cloves in the translucent clay yielded a rich nutty brown.

spiced polymer clay beads

My first batch of spiced polymer clay beads.

So much yumminess. Don’t those little tube beads look like cut green beans? Needless to say, I will be back in the kitchen/studio mixing up more of these organically colored clay beads. And testing other spices. I have quite the spice collection thanks to my love of baking and trying exotic-sounding recipes. I predict paprika will be a luscious red, allspice a wonderful woodsy brown, and I’m pretty sure black pepper will turn into something that looks like granite.

Once I turned off the oven for the weekend, I wasn’t done playing with these beads. What could make them better? How about a little distressing a la the “rustic beads” tutorial from The Blue Bottle Tree. I got out my supplies, looked over the tutorial once more, and just had fun playing with color.  I was a little sad when I first covered up the sunny yellow beads, but then I got over it, and got into it. Because after all, I do have more tumeric and clay. And just look at these fabulously distressed organic beads.

Spiced polymer clay beads with rustic finish.

The spiced polymer clay beads gone rustic, with a little acrylic paint.

Stay tuned here and follow me on Facebook to see what spices I test next, and what other polymer clay play and jewelry design escapades are coming up from the Paisley Lizard.

8 thoughts on “Spice Up Your Polymer Clay

  1. Kathy R.

    What a “delicious” batch of beads! I have used spices and herbs in the past and always find it a fun project. I also add a little of my used coffee grounds (dry first) to add texture. Rustic style beads are so much fun to play with!

    1. Tammy Adams

      Hmmm. Now I think I need to go borrow a cup of coffee grounds to mix in. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I don’t think Diet Pepsi dregs would have the desired effect. 🙂

      1. Kathy R.

        A cup would keep you for a long time! I use it sparingly. Something else to try would be instant coffee, depending on brand it has different coarseness to it.
        Happy creating!

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