Purse Shaped Charms & Beads | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Purse Shaped Charms - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #222: “I love polymer clay because it’s the first art medium I haven’t grown bored with. There’s just too many things you can do with it!” ~Mary-V

Way back in the early days of this blog, I had made some miniature purse charms decorated with tiny little cane slices. It was kind of a complicated process… where I took a little block of clay… added single slices of flower canes to it… and then reformed into a purse shape. Cute, but they took awhile to make.

This month, I decided to revisit the little purse charm project. After some digging around in the ole’ bead bin, I ended up finding one of my original charms (circa 2008). It was decorated with tiny orange flower slices, but to tell you the truth, I was surprised how simple it looked. Memories are selective you know ;-)

Now with a few more years gone by, my purse shaped charms and beads have improved. They are more detailed and the process of making them has been refined… much faster and easier!

So… coming up tomorrow (Friday September 23rd 2011) in the Vol-040-3 members video at the Polymer Clay Tutor Library, I will be demonstrating how to create super adorable, Ikat designer purses, that can be used as charms, beads and pendants for lots of your jewelry making projects. Plus, since they are the perfect size for Barbie, you can make a bunch of great handbags for your daughter’s / granddaughter’s doll collection.


Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-040-3 Purse Shaped Charms:

  • Polymer Clay Canes in small patterns. I used Diamond Patterned Ikat Canes, and Leopard Canes in my samples, but you could use any cane of your choice. Or you could just use solid colors and do a faux leather technique instead. There are a gazzillion options here!
  • Scrap clay and small amounts of other clays for embellishment. I used some Ecru Premo clay for the Faux Leather straps on my little handbags.
  • Pasta Machine or Clay Roller.
  • Clay Blade.
  • Old Heavy Duty Wire Cutters (not your good jewelry ones).
  • Plastic Coated Paperclips. I used the larger ones.
  • Small Stylus or pointed tool (optional).
  • Small embellishments such as rhinestones, studs, gems and scrapbooking embellishments (optional).
  • Antiquing Medium (optional).

The full version of the Vol-040-3 Purse Shaped Charms video will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday September 23, 2011. But if you would like to see a sneak peek intro clip right now, scroll down the page a bit to the video player below.


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The full version of the “Purse Shaped Charms” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-040 Back Issue Package.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

It seems here that just about everyone here wants to share their secrets and their ideas and solutions. And most give great feedback and encouragement. When I see someone give “a pat on the back” to a fellow artist it makes me feel inspired. I have learned so much more than how to play with my clay here. I have learned we all have a great support team and my hat goes off to Cindy!! ~Catalina

Catalina: Yes, Cindy has brought us all together at this great site. It has inspired me to clay again – I didn’t think it could be done! Even when I can’t clay, I can come here and see people exchanging ideas and helping each other with their tips and tricks and it’s a great thing to see. Lots of others are very “tight-lipped” about their processes. No help with them (unless you pay a BIG price!) Here, the friendly blog and advice are free. Cindy’s great video tutorials are nearly free. I mean, $3.32 a month is incredibly low! ~Phaedrakat

We pay such a small fee to get inside Cindy’s polymer clay head, and it is so worth it. I also find that if I subscribe to something, I am more likely to follow through and use the information that I am paying for. I highly encourage all of you that are sitting on the edge to jump in and enjoy the polymer clay ride. ~Loretta-C

The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Purse Shaped Charms video tutorial:

  • See several examples of charms, beads and jewelry projects using the Purse Shaped Charms in a variety of different colors and patterns.
  • Discussion of the tools, supplies and techniques needed to create this simple and stunning polymer clay charm.
  • Find out how you can create this cool shaped charm and how to embellish it to create an unlimited variety of designs.
  • Learn a cool trick for making a cane into fabric that is then sewn into a cute little miniature handbag.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique designs of your own.

The full version of the “Purse Shaped Charms” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-040 Back Issue Package.

  1. Patricia Z, 22 September, 2011

    Hi Cindy, talented and awesome one.. :) Couldn’t help but leave a comment being that I am just smitten with this new lesson. Love, love, love it! , once again you have hit a home run. Getting to see these previews on Thursdays always feels like Christmas Eve, you know when you get to open one present. Really excited and just thrilled and can’t wait until tomorrow. Again Thank You for being so talented and just for everything that you guys do here, you are amazing..
    Sincerely, Patricia

  2. Lupe Meter, 22 September, 2011

    These are adorable designer miniature purse charms! Looking forward to Friday! Thanks Cindy!

