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Make a Spooky Halloween Scene with Polymer Clay
Halloween clay ideas abound when it comes to making ghosts and goblins come alive with polymer clay. It’s so easy to mold into all kinds of shapes and because it’s made with PVC, a synthetic plastic polymer, you don’t need a kiln — you’re oven is hot enough for curing. It keeps its shape even when heat is applied, no melting or drooping; and once you’ve cured your creation in the oven you have a figurine that will last for many Halloweens to come.
After you read the easy to follow steps, watch as our artist creates the scene in the accompanying video. Here’s what you’ll need to make your very own handmade Halloween polymer clay scene.
List of supplies
- Pottery and Clay Sculpting Tools
- Oven-Bake Clay
- Rotary Cutter
- Black Adhesive Felt Fabric
- Copper Wire
- Canvas Panels, 11x14" - Pack of 14
- Acrylic Premium Artist Paint
- Green Construction Paper
Steps to a Spell-Binding Tablescape
Set the Scene: How to make the front yard, path, house, trees, fence
To start the scene the artist begins with the yard and the path and works his way toward the house.
The canvas panel will be the foundation for this tablescape. Paint it black, using acrylic paint. To achieve the best coverage, apply two coats of paint, making sure it covers all the edges, and let dry completely.
As you can see in the video, the artist draws what will be the curved path on a white sheet of paper. Then he cuts it out with a craft knife on a quilter’s cutting mat. Next, he uses the white paper pieces as a pattern to cut the sides of the path out of the adhesive-backed, black felt, which is the same size as the canvas. He then sticks the felt to the canvas. Now you have a lawn on both sides of the canvas with a path running through it.
What’s Halloween without a haunted house? You can get ideas for the house either from your imagination or by tracing one you have found in a magazine, book, or online. The artist has already traced a house on a piece of horizontal, heavyweight black paper. He cuts out the windows and the sides of the house first and then folds up the bottom to create a lip that will allow the house to stand on the canvas.
The artist applies a colored film to the back of the windows to imitate light coming through. Create silhouettes of the trees and the fence the same way as for the house.
Create the Framework for Your Characters
The best way to create the characters is to either sketch them from your imagination or from a photo reference. The more detailed you can make these drawings the easier it will be to model them from clay.
Once you have your sketches made, it’s time to create a wireframe for each. The wireframe ensures you get the right shape you want, will hold the clay in place, and help your character stand securely.
Watch closely as the artist creates the wireframe for each character. He is using copper wire and has peeled off the wire’s coating before using to make the wire stronger and hold its shape better.
After each of the Halloween shapes for your polymer characters are made, it’s time to start adding the clay.
Create the Cat
The artist starts with the black polymer clay and begins adding it to the wireframe, molding it to resemble a cat. Don’t forget to add its little triangular ears.
Roll out small balls of yellow and pink clay and flatten them until they are 1-2 mm thick. The yellow bits will be the cat’s eyes and the pink will be its nose. Press the eyes and nose in place on the cat’s face.
The cat shown here is wearing a mask. To create this, use white clay and roll out a small pancake 2-3 mm thick. Using one of the cutting tools from the sculpting kit, cut out a mask shape. Next, cut the eye and nose holes of the mask. Press it on the face, making sure you can see the eyes and nose peeking through. The artist uses sculpting tools to add details. He takes tiny bits of the black clay and rolls them into short lengths to form a vertical pupil for the center of each eye.
To make the cat’s costume, the artist starts with the smallest “bones” using the white clay. He rolls small balls and attaches them to the front of the cat and along its tail. For the larger bones, he rolls out thin sausage-like strips to a thickness of 2-3 mm. He cuts them with a knife and shapes the edges to make them look like bones. Then he attaches them to the legs.
Preheat the oven to 266°F or 130°C. Place the clay figure on an oven-safe glass or metal surface and bake for 15 minutes per ¼ inch (6mm) thickness. Use this baking information for all the characters in this project.
TIP: After your polymer clay figure has finished baking, leave it to cool in the oven. It will become stronger as it cools and become less likely to break when you take it out.
To make it look as if your cat is sitting on grass, cut out a circle with uneven or fringed edges from the green construction paper.
Shape the Ghost
The artist begins by building the wireframe, using thicker wire for the main structure that will become the ghost’s body and thinner wire to fasten the thicker wire together. He keeps adding wire to create a cylinder. He leaves a wire sticking horizontally out of each side for the ghost’s arms.
Since the ghost will hang from a fishing line, the artist creates a place on the top of its frame to fasten the line by making a small loop with a piece of wire and affixing the ends to the top of the wireframe.
He covers the wireframe with small portions of the grey polymer clay, pressing and molding them, working his way over the entire surface. He leaves openings for the eyes and mouth. After the surface is covered he smooths the clay, inside and out, with his hands. He sculpts the clay into eyelids and lips to emphasize the eyes and mouth. He uses the sculpting tool to add details.
To add texture to the ghost’s body, he flattens little balls of clay, in grey and yellow, to make round discs that he presses onto the surface. Afterwards, he creates the hands and puts them at the ends of the wire “arms.”
Cure in the oven. After it has cooled, attach the fishing line and hang.
Make the Moon
The wireframe for the moon is a crescent-shaped piece of wire. As he did with the ghost, the artist forms a small loop from a piece of wire and affixes it to the top of the wireframe for hanging.
Roll out light yellow clay to form one piece large enough to cover the entire surface of the wire and add more and more clay to build up the body of the moon. Once the moon is covered, the artist uses the sculpting tools and his fingers to form the nose, eyes, and mouth. Using bits of white, create the whites of the eyes. Use other colors of clay to add more details.
Cure in the oven and after it is completely cool, attach the fishing line and it’s ready to hang.
Construct the Pumpkins
You don’t need to make a frame for the smallest pumpkins. Using a small portion of orange clay, the artist simply rolls it into a uniform ball. He uses sculpting tools or his fingers to create the creases in the sides and other details.
For larger pumpkins, you will need to use wireframe.
IDEA: Since the wireframe for the larger pumpkin makes it hollow, the artist has placed an LED light inside to light the pumpkin up.
Roll out strips of clay in varying shades of orange and lay each across the wireframe, molding them together, while leaving holes for the eyes and mouth. Shape the clay around the eyes and mouth to get the expression you desire. Use sculpting tools to add creases and other details. Use bits of the orange clays to create texture.
Cure in the oven. Let cool completely.
Cut from the green construction paper irregular shapes with uneven or frayed edges to represent grass.
Polymer Clay Tips
- Use the wooden and plastic sculpting tools for pressing and forming and the metal tools for small and accurate detailing.
- Use heavier wire for making the main form and thinner wire for seaming up the sides.
- Similar to sculpey, Arteza polymer clay is soft and safe, so it’s perfect for Halloween and other holiday crafts and projects with kids.
- Never use clear nail polish as a varnish. The chemicals in nail polish will eventually dissolve the clay. To protect your polymer clay items from chipping, apply a coat of clear, water-soluble polyurethane varnish.
Assemble the Tablescape
You now have all the elements for an eerie Halloween tablescape. First, place the canvas with the black felt on top of a table or wherever you have chosen for your display. Then slip the folded edges of the house, trees, and fence under one long edge of the canvas. Next, place the green “grass” on top of the felt. Finish off the scene by hanging the moon and ghost at varying heights above the canvas.
Done! You’ve created a cute, yet spooky DIY display just in time for trick-or-treaters!
We hope you’ve enjoyed these Halloween polymer clay ideas. Besides creating adorable characters, you can also use polymer clay for other craft projects, such as jewelry, ornaments, cell phone accessories, and more. Give it a try!