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Polymer Clay Christmas Trees using an Extruder

Polymer clay is very easy to shape and smooth into shape and using an extruder allows you to create lengths of consistently shaped clay which can be coiled, pressed together to create complex multi-coloured canes, woven or plaited.

These Christmas Tree decorations were created using extruded polymer clay which has been wrapped around a cone shape and baked in the oven to make the shape permanent.

Polymer Clay Christmas Tree Ornaments

There are different types of extruders available for use with clay, some have a push plunger while others have a turning handle to force the clay along the barrel and through the die disc. The Makin's Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder, pictured below, has a turning handle, is supplied with 10 different shaped die discs and can be used to extrude both polymer clay and the precious silver clay.

Makin's Professional Ultimate Clay ExtruderExtruded Polymer Clay

You will need a cone shaped former to create the Christmas Tree. Cut out a circle with an approximate diameter of 16cm from a sheet of lightweight cardboard. Fold it and cut it in half to make a half circle and then twist it into a cone. To prevent the clay from sticking on the cone and the cardboard from burning while the clay is baked, cover the cone with tin foil and tuck it up inside to secure it.

Template for making a cone

Prepare the polymer clay by working it in your hands until it is soft and malleable (a quick cheat is to put it in a plastic bag in your back pocket while you are making the cone former, the heat from your body will help to soften the clay ready for use). Working the clay by pulling it, folding it and rolling it will help to combine the polymers and pigments evenly throughout the clay so that the baked clay has strength and integrity. This technique is called conditioning.

Die disc from Makin's Professional Ultimate Clay ExtruderThis first Christmas Tree was created using a green coloured polymer clay which was extruded through the die disc shown left. The clay ribbon was first made into a small loop before wrapping the remainder around the cone in a downwards and evenly spaced spiral.

Christmas Tree made from polymer clay

The next stage was to roll out small 'sausages' of different coloured polymer clays. These were sliced in same sized pieces before rolling them into balls. The balls were squashed flat to create the coloured discs which were attached to the spiral tree to join parts of the spiral together and to represent decorative baubles on this abstract tree shape.

You could choose to leave the ribbon spiral undecorated which would make the spiral more elongated (and spring like) due to its weight.

Triangle shaped die disc for clay extruderThe second Christmas Tree was created using this triangular shaped die disc and the lightweight Sculpey Ultralight. The clay has a very pleasant texture and is softer than traditional polymer clays, it is only available in white and can be painted once cured.

The clay was not conditioned for quite as long as the clay used for the first Christmas Tree and when it was extruded came out with a 'snowy' textured edge.

Cone made from Sculpey Ultralight

Extruded Sculpey UltralightThe triangular shaped extruded polymer clay was wrapped from the top of the cone leaving a small hole at the top. As the clay was wrapped around the former it was gently pushed against the previous coil so that it would adhere to it and become a solid cone shape once it was baked.

Baking the Polymer Clay

The Christmas Trees were place on a sheet of tin foil on a baking tray in a domestic oven and baked for 30 minutes at 130C.

When the baked polymer clay had cooled, the Christmas Trees were eased away from their cone shaped former.

To finish off the tree decoration, a length of cotton was tied through the loop on the green Christmas Tree ready for hanging.

The Christmas Tree made from Sculpey Ultralight was decorated with red foil stars and a looped ribbon (knotted at one end) was pushed up from underneath and threaded through the hole at the top.

Polymer Clay Christmas Tree Ornaments

Please note. although polymer clays are labeled as non-toxic we do recommend that tools and cookware used for polymer clay should be kept separate from food preparation. There may be fumes from the oven while the clay is baked. Open a window to ventilate the room.

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