  3. pollyanna, 22 September, 2011

    these are just adorable…… love the charm bracelet idea.

  4. pattw35, 22 September, 2011

    You amaze me ! Your brain is going like crazy. You teach us such interesting things -mini purses-who would have thought ? These will be wonderful for all the young ladies that are in all our families -those teens that think they are 32 -hhaha. BUT, they will fall in love with the little purses -so girlie………….Can’t wait til Friday. Thanks, Lietz Team – another home run !

  5. Jeanne C., 22 September, 2011

    SOOO cute!! My Granddaughters would love a charm bracelet made with the mini purses. :)

  6. Dia H, 22 September, 2011

    I am falling in love in those beads. Can’t wait to make them.

  7. Sandra J, 22 September, 2011

    how cute, i’ve seen some other ones on various websites and wondered how they were done, looking forward to seeing this one too.
    Thanks Cindy, your ideas are wonderful

  8. Michelle A, 22 September, 2011

    Totally psyched about tomorrows tut!!!! Can’t wait.

  9. Dixie Ann Scott, 22 September, 2011

    ooooh these are really adorable. I am so looking forward to Friday. I love
    making charms, any charms so I know this is going to be fun! The charm
    bracelet you made for them really got my attention. Have always wanted to make one of those too!

  10. Jill V., 22 September, 2011

    I don’t think we can overuse the word adorable here. These charms are ADORABLE! Looking forward to Friday.

  11. DawnB, 22 September, 2011

    That bracelet is just too cute! I remember that little purse bead. You are so clever. Looking forward to it.

  12. Rebecca Chisenhall, 22 September, 2011

    Ok, these are just too darling for words! Can’t wait to see how easy you make these to do, Cindy!

  13. Angela M, 23 September, 2011

    Just finished watching the tute. Cute, cute, cute! I love these little purses, can’t wait to make some myself. Just darling. Cindy, you hit it home with this one, once again.

    I want to thank Cindy and Doug and all of you who post comments here. Thank you for your friendliness and kindnesses to each other. This is such a positive, pleasant place to come to, especially right now, for me. I am mostly homebound with a painful disability and have been fighting a bout of depression lately. But I’ve noticed my spirits have been picking up and I believe it’s because of everyone in this community. I’m actually excited to see the new tutes each week and to read all the stuff everyone has to say. It makes me feel so good. It’s become my new therapy. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  14. fran, 23 September, 2011

    Angela – there seems to be quite a number of us here who are living with daily pain. I also look forward to the videos and comments from others. Pain can sort of fade into the background when your mind is on other things. You’ll be in very good company here.

  15. Tantesherry, 23 September, 2011

    Fran you hit the nail on the head with the bit about pain fading into the background — Art therapy is so underrated :)

  16. Angela M, 23 September, 2011

    Fran, I can’t say I’m glad for the company because I sure wouldn’t wish pain on anyone but, if we have to have it, I am glad we have each other and this wonderful, inspirational place to share in.

    Cindy, I wonder if you really know the impact you are having on people like myself, who have disabilities that severely curtail our social lives. Yes, we’re getting these lovely tutes and color recipes but these are almost a by-product.. We’re getting something much bigger – hope and motivation to get up out of bed every day! Again I say thank you. I really do appreciate you.

  17. Cindy Lietz, 23 September, 2011

    Angela, Fran, Tantesherry and everyone else here who finds this journey with polymer clay a wonderful release from your pain and challenges life has thrown your way… I do realize the impact this medium and this community is having on you.

    It is very moving to know that you have found such a positive way to deal with your struggles and that it has become a source of inspiration and therapy.

    Even for those who are not dealing with a physical or emotional ailment, many of us still need an escape from our stresses, and in some cases isolation and boredom. Having something creative to do with your hands gives you a sense of wonder and accomplishment. Of beauty and of challenges overcome.

    Just like many of you, I too find that time stops and cares seem to dissipate when I sit down at my clay table to create.

    I didn’t realize until recently, just how important that process is for our peace of mind and healthy outlook on life. It is much bigger than merely taking a colored block of clay and making a great looking bead with it. It’s about using your heart and soul and hands, to create a thing of beauty from nothing… and that feeling inside as you make it.

    I am honored to be part of that therapeutic experience with you. Thank you for sharing your life with me!

