How to Make Cameo Brooches

Written by lauren vork
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How to Make Cameo Brooches
Traditional cameo brooches are frequently highly intricate, ornate pieces. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

The cameo pendant is a classic work of jewellery art dating back many centuries. Traditional cameos are hand carved from ivory, but modern cameos may also be pour-moulded or sculpted, making them significantly easier to produce. Make your own cameo brooch of any size, colour and shape you like using polymer clay. The detail-friendly clay has properties that closely resemble the texture and colour of traditional cameo materials.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Drawing paper or computer printer
  • Stamped metal jewellery setting
  • Dark red or black polymer clay
  • Clay rolling pin
  • Craft knife
  • Ivory-coloured polymer clay
  • Sewing pin with round head
  • Craft varnish
  • Craft paintbrushes

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  1. 1

    Draw on paper or print from a computer an image of a woman's profile silhouette. Measure your cabochon setting and size the image so that it fits within the metal oval (or circle) with about 1/8 inch margin on all sides. You might need to round the bottom of the shape with scissors to make it fit.

  2. 2

    Soften about 1 tbsp of black or red clay by kneading it in your hands. Roll it into a ball, then roll it out into a 1/4-inch thick sheet using a clay rolling pin.

  3. 3

    Press the metal jewellery setting facedown into the clay sheet to create an impression of its shape in the clay. Use the craft knife to cut out the inner circle or oval from the impression, creating a clay cabochon of the right size and shape. Press this into the metal setting.

  4. 4

    Bake the metal setting and clay according to the polymer clay manufacturer's instructions.

  5. 5

    Soften and roll out 1/2 tbsp of ivory clay into a 1/8-inch thick sheet using the rolling pin.

  6. 6

    Lay the paper silhouette cutout on the ivory clay. Trace around it using the sewing pin. Remove the paper. Peel away the clay from outside the cutout to leave the silhouette cutout shape. Carefully peel this up from your work space using the craft knife.

  7. 7

    Press the ivory-coloured silhouette onto the darker clay.

  8. 8

    Use the sewing pin to carve some dimensions and texture into the shape of the silhouette, such as a recess where the eyes should be. Create swirls with the tip of the pin to texture the hair. Gently roll the round head of the pin along the silhouette's jawline to make the chin and head stand forward.

  9. 9

    Bake the cameo a second time to cure the ivory clay. Apply craft varnish to the finished cameo using a craft brush, if desired, for a shiny finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Check your rolling pin for traces of dark clay before using it on the ivory clay. Clean it with dish soap, if necessary, to avoid transferring the darker clay.

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