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I got to thinking this morning, after a few folks commented on the picture holder from yesterday, that I’d try to give you some instructions to sort of show you how easy those little bastards are. Be warned – this post is gonna be way picture heavy.

For supplies you’re going to need:

  • An full size oven (toaster ovens are too small for this, though you could get creative – more on that later)
  • Aluminum foil (to protect your work area, I also use it to line my pan with so I don’t have to wash the pan)
  • A pan to bake your piece in – Sculpey calls for glass or metal
  • Something to cut your wire – could be heavy duty scissors, wire snips, or some pliers have a little wire cutter at the pivot
  • A pair of needle nose pliers (for smooshing the alligator clips)
  • You might need adhesive

MLD-132-2Oven bake clay – I tend to go with Sculpey, but any of the brands will do. You can save some money by getting one of the boxes of white or gray in bulk and then painting the clay after you bake it. But I’m lazy sometimes and 2oz seems to be a perfect amount. (Last time I bought any it was less than $3 for a brick that size, so not terribly expensive.)

20g artistic wire silverAny wire will do provided it’s sturdy enough. We’ll be doubling it and twisting it, which helps, but it has to support to the weight of the beads you choose plus the clip plus the picture. You can also get different colors of wire. For Josh’s (I’ll show you that in a minute) I used black wire.

DSC00494Beads – anything you want that has a hole through it. I used very sparkly purple ones for mine and creepy little skulls for Josh’s. This is where you can really get creative. And don’t let anyone tell you that all of your beads have to match, that’s just bullshit.

BU-34XAlligator clips to hold the pictures. The kind pictured here have a hole in the back to feed the wire through and little side bits to smoosh shut with pliers. I found that this is important.

2014-11-16 07.25.11Reminder of what mine turned out like, just for reference.

Okay, here we go…

  1. Start pre-heating the oven. Sculpey bakes at 275 degrees, but make sure to check the directions on your package.
  2. Warm the clay in your hands and form it into the shape you want for the base. To keep everything stable you’ll want the base to be very flat on the bottom and wide.
  3. Cut 3 lengths of wire keeping in mind that they will be folded in half. They shouldn’t all be exactly the same otherwise your pictures will be trying to occupy the same space. I tend to make my outer wires pretty similar and then the center higher, but go with whatever suits you.
  4. Fold one piece of wire in half but not so aggressively that you can’t manipulate it. Thread one end of the wire through the hole in one of the alligator clips and begin twisting the two halves of the wire to secure the clip. Use the pliers to smoosh to two flap pieces on the clip together. (If this doesn’t feel sturdy enough you can use a heavy duty adhesive like E9001 to shore things up a bit.)
  5. I twist the two halves of the wire together to reinforce it. Beads can be added at the top, the middle, or anywhere you think they look nice. I put my beads on just one strand of the wire and then keep twisting below. This secures them nicely.
  6. When the wire holder is completely twisted stick it into the clay base. If you want to add beads to the bottom of the wire they can be slid up the wire before you put it in the base. You could also add additional decoration by just pressing beads into the clay, either just to add texture to the surface or you can embed them for more sparkle.
  7. Repeat the process with your other wire holders.
  8. Here’s where you have some options. You can pop the entire thing in the oven to bake provided none of your beads are plastic and your oven is large enough that your wire bits aren’t going to brush the top. Or you can take the wires back out of the clay, bake the clay, let it cool, and use a little more of that E9001 to glue the wires into the clay.
  9. Add your pictures, sit back, marvel at the wonder that is your two creative little hands.

Here are some additional shots of what I ended up with. Pardon the funky shadows.

1980-01-01 00.01.13I used silver Sculpey, silver wire, and some really funky composite purple crystal beads that have an AB finish on them. Totally me.


1980-01-01 00.00.47

This is Josh’s. This time I used black Sculpey, black wire, and weird little skulls. On his I did the outer two beads at the very bottom and the center at the very top. It just seemed more him.

These really are quite easy to make and not overly expensive. I like having this kind of picture holder because they’re super easy to change the pics in and they don’t take up a whole lot of room. I think this would make a really neat gift for someone.

So honestly, go forth and be creative! And if you do make one, let me know – I’d love to see it.