Wednesday, March 19

How to make polymer clay jhumkis or jhumkas with swirls

It took me a long time to realise that paper quilling is big in India! So popular, that the Paper Quill Jhumkis stays on top of the star list among all my blog posts.

Interestingly, it was my friend Sankgetha Sripathy who is known best for her terracotta jewellery on Smudgy Trove Facebook page, who painstakingly pictured the process and sent to me. This time, she came up with a short tutorial on polymer clay jhumkis. 

Classic jhumkis or jhumkas are all-time favourites with some. Of late though, it looks like they're seeing a resurgence with fresh design experiments. I prefer the earthy clay over polymer any day. But the medium offers its own options for creativity. Crafters have umpteen methods to come up with polymer masterpieces in jewellery.

Am pasting here what Sankgetha tried with the polymer clay she has.

Polymer clay swirl

I love the yellow design on this jhumki, with its swirl pattern that sways between a rose effect and marble effect.  I googled polymer jhumkis and found that while jhumkis get made a lot with moulds, using such marble effects for a traditional form of jewelry is not so common. For the how to of this, read on.

Here are the materials she lists:

Polymer jewelry things to use
working board or tile
roller to roll the clay
three types of clay - she uses Sculpey brand clay packs, and a bit of base clay 
    in any colour for a ball (here she used white - the smallest of clay balls in the pic above)
a circle shaped cookie cutter
pasta machine or clay kneading machine
eye pin
Nichrome wire (scroll down to see picture)
pliers - nose plier and one to cut the wire
a thick plastic sheet to place over your table for cleanliness

a potter's tool or scoop (see later pics for reference) would be handy too

Sculpey brand

Polymer clay pieces

For a start, pick your clay sheets from the Sculpey pack.

Soften them using the pasta machine or clay kneading machine.

clay kneading machine
If you do not have a pasta machine at home, you could use your dough roller or chapati roller. Another option according to Sankgetha, is to knead it with your hands, using some baby oil.

The rolled clay needs to be cut into square shapes by cutting off the uneven edges.

 polymer clay

You then need to stack the squares or rectangles one over the other. Roll this stack, to make the sheets stick, and also to make it thinner. And now roll the whole stack into a cylindrical shape, the way you would roll semi-solid dough to make spring rolls.

swirl making in polymer clay
Once this becomes a tube, you will need to slice it. If you wish to understand this better, here is a Youtube video for your reference: How to make polymer jewelry

polymer clay spiral
This is a picture of the rolled stack, you need to tighten a bit so that the layers stick better. Slice them, and you get these spiral cuts like below. You then need to pick up the base clay ball now.

Here it is the small white clay ball that she used. Check the second picture in the post.

And then, stick the spirals on to it.

polymer clay beads
To blend the swirls on to the ball, roll this between your palms. The balls will look like this:

polymer clay designs
Aren't the balls gorgeous? They look like delicately made chocolate! Am so tempted to have them!

The next step, is to cut these balls. Not in half, but make sure you have two thirds on one side and one third on the other.

polymer clay jhumki
This is how they look after you cut through them. Scoop out the white using a potter's tool, or a tiny scoop if you have one. Leave just a little layer - a layer that holds the swirl design topping.

scooper polymer clay potter tool
Now, you make fix an eye pin through the center of this tiny cup. Before that, do add another small ball of the swirl design on top of the cup so that the eye pin stays firm. To get familiar with how it is done, you could check Sankgetha's previous post on paper quill jhumkis where she has explained it.

Pick up some green clay now, or an accented coloured clay, and roll many tiny beads from it.

polymer clay base
Now is when the nichrome wire comes into picture.

``I use nichrome wire as it does not burn when I bake the clay jewelry,'' says Sankgetha.

Nichrome wire is commonly made of nickel, chromium, often iron and is usually used as a resistance wire. It is used in clay sculptures and other clay work, to hold the pieces together. It can be fired in the kiln, and withstand high temperatures.

Nichrome wire for clay jewelry
Measure about half an inch, lesser or more, depending on how comfortable it is for you.

polymer jewelry with nichrome wire
And cut it.
nichrome wire bit
Insert the bits into the jhumki  base edge and then fix the tiny clay balls on top of each of the bits. The tiny balls work as an extension of the jhumki design.

Notice the protruding nichrome bit against the index finger, in the picture below.

how to make polymer jhumka

jhumki with polymer clay

This is how they need to look after you have inserted them on to the bits.
clay jhumki modern design

spiral design jhumka
This is how the jhumkis will look after you have finished with the base.