  18. Lisa Whitham, 29 September, 2011

    Cindy, you’re a great teacher and clay mentor and I thank God that I found you and your wonderful clay community/family. I have made some wonderful friends here that have also transfered to facebook where we share photos of our clay endevors, laughter, and our occasional low moments too. Claying is a great form of therapy for me (and many others from the community here) – I have a birth defect in my lower back, that causes me to be in constant pain, Fibromyalgia, and I’m Bi-Polar. I find claying helps me when I’m manic (it calms me down), and it helps take my mind off the constant pain. I also thank God that your lessons are affordable for me, as we are a one income family every penny counts – your lessons are a fantastic value!
    I haven’t been around much over this summer – but I think you already know why…. Besides it being too hot (no air conditioning in the room I clay in), I’ve been very busy learning to ride the Harley-Davidson Sportster my dear husband bought me this summer. It’s a major dream come true for me… :) (I’m tearing up the roads now… heh heh!) But, the weather is cooling off now, so I am getting back to my clay and our wonderful claying community. I feel like I’m coming home after a bit of time away… :) I thank you and Doug for that happy feeling too! Bless you both!
    I can never thank you enough Cindy, your lessons are always a bright spot in my week.
    Peace, Love, & Clay,
    ~Lisa :) xoxo

  19. Cindy Lietz, 30 September, 2011

    Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is very touching and I found myself tearing up while reading it. You are such a sweet and generous woman and you handle your challenges with such positivity and grace. It has been an honor getting to know you over the years. I really appreciate what you said about how much this group means to you. I feel the same about you. You are one of the reasons I love what I do.

    Since you get so excited about what you learn here, I thought it would be fun to tease you with a hint at a tutorial that is coming up next week. You have asked for it several times and it will be a timely subject for October. No more hints… you’ll just have to wait. :-)

  20. Lisa Whitham, 01 October, 2011

    Oh boy, oh boy…. I can hardly wait to see… Eeeee it’s almost October…! *hoppin’ up and down with excitement* If it’s what I hope it is I’ll be doing backflips of joy! (Er, virtual ones anyway… LOL) :)=) <–big cheesy grin

    Thanks Cindy, now I'm super excited to see whats coming up….!!!

    Ooo, guess what I'm making today? Little tiny purses… heh heh! They are just too cute! And you won't believe the different colors I found for handles! Silver, Black, Blue, Yellow, Red, Pink, Green, & White! I've got a lot, so if anybody is having trouble finding them give them my email address and I'll help 'em out… :)

    Clay On,
    ~Lisa :) xo

  21. Peggy Barnes, 24 September, 2011

    Angela you are so right on both counts – 1. The tutes are Awesome
    2. This place is therapy for so many of us. I hope your spirits and pain will get better as you continue to grow with this wonderful family Cindy and Doug have given us. The tutes get better and better and as all of us seem to.

  22. Catalina, 04 October, 2011

    Right you are, Peggy! We are spoiled here! Hope you are feeling better!

  23. fran, 23 September, 2011

    Another tute that I just love ! I’ll be making lots of theses little purses.

  24. Angela M, 23 September, 2011

    Hi Cindy. Is your work surface a silpat? If not, what is it. I usually work on a piece of freezer paper, along with a sheet of glass but I like the look of your work surface. Also, what type of blade are you using? It looks so much longer than mine and it yours has holes in it that mine doesn’t have. Thanks in advance for your reply.

  25. Cindy Lietz, 23 September, 2011

    Angela, that work surface is not a Silpat but a similar silicone sheet called the Sculpey Work’N Bake Clay Mat. It is wonderful to work on. It is non-stick on one side (working side) and non-skid on the back to keep it from sliding around. It can also be used to bake on.

    The blade I use is the Sculpey Super Slicer that comes in a set of 4 blades (2 straight and 2 rippled). It comes with 2 interchangable handles but I like to put 1 handle on each of the straight blades. That way I pull the blade through the clay if I want and I have something to hold on to, so I don’t cut myself.

  26. Natalie H, 25 September, 2011

    Hi Cindy
    I too use the same blade set that you have and love it..
    As for the mat, I bought a large glass cutting board and put spacers that you place on your cabinet doors so they don’t bang shut on the textured side (the side usually used for cutting) and turned it over. ..so now I have a large smooth surface to work on.
    also, when a neighbor was having their kitchen retiled, I asked the contractor if he had a damaged tile that I could have.. to my surprise and luck,he gave me a large perfect tile. I placed that next to my glass cutting board to give me more room.
    Thirdly, when I had my kitchen counter serviced, I asked the owner who came down if he had some scrap granite pieces, and sure enough he gave me some,, they are heavy but a nice extra piece of surface area if I need it.

  27. Cassie C, 23 September, 2011

    Thank you Cindy. I will probably be making little purses all weekend. They are the cutest little things. You also solved some other problems for me with the way you put it together. I love the “handle” trick. You are the greatest! Cassie

  28. Cassie C, 23 September, 2011

    This comment probably needs to be on another thread but I’m in a rush. I was in a very high end glass gallery last weekend. The glass pieces were museum quality and the prices were more then I makes in years combined.
    What did my wondering eyes behold? Polymer clay jewelery in the same cases and sometimes the same pieces as the glass jewelry!
    Very nice to see. Cassie

  29. Cindy Lietz, 23 September, 2011

    I know what you mean Cassie. It is very exciting to see polymer clay getting elevated to the art status that it deserves! As more and more emerging artists embrace the medium, we are going to see lots of high end pieces showing up in the galleries and jewelry shops.

    This proves that there is no limit to where you can take your polymer clay skills if you really set your mind to it. It never matters where you start. What matters is where you finish, along with the joy you receive during the process of discovery that happens along the way.

    How far will you take polymer clay? The possibilities are endless!!!

  30. Marlene C, 23 September, 2011

    SOOOOOOOO adorable! Have 5 granddaughters who are gonna be VERY happy with their Barbie purses, and couldn’t help but notice I have some of the same chain you used for the bracelet = another copy cat!!!

  31. Patt W, 23 September, 2011

    The tute is soooooooo easy – and a darling charm is the end result !!! How happy we all are !!!!! Thanks for such a neat way to use up some canes. Perfect for the little purses.

    Isn’t it rewarding, Lietz Team , to know you are helping such nice ladies with their therapy ? Art is definitely the best therapy………………..;D

  32. Catalina, 23 September, 2011

    Oh, how cool! I love this technique! Charms are charming! LOL! I hope there are more to come. You can use these in so many different ways. I’m still painting and getting my house back together after having the hardwood floors refinished. So, I may have to wait a few days before I can make these.

  33. pollyanna, 23 September, 2011

    these are just darling. What an easy tute but with a twist for the embellishing. Great ideas. May have to make myself a charm bracelet…..hmmmmm.

  34. Cherie, 23 September, 2011

    I love them!! They’re so adorable. Specially love all the different patterns and the pandora bead. It will be a few weeks before i can get back to claying but I’m enjoying the videos.

  35. Elaine Faulks, 23 September, 2011

    Hi all,
    Here in the UK we call a purse a handbag and our purses are the little ones that we put our cash, credit cards in etc. and fit inside the “purse”/handbag.

    Confusing ,although we speak the same language, with one daughter in US and one in Oz
    I now know that their Strides, your Pants are our Trousers and our pants are female under garments, once known as bloomers but bloomers also means making mistakes.

    There is no mistaking before signing up with Cindy I made plenty of bloomers with polymer clay but now I am making huge strides in purse-uing this PC adventure.

    My fav. “purse” is a suede patchwork one that I tote around filled with 126 different items and if anyone needs a pair of tweezers, phillips screwdriver or needle and cotton etc. they know who to ask!!

    Can see me making lots of these cute purses, the charm bracelet is beautiful and thanks to Cindy’s teaching us so many tips they will look great on a “Pandora” chain. So thanks for another simple way to make such a cute bead……………..cheers xx

  36. Sandra J, 23 September, 2011

    Cool! and like all things that look really complicated, so easy to do!
    Thanks Cindy and Doug

  37. Hope Martin, 24 September, 2011

    Very cute! Now I know what to do with my first Ikat cane. :D Tho I gotta get me some covered paper clips!

  38. Peggy Barnes, 24 September, 2011

    Cindy and Doug once again right out of the ball park. I am late watching this tute but definately better late than never. This is going to be wonderful for Christmas gifts. I only have one grandaughter left who still is young enough to enjoy Barbie. Thanks to you Cindy her Barbie Doll collection is going to have an all new collection of purses and I can’t wait to start styling them to match some of the outfits. The older grandaughters I am sure will enjoy the charm bracelets. I hope everyone has had and continues to have a wonderful weekend. If your bummed about anything just go watch the tute again I am sure that will pick you right up.
    Many Uuuuggs to all.

