Making it theirs, Part 2: Adventures in polymer clay

Read Part 1 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

One of the items in Lexie’s new room that I needed to girlify was her dresser. As I mentioned earlier, painting it wasn’t an option. It’s a very nice dresser with simple lines and a pretty maple color, but it’s not at all girly. The biggest culprit was the drawer pulls.

polymer clay drawer pulls (7)

Again, nice and simple. But not girly. Solid, yes. Even a bit masculine. So I immediately pegged them for replacement. My original plan was to raid thrift and antique stores, as well as home improvement stores, and get an eclectic collection of old and new, simple and ornate, plain and glittery knobs and pulls (since I could go with either a pull of the right dimensions or replace one pull with 2 knobs). But I couldn’t find anything I liked in my first couple attempts, and I had 11 pulls to replace.

It was etsy that gave me the inspiration needed. First, I found these adorable hand painted fairy drawer knobs that I fell in love with. I even looked, and I couldn’t find anything out there nearly as good. Even better, since it’s from an etsy shop, I was able to place a custom order that mixed it up with the 3 main colors in Lexie’s room: pink, purple and green. And they were absolutely beautiful when they arrived:

putting it all together - Lexie's room (1)

Of course, buying 22 of them would have been a bit too expensive (understandably, since they’re hand crafted). Fortunately, that extra searching I’d done had given me another inspiration. Lexie’s room wasn’t solely being decorated with fairies; I was also using butterflies and flowers. And there are some truly stunning butterfly and flower polymer clay canes out there at seriously affordable prices…so I was able to get a great variety.

polymer clay drawer pulls (2)

The leaf canes and 3 butterfly canes came from the vanderveens; the purple rose on the right and dark blue rose on the bottom are from RoniGur; the purple rose on the left came from Tami Shvat; the turquoise rose in the middle from Lava Gifts; the light pink rose in the middle is from DicopeSupplies; and the bright pink rose on the bottom came from Ronit Golan.

I also bought some light pink polymer clay to cover the handles with, and some glitter…because what almost 4-year-old girl couldn’t use more glitter in her life?

polymer clay drawer pulls (5)

If you’re wondering what those metal pieces are, they’re the blades from a deconstructed men’s razor. Helpful note to anyone who hasn’t used polymer clay canes before: you need a very thin and sharp blade to slice them, or you’re going to end up with a smashed and broken mess. Ask me how I know. There actually are tools out there sold for this, but none of my local stores had them, and I didn’t have the patience to wait for the tissue blades I ordered online. So I improvised.

The first thing I did was cover the drawer pulls with well-conditioned and nicely flattened pink clay. For the conditioning and flattening I opted for a pasta machine–I got one at Michael’s that was in the section with the polymer clay, and for the hassle it saved me, the less than $30 price tag was well worth it.

polymer clay drawer pulls (1)

Once the pull was completely covered, I took some of the slices I’d cut from the various canes and placed them on the front of the pull.

polymer clay drawer pulls (8)

I did one test first; since 3 of the drawer pulls were being replaced with knobs I had them to spare. From the test I decided it was best to trim away as much of the translucent clay that surrounded the flowers and butterflies as I could; even at a lower temperature it turned dark. I also learned that I could cut thicker slices and then flatten them out larger to make bigger flowers.

polymer clay drawer pulls (9)

I had several bad cuts, where I didn’t get a complete slice, but I found I could fit those around other flowers to give more dimensionality to the piece. Once the front was well covered, I sprinkled sparkle liberally over the handle and pressed it in firmly.

polymer clay drawer pulls (10)

The clay I used called for baking at 275 deg F, but I used 250 because of the translucent clay. The baking was easy; I just covered a cookie sheet with plain paper, but the handles on top, and baked for about 2 hours.

polymer clay drawer pulls (11)

The handles came out just as I was hoping. They’re thick and chunky with an irregular, lumpy look, which is what I wanted–which might be a case of deciding in advance to be happy with what I was likely to get, considering my total lack of experience. But either way, I’m happy.

polymer clay drawer pulls (12)

polymer clay drawer pulls (13)

polymer clay drawer pulls (14)

And I love them on the dresser.

polymer clay drawer pulls (15)

polymer clay drawer pulls (16)

When she outgrows these handles, all I have to do is replace them for a more grown up look. For now, though, she’s in love.

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6 Responses to Making it theirs, Part 2: Adventures in polymer clay

  1. Abigail says:

    Really cute! How did you decide how thin/thick to cut the slices of clay? How messy did it get the pasta maker (aka, would you use your regular kitchen one)?

    • Jen says:

      I tried to cut the polymer clay slices as thin as I could, both to try to keep an even thickness around the pull (for baking) and to get as much as possible out of each cane. I did cut some thicker in order to make the flowers bigger by flattening the thicker slice, but I tried to make sure they were all fairly thin when I put them on the drawer pull.

      As for the pasta maker, every thing I found to read about polymer clay says using the same one for food and polymer clay is highly inadvisable. It’s possible that clay could get caught in some areas that you can’t easily clean it out, and then if it ended up in the food, that could be dangerous. I didn’t have a pasta maker beforehand, so for me it was easy just to buy one for the clay.

  2. Ria F says:

    they look great!

  3. […] Read part 2 here. […]

  4. […] The Magpie Knitter Getting from "Ooh, shiny!" to a design Skip to content AboutFree PatternsFor Sale PatternsErrata ← Making it theirs, Part 2: Adventures in polymer clay […]

  5. […] Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 […]