How to Make Tiny Bells from Polymer Clay With or Without a Mold

  • 01 of 11

    Make Miniature Bells for Scale Scenes Or Use Fondant and Make Them For Cakes

    Assortment of dolls house bells in various scales made from polymer clay.
    Miniature scale bells in various sizes and styles made from polymer clay. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Sculpting bells is a useful technique that can be employed to make scale miniatures from polymer clay or two part epoxy putty, or to make edible cake decorations from a fondant base. You will need to adapt your tools to suit the size of the bell you wish to make.

    The dolls house scale bells shown here were made using large and medium embossing tools with rounded ball ends. A method for making silicone putty molds for miniature bells (suitable for paper mache, fondant, or polymer clay) is also...MORE shown. The bells on the right of the photo, the large bronze bell with the small crack and the red glittered bell, were shaped in molds made from a golf tee (the bronze bell) and the plastic top of a china glue tube (the red bell).

    The size of your bell will depend on both your skills, and the type of polymer clay or fondant that you are using. Large bells with thin sides are easiest to make using very elastic clay. If you want large fondant bells for the top of a wedding cake, you will find it easier to use a special mold than to make bells by hand, but smaller bells to decorate garlands on the sides of cakes, are easy to mold freehand.

    The hand bell was made from a polymer clay bell, with a handle cut from a decorative toothpick inserted into a hole on the top of the bell after it was cured. The bell clapper was made by dipping a piece of thread in glue to form a rounded blob, which was then trimmed to length and glued to the inside top of the handbell.

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  • 02 of 11

    Materials Neede to Make Miniature Bells

    Embossing tools, polymer clay and two part silicone mold putty used for dolls house miniature bells.
    Embossing tools, polymer clay, and two part silicone mold putty used to make miniature bells. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To Make Miniature Bells You Will Need:

    • Modelling Medium polymer clay (I used translucent), paper clay or another form of elastic paper mache, or fondant paste (for edible cake decorations)
    • Embossing tools For this project you need round ended tools, I used a large and medium rounded embossing tool. Silicone shaping tools will also work. If you are working with fondant for edible bells, use cake decorating tools, and use them only with food.
    • Decorative Finishes I was making miniature glittered...MORE bells for Christmas ornaments, so I finished many of my samples with glitter. Fine Flocking will give a velvet finish to miniature bells, and mica pigments like those from Jacquard can be added to plain polymer clay or painted on afterwards to create a metal effect. The metallic effect bells shown in the photo on the first page of these instructions had Jacquard antique bronze powder mixed into polymer clay. The handbell was painted with antique bronze powder after it was baked. Edible fondant bells can be decorated with food colors, icings, or special sugar glitters. Edible gold foil and flakes are also available.

    Mold Materials If you want to make molds for miniature bells, you will need:

    • A Bell Shaped Original I used a bell shaped cap from the top of a tube of ceramic glue, and also a golf tee to make successful molds for miniature bells.
    • Two Part Silicone Mold Putty or other suitable molding compound. Two part silicone mold putty is available in forms which are safe to use with edible materials (including the Easy Mold Putty from Dick Blick Art Materials (Buy Direct). Completed molds used for edible materials, cannot be used for non edible materials (like polymer clay) as well. You need to keep materials used with food away from craft materials to avoid contamination.
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  • 03 of 11

    Begin To Shape Miniature Bells

    A rounded embossing tool is used to shape a dolls house bell from a 1/4 inch ball of polymer clay.
    The rounded end of an embossing tool is inserted into a ball of polymer clay to begin to shape a dolls house bell. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To begin shaping miniature bells start with a ball of your modelling material. For the dolls house scale handbell I used a ball just a bit smaller than 1/4 inch across. The amount of material you need will depend somewhat on how thin you can work the walls of your bell. If you want solid bells you will need more material than for hollow bells.

    Press your round ended embossing tool into the top 1/3 of your ball of clay. Holding the ball in your hands, gently pull out the bottom edge of the ball to...MORE form a rough cone. As you work with the ball, it will form a point on the end in your hands. That will be shaped in a following step.

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  • 04 of 11

    Widen the Rim for a Miniature Bell

    An embossing tool widens the bottom end of a poly clay cone to shape the rim of a bell.
    An embossing tool is used to widen a rim for a bell from a tiny cone of polymer clay. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Use your ball headed embossing tool to gently spread the bottom third of your modelling material (polymer clay) into the rim of the miniature bell. Try to find photos of the type of bell you would like to make, as they all have slightly different shapes. Keep the rim as evenly round as possible while you are shaping it.

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  • 05 of 11

    Keep the Main Bell Shape Constant

    Using an embossing tool to make an upturned saucer shape on the base of a polymer clay cone.
    Use an embossing tool to widen the rim of the polymer clay bell shape without going deeper into top of the bell. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    In this photo you can see that the rim of the miniature bell is being shaped like a saucer with a raised edge. The main shape of the bell is still closed, the embossing tool is only working on the bottom edge. By comparison, the shape beside the piece being worked is the original cone shape which resulted from first pressing the embossing tool into the original ball. In future photos this original cone shape will be shown beside the bell so you can compare how the shape is changing.