  39. Natalie H, 25 September, 2011

    Hi Cindy

    First off, I love that I can enlarge the comment box.. tell Doug it was a great idea… now about the little purse… love it. I used a similar technique to make a medical bag for my doctor after I finished my cancer treatment but had trouble with the handle staying.. so I am going to try it again using your tips.. I will let you know how it turns out…

    Also, do we have to take out the pronged embellishment and glue it in after the baking… How long should we bake the purse since it will be thicker than normal pendants?

  40. Cindy Lietz, 25 September, 2011

    Hi Natalie, the pronged embellishments may or may not need to be glued in after baking. Just pull at them a bit to test and see if they will come off. If they do come off you can add a drop of glue and stick them back in.

    As far as baking time… I bake everything I make for at least an hour, no matter the size. This way I am assured proper curing.

    Type ‘baking’ into the search box at the top of the page to learn more on that. There are tons of baking articles on this site that you will find will answer most of your questions. Hope that helps.

  41. Lisa Potter, 26 September, 2011

    I am looking for a book that has a variety of styles of wire wrapped rings. I was at a craft fair recently and they had a number of different designs. I have been trying to google a book on wire wrapped rings, but can’t seem to pull anything specific. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  42. Cindy Lietz, 28 September, 2011

    I actually don’t have a specific book on wire wrapped rings to recommend to you Lisa. Maybe someone else does? There are tons of wire wrapping books out there though, so with some good searching you should be able to find something you like. Be sure to check out You-tube and Etsy for ideas as well.

    In regards to your emailed question about uploading a picture at the blog. I assume you mean the Gravatar? Is it that you want to replace that blue sideways G with a nice picture of yourself?

    Doug explained how to add your own Gravatar pic in a recent comment if you want to check that link out.

  43. Laura, 26 September, 2011

    If you go to jewelrylessons.com and filter your search on ‘ring’ and ‘wirework,’ they have several tutorials on wire work rings. The only problem is that you have to buy each individual tutorial.

  44. Dia H, 26 September, 2011

    Hi Cindy,

    I really like this tutorial, and I have made 30 purses last week :).
    but then I end up with a question.

    Do I need to sand, buff and coat with glossy glaze ???


  45. Cindy Lietz, 28 September, 2011

    Hi Di, that is so cool that you have made so many purse beads/charms already! Would love to see pics! As far as sanding, buffing and glossing goes, that depends on whether or not it will improve the look of it. I did a light sanding and buffing on the smooth surfaces and skipped the gloss. Mine were supposed to look like fabric, so a thick gloss wouldn’t have looked good.

    If your purses were to be mimicking a patented leather though, you would need some shine to it. So it is totally up to you. Just experiment a little and see what looks the most professional, and go with that.

  46. Tina A, 28 September, 2011

    Now if you can show us how to make shoes we would be set for life ! Great video, hubby is getting ready to try his hand at some right now !

  47. Phaedrakat, 29 September, 2011

    These are absolutely (yep, I’m gonna say it, too) …ADORABLE! These little purse beads are so cute, and the charm bracelet you made with them would look pretty on any wrist! Love the Pandora-style purse bead, and the cool way the handles end up looking “beaded”…

    Another wonderful video tutorial. Hmmm…do you get tired of hearing how wonderful you are, Cindy? ;D Well, I never tire of your greatness, that’s for sure. I’m a part of the “in-pain” group above, and I agree that this community, with you as the leader, is a great help to me.
    Love, love, LOVE what you do!!!

  48. Dia H, 05 October, 2011

    @Tina, Yeah the purse bead would match with shoes.

    @ Cindy, I hope that you will make shoes tutorial someday.

  49. Joy Davis, 16 July, 2014

    I love them! just adorbs! I made some little guy’s, (I love all thinks miniature) I think I have pictures, but who know’s how to get them on here? Or even if you allowed that!
    Anyway, I’m buying this video now! Still couldn’t figure out how to get my picture on here, I tried that site you sent me Cindy, but it said I had to have another server or something like that, Oh dear…
    Cindy I saw a picture of you with Julie Picarello, she is a wonderful person, I think we all know a lot of the same people as many in this group must as well!
    Be well,
    Joy :)

  50. Cindy Lietz, 17 July, 2014

    Hi Joy, we would love to see what you have made. The easiest way to do that is to go to our Facebook page. Here is the link to the PcT Members Photo Gallery at Facebook where you can post your pictures if you wish.

    Julie Picarello is a very lovely person! I only got to spend an hour or so with her, but I enjoyed her company very much!

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