I made this set of cuff links with polymer clay for my husband’s birthday this year. It’s a super easy and affordable handmade gift for any guy in your life.
I’ve been searching for a set of not tacky and not very expensive cuff links for the husband for years now.
He has several pairs but he just needed a simple pair that wouldn’t be a big deal if it got lost. I searched every retailer, every online shop, even Amazon and all the options were either too expensive or too bling bling.
So this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally, and made a pair my self. Not only was it a relatively simple project, I also have tons of extra material left to make a backup pair if he ever loses the original.
For this project, I used a silhouette of our kids and I will show you how to do this easily but you can also use any image to customize your own cuff links.
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Materials for DIY Cuff Links
Cuff Link Bezels – These were the exact french cuff link blank trays I used. I used the Gun Black ones for the project in the photos because I figured they would go with most of his shirts but they all look beautiful.
Polymer Clay – I used the metallic gray clay from this Sculpey iii assorted set I had. You can try other brands but I like the Sculpey iii clay because it is not too brittle for other Cricut cutting projects. It also doesn’t shrink or warp during the baking process.
Vinyl – I would highly recommend HTV or iron on because you can bake it in with the clay. If you only have regular vinyl, you will have to add it after the backing process and seal the finished product.
How to Create a Silhouette Image Easily
I use a product called Clipping Magic and it creates these silhouettes automatically with no additional work on my part. If you are going to make a lot of these images (like if you were going to sell customized cuff links or something), I would highly recommend it.
The reason I recommend Clipping Magic is because it is the best product in the market for creating these images. Their automated background removal algorithm is the most effective plus they have editorial functionality in case you want to make changes. It is also super easy to use.
Cricut Design Space can’t handle most of the images you have because the background is too noisy. Other solutions are not very accurate and/or there’s not editorial functionality that is easy to use.
First you upload your photo. The quality doesn’t matter since you are just creating the outline.
After I upload the photos, the application just automatically finds the silhouette. I didn’t even have to tap/click anything.
Now, because I’m making a tiny silhouette cutout, I want this silhouette to be super smooth so I go in and eliminate one little tuft of hair. Otherwise, I’d be done already.
This really can’t be any easier, you just mark what you want to keep (green) and mark what you want to be removed(red). You don’t even have to trace it, just a dot is enough.
The best part of all this is I have the option to download the finished product as a SVG or as a transparent PNG.
The SVG is just the outline, the transparent PNG retains the image within the cutout. The transparent PNG is a great option for other Cricut print and cut projects.
That’s it! Go give it a try yourself – the best automatic background removal product Clipping Magic.
How to Make the Polymer Clay Cuff Links
I start by just conditioning the clay by squeezing it a few times with my fingers. I try not to do this too much because it introduces air pockets that then bubble in the baking process. I just want the clay to get moving a little bit.
Then squish a dime size ball of clay onto the bezel.
I then take my dedicated plastic rolling pin for clay and sort of scrape the excess off the bezel.
This plastic rolling pin is an old fondant pin that I’ve dedicated to just clay. This polymer clay leaves a slight residue so you don’t want to use the same equipment for food.
I also like to do the work on a back of a Cricut mat. I find it is the perfect surface for rolling out clay for other projects.
For this project, you can use any smooth scraper, even a credit card.
Brush off off the excess with your fingers. Be sure not to leave any fingerprints on the clay.
Then place the HTV cutout on top of the clay.
I would recommend standing the cuff link up so that is it is on the base such that the bezel surface is parallel with the floor. I bake the cuff links standing so HTV doesn’t drip in any particular direction.
You can also use a baking rack.
For Sculpy III, I bake at 275 degrees F for 10 minutes. Be sure not to over bake.
Let cool off before touching it.
The finished product is pretty sturdy but if you want to add a protective coating, I would recommend either Glossy Modge Podge or clear nail polish.
If you are using regular vinyl, then you will bake the cuff link with just the polymer clay and then apply the decal. I would recommend a sealant in that case.