DIY Christmas Ornament: Polymer Clay Bird Decoration With Bell

Updated on September 5, 2019
purl3agony profile image

As an artist and homeowner, Donna enjoys creating unique decorative items and holiday ornaments to welcome all to her artistic abode.

How to Make a Polymer Clay Bird Christmas Ornament
How to Make a Polymer Clay Bird Christmas Ornament | Source

We love watching cardinals visit our backyard feeder during the winter months. So I couldn't resist making a cute cardinal ornament for our Christmas tree this year. This tree decoration features a polymer clay bird sitting in a nest atop a shiny bell. Although this tutorial shows you how to make a cardinal, you could use a photo for reference to make a variety of birds for this ornament.

Use a metal bell to make this bird Christmas ornament.
Use a metal bell to make this bird Christmas ornament. | Source

A Note About Materials and Tools

You can make this ornament with just the bird sitting in a nest, without a bell. But if you choose to use a bell, make sure it is a metal bell (both the outside and the ringer inside the bell). You can check that your bell is metal with a magnet. Your bell will bake along with the polymer clay and must be metal to withstand the heat.

Do not use any kitchen utensils with your polymer clay that may come in contact with food in the future. I like to use common household items as tools, like plastic knives, spoons, utility knives, pencils, and dowels. However, you can also use clay tools if you have them.

Materials for Making a Polymer Clay Bird Ornament

  • A small metal bell
  • Polymer clay in a variety of colors—I like to use Sculpey clay, but there are others brands available. I mixed some of my clay colors for this project myself, but you can buy more colors to avoid mixing your own. To make an ornament like mine, you will need polymer clay in at least these colors: brown, black, red, yellow, green, and white.
  • Tools for working with clay—these can be a simple as a plastic knife, plastic spoon, a dull pencil, a dowel for rolling, and a sharp straight edge (I use a hard piece of plastic, but you could use a utility knife, too).
  • Wax paper or craft paper to use as a work surface
  • Two small beads for the eyes (optional) and super glue
  • A glass container that will hold your bell upright for baking (more details below)

Secure your bell so that it is sitting upright before starting your ornament.
Secure your bell so that it is sitting upright before starting your ornament. | Source

Preparing Your Bell

1. Polymer clay can be heavy when baked, so you might want to choose a smaller bell for your ornament. My bell is about 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter.

2. I like working on wax paper when using polymer clay, but you can use craft paper as a work surface. I suggest having a few pieces of paper: one to put your ornament on while working, and a series of other pieces of paper to roll, cut, and mold your clay on.

3. To begin, use some scrap clay to roll a thick coil. Shape your coil into a ring to secure your bell in to the upright position. Make sure your bell is level before beginning on your ornament.

Roll out coils of clay to begin making your nest.
Roll out coils of clay to begin making your nest. | Source

Making the Nest

4. Roll out 3 or 4 coils of brown clay to begin making your bird's nest. These coils can be all the same color, or different shades of brown. If you are using a small bell, you may want to use only 3 coils. For a larger bell, you will probably want to build a bigger nest with 4 coils.

Roll your clay coils to be the length of about 3 times the circumference of your bell. You can choose the thickness of your coils depending on what you think looks good on your bell.

Twist your coils together to form a rope.
Twist your coils together to form a rope. | Source

5. Next, hold one end of all your coils together in one hand. Start twisting them together to form a thicker rope. You can twist them as tight as you want to make your nest look how you like it.

Making your clay nest.
Making your clay nest. | Source

6. When your twisted rope is complete, wrap it around the upper part of your bell. This placement will depend on your bell's design, but above the openings is best. Try to place your coil level on your bell so your nest will sit straight.

Cut off the leftover ends of the rope.
Cut off the leftover ends of the rope. | Source

7. Overlap the two ends of your twisted coils, and cut through the center using a sharp edge. Do not throw out your leftover ends.

8. Gently push together the two ends of your twisted coil to complete the ring of your nest. Your seam does not need to be perfect. It will be covered with clay. While joining your coil ends, push down on your nest to secure it to your bell.

Cover the seam.
Cover the seam. | Source

9. Use one of the individual clay pieces from the ends you cut off to cover up the seam where you joined your nest together. Loop a piece of the leftover coil over the seam. Press it inside the nest and under the outside edge to secure it in place. The inside does not need to be neat, but make the outside look like it wraps under the nest.

10. Use the other leftover clay pieces to make more loops around your nest. It should look like a grapevine wreath when you're done.

Making your clay bird.
Making your clay bird. | Source

Making Your Clay Bird

Wash your hands and tools, and change the paper for your work surface as you change your clay color.

11. Use your red clay (or whatever color you choose) to start molding your bird's body. I used about 1/2 of my block of red clay for my birds body.