The next step is to bake them. Each brand of polymer clay requires different temperatures and time to bake them in.

home based clay baking oven
This is how a home-based clay oven looks like. Clay jewellery makers cannot live without it.

In this case, she fired them between 20-30 minutes in the home kin.

And then, fixed the fish hooks.

final piece polymer jhumka indian traditional

And the exquisite piece of Indian design jewellery is ready! A mish-mash of traditional and modern. Conventional jewelry with a modern twist! Whatever you'd call it.

polymer clay jhumka
Optionally, you can glaze this piece with a few coats of clay glaze for a shine.

``I wanted it in this finish, which is why I did not use the clay glaze,'' says Sankgetha Sripathy.

polymer earrings

Go ahead then, try your hand at this. And share pictures of your wonderful effort.

Picture courtesy: Smudgy Trove

Content, thanks to Sankgetha Sripathy.

For permission to use pictures, write to:

Drop in your queries and comments, and I will forward them to Sankgetha.


  1. Fantastic tutorial and million thanks for the post. Have been searching for this for quite some time...yahoooo...going to try soon...

  2. hi Lavi, thank you for your wonderful words about Sankgetha's work. If you have any unique work, do let us know.

  3. Thanks a lot Lavi .. feel free to contact us for any kind of help regarding polymer clay..
    Thanks a lot Radhika to post my work on your blog

    1. Hi Sangeeta,
      I was seeing lot of airdry clay aswell. Can't we make jewellery with airdry clay? Does it melt when wet? I am more interested in this jewellery and trying to figure out which clay to use. Can you please help me here

  4. Thanks a lot lavi for lovely comments.... do visit us at facebook

    Special thanks to Radhika to insist me on this... love you dear...

  5. Hi Radhika and Sangeetha,
    great work and looking forward to see more tutorials for indian kind of jewellery. Are you guys using a separate oven for baking polymer clay? I am yet to start as I am bit hesitant to use my cooking oven now. Thanks.

  6. Thanks Radhika and Sangetha. I will definitely send a picture of my polymer Jhumka once completed successfully.
    Do you guys use a separate oven to bake polymer jewellery. I am bit hesitant to use my oven as I don't have a second option.. Please let me know. Thanks.

  7. Hi Lavi

    We have a seperate OTG oven its a toaster oven which you need to bake the polymer clay or the rice cooker will help i heard iam yet to try will do that and udpate ...;)

  8. Thanks Sangeetha for your reply and I really appreciate it. How about the temperature? I have a simple OTG just for toasting but without temperature control. I have to see how to proceed.

  9. Hi Sangeetha,
    I just happened to see your OTG oven (in this page) which also does not have any temperature control. How did you control the temperature? Did you put a separate thermometer inside the oven. I have a similar one and hence I can use it. Please let me know about the temperature control. Thanks.

    1. hi Lavi,
      as you notice, it is Sankgetha who is the clay expert here:) i work more with paper, plastic covers and recyclable durables. eagerly waiting to see your polymer jhumkas.

  10. hai i would like to know were we can get polymer clay n eye screw pin in chennai

  11. Dearies,

    Dont worry as you can see I too have the same otg which doesnt indicate the temprature... thr are two options one you can buy a oven thermometer which you get in amazon also or do one thing first keep the top nob in low and bake in 5 which is the least mentioned in the oven.. i have found this after burning so many clay so first you bake once it turn off rebake in 5 min if required.

    1. Thanks Sangeetha for the information. So on the whole just have to bake at lower temperature for 10 minutes ( 5 +5) ?

  12. Hi Nancy,

    Polymer clay in chennai you can go to ananda store in adyar.. they have a facebook page also its in LB road adya.

    I stay in dubai so i get the clay locally or thru amazon.Any other details you need pls feel free tocontacct us and do check our page

  13. hi Nancy,
    and thanks Sankgetha. guess you can check RS Shopping center in adyar too, which was my favourite place to buy craft supplies. you may need to call them up though, before planning your trip. t
    heir FB page:
    i bought eye-pins there once, was not too happy with the quality. meanwhile, here are a couple of links on craft supply shops that may help --

  14. lovely earrings and great tutorial. thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

  15. Hi Sankgetha,
    Thanks a ton for the jhumka tutorials.Can you also share how to get impressions on jhumkas using textured sheets.