May 4, 2011

polymer clay herb markers

I've been wanting some fabulous herb/garden markers.  (Any of these on Etsy would be lovely.)  I tried making some of the stamped silverware markers last year but it was a flop.  I ended up making stamped terra cotta pots instead.  They fared pretty well over the winter but the ink has faded some.  Since I was in need of a Mother's Day gift for my mom I figured I'd try to make some markers from polymer clay.  If it was successful, maybe I'd get around to making some for myself someday.  So last weekend my 4-year-old son and I ventured to Michaels.  I bought a pack of moss Sculpey III polymer clay for $2.49.  My husband then took our son to Cabela's and I had a very rare few hours to myself.  Since I have never used polymer clay, I found inspiration at this post and made these. . .

The "chives" marker in action.  (I realize this plant is not chives.  It's my green pepper plant, but it's the only prop I had.)

I did not take any pictures of the process since that usually ensures the project will be a disaster.  I'll include step-by-step instructions (minus pics) of what I did which may or may not be helpful.
  1. Separate the polymer clay into the four premarked pieces.  Knead each piece until soft then roll it out into a long strip that is approximately 5 inches long, 1-1/2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.  (You can also use a pasta machine which I have since purchased since polymer clay may be my new addiction.)  I was able to make five markers from my pack of clay--one marker from each section and an additional marker from the scraps plus I still have some leftover.
  2. Using a knife, I cut my marker shapes freehand.  The finished sizes ranges from 4-1/4 to 5 inches long and 1 to 1-1/4 inches wide.  I made my markers wider at the top and tapered them down at the bottom.
  3. I took a piece of 100 grit sand paper and gently rolled in on top of each marker for added texture.  (I didn't think this did much until I added the paint in step 7).
  4. Using a small alphabet rubber stamp set, stamp the desired name on each marker.  I made oregano, basil, cilantro, rosemary and chives.  Hopefully this is what my mom is planting this year.  (I purchased my stamp set for $1 at Michaels a few years ago.  I'm not sure if they still sell those?) 
  5. I also used some other decorative rubber stamps to make the swirls around the edges of the markers.
  6. Carefully place the markers on a foil-covered cookie sheet and bake according to the manufacturer's directions on the polymer clay package.  I used Sculpey III and baked my markers at 275 degrees F for 20 minutes.  (Even after cooling completely, they are still pretty flexible but I think they'll be okay.  For my set, I purchased some clearance Sculpey Premo so we'll see if it hardens more.)
  7. After they have cooled completely, use a stiff-bristled brush to apply acrylic paint to the markers then wipe off the excess with a paper towel.  This will make the letters and stamping stand out as well as the texture from the sandpaper.  I used Folk Art Metallic Champagne.
  8. After the paint dried, I used a cotton ball to add a little Tim Holtz Walnut Distress Ink.  Because distress ink makes everything better.  Really.
  9. After the ink is dry, add a coat of clear acrylic spray.  I used Valspar American Tradition ultra clear satin since it's the first can I pulled out of the closet.  


  1. I really like this idea. Thank You. Found you and am a new follower.

  2. Love it! I have shamelessly been using the dumb little name markers that come with the plants. Despicable. These are awesome! THanks for linking up with DIY under $5!

  3. Great idea and I love using polymer clay!

  4. I can't wait to try this. I have a pretty big herb garden and when I send the kids out to snip a few herbs for dinner we go through a long discussion of which herb is which. :-) Thanks for the great post!

  5. It‘s so nice that I found your blog about your link at CSI. Of course I’ve scrolled a little and like what I see. Now I’m your new follower! ;)

    Take care

  6. I found your post via the CSI project. Congrats on your win!

    I like to do crafts with my niece and I think this one would be fun. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Can't wait to try these! I actually have everything I need to do it -- thanks for the great step-by-step tutorial and suggestions! They are lovely!

  8. I love the labels you made, they are looking beautiful. But i think, might be they will destroy after some time. Use more attractive metal plant labels in your garden which is long lasting, weatherproof plant labels.

  9. Though i have used most of wood and metal markers but i loved your idea. I will use this idea in my next garden design. Thanks for sharing :)