Soften your clay and form it into a teardrop shape with an elongated tail. You can use a plastic spoon to help smooth your clay as you mold it.

12. Once you like the shape of your bird's body, you can use your tools to make some simple feather details on the tail.

Place your bird's body onto the nest.
Place your bird's body onto the nest. | Source

13. Now set your bird's body into the nest and press it in place. Make sure your bird is sitting straight. Your bird's body should fill the nest. It is okay if there are a few small gaps, you can cover them with leaf details later. If your bird will not stick in place, remove the body and use some brown clay to make a cushion in the bottom of your nest. Then put your bird back in place and press it into the cushion.

You can also lift the tail into whatever position you choose.

Making your bird's head from clay.
Making your bird's head from clay. | Source

Making Your Bird's Head and Face

While working on your bird's head and face, it may be helpful to have a cardinal photo at hand for reference.

14. Take a smaller piece of red clay to form your bird's head. Roll this into another teardrop shape, this time with a short tail. This tail will create the feathers on the top of your cardinal's head.

You can either attach your bird's head to the body now, or wait until you have completed the face detail.

Make the bird's mask by shaping the clay into a rounded triangle, like this.
Make the bird's mask by shaping the clay into a rounded triangle, like this. | Source

15. Mix a small amount of black and brown clay together to make your bird's mask. Roll this clay into a thin sheet using a dowel.

16. Cut a small triangle from your sheet of clay. Using your fingers, round all the corners of your triangle. Pinch the center of the top edge so it dips down a bit. Check your mask against your cardinal's head, referencing your photo for size and placement. Trim down your mask if needed.

Press the mask onto the bird's face.
Press the mask onto the bird's face. | Source

17. Adhere the mask to your cardinal's face as above, pressing it gently in place. Place the head on your bird's body as above if you haven't already. Make sure the head is straight and secure to your body.

18. Now would be the time to attach some type of hanger to the back of your bird. I used a jewelry eye pin to form a loop and stick it in the back of my bird. You can also insert a screw eye into the back of your bird's body to use as a hanger.

Making your bird's wings from clay.
Making your bird's wings from clay. | Source

Making the Wings

19. Roll out a piece of red clay using a dowel.

20. (Optional) I used a stamp to add decoration to my bird's wings, but this is optional. I pressed a large stamp into my clay, but you can just draw some simple lines to create the look of feathers.

21. I then traced the cap of a bottle to create a circle. I cut my circle out of the clay and smoothed the edges.

Press the wings onto the bird's body.
Press the wings onto the bird's body. | Source

22. Using a sharp edge, cut your circle into two equal halves to make your wings. You can trim down your wings to make them the right size to fit your bird. Then press the wings firmly in place on each side of your birds body. Make sure they are balanced and even on your bird.

Adding a beak and eyes to your cardinal.
Adding a beak and eyes to your cardinal. | Source

Adding a Beak and Eyes to Your Polymer Clay Bird

23. Mix some yellow clay with a bit of red to make a orange beak for your cardinal. Form your clay into a small, short cone and place your bird's beak in place as seen in the photo above.

24. Then use a dull pencil to make two eye holes in your bird's mask. I made my eye holes large and deep enough to add bead eyes after my clay had been baked, but this is optional.

Make leaves by squashing balls of green clay and adding veins with your straight edge.
Make leaves by squashing balls of green clay and adding veins with your straight edge. | Source

Adding Leaves and Berries As Decoration

25. You can fill in any gaps between your cardinal's body and the nest with tiny leaves and berries. To make the leaves, roll little balls of green clay into teardrop shapes with your fingers. Then press them flat with your fingertip. Use a straight edge to add simple leaf veins. Carefully place and press your leaves around your bird's body.

26. For the berries, roll small balls of white or red clay and place them on top of your leaves. Make sure they are stuck in place before you bake your clay.

Baking your polymer clay bird.
Baking your polymer clay bird. | Source

Baking Your Clay and Finishing Your Ornament

27. Bake your clay according to the manufacturer's directions. I put my ornament on top of a glass container that held my bell firmly upright. I then put this on top of a cookie sheet in my preheated oven for baking.

28. (Optional) Once my ornament had cooled completely, I used superglue to place some small black beads into my eye holes to finish my cardinal's features.

I hope you enjoy this polymer clay tree decoration tutorial. Happy Holidays!

© 2017 Donna Herron


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Heidi! I can't believe Christmas is almost here. I'm running out of time to finish and post all my projects! Hope you are enjoying a happy and restful holiday season!! Thanks, as always, for stopping by and commenting!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      The coolest part of this design is the wings! So cute, as always. Hope you're enjoying your holiday season. Merry Christmas!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)