Monday, April 4, 2016

Polymer Clay Mini Poppy DIY Tutorial

While many of you are planning or planting your spring gardens, we are slipping into the cool days of autumn here in the southern hemisphere.  Later this month Australia and New Zealand will mark ANZAC Day.  One of the most poignant elements of the commemorations is the unity between Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. With so much violence in the world these days, let us all hope that such an attitude of peace, understanding, and forgiveness can hold, grow, and spread.

Poppies are a globally recognised symbol of military remembrance, and are worn on many countries' memorial days, including ANZAC Day here.  Rosemary, which has long been a symbol of remembrance, is also popular - fitting for ANZAC Day since it grows on the Gallipoli peninsula and also thrives in gardens here. We'll be sharing a few ANZAC inspired crafts over the next few weeks, starting with how to make a polymer clay poppy.  You will need small quantities of red, black, and a little bit of yellow, orange, black, or green clay for the center. No special tools are required.

  • Work a small quantity of each clay in your hands until conditioned to a soft and pliable state. I used a yellow-green for the centre, but yellow, orange, green, or more black will work nicely.
  • Roll the black clay into a very small cane and use a cutter or the side of a toothpick to divide it into little pieces or roughly equal side, and roll each piece into a tiny ball.
  • Roll the yellow (or other center colour) into a small ball.
  • Divide the red clay into equal petal-sized pieces and roll each into a ball. Most varieties of poppy have either four or six petals, overlapping and curved/cupped away from the center. 
  • Shape each red ball into a petal shape.  To do this bay hand, flatten each petal ball with your fingers and gently stretch and further flatten one side to elongate and curve the clay into a petal. 
  • Layer each petal into place incrementally and press each to secure.  Curve the petals gently upwards to give the flower dimension. Tip: I like to start flowers with a small flattened ball of clay underneath.  It gives a  finished look to the back of your flower and a nice base for attaching to a broach pin, hairclip, ring, magnet, etc if you wish.
  • Optional: Add extra texture to your petals gently pressing veins or ruffling the edges with a pin or toothpick.
  • Place the yellow (or other center colour) ball in the middle.  Press gently to secure and add dimension by pressing with the flat end of a toothpick or similar.
  • Place black balls around the center.  Press gently to secure and add dimension by pressing with the flat end of a toothpick or similar.
  • Bake to manufacturer's directions for your chosen clay and cool completely before continuing.
  • Optional: If adding glaze, apply to manufacturer's directions after baking.

How you use your new clay poppies is totally up to you.  They make cute little embellishments for just about anything (e.g. picture frames or memory boxes) and can also be attached with a little contact adhesive or glue to broach pins, bobby pin bases, hairclips, magnet bases, paperclip bases, etc. 


  1. Your pictures make it look super easy. Is it really harder that it looks or do you think it would be ok for kids to craft? I'm wanting to do some ANZAC Day crafts with our children if you have any craft suggestions for small ones it would be great. Thanks! :-)

    1. Hi there! It is as easy to do as it looks, but it requires a little patience and a degree of handskills working with tiny bits of clay. If your kids are young and you want to do some clay crafting, it might be easier to create larger flowers (perhaps even with plain clay for ease and economy, and then enjoy painting. We'll be sharing some other ANZAC Day ideas over the next few weeks as well, some of which might be a little easier to adapt for your wee ones.

      Depending on where you live, in most parts of Australia and New Zealand you can plant poppy seeds around ANZAC Day and they will bloom around Armistice Day, which is a neat thing to do with kids, but is delayed gratification like most gardening. :) ANZAC Biscuits are fun to bake together as an easy family-friendly ANZAC Day activity.

      You can find all of our ANZAC-related posts under the ANZAC label and you might also like to check out our past post on making cupcake liner flowers - red liners and black dots (sticker or construction paper) make an easy and very family-friendly poppy craft.

      Happy crafting!


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