Covering small glass vials with polymer clay

art and instructions by Kathleen Lehew

click on image for a larger view

I want to say a very special thank-you to Kathleen for not only sending the scans of these wonderful bottles but the very detailed and informative instructions as well..."mack"

Asian Bottle Instructions


Small glass vials

Polymer Clay: jade, translucent & pearl white

permanent ink

rubberstamp with small Chinese characters

index card or small piece of cardboard

small sharp blade or exacto knife

very fine sandpaper

polymer clay varnish

small drill or Dremmel

thin fibers or thread

E6000 or jewelry glue


  1. Condition dark jade green polymer clay and translucent clay; about 2/3 green and 1/3 translucent in proportion. Blend these two together thoroughly, running through pasta machine until uniform.

  2. Condition pearl white clay as above. Take thickness of both clays down to 5.

  3. To get a 'swirly' natural stone look, take the mixed green piece and the pearl white piece and put one on top of the other. Fold once. Run through pasta machine at 9.

  4. Take the resulting piece and fold *once*... crank down the machine by one level. Run clay through.

  5. Fold *once*, crank the machine down one setting again, and run clay through. Keep doing this until you reach level 5.

  6. Take the clay and lay it flat (on a piece of plain white paper); measure a length and width to wrap around bottle and cut the strip. Also, cut a small circle of the clay for the bottom of the bottle. It should be able to wrap up the sides a teeny bit.

  7. Apply the circle to the bottom of the bottle, smoothing up the sides. Then carefully roll the bottle along the side strip you've already cut. Overlap edges just a bit, then slice through both layers to trim. Remove excess piece and smooth seam.

  8. The neck of the bottle is tricky. Find a dowel, a stick, or a clay tool that matches the indentation of the neck and carefully press clay to fit. Slowly roll the tool around the neck until all is smooth.

  9. Cut away any excess clay from the top of the bottle, leaving enough to smooth over the top lip but not inside.

  10. After smoothing everything down with your fingers, carefully roll the bottle on a smooth surface (paper, glass, etc). Don't worry about getting things perfect, since this tiny bottle is meant to imitate stone.

  11. Using a rubber stamp and permanent ink, imprint the bottle with images and/or words. Use light pressure; too much will poke through to the glass. (Practice on some of your scrap pieces). Place bottle upright on index card.

  12. Make a cover for the rubber stopper. Cut out a small circle cut from your remaining clay and press onto the stopper, smoothing down along the top edge and trimming any excess. Remove the formed clay and, keeping the shape intact, place piece on index card.

  13. Form a small ball to go on the very top of the stopper. Make several if you like so you can choose the best looking. Flatten the bottom slightly, so when glued it will sit properly. Add this (these) to the index card. Note: if you want to make the balls into beads, poke the holes now.

  14. Using a small cutter, or by hand with an exacto knife, make small leaves from leftover clay (in the example just the green/translucent clay was used). Draw leaf veins with a toothpick, etc, if desired.

  15. Bake all clay pieces as directed on polymer clay wrapper. These bottles were baked at 270 for an hour in a dedicated toaster oven.

  16. Let bottle cool completely. Sand pieces down with a fine grit sanding block, wiping away sanding dust with a cloth afterwards. This brings out the swirled stone patterns you've created with mixing the clays.

  17. Varnish pieces with polymer varnish (the samples used glossy). Tip: Put the bottle, upside down, over a dowel. Put the dowel in a clamp, a holder, a piece of styrofoam, etc, to hold it in place. This way you can paint the varnish on every surface without touching it.

  18. When varnish is dry, drill small holes in the leaves. Choose sage-green embroidery thread and string leaves with other beads as desired. Tie around bottle neck.

  19. Glue the lid-cover to the stopper, using a glue that can handle rubber and clay. E-6000 might be a good choice. Also glue the small ball atop the lid. Allow to dry, and assemble.

  20. A nice touch might be to write a teeny note (for example, a wish for happiness or good luck) and roll it up to be secreted inside the bottle. Finished!

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