April 12, 2015

DIY polymer clay Turkish spindle

DIY polymer clay Turkish spindle: Tutorial



After spinning on a top whorl drop spindle for a while, I got really curious about Turkish drop spindles. I ordered a very cool TurtleMade 3D printed spindle from Etsy. But it may take a while to be produced and then get here from the U.S. and I'm impatient and want to try out a Turkish spindle now :-)

The solution was making one myself. I created this one and it works really well:



I thought other people might also want to try making a spindle, so I made another one and took pictures of the process. It is really simple to do, and you only need two things for the spindle. A piece of polymer clay for the arms and a paint brush for the shaft. What type of brush and how much clay will depend on how large a spindle you are planning to make. Also remember that the (upside down) brush handle will be your shaft so you need to like its shape and diameter. I prefer to spin thin yarn so like my spindles light. I started with a small cheap brush and half a pack of Fimo (28 grams). Not all of this clay will end up in the arms, so my final spindle will be lighter than 28 grams.

Making the shaft is easy. Remove the brush from the handle. You only want the wood to remain. How easy or difficult this really is will depend on your brush.



The arms are a bit more work. First divide the amount of clay you want to use in half. Then make two rolls out of this.

Flatten the rolls to create the base shape of the arms.



And cut them to size and make them nice and even. At this point you might want to check with a kitchen scale that your arms are the same weight. If not, modify until they are roughly the same weight and size. For this tutorial I did not make them very even, but you can perfect their shape as much as you like.

Now make the hole for the shaft. One in the center of each arm. I started with making a hole using a drinking straw and then made it a bit larger. Carefully check the size on the shaft. Make sure the hole is not too large, if it is too small after baking you can easily make it larger using the tip of a sharp knife (or craft knife).



If you want to decorate your arms with engravings do it now. Or if you like your spindle light like me, cut out some more holes in the arms. Do a final weighing to make sure they are still similar in weight. You can try to make them as even and pretty as you like. My quite uneven versions still work well enough, so don't worry too much about perfection.

You can simply bake the arms flat, but most Turkish spindles seem to have curved arms. You do want the central part of each arm, where the two arms will touch each other, to be flat. If you can find a small flat bottom (oven safe) bowl, you can drape your arms over that. If not, like me, you can make a  support yourself. Determine the width the flat part needs to be and cut out a few rectangles of this width from cardboard. Stack these rectangles and cover them in aluminum foil. Now you can drape the arms over the block you created before they go into the oven. If you want you can make a more elaborate support with curved sides.




Now bake according to the instructions of your clay. I baked 25 minutes at 110°C.

After baking allow the arms to cool. When cool check the fit on the shaft. If the hole it to small or uneven, use a knife to enlarge it carefully and check often, you don't want it too large.

Slide the arms on the shaft and you are done. Now you can take it for a spin. Or you can decorate the arms and shaft. Decoration possibilities during and after the creation of this spindle are endless. 




There you have it, a quickly made Turkish spindle using cheap materials. Happy spinning!

UPDATE: LEGO mold to make more even arms

Because I'm not very experienced with polymer clay, I was having a hard time making the arms even. To solve this problem, I decided to make a mold out of LEGO blocks. After removing the arms from the mold, you can still flatten them, shape them, etc. But at least you are starting with two arms that are the same shape and I found it much easier to start from there. Here are some pictures of my mold in action: