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Cane-Covered Polymer Clay Pens by Crafty Goat

If you've ever gone down the deodorant aisle searching for the same one you bought last time, you've experienced it: manufacturers' incessant focus on new and better. It seems like a product's packaging hardly ever looks the same from one purchase to the next.

Pen manufacturers are no different, so the pens that were "proven" oven-safe a few years ago — like my previous favorite Papermate Flexgrip Ultra — may no longer be available. And while new and better options may be out there, who has the time and money to test every new brand of pen to see if it's oven-safe?

Luckily, Surfingcat did the hard work for us in her post about melting pens. She tried eleven pens in the oven and came up with a list of six that survived at polymer clay temperatures.

I decided to expand on her post a bit, to give a little more info about four of those pens that are readily available here in the U.S.:

  • PaperMate Comfortmate ball point pen
  • Bic Round Stic ball pen
  • PaperMate FlexGrip Elite
  • Bic SoftFeel Retractable ball pen

I made a polymer clay pen with each of these brands to get a feel for how easy they are to take apart and put back together. (Read the basics on covering pens here.) I'm including "finished" shots so you can get a feel for the aesthetic of each completed pen. My samples use cane slices since I'm practicing getting comfortable with canes (as you can tell, I have a long way to go!). But of course, you're not limited to canes. In fact, the options are pretty much endless. (For some extreme examples, take a look at Linda Peterson's PolyPens book about making pen sets.) For each pen, I've also included photos of the packaging (so you know what to look for on the shelves... well, at least until they change that packaging!), the un-covered pen, and the pen after it's been taken apart. (Click any photo for a larger version.)

The Pens

Paper Mate Comfortmate

PaperMate Comfortmate Pen: Covered with Polymer Clay

PaperMate Comfortmate Pen Packaging PaperMate Comfortmate Pen PaperMate Comfortmate Pen: Assembly

  • Cost: 12 pens for $7.93 on Amazon ($0.66 per pen)
  • How It Works: Remove the end cap and take the pen refill out from the back. Be sure not to cover with clay the hole where the end cap goes, or the hole where the pen tip will poke through the opposite end. To reassemble after baking, push the pen refill through the opening at the end cap end, then reattach the end cap.
  • Notes: The Comfortmate has a thin barrel (similar to the Bic Round Stic), so it's not too bulky after polymer clay is added. Its straight lines make it easy to cover.

BIC Round Stic

Bic Round Stic Pen: Covered with Polymer Clay

Bic Round Stic Pen Packaging Bic Round Stic Pen Bic Round Stic Pen: Assembly

  • Cost: 12 pens for $2.20 on Amazon ($0.18 per pen)
  • How It Works: Use pliers to remove the pen refill by pulling on the black plastic portion near the tip (not the pen tip itself). Re-insert after baking.
  • Notes: The Round Stic and the Comfortmate have similar benefits and look very similar after baking... but the Round Stic is available at a much better price!

Paper Mate Flexgrip Elite

PaperMate FlexGrip Elite Pen: Covered with Polymer Clay

PaperMate FlexGrip Elite Pen Packaging PaperMate FlexGrip Elite Pen PaperMate FlexGrip Elite Pen: Assembly

  • Cost: 12 pens for $8.01 on Amazon ($0.67 per pen)
  • How It Works: Simply unscrew the silver cap and remove the refill before baking. Screw back on after baking.
  • Notes: I like the fact that these are easily refillable by anyone — a big plus if you're planning to sell your polymer clay pens. I also like that the silver cap dresses it up a bit. I'm not crazy about the tapered shape on the end: it makes these pens slightly harder to cover than the pens with straight lines, and I personally don't like the look as well.

BIC Soft Feel Retractable

Bic Soft Feel Retractable Pen: Covered with Polymer Clay

Bic Soft Feel Pens Packaging Bic Soft Feel Pen Bic Soft Feel Retractable Pen: Assembly

  • Cost: 12 pens for $6.86 on Amazon ($0.57 per pen)
  • How It Works: The front part is easy enough to remove. Just twist and pull on the black padded section, then pull the pen refill out too. The retractable portion was much harder for me. I tried and tried with pliers, even breaking off one of the clips in the process. What finally worked for me was using my hands: holding the pen barrel in one hand and grasping the top edge, just to the side of the clip, with the other hand. Twist the clip (and its attached pen cap) up and to the side, until it separates from the barrel.
  • Notes: This was my first retractable pen, and it ended up being my surprise favorite of the group. I think it looks kind of nice to have the black front section that contrasts with the polymer-clay covered section. However, I did test that each of these pen segments is oven-safe. The black padded part of the barrel is removable, so you should be able to cover the whole thing in a matching pattern. You might even be able to find a metallic washer at the hardware store to put between the sections and dress it up a bit.

Got a favorite oven-safe pen that's not listed here? I'd love to hear about it. Ditto for pen-covering suggestions!


Thanks for the information. I think I will give it a try.

Thanks so much for this post. Pens are my favorite thing to make because you can give them to all your friends and associates!

Thanks to you and Surfing Cat for doing all the legwork. I love your retro designs. These would make great stocking stuffers too. Off to Office Depot.

Angela you're such an inspiration to me. I discovered polymer clay 2 months back and am hooked. I'm still very much a novice, got a long way to go.
Your blog, tutorials, notes have helped me immensely.
Not only are you incredibly talented,but you share the knowledge too, which I highly appreciate!!
You're my guru so keep up the smashing good work!!

thank you very much.this post is very comprehensive and includes a very useful information.I also liked the 4th one most- it has a more laxurios feel to it

What a great post Angela. I love the bic click one. I was looking at those exact ones the other day and wondering if they would cover but had too many other things to think about to pursue. Will have to think about that now.

Coolio. The pen is always mightier if'n it's purtier.

Thanks a lot for the info. It will be very useful. I love making pens. Great job!

One of the most coolest pens I have seen in years.

Very cool! I've been doing Polymer Clay for 13 years and never ventured to do a pen because I thought they would melt and be a problem. Now I know which ones to buy!

I love the look of the silver tip on the FlexGrip, but so far I'm not having a lot of luck finding any in the stores near me (and trust me, I've hit them all). The silver end looks nicer than the plastic tip on the Bic if you're looking to sell them. Is there a retractable pen that does NOT have the clip on it? I did find one brand (Write Dudes, available at Target), but unfortunately it didn't hold up to baking. Does anyone know of another brand that might? Thanks for your advice!

Ceallaig: Do you have a Staples nearby? That's where I found the FlexGrip. It seems like they stopped carrying it for a while, so you might check again if you haven't been there recently. Otherwise I'd recommend Amazon.

Sorry I don't know of any clip-less retractables off hand. Hopefully someone else will be able to chime in.

I found a pen that I believe someone else may have mentioned -- it's by Zebra and readily available pretty much anywhere (got mine at Walmart, pack of 2 for about $3.50) I chose the G-301 because it's a gel pen and I like those, but there are a couple other models available. It's retractable, easily taken apart, the upper half can be covered very easily (you may be able to do the lower half too, but I haven't tried this yet, as you must be very accurate on the ends). It looks similar to your Soft Feel pen, but the shaft is steel (for a more solid feel), and it has a silver tip, which gives it a really nice 'finished' look. And with the steel shaft, it won't warp in your oven! It requires a minimal amount of clay to cover (about a 3"x1" sheet) and the clip slides over easily. I covered mine with a light lavendar swirl, but I think bold colors/patterns would ve really nice with this. Yes, the per-pen cost is a bit higher, but you get a nicer pen that is FAR cheaper to produce than the very nice Amazing Twist Pen kit pens (at $3.75 per blank, acc. to Boston CraftWorks website, the markup would have to be prohibitive).

I'm also still trying to figure out a good way to make caps for the stick pens -- I've thought about bead cones (the ones on the ends of multstrand necklaces) but haven't found any with a big enough diameter. Anyone have ideas on that? Thanks!

Ceallaig: Thanks for the info on the Zebra pen. I have not tried one, but it sounds nice -- I love pens with silver tips. If you haven't already, I'd recommend looking at Glass Attic's pen page. There's a section about making pen caps, plus other tips sprinkled throughout the page.

Hi Angela, Thanks again for sharing this info here -- you're right about the packaging, etc. though. Was fun trying to track down the right type of pen to use! Thought you might like to know that I shared this on our blog:


Carolyn: I love what you did with the retractable pen -- those are really gorgeous fish-themed items! I hope they sell well for you.

i use polymerclay since 1997 but never try this before... i think i should, i will ! thank you

I posted earlier about the Zebra G301 pen .... sigh, I am now disappointed. I bought some more for a craft show, and they have changed the way the pen is made. It no longer comes apart the way it did, so it's no longer good for clay covering. Back to the drawing board (but my friend was very pleased with the two she got!)

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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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