Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Minecraft Polymer Clay Charms

I wasn't expecting such a large project to be assigned so close to the end of the school year, but here we were staring at the information packet for the newest Social Studies business lesson with barely a month of school left.

The Boy had three weeks to create and manufacture a product and put together a business plan and marketing campaign to go with it. His class would create money to be earned in class during those three weeks (for things like good behavior) and the money would in turn be used to purchase products at the class sale being held at the end of the three weeks. The following day, ALL the social studies classes would get together with their items and currency for an "international sale". Sounds a bit like the 5th grade "mini society" I had many many years ago.

The Boy had 2 possible product ideas for his business. His 1st choice was Minecraft charms made from Sculpey polymer clay. His 2nd choice was survival bracelets made from polycord.


Project materials could cost no more than $20 and we could certainly make more charms than bracelets for that price. Luckily, his 1st choice product was approved. He could get help (labor) from parents and siblings but would have to keep track of their time and "pay" them for their services with time. We agreed he would pay me with time spent doing extra chores. He would pay his sister with time spent playing HER choice of games or activities for a certain amount of time.

Materials:

The first order of business was to purchase any needed materials. Materials already owned did not count toward the $20 materials budget so we did not have to factor in the cost of paint, clear coat spray paint, and jump rings that were already in our craft stash. However, material from home could not be valued at more than $5 using "garage sale prices". We DID need to buy a lot of polymer clay, eye pins and key chains.

We headed to Michael's and selected 2 packages of key chains (like these) and a package of eyepins (similar to these but shorter). All were regularly $2.99 each but if you bought 3 or more they were $2.53 each. We also chose a 1-pound box of Sculpey Polymer Clay, usually $9.99 but we had a 40% off one item coupon that dropped the price down to $5.99. (It was a good opportunity to show The Boy how a coupon could really help you out when you're on a budget.) Before tax, our total came to $13.58.

So our materials list consisted of:

  • Sculpey Polymer Clay
  • Eye Pins
  • Jump Rings (I believe they were 6mm)
  • Key Chains
  • Acrylic Craft Paint - Assorted Colors
  • Super Glue (or other bonding agent) - this was used to secure the eye pin to the charm "just to be sure it doesn't come loose"
  • Clear coat spray paint - We used Valspar Clear High-Gloss Spray

Tools:

  • Wax Paper (to work with the clay)
  • Newspapers (to protect your painting surface)
  • Paint brushes (both large and small)
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters (for any eye pins that may be too long)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Ruler
  • Knife/Metal Spatula (or other straight edge tool to cut the clay into squares and form the "grid" on the Minecraft charms)
  • Baking Dish (We used an 8x8 Pyrex Dish)
  • Cooling Rack
  • Bowl of water (for rinsing brushes)
  • Paper Plates (use for mixing paints)

Directions:

NOTE: When we sat down to actually make the charms, The Boy announced we weren't JUST doing Minecraft charms. He also wanted to make Emoticon charms. I have included instructions for those in a different post but some of the images you will see here include those Emoticon charms.

Soften clay by kneading it in your hands then roll a section of clay out thin (about 1/8" thickness) on a sheet of wax paper (the wax paper is simply to protect your surface). Cut the clay into 1-inch squares using a ruler and a knife or metal spatula.


Push an eye pin into the top center edge of each square until the "eye" is flush with the clay.

Using a straight edge (I used a metal spatula), make an 8x8 grid on each charm.


Place the charms in your baking dish and bake as directed (we baked for 20 minutes at 275 degrees).

Once baked, allow the charms to cool completely. I usually move clay to a cooling rack once they have cooled enough to handle.

Carefully place a small dab of super glue on each charm where the eye pin meets the clay. This is to insure the eye pin is secured to the clay.

I used both of these super glue brands successfully but if you use the Gorilla Glue gel, you MUST shake it to get the gel to mix evenly. You can squeeze out a small dollop on a paper plate and hen use a toothpick to apply it to the charms.  It also has a strong smell and the fume will burn your eyes so keep your face away from it and use in a WELL ventilated area.

Once all the charms were dried, we began painting the background colors. We made several Minecraft "mobs": Enderman, Creeper, Zombie, Slime, Pig, Cow, Skeleton, and then of course, Steve?.

Those charms that had solid color backgrounds were easy: Enderman (Black), Skeleton (gray), Pig (pink), etc. But the creeper was pretty pixilated in greens so we combined 2 greens and dabbed the colors onto the charm making it "look" like different green colored pixels.

"Slime" to the left and "Creeper" to the right.

I had The Boy check online to see how each Minecraft mob's face looked and what colors should be used.


Then each and every face was painted on.


Once all the painting was finished and dried, we sprayed several applications of high-gloss clear coat spray over the front and back and allowed everything to dry for a couple days.

Jump rings were placed on each eye pin and a couple of key rings were attached to charms as "display pieces".


The boy "sold" the key chains separately since he only had 24 of them (they sold out during the first sale and a tornado warning kept us from going back to the store for more that evening).

His display was simply a box flap covered in flannel. Straight pins were stuck through the flannel into the cardboard. The charms could be hug on the pins as a display.


He sold all but 17 of his original 63 charms and all 24 of his key chains just during the class sale (And he felt pretty good seeing people wearing his charms on their belts and book bags after the sale). We had to hurry that night to make more product just so he'd have a selection for the international sale! We managed to make an additional 25 charms Thursday night for the 2nd sale on Friday and he came home with only three left. I'd say he was pretty successful!



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