Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Clay-Covered Pen Tutorial: How to Cover a Pen with Polymer Clay

I decided it's about time that I do a pen tutorial since I've only done about 120 of them (pens, I mean)...

This is a very simple method of doing a pen.  The size and shape of the cane makes it really easy to line everything up well.

You may notice that the cane I used in this tutorial is the one in the cane tutorial that I did last time.  I didn't plan it that way.  I actually made the cane a year or so ago and I just made this pen yesterday.  Anyway, here it is...

square cane
Bic Round Stic pen (some other brands will work but some will melt in the oven so be careful if you choose another brand)

needle-nose pliers
sharp tissue blade
tiny circle cutter or sharp craft knife
1 sheet white cardstock
clay-dedicated baking pan

Step 1:  Take the ink out of the pen.  Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to gently but firmly pull on the black part of the pen until it comes out of the barrel.  (Don't pull on the metal part or you will have a mess.)

Step 2:  Prepare your cane.  For this tutorial, you need to use a square cane sized to as close to 1/2 inch as you can get. 

Step 3:  Slice your cane.  You'll need about 20 slices.  Try to get them as even as possible.  The thicker they are, the easier it is to roll the seams together but the thicker the pen will be.  So keep that in mind when you cut your slices.  Some people say to slice as thin as possible but I don't agree with that for pens.  It's really up to you. 
Step 4:  Start covering the pen.  Start at the top of the pen and put two slices of cane side by side around the end of the pen.  (Sorry this pic is blurry.)

If the bottom edges don't quite match up, use the flat of a tissue blade to gently press the lower edge up a little to even things up.

Continue covering the pen with cane slices, evening out the edges as you go.

Don't cover the end of the pen where it narrows yet.

The two slices on the end need special treatment.  Squeeze two adjacent corners toward one another to make the shapes shown below.  Press the slices onto the tip of the pen, lining up the wider bottom edge with the slices already in place.  If the other sides don't line up with the end of the pen, don't worry about it as long as they are close.

For the top end of the pen, cut a small circle out of the center of a cane slice, either with a tiny circle cutter or a sharp craft knife.

Press it over the open spot on the end of the pen.  Smooth the edges down the best you can with your finger. (We'll come back to this later.)

Step 5:  Finishing.  Lay the pen on your work surface and roll it back and forth with your palm a little.  
(Not pictured) Using a really sharp tissue blade, shave off raised areas to prevent too much distortion.  Then roll it on the work surface again to smooth everything out.
Hold the top end of the pen lightly in your fingers and roll the bottom end of the pen on the work surface to smooth the seams out there.

Tap the top end of the pen on the work surface to get rid of the seam.  Smooth it out the rest of the way with your fingers.

Rolling should have made the two cane slices at the end extend out beyond it a little.  If it didn't, add a couple of slivers of clay from another slice.  Trim the end neatly with a sharp blade.

Lay the pen on your work surface and run your fingers lenthwise along the pen to smooth it out even more.

Step 6: Bake it on a piece of accordian-folded cardstock.  I usually bake a pen at 265F for 30 minutes.  Here's the pen with a couple of others I've done as well as some beads my 6-year-old made.
Next time I'll share some sanding and buffing tips...



  1. such an awesome tutorial thanks for sharing!

  2. This is an awesome tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I'm keeping this post in my favorites.

  3. Without a doubt, this is the best tutorial I've seen for covering a pen with clay. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks all! I've always thought I had a knack for explaining things... :)