How to Make Faux Tortoise Shell With Polymer Clay

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Tortoise shell is a popular horn coating for glasses, combs, umbrella handles, jewelry and many other objects, but you can make your own animal-friendly version of tortoise shell using a few colors of polymer clay. Faux tortoise shell projects are easy to make with a small amount of clay and a little experience blending clay colors.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Brown and tan polymer clay
  • Wax paper or a cookie sheet for your workspace
  • Sharp knife and other clay tools

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  1. 1

    Pick out shades of brown and neutral clay for your tortoise shell finish. Traditional tortoise shell is dark brown blended with a tan-gold hue. Polymer clay comes in a wide variety of colors, but if you can't find a tan to match the tortoise shell color you want, buy a block of neutral and a block of yellow to blend with the brown.

  2. 2

    Prepare your workspace with a sheet of wax paper or a cookie sheet to work on, to prevent clay mixing as you work with it. Work the brown into a flexible consistency, and do the same with the tan.

  3. 3

    Pinch off a small piece of all the colors you're going to need if you're blending the tan yourself. Don't go back to the larger block for more color without cleaning your hands or the clay tool you're using to avoid contaminating the block with another color.

  4. 4

    Form several small balls of both the dark brown and the golden tan when you've achieved the two colors you want to use in your faux tortoise shell. These balls don't need to be uniform in size.

  5. 5

    Roll all of the balls together loosely, taking care to arrange them so that the brown and tan are fairly evenly spaced. Allow some of the balls to get stretched out, but try not to blend the two colors.

  6. 6

    Flatten the ball using a rolling pin or other clay tool. Mash the clay together in places where the different colors have not stuck. Stretch the clay in some areas to elongate the strips of color and create a more authentic horn look.

  7. 7

    Cut the clay you need out of a uniformly flattened sheet of tortoise shell clay. You can make beads or any other tortoise shell covering for glasses, combs or other projects, but make sure the clay is flattened out to achieve an authentic look for your faux tortoise shell.

Tips and warnings

  • You can bake polymer clay onto any object that's heat safe. For example, a metal comb or metal glasses frames can be baked in the oven with polymer clay. If you can't bake the object, mold the polymer clay around it, bake separately and then use glue to affix the faux tortoise shell coating.

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