Coco Clay Adventure

We were lucky enough to adopt a 3 year old dog from a local rescue and after a couple of weeks she is finally starting to settle into her new pack. Coco had a lot of anxiety at first, but she's come around and sleeping next to me as I type this out.

When we received her license in the mail and attached it to her collar, it was comically big on this 14 lbs. pooch. I thought it would be nice to get her a name tag. Immediately, I wanted something special for our new family member. Could I get something from Etsy or find a way to do it myself? Once I started exploring, I found a couple of people online making animal tags out of polymer clay. I was gifted some not too long ago and thought this might be the perfect project to use it.

I haven't worked with clay since grade school and I'm sure I never used polymer clay. Normally, I would have spent a lot of time reading blogs and watching Youtube videos to make the perfect tag. However, Inktober and this blog have given me the freedom to let go of some of that perfectionist anxiety. Thus, I got some supplies together, the clay, some glitter, conté sticks, and some tools.

Little miss Coco needed some bling, so I added some red glitter to the white clay. It was simply a matter of dumping some of my spouse's red glitter in and working the clay a bit. The next step was cutting out a shape. I used an old film container, or some type of container I found in the home. I'm sure small cookie cutters or pastry gun patterns would work. I took apart a Bic pen and used the point to cut out a hole for a ring or s-hook. Of course, I carved the letters out with a paper clip before I made the hole. Oops! No matter, I had to redo the letters a number of times.

The wooden spoons are tracks for my rolling pin (a marker). This way I got an even, flat oval to work with. I wasn't sure how to do the letters. I thought I could try paint, but I'm having fun with clay so why not keep going! With a razor blade, I shaved some conté stick red into the white clay to make red clay. Chalk would have worked, but we didn't have any. The chalk, conté, and glitter are all fine additions to the bakeable clay. Especially since the heat required for the clay to harden is so low.

Like the glitter, it was just a matter of working the conté dust into the clay with my hands. From there, I rolled out the new color into thin threads with the idea of filling the carved spots in the tag I made. This took some patience and a number of tries. It may have been nicer to use something a bit thicker than a paperclip to make the letters, but I was working on such a tiny piece.

With the front done, I got inspired to try and add our phone number to the back. I couldn't use my little stencil for that because the numbers had to be much smaller. I went freehand and did the best that I could. Admittedly, it is a bit sloppy, but I wasn't about to redo the whole thing again, just to have another go at the tiny numbers. Besides, I haven't even baked this to see if it could actually function as a tag.

When the tag was baked, cooled and sat for 6+ hours, I sat down with a nail file (I don't have any sand paper) and tried to fix some cosmetic bumps and edges. Some of my letters and numbers were pieced together and became more obvious after baking. Yet, I was concerned about sanding so much that I broke the bond between the colors. Again, this is my first time working with polymer clay. Honestly, if I wasn't impatient to give Coco her new tag, I probably could have sanded more because if anything breaks, you can just fix and bake again with polymer clay.

In order to make the tag stronger and last longer, I got a polyurethane glaze to coat the baked clay with. With some thread, I hung it from a helping hand and covered both sides with a brush.

The finished product is definitely homemade looking, but that's just proof it was made with love. Added bonus, the white clay I was gifted glows in the dark!

Alright, I got to stop sharing and pet someone because she wants attention. Questions? Find me on Mastodon, Twitter, through telepathy, or with your time machine at the Camelot Music store in the Muskegon Mall in 1992.


We lost the tag on a walk. :( So, I made a new one in the same fashion. This time with red clay I bought and white letters. Again, I was impatient and didn't give the polyurethane glaze enough time to dry. So it is coming off. I plan on sanding it and giving it a new glaze in the future.

Update 2019

This was fun, but not functional for a dog. Based on my experience, with my small, active dog, making these tags isn't worth it. All in all, I made 3 tags. The second one did not last as long as the first one. The final one only lasted 14 days. It's the red, diamond-shaped one pictured below.

I experimented with size and shape. I stamped the final one with ink before baking it and the tag came out looking nice. Unfortunately, they don't last. Is it the extreme cold of winter? Perhaps it takes a lot of abuse when my dog has her nose to the ground? Am I baking them too long? Too short? Regardless, it doesn't seem like an active fit.

I'm tempted to make one for an indoor cat to test some of those theories above. However, this has sent me down another path of making metal tags (Post coming soon.)

and 2 weeks later...

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