Clay Cameo Pendant for Kids


Making her own version of period jewellery has become one of my daughter’s favourite history activities but sometimes it can take a lot of time, effort and materials. We thought we would try just a quick and easy project for a bit of mid-week fun. Older children and/or those with more time and the proper tools could probably produce something with a more professional finish. We were a bit sloppy, to be honest, but it gives you an idea of what you can produce.

Cameo jewellery has been popular for thousands of years but we wanted to go for a Georgian-look. Traditionally, cameos are carvings on an object which usually produce a relief image against a negative image. They have come to be generalised into the idea of a piece in contrasting colours, often featuring a head within an oval frame.

As we have a lot of air-drying clay left over from other projects we decided to use that as the medium for our pendant.  My daughter traced the silhouette image of Jane Austen from the cover of Lucy Worsley’s new book Jane Austen at Home: A Biography for the head on the pendant. She then cut out the image and laid it on some rolled-out air drying clay and, as carefully as possible, cut around the paper. This is quite fiddly work for a nine-year-old with a kitchen knife and tracing paper; using better tools would probably produce a better result…



We had planned to use a spare oval pendant backing left over from our Eye Jewellery for the actual pendant but it was just too small. Rather than head out to the craft shop five miles away for a larger one we decided to just make the base entirely out of air-drying clay. We then had trouble finding a stencil of the right size oval and were running out of time when we found an oval pencil sharpener and made do with that. It turned out a little uneven but, again, this is a kid’s craft, just for fun rather than an adult-made piece of fine jewellery. Using the end of a fine paint brush she bored a hole through the clay for the necklace.


My daughter left the clay to dry for a day or so and then painted the head white and mixed white and blue paint to get the shade of blue she wanted for the background. It needed a couple of coats.



When it was dry she used a hot glue gun to stick the head onto the background. We considered using a finding to put through the hole in the pendant but the ones we had already were just that bit too small so she just used a darning needle to thread some ribbon through. And there it is – a quick, easy cameo pendant.




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