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We've "covered" the basics of pen-covering... now let's take it to the next level.

Mini Keychain Pen and Amazing Twist PenPen making kits are more expensive and involve a little more work than your more basic pens, but the nicer results may make it worthwhile. Traditionally used in wood-turning, these kits basically consist of hollow tubes that you cover then assemble. There are several places online to buy these, with a wide variety of pen types available. While you can buy a pen assembly press for around $40 to assemble these, you can usually hammer them together with a rubber mallet and a little patience. (Upper-body strength doesn't hurt either!)

Of course, if you're interested in that slightly nicer, cross pen-style look -- but not interested in all the work -- you might like the Amazing Twist Pen. These are still harder to assemble than a Papermate -- but they're much easier than pounding with a rubber mallet. And while there's just the one style, they do look really classy.

So here's how to do it:
  • Pen kit baggie and instructionsBuy the pen. As far as I know, there's no major craft stores that carry these pens, so it may require an internet order. The pens will come individually wrapped in little plastic baggies -- and if you're anything like me, you may be a tad intimidated the first time you see one. At this point, they really don't look much like pens at all. Don't worry, though. The other thing they should come with is assembly instructions -- and as long as you have those (and this tutorial!), you'll be fine! <g>
  • Hollow barrels to coverThere should be two hollow barrels for you to cover. Depending on the brand, they may be exactly the same length, or one may be slightly longer than the other. If it's important for your design that the "top" barrel be on top, be sure to check the instructions & verify the lengths first.
  • Barrels covered in polymer clayCover each barrel with clay. This part is similar to what we did in the Basic Instructions. One difference is that the thickness of the clay sheet is more important here -- I think the pen kits look better if the covered barrels are the same thickness as (or a little thinner than) the pen findings. I used the fourth thickest setting on my Atlas pasta machine for the Amazing Twist Pen, and the fifth thickest setting for the Mini Keychain Pen. You'll have to eyeball it & see what works for you.
  • Bake & cool.
  • Be sure to do all your sanding, glazing, or other finishing before assembly.

Diagram of parts, keychain pen (top) and Amazing Twist PenSo far, so good. But assembling these things is the tricky part. I'm going to go through the assembly steps for two pen types: the Mini Key Chain Kit from Penn State Industries, and the Amazing Twist Pen from Boston Clay Works. You can refer to the parts diagram for terms used in the assembly instructions (note that I've used the terms barrel & tube interchangeably).

Mini Key Chain Kit

  1. Pressing pen tip into barrelPress the pen tip into one end of one of your hollow tubes. You may need your rubber mallet for this.
  2. Tapping pen mechanism into barrelUse your rubber mallet to tap the pen mechanism, brass end first, into the other end of the same tube. While the instructions say to go to the indention in the silver section, I've found it's best to go just past that.
  3. Sliding pen ring over mechanismSlide the decorative pen ring over the pen mechanism til it touches the front tube.
  4. Cap with keyring, pressed into tubePress the cap into the other tube. Thread the key ring through the hole in the end of the cap.
  5. Screwing pen refill into front tubeScrew the pen refill into the front tube.
  6. Pushing pen halves togetherPush the two halves of the pen together.

Amazing Twist Pen

  1. Sliding pen clip onto capThe first step is to slide the pen clip onto the top cap piece.
  2. Twisting pen cap onto top tubeNow twist the pen clip & cap piece into the threaded end of the top tube. You can tell which tube is the top tube one of two ways -- the top tube is longer than the other tube, and it's also the tube that only has one threaded end.
  3. Screwing pen tip into bottom tubeScrew the pen tip into one end of the the bottom tube.
  4. Screwing pen mechanism into bottom tubeScrew the twist mechanism into the other end of the bottom tube.
  5. Sliding the decorative band onto the pen mechanismSlide the decorative band onto the twist mechanism.
  6. Screwing the pen refill into the pen mechanismScrew the pen refill into the top of the twist mechanism.
  7. Pushing pen halves togetherPush the two halves of the pen together.

While specific instructions will vary by brand and style, these instructions should give you the general concept. Pen kits really aren't that complicated, and they can become beautiful pens -- so I hope this tutorial will help you feel a little more confident the next time you see a baggie full of pen parts!


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How To Make Polymer Clay Pens Using Pen Kits:

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Okay, you’ve covered Bic and Papermate pens, and you’ve covered pen kits. What’s next? What if you could ignore that whole “oven-safe” thing & convert every pen in your house to polymer clay? I came across this bamboo ... [Read More]


Nice tutorial! Would you be interested in writing up a tutorial to be published online at Polka Dot Creations? Technical info like this pen-covering thing is really useful! (You can even submit this one, if you want to). Here are the guidelines: http://www.polkadotcreations.com/books/submissions.html
Drop me a line if you're interested! --Lisa

Lisa, I'd be honored -- I'll definitely send some things your way.

I noticed Polka Dot Creations is sponsoring this month's Polymer Clay Central challenge -- I think that's wonderful!

These pens are beautiful! What glaze do you suggest using to protect the alcohol inks? Thanks!

Good question, Leslie. Glazes are bad about causing the alcohol inks to bleed and fade. I haven't found one I'm thrilled with, actually. Though I haven't tried it, I'd say Preserve Your Memories II (PYM II) might be a good bet. It's one of the few spray varnishes that work well with polymer clay (many react over time). I think a light misting of spray would be less likely to cause color bleeds than a brush-on glaze. Good luck... and let me know if you find something that works for you!

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CraftyGoat's Notes is all about sharing polymer clay tips & tricks that have worked for me. (And even a few that haven't!)

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