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  • 06 of 11

    Shape the Miniature Bell Top

    The tip of the polymer clay cone is tamped on a flat surface to keep a miniature bell shape.
    Tamp the cone shape on a flat surface to prevent the bell from becoming too pointed at the top. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    As you gently roll the shape of the bell around in your fingers to help keep the rim shape round and even the bell may turn into a pointed cone. To keep it to it's bell shape tamp the top of the cone onto a flat surface if it begins to come to a point.

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  • 07 of 11

    Round the Top of the Dolls House Bell

    A miniature bell shape with a widened rim and broad top, compared to a cone of polymer clay.
    The cone on the right has a wider rim and a broader top, turning it from a basic cone into a bell shape of polymer clay in dolls house scale. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    When you have a defined rim, you can begin to work your rounded shaping or embossing tool into the top of the bell to help produce the characteristic rounded bell shape. Gently spiral down into the bell from the rim with your tool, making sure you are pressing evenly on all sides of the bell top. If your modelling material becomes too soft, set it aside to harden before you continue to shape the main bell. You don't want your rim shape to become floppy.

    On most bells there is a slight...MORE narrowing of the main shape just before the flare of the rim.

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  • 08 of 11

    Check the Even Shaping of Your Miniature Bell

    A polymer clay bell compared to the initial cone made from a ball, that was the start of the bell.
    Almost complete, the bell shape with its wider rim is shown beside a rounded cone of polymer clay that resulted from the first shaping of a ball. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    When your bell is almost complete, set it flat on its rim and check to see that your shape is even. Look down on your bell from above to make sure the center of the bell at the top is centered on a rounded rim at the base. If the bell is off center, gently work on the inside of the bell on the lowest side to match it to the rest of the bell.

    The bell in this photo shows how the shape has changed from the beginning cone. The top still needs to be pulled out a bit, after the bell has been tamped...MORE again to eliminate the point that has begun to form. Once that is done, the bell will be ready to finish.

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  • 09 of 11

    Making Molds to Easily Reproduce Miniature Bells

    Silicone mold putty on the top of a wooden golf tee to make a mold for a miniature bell.
    Beginning to make a silicone putty mold for a miniature scale bell from the top of a wooden golf tee. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To make a mold for a miniature bell, you can either work from a bell you have sculpted, or make a mold from an object which has a bell shape in a size you can use. To make miniature bells, I used a mold made from the top of a tube of ceramic glue, which had a long bell shape, and also a mold made from a golf tee. I've shown the steps for making the golf tee mold here, as the glue top, like any bell shape you want to use, only had to be pressed into the mold compound with the widest end of...MORE the master original facing out.

    The golf tee required a slightly different technique as I wanted to leave the master shape (the tee) intact and not cut it down to a bell.

    To make the bell mold from something which is attached to a larger original, or which has a bell only as part of the shape, you can use this technique. Begin by mixing sufficient two part silicone mold putty to cover the bell section of your original. Make sure you leave the opening of the bell to be the bottom opening of the one piece mold. The widest part of the original has to be at the open end of the mold.

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  • 10 of 11

    Trim the Mold To Prepare for a Flat Base

    Excess mold putty on the stem of a golf tee is trimmed to make a dolls house bell mold.
    A tissue knife is used to neatly trim the area that will become the base of a dolls house bell mold made with a golf tee. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    My bell mold will always have a piece of the golf tee stick coming out of the top of the bell unless I can fill the hole left by the tee stem and make the top of the bell rounded. To fill the hole in the top of the mold and shape it into a bell, first use a knife (I used a tissue blade) to trim the mold material away from the golf tee, just above the base of the cup that holds the ball. Remove the golf tee from your mold.

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  • 11 of 11

    Make a Base for the Bottom of Your Miniature Bell Mold

    The hole from the stem of a golf tee is filled to make a miniature mold for a dollhouse bell.
    The golf tee is removed from the first section of the silicone putty mold, and extra putty is used to fill the gap where the stem of the tee was, to make a mold for a dolls house scale bell. Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    You need to plug the hole where the stem of the golf tee came out of the mold. Fortunately, two part silicone mold putty will stick to itself so that you can add on to existing molds.

    To finish the mold, mix enough two part silicone putty to fill the hole on what will become the bottom of the mold (at the top of the bell). Have an embossing or shaping tool ready as you will need to shape the inside of the mold to keep the top of the bell round, instead of having a plug of silicone putty intruding...MORE into the top of your bell shape.

    Start by gently pressing your putty onto the existing mold to cover the hole where the base of the golf tee came through. Use your fingers or a shaping tool to blend the new putty into the old shape and then flip your mold over and press the soft putty down gently onto a flat surface so that it will stand upright, with the opening for the base of the bell showing.

    Use your shaping or embossing tool to work the soft putty at the top of the inside of the mold, blending it into the main mold piece so that the top of the bell will be gently rounded (the mold putty you added will have pushed through the hole at the top of the bell). You can also use this method to add putty to any small indentations that show up after you have made a mold, so that you have less repairs to make to objects you cast from the molds. Once you have the inside top of the bell mold gently rounded, let the putty harden. Your filled hole will allow you to cast bells without having to trim off material where the stem of the tee came through the mold material.